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November 20, 2003

People of the Times

Gerald D. Holder, U.S. Steel Dean of Engineering at Pitt, recently was elected as a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the world’s largest federation of scientists. He was honored for his leadership and fundamental contribution to the development of thermodynamic properties and phase behavior in fluid-solid systems, especially in the area of gas hydrates.

Holder earned a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the University of Michigan in 1976 and that year joined the chemical engineering faculty at Columbia University. In 1979, he came to Pitt and served as the chair of the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering from 1987 to 1995. Holder became Pitt’s dean of engineering in 1996. He has received awards for both his research and teaching, including the School of Engineering Award for Outstanding Research and the Board of Visitors Faculty Award.

Holder has worked for or consulted with Exxon, General Motors, Gulf Oil, Amoco, Petrobras, Arco, Norsk Hydro, Allied Chemical, Alcoa and several other corporations. He has served on more than 20 national panels or committees, including the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, the American Institute of Chemical Engineering and the American Chemical Society, and on the boards of several corporations.

Election as an AAAS fellow is an honor bestowed upon members by their peers. The tradition of AAAS fellows distinction began in 1874.


Janet A. Barlett, director of development for the School of Nursing, was honored Nov. 12 as an outstanding fund-raising executive by the western Pennsylvania chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), as part of the celebration of the 2003 National Philanthropy Day.

Barlett raised $200,000 to establish the Distinguished Clinical Scholar award, one of the first of its kind in the country. According to Albert J. Novak Jr., Pitt vice chancellor for Institutional Advancement, the award is an innovative resource for attracting and retaining the highest caliber nursing instructors.

The mission of AFP is to foster development and growth of fund-raising professionals and the profession; to preserve and enhance philanthropy and volunteerism, and to promote high ethical standards in the fund-raising profession.


Pitt’s law school has named Jennifer L. Poller director of the environmental law, science and policy certificate program, a multidisciplinary program available to all Juris Doctor candidates. Poller also is director of employer relations for the law school’s Career Services Office.

A 1997 graduate of Pitt’s School of Law, Poller was assistant counsel to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Environmental Hearing Board from 1997 to 2001. Recently she was a litigation associate at Picadio Sneath Miller and Norton, where her work centered on environmental law as well as on general civil litigation. She also is a member of the Allegheny County Bar Association’s Environmental Law Council.

Holders of the certificate in environmental law, science and policy are prepared to pursue a variety of career paths, including private practice; local, state or federal government; non-profit environmental advocacy organizations or research institutions, or multidisciplinary environmental consulting firms.


Pitt-Bradford has named nine new members to its advisory board, six of them Pitt alumni.

New members are: Bruce C. Burdick, William J. Leven Jr. and Nicholas A. Stathopoulos, and alumni Rep. Martin T. Causer, Mark A. George, David G. Higie, Raymond M. Pockalny, David R. Robinson and Susan H. Silvestri.

Causer, Leven and Pockalny were named ex officio members along with Livingston Alexander, Bradford campus president. Former state representative Ken Jadlowiec, who had been an ex officio member, was named an elected member. Also, former advisory board member Edwin Clemens was named an honorary member.

Burdick is retired from Eastman Kodak Co., where he worked in several departments. He earned a bachelor’s degree in physics from Ohio Wesleyan University and took graduate courses in optics at the University of Rochester. He is a member of the Allegheny National Forest Vacation Bureau and the Route 6 Steering Committee. He also served as an adjunct faculty member at the Rochester Institute of Technology.

Leven is president and chief executive officer of Futures Rehabilitation Center Inc. in Bradford. He also is president of the Bradford Area Chamber of Commerce, past president of the Bradford Family YMCA and the Bradford Rotary Club, chairman of the Bradford City Civil Service Commission and a member of the community relations committee of the Bradford Hospital Foundation. He earned his bachelor’s degree from St. Bonaventure University.

Stathopoulos is a partner with Seneca Eye Surgeons in Bradford. He earned a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from the University of Rochester, N.Y., and his doctoral degree from the State University of New York at Buffalo School of Medicine. He is a fellow with the American Academy of Ophthalmology, is second vice president with the Bradford Chamber of Commerce and is a member of the Kiwanis Club.

Causer represents the 67th legislative district in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. Prior to being elected to the state House, he served as an Annin Township supervisor for eight years. He was the vice chairman of the board and also a member of the McKean County Emergency Medical Services Council. He is a member of the Port Allegany Economic Development Corp. and the Bradford Area Chamber of Commerce. He earned a bachelor’s degree in history/political science from Pitt-Bradford.

George is the president of Cutco International in Olean, N.Y. He also is an adjunct professor at St. Bonaventure University, teaching international marketing. He attended Pitt-Bradford 1971-75, graduating at the Pittsburgh campus in 1975 with a degree in political science. He is a past president of the Olean Industrial Management Council, a board member at Control Chief Inc. and a member of the academic committee of the Direct Selling Education Foundation.

Higie, who is the past president of the Pitt-Bradford Alumni Association (PBAA), is director of corporate communications for the Michael Baker Corp. in Moon Township. He attended Pitt-Bradford 1974-76 then earned his bachelor’s degree in political science from Penn State. He received a master’s degree in communications and public relations from Boston University.

Pockalny is the chief executive officer of, a business/philanthropic endeavor. Previously, he was vice president of sales for He served as the vice president of the PBAA for three years and is its current president. In addition to the bachelor’s degree he earned in 1981 from Pitt-Bradford, he has a master’s degree in business administration from Butler University.

Robinson, who attended Pitt-Bradford 1972-74, has been a dentist in private practice since 1980, with an office in Lewisburg. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Pitt and a doctoral degree from the Pitt’s School of Dental Medicine. Robinson is a member of the Pennsylvania Dental Association and of the Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry.

Silvestri is an aging care management supervisor with the Area Agency on Aging in Westmoreland County. She is a former president and vice president of the Bradford alumni association and received the PBAA Distinguished Volunteer Award in 2000.

She attended Pitt-Bradford 1972-74, then earned a bachelor’s degree in political science/history from Pitt-Oakland. She earned a master’s degree in public affairs from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

Clemens had served on the Pitt-Bradford advisory board 1973-1982 and also was co-chair of the Second Decade Campaign in 1974. He received the Presidential Medal of Distinction, the campus’s highest honor, last year. Clemens, who was the financial vice president and director of Forest Oil Corp., is retired.


Also at the Bradford campus, Richard T. Esch has been promoted to vice president for business affairs.

“Rick has been associated with Pitt-Bradford for more than 20 years,” said Pitt-Bradford President Livingston Alexander, “first as a student and most recently as chief business and administrative affairs officer. During his long and productive tenure at Pitt-Bradford, Rick has demonstrated his deep commitment and dedication to our university.

As vice president, Esch will continue to serve on the president’s cabinet and be responsible for all business and administrative functions, including facilities management, campus police, accounts payable, human resources and payroll, purchasing, computing and media services and auxiliary services, along with the newly assigned area of business and financial reporting.

For the past four years, Esch had served as Pitt-Bradford’s chief business and administrative affairs officer. For four years prior to that, he was the director of auxiliary services, responsible for all auxiliary functions, which include dining services, housing, the book center, laundry and vending, the card access system, camps and conferences, ATMs, catering and special events and auxiliary accounting and reporting functions.

Esch began his career in food service, holding several positions for both Sodexho USA and daka Inc., providing regional oversight for Pitt-Bradford and Pitt-Titusville dining service programs.

He holds a master’s in business administration from Katz Graduate School of Business and a bachelor’s in environmental science from Pitt-Bradford.

Esch currently serves as president of the Tuna Valley Trail Association. He also was president of the Allegheny National Forest Vacation Bureau from July 1998 to June 2003 and served as vice chair of the McKean County Steering Committee for Pennsylvania Career Link. He is a member of the Bradford Rotary Club, the National Association of College and University Business Officers and the National Association of College Auxiliary Services.


Pitt’s Graduate School of Public Health (GSPH) has been chosen to participate in a high-level mentoring program through Women in High Places (WIHP), an invitation-only organization for women. Janice Dorman, associate professor of epidemiology, will head the Pitt initiative in the area of diabetes epidemiology research.

This program is designed to encourage women to branch out into health and science industries in order to bridge the gender gap in high-level science jobs by increasing the number of women in the field.

According to research by Innovara Inc., a health care business and management development firm based in Amherst, Mass. which started WHIP, less than 5 percent of high-level positions in top teaching and research based companies in the U.S. are held by women and less than 9 percent in pharmaceutical companies.


Greensburg campus President Frank A. Cassell was honored last month with a Lifetime Achievement Award for Historical Preservation at the annual Heritage Awards dinner of the Westmoreland Historical Society.

The award cited Cassell’s career as a publishing teacher and scholar in American history, his membership on the Wisconsin State Preservation Board for more than 20 years and his service to the Westmoreland Historical Society since coming to Pennsylvania in 1997.

The society also credited Cassell with establishing the St. Clair Lectureship, an annual event at UPG that brings a national or international scholar to speak on some aspect of Westmoreland area history. He spearheaded the development of Westmoreland Heritage, a community partnership designed to promote historical tourism, and the Smart Growth Partnership that helps preserve the beauty and heritage of western Pennsylvania while encouraging economic growth.

As chairman of the historical society board, Cassell has helped frame a new agreement between the society and county commissioners to develop Historic Hanna’s Town as an educational asset and tourist destination.



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