Nationality Rooms’ Bruhns leads list of notable retirements

photos and memorabilia in case


In 1965, you could buy a house for less than Pitt’s current in-state yearly tuition. The Vietnam War and the anti-war movement back home were gathering steam. The Watts riots in Los Angeles left a large area burned out. “Dr. Zhivago” premiered. Martin Luther King Jr. led marchers across the Pettus Bridge from Selma to Montgomery. The Beatles played a live concert at Shea Stadium in New York. J.K. Rowling was born.

And in June 1965, Maxine Bruhns got a job at the University of Pittsburgh as a two-day-a-week executive secretary of the Cultural and Educational Exchange Committee. At the time, her husband also accepted a job as a professor in the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs. 

Bruhns, 96, officially retired at the end of 2019 as director of the Nationality Rooms and Intercultural Exchange Programs after more than a half a century of reviving and growing the Nationality Rooms program at the Cathedral of Learning. 

In a letter in the fall Nationality and Heritage Rooms newsletter, Bruhns said that some health setbacks were preventing her from continuing as director.

“I have always considered myself the luckiest person in Pittsburgh,” Bruhns said in the letter. “After I was married, my husband’s work with refugee resettlement took us to countries throughout Europe, Africa and Asia. In 15 years, we never stayed more than two years in any one place. I survived all of these different moves with no tragedies and learning not to hate but always appreciating the culture in which I was living. I brought that back with me and found this marvelous job where I used those experiences to establish a legacy that will continue beyond my time with you. These rooms and programs that are so dear to me will remain my greatest accomplishment.”

Nineteen rooms were dedicated between 1937 and 1957, and then the program languished for eight years until Bruhns came to Pitt. Under her guidance, there 12 more Nationality Rooms were added, a Summer Study Abroad Scholarship program was created and grants were established to bring international scholars to Pitt.

 “When Maxine came to Pitt, the Nationality Rooms were considered to be done. She infused the program with energy. She felt that the rooms could tell the story of what Pittsburgh’s immigrants meant to this country,” Maryann Sivak, assistant to the director of the Nationality Programs and longtime friend of Bruhns, told @Pitt. “She was ahead of the times before diversity became ‘modern.’ ”

Read more about Bruhns’ tenure at the University in @Pitt and The Pitt News. Also, check out a public display on the third floor of the Cathedral of Learning of objects Bruhns collected during her time abroad, including Ukranian woodwork, masks from Cambodia, puppets from Thailand and photographs of Bruhns during various periods of her life.

Other retirements

The end of the calendar year is a popular time for people to make the leap into retirement. We wanted to recognize those who left Pitt during the second half of 2019, so we asked schools and departments to send lists of notable retirees from July to December 2019.

Look for more retiree updates in June in the University Times.


Denise Doswell (31 years): Executive assistant. A recipient of the 2018-2019 Chancellor’s Staff Award, Doswell joined the University in 1988 serving in an administrative role to several senior-level leaders. A loyal and dedicated individual, she volunteered her time on numerous University committees. 

Deborah Pozycki (42 years): Director of Real Estate Administration. Her time at the University was spent managing real estate and leased property in the Office of Planning, Design and Real Estate.


Ellen Bishop (20 years): Lecturer II, English

Renate Blumenfeld-Kosinski (25 years, emeritus): Professor, French & Italian Languages and Literatures

Robert Duda (31 years): Research assistant professor, Biological Sciences

Andrea (Andi) Fitzgerald (44 years): Academic administrator, Undergraduate Studies.

Andrew Koffmann (18 years, emeritus): Clinical professor, Psychology

Christine Metil (36 years): Academic coordinator, Humanities


Gerald Holder (40 years): Dean Emeritus Gerald Holder officially retired Sept. 1. He was appointed to faculty in 1979 and named dean in 1996. For two decades as U.S. Steel Dean of Engineering at the Swanson School of Engineering, Holder led its growth as one of the top 25 public engineering programs. To mark his 20th anniversary as dean of the Swanson School in 2016, Provost Patricia Beeson appointed him as a Distinguished Service Professor.


William Beu (22 years): Groundskeeper

Floyd Clawson (47 years): Cleaner

David Gieraltowski (22 years): Custodial Services supervisor

Bernard Grzybek (31 years): Cleaner

Robert Henderson (20 years): Cleaner

Thomas Hoag (31 years): Cleaner

Robert Hill (44 years): Cleaner

Albert Huber (14 years): Plumber

Nick Malenka (37 years): Building engineer

Nathaniel McCoy (20 years): Window washer

Robert Reynolds (10 years): Building engineer

Mark Smith (25 years): Building engineer


Pasquale (Patsy) B. Guzzi Jr. (40 years): Director of Fiscal & Administrative Services for the LRDC for 18 years. In 1979, Guzzi graduated from Penn State with a degree in accounting began his career in the Office of Research Accounting. Over the years, he worked in the Comptroller’s Office, and departments of Chemistry, and Molecular Genetics and Biochemistry. During his years at LRDC, Guzzi was responsible for everything related to the budget, grants, research expenditures and a staff of 10 people.


Michael Pavia (30 years): Senior advisor to the SVC/CFO. He spent his entire career in the CFO’s office, beginning as a staff accountant. His responsibilities included developing multi-system integrated financial, demographic, and academic related strategic tools. He also led cross-functional teams that worked to address challenges and opportunities for the CFO’s division and the University at large.

Louise Gargis (25 years): Student service specialist in the SVC/CFO’s student payment center division. She began as a cashier and has taken on additional roles during her tenure, including as assistant petty cash custodian, accepting departmental deposits, and participating in outreach efforts to students and families.

Diana Gualtieri (17.5 years): Payroll associate in the Department of Financial Operations.

Joanne Ross (23 years): Accounting clerk in the Department of Financial Operations. She spent her entire time at the University in Payment Processing.


Folke Kafka (21 years, emeritus): Associate professor of Business Administration. Katz Graduate School of Business and College of Business Administration in 1998. He taught marketing and business economics courses at the doctoral, graduate and undergraduate levels. He took tremendous pride in his relationships with students and alumni, as well as in his service to the school. 

Gee Chin (30+ years): Administrative manager of faculty operations. Chin served as a valued and integral part of Pitt Business, but most especially to the dean’s office. Her contributions to Pitt Business were evident through her outstanding commitment to faculty operations, her professionalism, and the strong relationships she has built with colleagues in the business school and across the University.

Patricia Koroly (35 years): Faculty secretary. Koroly has worked with the Katz Graduate School of Business and College of Business Administration for 34 out of her 35 years with the University.


Paul Schiff (49 years): Schiff joined the School of Pharmacy as assistant professor in 1970 and in December 2019 became emeritus professor. For 26 of those years, he served as department chair, first of the Department of Pharmacognosy and ultimately as chair of the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences. His excellence and commitment to teaching earned him the title “teacher of the year” five times within the School of Pharmacy. Schiff was a contributing member and a leader of a number of national organizations. Today, he continues as a member of the U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention, Botanical Dietary Supplements and Herbal Medicines Expert Committee.

Kathy Stell (26 years): Stell has been an integral part of the School of Pharmacy since 1993. She began her career in the Drug Information Center and since then, has touched all parts of the school through interaction with faculty, staff, alumni and students. Her portfolio of work includes administering highly successful national continuing education programs, coordination of accreditation reporting, exemplary administrative support, hosting external visitors and exquisite event planning to name a few. Her attention to detail and constant professional manner are hallmarks of her work and her demeanor.


Joseph P. Costantino (43 years, emeritus): He was a professor in the Department of Biostatistics and director of the research project NRG Oncology Statistics and Data Management Center. His primary research interest was the design, implementation, and analysis of clinical trials, particularly those dealing with the prevention or treatment of breast and colorectal cancer. Collaboration in the trials of the National Surgical Breast and Bowel Project has been a major focus. An earlier area of research focused on the assessment of health effects from occupational and environmental exposures to airborne pollutants.

Walter M. Cronin Jr. (39 years): He directed the quality assurance program of NRG Oncology, including program development and implementation, assurance of compliance to federal regulatory mandates, development of software operating systems, and development and maintenance of written standard operating procedures. He was instrumental in the executive leadership of the statistical center at Pitt and across the four statistical center offices of NRG Oncology since the merger. In particular, his contributions to the conduct of the NSABP Breast Cancer Prevention Studies made a huge difference in the lives of women at high risk for breast cancer.

Gloria A. Curtis (39 years): She became an administrator for Trevor Orchard 13 years ago, working primarily on his long-term study of the epidemiology of diabetes complications. In this capacity she played major roles in grant administration, participant recruitment and payment. She provided administrative assistance to other studies, including drug trials and diabetes research and public health activities in Rwanda. Curtis also served as clinic receptionist for the Nutrition Lipid Program, a medical outpatient clinic. In all these roles she displayed remarkable efficiency and a willingness to take on new tasks and help out wherever the need arose.

Phalguni Gupta (34 years): Gupta has been a professor and vice chairman of the Department of Infectious Diseases and Microbiology. His research interest included the cellular and molecular basis of HIV pathogenesis, molecular mechanisms of sexual transmission of HIV, and the development of microbicides against HIV and an HIV cure.

Nancy Heath (30 years): Heath worked in the Department of Infectious Diseases and Microbiology for more than 20 years. As a post-award administrator, she was responsible for tracking the expenses and levels for the department’s many research grants.

Cindy S. Johnston (20 years): She served as the administrative secretary to the chair of the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health.

Phouthone Keohavong (27 years, emeritus): Keohavong’s research interests centered around elucidating the cellular and molecular mechanisms by which environmental carcinogens cause lung cancer and to identify markers for the diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment of this disease. He worked to understand how airway epithelial cells are involved in lung tumors, and how they are influenced by environmental factors that increase lung cancer risk and how they respond to therapies.

Mary Ellen Lytle (32 years): Lytle worked with doctors Mary Ganguli, Lewis Kuller, Oscar Lopez, and Anne Newman on the following initiatives: Monongahela Valley Independent Elders Survey, the Ginkgo Evaluation of Memory Study, the Cardiovascular Health Study, and the Aspirin in Reducing Events in the Elderly study. In addition to being a clinic examiner specializing in cognitive testing, she was a skilled telephone interviewer with elderly study participants and known as an expert and national resource in conducting interviews of family members with compassion and sensitivity to learn details and circumstances of participants’ deaths.


Marek Druzdzel (26 years): Professor. Marek joined Pitt’s School of Information Sciences in 1993. He taught graduate-level courses in the field of information science, was a lead faculty member for the MSIS’s Big Data specialization and was an affiliated faculty member Pitt’s Intelligent Systems Program.

Christinger Tomer (30 years): Associate professor. Christinger joined Pitt’s School of Information Sciences in 1989. He taught a variety of graduate level classes in information technology and was one of the major developers of the MLIS Fast Track Program, an online degree program started in 2001. 


Marjorie Schermer (18 years): Assistant director of student and career services. During her tenure, she worked as a graduate enrollment manager in the school’s Office of Admissions and Enrollment Services and as support staff for pre-service teachers in the Master of Arts in Teaching program. Prior to joining Pitt, she worked as an English teacher in the Gateway School District in Monroeville.

Carole Capson (50+ years): Manager of payroll and personnel services. In performing her duty to the school, she interacted with thousands of faculty, staff, and students over the years.


Beverly S. Brozanski (32+ years): Professor of Pediatrics. She is a national leader in neonatal medicine and safety protocols in pediatric patient care. In 2006, she cofounded the Children’s Hospitals Neonatal Consortium, a national organization that includes 34 children’s hospitals committed to improving care for infants in Level 4 neonatal intensive care units.

William C. (Chet) de Groat (51 years): Distinguished professor of Pharmacology and Chemical Biology. Throughout his career, he studied the bladder, and his research has focused on the autonomic nervous system and neural regulation of pelvic visceral functions. Beyond his basic and clinical research advances, he taught and mentored many students and colleagues within the University community.

James R. (Jamie) Johnston (33 years): Professor of Medicine and director of the Renal-Electrolyte Division’s clinical services. A passionate educator, he taught numerous courses on the mechanisms of kidney function and disease and helped to develop teaching methods and curriculum design for fellow educators at the University and at international schools and other institutions. 

Joseph L. Kelley III (15+ years): Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences. In his distinguished career — specializing in the treatment of gynecologic cancers and breast cancers — he was director of the Division of Gynecologic Oncology in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences. He was also an investigator in the Gynecologic Oncology Group, a national group of researchers.

Robert L. Kormos (32 years): Professor of Cardiothoracic Surgery and a leader in medical device development. He led Pitt’s Artificial Heart Program for 25 years, directing development and enhancement of various mechanical heart devices that have improved patient survival and quality of life. He concurrently directed programs in thoracic and heart transplantation and led the cardiothoracic residency program.

Edward P. Mulvey (36 years): Professor of Psychiatry and director of the Law and Psychiatry Program. His influential research centered on forensic psychiatry, juvenile justice and violence and mental illness, among other topics. His work has advanced mental health public policy and the treatment and rights of juvenile and adult offenders in the criminal justice system. 

Paul M. Paris (38 years): Professor of Emergency Medicine. Through research, education, high-quality patient care, and administrative leadership, his work has advanced emergency medicine. His widely recognized innovations involve acute pain management and reduction of errors in emergency medicine and prehospital emergency care. He was the founding chair of Pitt Med’s Department of Emergency Medicine. 

A. William Pasculle (43 years): Associate professor of Pathology. He is renowned for the discovery of Legionella micdadei, the second pathogenic member of the genus Legionella, and for subsequent studies on the pathobiology and ecology of these organisms. More recently his research focused on the transmission, detection, and development of therapies for vancomycin-resistant enterococci infections.

Rita M. Patel (34 years): Professor of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine. During her career, she established an enviable record of accomplishment as an obstetric anesthesiologist and educator. Her contributions to the school’s Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine included serving as vice chair for education for 15 years and as residency program director for seven years. Beginning in 2003, she was Pitt’s Designated Institutional Official for the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, a responsibility that included more than 20 teaching sites and more than 1,700 residents and fellows.

Kenneth C. Shestak (33 years): Professor of Plastic Surgery. He was the longtime chief of plastic surgery at UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital and co-director of the UPMC Aesthetic Plastic Surgery Center. His surgical expertise centered on revision breast surgery, body contouring and head-and-neck reconstruction, as well as a variety of general plastic surgery topics.

John K. Vries (39+ years): Associate professor in the Department of Computational and Systems Biology. He conducted research aimed at developing an alignment-independent method for protein classification and was senior vice president for Medical Archival Systems (MARS), an early medical records and information-management system. He was also a neurosurgeon at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh and supported the John K. Vries Professor of Computational Biology endowed chair.


Laurie Cohen (33 years): Liaison librarian

Tina DiClemente (50 years): Receptionist

Phil Wilkin (33 years): Western European studies area specialist