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April 27, 2017

Obituary: John O. Bolvin

bolvinJohn O. Bolvin, former dean of Pitt’s College of General Studies, died April 3, 2017.

He was 87.

A graduate of Peabody High School, Bolvin served in the U.S. Army in Seoul, Korea.

Prior to joining the University, he was a teacher, coach and guidance counselor for the North Allegheny School District, 1954-59, and principal of Beaver Area Junior High School, 1959-64.

During that time, he worked part-time as a lecturer in Pitt’s School of Education and School of Nursing.

In 1964-66 he served on the Pitt faculty as an assistant professor of education, a lecturer in nursing, and assistant director at the Learning Research and Development Center (LRDC).

He was promoted to associate professor of education and served as associate director of LRDC, 1966-70.

In 1970-73, he was promoted to professor in the School of Education in addition to serving as associate director of LRDC, and was co-director of instructional design and evaluation at LRDC as well as executive associate to the dean in the School of Education.

Bolvin was named professor and associate dean in the School of Education in 1973-74, while also serving as director of LRDC’s developmental schools program.
He served as CGS dean 1983-94.

Bolvin was active in the community, serving as chairman of the Beaver County Mental Health Society and on the board of directors of the Bidwell Cultural and Training Center, among other institutions.

He also was an active member of the Bidwell Street United Presbyterian Church, serving it in several capacities.

He earned a Chancellor’s Distinguished Public Service Award in 1996 for his “steadfast commitment and astonishing energy in serving the education and employment needs of the African-American population in Pittsburgh’s North Side.” His award letter continued: “Your work has been instrumental in bringing African-American youth from the community into the University for education and employment.”

As a specialist in educational research, development and evaluation, Bolvin consulted with educational institutions and organizations in the U.S. and abroad.

He served on numerous school and University committees, including the University Senate athletic committee, the University affirmative action committee and the University athletic committee, which he chaired.

He also served as Pitt’s representative to the NCAA.

Bolvin belonged to a variety of professional organizations, including the American Education Research Association, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, the National Association of Secondary School Principals, the National Council on Measurement in Education, the National Society for Programmed Instruction, the Pennsylvania Educational Research Association and Phi Delta Kappa.

He earned his bachelor’s degree at the College of Wooster in 1952, and his master’s and doctorate in education at Pitt in 1955 and 1958, respectively.

He is survived by his wife of 64 years, Marjorie Bolvin; daughters Joan Bolvin Kelley and Nancy Bolvin Wolff; brother Richard E. Bolvin; grandchild Allison Wolff; and many nieces and nephews.

—N.J. Brown


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