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April 14, 2005

2005 commencement to feature Helen Faison

Helen S. Faison, Pitt alumna and one of the region’s most influential educators, will deliver the 2005 commencement address and receive an honorary doctoral degree from Pitt.

Commencement exercises are set for 1 p.m., May 1, at the Petersen Events Center.

A 1942 graduate of Westinghouse High School, Faison earned a B.S. in education (1946), an M.S., also in education (1955) and a Ph.D. in educational administration (1975), all at Pitt.

She boasts a number of professional “firsts,” among them:

• In 1968, she was named the Pittsburgh Public Schools’ first female high school principal, as well as its first African-American high school principal;

• In 1983, she became, as deputy superintendent, the district’s then-highest-ranking woman, and

• As interim superintendent from early 1999 to mid-2000, she was the first African American to lead the Pittsburgh schools.

Currently, Faison directs the Pittsburgh Teachers Institute, a partnership of Chatham, Carnegie Mellon and the Pittsburgh Public Schools.

She also is an emeritus trustee on Pitt’s Board of Trustees.

In 2000, Faison was named a Pitt Legacy Laureate and, in 2001, a Distinguished Daughter of Pennsylvania.

“One of the things I learned during my undergraduate years was to juggle a lot of different responsibilities,” Faison said. “Those are skills that have served me well ever since.”

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