Bradford math professor Richard Melka made everyone feel welcome
Richard F. Melka, faculty member in mathematics and computer science at Pitt–Bradford for 40 years, died April 11, 2021 at 87.
Hashim Yousif, physics faculty member at Bradford since 1989, recalls the welcome he received from Melka and their many collaborations.
Right away, says Yousif, “he talked with me, he brought me to his office and he expressed interest in having a common project between us.”’
Through the years, the pair undertook research and wrote papers together, and designed and taught courses together, including a course on Melka’s long-standing interest — the intersection of mathematics and religion. Melka’s passion for learning never waned. After retirement, he took physics classes from Yousif at Bradford, and was attending Yousif’s optics course at the end of his life.
“He was a very knowledgeable and very hardworking guy,” Yousif says, and a mentor to students, working closely with them and directing student research.
Yong-Zhuo Chen, chair of the Division of Physical and Computational Sciences and mathematics faculty member, met Melka when he joined the faculty in 1989 as well.
“He was a very dedicated mathematics teacher,” Chen says. “He spent seven days a week in the school.” As a colleague, Melka “was friendly and was very willing to help people. When I first came here, he helped me a lot and helped me to get used to the work in Bradford.”
Chen notes that Melka designed the campus’s applied mathematics program: “It still has his personal imprint on it.”
Michael Klausner, a Bradford sociology faculty member, came to campus in 1976 — the same year as Melka — and they became close friends.
“He was somewhat of a renaissance person,” Klausner notes, remembering how the pair discussed theology and mathematics on long drives to New York border towns for shopping that was unavailable nearer campus.
“He had a nice sense of humor.” Klausner says. “He was a very delightful person to be with. He had a very creative mind. He was not locked into a particular discipline, but was able to see relationships between math and theology.”
Melka also was very active in the community, his church and on campus, where he chaired his department and was active in University governance as Bradford’s senate president.
Melka was born on Sept. 17, 1933, in Buffalo, N.Y. After high school, he joined the Army, then earned his bachelor's degree from Michigan State University (1960) and his master's degree (1965) and Ph.D. in applied mathematics (1969) from Purdue.
His began his teaching career at Michigan State and Rutgers before joining Pitt–Bradford in 1976. His mathematical interests centered on math modeling, differential equations and the history of mathematics, and he authored or co-authored dozens of academic papers. He received emeritus status on his retirement in 2016.
He is survived by his children Christopher, Lauren (Allen Black) and Katrina and a niece, Cheryl Germony.
Memorial contributions are suggested to St. Francis Church, where Melka served as a lector and eucharistic minister.
— Marty Levine
Physics’ Ted Newman ‘stood among giants’ as a researcher
Physics and Astronomy Professor Emeritus Ezra “Ted” Newman, whose discoveries made him one of the most noteworthy general relativity theorists, died March 24, 2021.
“As a researcher Ted stood among giants,” said his departmental colleague, Daniel Boyanovsky. “There is a type of black hole named after him: Kerr-Newman Black Holes. These are the fourth type of ‘canonical black holes,’ (which) features spin (angular momentum) and charge. It bridges two solutions of Einstein’s general relativity.”
Newman’s work with recent Nobel prize-winner Sir Roger Penrose, Boyanovsky said, led to the Newman-Penrose formulation. “This novel formulation paved the way to immense simplifications. The Newman-Penrose variables are used widely in general relativity in the formulation of twistor theory and also in cosmology and in gravitational radiation.
“As an instructor Ted was loved by his students,” Boyanovsky added. “His classes were rigorous and very demanding, but his lecture style blended rigor with humor in a very engaging manner. Students flocked to his classes.”
Simonetta Frittelli, chair of physics at Duquesne University and one of Newman’s last graduate students, felt that Newman “was welcoming me into the group” of general relativity faculty and students when she became a student and then Newman’s teaching assistant and Ph.D. thesis advisee. “He was passionate, he was loud, he was a lot of fun. He would come into the classroom and it was a performance.”
She recalled his impact as a thinker: “He was very proud of his own ideas, and he was very sure of himself. He took pride in sharing with people things they could not see.” On the other hand, “he really treated me like a colleague more than a student. He didn’t want to teach me, he wanted to talk to me. He was looking for somebody to help him advance his understanding of the problems he didn’t understand. He was always looking to push forward — it was wonderful to watch.
“Looking at the development of gravitational physics — when Ted Newman first started working in the field, the field was pretty stagnant. It wasn’t clear what was the connection between the field and nature.” After his work with Penrose, she said, “the field really became accessible. … There is clearly a before Ted Newman and after Ted Newman in the field.
“His impact in the field was fundamental, was revolutionary,” she added. “What I take away is his very important sense of how it doesn’t matter where you are — the institution doesn’t make the person, it’s how you value yourself, your skills and your inspiration. I think that had an impact on the majority of students who worked under him. I feel that is why I am here.”
Said Boyanovsky: “With his world recognition, Ted had an enormous impact on our department and its worldwide visibility in the area of general relativity. He attracted an outstanding cohort of visitors …
“My own coming to Pitt in the mid 1980s was in large part because of Ted’s name. I enjoyed close collaborations with him and learned from him so much physics and much else in life besides. I remember vividly a trip with him and Sally (Newman’s wife) to the Grand Canyon. The hike down Bright Angel Trail became a lecture on null congruences, spin connections and event horizons. What an unforgettable treat.
“We will miss his infinite wisdom, optimism, joie de vivre and sense of humor.”
Ezra “Ted” Newman was born Oct. 17, 1929, in New York City and graduated from Bronx High School of Science in 1947. He earned his bachelor’s degree from New York University in 1951 and his M.A. (1955) and Ph.D. (1956) from Syracuse University. He spent his entire academic career at Pitt, beginning as an instructor in 1956, moving up through the ranks to professor in 1966 and was named professor emeritus in 1996.
He was awarded the Einstein prize in 2011 by the American Physical Society for outstanding accomplishments in gravitational physics.
During his career he was a member of the organizing committee for the London International Relativity Conference (1955); associate editor of the Journal of Mathematical Physics (1971-73); a member of the governing board of the International Society on General Relativity and Gravitation (1980-92); president of the International Society on General Relativity and Gravitation (1986-89); a member of the scientific organizing committee of the International Conference on General Relativity (1989 and 1992) and the committee’s chair (1997); and a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Mathematical Physics (1990-2001).
He is survived by his wife, Sally, son David Newman (Uma Bhatt), daughter Dara Newman (Scott Samuels), sister Lita Moses and grandchildren Tessa, Leah, Tilahu, and Ari José.
— Marty Levine
Hieber was responsible for iconic Pitt buildings and more
Phillip C. Hieber, III, a 40-year veteran of Facilities Management who for decades oversaw many iconic Pitt buildings, including the Cathedral of Learning, died December 27, 2020.
“Phil was truly extraordinary,” said Joseph L. Pastorik, director of work control for Hieber’s department, “first and foremost for his commitment to the mission of Pitt and ultimately what our facility effort meant to the student experience.”
Born Sept. 1, 1955, Hieber started at Pitt in 1980 in property management, responsible for the University’s nonacademic leased properties, including housing. After nine years, this office became a part of Facilities Management, and Hieber expanded his portfolio to include the Cathedral as well as other emblematic Pitt facilities, such as Heinz Chapel and the Stephen Foster Memorial. He became the senior facilities manager, overseeing the department’s other top managers, just five years into his tenure there.
Hieber was responsible for “anything from the smallest light switch to the exterior of the building and the surrounding grounds” of the Cathedral and the other top University locations, Pastorik said. “Phil was our go-to man, as our walking encyclopedia.” He handled everything from contacting the National Aviary with the latest developments inside the Cathedral roof falcon’s nest to innumerable late-night calls about water pipe-induced floods or electrical failures that could endanger research.
“Phil just had an amazing personality,” recalled Daniel Fisher, assistant vice chancellor for operations and maintenance. “He loved to work with people — it didn’t matter if it was the chancellor or a student.
“Just about every dignitary that ever visited the campus — Phil was involved in one way or another,” Fisher said. Hieber prepared campus buildings for the visits of presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, working with Secret Service to coordinate secure access, and oversaw the memorial for Sen. John Heinz in 1991 in Heinz Chapel, which involved one of the largest visits of political figures to campus over the past few decades.
Hieber trained all the current facilities managers and oversaw the campus transition to restricted status during COVID-19 as well.
Despite all his large responsibilities, Hieber remained “one of the most approachable men I’ve ever met,” Pastorik said. “He was always thoughtful in his approach to the work and in his approach to people.” He could be a very good work partner but didn’t hesitate to point out a better way to get something done, said Pastorik — “so you learned in the process. He used opportunities for improvement as ways to motivate you to do better.”
“He bled blue and gold,” Fisher said. “He was Pitt through and through. Probably the only thing that took precedence, as it should, was his family.
“It was truly an opportunity and a privilege to work with Phil,” he said. “Phil was a Marine, and I truly believe that his military background was one of the things that made him an excellent leader at the University.”
He is survived by his wife, Carol (Eyerman) Hieber, children Natalie (Oz) Turcan, Phillip C. (Amber) Hieber, IV, and Kristen (Jason) Wilk, and grandchildren Jayden Smith; Aamyiah Hieber; Dylan, Tyler and Georgia Turcan: Connor and Addison Wilk; and the expected Jaxson Wilk and Kade Hieber, as well as siblings John, David and Karen. Memorial donations are suggested to Holy Family Institute.
— Marty Levine
Eror, former chair in engineering, fought for his faculty
Nicholas G. Eror Jr., emeritus professor in the Swanson School of Engineering and former chair of its Department of Material Science, died on Nov. 24, 2020.
Harvey Wolfe, retired from what is now the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science, recalls the years with his colleague: “Nick was a gregarious and kind man. He cared deeply about his faculty. We would meet every couple of weeks for lunch to discuss the strategies and difficulties of serving as department chair in the School of Engineering. He wanted to take advantage of everything the University offered for his faculty and was ready to fight over anything he thought was unfair. Even after we retired, we would have an annual phone conversation about what was happening at Pitt and interpreting the benefits for retirees.”
Eror was born April 9, 1937 in a small mining town in Utah and raised in Salem, Ore. He attended Yale on a full scholarship, where he received his bachelor’s degree, then earned his Ph.D. in materials science from Northwestern University.
He worked as a research scientist at Sprague Electric in North Adams, Mass., where several patents were filed from his work. He also taught calculus as a part-time instructor at nearby Williams College at the same time.
Wishing to return to Oregon, Eror took a position at the Oregon Graduate Center in Beaverton, moving his family to a farm in a rural part of the state. For the next 20 years, he worked as a research scientist and advisor while tending his prune, walnut and filbert orchards.
In 1989, Eror joined Pitt after a nationwide search to fill the chair position, staying in his post until the mid-1990s and retiring a decade ago.
Larry Shuman, Distinguished Service Professor of Industrial Engineering, noted Eror’s large and ambitious Chautauqua Workshop Program, which brough National Science Foundation-funded professional development courses to faculty in many locations covering engineering disciplines as well as other science subjects. “He was somebody who was passionate about education,” Shuman said.
“I always found him to be a very supportive and pleasant person,” said Gerald Meier, professor emeritus in the department. He recalled Eror remaining very active as chair and professor. Even after his retirement, Eror attended seminars and thesis defenses. Eror’s own doctoral thesis concerned point defects in inorganic compounds, and he continued researching that subject, moving into high-temperature super-conductor research as well.
Nicholas Eror was predeceased by his wife, Mary, and is survived by his companion, Josephine Olson, professor of business administration and Katz excellence in service faculty fellow at Pitt, and his seven children.
— Marty Levine
Sampson led the creation of the Department of Statistics
Allan R. Sampson, who was instrumental in establishing the Department of Statistics and was its founding chair (1997-2000), died Jan. 30, 2021.
“He had a reputation for being the tough but fair teacher,” noted current Chair Satish Iyengar, who arrived as a faculty member in the former Department of Mathematics and Statistics in 1982. “As a mentor, he was just fabulous. Alan has had a history of very high-quality mentoring. He has put his students on a very strong track … (with) a strong history of advising Ph.D. students who have done exceptionally well after graduating.”
Sampson’s efforts were recognized with the provost’s award for mentoring at Pitt.
“He introduced me to things that afforded me opportunities,” Iyengar recalled. “You could tell that he was interested in promoting other faculty careers.”
Most recently, Sampson held workshops for graduate students on the do’s and don’ts of interviewing, helping in particular the department’s many foreign-born students with their acculturation to the American system of recruitment and hiring, Iyengar said. Sampson took a very hands-on approach to this work, connecting students with industry representatives and even helping them to write their resumes.
But as Sampson’s former departmental colleague Leon Gleser noted at the remembrance gathering on Feb. 19, creating a separate statistics department at Pitt was a struggle that spanned nearly a decade.
“His plan convinced the administration that there would be only a minor additional cost to their budget from establishing a department,” Gleser said of Sampson. “His leadership and diplomacy were crucial in establishing momentum for the department… The only problem with Allan’s leadership was that it was so good that when the time came to elect a new chair, no one volunteered.”
Born Aug. 25, 1945, Sampson received his bachelor’s degree in mathematics from UCLA, where he was a member of Phi Beta Kappa, and his master’s degree (1968) and doctorate (1970) in statistics from Stanford.
Sampson began his academic career in 1970 as an assistant professor of statistics at Florida State University but immediately began expanding his experience as a visiting lecturer in statistics and operations research at Tel Aviv University in Israel.
From 1975 through 1978, he turned to industry, working as manager of the Department of Biostatistics, Pharmaceutical Products Division, of Abbott Laboratories, until he joined Pitt as an associate professor. During his years at the University, he was also a visiting professor or scholar at Carnegie Mellon University, University of California–San Diego, Stanford and Tel Aviv.
Sampson was elected as a fellow of all the significant organizations in his profession, Iyengar said, including the American Statistical Association and the Institute of Mathematical Statistics. He also received the Dissertation Summary Award from the Drug Information Journal in 1993, a $20,000 prize given to him and the student he had mentored.
His initial research focus on multivariate analysis took a more practical turn as his career progressed, Iyengar said, thanks to his experience in industry. Sampson’s career was filled with years of work advising committees of the Food and Drug Administration on the statistics as applied to multiple diseases and disabilities, and finally advised them on hiring statisticians for such work. Perhaps inspired by his use of a wheelchair following an early bout of polio, Sampson also advised federal and local groups on disability issues.
He served as editorial board member or editor for half a dozen journals and wrote numerous research papers, following the receipt of dozens of grants. His work often focused on practical applications of statistics, Iyengar pointed out, including to the study of gun violence. “Technically he was really strong, but also he understood the potential role of statistics is important in public policy questions,” he said.
Sampson’s legacy continues today, Iyengar added. In the 1990s, Sampson started a statistical consulting service in the department as a graduate student class, which he, Iyengar and others taught.
“We would put posters around campus — if you need statistical consulting, we are a resource,” Iyengar recalled. Researchers from the law school, linguistics, health sciences and elsewhere came to the class, were assigned a graduate student as a consultant and presented their needs to the students.
“It was an excellent training device,” Iyengar said. “We served, and we still do, the research community broadly. It is free to the Pitt community.”
Young researchers who may have grant funding for a research study, but still can’t afford to hire a statistician, can take advantage of the program today.
“This is one of Alan’s great legacies in the department,” Iyengar said.
— Marty Levine
Foley was a ‘pioneer in pediatric thyroid disease’
Thomas P. Foley Jr., professor emeritus of pediatric endocrinology at UPMC Children's Hospital, died Jan. 17, 2021, after a life memorialized by his department for an “amazing legacy” that has “touched and continues to impact the lives of millions of children.”
Foley, the former director of the Division of Pediatric Endocrinology at the hospital and president of the Pediatric Endocrine Society, was “a giant in the field of pediatric endocrinology and a pioneer in pediatric thyroid disease,” his colleagues noted.
He developed the TSH filter paper assay to screen newborns for congenital hypothyroidism (a lack of thyroid hormone, which stymies brain development) and took the screening first statewide, then across the country and around the world. His expertise helped test and treat many individuals in the areas surrounding both the Three Mile Island and Chernobyl nuclear accidents. He also created critical medical testing, treatment and education programs in European countries, including Eastern Europe behind the Iron Curtain.
Pediatrics faculty member Basil Zitelli arrived at Pitt in 1978 and worked most extensively with Foley in the late 1980s, when the pair were involved in Project Hope, a medical ship delivering care on board and, eventually, in hospitals, including one in Krakow, Poland. There, Zitelli worked with Foley to teach thyroid screening and treatments, and to devise a new continuing medical education program.
When Foley was recruited after a sharp increase in thyroid cancer was observed in children surrounding the Chernobyl accident in 1986, he organized a program headquartered in Minsk, the Belarus capital, to teach newborn screening and to test for and teach about detecting thyroid cancers. He and Zitelli also worked to establish a U.S.-model medical-school curriculum there, as well as poison control centers.
“He was instrumental in establishing research materials and helping them to establish research programs,” Zitelli said. “He really was an amazing person to establish all of this.
“He was brilliant,” Zitelli added. “He was a superb clinician as well as a superb researcher. He was one of the kindest persons I knew. I think anybody who got to know him has benefited from his wonderful expertise and kindness.”
Nurses who worked with Foley recalled his care for patients and his attention to the opinions of all of his colleagues.
Kathy Brown, a recently retired diabetes research study coordinator for Pitt and Children’s Hospital, remembered Foley as “a very smart physician (who) remembered always the personal side of what families were going through. He was a great teacher making the complicated endocrine system much easier to learn and understand for a very young nurse. He was also always kind and respectful ... He always made me feel like a valued part of the team.”
Tammy Nenadovich started as an RN in Children’s Hospital’s inpatient endocrine and metabolic unit in 1983. Eight years later, she was working midnight shifts when Foley called her at 1 a.m. She feared the worst — why would a division chief need to be calling at this hour? — but Foley had just gotten settled at home after attending the opera and wanted to alert her to a job opening. He met her the next morning at 7:30, when she got off her shift, and she applied and got the position.
“He was always focused on the work and his patients,” Nenadovich said. “He was wonderful to work for. Dr. Foley always respected the nurses’ opinions about patients. He wanted us all involved in the care of the patients. I’ve heard him described as the gentle giant and that’s truly how he was with the patients. He was very caring, and he listened well and he always had great follow-up.”
Another of Foley’s faculty colleagues, Dorothy Becker, arrived at Pitt as a fellow in 1974, when Foley was already working with physicians around the county and Canada to institute his hypothyroidism screening method. Becker has kept in contact with one of the first people to benefit from Foley’s efforts as an infant. “She’s a perfectly normal mother now who has had perfectly normal babies,” Becker said. “That was a real breakthrough in the world.
“He didn’t always focus on thyroid, he focused on the health of people,” she added, noting that he also ran a growth hormone program in Pittsburgh, working with pharmaceutical companies to establish treatment regimens and assessments of effectiveness.
Foley was well known for his mentorship of trainees and fellows. “I was one of them,” she said. “He was really a great teacher. He loved to teach. He loved to start research projects with the fellows. He was an incredibly good mentor.”
She recalls not only his impact as a physician but how personable and enthusiastic he could be. Within two weeks of her arrival on Pitt’s campus from South Africa, she recalled, “he had taken me with him to listen to his bluegrass at a bar in East Liberty.” She had never heard of bluegrass before.
Although born in Indianapolis, he was raised in Richmond, Va., and a piece of the South stuck with him through life, his colleagues recalled. He was a dedicated bluegrass guitarist, and led The Allegheny River Boys for many years. The group performed and recorded beginning in the 1970s.
Born on July 31, 1937, Foley received his undergraduate degree from Washington and Lee University in 1959 and his Doctorate of Medicine from the University of Virginia in 1963. He began his post-graduate work at the University of Kansas, in the Children's Hospital in Cincinnati, and completed his fellowship in 1971 at Johns Hopkins University.
He also served as a captain in the U.S. Air Force at the McCoy Air Force Base Hospital (1966-1968).
His numerous research studies resulted in more than 250 published articles. He was named professor emeritus and received the Chancellor's Distinguished Public Service Award from Pitt.
He is survived by his wife, Charlet Cullen Foley; children W. Cullen Van Brunt (Laura-Lee), Teran Milligan (Ian) and Thomas W. Foley (Christina) and 10 grandchildren.
A future celebration service is planned for this summer in Pittsburgh, pending COVID-19 restrictions.
Memorial donations are suggested to the Division of Pediatric Endocrinology for Education of Endocrine Fellows at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh Foundation, 4401 Penn Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15224, or the Discovery Space of Central PA, fostering childhood STEM education, 1224 N. Atherton St., State College, PA 16803.
Greensburg chemistry’s Stauffer was a student and research mentor
Mark T. Stauffer, a 20-year associate professor of chemistry at Pitt–Greensburg, died on Jan. 3, 2021. A memorial from his department called him “a passionate, brilliant instructor who was dedicated to his students’ success.”
Stauffer was a research mentor to dozens of students — “an outstanding advisor,” recalled Matthew R. Luderer, Stauffer’s departmental faculty colleague since 2004. Stauffer conducted his own environmental research involving the analysis of heavy metal concentrates in water and soil, particularly due to acid mine drainage, focusing on the Sewickley Creek Watershed Project.
“He was very instrumental in helping me out and showing me where to go” when Luderer first arrived, he said. “He was a great colleague and really easy to work with.” He also credits Stauffer with writing the proposal that created Greensburg’s chemistry major in 2007.
Recalled Jordan Boothe, another faculty member who worked alongside Stauffer: “He was a close mentor and was helping me get situated as the faculty advisor for Gamma Sigma Epsilon–Rho Theta chapter (our national chemistry honor society on campus) as well as helping navigate teaching over the last few years.”
“And he liked to incorporate his cats into his lectures any way he could,” even in his PowerPoint presentations, Luderer said. “He was well-liked by the students.”
Born March 12, 1957, Stauffer earned his bachelor’s and doctorate degrees from Pitt, and between them worked at Shippensburg University, University of Wisconsin–Madison, the Ethyl Corporation in Baton Rouge, La., and Carnegie Mellon University’s Outreach Program before joining the Pitt–Greensburg faculty in 2001. He worked with the International Forum on Process Analytical Chemistry and had several chemistry textbooks in progress.
He is survived by his wife, Resa; four sisters, Shirley Lodes, Grace Tamburlin, Mary Ann Maholtz and Judy Stebich; and many nieces and nephews.
Memorial gifts are suggested to the Sewickley Creek Watershed Association, PO Box 323, Youngwood, PA, 15697-0323.
— Marty Levine
Matusz was long-time secretary to Bernard Kobosky
Jean D. Matusz, long-time secretary to Bernard J. Kobosky when he was vice chancellor of Public Affairs, died Dec. 26, 2020, at 85.
A native of Wilmerding, Matusz graduated from Wilkinsburg High School and began her career as a secretary at Pitt in June 1953, initially in the registrar’s office, before moving to the Office of Public Affairs.
“I met Jean Matusz on my very first day at the University, Jan. 14, 1970,” recalled former colleague Gary Houston. “I was hired by Bernie Kobosky as his executive assistant, and Jean served as his secretary. But she was so much more, really Bernie's alter ego and a leveling influence. She was dedicated to Bernie and the University and her many friends there. I remember her lunchtime card games and her dedication to her feline friends. Jean stayed with Bernie throughout her working years and moved with him to UPMC when he left the University (in 1988).”
Matusz retired in July 1992.
Born Oct. 2, 1935, she was the sister of MaryAnn Peterson (Edward Sr. deceased), John Matusz (Camillia) of Plum, and the late Walter Matusz (Gerry deceased). She is survived by her nieces Diane Bentley (Brian), Karen Coley (William) and nephews Walter Matusz (Alice), Edward Peterson Jr. (Heidi), Glenn Peterson (Doug Kraushaar), John Matusz and by her great-nieces and great-nephews.
She enjoyed bowling, playing pinochle with family, watching Star Trek and sports, especially tennis, playing bridge with friends and sheltering cats.
Memorial donations are suggested to the Humane Animal Rescue, 6926 Hamilton Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15208 or humaneanimalrescue.org.
Former volleyball coach Beerman led 2003 team to Big East title
Chris Beerman, former head coach of Pitt’s volleyball team, died Jan. 24 at 53 after battling COVID-19 for a month.
“The volleyball community is hurting today with the loss of Chris Beerman,” Pitt head coach Dan Fisher said in a statement. “I did not know him well, but I have so much respect for his leadership and legacy with Pitt volleyball. We mourn with our alumnae and send our thoughts and prayers to his family.”
A former Big East Coach of the Year, Beerman spent eight seasons leading the Pitt volleyball program (2000-07), holding a 154-89 record that included a 2003 Big East title and two NCAA Tournament appearances.
“Chris never stopped coaching me, even when my time at Pitt was done,” said Pitt volleyball alum Stephanie Ross (2005-08). “He continued to mentor me and was always one of the first phone calls I made when I was considering a new job and even a career change. I would hang up the phone feeling like I was invincible and that I could do anything, simply because I knew he still believed in me. To him, nothing was impossible.”
Beerman’s 20-year career in collegiate volleyball included stops at Louisville, South Florida, James Madison and Kentucky in addition to Pittsburgh. Overall, he a was a three-time coach of the year and participated in eight NCAA Tournaments, including the Sweet 16 while an assistant coach at Kentucky in 2009.
Following his time in collegiate volleyball, Beerman founded the Lexington United Volleyball (LUV) club, where he grew the program into the largest youth volleyball club in central Kentucky for players ages 9-18. Beerman also coached club volleyball in Tampa, Fla., and Louisville, Ky., in addition to founding the Valley Juniors club in Harrisonburg, Va.
As a collegiate player, Beerman was a two-time All-American at Ball State and led the Cardinals to three consecutive NCAA Men’s Final Fours from 1988-90. Additionally, Beerman was a member of the bronze medal 1986 and 1987 Olympic Sports Festival teams, as well as a member of the training team for the 1991 World University Games..
Beerman is survived by wife Mary-Beth, also a former volleyball player at Ball State, and his two children: Kendall, a former LUV player who played collegiately at Indiana University, and Jackson, a current football player at Eastern Kentucky University.
For more on Beerman, go to the Pitt Athletics website.
Ostrowski was more than assistant to the chair in Orthopaedic Surgery
Nancy Ostrowski, who served as assistant to multiple chairmen of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery in the School of Medicine from 1970 to 2014, died Dec. 12, 2020, at 73.
Current chair Freddie H. Fu — under whom Ostrowski served for 16 years — first met her when he was a medical student here. “She was the most incredible assistant,” Fu said. “She knew everything about being a good assistant and about Pitt.”
Ostrowski, he said, did a large array of departmental work, from handling its finances and taking care of the faculty and resident paperwork to helping him write speeches and copy edit journal articles. She was, he recalled, “a very nice person too — very meticulous and very personable. She was absolutely a wonderful person and did a lot for Pitt.”
Ostrowski was a 1964 graduate of St. Paul’s Cathedral High School and a 1966 graduate of Point Park University with an associate degree in medical secretarial science, earning the school’s Pittsburgh Foundation award as first in her graduating class.
She began her career as medical secretary to physician Joseph Mazzei, then moved to the Rehabilitation Outpatient Diagnostic Clinic at St. Francis Hospital, before joining Pitt. She was hired as the clinical secretary to chair Albert Ferguson and then as the operations manager under both Edward Hanley and James Herndon. Her tenure under Freddie Fu began in 1998 until her retirement in 2014, during which time she also served as the department’s historian.
She received the 2005 Chancellor's Award for Staff for Excellence in Service to the University.
She is survived by her husband of 47 years, Paul; sister, Mary Francis Iannacchione (Bob); uncle, Raymond Catullo; nephew, Brad Iannacchione (Carolyn); and great-niece, Nicole; as well as numerous cousins.
A celebration of her life will be held later in the spring of 2021. Memorial gifts are suggested to the UPMC Hillman Cancer Center.
— Marty Levine
Milani was a ‘Pitt stalwart,’ especially in Student Affairs
Terrence “Terry” Milani, a long-time associate director of student life and director of student volunteer outreach, died Dec. 7, 2020, at 75.
“In 2016, The Pitt News called Dr. Terry Milani a ‘Pitt stalwart,’” says Vice Provost and Dean of Students Kenyon Bonner. “Our students got it right. Dr. Milani, Terry or Big T, as he was affectionately called, invested so much of himself into the University of Pittsburgh, and more specifically, Student Affairs. For those of us who knew and worked with Terry over the years, we respected his contributions to Student Affairs as well as his immense knowledge and wisdom. We appreciated his sense of humor and candor, and we got to know the teddy bear beneath his brawny veneer. Terry deeply cared about our students and made a profound difference in many of their lives. For that, we are forever grateful.”
Milani earned his Ph.D. in higher education from Pitt and had a 44-year career here. He played an important role in shaping the Student Government Board structure, the University Student Organization Certification Program, the Graduate and Professional Student Association, the Emerging Leaders and Student Development Transcript programs, the Commuter Resource Center and the Pitt Program Council.
In 2012, he was recognized by then-Chancellor Mark Nordenberg for his 40 years of commitment to the University.
In 1965, Milani was selected as a first baseman in the second round (40th overall) of the Amateur Entry Draft by the St. Louis Cardinals. He coached many children, including his own, in several different sports through the years.
He was the husband of Peggy Walker for 41 years and father of Meg, Bill and Mark (Kathy); grandfather of Josh and Maya; and brother of Kenneth and the late Glenn.
— Marty Levine
Former provost Weingartner also chaired philosophy department
Rudolph H. Weingartner, former provost and chair of the Department of Philosophy, died Nov. 16, 2020 at 93.
“By any estimation,” said Provost Ann Cudd, “Rudy Weingartner was a true Renaissance man and humanist. His work and his life are inspiring. I understand that, in 1988, he began the Provost's Inaugural Lecture Series, which remains a significant way to share and honor the deep expertise and innovation of our faculty today. We are so grateful for his vision."
Weingartner spoke frankly through the years, via memoirs and in interviews, about his frustrations with his 18 months as provost (1987-1989) and his disagreements with Pitt leaders at the time about the balance of power between academic and administrative leaders concerning budgets, research funding and other priorities. When he resigned, he remained a professor and chair of the philosophy department in the Dietrich School of Arts & Sciences before retiring in 1994 as an emeritus professor.
Born on Feb. 12, 1927, in Heidelberg, at 12 he fled with his family from Germany to New York City. A Navy veteran, he served in the Pacific and then attended Columbia University beginning in 1947, earning his bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate in philosophy there.
He married Fannia Goldberg-Rudkowski in 1952 and began his academic career in the philosophy department at San Francisco State College, chairing the department there and then at Vassar College. He also served as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Northwestern University for 13 years, where he created a still-thriving writing program, before joining Pitt — first as a member of the Pitt Faculty of Arts and Sciences Board of Visitors, then as provost.
Weingartner wrote two books on philosophy (“Experience and Culture: The Philosophy of Georg Simmel” and “The Unity of the Platonic Dialogue: The Cratylus, The Protagoruas, the Parmenides”) and a trio of books about higher education (“Fitting Form to Function: A Primer on the Organization of Academic Institutions”; “Undergraduate Education: Goals and Means” and “The Moral Dimensions of Academic Administration”). He also published a personal memoir (“Mostly About Me: A Path Through Different Worlds”) and one focused on his career (“A Sixty-Year Ride through the World of Education”).
He also served on the boards of the Pittsburgh Chamber Music Society and the Pittsburgh Symphony.
Weingartner was married to Fannia for 42 years until her death, then in 1997 married Gissa Hamburger until their separation in 2012. He is survived by children Mark H. Weingartner and Eleanor Weingartner Salazar, and by grandchildren Daniel Max Salazar and Eva Fannia Salazar.
Staniland helped shape programs in GSPIA
Martin Staniland, Graduate School of Public and International Affairs emeritus professor, died Nov. 26, 2020.
“Dr. Staniland played a central role in building our school and shaping our international affairs and development programs,” said GSPIA Dean Carissa Slotterback. “He was a mentor to many and will be truly missed.”
Staniland received his bachelor’s degree in history from Cambridge University, his master’s degree in African studies from the University of Ghana, and his Ph.D. in social and political sciences from Cambridge. He began his academic career teaching at the University of Glasgow and was then a post-doctoral fellow at UCLA and a research fellow at the University of California-Berkeley and Harvard.
Staniland joined GSPIA in 1984 as an associate professor, was promoted to full professor and served the school as interim dean (1995-1996), interim associate dean (2012) and director of the International Affairs program. He published five books and an edited volume concerning his main research interests of commercial aviation, international political economy and development theory and received the Joseph Pois Award for Distinguished Service from GSPIA twice. He retired in 2018.
“Martin Staniland was an accomplished scholar and a teacher who cared deeply about his students,” recalled GSPIA faculty colleague Kevin Kearns. “Above all, he was a fine human being who reveled in the embrace of his loving family and who showed care and empathy to all. His colleagues and friends will fondly remember Martin’s dry British wit and his delightful storytelling.
“I had the privilege of serving with Martin as his associate dean and working closely with him on many GSPIA initiatives. But I will most fondly remember his thoughtful and loving friendship.”
Added former GSPIA dean and professor emerita Carolyn Ban: “Martin’s scholarship was impressive. His work on air transport policy and regulation of the airline industry and the policy conference he organized brought some of the key European experts and policymakers to Pitt. It was a first-class example of policy research that was grounded in both theory and extensive empirical research and that had an impact on the field.”
He is survived by his wife Alberta Sbragia, a long-time Pitt faculty member; sister Kay Staniland; half-sister Brenda Delamain; daughter Laura Trybus and son-in-law Matthew Trybus; son Paul Staniland; and daughter-in-law Rebecca Incledon, as well as two grandchildren, Ethan and Leo Staniland.
Memorial gifts are suggested to Doctors Without Borders or the GSPIA Internship Resource Fund.
— Marty Levine
Wissner called ‘the heart’ of Dietrich School dean’s office
Elspeth A. Poultney Wissner, who retired in 2018 after a long career in the Dietrich School of Arts & Sciences, including most recently as administrative coordinator for business and finance in the dean’s office, died Nov. 26, 2020 at 75.
She was an alumna of the Dietrich School with a master’s degree in music in 2002.
“Elspeth was a joy to work and talk with as a student, a supporting staff member, and a friend,” recalled Deane Root, professor emeritus of music. “When she approached me with an idea for a master’s thesis, I wasn’t sure how to help her with the project she envisioned, but we found a way, and she wrote a helpful study of cantorial practice in Pittsburgh Jewish congregations. Later, as a staff member in the dean’s office, she was always welcoming, patient and prompt in responding to needs of individual faculty and departments.”
Michele Montag, senior assistant dean at the Dietrich School, wrote in remembrance: “Elspeth was well-known for her warm greetings and kind heart, her stories of home in Australia, her incredible mentoring of student workers in the office, and the amazing snacks and treats she frequently shared with her co-workers. She was a go-to person for many people across the school; if you didn’t know an answer or weren’t sure who to talk to about something, Elspeth would go out of her way to help you succeed.”
"One of the greatest pleasures of my University career was having had the opportunity to work closely with Elspeth Wissner,” said Monika Losagio, administrative officer in languages and classics, “which ultimately led to the cultivation of a treasured friendship that continued into her retirement. Elspeth was a trusted colleague and noble advisor not only to me but to many administrators who regularly called upon her for guidance. For many of us, Elspeth was the first point of contact in the dean’s office since we knew that she would either already know the answer or she would be the one to find out."
"Simply stated,” added Kelly Lloyd, director of payroll and personnel, “Elspeth was the heart of our office.”
Born July 4, 1945, Wissner was married for 37 years to the late George A. Wissner and is the sister of Jackie Brennan (Des) and the late Bill Poultney (Maureen); sister-in-law of Velma Wissner (late William) and Beth Cancilla (late Frank); and aunt to numerous nieces and nephews.
Mundundu helped introduce Pitt students to music and dance of Africa
Anicet Mundundu, instructor for the Pitt African Music and Dance Ensemble who also helped to run the Department of Music’s jazz archives and the William R. Robinson recording studio, died Nov. 26, 2020 at 62.
As music faculty colleague Andrew Weintraub wrote in a remembrance: “Anicet Mundundu was a multi-talented musician who performed traditional music, popular music, religious music, and art music equally well.”
“He introduced hundreds of Pitt students to various styles of music, dance, and other artistic expressions of Africa,” Weintraub said. “PAMDE concerts under his direction were always exciting and well-attended events that brought together University and community members from diverse places, spaces and races throughout Pittsburgh.”
An African drum master and ethnomusicologist, Mundundu earned his master’s and doctoral degrees in Pitt's ethnomusicology department, where he taught music fundamentals, piano, world music and music technology.
Born in Congo, he came to Pittsburgh and was part of many local Africa-centered music and dance groups. He earned his bachelor’s degree in music education in 1982 from the Institut National des Arts of the Université Nationale du Zaire and directed the GEVAKIN choir of Kinshasa, Congo.
“In addition to being an extraordinary musician and teacher,” Weintraub said, “Anicet was a fine scholar. His doctoral dissertation was a study of the Umoja African Arts Company, a Pittsburgh-based group of African immigrants that performs music and dance from various parts of Africa. His study applied the theories and methods of ethnomusicology to a community-based musical practice and connected the university with the larger Pittsburgh community. His dissertation … is a pioneering example of public ethnomusicology."
Through the years, Mundundu worked with such local groups as the River City Brass, Kuntu Repertory Theatre, Pittsburgh Symphony and Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre.
Mundundu is survived by his wife, Ruth, and son, Anicet Mundundu Jr.
— Marty Levine
Robert Gale remembered as ‘the best of Pitt’
By LINDA TASHBOOK
When retired Pitt English professor Robert L. Gale died on Thanksgiving Day, at the tender age of 100 years and 11 months, he left behind scores of publications, three children, five grandchildren, thousands of former students, and an unusually large quantity of true friends, as well as piles and shelves of stuff that he had accumulated.
For more details on Robert Gale’s life and funeral service information, see the obituary from the Dec. 2 Post-Gazette.
He appreciated long opening lines. In fact, he appreciated a lot of things. His best legacy is surely the trail of grateful and complimentary notes that he wrote as he made his way through life. I have one of them, formally typed on stationery, tacked to the bulletin board above my desk, plus several that are handwritten as autographs in copies of his books.
He could have written, “Enjoy the book!” or “Eureka! My desk is clear” or even quoted the author whose writing he explicated. (All of his books and articles were explications of American writers.) But instead, Bob expressed gratitude in his autographs. This was true English professor gratitude — thanks and praise efficiently composed with precise compliments reflecting the conversations he’d had as he worked on each book. He must have critiqued students’ work over the years and given some bad grades, but most of his writing, that which went to friends and colleagues or explained individual authors, was gracious.
The formal letter on my bulletin board is praise for an article that I wrote about Bob and another retired Pitt English professor, Ed Marrs. Bob had come to the library at the School of Law, seeking justice for Ed when a professor at another university appropriated his work, and I happened to be the librarian on duty. That was when we met. A series of law library reference inquiries followed as those two retired literary analysts used the written word, not brute strength or the court system, to fight the force of evil. In the end, Ed prevailed, thanks to Bob’s heroic friendship.
Bob continued to visit the law library for years afterward, until he just couldn’t make the trip from Techview Terrace anymore. He made even more frequent use of the Hillman Library as he kept publishing books for decades beyond retirement. In one of my favorite online ironies, a University webmaster made a screensaver from a photo of Bob reading a book at the Hillman Library. I printed and mailed a screenshot to Bob, knowing that he would love it even though he did not have a computer at home and was not familiar with the words “webmaster” and “screensaver.”
Bob Gale represented the best of Pitt. Teaching, writing and collegiality all resulting from his own appreciation and all generating appreciation in the rest of us.
Linda Tashbook is the Foreign, International and Comparative Law librarian and an adjunct professor in Pitt’s School of Law.
GSPIA professor Miller was a ‘practitioner-scholar’
David Young Miller, long-time professor in the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs and strong proponent of cooperation for efficiency among municipalities, died Nov. 17, 2020, at 73.
“He was really the perfect practitioner-scholar,” recalled his faculty colleague of decades, Kevin Kearns. “Very few people could bring that to the table.”
Already an experienced manager in three different Maine communities when he earned his Ph.D. from GSPIA in 1988, Miller founded the school’s Center for Metropolitan Studies and served as associate dean (1998-2006) and interim dean (2006-07). He was also co-director of GSPIA’s Center for Public Policy and Management in Macedonia (2000-06) with founding leader and faculty colleague William Dunn. Miller was important in administering and teaching in this program, through which many Macedonian government officials passed as students through the years.
He was the author of several highly praised books and many articles on regional governance and earned the Chancellor’s Distinguished Public Service Award in 2012.
Miller was perhaps most widely known for his work that brought together municipal officials in cooperation for the benefit of the region. He was the founding advisor of the Congress of Neighboring Communities (CONNECT) at Pitt, which joins Pittsburgh with its surrounding communities to aim for a public-policy agenda of benefit to all.
Miller also was managing director of the Pennsylvania Economy League (1987-95), whose work remains crucial in the region, says Kearns, and which helped to institute Allegheny County’s home rule charter and the Regional Assets District. The league also helped to modernize the city of Pittsburgh’s governmental functions, he said, and published influential studies concerning municipal fiscal distress and intergovernmental cooperation.
Miller worked as director of Management and Budget for Pittsburgh during the Tom Murphy administration (1996-98), and drew recent praise from Mayor Bill Peduto for his mentorship and advice.
At GSPIA, Kearns said, “He brought that knowledge back into the classroom, which students in a program like GSPIA really appreciate. David was the kind of person who would re-link that practice to the literature, to the theory … to engage students in a vigorous discussion on how the theory plays out in practice, to give them very tangible examples of not only good thinking but about bad thinking and how it plays out in government.
“I was always impressed by the way he did his work with students who came to see him, how he encouraged them,” Kearns said. “He was an excellent teacher. He was a consummate practitioner.”
Miller retired just this summer. He is survived by his wife of 50 years, Marie; children Carrie Hanak, Laura Sowerby and David J. “D.J.” Miller; brothers Donald and Douglas; stepmother JoAnn Miller; and seven grandchildren.
Memorial donations are suggested to the David Y. Miller and Marie K. Miller Fund of the Pittsburgh Foundation, Five PPG Place, Suite 250, Pittsburgh, PA 15222. A service is planned for the future.
— Marty Levine
Former anatomic pathology director Lee had impact as teacher, researcher
Robert E. Lee, professor emeritus and former director of anatomic pathology in the School of Medicine’s Department of Pathology, died Oct. 29, 2020, at 90.
Pathology Chair George K. Michalopoulos recalls arriving in 1991 and appreciating the advice that Lee, a professor since 1962, had to offer: “He was the best person I always turned toward” for recommendations about managing the department, Michalopoulos said.
He also saw how many of Lee’s former students and residents were now nationally and internationally known. “That was a testament to his power as a teacher,” Michalopoulos said. “He always impressed me.”
Lee’s research looked into the use of biomarkers in diagnosing certain types of tumors, and he was one of the organizers and teachers of the pathology course for first- and second-year medical students. Michalopoulos praised Lee’s work as a mentor, adding that Lee was “highly, highly respected and loved by everybody in the faculty.”
Born Oct. 11, 1930 in Pittsburgh, Lee attended Central Catholic High School and earned his B.S. (1952) and M.D. (1956) from Pitt. He interned at St. Francis General Hospital, then became a resident in pathology at Presbyterian & Women’s Hospital here, and then a research fellow in 1961 in Pitt’s pathology department, where he joined the faculty the next year.
He rose to be chief of pathology at what was then Presbyterian University Hospital, as well as vice chairman for clinical affairs and director of laboratories. He was author or co-author of more than 60 research papers focused largely on Gaucher's Disease and was inducted into the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Society. Lee received the Philip S. Hench Award as distinguished alumnus of his school and retired in 2001.
Lee was also a lieutenant in the U.S. Naval Reserve (1957-1968) and was married to Kathleen McClain for 54 years; they had six children. He served on many boards, including Achieva, St. Anthony School for Exceptional Children and Allegheny County Medical Society.
After Lee’s retirement, Michalopoulos recalls, Lee returned frequently to the department to talk with residents. The pair saw each other just a few months ago at the school, and Michalopoulos remembers “the kind face, the nice smile, the person who lived in the academic environment. It was still the definition of his life and character.”
Lee is survived by his wife and children Robert Jr., Kevin (Karen), Margie O'Leary (John), Thomas (Patti) and Brian, as well as grandchildren Kyle (Shannon), Meredith, Claire, Matthew, Daniel and Thomas Lee, Caitlin Echelberger (Eric), and David O'Leary, and great-grandchild Brigid Lee. He was predeceased by his daughter Maria in 2018, his first wife Ruth Anne Carazola in 1964, his sisters Peggy and Mary Frances Schreibeis and his brother William.
Memorial gifts are suggested to the Scholarship Fund at Central Catholic High School, 4720 Fifth Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15213 or the Down Syndrome Center at Children's Hospital, 4401 Penn Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15224.
— Marty Levine
LRDC’s Greeno was ‘a giant in the field of cognitive sciences’
Learning Research and Development Center senior scientist James Greeno, whom former dean of the School of Education Alan Lesgold recently recalled as an “Isaac Newton for the world of learning and education,” died Sept. 8, 2020.
In a book of remembrances for Greeno's family, Lesgold recalled meeting Greeno when Greeno was an established professor at the University of Michigan and Lesgold was a student at Stanford.
“I always felt like he was a fellow student,” Lesgold said. “Jim was always humble, decent and a good listener. When he had something to say, it was worth hearing.
“Jim’s work spanned some major evolutions of learning theory,” he said. At Berkeley in 1984, for instance, Greeno began focusing on “how learning theory could be relevant to real learning in school and elsewhere rather than the abstracted learning performances of the laboratory,” concentrating on the learning of math and science.
“Throughout the second half of his career, Jim looked hard at the interactions and artifacts that promote learning, including Socratic dialogue and diagrams, as well as at what is learned and how what is learned is structured,” Lesgold added.
The resemblance to Newton, he said, arose when “Jim immersed himself both in the world of theory and formalisms and in the real world of school learning,” for a career that “was stellar and important both in scholarly and in social terms …
“As a gentleman, as a scholar, and as an advocate for better schooling, Jim will be missed greatly. I certainly am a better person when I try to emulate his actions, disposition, analytical thinking and kindness.”
Greeno had two stints on the Pitt faculty — first in the LRDC as a psychology faculty member in the Dietrich School of Arts & Sciences, and then as a School of Education faculty member from 2003 until his death. A recent University-published article notes that he had moved back to Pitt from Stanford to be near his children and grandchildren. He co-taught courses in the school’s Ph.D. program, including the new doctoral program in learning sciences and policy.
The school’s associate dean and former Greeno colleague, Kevin Crowley, said in the article that Greeno was “a giant in the field of cognitive sciences and learning sciences. He helped us to rethink how to define, how to support, and how to understand conceptions of teaching and learning. He also got us out of the lab and into the places where learning occurs.”
Born on May 1, 1935, Greeno was co-founder and senior research fellow of the Institute for Research on Learning in California, and held leadership positions with the National Academy of Education; the Society of Experimental Psychologists; Federation of Behavioral, Psychological and Cognitive Sciences; Cognitive Science Society; Psychonomic Society; Society for Mathematical Psychology; American Psychological Association; American Educational Research Association; American Association for the Advancement of Science and others.
He was executive editor of Cognitive Science and received a Guggenheim Fellowship, J. McKeen Catrell Award and E.L. Thorndike Award from the APA.
Greeno is survived by his wife, Noreen Herreid Greeno; son John; daughter Catherine; grandchildren Emily, James and Grace Greeno and Jack Fischbeck; daughter-in-law Patricia Greeno and son-in-law Paul Fischbeck.
Memorial donations are suggested to the James G. Greeno Scholarship Fund to assist Pitt undergraduates, through this link or by check to the University of Pittsburgh with “James G. Greeno Fund” in the memo line, to the University of Pittsburgh, Philanthropic & Alumni Engagement, 107 Park Plaza, 128 N. Craig St., Pittsburgh, PA 15260.
Pharmacy’s Drab was student favorite and creator of service-learning program
Scott R. Drab — winner of the student-selected School of Pharmacy Preceptor of the Year Award in multiple years and creator of the school’s first service-learning program and a nationwide diabetes education program — died July 27, 2020.
Amy Seybert, chair of the school’s Department of Pharmacy and Therapeutics, joined the faculty alongside Drab in August 1997 and coordinated the beginning of the service-learning course with him.
“He was meticulous with his course planning, and he was excited to teach the class every day,” Seybert recalls. “Everything was planned; it was perfectly executed and the whole room came alive. He got everyone excited because he was so excited. He was a really impactful teacher.”
The program, she says, teaches students in their first year of pharmacy “how to give back, how to be human, how to speak to people,” as they serve at a soup kitchen or deliver books to patients in a hospital. The program places students in community pharmacies in their second year and hospital pharmacies in their third year.
When pharmacists-in-training took their month-long rotation through his clinic, she says, “the students tell us that experience changed their life.”
“He was the greatest storyteller I’ve ever seen,” Seybert says. “He lights up the room when he would teach. He was entertaining and funny, but he would hold those students accountable for what they had to learn, and they loved him for it.
“Teaching was his life,” she continues. “He loved teaching more than anyone I have ever met, and he was the best teacher I have ever seen.”
Drab was so gratified to receive continued student recognition that he endowed the honor as the Scott R. Drab Preceptor Award several years ago, Seybert says, as well as joining with colleagues to create the Student Resource Fund in the school and raising money as the auctioneer at school fundraising functions.
He also led the design team that created the DME, or Diabetes Mellitus Education, program, which developed video content featuring lectures by Drab and other diabetes experts, in use by more than 90 schools.
Born on Nov. 9, 1966, Drab graduated in 1989 from Pitt’s pharmacy school, then earned a certificate in alcoholism and drug dependencies from the University of Utah, and certificates as a diabetes care specialist and pharmaceutical care consultant from the Medical University of South Carolina. In 2000, he was awarded his Doctor of Pharmacy degree from Duquesne University.
At Pitt, he advanced from instructor to associate professor, and served as the pharmacy school’s director of professional experience programs (2000-2006) and experiential learning coordinator (1997-2000).
He was also director of University Diabetes Care Associates, a private practice, beginning in 2002, first in North Huntingdon, then in Jeannette and Greensburg.
Beginning in his student days, he received many awards, from the University of Pittsburgh Leadership Award (1987) and membership in the Rho Chi Pharmacy Honor Society (1988) to the school’s Rho Chi Society Innovation in Teaching Award (2014) and Outstanding Scholarly Contribution Award (2016) and its Cohen Teacher of the Year Award that same year. In 2019, Drab was named a distinguished alumnus.
He was invited to present his clinical research throughout the United States and published many book chapters and papers concerning the pharmaceutical care, understanding and treatment of diabetes. He was a certified diabetes educator, a board certified advanced diabetes management specialist and an internationally known diabetes pharmacist.
Also known for his collection of antique cars, Drab provided one of them, a Jaguar, to Jerry Seinfeld for an episode of his Netflix series, “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.”
Drab is survived by his wife, Amanda Lawson-Drab; their children, Grayson and Delaney; his parents, Richard and Connie Benko Drab; and his sister, Kathleen Weissberg (Jason), as well as numerous aunts, uncles and cousins.
Memorial donations are suggested to the Scott R. Drab Student Resource Fund, University of Pittsburgh Philanthropic & Alumni Engagement, 128 North Craig Street, Pittsburgh, PA, 15260.
A virtual memorial service will be held on Oct. 5. Find details here.
— Marty Levine