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July 24, 2008


Bernard Fisher, Distinguished Service Professor at the University and founding member of the National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project (NSABP), has been awarded an honorary fellowship in the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada for his contributions to medicine.

The award was made during the 50th anniversary meeting of the NSABP last month.

Fisher, a 1943 graduate of Pitt’s medical school and a member of its faculty since 1944, demonstrated in clinical trials that breast-conserving surgery was as effective as radical mastectomy for treating breast cancer, established the effectiveness of treatment using chemotherapy and/or tamoxifen and, more recently, was the first to prove that tamoxifen could help to prevent breast cancer in high-risk women.

He is best known for his groundbreaking 1974-1986 study demonstrating that a combination of lumpectomy and radiation therapy is as effective as radical mastectomy in treating breast cancer.

The NSABP is a research consortium that explores various cancer treatments.


Freddie H. Fu, professor and chair of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at the School of Medicine and founding medical director of the UPMC Center for Sports Medicine, was installed this month as the 37th president of the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine (AOSSM).

Fu is known for his pioneering surgical techniques to treat sports-related injuries to the knee and shoulder and his extensive scientific and clinical research in biomechanics. He also is the head team physician for the Department of Athletics.

Fu holds secondary appointments as professor of physical therapy, health and physical activity and mechanical engineering.

Fu has held numerous leadership positions for AOSSM, including four years on the board of directors. In 2009, he will assume the presidency of the International Society of Arthroscopy, Knee Surgery and Orthopaedic Sports Medicine.

In addition, Fu was named to the Chatham University Board of Trustees at the board’s June meeting.

Also approved as a new Chatham board member was Diane Holder, executive vice president of UPMC and president of the UPMC Health Insurance Division and UPMC Health Plan.

Holder has held a number of leadership positions in health care, including CEO of Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic and founding CEO of the Community Care Behavioral Health Organization.

Holder, who is a faculty member in Pitt’s Department of Psychiatry, served as a co-principal investigator on the first nationally funded psychotherapy treatment trial for depressed adolescents.


Michael Madison, professor of law and associate dean for research in the School of Law, served on the board of advisers to develop “Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Online Video” to guide creators of online entertainment.

The committee was sponsored by American University’s Center for Social Media.

“My role was largely at the ‘theory-scholarship’ end, rather than at the ‘observed-trends-on-online-video’ end,” said Madison, who has published several law review articles and book chapters about fair use. His writings provided much of the underlying legal theory on which the project was built.

Madison played a similar role on the board of an earlier project — a statement of best practices for fair use in documentary filmmaking — on which the current project is based. Also sponsored by American University’s Center for Social Media, the project, “Documentary Filmmakers’ Statement of Best Practices in Fair Use” (2005), has had success in influencing the filmmaking and insurance communities.


Pitt-Johnstown President Jem Spectar recently announced a number of administrative appointments and promotions.

James F. Gyure, senior assistant to the president for enrollment management and director of Admissions at Pitt-Johnstown, has been promoted to vice president for enrollment services and planning.

Bernard J. Sarneso, assistant director of Admissions, was promoted to the position of director, and Judith A. McGuirk, admissions counselor, has been promoted to assistant director of Admissions.

In his new position, Gyure will continue to oversee the offices of Admissions, Adult and Continuing Education, Financial Aid, Marketing and Registrar, as well as related enrollment and student success initiatives. In addition, he will oversee a broad range of planning and assessment initiatives aimed at implementing the campus’s “New Dimension of Excellence” strategic plan and enhancing institutional effectiveness.

A member of the UPJ community for more than three decades, Gyure has extensive experience in recruiting, admissions, financial aid and marketing, and a knowledge of contemporary approaches to strategic planning.

As the director of Admissions, Sarneso will develop, implement and execute recruitment and admission strategies that help fulfill Pitt-Johnstown’s enrollment objectives; direct the development of recruiting materials that promote Pitt-Johnstown, and help establish strategies for communicating with prospective and admitted students using contemporary technologies.

During his career at Pitt-Johnstown, Sarneso has been involved in the design and implementation of the introduction to the collegiate experience program, and served as the coordinator of the Freshman Network. Sarneso also contributed to the design and implementation of Pitt-Johnstown’s first freshman integration course, The College.

In McGuirk’s new role, she will be responsible for coordinating on-campus reception programs for prospective students and developing an alumni recruiting network. She will continue to lead the student tour guide program, develop admissions recruitment campaigns and counsel prospective students and their families.

President Spectar also announced three administrative appointments in the area of Finance and Administration, including the appointment of Kelly Austin as interim vice president for Finance and Administration. Christian J. Stumpf has been appointed associate vice president for Finance and Administration and Joyce A. Radovanic has been appointed director of Conference Services and Special Projects.

Austin has served in various positions in UPJ’s Student Affairs, most recently as acting vice president. He previously worked as a senior labor analyst for Continental Airlines and held financial industry positions with Norwest Financial and Toyota.

Stumpf most recently worked as assistant vice president for Auxiliary Services.

This year he received the Association of Collegiate Conference and Events Directors International’s Jack Thornton Distinguished Service Award.

Radovanic, whose 26-year career at Pitt-Johnstown includes positions in the Business Office, Registrar’s office, Education Division and President’s office, most recently worked as executive assistant to the president and director of Special Projects.

Spectar also announced that Elisabeth Bell-Loncella, associate professor of chemistry, has been named director of the Faculty Resource Center.

In her new role, Bell-Loncella will lead Pitt-Johnstown’s efforts to facilitate and support faculty professional development in areas of teaching, including the use of instructional technology and effective assessment practices. She will be responsible for assisting faculty in attaining and refining teaching effectiveness by sharing, discussing and exploring best practices; promoting, strengthening and institutionalizing effective practices for the assessment of learning outcomes; serving as a resource for best practices in the scholarship of teaching and learning, and promoting initiatives that foster faculty renewal and recognition.

In addition, she will participate in orientation and mentorship of new faculty in collaboration with the Office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs.

Bell-Loncella joined the Pitt-Johnstown faculty in 1991 as an assistant professor of chemistry and was promoted to associate professor in 1997.

She is a recipient of the Chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching Award, and has conducted research and presented on the subject of pedagogy, including the use of technology in the classroom, computation and writing across the chemistry curriculum and chemistry for non-science majors.

Spectar also announced three administrative appointments in Student Affairs, including the appointment of Jonathan Wescott, director of Housing and Residence Life, as interim vice president for Student Affairs. Additionally, Mark R. Dougherty, associate director of Housing and Residence Life, has been appointed director of Housing and Residential Living-Learning Communities, and Sherri L. Rae, area coordinator in Housing and Residence Life, has been named assistant director of student activities and intercultural affairs.

Prior to his employment at Pitt-Johnstown, Wescott served as director of Housing and Residence Life at Lebanon Valley College and assistant director of Residence Life at the University of Maryland.

Dougherty came to Pitt-Johnstown from Gardner-Webb University where he served in a number of administrative capacities, including assistant director of residence life, interim director of residence life, coordinator of judicial affairs and area director.

Rae had been working at UPJ as an area coordinator and has been a member of the University Scholarship instructional staff. She has coordinated the annual Worlds of UPJ Diversity Fair, and has been involved in judicial activities and on-call crisis response.

Prior to coming to Pitt-Johnstown, Rae served as director of peer education and as resident director at Defiance College.


Toby Rens, who built the Long Island University women’s volleyball program into a perennial NCAA Tournament team and Northeast Conference power, has been named Pitt head women’s volleyball coach.

Rens joins Pitt following a four-year tenure at LIU that saw the Blackbirds earn Northeast Conference titles and automatic NCAA Tournament berths each season.

LIU averaged 26.5 victories a year under Rens, including a 32-7 mark in 2004, the winningest season in LIU history. He was named Northeast Conference Coach of the Year in 2005.

Prior to LIU, Rens was the head coach for three seasons at the University of Maryland-Eastern Shore (UMES). In his first season, UMES went 3-28 before posting a 20-15 mark and earning a berth in the conference final the following year. For his efforts in directing the biggest turnaround in NCAA Division I, Rens was named the 2002 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Coach of the Year.

His other head coaching post was at Northern Michigan University, where he compiled a two-year mark of 58-17 and guided the Wildcats to a pair of NCAA Division II Tournaments and two Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference regular-season championships.

Also in Athletics, Donna Sanft, executive associate athletics director, is the fourth-ever woman to be named to the Mid-Mon Valley All Sports Hall of Fame.

Sanft holds one of the department’s most diverse and accomplished tenures. Her long association includes time as a student-athlete, head coach and, for the past two decades, administrator.

A 1974 graduate of Pitt with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in health and physical education, Sanft was a member and three-year captain of the gymnastics team. She was named Pitt’s Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year in 1974.

While coaching the Pitt gymnastics team for 12 years (1974-1986), Sanft compiled an 82-50-1 record and was twice selected the Eastern Collegiate Coach of the Year.

She also served as interim director of athletics in fall 2007.

The Mid-Mon Valley All Sports Hall of Fame opened in 1951 and now has 177 members.

Assistant women’s basketball coach Caroline McCombs will be inducted into the Youngstown State Athletics Hall of Fame in October.

McCombs ranks fourth all-time in assists (493) and sixth in points (1,577) and steals (236) at Youngstown State. She also holds the school record for career starts with 112.

During her 1994-98 playing career, McCombs helped Youngstown State win three Mid-Continent Conference regular-season championships and make two NCAA Tournament appearances.

McCombs is entering her fourth season with the Panthers, where she directs recruiting for the women’s basketball program.

Athletics also announced the appointment of Zac Saunders as the assistant director of compliance.

Saunders will aid in monitoring NCAA regulations for each of Pitt’s 19 varsity sports in the areas of playing and practice limitations, camps and clinics, promotional activities, recruiting and eligibility. He also will manage the compliance assistant Internet program and assist with the administration of the Student Athlete Opportunity and Special Assistance Funds, as well as the overall administration of the compliance rules education program.

Saunders served for three years as a graduate assistant with the Pitt football program. His duties included assisting in team budget, team travel, practice and game-day operations, recruiting activities, equipment operations, football clinics/camps and alumni/donor/community relations.

He is a 2005 Pitt graduate with degrees in both economics and psychology. In April he earned a master’s degree in higher education administration. He is a recipient of Pitt’s George I. Carson Graduate Fellowship Award.


Andrew F. Stewart, professor and chief of the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism in the Department of Medicine, was honored last month by the Endocrine Society during the organization’s 90th annual meeting.

Stewart received the society’s 2008 Gerald D. Aurbach Award and delivered the award lecture, “The PTHrP Story: A Bedside-to-Bench Paradigm for Translational Research.”

The Aurbach award recognizes outstanding contributions to endocrinology research.

Considered an international authority in disorders of bone and mineral metabolism, Stewart’s investigations also involve translational and basic science research of pancreatic beta islet cell function in individuals with diabetes.

He was the first to characterize in complete biochemical detail humoral hypercalemia of malignancy (HHM), a syndrome that is a common cause of death in patients with breast, lung and other cancers.

This accomplishment led to Stewart’s and his colleagues’ work to sequence and purify parathyroid hormone-related protein (PTHrP), a naturally occurring peptide hormone that regulates bone cell activity and is related to HHM.

Stewart is secretary-treasurer of the Endocrine Society, the world’s oldest and largest organization devoted to research on hormones and the clinical practice of endocrinology, representing more than 14,000 scientists, physicians, educators, nurses and students in more than 80 countries.

The Aurbach Award is given by the Endocrine Society in honor of the late Gerald D. Aurbach, who served as society president from 1989 to 1990.

A scholarship has been established in honor of Vernell A. Lillie, founder and director of the Kuntu Repertory Theatre and a faculty member in Pitt’s Department of Africana Studies.

The scholarship was arranged by Ruth Simmons, a former student of Lillie’s at Phillis Wheatley High School in Houston, Texas. Simmons is president of Smith College. She is the first African-American woman to head a top-ranked college in the United States.

In a letter to Lillie announcing the scholarship, Simmons wrote: “I am exceedingly proud of all that you have accomplished and remain ever grateful for the inspiration you provided me over the years. I am hopeful that your story will encourage others to follow the path of teaching and mentoring.”

The scholarship was established at Dillard University in New Orleans. Both Lillie and Simmons are graduates of the school.

Ken Sochats, assistant professor in the School of Information Sciences (SIS), has been appointed to represent Pitt on the Pittsburgh Cyber Task Force. Sochats was named to the task force by Chancellor Mark Nordenberg.

The goal of the task force is to convince the Department of Defense Cyber Command to locate in Pittsburgh. Earlier this year, the secretary of defense announced the selection of 18 states including Pennsylvania as candidates for the Cyber Command’s site.

All 18 candidate sites will be evaluated and six will be selected for a site visit. The Cyber Command will be staffed with a combination of 300 active-duty military personnel and civilians.

The task force is co-chaired by Dan Onorato, Allegheny County chief executive, and Mike Langley, chief executive officer of the Allegheny Conference.

Sochats is director of the Visual Information Systems Center at SIS and co-director of Pitt’s Center for National Preparedness.


Thomas Waters, director of information technology and informatics at the School of Pharmacy, received a Virtual Learning Prize from the New Media Consortium (NMC) for his proposal, “Measuring Heart Rate and How Medications Affect Heart Rate.”

The purpose of this project is to create a simulated body with a beating heart. The basics created with this simulation may be used by learners at all levels in many different contexts.

Waters is one of eight first-round awardees and will receive a $500 cash incentive and $4,500 in development assistance from the NMC Virtual Worlds team to create his proposed learning experience.

The New Media Consortium is an international not-for-profit group of more than 260 learning-focused organizations dedicated to the exploration and use of new media and new technologies. The NMC Virtual Learning Prize recognizes creative ideas for making optimal use of a virtual setting.

Also in the School of Pharmacy, Wen Xie, associate professor of pharmaceutical sciences, has been selected to receive the International Society for the Study of Xenobiotics (ISSX) 2008 North American New Investigator Award.

Xie’s laboratory studies orphan nuclear receptor-mediated genetic and pharmacological regulation of genes that encode drug metabolizing enzymes and transporters.

This regulation has a broad implication in drug metabolism and drug development. In addition, these orphan nuclear receptors can be used as potential therapeutic targets for the treatment and prevention of many human diseases, such as cholestatic liver diseases, jaundice, breast cancer and colon cancer.

ISSX facilitates and encourages the assemblage, acquaintanceship and the association of scientists engaged in research in Xenobiotic metabolism and related disciplines.

The award will be presented at the North American regional ISSX meeting in October.


Cristina Ruggiero will assume the position of assistant dean of Student Affairs in the College of General Studies on Aug. 18.

In this role, Ruggiero will oversee academic advising, services for student support and development, student retention and scholarships.

Ruggiero holds a master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she is completing a PhD in political science. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Wesleyan University.

For the past three years Ruggiero has been an instructor of political science at Chabot College in Hayward, Calif. There she was involved in college-wide strategic planning as chair of the institutional planning and budget committee. For the past 18 months she has worked as a grant/project coordinator of the Basic Skills/Immigrant Education Initiative, helping to develop and manage eight projects supporting student success and retention.

Prior to working at Chabot, Ruggiero was an instructor at City College of San Francisco.


George McClure, fiscal administrator of the Pennsylvania/MidAtlantic AIDS Education and Training Center site at the Graduate School of Public Health, earned a Gold Medal in the men’s 3-on-3 basketball competition open division at the National Kidney Foundation U.S. Transplant Games held this month in Pittsburgh.

McClure underwent a kidney transplant at UPMC Montefiore in 2007. (See July 10 University Times.)


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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