Arrival Survival gives staff an opportunity to help Pitt’s core mission

Brock SizerFor Brock Sizer, an Office of Human Resources staff member, one of the best things about volunteering for the annual student move-in week each fall – Arrival Survival – is getting the chance to step outside his office and meet the students.

He quickly discovered that he wasn’t the only staff member doing so. He has seen Kathy W. Humphrey, senior vice chancellor for engagement and secretary of the board of trustees, alighting from a specially designed car built by Swanson School of Engineering students to greet first-year students, and Chancellor Patrick Gallagher passing out ice cream sandwiches in Forbes Quad.

“It was so nice to see senior leadership interacting with the students,” Sizer says. Overall, Arrival Survival “is a fantastic opportunity to be reminded of why we are here. It is a great way to kick off the school year.”

Thousands of Pitt freshmen will arrive on campus with their families beginning Aug. 20 for the 23rd Arrival Survival, with many questions. The event features numerous events, from a Global Carnivale to the chancellor’s picnic, a great deal of food and drink and the assistance of many returning students, plus about 200 staff volunteers each year.

Sizer, who is functional lead of the Oracle HCM cloud project (upgrading software from the University’s PRISM system of employee timecards), started at Pitt in 2011 and began volunteering at Arrival Survival in 2013.

As a Pitt grad who knew the campus better than some fellow staffers, he was first assigned to stand outside the Towers dorms and direct lost students. More recently, he has been giving students their welcome packets and helping them test whether their ID works.

The event is his chance to show new arrivals what the phrase “University community” really means, he says: “It allowed us to get in touch with the core mission of the University – why we are here – and it was really rewarding to try to create a family environment for students and their parents.”

Seeing the excitement

University Registrar Patti Mathay has been at Pitt for 41 years and began volunteering at Arrival Survival in 2014.

“It’s really important for students to have the opportunity to meet people at Pitt,” Mathay says. “The incoming students are the reason we exist. It’s just a little way to give back to the University.”

She too has been busy each fall checking students into their residence halls and directing their journey across campus.

Her favorite part of Arrival Survival is “just talking to the students, seeing the excitement that the students and their families have with their new venture in their life.

“The people who organize Arrival Survival have it really well planned,” she adds. “They do a really good job of making sure the vounteers are comfortable. It’s a great opportunity for everybody at Pitt to really be a part of the new academic year. I encourage my staff to volunteer.”



Marty Levine,, 412-758-4859