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April 19, 2007


Four Pitt professors will receive the 2007 Provost’s Award for Excellence in Mentoring, which recognizes faculty for their mentoring of doctoral students. This is the second year the awards have been given.

The awardees are Kathleen Blee, Distinguished Professor of Sociology in the School of Arts and Sciences (A&S); Nancy Day, professor of psychiatry in the School of Medicine; Robert Drennan, Distinguished Professor of Anthropology in A&S, and Noreen Garman, professor of administrative and policy studies in the School of Education.

“The very existence of this award underscores the high institutional priority that must be assigned to our mentoring responsibilities,” said Provost James V. Maher. “The intellectual and personal leadership provided by mentors helps to support, encourage and promote a student’s personal and professional development. This year’s awardees are an inspiring example of excellence in the role of graduate mentor. They have clearly touched the professional lives of many students and graduates of this University.”

The awardees were selected from 37 nominations made by Pitt graduate students and faculty members. Each awardee received a cash prize of $2,500.

• Blee has contributed to the lives of graduate students as a teacher, a mentor and as director of the Pitt women’s studies program, a position she held from 1996 to 2001.

In her 11 years at the University, Blee has chaired 12 dissertation committees and currently is advising seven doctoral candidates. Her students have been successful in securing tenure-stream faculty positions. In their nomination letter, three students wrote: “Not only is Dr. Blee a successful mentor, but she is an exemplary one. … Successive generations of students bear her thoughtful, caring imprint as a mentor.”

• Day has chaired 21 doctoral committees and has advised 19 postdoctoral fellows over the past 27 years at Pitt. Her students have been placed at universities and research institutes around the country, including the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, the National Institute for Environmental Health Science and Duke University School of Medicine.

Ten of her students have received prestigious training awards. In letters supporting her nomination, Day’s students wrote that she encouraged them to present papers at national conferences and took the time to introduce students to her colleagues at conferences. Students credited these activities with opening career opportunities for them following graduation.

• Drennan is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He has chaired 30 dissertation committees and currently is advising 16 doctoral students. His doctoral students have an outstanding record of receiving funding for their dissertation research, winning 25 National Science Foundation dissertation grants in archaeology and eight Wenner Gren Foundation grants. His students have obtained tenure-track positions at universities throughout North and South America.

One former student wrote that Drennan’s high expectations and dedication to students’ learning “propelled my colleagues and me to excel to the best of our abilities.”

• Garman has supervised 28 doctoral dissertations, and she currently is advising 11 students. She pioneered a long-standing dissertation study group that brings together current and former students as a way of enriching the dissertation process, and she has published two books on dissertation writing.

Several of Garmen’s students have won Outstanding Dissertation Awards from the American Education Research Association, and her students have been placed in tenure-stream positions in both national and local universities.

One former student wrote that she now practices mentoring techniques she learned from Garman. “Noreen’s work lives on in my students and in theirs; her contribution to generations of scholars is powerful,” the former student wrote.


Barbara Weissberger, visiting lecturer in the Department of Studio Arts, has won a 2007 Guggenheim fellowship. The John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation announced the Guggenheim awards on April 5.

Guggenheim fellows are appointed on the basis of distinguished achievement in the past and exceptional promise for future accomplishment. The 2007 fellowship winners include 189 artists, scholars and scientists selected from almost 2,800 applicants for awards totaling $7.6 million. The Guggenheim program considers applications in 78 different fields, from the natural sciences to the creative arts.

Weissberger, whose art has been exhibited internationally, has taught at Pitt since 2004. Her work has been exhibited in Tokyo, Zurich, New York, Cleveland, Miami and elsewhere.

Weissberger received a Master of Fine Arts degree from the San Francisco Art Institute and a Bachelor of Art degree from Rutgers.

Pitt was the only institution of higher learning in western Pennsylvania to be represented in this year’s Guggenheim awards. Statewide, the University of Pennsylvania and Temple University also had winners.


Livingston Alexander, president of the Bradford campus, has been appointed to an NCAA advisory group that assists in policy development of Division III athletics.

Alexander’s appointment to the NCAA Division III chancellors and presidents advisory group will run through January 2010.

Pitt-Bradford’s athletic teams compete at the Division III level and are part of the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference (AMCC). Alexander currently is serving a two-year term as chair of the Presidents Council of the AMCC.

Responsibilities of the advisory group include implementing policies adopted by the NCAA executive committee, establishing and directing the general policies and strategic plan for Division III and adopting amendments, regulations and bylaws to govern Division III athletics.

The panel also approves regulations for championship tournaments and budgetary oversight for those championships.

The advisory group is comprised of 15 university presidents and chancellors from across the country.

Appointees to the advisory group meet on a quarterly basis at the NCAA headquarters in Indianapolis, Ind.


Valerie Grash, associate professor in the Division of Humanities at the Johnstown campus, has been selected to receive the 2006-2007 President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching. She will be presented with the award during UPJ’s commencement ceremony on May 5.

Grash holds a B.A. in English and history from Slippery Rock University and M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in art history from Penn State. She joined the Pitt-Johns-town faculty in 1999.

According to UPJ President Albert L. Etheridge, “Being recognized as an accomplished teacher, Dr. Grash has earned the respect of colleagues and students. Her former students offer high praise for her teaching. They are especially complimentary of her ability to bring clarity to the complexities and nuances of art and architecture. Valerie approaches teaching with an uncommon passion for the students to learn and to understand. Her student evaluations are supported with comments about how much they have learned and how their appreciation for art has matured.”

Grash is held in high esteem by both colleagues and students as a dedicated, creative and energetic teacher, Etheridge added. “She makes every attempt possible for each class member to learn and excel. Dr. Grash continuously seeks new ways to provide meaningful experiences for her students, underscoring her devotion to the learning process in the classroom,” he said.

Grash’s students praise her ability to integrate technology and her level of organization, Etheridge continued. “They consistently praise the clarity of her lectures as well as the enthusiasm with which they are delivered.”

Grash described her teaching philosophy as follows: “I continually strive to make art and architecture history interesting and relevant to all students I teach. For this reason, my approach stresses interdisciplinary learning, encouraging students to understand works of art and architecture as not only pure aesthetic and functional objects created by specific individuals at a particular moment in time, but also as tangible signifiers of the culture in which, and for which, they were produced.”


Janne Nolan, professor at the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs and a national security expert affiliated with Pitt’s Ridgway Center for International Security Studies, will chair the U.S. Nuclear Posture Review Project steering committee meeting on April 23 in Washington, D.C.

The review project is conducted by The Stanley Foundation and comes out of the Nuclear Posture Review ordered by President Bush in 2002.

The review project hopes to play a role in reconsiderations of U.S. nuclear weapons policy by setting the stage, making recommendations and preparing solutions that can be advanced readily and implemented by the next administration.


Elayne Arrington, senior lecturer in the Department of Mathematics, was named to the Community College of Allegheny County board of trustees. The appointment runs through December 2011.


The Music Library Association (MLA) has awarded the 2007 Vincent H. Duckles Award to Mary Lewis, professor of music, for her three-volume work, “Antonio Gardano, Venetian Music Printer, 1538-1569,” published by Garland Press.

The award is given annually for “the best book-length bibliography or other research music tool.”

The awards committee, chaired by Cheryl Taranto of the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, stated in its recommendation: “This study has been published over the course of 17 years, and is now complete with Volume 3 appearing in 2005. It stands as a major reference work on Gardano’s music editions, some of the most important sources of music and a remarkable study of Renaissance publishing.

“Lewis is meticulous in her work, employing a number of approaches in her study of Gardano’s role, including bibliographical, historical and cultural considerations. This work will certainly stand as a major reference work on Renaissance music printers and publishers.”


Mark Stauffer, assistant professor of chemistry at the Greensburg campus, was awarded the UPG Faculty Distinguished Service Award. The award, which is voted on by the campus faculty, carries a $500 prize.

Stauffer has served as a member and chair of UPG’s chemical hygiene committee and the University-wide committee that oversees laboratory safety.

He is a member of the Society for Analytical Chemists of Pittsburgh and the Spectroscopy Society of Pittsburgh. He also is a chemistry consultant to the Math Science Partnership of Southwest Pennsylvania, developing a science curriculum framework for K-12 science education.

Stauffer has presented workshops on electrochemistry to middle and high school science teachers and middle school students as part of PittCon, the Pittsburgh Conference on Analytical Chemistry and Applied Spectroscopy’s science week program.

He has served on or chaired committees for several professional organizations and has submitted research publications and manuscripts on analytical chemistry for use by teachers and chemists.

Stauffer is a member of UPG natural sciences and new technologies academic planning committee. He is president-elect of the UPG Faculty Senate.


Madeline Miles, who has served on the Bradford campus advisory board for 27 years and whose longtime philanthropic support has benefited the entire campus community, will receive the Presidential Medal of Distinction, Pitt-Bradford’s highest honor.

Pitt-Bradford presents the Presidential Medal of Distinction to a person who has either volunteered his or her time for several years; supported the campus either financially or with expertise or advice; served the campus’s service region through community, government or business affiliation, or made distinctive achievements in his or her field that have affected Pitt-Bradford.

“Madeline has been a great friend to Pitt-Bradford for many, many years,” said UPB President Livingston Alexander. “As a longtime member of the advisory board, she has committed much of her time to ensure that the institution’s goals are realized and the mission is advanced.

“Additionally, her steadfast support and generosity have helped countless students afford a high-quality undergraduate education and have contributed to the overall vitality of our community of learners.”

Miles will receive the award during the campus’s annual commencement exercises, which will be held April 29.

“I am humbled by this great honor,” Miles said, “especially when I look at the wonderful people who have preceded me in receiving this award.”

One of Miles’s predecessors is her mother, Virginia Loveland Miles, also a longtime supporter of Pitt-Bradford, who was one of the first recipients of the Presidential Medal of Distinction. Virginia Loveland Miles received the honor in 1991.

In addition to the guidance Madeline Miles has provided as a member of the advisory board, she also has been a generous benefactor for many years.

Miles has been a member of the advisory board since 1980 and was appointed to the board’s executive committee in 1982. She served as chair of the board’s academic affairs committee and later the campus life committee.

In 1997, she was appointed chair of the Governance Council, a position she held until July 2006.

In her professional life, Miles was a speech pathologist, a university professor and a language consultant for several schools.

Miles retired in 1978, moved back to her hometown of Bradford and became what she calls “a professional volunteer.”

In addition to Pitt-Bradford’s advisory board, she serves on the board of directors for the Bradford Area Public Library and Beacon Light Behavioral Health Systems.

She also works weekly as a surgical liaison at Bradford Regional Medical Center.


Helene Lawson, professor of sociology at the Bradford campus, has received this year’s Chairs’ Faculty Teaching Award for excellence in teaching.

Lawson received the award during the campus’s annual honors convocation held on April 13.

“More than anything else, Helene loves to be with students; this has led her to work with students on research leading to presentations at conferences and to publications,” said Sam Fohr, chair of the Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences.

“No one works harder than Helene for and with the students on this campus.”

Lawson was chosen for the award by the chairs of Pitt-Bradford’s five academic divisions.

In choosing an award recipient, the chairs reviewed letters of recommendation, student evaluations of teaching, syllabi and grade distribution.

They also considered the teachers’ knowledge of subject matter and their advising and dedication in working with students beyond the classroom in such activities as internships and research projects.

The award, which is in its sixth year, is open to any full-time faculty member who has taught at Pitt-Bradford for at least the last three consecutive academic years. The award criteria include the professor’s teaching and teaching-related activities during those years.

“It’s not every day that you get awarded for doing something that you absolutely love to do,” Lawson said. “I am very lucky to be appreciated for teaching students and that’s what it is all about for me.”

Lawson began her career at Pitt-Bradford as an assistant professor in 1991. She was awarded tenure in 1997 and was promoted to professor in 2003.

In 2000, Lawson founded the Penn-York Undergraduate Research Association with the goal of promoting undergraduate research in universities in the region. That same year the first-ever Penn-York undergraduate research conference was held at Pitt-Bradford. The association will host its eighth conference this fall.

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