Skip to Navigation
University of Pittsburgh
Print This Page Print this pages

July 24, 2014

Obituary: Joanne J. Viano

vianoJoanne J. Viano, assistant professor of French at Pitt-Greensburg, died July 2, 2014, at age 73.

Viano was a full-time UPG faculty member for 43 years, joining the campus in 1966 and retiring in 2008.

Former colleague Norman Scanlon, retired vice president of academic affairs and past interim president of UPG, noted her roles as a founding faculty member and in campus administration, which “helped to solidify a fledgling institution. First and foremost, however, Joanne was a truly great teacher. She loved being in the classroom, was devoted to her students and worked tirelessly to improve what was already a gifted performance on her part.

“If UPG had a wall of honor, Joanne would be on it,” he added. “Joanne was one of the most widely read people I have ever known. As with any faculty member, she knew a great deal about a few things — her areas of expertise — but she also knew at least something about almost everything else. Still, she always had time for the newest mystery series, her favorite genre for relaxation. She also had a great sense of humor and an infectious laugh. One of the things even my kids remember about her was her deep, hearty laughter.”

Viano earned her BA in French, Italian and English at Pitt in 1965 and her MA in comparative medieval literature and French at the University of Wisconsin in 1966. She completed post-graduate work in Italian at the Universita di Firenze in Italy, in French and higher education at Pitt and in medieval studies at Cambridge University, England.

She landed some of her first academic jobs at Pitt, including as a language lab assistant in 1964.

She received the Chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching Award in 2000 and the Greensburg campus’s Award for Distinguished Teaching in 1996. She was director of special programs for women, co-founder of the college skills program and Humanities Division chair, working also as assistant to the deans of administration and academics.

In the Greensburg area, she did community work with Seton Hill College, Our Lady of Grace Roman Catholic Church and local hospitals.

Recalled her colleague Larry J. Whatule, emeritus faculty member in Greensburg: “Joanne held her students to high standards and was strict in implementing her policies, but she still received good student evaluations of her teaching. She had a good administrative mind, and during her years in administration she was instrumental in establishing procedures to facilitate and to strengthen the day-to-day operation of a young campus.

“Joanne was a true academician,” he added. “In the later years of her long teaching career, she looked forward to attending summer conferences in Cambridge, England. Even after she retired she hoped to return to Cambridge, but her failing health prevented her from doing so.”

She is survived by her sister Margaret Ambrose and brother-in-law Scott; niece Deborah Hauliska and her husband David, and great-nephew Robert Zontek.

Donations in her honor may be sent to the American Cancer Society and American Heart Association.

—Marty Levine