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March 6, 2008


Gerald D. Holder, the U.S. Steel Dean of the Swanson School of Engineering, was honored Feb. 20 with the 2008 William Metcalf Award from the Engineers’ Society of Western Pennsylvania (ESWP) for lifetime achievement in engineering.

Holder is an authority on gas hydrates, a potential energy source composed of gas molecules trapped in hydrogen-bonded water molecules. He serves on the Congressional advisory panel on methane hydrates.

He has served on more than 20 national panels and committees and has worked for or consulted with several major corporations.

Since becoming dean in 1996, Holder has overseen a period of unprecedented growth. In 1995, the school received fewer than 800 freshman applications. In 2007, more than 2,200 students applied.

Also during Holder’s tenure, the school’s faculty members have gained greater recognition for research. For example, last year’s Scientific American 50 — a ranking of the nation’s top scientific researchers — included Michael Sacks and William Wagner of the bioengineering department for their work in regenerating cardiovascular tissue using biodegradable scaffolds.

In addition, research grants awarded to engineering faculty jumped from less than $20 million in 1996 to more than $55 million currently.

The school also has increased philanthropic support under Holder’s leadership. Over the past decade, the school received more than $90 million in outright cash support, compared to $18 million in the previous decade. The school now has a $98 million endowment, up from $48 million in 2000.

The Metcalf award is named for William Metcalf, ESWP’s founding member and a pioneer in manufacturing steel. The award recognizes an outstanding engineer in a field normally associated with western Pennsylvania, such as steel, aluminum, coal, glass and electrical equipment.

ESWP promotes interaction throughout the technical community in western Pennsylvania to advance the professions of engineering, architecture and applied sciences through technical activities, public service participation and social organizations.


The Women in the Law Division of the Allegheny County Bar Association recognized clinical professor of law Stella Smetanka with its annual Marjorie Matson Woman of the Year Award.

The award honors the achievements of Marjorie Matson, a 1937 Pitt School of Law graduate, for her accomplishments as a champion of civil rights.

To memorialize Matson’s achievements, the Pitt Law Women’s Association annually honors a female graduate of the law school who exemplifies the spirit of Matson’s leadership, activism and civic involvement.

Smetanka, Pitt law class of 1980, brings years of experience as a practicing attorney to her work in Pitt’s Health Law Clinic, where she fosters students’ client counseling and trial practice skills as they serve indigent clients from the Pittsburgh area.

A former Allegheny County assistant district attorney, she clerked for the Hon. William F. Cercone of the Pennsylvania Superior Court.


UPMC last week announced the appointment of Paul Wood to the newly created role of vice president of public relations. Wood will lead all of UPMC’s global media relations and internal communications activities.

Wood spent more than 17 years at Ford Motor Co. where he was responsible for developing and executing communications strategies supporting a variety of Ford’s operations, including the Office of the President, global purchasing, supplier relations, information technology, Lincoln Mercury, e-commerce and international public affairs.

Wood also has worked at Chase Manhattan Bank, where he was vice president of corporate planning and development. Before that, he was with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

Wood earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and a master’s degree in statistics from Ohio State University. He also holds an accreditation from the Public Relations Society of America.


Women’s basketball head coach Agnus Berenato has been named the 2007 Dapper Dan Sportswoman of the Year. It is the second time in three years she has won the award, which honors local and regional athletics contributions.

Berenato was awarded the honor after leading the women’s team to a school-best 24-9 record in 2006-07, which gave the Panthers their first-ever trip to the NCAA Tournament.

Berenato has raised the level of the Pitt program substantially since her arrival in 2003. The team has gone from a 6-20 season her first year to a program that is consistently in the top 25.

Pitt’s men’s basketball head coach Jamie Dixon was a finalist for the Dapper Dan Sportsman of the Year, but lost out to Sidney Crosby, Penguins captain and also a two-time winner of the award.

One of Berenato’s players, Marcedes Walker, the team’s first All-American in 16 years, was a finalist for Sportswoman of the Year.


Ronald E. Shoup, visiting mathematics instructor at Pitt-Titusville, and Alice M. Shoup were honored as outstanding citizens of the year by the Venango Area Chamber of Commerce.

The Shoups were recognized for their “exemplary service” to the community in terms of volunteerism in civic organizations, promotion of a positive image of the area and support of the community through their donation of time and talents.

Ronald Shoup was the last executive director of the Oil City Chamber and the first executive director of the newer Venango Area Chamber.

The couple has been active in various projects, especially in promoting the arts in Venango County.


Pitt-Johnstown men’s basketball coach Bob Rukavina earned his 300th career victory and his third straight 20-win season at UPJ with the Mountain Cats’ 83-67 victory over Salem International Feb. 21.

With the victory, the Mountain Cats, ranked 5th in the east region, secured the regular season championship in the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. The team dropped a 71-64 decision March 1 in the WVIAC tournament championship game. This is Pitt-Johnstown’s first year competing in the WVIAC.

Rukavina is the winningest men’s basketball coach in the campus’s history with a 302-210 overall record.


Hans-Christoph Pape, chief of orthopaedic trauma surgery at UPMC, has won a Kappa Delta Award, the highest honor given to scientific and clinical researchers by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

Pape was honored for his groundbreaking clinical research introducing optimal methods of managing orthopaedic injuries of multiple-injury trauma patients.

The concept of his work is known worldwide as “damage-control orthopaedics,” whereby seriously injured patients are stabilized and organ and system functions are restored as fully as possible before surgical repair of orthopaedic injuries begins.


The People of the Times column features recent news on faculty and staff, including awards and other honors, accomplishments and administrative appointments.

We welcome submissions from all areas of the University. Send information via email to:, by fax at 412/624-4579 or by campus mail to 308 Bellefield Hall.

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