Robert Yee was a ‘founding father’ of the Graduate School of Public Health
Robert Yee, noted as one of the “founding fathers” of the Graduate School of Public Health, died Jan. 19, 2019 at 91.
Charles R. Rinaldo, faculty member and former chair of Yee’s department — Infectious Diseases and Microbiology — joined Pitt in 1978, in Yee’s 26th year as a teacher. In a forthcoming department newsletter, Rinaldo notes that Yee “was a towering figure over seven decades in this department, school and university,” particularly as assistant chair under Monto Ho for many years.
“Bob would never say this, but we all knew that Monto was greatly dependent on Bob’s organizational skills in helping him run the department,” Rinaldo wrote. “With his passing we lost the most dedicated faculty member of our department, and particularly to our graduate students.”
In an interview, Rinaldo added: “He was indispensable to the department and really to the school,” and was most valued as a teacher of the school’s master’s and doctoral students. “They are the lifeblood of our department and Bob treated them like that. He found the time for the students and they knew they could count on him.
“He made sure the courses were top quality.” Rinaldo said. “He was a strong champion of minority students, all throughout his career,” and of the department’s female students as well.
Yee had a formal manner about him, Rinaldo recalled: “He spoke to the students as Mr. and Ms. He stood by the more traditional role” and preferred that the students call him Dr. Yee. Such displays of public deference served to demonstrate “how he was concerned about them,” Rinaldo said.
He was also a valuable mentor, advising students about course subject matter as well as on their impending careers. “It can be a lot of pressure on these kids to do well. You're now becoming a professional. I think he helped them adjust to that.
“Bob pushed our department and our school into the computer age in the 1980s,” Rinaldo remembered. “So we got into it early.”
Born June 28, 1927, Yee earned all his degrees at Pitt: a bachelor of science in 1950; master of science in 1952; and a doctorate in 1957. He joined the faculty as a biological sciences instructor following his master’s degree, was promoted to lecturer in 1954 and then appointed assistant research professor in Public Health’s Department of Epidemiology and Microbiology in 1961.
He began his career studying the use of antibiotics against shigella, a gastrointestinal infection, and then Legionella pneumophilia, the cause of Legionnaires’ disease.
In 1990, Ho instituted a scholarship in Yee’s name, and when Rinaldo became chair — with Yee staying on as assistant — Rinaldo directed the annual funds to incoming master’s students. Following Yee’s retirement as emeritus professor, a bacterium was named in Yee’s honor in 2003 by Robbin S. Weyant, Yee’s former student and then chief of the laboratory safety branch of the Centers for Disease Control’s Office of Health and Safety.
Fritz Froehlich set a research tone at SCI
Fritz Froehlich, who established the master of science in telecommunications program in what is now the School of Computing and Information (SCI), died on Jan. 8, 2019.
“He had a vision for the telecommunications program that was not just teaching students,” recalled Martin B.H. Weiss, SCI faculty member and chair of the Department of Informatics and Networked Systems. “He wanted us to become well-known for the research work that we did.”
Froehlich arrived at the school in 1987, after years with AT&T’s Bell Laboratories, armed with money from the breakup of the U.S. telephone monopoly and a vision for educating the first generation of IT experts who would compete to replace AT&T’s corporate staff, on whom the U.S. had once depended for their expertise.
He hired Weiss and other future SCI chairs, as well as the faculty member who would eventually succeed him. He was at Pitt for just five years, Weiss noted, “but they were formative.”
“We probably led the school in moving toward a more research-focused approach, because the school was really focused on professional education before,” Weiss said. “A lot of that was motivated by Fritz’s vision and leadership in that area. If Fritz hadn’t set the tone, we may not have gone in that direction. We got there way sooner because of what Fritz did. So it’s a real contribution that he made.”
He remembered Froehlich as “a very intellectual man. He liked things very orderly. His classroom instruction was methodical. He had a capacity for sitting in meetings that far exceeded other people. Sometimes he would achieve his objective by meeting people to death,” Weiss said with fondness. “It’s an artifact of the age he grew up in. The way you got things done is you held meetings about it.”
Born on Nov. 12, 1925 in Worms, Germany, Froehlich earned all his physics degrees at Syracuse University: a bachelor of science in 1950, a master of science in 1952 and a doctor of philosophy in 1955.
Memorial information posted by his alma mater calls him “a brilliant scientist leading the development of the first commercial modem and mag stripe card reader (as) a scientist and department head at Bell Labs.” It notes that he was also the editor of the 18-volume Encyclopedia of Telecommunications.
The SCI’s Fritz Froehlich Scholarship is presented annually to a student who demonstrates outstanding contributions to the program Froehlich founded.
He is survived by his wife of 69 years, Eileen; son Phillip; daughter Georgine Scharff; grandchildren Ilana Lipman, Justin Binder, Joshua Scharff and Jason, Robin, Stephen and Michael Froehlich; and seven great-grandchildren. Memorial contributions are suggested to the Fritz Froehlich Scholarship; the American Friends of Magen David Adom, c/o Betty Remmlinger, 9417 Aston Gardens Ct., Apt. 206, Parkland, FL; or Hadassah.
Robert Duca was ‘one-man language department’ at UPJ
Robert Anthony Duca Sr., a long-time Pitt–Johnstown humanities professor, died Jan. 10, at 85.
Duca taught courses in Spanish, French and Italian, and was fluent in Sicilian as well, making him Johnstown’s “one-man language department,” said Duca’s colleague, Marty Rice, a philosophy faculty member on campus.
Duca joined Pitt–Johnstown’s faculty in the Humanities Division in 1969 and retired as associate professor in 1998, returning to the regional campus as a part-time faculty member through 2005.
“Teaching languages was more than a job for Dr. Duca,” said Patty Derrick, emeritus professor of English and Humanities chair, in tributes gathered on campus. “It was a passion and a mission. He had a global view of people and took great joy in sharing with students his deep knowledge of foreign cultures and languages. Even in retirement, he continued to teach conversational Italian and to lead groups on trips to Italy.”
“Bob was from Johnstown,” noted Denis Robitaille, emeritus associate professor of French at Johnstown. “We would tell him that we could never get anywhere when we were out with him because there seemed to be no one he didn't know or was related to. Families were important to Bob, and of course especially his own. He spared nothing to help his three sons or his wife, Sory.”
Born July 19, 1933, he was an alumnus of Pitt–Johnstown, later earning master's degrees in Italian from Middlebury College and in Spanish from Kent State University. He received his Ph.D. in Spanish Language and Civilization at Penn State. He also served in the Army at Fort Buchanan in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Duca began his teaching career at Hubbard High School in Ohio, moving next to the Greater Johnstown Area Vocational Technical School, Slippery Rock University and Youngstown State University, before coming to his alma mater, from which he retired as chairman of the language department. He was honored for his work by both the Spanish and Italian governments
He is survived by his wife of 60 years, Zoraida Gutierrez Sanchez; children Robert Anthony Jr. (married to Lourdes Rexach), Frederick Joseph (Mary Pamela Barks) and Mark Anthony (Megan Keisling); grandchildren Frederick Joseph Jr., Michael Anthony, Daniel James, Mary Elisa, Christopher Anthony, Katherine Ann, Robert Anthony III and Giovanni Antonio; and many nieces and nephews.
Memorial contributions are suggested to the Dr. Robert A. Duca Sr. Scholarship in Humanities and Romance Languages Fund at the University of Pittsburgh–Johnstown, c/o Frank Duca Funeral Home, 1622 Menoher Blvd., Johnstown, PA 15905.
Former nursing dean Rudy pushed for more research
Ellen Beam Rudy, the former School of Nursing dean who added a research focus at the school — now recognized nationally — died Dec. 22, 2018 at 82.
“She took on that challenge with vigor and was very successful in helping to steer us in the direction of becoming a nationally ranked research school,” recalled current Dean Jacqueline Dunbar-Jacob, a faculty member and department chair under Rudy.
Rudy accomplished this, Dunbar-Jacob said, “by establishing new expectations for faculty, which included scholarship, and hiring individuals who had an interest in and experience with research.” Rudy’s own research on critical care was funded by the National Institutes of Health. She was principal investigator on five NIH grants, an accomplishment that made Rudy a role model, Dunbar-Jacob added.
During four years of Rudy’s decade as dean (1991-2001), she was a member of the NIH’s National Advisory Council for Nursing Research. Today, the school has been named a Nursing Research Intensive Environment by the NIH’s National Institute of Nursing Research, and, among nursing schools, receives the NIH’s fifth highest amount of research dollars.
Teamed with a UPMC nursing official, Rudy created the Cameos of Caring program in 1999 to recognize excellence among bedside nursing staff in acute care hospitals in Western Pennsylvania and the surrounding area. Each fall, the program also raises money for local nursing scholarships.
After her deanship, she was recognized with a career achievement award by Pitt’s chapter of Sigma Theta Tau, the nursing honor society. She was named professor emeritus in 2001.
“She was very committed to the nursing profession, and she was very committed to her family,” Dunbar-Jacob said.
Mary Ellen Beam Rudy was raised in Moundsville, W.Va., and received a B.S.N. in 1958 from Ohio State University; an M.P.A. in 1974 from the University of Dayton; an M.S.N. in medical-surgical nursing in 1977 from the University of Maryland; and a Ph.D. in nursing in 1980 from Case Western Reserve University.
She married her husband, Ted, in 1959 and began her career as a nurse and instructor at various hospitals in Ohio and Maryland, followed by a stint as faculty member at Kent State University. At Case Western, she held the Edward J. and Louise Mellen Professorship in Nursing and was the associate dean for research.
Rudy was widely published and co-authored several textbooks. She received the OSU College of Nursing outstanding alumni award, as well as Ohio Nurses Association excellence in nursing award, and was named a "living legend" by the American Academy of Nursing.
In 2007, she left retirement temporarily to serve as interim dean at the College of Nursing at Marquette University.
She is survived by her husband; sons Richard, Alan and William; 9 grandchildren; 2 great-grandchildren; and brother William D. Beam
Contributions are suggested to:
- Ellen B. Rudy Endowed Scholarship for Nursing Leaders, c/o University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing Forbes Tower Suite 8084, 3600 Forbes Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15213
- Ohio State University College of Nursing fund #303492, 116 Newton Hall, 1585 Neil Ave., Columbus, OH 43210
- Case Western Reserve Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing, c/o Development office, 10900 Euclid Ave., Cleveland, OH 44106
Janyce Wiebe was a leader in sentiment analysis
Janyce Wiebe, a pioneer in sentiment analysis — a subfield of computational linguistics — and professor of computer science in the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, died Dec. 10, 2018 at 59.
Wiebe joined Pitt in 2000.
“She was one of the reasons I came here,” said Diane Litman, Wiebe’s departmental colleague since 2001. “She really was the founder of a field.”
Wiebe described her work as “ ‘subjectivity analysis,’ recognizing and interpreting expressions of opinions and sentiments in text, to support NLP (natural language processing) applications such as question answering, information extraction, text categorization and summarization.”
“It was very good work, very creative, and it had a very strong computational component as well as a very strong linguistic component,” Litman said — and “extremely influential. A lot of people work on it and it has a lot of commercial impact.”
Wiebe directed the Intelligent Systems Program at Pitt from 2004-2010, and co-directed it with Litman from 2010-2016. She was a fellow of the Association for Computational Linguistics (ACL) and the ACL program co-chair, as well as program chair and executive board member of ACL’s North American chapter.
“She was a great mentor,” Litman said. And she was very devoted to her students, serving on many of their PhD committees.
“She deeply cared about her teaching and she was a great colleague. She always stepped up to do things she didn’t have to; she was very generous with her time.”
Wiebe earned all her degrees from the State University of New York, receiving her bachelor’s in English and general literature from the Binghamton campus in 1981 and her master of science and Ph.D. in computer science from Buffalo in 1985 and 1990, respectively. She was in the post-doctoral computer science program at the University of Toronto, 1989-1992, and began her teaching career in the Department of Computer Science at New Mexico State University from 1992-2000.
Wiebe was involved in the early stages of planning for the School of Computing and Information, to which her department has since moved, and spoke all over the world about her research, including keynoting the Canadian Artificial Intelligence Conference in Halifax, Nova Scotia, in June 2015. She had been on medical leave, battling leukemia, since later in 2015.
She is survived by her parents, Richard and Jean; her aunt, Robin Wiebe; siblings Ellen and Rick and their spouses; and many nieces and nephews.
A memorial service will be held in spring 2019; details will be announced through the Rose Funeral Home. Memorial donations are suggested to the Director's Development Fund at the UPMC Hillman Cancer Center.
Martin Votruba kept Slovak studies alive
Martin Votruba — Pitt’s one-man Slovak studies program since 1990 — died Nov. 23, 2018.
“He was a resource like none other for anything having to do with Slovakia,” recalled Christine Metil, Votruba’s colleague for 30 years as academic coordinator of languages and classics in the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures. She also helped Votruba plan and run the Slovak Heritage Festival, held here each November, which recently celebrated its 28th year.
Born in Bratislava, in the former Czechoslovakia, on March 6, 1948, Votruba joined Pitt when department faculty member Oscar Swan secured the future of Slovak studies by getting endowment funding for what became Votruba’s position, Metil said. Just before his death, Votruba established his own endowment to supplement this fund, fully endowing his post.
Votruba stayed in Metil’s home upon first arriving in Pittsburgh, she remembered, and was an invaluable aid to her husband’s research on Slovakia. Thanks to Votruba, she said, today Pitt’s Slovak studies program is unique in the U.S.
“We are the only Slovak studies program in the United States with a full-time dedicated faculty member, and that offers all levels of Slovak regardless of the number enrolled, with additional courses offered in Slovak culture, history, literature and film,” she said.
Votruba regularly used connections in his native country’s embassy in Washington, D.C., to secure study abroad opportunities for his students, Metil added.
“I know his students had deep respect for him,” she said. “He was very dedicated and a very excellent teacher. He was a very just person and very nonjudgmental. He never turned people away when they had academic questions. He was teaching up to the end.”
Raised in the Tatra Mountains, Votruba often returned there to visit his mother and enjoyed mountain climbing there and in the Rockies.
He earned a diploma in Slovak and English from Comenius University in Bratislava in 1972; a diploma in English Studies from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland in 1980; a PhDr in foreign language teaching methods from Comenius in 1983; and a Ph.D. in comparative linguistics there in 1985.
He began his academic career in several Czechoslovakian institutions, including Comenius, in 1972 and worked in the broadcast division of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty from 1988-90 before joining Pitt.
His work was recognized with an excellence in teaching award from the American Association of Teachers of Slavic and East European Languages; a best academic article bi-annual prize from the Slovak Studies Association — Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies; and the Milan Hodža Award of Honor from the prime minister of Slovakia and Milan Hodža Days Committee, among others. He spoke widely about the history and culture of his native country.
The University will hold a memorial service for Votruba at 2 p.m. Jan. 13 in the Frick Fine Arts Auditorium. According to his department, gifts made to the Dr. Martin Votruba Memorial Fund at Pitt will be placed into a holding account until the department determines how best to use the gifts.
GSPIA staff member Valiquette spent 42 years at school
Joyce Valiquette, a 42-year staff member in the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, died Nov. 18, 2018, at 61.
She was most recently program coordinator for the master of public administration, master of public policy and management and undergraduate programs.
Mary Ann Gebet, executive assistant to the dean and associate dean of GSPIA, joined the school just two years earlier than Valiquette. “I guess you could say we both grew up here together at GSPIA,” Gebet says.
“She had a great presence about her,” Gebet says of Valiquette. “She talked to anybody and everybody and was always helpful. She knew the school inside and out. She was always readily available to lend a helping hand with everything and anything, whether it be a smaller event the school was holding or a larger event, such as our graduation.
“She’s really going to be missed here.”
The pair were friendly outside work as well, trading babysitting and teaming for family trips to Cedar Point. Valiquette was a roller coaster enthusiast, and on weekends worked as a dispatcher for public safety at Kennywood Park.
Valiquette had become a grandmother just six months ago.
“She loved her grandbaby — she was constantly showing pictures,” Gebet says. “Just a few weeks ago we were in the outer office. I said, ‘Joyce, remember all those times when we would chuckle to ourselves about those little old ladies? Here we are — the little old ladies.’”
On her 40th anniversary at Pitt, master of public policy and management director George Dougherty commented: “Joyce is a joy to work with. In addition to being kind, fun and professional, she goes out of her way to help GSPIA and the faculty she works with shine.”
“We fought all the time. We made up all the time,” Gebet says. “But it took her 42 years to make me cry.”
Valiquette earned her associate’s degree from Bradford Business School in 1976, then joined the University. She began her GSPIA career working in the public and urban affairs program, then moved to the dean’s office and then to her current posts.
She is survived by husband John “Jack” Valiquette, daughter Nicole, grandchild Gianna and brother Joseph.
Adolf Grünbaum helped lift Pitt’s philosophy department to worldwide renown
Adolf Grünbaum, the chair of Pitt’s Center for Philosophy of Science, died Nov. 15 at the age of 95.
Grünbaum’s writings deal with the philosophy of physics, the theory of scientific rationality, the philosophy of psychiatry and the critique of theism. He also held the titles of Andrew Mellon professor of Philosophy of Science, primary research professor in the Department of History and Philosophy of Science, and research professor of Psychiatry
“Adolf’s contributions to the University of Pittsburgh — and the field of philosophy — were prolific and profound,” Chancellor Patrick Gallagher said in a news release. “He was bold — a visionary architect who helped grow our philosophy department into what is now known as the best program worldwide. He was beloved, having served on our faculty for nearly 60 years. And he was renowned — a proverbial giant in the scholarly exploration of space and time.”
Provost Ann E. Cudd, a former student of Grünbaum’s, said he was “a formative influence in my educational life at the University of Pittsburgh — and in the lives of so many others. I am incredibly grateful to him for building the Department of Philosophy into one of the greatest in the world. And the Center for Philosophy of Science, founded by Dr. Grünbaum, is world-renowned. I consider it a true honor to have been one of his students, and I feel deep sadness at his passing.”
The 2012 book, “Why Does the World Exist?” by New York Times journalist Jim Holt, described Grünbaum as “arguably the greatest living philosopher of science.”
A former president of the American Philosophical Association Eastern Division, Grünbaum was also a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He served two terms as president of the Philosophy of Science Association from 1965-70. In 2004-2005, he was president of the Division of Logic, Methodology and Philosophy of Science of the International Union of History and Philosophy of Science.
His 12 books include “Philosophical Problems of Space and Time,” “Modern Science and Zeno’s Paradoxes” and “The Foundations of Psychoanalysis: A Philosophical Critique.” He contributed more than 370 articles to anthologies and to philosophical and scientific periodicals.
Find more details about Grünbaum in obituary from the Post-Gazette.
Lucile Stark remembered for innovative work at Western Psych library
Lucile Stark, innovative director of the library at Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic (WPIC), died October 29, 2018, at 95.
“She was a remarkable person, ahead of her time in so many ways,” said Barbara A. Epstein, who worked in the library under Stark’s directorship (1975-1985) and succeeded her. Epstein today is director of the Health Sciences Library System, which has absorbed the WPIC library collection.
“She was a remarkable person and she left a big impact on people who knew her,” Epstein said.
Stark led the fundraising effort that transformed the WPIC library from its cramped original quarters to a modern two-floor space that offered widely used services in the leading technologies of the time: videos and electronic and database searches that aided the Department of Psychiatry’s prominent research efforts, as well as mental health facilities throughout the nation.
She also was ahead of her time in her activism for social justice for underrepresented minorities and in her support for young women joining WPIC, including Epstein as a new mother with a career. “She modelled how to do that — she was so supportive,” Epstein said.
As a colleague, Epstein added, “she was bright, unconventional and irreverent, with a mischievous sense of humor — lots of fun to be with.”
Stark, whose father was an ob-gyn, “sometimes like to shock people” — wearing an IUD as a necklace, for instance, which drew startled recognition from physicians. Stark also paid for the removal of a concentration camp tattoo from an acquaintance for whom she knew the mark was a painful daily reminder of the past, Epstein said.
Her husband was Nathan J. Stark, vice chancellor for Health Sciences 1974-1984, who died in 2002. But Lucile Stark “was intent on making her own way,” Epstein said. “She went out of her way to be independent.”
The pair often entertained at a farmhouse in Punxsutawney, which they had renovated as a rural retreat and named “Falling Downs.” They were married for 60 years.
Born in Chicago, Lucile Stark earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Chicago and a master's degree in library science from the University of Missouri. She and her husband had retired to Washington, D.C., where she was a docent of the Sackler and Freer galleries of Asian art at the Smithsonian Institution for 30 years.
She is survived by children Margaret, Robert, David and Paul, six grandchildren, two great-grandchildren and many nephews and cousins. Memorial contributions are suggested to the ACLU, Emily's List or Planned Parenthood.
John Wick was the go-to guy for years in the chemistry department
John I. Wick, a retired staff member in the chemistry department of the Dietrich School of Arts & Sciences who died Oct. 31, 2018 at 88, is remembered as an indispensable aide to the department during his 33 years at Pitt.
“His official working title was director of the departmental stock rooms, but John’s unofficial duties were legendary,” recalled W. Richard Howe, a chemistry department administrator beginning in 1970 and retired associate dean for Administration and Planning in the Dietrich School. “When he started in the department, the size of its staff was minimal and the diversity of duties he and others fulfilled went far beyond any of their specified job descriptions.”
Noting that Wick was a Korean War veteran, Howe compared Wick’s impressive efficiency to the “wheeling and dealing” of the “M*A*S*H” character Corporal Max Klinger: “So too did John find ways to make things happen for the faculty and other staff within the chemistry department. He developed a very effective operating network that connected the department with facilities management, purchasing, central receiving, the movers and all other logistical central services ….
“Because of his ability to pull off one unexpected magical solution after another, he quickly became the hero of many of the graduate students who needed all the help they could summon. … If you needed a 5-gallon container of an unusual organic solvent, go see John Wick. If you needed an emergency team to clean up a nasty chemical spill in your labs, go see John Wick. If you needed to find a way to have a research proposal in the hands of a federal funding agency by morning” – in the days before overnight delivery was common – “go see John Wick.”
Added Howe: “John also served as the sage dispenser of non-academic information that graduate students were afraid to seek from their faculty advisors. He often dispensed advice shrouded with a heavy dose of humor and served with a side dose of departmental history.”
Wick coordinated the department’s relocation from six scattered buildings to its new location, now the Chevron Science Center, in 1974. He began his Pitt career as the department’s assistant stockroom clerk and later became the stockroom manager and operations manager. He also served on the departmental safety committee.
Greg Meisner, executive assistant to the chemistry department chairman and laboratory manager, 1976-2003, was Wick’s supervisor from 1976 until Wick’s retirement in the 1980s.
“John was known by an enormous number of students, post-docs, faculty and staff during his 33 years at Pitt,” Meisner said. “He made a particular effort to develop the skills and career of stockroom clerks that he supervised. Several advanced to the purchasing department and one took his position when he retired.
Wick was born Oct. 25, 1930, in New Castle. During the Korean War, he served in the Air Force in Korea and then at the Air Force research center in Cambridge, Mass.
He is survived by his wife Ruth, sons David and Timothy, sister Jane Anne, six grandchildren and numerous great-grandchildren.
Memorial contributions are suggested to the American Cancer Society.
Former Pitt–Bradford Advisory Board chair, Pitt Board of Trustees member Higie
William F. Higie, chair of the Pitt–Bradford Advisory Board for 21 years and member of the Pitt Board of Trustees from 1993-95, died Oct. 29 in Gibsonia.
He served as advisory board chair from 1973 to 1995, and continued to serve as a member of the Advisory Board as chair emeritus.
During Higie’s tenure as chair, the university broke ground on four academic buildings, became a four-year, degree-granting institution and saw enrollment increase from 400 to more than 1,200 students.
“Bill shaped the Advisory Board to function and operate much like a board of trustees of a private college with committees and councils,” Richard McDowell, former president of Pitt–Bradford, said in a news release. “This structure and Bill’s leadership were major forces to the development of the university we see today.”
Higie was one of the founders and served as the director and vice president of the Bradford Educational Foundation, which exclusively benefits Pitt–Bradford. In 1996, the campus awarded him its highest honor, the Presidential Medal of Distinction.
A retired vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary of Forest Oil Corp., Higie served on the Forest Oil Board of Directors from 1977 to 1992 and also as managing director of the Glendorn Foundation.
Among his survivors are his wife, Pauline “Boots” Higie, and his son David Higie ’76, a current member of the Pitt–Bradford Advisory Board.
Tree of Life shooting victim Joyce Fienberg worked at LRDC for 25 years
Joyce Fienberg, a researcher in the Learning Research and Development Center for more than 25 years, died Oct. 27 — one of 11 victims of the shootings at Tree of Life Congregation in Squirrel Hill. She was 75.
Beginning in 1983, until her retirement in 2008, Fienberg was a research specialist on a number of classroom-based research projects titled “Classroom Instruction and Learning,” “Instructional Explanations,” “The Value of Character” and “Portraits in Restructuring.” She also was involved in an LRDC project studying workplace simulations in schools.
“I knew Joyce when she worked with Gaea Leinhardt here at LRDC,” said LRDC spokeswoman Elizabeth S. Rangel. “She was a caring and thoughtful person and always very gracious. Many people have told me about the thoughtful things she did for others — remembering birthdays, hosting students new to Pittsburgh, and volunteering with special needs individuals. It’s just heartbreaking to think about this loss.”
Fienberg earned her bachelors in psychology from the University of Toronto, where she worked as a student research assistant in social psychology. Her career included stints working at a residential treatment center with emotionally disturbed children and designing survey instruments at a survey research organization.
Fienberg had long been involved in studying how small groups function as a social support for learning in formal and informal settings.
In 2016, she lost her husband, Stephen E. Fienberg, professor of Statistics and Social Science at Carnegie Mellon University. She is survived by sons Anthony and Howard, as well as her grandchildren.
Terry Laughlin served on Board of Trustees for many years
Terrence “Terry” Laughlin, a former University of Pittsburgh trustee and vice chairman of Bank of America, died unexpectedly last week. He was 63 years old.
Laughlin earned his MBA from the Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business in 1981. In 2007, he joined the University’s Board of Trustees where he served on numerous committees and chaired the investment committee from 2013 until 2018. His tenure on the Board ended in June 2018.
For more details, see a full story in @Pitt.
Wells taught in School of Social Work for 30 years
Richard A. Wells, a long-time faculty member in the School of Social Work, died Sept. 21, 2018, at 87.
A native of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, Wells was born Feb. 7, 1931 and completed his entire schooling there, earning a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and psychology at United College in 1952 and completing all his graduate work at the University of Manitoba, including a bachelor’s of social work (1956) and masters of social work (1959) in casework. He began his academic career there as well, as a field instructor in 1961.
He became a Pitt School of Social Work faculty member in 1966 and retired in 1996. His colleague, Edward W. Sites, now a professor emeritus, joined the school two years later.
“He was a very warm, soft-spoken, gentle person with a very quick, dry wit,” Sites recalled. “He was friends with a wide spectrum of people in the University. He was considered a good colleague by a wide variety of people.
“He had a healthy skepticism of over-reaching authority,” Sites continued. “He challenged sometimes what he considered the over-reaching authority of University deans. He was not wont to carry a banner or to march. He handled it in his own soft-spoken way.”
He was also a popular teacher, Sites added. “The students resonated to the courses he taught and he was often over-subscribed.”
When Wells and Sites first started, the School of Social Work taught only graduate students and they remained Wells’ focus, even after a bachelor’s degree program was implemented. These older, experienced students were often already employed in the field, Sites said, “and so they knew the content he was providing was on target.”
Wells’ most important contribution to his field, said Sites, was “his prescient advocacy for short-term treatment, long before this became popular.” At the time, psychotherapy was felt to be a long-term undertaking, and the community mental health movement was just beginning. “He was very much a national leader in advocating for a much more targeted, focused, short-term approach to people with family and mental health issues.”
Wells published his first book on the subject in 1974, “Short-Term Treatment,” which was popular enough to warrant a second book on the subject in 1992.
“He was just as popular as a therapist,” Sites said, since Wells maintained a private practice outside the University as well.
He is survived by his children, Sarah and Paul, his companion, Allegra and sisters Nancy, Diana and Joan.
Butera was Pitt chemistry professor for 50 years
Richard A. Butera, a chemistry faculty member for more than 50 years, died Sept. 26, 2018, at 83.
His departmental colleague since 1985, David Waldeck, counted Butera as “a very loyal friend. He was always very engaged with the students and the mission of the department.” The pair published papers together and co-taught courses.
Butera was trained in classical physical chemistry, focusing his research on thermodynamics, particularly the heat capacities of solids. In the late 1980s, he moved to study surface phenomena, using x-ray photo-electron spectroscopy, working on the control of interfacial properties of semi-conductors.
“He was well-known in his area,” especially for studies of magnetic phase transitions, Waldeck recalled. “Those were an interesting testing ground for trying to understand what are called critical phenomena.” His research included work on high-temperature copper oxide superconductors.
“He was very passionate as a teacher,” Waldeck added. “He was very interested in helping students succeed.”
Among the courses on which the pair collaborated was the physical chemistry laboratory course. “That was the ideal course for him — he was a very hands-on person.”
Waldeck recalled his colleague spending many hours devising experiments for the course. Even after retiring in 1998, Butera often taught courses in the department — the last time in fall 2009.
He also continued to volunteer as a teacher in the state’s Governor’s School for the Sciences, a summer enrichment program.
Born in 1934 and a veteran of the Korean War, Rick Butera earned his bachelor’s in chemistry from the University of Pittsburgh in 1960 and his Ph.D. from the University of California-Berkeley in 1963. He joined Pitt as an assistant professor in 1963.
He is survived by wife Susan; stepchildren Lisa Marie Thomas and Amy Lea Marco; and grandchildren Faith and Jalen Thomas, as well as nieces and nephews.
Economics professor Werner Troesken had lasting impact
Werner Troesken, Department of Economics faculty member in the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, died Sept. 14, 2018.
“I believe Werner will be remembered not just for his distinguished scholarship but also for how incredible he was as a mentor for both junior faculty and his graduate students,” said Allison Shertzer, a colleague in the department.
Troesken earned three degrees in economics: a bachelors from Marquette University (1986) and a masters (1988) and doctorate (1992) from Washington University, St. Louis.
He began his academic career as a John M. Olin Faculty Fellow at the University of Arizona (1995-96) before joining Pitt as an assistant professor of history (1992-98), moving to associate professor (1998-2003) and finally professor (2004-2007). He spent a year at George Mason University before returning to Pitt as a professor of economics in 2008.
During his career, he also was a faculty research associate at the nonprofit National Bureau of Economic Research in Cambridge, Mass.; the Julian Simon Fellow at the Property and Environment Research Center in Bozeman, Mont.; and a National Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. In 2003-2004, he was co-director of the Center for Population Economics at the University of Chicago, where he was a visiting professor.
His research focused on the economic history of the U.S., especially relating to race, environmental history, disease and political economy. His 2004 book “Water, Race, and Disease” demonstrated how improvements in the public water supply equalized black and white life expectancy in the Jim Crow era. It won the Alice Jones Prize from the Economic History Association.
Troesken’s other books include “The Pox of Liberty: How the Constitution Left Americans Rich, Free, and Prone to Infection” (2015) and “The Great Lead Water Pipe Disaster” (2006).
Among his frequent co-authors for research in many journals was Randy Walsh, another departmental colleague. They collaborated on studies concerning the historical effect of lynching on voter turnout by African-Americans, and how violence can undercut democracy development more generally. Walsh said he and Troesken had just finished revising a paper about the impact of adoption and segregation ordinances circa 1917.
“He was a fantastic teacher at both an undergraduate and graduate level,” Walsh says, noting that many of Troesken’s students were now influential in academic programs across the country. “He was hugely supportive of other people’s work.”
Encountering Troesken’s work when she was in graduate school, adds Shertzer, “made a lasting impression on me and got me interested in working on segregation and public goods. Much of my success can be traced back to Werner's guidance, and I'm so grateful for all of his support since I came to Pitt.”
Troesken is survived by his son, Colin; father, Werner; siblings Dieter, Richert and Becky; partner Bridget Ridge; former spouse Patricia Beeson, former Pitt provost; and several nephews and nieces.
Marty Levine is a writer for the University Times.
Bernard Kobosky, former vice chancellor of public affairs
Bernard J. Kobosky, former vice chancellor of public affairs, died Aug. 26, 2018 at 86.
Kobosky, who earned his Ph.D. at Pitt following bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Duquesne University, served the University from 1968 to 1988. His work here began as director of admissions and then as vice chancellor of student affairs; he later helped to direct Pitt’s governmental relations and development efforts.
After leaving Pitt, he joined UPMC Health System as a senior consultant from 1988 to 2003, cementing the administrative association between Pitt, its School of Medicine and Presbyterian, Montefiore and Shadyside hospitals.
“Bernie was a very unique individual, a very charismatic man who was able to get along with many people at all levels, from undergraduate students to governors,” said Mary Ann Aug, who worked under Kobosky as director of news and publications and eventually as associate vice chancellor for executive communications.
Aug recalled Kobosky seeing students picketing outside the Cathedral of Learning in the late 1970s. Their message on that day is lost to memory, she said, but Kobosky’s actions are not: “He grabbed a case of bottles of water and greeted the students, and started chatting with them: ‘What is your cause? What are your goals?’ He treated people as people rather than issues, or ‘the opposition.’ That was very typical of Bernie’s reaction to situations: get it down to people-to-people, then you can understand the situation. It always impressed me.”
Such relationships extended to his colleagues across the University and to officials in local and state government, she said. “We formed real partnerships up and down the University. That’s what Bernie did. He had a lot of interaction with the state level on getting funding to the University,” which was particularly important for securing funds for building projects.
“Bernie had very positive relations with Harrisburg and things got done,” she said. “He contributed to bringing in a lot of money that contributed to a lot of growth and change.”
Kobosky is survived by his wife, Evelyn S. Kobosky; children Janet M. Kobosky and Bernard J. Kobosky Jr.; granddaughter, Julia Barlow; and step-granddaughter Alexandra Good.
Memorial gifts are suggested to Family Hospice and Palliative Care, 50 Moffett St., Pittsburgh, PA 15243 or the Western Pennsylvania Golf Association Scholarship Fund, 930 N. Lincoln Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15233.
Joseph Werlinich, longtime Education faculty member
Joseph Stevan Werlinich, a School of Education faculty member for 47 years, died Aug. 14, 2018, two weeks before his 88th birthday.
Hired in 1965 as a lecturer in counseling education, Werlinich rose to associate professor with tenure in 1975, when he became chairman of the division of specialized professional development for the next three years. He also served as the counselor education program’s doctoral and day master’s program director as well as assistant to the dean in his school. He taught many students now serving as teachers and principals and retired as professor emeritus in 2012.
Born in McKees Rocks on Aug. 31, 1930, Werlinich earned his bachelor’s in 1952 from Thiel College in Greenville, Pa., and master’s in education in 1956 from Pitt. He served as a captain in the Marine Corps and company commander in the First Reconnaissance Company of the Second Marine Division, leading reconnaissance missions during the Korean war.
He also participated in the civil rights movement locally and nationally, marching in Birmingham, Ala., with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and later worked in conflict resolution and diversity training across the country, including for the Department of Justice.
In Pittsburgh, he was a teacher and facilitator for principals, superintendents and other school leaders at the Principals Leadership Academy of Western Pennsylvania, which he founded and co-directed, and via the Danforth Foundation's National Principals Initiative.
In retirement, Werlinich continued to advise school districts, serve on dissertation committees and facilitate the Assistant Superintendents Forum of the Educational Leadership Academy. He received the Grable Foundation’s Decade Award in 2002, was named to the Post-Gazette’s “Top 48 Making a Difference in Education” in 2004, and got an honorary doctorate from Thiel in 2008.
He is survived by his wife of 29 years, Pat Buchanan Dunkis; children Amy Devenzio, Sheri Benson, Joseph Werlinich and Kathy Latorre, and their mother, Sally Whaley Werlinich; 10 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. He was brother of the late Melva Werlinich Vujan, Stevan and Samuel.
Memorial gifts are suggested to the development office at Manchester Bidwell Corporation, 1815 Metropolitan St., Pittsburgh, PA 15233.
W. Austin Flanders, English professor 1964-99
W. Austin Flanders, professor of English literature 1964-1999, died July 29 at age 81.
Wallace Austin Flanders was born in Wrightsville, Georgia, and earned his bachelor’s degree from Emory University, master’s degree from Columbia University and Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin.
He joined the Pitt faculty as an assistant professor in 1964 and was promoted to associate in 1969. He taught graduate seminars on 18th-century British literature and an array of undergraduate literature courses. He was the author of “Structures of Experience: History, Society, and Personal Life in the 18th Century British Novel” (1984), contributed to the book “Daniel Defoe: A Collection of Critical Essays” (1975) and served on the editorial board of “Eighteenth Century Life.”
Flanders retired as a professor in May 1999.
He was the husband of the late Jane Townend Flanders. He is survived by his children, Garth and Sarah, and grandchildren Nicholas, Peter and Gabriel.
Jerry Cochran left his mark on Pitt's facilities
Jerry Cochran — remembered for helping to create the most recent “golden age” at Pitt in his 19-year stint as executive vice chancellor — died Aug. 1 at 69.
Cochran’s numerous contributions, said Chancellor Emeritus Mark Nordenberg at the Aug. 17 memorial celebration for his one-time School of Law student and administrative colleague, “included helping to build a culture that was fueled both by high institutional ambition and a genuine concern for the people of Pitt; deploying his very considerable negotiating skills to maintain employee health-care coverage that was affordable even during challenging times; not only building and renovating buildings but beautifying campuses and keeping them clean and attractive; assembling a legal team that helped ensure we did things in the right way but that we also were no longer a push-over but, instead, were positioned to ensure that our institutional interests were advanced; (and) stepping in whenever his special skills could make a difference — something that we often saw, for example, in athletics.”
Born May 31, 1949, in Fox Chapel, Jerome “Jerry” Cochran earned bachelor’s degrees in 1971 from Indiana University of Pennsylvania in administration of justice and political science, then joined UPMC Presbyterian Hospital as unit manager, where he pioneered the formation of clinical practices for hospital physicians. He then joined Pitt under Chancellor Wesley W. Posvar as assistant senior vice chancellor, aiding in the formation of similar practice plans among faculty in the University’s health sciences schools.
In the late 1980s, Cochran shifted careers, entering Pitt’s law school, then joining the law firm of Buchanan, Ingersoll & Rooney downtown. By 1995, he was looking to return to the University, Nordenberg recalled.
Cochran was executive vice chancellor 1995-2014, where his oversight included public safety and Pitt’s business offices, adding the post of general counsel, 2004-2013. He retired in 2014, after also having served, across both his stints at Pitt, as assistant senior vice president for health sciences, interim dean of the School of Pharmacy, director of planned giving, interim vice chancellor for business and finance and interim athletic director.
Rich Colwell, who began two decades as a top officer for Staff Council just as Cochran rejoined the University, termed Cochran “quite easily one of the toughest administrators I have ever had the pleasure of working with, but he was always fair, and he always had the best interest of staff at the forefront. When there were policy changes, decisions or matters that would affect staff, Jerry would make sure that the Staff Council had the opportunity to voice their opinion before any final action was taken or announced.”
“Jerry was fearless,” recalled Nordenberg, noting that one Pitt board chairman dubbed Cochran “Pitt’s pitbull or Rottweiler” early on.
“Among other things, he possessed an amazing combination of book smarts and street smarts,” Nordenberg remarked at the celebration. “Jerry was a master diagnostician of situations. He could almost intuitively size up any set of circumstances — promising or threatening — and quickly map out a mental plan for dealing effectively with them.
"Jerry was a great team player,” he added, “strongly voicing his individual views when alternatives were being debated but working hard to advance the option ultimately chosen. Jerry also was a great steward of institutional resources, getting as much as he could out of every Pitt dollar.”
Cochran’s work overseeing the facilities division left its mark across campus, Nordenberg said, “from the Peterson Events Center, to the Biomedical Science Tower, to the Schenley Plaza Park, to the new residence halls on the upper and lower campuses, to the completely renovated Alumni Hall, to the cleaned and repaired exterior of the Cathedral of Learning. And that list does not even include the transformational projects undertaken on all four of our regional campuses.”
The public safety building on Forbes Avenue was renamed in Cochran’s honor, upon his retirement. It was a fitting tribute to a man, concluded Nordenberg, who “spent most of his career here, where his work positively touched the lives of everyone who worked at Pitt, or studied at Pitt or in some other way was connected to Pitt.”
He is survived by his wife, Cathy; children Jill, Jason and Joshua; brother James; and grandchildren Emma, Jamie and Max.
Memorial contributions are suggested to the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank.