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March 3, 2005

People of the Times

John E. Prescott, professor of business administration at the Katz Graduate School of Business, was named the inaugural holder of an endowed chair funded by a gift from the PNC Foundation.

The Thomas H. O’Brien Chair in Strategy was created following O’Brien’s retirement as CEO of PNC Financial Services Group to honor his four decades of service to PNC and his longstanding relationship with Pitt.

Prescott’s research focuses on competitor analysis, network analysis, strategic planning systems, managerial decision making, organizational design, strategic changes and international business, He is the founder and a member of the board of directors of the Society of Competitive Intelligence Professions.

His publications include his two most recent books, “Competitive Intelligence: A Guide for Your Journey to Best-Practice Processes” and “Proven Strategies in Competitive Intelligence: Lessons From the Trenches.”

Prescott came to Pitt in 1982 as an instructor in the Katz school. He was named associate professor in 1989 and professor in 1994.


Tracy Smith, a visiting assistant professor in the English department, won the Cave Canem Poetry Prize for her book of poetry, “The Body’s Question.”

Established in 1999, the poetry prize supports the work of African-American poets with excellent manuscripts who have not yet found a commercial publisher for their first book.

The prize carries a $500 cash award, publication of the manuscript by a national press and 50 copies of the book. The winner and finalists also are featured in a public reading in New York City, co-sponsored by the Academy of American Poets.

Smith recently was one of the six recipients of the Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers Awards, the only national literary prize devoted exclusively to women.

The annual awards, which were established by Rona Jaffe, the author of 16 books, go to female writers “of talent and promise in the early stages of their writing careers.”

Smith is featured in an article in the March issue of Essence magazine.


Shirley Biggs. associate professor of instruction and learning at the School of Education, has been selected to receive the 2005 Jean E. Winsand Distinguished Educator Award. The honor will be given at the Jean Winsand International Institute for Women in School Leadership April 21 at the William Pitt Student Union.

Biggs is being recognized both for her outstanding work as the affirmative action officer of the education school and for her contributions to the development of the Pennsylvania Literacy Framework.

Biggs’ research and teaching interests focus on teaching and learning for students at middle, high school, adult literacy and college developmental levels. She has studied strategies students use to comprehend challenging text. She also is interested in the effects of tutoring and mentoring relationships on reading behavior.


Ronald G. Cameron, a 1957 graduate of Pitt’s School of Pharmacy, has donated $50,000 to establish a scholarship endowment at the school.

Cameron is the chief executive officer of Cameron and Company, Inc. Founded in 1970, the company was the first to establish a registry of pharmacists for temporary assignments. Headquartered in Las Vegas, the company now boasts offices in 15 states and fills the temporary staffing needs of pharmacies from Florida to Hawaii.

The scholarship provides assistance to students who are in the final two years of the Pharm.D. curriculum and who have financial need. Cameron also specified that first preference for the scholarship be given to students from Westmoreland County. The first recipient is Leah DeRosa, a native of Mt. Pleasant, Pa.

“It is heartwarming when an alumnus decides to remember the School of Pharmacy in such a meaningful way,” said pharmacy Dean Patricia Kroboth. “By funding a scholarship at the School of Pharmacy, Ron Cameron has shown his commitment to helping the students of today and tomorrow make the most of their opportunities here.”

“I am just happy to be in a position to be able to do this for the University and the students,” said Cameron.


Melanie Geiser, a lab technician and mobile educator for the science in motion (SIM) program at Pitt’s Bradford campus, has been promoted to assistant director of the program, which brings state-of-the-art biology and chemistry labs and equipment to secondary schoolchildren in the region.

As assistant director, Geiser will be in charge of strategic planning for future SIM endeavors, scheduling school visits, planning the summer teacher workshop and purchasing equipment and supplies that are needed to service the 53 participating teachers in McKean, Potter, Cameron, Elk and Warren counties.

Geiser began working at Pitt-Bradford in 2002 as a lab technician for the program.


Kong Ho, assistant professor of art at Pitt-Bradford, is one of 20 professors in the United States to receive a national Sasakawa Fellowship, which helps college and university teachers incorporate Japanese studies into their undergraduate courses.

Ho will participate in the National Faculty Development Institute on Incorporating Japanese Studies into the Undergraduate Curriculum June 1-24 at San Diego University. The institute is sponsored by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, which includes more than 400 schools across the United States, Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Ho, who was chosen a fellow because of his interest in learning about Japan and integrating it into his regular classes, will spend four weeks involved in seminars, lectures, readings and cultural activities focused on Japanese culture, history, government, business and education.

Ho, who has been teaching at Pitt-Bradford since 2001, has developed an international reputation in the art world. His art has been shown in both group and solo exhibits in more than 70 international and regional exhibitions in venues such as the Hong Kong Museum of Art, the Fine Arts Museum in New Mexico, the United Nations General Assembly Building in New York City, the Amarillo Museum of Art in Texas and the Sister Kenny Institute in Minneapolis. Most recently his work was featured at the World Bank Headquarters and CP Artspace in Washington, D.C.

“I expect that after attending the institute I will gain valuable knowledge of Japanese aesthetic values and culture, especially in art and design,” Ho said. “I will introduce the Japanese aesthetic concepts and techniques for producing traditional ink painting, calligraphy, woodcut printmaking and graphic design in my future watercolor painting, printmaking and graphic design courses.”


Ping Furlan, associate professor of chemistry and adviser of the Chemistry Club at Pitt’s Titusville campus, will serve on the American Chemical Society (ACS) committee on education, task force on undergraduate programming.

The goal of the committee is to nurture undergraduate chemical science students through programming at national and regional meetings. According to the committee, Furlan was selected because of her dedication to the ACS local section for undergraduates, and its student affiliates program.

As a member of the task force, Furlan will chair the fall 2007 ACS meeting in Boston and will assist with regional meeting programming by reviewing sets of proposals during her tenure from January 2005 through December 2007.


James Baldwin, assistant dean of academic affairs and registrar at Pitt-Bradford, was selected to serve on a campus study team for Northwest Missouri State University as part of a nationwide study to examine institutions that have shown an increase in graduation rates.

The Graduation Outcomes Study is a national partnership among the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, the Education Trust and the National Association of System Heads.

The study teams will be making comparisons among 12 different target institutions that have shown an upswing in graduation rates. The teams will consist of 96 higher education professionals from various institutions who have each been nominated by their campus presidents or system heads.

The purpose of the study is to determine why these 12 institutions have had graduation rate success. In addition, the study will try to evaluate what efforts were taken in order to increase these rates, such as integration of programs and proactive intervention with students.

Each team will have expertise in areas such as admissions, retention, academic support, effective management and institutional data use and each will visit one of the 12 institutions.


Pitt-Bradford has named a wing in Swarts Hall in honor of William F. Higie, former chairman and current member of the campus advisory board and a longtime supporter of UPB.

The William F. Higie Wing encompasses two floors at the south end of Swarts Hall. Plaques have been installed on both floors, which read, in part, “In recognition of his many years of service to the university, which have shaped and guided its identity and growth.”

Higie joined the Pitt-Bradford advisory board in 1972 and was elected chairman of the board in 1973. He retired as the board’s chairman at the end of 1995, after serving 22 years, and now holds the title of chairman emeritus.

In June 1993, he was appointed to the University’s Board of Trustees and served for two years.

Higie, a retired vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary of Forest Oil Corp., is the founder and current vice president and secretary of the Bradford Educational Foundation, which was established to benefit the Bradford campus. He also has created several student scholarships. In 1996, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Distinction, Pitt-Bradford’s highest honor.

“Pitt-Bradford is one of the most important things that has occurred in Bradford in the last 50 years,” Higie said. “Not only does it provide us with a marvelous economic stimulus, but it is also an arm of one of the finest educational and research institutions in the world, which makes a myriad of resources available locally.”

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