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

January 23, 1997

John Funari

A memorial service for John Funari, former dean of Pitt's Graduate School of Public and International Affairs (GSPIA), will be held April 11 at 10:30 a.m. in Heinz Chapel.

Funari died Jan. 11 at his home in Hidden Valley of heart failure. He was 67.

Funari was GSPIA dean from 1974 through 1984. Under his leadership, the school was ranked in the top 10 among the more than 220 U.S. schools offering programs in public administration and public affairs. After resigning as dean, Funari served as special assistant to then-President Wesley Posvar.

"John represented the early, proud part of Pitt's history as a staff member here in the 1950s, and he also had much to do with charting the University's future," Posvar said.

"One of his best qualities was his great sense of humor, which he displayed even when he was terribly ill." During the later years of Funari's deanship, GSPIA was plagued by well-publicized faculty divisiveness. In a 1984 interview, Funari told the University Times that he was resigning primarily to head off a planned University Senate investigation of GSPIA administration policies — an investigation prompted by a petition signed by fewer than one-fourth of the GSPIA faculty.

Posvar said Funari served as dean "during a difficult time of change in GSPIA, when the school was setting new goals and strategies. John did a great deal to set the school on its present course." Burkart Holzner, director of Pitt's University Center for International Studies and a long-time colleague of Funari's here, said Funari "tried to lead GSPIA into becoming an intellectually well-integrated part of the University, which it really was not at the time he became dean." As a special assistant to the chancellor, Funari did a lot of behind-the-scenes work to make possible the 1989 Chautauqua at Pitt conference, Holzner said. Some 250 representatives of the Soviet Union attended the week-long event, which featured workshops and plenary sessions on arms control, the environment, women's issues and other topics. "It was an extremely complex project and John Funari, in a very calm, consistent and persistent fashion, helped to manage the whole thing," Holzner said.

Just weeks after Chautauqua at Pitt, the Berlin Wall fell. The USSR itself crumbled less than two years later. According to Holzner, Funari was one of the few people at Pitt who picked up on public statements and private hints from Soviet delegates and predicted as early as fall 1989 the imminent collapse of the Soviet empire.

In addition to his University positions, from 1988 through 1996 Funari was editor of The American Oxonian, the journal of American Rhodes Scholars. He also served on the Pennsylvania Rhodes Scholar selection committee.

Prior to becoming dean of GSPIA, Funari was the Ford Foundation representative for Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean from 1970 until 1974. Before that, he served with the U.S. State Department's Agency for International Development (USAID) for eight years. Positions he held with that agency included director of the offices of Greece, Turkey, Iran, Cyprus; director of the Office of Near Eastern Affairs; director, USAID/Jordan; deputy and acting director, USAID/India.

Funari served in the U.S. Navy from 1954 to 1957 with the U.S. Naval Security Group in Morocco and as navigator and communications officer aboard the U.S.S. Massey.

A Connellsville, Pa. native, Funari received his B.A. from the University of Virginia's Woodrow Wilson School of Foreign Affairs in 1950. He attended Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs from 1950 to 1951. He completed course work for a doctorate in political science as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University from 1951 to 1954 and at Pitt from 1958 to 1960, during which time he served on the GSPIA staff and as executive assistant to then-Chancellor Edward Litchfield.

From 1960 to 1962, Funari was special assistant to the dean of the School of Liberal Arts and instructor in political science. He also was a member of the Connellsville School Board during that time.

Funari is survived by his wife, Barbara; three children, Tracey, Jonathan and Victoria, and three grandsons.

Memorial contributions may be made to WQED-FM.

Leave a Reply