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May 17, 2007


Mark L. Wilson, professor of philosophy, director of graduate studies and fellow of the Center for Philosophy of Science, has been elected a 2007 fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is among 227 scholars, scientists, artists, and civic, corporate and philanthropic leaders from 27 states and 13 countries to be chosen.

Wilson investigates the manner in which physical and mathematical concerns become entangled with issues characteristic of metaphysics and philosophy of language. His book on the subject is “Wandering Significance: An Essay on Conceptual Behavior.” He is the author of more than 50 articles, has produced nearly 100 CDs and LPs, mainly on the Rounder label, and edits the North American Traditions Series for Rounder Records.

Last fall he issued a four-CD set of recordings from Kentucky on the Musical Traditions label titled “Meeting’s a Pleasure: Folk Songs of the Upper South.”

Among Wilson’s many honors are National Science Foundation, Woodrow Wilson and Harvard Prize fellowships. He also was a fellow at the Institute for the Humanities at the University of Illinois-Chicago (UIC) and at the Institute for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences as well as a recipient of a National Science Foundation grant.

Prior to joining the University in 1998, Wilson was a professor at Ohio State University. Before that, he was an associate professor at UIC and an assistant and associate professor at the University of California-San Diego.

Wilson received a BA from the University of Washington in 1969 and a PhD from Harvard University in 1976.

Pitt has seven other faculty members among the academy’s approximately 4,000 American fellows and 600 foreign honorary members. They are Thomas E. Starzl, transplant pioneer and Distinguished Service Professor of Surgery, elected to the academy in 1971; Adolf Grünbaum, Andrew Mellon Professor of Philosophy and co-chair of the Center for Philosophy of Science, 1976; John Henry McDowell, University Professor of Philosophy, 1992; John S. Earman, University Professor of the History and Philosophy of Science, 1993; Robert Brandom, Distinguished Service Professor of Philosophy, 2000; Peter L. Strick, professor of neurobiology and psychiatry and co-director of the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition, 2004, and Anil K. Gupta, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, professor of history and philosophy of science and a fellow of Pitt’s Center for Philosophy of Science, 2006.

Of the 203 new fellows and 24 new foreign honorary members to be named, Wilson is being honored along with former Vice President Albert Gore Jr., former Supreme Court Associate Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Google chair and CEO Eric Schmidt, New York Times investigative correspondent James Risen, filmmaker Spike Lee, economists Gregory Mankiw and Murray Weidenbaum, Pixar chief creative officer John Lasseter, pianist Emanuel Ax and historian Nell Painter.

An independent policy research center, the academy undertakes studies of complex and emerging problems. Current academy research focuses on science and global security, social policy, the humanities and culture, and education.


Amin Kassam has been appointed chair of the Department of Neurological Surgery at the School of Medicine. Kassam is internationally recognized for pioneering techniques in endonasal brain surgery that allow complex tumors of the skull base and brain to be removed without incisions.

“Amin Kassam has revolutionized the way we think about neurosurgery,” said Arthur S. Levine, senior vice chancellor, Health Sciences and dean, School of Medicine. “Today, thanks to his innovative thinking and perseverance in developing and perfecting endonasal cranial skull base surgical techniques, the removal of tumors and vascular anomalies is often accomplished non-invasively.”

Kassam is associate professor of neurological surgery, director of the UPMC Center for Cranial Nerve Disorders and co-director of the UPMC Center for Cranial Base Surgery. He completed his medical and undergraduate education at the University of Toronto and his residency training at the University of Ottawa and then joined the faculty of the Department of Neurological Surgery in 1998.

Since that time, Kassam has performed more than 2,500 neurosurgical procedures. He has focused on developing the multidisciplinary Minimally Invasive Neurosurgical Center (MINC), which provides comprehensive care for complex pathology of the skull base. Building on the talents of surgeons from multiple specialties, MINC uses proven conventional approaches in conjunction with new minimally invasive endoscopic approaches to provide treatment for patients.

Kassam has authored or co-authored 88 scientific journal articles and numerous book chapters. He has been an invited lecturer at numerous national and international neurosurgery meetings and has served on many national committees, most notably as a member of the executive board of the North American Skull Base Society.


Terry Smith, the Andrew W. Mellon Professor of Contemporary Art History and Theory at Pitt, has been named a fellow at the National Humanities Center in Durham, N.C., for the 2007-08 academic year.

Smith, whose research interests include world contemporary art, American visual cultures since 1870 and Australian art, including Aboriginal art, is one of 37 fellows selected from a pool of 400 international applicants.

Smith’s project at the center will focus on the topic of his newest book, “Contemporaneity,” to be published by Duke University Press in 2008. This book explores the role of world-picturing and representations of locality within current debates in the mass media, as well as in the humanities, social sciences and the arts. Smith will test the hypothesis that a distinctively contemporary set of configurations have come to replace the generalizations in widespread recent use: those referred to in such terms as modernity, postmodernism and globalization.

Before taking up his fellowship, Smith will serve a term as chercheur invité at the Institut national d’histoire de l’art, Paris. While at the institute, he will conduct a colloquium on his recent work on the challenges and opportunities of writing the history of contemporary art. One of the Institut’s research programs is the history of art history; Smith will be the first scholar to address contemporary art in this context.

Prior to his position at Pitt, Smith was the Power Professor of Contemporary Art and director of the Power Institute Foundation for Art and Visual Culture at the University of Sydney. He was a member of Art & Language, a group of conceptual artists, and a founder of Union Media Services — a design studio in Sydney specializing in trade union art initiatives.

A foundation board member of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney, Smith also is on the board of the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh. He is the author of “The Architecture of Aftermath” and “What Is Contemporary Art?” and has written and edited many other publications.

A privately incorporated independent institute for advanced study in the humanities, theNational Humanities Center is located on the campus of the Triangle Universities Center, a consortium of Duke University, North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.


Sean-Michael Green — an entrepreneur and former Marine — has been named assistant dean at Pitt’s College of General Studies (CGS).

In his new position, Green will provide strategic leadership in developing academic programs and online education for CGS, which is geared toward the nontraditional student.

Green is completing a master’s degree in public management at Carnegie Mellon University. He holds a JD from Cornell University’s School of Law, a master’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania and a bachelor’s degree from Pitt’s Honors College.

Green created an Internet-based educational service company and was CEO of Memories RPA, Inc. — an enterprise that converts analog images to digital. He served in the U.S. Marine Corps and Reserves for 12 years and has been a mentor and instructor for young people in the academic, military and business world.

He is the author of “Marching to College: Turning Military Experience Into College Admission.”


The Graduate School of Public and International Affairs (GSPIA) announced a number of faculty and staff awards in conjunction with graduation exercises.

Martin Staniland is the 2007 recipient of the Joseph Pois Award, in recognition of his contributions to the school.

Michael Sealy is the 2007 recipient of the GSPIA Teacher of the Year Award, given by students in recognition of excellence in teaching.

Additionally, faculty members Charli Carpenter, Anthony Giunta, Michael Hummel, Martha Terry, Nuno Themudo, David Cercone, Ernest Fullerton, Rajan Mookerjee, Siddharth Chandra, Donald Goldstein, Phil Williams, Robert Stumpp, Sandra Williamson, Kevin Kearns and David Korman received annual teaching awards, given by students in recognition of excellence in teaching.

Ann Pollack is the recipient of the 2007 Staff of the Year Award, given by students in recognition of excellence in service to students.


The graduating class of the School of Pharmacy honors a faculty member for outstanding effort and dedication to teaching. Michael Shullo, assistant professor of pharmacy and therapeutics, was chosen by the Class of 2007 to receive this award.

The award is named in honor of Stanford I. Cohen, a 1957 graduate of the school and member of the faculty from 1979 to 1998.

The award was presented at the school’s April 29 graduation dinner.


Staff members in the Office of Public Affairs won Press Club of Western Pennsylvania-sponsored awards this week.

The Press Club honored Madelyn A. Ross, associate vice chancellor for national media relations, with the President’s Award for lifetime achievement. Prior to coming to Pitt, Ross was managing editor of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Pittsburgh Press.

Pitt won a Golden Quill for feature-writing in the non-daily newspaper category for three stories that appeared in the Pitt Chronicle.

Honored were John Harvith, senior associate vice chancellor for University news and magazines and associate publisher of the Pitt Chronicle; Bruce Steele, editor of the Pitt Chronicle, and Patricia Lomando White, senior news representative and Pitt Chronicle staff writer.

The Golden Quills annually recognize excellence in local journalism — written, photographic and broadcast.

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