Honoring Pitt’s retirees from the first half of 2020

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In the coming months, there is likely to be a wave of retirements among Pitt faculty and staff, but the University Times wanted to recognize those who left the University in the first half of 2020 — before retirement incentives were announced in July.

We asked departments to submit retirements for January to June of this year, and here’s what we received:


Peter BuchheitPeter Buchheit (40 years): Director of Facilities Management. Buchheit has participated in the construction or renovation of every building on the Pitt-Bradford campus. In 2008, he was recognized by Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg as a winner of the Chancellor’s Award for Staff Excellence in service to the community and the University.

Mark Burns (40 years): Assistant director of Campus Police and Safety. Burns has worked nights for many years and is a student favorite for late-night chats and granting second chances.

Helene Lawson (29 years): Professor of Sociology and director of the Sociology program. A champion of undergraduate research, in 2000, Lawson founded the Penn-York Undergraduate Research Conference, which has continued for 20 years. She helped establish the sociology major at Pitt-Bradford in the mid-1990s and founded the gender studies minor in 2001.


Barbara Frey (19 years): She holds bachelors, masters and doctorate degrees in Education, and has held increasingly responsible positions in instructional design and faculty development at the Center for Teaching and Learning. Frey has been involved in working with faculty on the design and development of both traditional and online courses, and her work has resulted in award-winning programs and courses, particularly in the online arena. 

Lorna Kearns (12 years): Kearns has served the University in several capacities over the years, first as a user consultant and then director of computing services in LRDC, and later as an instructional designer, director of Online Programs and finally director of Next Generation Learning Initiatives at the teaching center. During her career, she also worked for Carnegie Mellon as director of the master of science in Information Technology program in the Heinz College, and as an adjunct professor in Heinz. Kearns helped build solid online programs meeting the needs of hundreds of remote students and launched MOOCs that have brought Pitt content to thousands around the world. She also started the Course Incubator initiative.


Debbie Klinvex (19 years): Screener for Pitt+Me. Klinvex has been a University of Pittsburgh employee since 2001. She first worked in research at the School of Nursing with Mary Ann Sevick and joined the Clinical and Translational Science Institute in June 2013, as the first full-time Pitt+Me registry phone scree​ner.

Margie Gabriel (27 years): Health study recruiter. Gabriel was hired by Pitt in 1993. She recruited for multiple studies with the Department of Epidemiology before joining the Office of Clinical Research (CTSI) where I continued retention for the Heart Score Study that started in 2003 and did recruitment of the All of Us Pennsylvania study.


German Barrionuevo (34 years): Neuroscience, professor emeritus

B. Jean FerketishEDUCATION

(Pictured at left) B. Jean Ferketish (24 years): Associate professor at the School of Education. Ferketish taught graduate-level courses in the leadership and management of institutions of higher education. Prior to joining the school, Ferketish was the secretary of the Board of Trustees and assistant chancellor for the University for 14 years.




Gary Hussar (12 years): Procurement Specialist. Hussar was the first procurement specialist in Purchasing Services to focus on software licensing. During his tenure, his role evolved from reviewing straightforward agreements to license on-premise software to negotiating detailed and complicated Software as a Service agreements. He has temporarily returned on a part-time basis to assist the department.

Kevin Maloney (18 years): Director of Strategic Sourcing and PantherExpress System Solutions. Maloney has provided the vision, expertise and drive to successfully execute some of the largest and most complex projects.


Gerald M. Barron (14 years): Associate professor in the departments of Health Policy and Management and Behavioral and Community Health Sciences, and deputy director of the Center for Public Health Practice. His focus is to describe and evaluate community health initiatives, achieve more effective and efficient methods of operation, and present effective approaches to issues of practice. He is director of the Pennsylvania Preparedness Leadership Institute and a site visitor for the Public Health Accreditation Board.

Susan P. Majersky (nearly 14 years): Administrative secretary in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health. She supported many functions in the department including administration, purchasing, and numerous faculty projects.

Shirley Murphy (29 years) will retire at the end of August 2020. For her entire Pitt career she has served in the Department of Infectious Diseases and Microbiology, most recently as the program manager of the MidAtlantic AIDS Education and Training Center, which provides HIV/AIDS education, consultation, technical assistance and resource materials to health care professionals throughout the region.

Lynette Virginia Clark(Pictured at left) Lynette Virginia Clark (49 years). She served the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health as coordinator for the Healthy Lifestyle Initiative and as the department’s Pitt United Way Coordinator. She is the recipient of the Chancellor's Award for Staff Excellence in Service to the Community. She is a life member of the PAA and works extensively with all African American Alumni Council activities.

Jean M. Sullivan (47 years): She began her Pitt career in 1973 with Pitt’s Human Resources department, where she worked for almost 20 years before transferring to the Pitt Public Health Department of Biostatistics. There she served as personnel administrator for the NSABP/NRG Oncology Statistics and Data Management Center until she retired. She graduated from Pitt with a BA in communications and has been an active supporter for the Pitt basketball and football teams.


Mervat Abdelhak (48 years): Associate professor and former chair of Health Information Management department. Abdelhak began her career with the University of Pittsburgh on May 22, 1972, when she was hired as an assistant instructor with Health Information Management (HIM). Throughout her time with HIM, she rose through the ranks to become the director of the graduate program and ultimately the department chair in 1986, a position which she held until 2019. Throughout her career she became known as a recognized leader in the field of health information management and was very active in peer organizations, including her service as president of the American Health Information Management Association.

Michael McCue (41 years at Pitt; 26 at SHRS): Professor and director, Clinical Rehabilitation & Mental Health Counseling Program. Six years after joining the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences in 1994, McCue founded the School's first Rehabilitation Counseling in 2000. Over the years, he guided the expansion of the program into a CACREP accredited Clinical Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling program by 2015. He is an elected fellow of the National Academy of Neuropsychology, an RSA Institute on Rehabilitation Issues (IRI) scholar (2002-2003), and past president of the Pennsylvania Rehabilitation Association.

Linda Sustich (25 years): Instructor, Communication Science & Disorders. Over her four-decade career in Communication Science & Disorders, Sustich was a clinical educator to hundreds of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology students, helped develop the school practicum program establishing the first school-based service delivery course and school site visit program and developed relationships with and oriented hundreds of clinical instructors to expand off-campus clinical practicum opportunities for students as the program increased in size throughout the years.  


Rebecca Abromitis (23 years): Liaison librarian to the School of Dental Medicine. Abromitis worked closely with faculty on research projects and co-authored numerous articles and presentations. Through the years, she was heavily involved in the staff development of HSLS librarians and mentored her colleagues on enhancing their instructional skills.

Andrea Ketchum (16 years): Faculty librarian. Ketchum’s professional focus grew from supporting narrower topics of consumer health and pediatrics to participating in systematic reviews and clinical research. She became the library’s resident expert in all aspects of scholarly communication, including research impact metrics, open access, copyright, peer review, and public access policy.

Charles Wessel (30 years): Head of Research Initiatives. In addition to his HSLS appointment, Wessel had a secondary appointment in Pitt’s Clinical and Translational Science Institute and was an affiliated faculty member in the Center for Research on Media, Technology, and Health. He was a leader in complex literature searching in MEDLINE and other health sciences databases and shared his expertise through teaching and consultation.

James Fischerkeller (45 years): Metadata specialist. Fischerkeller was willing to help and enjoyed working on special projects. In his position, he monitored HSLS’s electronic resources for content accuracy and had a great eye for detail. He joked that he had probably touched all of the books in the library at least one, and that’s likely not a far stretch given that he’s been involved in many shifting, relabeling and relocating projects.


Teresa Brostoff (27 years): Professor and director of Legal Writing. Brostoff researches, writes and lectures on legal writing methodology and pedagogy. She teaches Legal Analysis and Writing to first year law and LLM students. She is the co-author, with Professor Ann Sinsheimer and Professor Emeritus Nancy Burkoff, of “Legal Writing: A Contemporary Approach.” She and Sinsheimer also created the English for Lawyers Program, now titled U.S. Law and Language for which they co-authored the text Legal English. She taught this law school preparation course for international lawyers for many years at Pitt. 

Kevin Deasy: Associate dean of students and associate professor of Legal Writing. Deasy's particular interest is the Mellon Writing Program for students from underrepresented groups — minority students, older students, and students with disabilities. In addition, Deasy is active in the Council on Legal Education Opportunity (CLEO), serving as the director of the CLEO Summer Institute at Pitt in 1995, and as an instructor at the CLEO programs at Dickinson Law School in 1994 and 1996.


Don Fry (38 years): Security Operations: Fry’s career with Pitt Information Technology has included work as a computer operator, data processor, data control coordinator, and mainframe operator, before he transitioned to data and applications security in 2004. He also is a proud alumnus of Pitt.

Leigh Booker (41 years): Manager of Financial Development Services. Booker started at Pitt as a college intern and was then hired as a full-time programmer. Throughout her career, she has led the implementation of many central financial applications, including the implementation of PRISM in 1997. Since then, she has supported the management and many enhancements to the system.

Joel Garmon (3 years): Chief information security officer. Since joining Pitt IT in 2017, Garmon has been instrumental in spearheading University-wide cybersecurity threat prevention, as well as compliance with security and privacy regulations. He served as the University’s HIPAA security official and helped safeguard faculty, staff and student information and Pitt’s extensive research. His leadership was central to the University’s implementation of the NIST Cybersecurity Framework.