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January 8, 2015

Obituary: Albert C. Van Dusen

vanDusenAlbert C. “Van” Van Dusen, professor emeritus and vice chancellor emeritus, died Dec. 18, 2014, at his home in Upper St. Clair. He was 99.

Van Dusen was recruited to Pitt in 1956 to join then-Chancellor Edward Litchfield’s new administrative staff as assistant chancellor for planning and development. In addition to his administrative duties, he held joint appointments as a faculty member in psychology and business administration.

Credited with enhancing the University’s image abroad over the course of his career at Pitt, Van Dusen was associated with the establishment of Pitt’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, the School of Information Sciences and the Learning Research and Development Center.

In 1959 he was named vice chancellor of Pitt’s professional schools. Under a reorganization of University administration by then-Chancellor Wesley Posvar in 1967, Van Dusen became vice chancellor for program development and public affairs. Posvar appointed him University Secretary in 1971.

Pitt trustees awarded him vice chancellor emeritus status in 1981.

He continued to serve the University, being awarded emeritus status in the School of Education, School of Business and psychology, Faculty of Arts and Sciences, in 1986.

Nationality Rooms director Maxine Bruhns, who reported to Van Dusen for many years, said they shared extensive international experience. “He was very internationally astute,” traveling extensively to advance the University’s goals. In 1981, Van Dusen was a Fulbright senior scholar in Australia, where he visited 50 colleges and universities to exchange ideas on higher education management and governance. During his time abroad he also visited institutions in the Fiji Islands, New Zealand, Indonesia, the Philippines, Japan, Guam, Hong Kong and China.

Bruhns recalled him as tall, gentle and adaptable; able to fit into any society. “He was especially congenial,” Bruhns said. “We worked together very well.”

She said that when Van Dusen and his wife downsized from their home, they donated for auction many objects they’d collected in their travels to establish a study-abroad scholarship fund.

Van Dusen was among the sources interviewed for Robert C. Alberts’ book, “Pitt: The Story of the University of Pittsburgh 1787-1987.”  The book notes that Van Dusen’s office was firebombed amid civil unrest and protests on campus in the early 1970s.

Beyond the University, Van Dusen served as chair of the board of directors of Pittsburgh Metropolitan Public Broadcasting and of the H.C. Frick Education Commission and was a board member of Duquesne University, the World Affairs Council, Dollar Savings Bank and ACTION-Housing, among others.

Van Dusen earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the University of Florida. He served his alma mater as an instructor and assistant professor of psychology until 1941.

He earned his PhD in psychology at Northwestern in 1942. Following four years as an officer in the U.S. Navy, he was a faculty member at Northwestern 1946-56, administrative assistant to the president, 1949-51, then vice president for public relations and development, 1952-56.

Van Dusen is survived by his wife of 72 years, Margaret; daughters Margaret Pysh, Jane Van Dusen and Sara Van Dusen, and son-in-law Frank Matyskiela.

A memorial service will be held at a later date.

Memorial donations may be made to the Albert C. and Margaret Van Dusen Summer Study Abroad Scholarship, 1209 Cathedral of Learning.

—Kimberly K. Barlow

Filed under: Feature,Volume 47 Issue 9