Staff Council-sponsored tours of Oakland campus will continue next year

Cathedral Commons


Campus tours for new employees are set to resume this March, sponsored by Staff Council and the student alumni group the Blue and Gold Society.

But a pilot tour, held in a cold, steady rain on Nov. 15, gave an initial batch of fresh faces a glimpse of lower-campus highlights, and a preview of what is to come.

Maddie Hobbs, a junior in the Swanson School of Engineering and a varsity soccer player from Portsmouth, Rhode Island, gamely guided the group to its first stop in an entryway of the Cathedral of Learning, pointing out Heinz Chapel, with some of the largest stained-glass windows in the world — the 73-foot transept windows — just across the Cathedral lawn. Inside the Cathedral, she noted that the Blue and Gold Society — which connects current students with alumni — is the only organization allowed to take over the first floor for events, outside of the Chancellor’s Office.

Then it was off in rapid succession for glimpses of the Nationality Rooms, Hillman Library, Schenley Plaza, Posvar Hall, the quad and the Towers dorms, past David L. Lawrence Hall and on to the William Pitt Union.

“It really is a true student union,” Hobbs said. “Students are in here using these spaces.”’

Two new employees in the Office of the Provost said the tour was worthwhile, and they wanted more.

“We receive a number of phone calls and walk-ins where people are seeking information about events or locations on campus, so I felt it was important for me to have as much knowledge as possible about Pitt’s campus,” Callan Rowe said. “The tour brought me to buildings and locations on campus that I had not yet seen, and also provided me with some interesting facts.

“It was still a bit ‘student heavy’ rather than staff/faculty focused,” she added.

Jordan Bowser agreed: “I often hear of these buildings and places and wanted to be able to see where they all are in relation to the rest of the campus. I am also a sucker for facts about places and things around us, and these types of tours usually include a plethora of these types of random facts.

“I thought the tour was pretty good overall. My only issue was that most of what was pointed out to us were the main buildings that most people end up going through or learning about right away when being on campus. I was hoping to see some of the more unknown buildings and places on campus and maybe have some more detail on what is contained within those buildings.”

She suggested a longer tour with perhaps a campus van to transport the group to farther-flung locations.

As Hobbs acknowledged when the group was finally dry, back inside Alumni Hall: “Our campus is really walking-heavy. One of the smartest things I did as a freshman — I got a very good pair of rainboots.”

Marty Levine is a writer for the University Times. Reach him at or 412-758-4859.