News from around Pitt for Dec. 13: Staff Council proclamation, new associate vice provost and more

There’s so much activity on Pitt’s campuses that sometimes news gets overlooked by the wider University community. We’ll spotlight some changes and achievements here each issue of the University Times. If you have news you want to share, email editor Susan Jones at


Staff Council at Pittsburgh City Council

Pittsburgh City Council declared Nov. 27 “University of Pittsburgh Staff Council Day” in the city of Pittsburgh.
The proclamation, sponsored by Councilwoman Theresa Kail-Smith and presented in council chambers at the Pittsburgh City-County Building, highlights the collective work of Staff Council in representing the interests of University of Pittsburgh staff and advocating for the University and the Oakland community. It also recognized Staff Council’s work in establishing paid parental leave and benefits provided to domestic partners; supporting the professional development and personal engagement of Pitt staff; and identifying safety concerns across campus.
Accepting the recognition on behalf of Staff Council were executive committee members Deborah Whitfield, parliamentarian; Tammeka Banks, vice president of finance; Lola Suvak, Staff Council administrator; and Andy Stephany, president.


Julia SpearsJulia Spears has been named associate vice provost for academic innovation. In this new role, Spears will focus on further developing and executing the Personalized Education Initiative in the Office of the Provost.

Spears came to Pitt last year to start developing a concept of personalized education. She oversaw last year’s inaugural Mentoring and Advising Summit and is leading the planning for this year’s event in March. Spears also is overseeing the piloted launch of Pitt Commons, a web-based platform where Pitt students, staff, faculty, alumni and friends of the University can make connections, mentor students, join groups based on common interests, and more.

Prior to coming to Pitt, Spears served as associate director of the Barger Leadership Institute at the University of Michigan for more than three years. At Northern Illinois University, she was the director of the Office of Student Engagement and Experiential Learning before being promoted to associate vice provost for engaged learning.

More details here.


The Office of Diversity and Inclusion has relocated to the second floor of Webster Hall on the corner of Fifth Avenue and Dithridge Street. The office re-opened Dec. 10 in the new space.


The search has been reopened for the next president of Pitt-Bradford and Pitt-Titusville. Interested parties should review the position profile on the search website. The search committee invites nominations and is asking that Pitt faculty and staff share the position profile with anyone who might be a strong candidate or who might be able to recommend good candidates.

Lawrence Feick, former vice provost for special projects, has been serving as interim president of the regional campuses in Bradford and Titusville since Livingston Alexander retired on June 30 after 15 years of service. Feick will serve as interim president until a permanent president is appointed. 

Inquiries and nominations can be directed to the consultant for the search, Rob Holyer, at


Kate LedgerKate Ledger has been named assistant vice chancellor for marketing in the Office of University Communications. Ledger has more than 15 years of communications and marketing experience at Pitt across several schools and offices.

“Kate brings a wealth of knowledge, expertise and savvy to this role. I could not be more thrilled that she’ll be leading our marketing efforts,” said Vice Chancellor for Strategic Communications and Marketing Ellen Moran in a news release.

Currently executive director of marketing and engagement in the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid, Ledger will continue to support admissions and financial aid through May 1 while she transitions into her new role in University Communications. Her portfolio will include overseeing a University branding initiative and developing campaign strategies to increase Pitt’s visibility and reputation.

More here.


Counseling Assistant Professor Kelly Beck has been awarded a $1.3 million grant to conduct a four-year study for the Department of Defense Autism Research Program.

Beck will evaluate the efficacy of a mindfulness-based intervention, EASE (Emotion Awareness and Skills Enhancement Program), in adolescents and adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder. EASE may help with independent living, social relationships, post-secondary education and training, and employment. 


The School of Medicine is now accepting applications for the new Physician Scientist Incubator Program.

The goal of the Physician Scientist Incubator program is to train the highest quality biomedical physician investigators. Applicants should have MD degrees without doctoral training who seek careers that involve pre-clinical research. The bench science research will start as early as March 1, 2019. 

Trainees will receive post-graduate year equivalent stipend during research years, tuition and travel support, eligibility for technician support on return to clinical training post research, laboratory biostatistics training, transactional and leadership skill training and technical expertise consulting as needed.

Application deadline is Feb. 15, 2019. Find more information here, starting Dec. 14.


Do you know someone who is committed to social justice? Nominate them for the Iris Marion Young Award for Political Engagement.

The Gender, Sexuality & Women’s Studies Program, with support from the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, invites nominations of any staff or faculty member or graduate or undergraduate student who is working to promote social justice and democracy. Nominations of individuals whose work explicitly engages issues of gender and sexuality are especially welcome.

The nomination deadline is Dec. 15.