Here’s the Plan (for Pitt): Pitt Seed in Action

By MELISSA SCHILD                                             

Last month, we shared Chancellor Patrick Gallagher’s call to faculty and staff to submit their “big and bold ideas” to the Pitt Seed Project, which plays a major role in advancing the Plan for Pitt (P4P). In anticipation of the newest Pitt Seed cohort, we highlight a few examples of prior Pitt Seed grant recipients whose work is advancing our strategic plan.

Pitt ACT

P4P priorities it supports: Enrich the student experience, enhance academic supports to support personalized learning paths, improve key student success outcomes 

The Advising Certification and Training program (Pitt ACT), a 2020 Pitt Seed awardee, is a collection of online onboarding and training materials for faculty and staff on all campuses who work with undergraduate students in an advising and mentoring capacity. Led by April Belback, director of undergraduate advising and mentoring, the program has become a key resource for advisors and mentors to refine their skills and advance their professional development. 

Since Pitt ACT’s launch last fall, more than 130 advisors have enrolled in the six-module training, and 64 have completed the course.

Classroom to Community: Designing for Real-World Impact

P4P priorities it supports: Enrich the student experience, prioritize student skill development in critical areas, expand the number and type of global and interdisciplinary learning opportunities, encourage and expand community-engaged scholarly and creative work

Classroom to Community — another 2020 awardee — is “a program for students who want to develop their ‘design superpowers’ as they creatively invent solutions for real-world problems and needs.” The program, overseen by Swanson School of Engineering faculty member Joseph Samosky, provides space, resources, mentorship and a community for students to learn design thinking methods and tools for human-centered design. Students develop their creative abilities while engaging with their passion for creating solutions with tangible impact.

Emergency Responder Wellness

P4P priorities it supports: Encourage and expand community-engaged scholarly and creative work, develop and sustain relationships with strategic community and international partners, expand the number and type of global and interdisciplinary learning opportunities within and beyond the classroom, translate our research into concrete solutions

Led by Eric Meyer, this project in the 2021 Pitt Seed class supports the mental health and wellness needs of emergency responders. Meyer is the director of the Clinical Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling Program in the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences.

The project will provide accessible, culturally adapted, evidence-based mental health interventions; train health sciences students to work with emergency responders; foster development and success of local emergency responder peer support networks; and contribute to the scientific understanding of post-trauma recovery processes. 

Bridging the Tech Skills Gap for Underrepresented Groups

P4P priorities it supports: Prioritize student skill development in critical areas, create more pre-eminent learning experiences, increase early professional success for students

This 2021 Pitt Seed project seeks to bridge the cybersecurity skills gap and make cybersecurity education more accessible to diverse populations through a series of asynchronous boot camps. This effort, led by Leona Mitchell, will address the need of many employers for people with the skills to address growing cybersecurity challenges, while aiming to increase the presence of underrepresented populations in this workforce. Mitchell is the founding director of the Professional Institute at the School of Computing and Information.

Do you have questions about the Plan for Pitt or suggestions for implementation? Reach out to

Melissa Schild is assistant vice chancellor for strategic planning and performance and leads the University’s strategic planning efforts.