Audrey Champagne was a pioneer at LRDC

Audrey B. Champagne, a pioneer who studied science and mathematics learning at the Learning Research and Development Center (LRDC), died Aug. 14, 2019, at 84.

Her former colleague Richard Goldman, who met Champagne when she joined the School of Education as a lecturer in 1968, said, “Audrey is the smartest person I’ve ever worked with, and I’ve worked with a lot of smart people.

“She really respected teachers and practitioners,” he recalled. “She respected what teachers did and saw teachers as the catalysts for improving science education, not researchers and professors.”

Alan Lesgold, LRDC senior scientist and former Renée and Richard Goldman dean (2000-16) of the School of Education, remembered Champagne as “energetic and imaginative, and just plain kind.

“In the early years of the Learning Research and Development Center, it was really doing something new” in studying the psychology of learning inside the classroom. “Schools of education were very much in the ivory tower at that moment. … Research journals weren’t even interested in publishing research that took place in classrooms.”

Champagne was an innovator in bringing research out of this cloister: “She was a major contributor to … this new enterprise,” he said. “She helped to build the good strengths that the school and the LRDC have today.”

Two years after joining Pitt, Champagne became a research associate at the LRDC and earned her Ph.D. in education at Pitt in December 1970. She became a research assistant professor at the school in 1971, and two years later was named co-director of the Individualized Science Project. The next year, she was promoted to research associate professor.

At LRDC, she led the way in developing instructional software for physics and elementary mathematics. She was well known for collaborating across disciplines and wrote widely on such topics as expert and novice performance in problem solving, knowledge about physical properties, problem solving in science teaching and reasoning about physical concepts. 

She served on the editorial boards of the journals Science Education and Studies in Science, and for the yearbook of the National Science Teachers' Association. She was also a member of the American Chemical Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Educational Research Association, and Kappa Omega Phi.

From July 1984 to June 1986, she took a leave of absence to direct the Project for Science and Technology Education Planning at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Washington, D.C., departing Pitt in 1987 to become AAAS’s associate director for education. Later, she joined the faculty at State University of New York–Albany, with joint appointments in educational theory and practice and in chemistry, from which she retired an emerita professor.

She served on several prestigious committees, including the National Assessment of Educational Progress, which created science frameworks and performance standards, and the National Association for Research in Science Teaching (NARST), researching science education. NARST awarded her its Distinguished Contributions to Science Education Award. In 2016, she and her co-authors won the William Elgin Wickenden Award from the American Society for Engineering Education.

Goldman recalled the years in which their families were friends, including their young children. When his kids were in preschool, Goldman said, Champagne would lead family hikes in the woods. “She would make science lessons for hours, just on a short little hike, on flora and fauna and mushrooms and all kinds of things lay people would never see.”

— Marty Levine


Frederick W. Crock

Crock was ‘consummate cardiologist and an outstanding educator’

Frederick W. Crock, an echocardiologist teaching in the School of Medicine who died Aug. 16, 2019, is recalled by his supervisory colleague Jenifer E. Lee as “a consummate cardiologist and an outstanding educator.”

Lee, medicine faculty member and director of medical student education in the Division of Cardiology, remembered Crock as “Superman — that’s all I have to say. The bottom line is, Fred was perfect.”

Crock was one of the instructors of second-year courses for School of Medicine students focused on individual organs for 15 years. Students at all levels “really adored him,” Lee said. “He had a broad fund of knowledge,” and could communicate very complicated information in a very clear manner, she remembered.

Lee quoted a 2018 course evaluation for Crock that notes his “virtuosic mastery of his field and an infectious enthusiasm for both teaching and the subject matter,” calling him “an amazing professor.”

Crock won many teaching awards here. However, Lee said, “You would never know because Fred never talked about those things.” Cardiology trainees voted Crock outstanding teacher in 2005, 2010, and 2018, while medical students chose him for the same honor in 2010 and 2011 and medical residents in 2012. The school’s Alpha Omega Alpha Society awarded Crock its Charles Watson Teaching Award this year.

He also was part of a structural heart disease research team that Lee termed instrumental in introducing percutaneous catheter-based treatments for valvular heart disease at UPMC Presbyterian Hospital. As a substitute for traditional open-heart surgery, “that is really in the vanguard to what we are doing nowadays,” she said.

The pair worked together as non-invasive imaging cardiologists on staff at UPMC, and she remembered him being last in the office, helping to close up. “He was one of those guys who really loved what he did. … He was the kindest, most joyful person to work with.” Crock also volunteered as a lead cardiologist in the Birmingham Free Clinic on the South Side, which serves those without medical insurance, helping the organization to acquire specialty diagnostic equipment.

Crock was a fellow of the American College of Cardiology and the American Society of Echocardiography). He was born Feb. 7, 1952, in Greensburg and graduated from Indiana Area Senior High School in 1970 as president of his senior class. He received his bachelor of science degree from Pitt in 1974 and his MD from Temple University in 1978.

He trained in internal medicine at Mercy Hospital and was chosen as a chief resident. He then completed a cardiovascular fellowship under Pitt’s James Shaver before joining the teaching faculty at Mercy in 1984, when he also was appointed assistant clinical professor of medicine at Pitt. In 2004, he joined UPMC's Cardiovascular Institute and was promoted to assistant professor.

On May 14, 1983, he married Kathleen Nagy. He is survived by her as well as children Tyler, Kirsten and Marco, and siblings Mary Ann Crock, Kathleen Harrison (Mark) and Diane Daskivich (Bruce), as well as many in-laws, nieces and nephews.

Memorial donations are suggested to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network and the Birmingham Free Clinic (University of Pittsburgh, Institutional Advancement, Records Management, Attn: Tina Beckett, 128 N. Craig St., Pittsburgh, PA 15260), with donations allocated to the Birmingham Free Clinic in memory of Dr. Frederick William Crock, MD, FACC, FASE.

— Marty Levine

Cohen remembered for his love of teaching math and his tennis prowess

Henry B. Cohen, a Department of Mathematics faculty member whose interests ranged from teaching theory to inspiring young children to value math, died July 29, 2019.

A graduate of Columbia University, Cohen was a Pitt professor for 40 years. As a researcher, he was “a pure analyst working in infinite dimensional spaces,” recalled his departmental colleague Juan Manfredi in the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences. But Cohen also was noted for taking his love of mathematics to middle-school and elementary children as Professor Puzzle.

“He always wanted to teach children the value of mathematics and the value of working quantitatively,” Manfredi said. “It was amazing he could go from one to the other” — from instruction for grade-schoolers to his favorite class, Pitt math majors’ introductory theoretical course.

Cohen also founded the College in High School program at Pitt, which for more than 35 years has been offering Pitt credits to aspiring high school students to aid in their college preparation.

When Manfredi joined the department in 1989, Cohen was the chair for instruction, assigning courses. “He was a very good associate chair,” Manfredi said. “He enjoyed teaching and I remember at the very beginning when I was teaching, we worked together, and he took my hand and told me what to do. He was unusually kind (to a beginning professor),” he added.

Cohen, who retired as an emeritus faculty member, was also known for his hard-to-beat tennis serve. He started a faculty tennis group in the 1980s that continues today. Manfredi was a member of the group for his first decade at Pitt.

“He was a tall guy,” Manfredi remembers. “He really capitalized on his strength. He was very competitive and I remember for me it was very important to break his serve.”

Stuart Hastings, emeritus faculty member in the department (and still a member of Cohen’s tennis group), arrived as chair of the department in 1987 from outside of Pitt, when Cohen was already assistant chair. They worked together on department administration for the next eight years.

“He showed me the ropes,” Hastings said. Each term, Cohen would design the schedule of teaching assignments for the department, and Hastings knew he could depend on Cohen’s efficiency. “I got to sit and look out my windows while he did all the work,” Hastings joked.

He also recalled Cohen as a popular teacher with a fine sense of humor. “He always had wry remarks for me — he kept the atmosphere light in the department.”

He is survived by his wife of 50 years, Reva, as well as children Jennie Cohen, Abby (Jonathan) Maeir, Stuart B. Polonsky, Jeffrey (Inna) Cohen, and Andrew (Claire) Cohen; grandchildren Coby and Noa, as well as siblings, in-laws, nieces, and nephews.

— Marty Levine

‘Dean Jeanne’ kept arts and sciences running as assistant to dean

Jeanne Martin, known for her ability to deal effectively with all 31 Pitt arts and sciences departments as top assistant to several deans, died on July 29, 2019, just a few months before her 100th birthday.

In a note to Martin written by then-Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) Dean Jerome Rosenberg during his tenure (1970-1986), he told her: “When people in other divisions speak wistfully of the smoothness with which things run in 1001 (Cathedral of Learning), they are paying tribute to you. I don’t need their judgment, however, because I know full well how valuable a person you are. I can’t imagine anybody who would have your flair for organizing a very complex office operation, solving the most delicate interpersonal problems among a large staff, anticipating and solving all problems affecting me personally and professionally, and maintaining a gentle disposition through all of this.”

“She was a wonderful colleague,” Rosenberg said earlier this month. “She always collected background information for issues I had to deal with. In fact, she often resolved issues before I had to deal with them. All of our constituencies trusted her. She was a pleasant colleague whom everyone liked.”

Martin attended Pitt as a business administration major, with additional studies at Duff’s Business College and the Grace Martin’s School of Business. Apart from one year working in the Department of Speech and Theatre Arts, Martin’s 26 years at Pitt (1962-1988) were spent in the office of the dean in what would become the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences. She started as secretary and retired in the late 1980s as assistant to the dean.

Peter F.M. Koehler, professor emeritus in physics and astronomy and Rosenberg’s successor as dean, took office in 1986 and found Martin poised to retire. “But I asked her to help me get started, and she graciously agreed to do that,” Koehler says. “It was one of the best decisions I ever made, because she knew that place inside and out.”

Martin assisted Koehler for an additional two years, giving him “a careful briefing” prior to his initial meeting with each school department, he recalls: “She was very pleasant, always polite. She was certainly the senior staff member and had tremendous connection with administrative assistants in the various departments.

“She was the consummate professional,” he adds.

W. Richard Howe, retired associate dean for administration and planning, and Linda Huchber, data analyst in the Dietrich School’s dean’s office, compiled a remembrance that notes: “Many of the FAS department chairs and administrative staff affectionately referred to Jeanne as ‘Dean Jeanne.’ She was recognized as the door keeper for the dean and knew when to open it and when to keep it closed. When ‘Dean Jeanne’ said that she would take care of a problem, the departmental chairs and staff had full confidence that they had been heard and that their concerns would be quickly and effectively addressed.”

The memorial letter adds: “Among her many formal and assumed responsibilities was her intense devotion to looking after the many FAS staff members. She felt a personal connection to all who worked within the extended Arts & Sciences umbrella. She was always ready to provide a departmental chair with just the right candidates to interview for jobs within her broad sphere of influence. She was a one-person human resources coordinator who evaluated individual performances and identified those staff members who were ready for promotions to more demanding and rewarding positions.”

Nancy Kasper, department coordinator manager in the social science division of the Dietrich School, remembers helping to organize a retirement dinner for Martin in the William Pitt Union ballroom with nearly 300 in attendance, “which was very hard keeping secret from her since everyone that ever came into the dean’s office always sat and spoke to Jeanne before their meeting with the dean…. Everyone had some sort of story they wanted to tell about their interactions with Jeanne, or they just wanted to express their gratitude for her help throughout the many years.

“About halfway through the reception, the dean made an announcement that, on behalf of everyone present and those that couldn’t attend, he wanted to thank Mrs. Martin — he very rarely called her by her first name — for all of her help over the past few years and he presented her with an envelope which contained a collective contribution so that she could take that trip to Alaska she’d been talking about. …  Jeanne thanked everyone, said she’d miss us, and wouldn’t have traded her time at the University for anything — but now she was going to take that trip.”

In retirement, Martin did indeed travel extensively, but also continued to serve the school through its temporary employment pool. As Howe noted, “Jeanne was the glue that held the Arts and Sciences together. She was an organizer extraordinaire, a marvelous communicator, possessor of an infectious sense of humor and good will and a beloved friend to all who came in contact with this wonderful lady.”

— Marty Levine

Daniel Gallagher was dedicated to custodial supervisor job

Daniel H. “Sluggo” Gallagher, a custodial supervisor in Facilities Management, died July 14, 2019.

Randy Schmotzer, a former custodial supervisor and now manager of special events in athletics, recalls Gallagher starting at Pitt in the fall of 2008: “He was dedicated, he loved his job, and he always gave 110 percent. He was fair and he wouldn’t ask you to do anything he wouldn’t do — but when he asked you to do it, he expected you to do it right. If you didn’t know how to do it, he would train you.”

Schmotzer says his friend “was one of those guys, he would literally give you the shirt off of his back. He was just a good guy.”

Gallagher was immensely proud of his daughter Marlie, Schmotzer recalls: “She was the love of his life. Every day that’s all he talked about.”

Besides Marlie, he is survived by his brothers William J. (the late Nancy) and Michael T. (Chris); nieces and nephews Kerri, Michael, John, Ryan, Maeve, Keegan and Brenna; and many cousins.

Memorial contributions are suggested to

— Marty Levine

Stezoski was essential to success of Safar Center research

Stanley William “Bill” Stezoski — a rare staff member named research assistant professor in recognition of his vital work in the Safar Center for Resuscitation Research — died on July 8, 2019 at 84.

Stezoski arrived at Pitt in 1955 and became the right-hand laboratory aide to Peter Safar, the pioneering resuscitation medicine professor in the School of Medicine. Patrick M. Kochanek, now Safar Center director, saw Stezoski at work beginning with Kochanek’s arrival at Pitt in 1986.

“He was Peter Safar’s key technician,” Kochanek recalls. “He was just an amazingly great technical resource. Papers he’s been on have been cited a thousand times.”

Stezoski was essential to the success of Safar’s early research that simulated intensive care unit conditions, including 24/7 care, in animals, leading to the creation of today’s ICUs.

“Bill was critical for overseeing the research team of doctors,” Kochanek says — work that led next to a 15-year clinical brain resuscitation trial involving 20 centers worldwide. “It was the laboratory research that set the stage for those studies.”

Stezoski was in charge of assisting Safar’s trainees at every level, from medical generalists and specialists to graduate and undergraduate students: “He was the go-to guy in the labs. He was savvy at finding out what your role should be … and inviting young people so they felt like they belonged. Bill was there in essence to hold their hands and guide them through the details.

There were many visitors and funding agencies touring Safar’s labs, including top officials of the Department of Defense, looking for demonstrations of success, Kochanek says. Faced with such pressure, other research teams might have chosen a routine experiment as a demonstration, but not Stezoski and Safar: “Bill and Peter, they never took that approach. When they had guests coming, they went for the most exciting possible study. It was amazing how Bill Stezoski led those studies and they never seemed to fail. That level of capability was instrumental to the success of Peter Safar. It was a reflection of Bill’s confidence and capability in laboratory research.”

Stezoski retired in the mid-2000s. “He was a University of Pittsburgh guy through and through and always revered Pitt,” Kochanek says.

He is survived by his wife of 51 years, Cheryl; children Brad (Stacey), Jason (Sharon) and Bret; grandchildren Gabriel, Quinn, Amelia, Chance, and Audrey; siblings Vern and Theresa; and many nieces and nephews.

— Marty Levine

William Brown

Brown left legacy in law school classes and University Senate

William J.W. Brown, an emeritus School of Law professor (1968-2000) who excelled at making a potentially dry subject — federal taxation — attractive to his students, died June 12, 2019, at 81.

“He was really appreciated by the students as someone who was both great in the classroom and really cared about them,” recalled his law colleague Larry Frolik, a recently retired emeritus professor who taught federal income tax law while Brown focused on federal taxation as it applies to corporations, estates and gifts.He counselled them individually and they knew he wanted them to succeed — both in the classroom and afterwards.

“Bill was a first-rate teacher,” Frolik said. “He could be lighthearted; he could make jokes, both about the topic and himself … But he really cared about the subject” — especially as it influenced the way in which society was organized and how people behaved. “He believed in its importance, particularly for lawyers.”

His twin sides emerged when the law school instituted a fall semester that started before Labor Day, Frolik remembered, and Brown began teaching the first week’s classes in a sport coat, tie and Bermuda shorts. “I won’t say it was a protest, but it was an acknowledgment that we were still in summer. That was very Bill,” Frolik said: sticking to standards while adding his own style.

Seniors in the School of Law thrice voted Brown their annual Excellence in Teaching Award (1994, 1999 and 2008); Brown also was honored with the Chancellor's Distinguished Teaching Award (1991).

Born June 7, 1938 on Staten Island, N.Y., Brown earned his B.A. from Seton Hall University in 1960 and an LL.B. from the Columbus School of Law at Catholic University of America in 1963, adding an LL.M. from Yale’s law school in 1968. He joined the New York law firm of Beekman and Bogue (1963-65), then began his teaching career at the Columbus School (1965-67) before joining Pitt the following year. Among his publications were a book on the federal taxation of corporations and one on tax strategies for separation and divorce.

He was twice elected University Senate president and chaired the Affirmative Action Committee and the Tenure and Academic Freedom Committee. He also served on the University Press Board. “Bill had a strong belief that the faculty should have impact on how the University is run,” Frolik said, noting that Brown also was elected by his law school colleagues to the school’s steering committee.

Upon his retirement, Brown spent six years as director of the graduate tax program at Duquesne University's school of business and continued to teach at Pitt, Duquesne and Carlow until age 78.

Other public remembrances have noted his enthusiasm for many pursuits, including construction of his second home in Rector, PA. “Bill had a very full life,” Frolik marveled. “Bill was a very enthusiastic person when he got involved in something. He was very artistic and had a good eye for art and architecture. I was amazed at the kinds of projects he would take on.” Brown also wrote and published a memoir about his Catholicism, Canticle of Returning, in 2017.

He is survived by his wife of 35 years, Eliza Smith Brown, and children Will, Brendan and Regina.

Memorial gifts are suggested to the Center for Hearing and Deaf Services of Pittsburgh.

Baranger worked with all deans as vice provost for graduate studies

Elizabeth Baranger, credited with helping to institute high-quality graduate programs throughout Pitt as vice provost for graduate studies, died May 30, 2019.

Former Provost James Maher was her colleague in the Department of Physics and Astronomy beginning in 1970, before Baranger joined him in the provost’s office. “She was a very well-known and well-respected nuclear physicist before she became an administrator,” he notes.

As vice provost, Baranger worked closely with the deans of all Pitt schools, Maher recalls, “to make their graduate programs as good as we could make them. The high quality of graduate programs throughout the University is certainly a wonderful legacy.”

He also describes her as “a very generous colleague, never really looking for credit for herself, even though she deserved lots of it.”

Baranger earned her B.A. in mathematics from Swarthmore College in 1949 and her Ph.D. in physics from Cornell University in 1955, joining Pitt that year as an instructor after two years as a research associate at California Institute of Technology. Apart from a brief stint at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1969-1973), she spent all her career here. She became dean of graduate studies for the arts and sciences upon her return, then moved to the vice provost position in 1989. She retired in July 2004.

During her long Pitt career, Baranger was a liaison to the Provost’s Advisory Committee on Women’s Concerns, “one of several of her activities aimed at improving the status of women at Pitt,” a University Times article noted upon her retirement. She was only the second woman physics faculty member when she joined the University and the first female member of the provost’s senior staff.

She also pushed graduate programs into the Internet era, encouraging online applications, theses and dissertations and the modernization of Pitt’s graduate studies website.

As she retired, Baranger was honored with the Arts and Sciences Graduate Student Organization Elizabeth Baranger Teaching Awards for graduate student teachers, given annually to a pair of recipients in each of the social sciences, natural sciences and humanities.


Karen Cameron Scanlon remembered at UPJ

Karen Cameron Scanlon, a former education professor at Pitt–Johnstown, passed away May 21, 2019.

Scanlon was first hired in 1996 at Pitt-Johnstown as an assistant professor in Elementary Education and was promoted to associate professor with tenure in 2000. She retired with emeritus status on Dec. 31, 2008.

“Karen Scanlon … was always friendly, patient and supportive to the students while encouraging them to work hard to achieve their goals,” said Donna Kowalczyk, Education Division faculty member who worked with Scanlon for more than 10 years. “Her positive attitude, commitment to the Education Division, and her genuine enjoyment of teaching will always be remembered.”

Scanlon was named winner of the Pennsylvania Association of Colleges and Teacher Educators’ Teacher Educator of the Year Award in 1999.

“Dr. Scanlon genuinely cared about her students, not just their intellectual and professional growth, but also their emotional well-being. Preparing our teacher candidates to become effective in the classroom was very important to her,” said Nina R. Girard, associate professor of Mathematics Education. “Likewise, Karen cared about her colleagues. She always made time to talk, no matter how busy she was at the moment. She was an exceptional administrator as Education Division chair for several years.”

Pitt–Johnstown President Jem Spectar said, “Dr. Scanlon was a consummate teacher, a warm, thoughtful and caring person whose life’s work transformed countless people and made our world a better place.”

Donations may be made in memoriam to Catholic Charities of Fredericksburg, 1101 Stafford Avenue, Fredericksburg, VA 22401.

— From the Pitt–Johnstown website

Sussna developed MBA program that grew into Katz School

Edward Sussna, who developed Pitt’s MBA program — which evolved into the Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business — died April 24, 2019 at 92.

“In a sense that’s his monument,” said Jacob Birnberg, Robert W. Murphy Jr. professor of management control systems emeritus at the Katz School, whom Sussna hired in 1963. “He was very critical to the development of both the MBA and the doctoral program.”

Sussna joined the Katz faculty in 1957 and was charged by then-chancellor Edward H. Litchfield in 1960 with professionalizing business education at Pitt, Birnberg recalled.

“Ed was one of the reasons I came” to Pitt, said Birnberg, who credited Sussna as a mentor. Sussna was an economist, and “it was his view that what we were teaching was decision-making,” Birnberg says: How people decide what kinds of economic actions to take when there is ambiguity and risk.

The pair team-taught a seminar on integrated decision-making, a forerunner of experimental or behavioral economics.

The MBA became very attractive to engineers who wished to move into management, Birnberg explained, and to other professionals wanting to expand their skills and further their careers.

“They had real problems to talk about, which he liked,” he said of Sussna, who in turn could speak their language about business issues. “He cared about students and talked about things they really needed to know. He enjoyed teaching and the students enjoyed him.”

Sussna’s interest in such executive education programs, and his love of travel, translated into a long career of bringing Pitt’s business education abroad. In addition to serving as director of the Center for Executive Education at the Katz School, Sussna was academic director of the Katz program in Hong Kong and the People's Republic of China, and inaugural professor of the Master of Business Administration program at the Bratislava (Slovakia) School of Economics.

He also was a visiting Fulbright professor at the University of Tehran, and visiting professor at the University of California at Los Angeles, the Ecole Superieure des Sciences Economiques et Commerciales in Paris and at universities in Hong Kong and Macau, as well as visiting scholar at the International Institute of Management in Berlin.

Sussna served with the Merchant Marine, 1944-1947, and with the Army, 1954-1956, and earned his Ph.D. from the University of Illinois. He retired from Pitt in 1998.

Sussna’s colleague Jo Olson described him as “a renaissance man, not just interested in economics but in politics and international affairs.”

Indeed, said Birnberg, Sussna had developed an interest in opera as a student at the Bronx High School of Science, when one of his teachers procured affordable tickets to the Metropolitan Opera, and Sussna passed on his love of other cultural events — theater and symphony — to his colleagues.

“He wasn’t a workaholic,” Birnberg said. “He was just a well-rounded person who was a pleasure to know and wound up introducing a lot of people to things that made their lives better.”

Sussna is survived by children Audrey Sussna and Ellen Heyman and grandchildren Andrea and Ben Heyman. Memorial contributions are suggested to the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.

GSPIA’s first female professor Altenburger focused on ethics

Christine Altenburger, the first female professor in the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, died on April 26, 2019 at 91.

Kevin Kearns — once Altenburger’s student and later her colleague — recalls her focus on ethics and best practices in municipal governments, helping to refine their structure and management. “She was absolutely outstanding,” both as a classroom teacher and working with local governments on the ground.

“She was very, very organized, very focused on practical skills that could be applied to government,” he said. “There were a whole generation of students who benefited from her engagement, including most of the municipal managers in the region. She was instrumental in writing various state municipal codes and procedures as well.”

Altenburger joined the GSPIA faculty in 1962 and retired as professor emerita in 1989. She was associate dean when Kearns arrived at the school in 1978 and held a variety of posts there throughout her career, including co-leading the Institute for Local Government, which provided technical assistance to local municipalities.

She also provided a tremendous amount of uncompensated consultation in the community, he said: “She was constructive, she was helpful, she was focused on the mission, and she was a very important force in my life and the lives of many others. She was really unselfish. It was her life and she gave it her all.”

That same attitude was evident in her classroom, Kearns said: “No class was routine for her … and I’ve tried to follow that example myself. She gave me some of the best pieces of advice I’ve heard from anyone: ‘The day you’re no longer nervous when you walk into the classroom is the day you should retire.’ ”

Living most of her life in Penn Hills (where she later was elected to a term on its municipal council), Altenburger served in the Women’s Army Corps after earning her undergraduate degree from Penn State. She worked in military intelligence and was stationed in Germany and at the Pentagon.

Altenburger is survived by her niece Gail, nephew Denis and great-niece Carley .

Memorial gifts are suggested to the Christine Altenburger Endowment, University of Pittsburgh, 128 N. Craig St., Pittsburgh, PA 15260, or via


Biological sciences lecturer Curto was ‘very passionate about teaching’

Long-time Department of Biological Sciences lecturer Karen Curto died on March 29, 2019 at 72.

Fellow department lecturer Zuzana Swigonova, with whom Curto collaborated on several projects, recalls her colleague as “very passionate about teaching, and also curious. It drove her to develop new approaches to teaching.”

The two met a decade ago, when Swigonova arrived and Curto was already a veteran of the department. Curto taught the honors-level foundations of biology course while Swigonova taught the basic level.

“That’s where we started to collaborate on curricular development,” Swigonova recalls. “Karen was always looking up what is the next step to improve teaching and help students to learn. She was a little bit restless because there was no ending to her drive to help students learn.”

Curto also was very active in mentoring undergraduate researchers, she adds.

Together, they wrote a review book, “Biology Builder – Practice Makes Perfect,” published in 2013 by Kendall Hunt. They also created an online flipped classroom module on cystic fibrosis, published by Pearson in 2015, which uses active learning ideas to teach about the protein involved in CF and its mutations.

Curto received an Innovation in Education Award from the provost’s office in 2006 for a project titled “Speaking Like a Biologist: Developing Instructional Communication Modules and Synchronous Feedback for Scientists.” She and Swigonova worked on other classroom improvement projects prior to Curto’s retirement — projects that are still resulting in grants and awards. Curto was widely published, both concerning educational technology and basic biology research.

Curto “was very private,” Swigonova says, “but she had an amazing sense of humor. She was very sharp, so she didn't talk a lot, but when she did it was always worth it to listen.”

Born in Pittsburgh, Curto earned her B.A. in experimental psychology, with a minor in biology, from Chatham University and her M.A. in experimental analysis of behavior at Bryn Mawr College in eastern Pennsylvania. After working in the federal Bureau of Radiological Health in Rockville, Md., for several years, she earned her Ph.D. in 1983 in toxicology and pharmacology at West Virginia University.

She began her academic career that year as a postdoctoral fellow in Pitt’s Department of Biochemistry in the School of Medicine, then moved to WVU as a postdoctoral fellow, research instructor and finally research assistant professor. She was a research associate in the Laboratory of Cardiovascular Science at the Gerontology Research Center, National Institute on Aging, National Institutes of Health in Baltimore from 1994-1998, then joined the Pitt faculty in 1999, rising from visiting lecturer to lecturer II by her last academic year, 2016-17.

She is survived by her brother, Frank S. Curto Jr.; sister-in-law, Christine Curto; and nephew and niece Ryan and Colleen, as well as an aunt and uncle and many cousins.

Memorial contributons are suggested to the Cleft Palate Craniofacial Center; c/o Paul Casey, Director of Development; 440 Salk Hall, 3501 Terrace St., Pittsburgh, PA 15261, or the Carcinoid Cancer Foundation, 333 Mamaroneck Ave. #492, White Plains, NY 10605.


Gemma Burke helped build UCIS to its current form

Glema Burke, who had a central part in building the University Center for International Studies (UCIS) into its modern form, died April 7, 2019.

UCIS Business Manager Rose Wooten, hired by Burke in 1998, recalled her as “very loyal to Pitt” and integral to UCIS at its most formative time, “when UCIS became what it is today.

“She was and remains to me one of the kindest people I have ever known,” Wooten said.

Burke was hired in 1979 by then-director Burkart Holzner as a finance assistant and promoted to assistant to the director, then assistant director of management and finally director of management. She served UCIS for 27 years, until her retirement in 2006, and had begun her Pitt career in 1970 in the Graduate School of Public Health.

UCIS was established in 1968, Wooten noted, but much of its current structure was still under development decades later. If Holzner was the visionary, Burke was masterful at making such visions happen, working with the provost, the chancellor, or indeed anyone at Pitt to create new structures, find funding and ensure that UCIS expanded and improved, Wooten said.

She oversaw Title VI funding for the Asian Studies Center, the Center for Russian and East European Studies, the Center for Latin American Studies and the European Studies Center. She helped establish many UCIS endowments, including the International Studies Fund, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation Fund for International Studies and the Malmberg and Heinz fellowships. For the latter, Burke would often help to orient new fellows to the University and the city and find them housing.

She was vital to launching the Global Studies Program, now the Global Studies Center, and helped plan the Fifth General Chautauqua Conference on U.S.-Soviet Relations, which Pitt hosted in 1989, at the height of Russia’s “glasnost” openness.

In 1997, Burke was one of the first recipients of the Chancellor’s Award for Staff, recognizing excellence and work far beyond expectations. She retired in 2006.

Wooten recalled joining Burke’s staff at a time when Burke was in the process of centralizing the business operations of UCIS’s multiple centers, handling both human resources and budgetary issues.

“In that role, it’s not always easy,” Wooten said. “You have to tell people ‘No’; you have to tell people ‘This isn’t the policy.’ She would always tell people in the kindest way.”

Burke didn’t shy from the tougher moments of personnel oversight, Wooten added, but her method “was respectful. She was such a professional. Once you started working for her and found out what she was like, you wanted to stay.”

Burke also looked out for her employees and colleagues, Wooten said: “She would always make sure people were aware of family benefits for Pitt staff. She was a very good friend. She was a sounding board for personal things as well … and was very trustworthy and confidential.”

Glema Collins Burke was born on June 24, 1940, in McCombs, Ky. She was married to Gerald W. Burke for 42 years, until his death in 2002.

She is survived by her children, Sandra, David and Carrie; grandchildren Alyssa, Michael, Lindsey, Zach, Hannah, Jacob, Olivia and Nicholas; companion Ralph Ness; sisters Arizona and Jeanne; and many nieces and nephews.

Memorial contributions are suggested to Covenant Presbyterian Church, Jumonville Christian Camp and Retreat Center, Laurel Faith in Action or Excela Health Home Care and Hospice.

Don Martin taught in School of Education for 40 years

Forty-year School of Education professor Don T. Martin died on Feb 17, 2019 at 87.

Martin’s former Ph.D. program advisee Keith Trahan — now associate director of the school’s Collaborative for Evaluation and Assessment Capacity — recalls his mentor as possessing “a huge wealth of knowledge in the history and the social context of education, dating back to the origins of the United States. It was a pleasure to work with him.”

He describes Martin as both a bit of a traditionalist and yet “slightly counter-culture,” helping Trahan to study the history of U.S. education in the 1960s and the importance of taking lessons from this history. The two of them had comparable small-town backgrounds, he said — Martin grew up in Greensboro, Penn., and his father was a steelworker.

“He used to talk a lot about how he grew up in the working class,” Trahan said. “It was good to share that — to have someone in a large research university who came from a similar context. That was really helpful to me.”

Martin guided his classes through “deep, thoughtful, passionate discussions,” Trahan remembered. “His appreciation for the history of social issues in education — I really take this to heart and try to carry it forward.”

Born on Jan. 26, 1932, Martin joined the Air Force from high school and was stationed in Wyoming during the Korean War, 1952-1956. He then earned his B.S. from West Virginia University in 1961 and his M.A. from the same institution a year later, while teaching at several high schools. After moving to teach at Pleasantview High School in Grove City, Ohio, he earned his Ph.D. at Ohio State University in 1970, then joined the Pitt faculty that year. He taught courses in the history and philosophy of education to both undergraduate and graduate students.

A memorial on the School of Education’s website notes that Martin “chaired several dissertation committees for foreign students, many of whom returned to their native countries to take prominent positions in institutions of higher education and government.” He also spent years on the athletic committee of the Faculty Senate and held Pitt football season tickets for 45 years, it noted, “and enthusiastically travelled to many away games to cheer on the team.”

He is survived by his wife of 59 years, Elizabeth Jane, three children and six grandchildren. Memorials are suggested to the Pitt Panther football program at


Former chair of music department Nketia dies at 97

J.H. Kwabena Nketia, professor emeritus and former chair of the Department of Music, died March 13 in Ghana, according to the New York Times. He was 97.

Nketia joined the music department in 1982 and was appointed Andrew W. Mellon professor of music in 1983. He was chair of the department from 1987-90 and retired from Pitt in 1991.

He was “the world’s leading scholar on African musical traditions,” according to The New York Times obituary and “wrote hundreds of articles and books in English and Twi, a Ghanaian language, on topics ranging from music theory to folklore, as well as scores of compositions.” 

After retiring from Pitt, he founded the International Center for African Music and Dance, an archive based at the University of Ghana.

A remembrance of Nketia was post on the music department website last month with reflections from Deane Root, professor and former chair of the department. See excerpts below:

“Upon his arrival at the University of Pittsburgh … Kwabena Nketia immediately took a strong role in the Music Department’s graduate faculty, and he remained at Pitt longer than the usual one- or two-year appointments of most of his predecessors,” Root said. “In addition to anchoring a significant and long-lasting presence of sub-Saharan African research and teaching in ethnomusicology here, fostering the training of graduate students from Africa who have gone on to have productive careers in academia and beyond, his vision reshaped graduate study in music at Pitt and arguably throughout North America. …

“He and his students engaged actively with the community beyond campus.  In many ways, the department’s recently signed memorandum of understanding to collaborate with the Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild Jazz program is one culmination of an inclination advocated by Professor Nketia.

“Perhaps an even greater impact was his belief that all students would benefit from taking courses and interacting with other student, faculty, and scholars beyond the borders of their own subdisciplines, not only within music, … but also with what he termed the “cognate disciplines,” ways of studying the world through the compatible perspectives of social history, sociology, anthropology, art history, and more. …

“Kwabena Nketia was soft-spoken, with a warm personality and calm, humble style that gave no hint of his chieftain status in his native Ghana, nor of the many honors bestowed on him by his international colleagues in ethnomusicology. He brought the very best out of those with whom he worked, whether they were students, friends, or faculty colleagues. His endearing smile and friendly greeting are indelible memories for those fortunate to know him.”

Donna Sue Close

Donna Sue Close was a role model in Student Affairs

Donna Sue Close, a 43-year staff member in the Student Affairs Division, died March 6, 2019, at 68.

Close worked in the office of the vice chancellor for student affairs, helping to coordinate office activities, including handling its business and hiring needs.

Erin Carney Strong, assistant to the vice provost and dean of students in the division, recalls Close helping to hire her in 1993.

“I always think of Donna as a role model for customer service,” Strong said. “She wanted people’s inquiries to our office to be their last stop. She was always there.” Students and parents with concerns, Strong recalled, “could count on her.”

On snowy days when others had difficulty coming into the office, “she would walk in from Greenfield, across the Greenfield Bridge, and staff the office,” Strong said. Close was “a go-to, a ready reference, a supporter for everyone in the office. And some of these are difficult situations. She kept meticulous records and had a special knowledge of who’s who. She wanted our office to support the Pitt community and do it well.”

Alice Harrison, who joined student affairs in 1990 and is now student services assistant in its career center, remembered Close’s impact: “It was always positive. If there was a need, she would do what she could to help students. She was just a very exceptional, caring, fun-loving person. She extended relationship beyond work and she made you feel special.”

Strong said Close was a mentor and friend, inside and outside the office: “Donna had a passion for learning. She completed a master’s degree while she was a staff member.” In retirement, she took as many as six classes at a time through Pitt’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. Strong recalled trying to schedule a lunch with Close: “Donna would be the one who was booked. I admire her as a role model. … I definitely subscribe to her example she set.”

Predeceased by husband John McClay Close, faculty member in the School of Dental Medicine, she is survived by daughters Heather, Ashley and Christa; mother Lois; brother Gregory Pierce and many nieces and nephews.

A memorial service will be set in the future. Gifts in Close’s name are suggested to The Cholangiocarcinoma Foundation (  

Bill Cleland

Physics professor Cleland did crucial work on Higgs boson particle

Bill Cleland, emeritus physics and astronomy professor, whose decades of work on the Large Hadron Collider was crucial to the discovery of the theorized but previously undetected Higgs boson in 2012, died Feb. 20, 2019.

“There was a period of 20 years of building the detector when people didn’t realize how important it was,” recalled departmental colleague Joe Boudreau. “A lot of his work was not recognized for how very important it was.”

Cleland had done his post-doctoral work as an experimental high-energy particle physicist at the Centre for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Geneva, Switzerland, and joined the international collaboration of thousands of physicists, known as ATLAS, in 1994 to build special particle detectors for CERN’s Large Hadron Collider, with the goal of discovering “the most exotic form of matter we have in the universe,” Boudreau said.

The multi-decade effort was “a task of enormous technical complexity — it’s probably the most complex machine ever built,” he said of the collider. Cleland developed the first layer of the detecting apparatus, the liquid argon calorimeter, where particles are caught, identified and their energy measured, which was critical to the Higgs boson discovery. “But he was a consultant on very many other issues that came up,” Boudreau said. Indeed, Cleland was drawn out of retirement to continue work on the project and was preparing it for future detection projects until recently.

In 2018, Cleland received two lifetime achievement awards, one from the ATLAS collaborators at universities and laboratories across the United States and the other from current and former liquid argon calorimeter project leaders within the international ATLAS collaboration.

Cleland joined the Pitt faculty as an associate professor in 1970 and became a full professor in 1978, spending more than 50 years at the University. Boudreau met Cleland when he joined the department in 1993. Cleland retired from his teaching role in 1999.

“He was renowned for being able to explain things very clearly,” Boudreau remarked. “If he met one on one with students, they were very happy.” Cleland also mentored a great many students, Boudreau said, as he read praise and remembrances sent recently to the department from all over the world.

“He had a very warm personality, a quiet sense of humor and was very diplomatic,” Boudreau added. While physicists can have large egos, he said that was not the case with Cleland: “He was very used to hearing people out, not being pushy,” in order to accomplish work that took decades to come to fruition. Boudreau recalled seeing Cleland with a group gathered around him in the office. “Everybody was listening to him. It’s at that point that I realized, wow, this is really an intellectual we have here.”

Wilfred Earl Cleland was born Aug. 10, 1937 in St. Francis, Kansas, growing up there and in Genoa, Texas. He earned his B.S. in physics from Texas A&M University in 1959, serving in its Corps of Cadets. He received an M.S. in 1960 and Ph.D. in physics in 1964, both from Yale University. At the start of his association with CERN, he was a NATO postdoctoral fellow (1964), a National Science Foundation postdoctoral fellow (1965) and a visiting scientist (1966-1967).

He began his academic career in 1967, as an assistant professor at the University of Massachusetts, receiving tenure as an associate professor there in 1969, before moving to Pitt.

In addition to his work at CERN, he also collaborated on experiments at Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York.

He is survived by his wife, Sigrid; two daughters, Janine Cleland and Brigitta Cleland-Hura; and five grandchildren: Astrid and Viviana Fiverson and Annika, Aiden and Kaelyn Cleland-Hura.

Memorial contributions are suggested to the University of Pittsburgh’s Physics Graduate Student and Visitor Resource Fund: contact Arthur Kosowsky, chair, Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Pittsburgh, 100 Allen Hall, Pittsburgh, PA 15260 or send a note specifying the fund with a check directly to the Office of Institutional Advancement, 128 North Craig St., Pittsburgh, PA 15260.

A future memorial service is being planned.


Marilyn Davies was a strong presence to Nursing students and faculty

Marilyn A. Davies, School of Nursing faculty member and former administrator at Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic (WPIC), died Feb. 8, 2019.

School of Nursing Dean Jacqueline Dunbar-Jacob recalled Davies’ dozen years with the school, beginning in 2006, where Davies taught psychiatric mental health nursing and other graduate courses, including core courses: “She was also a fabulous colleague, willing to help a fellow faculty member out, such as grading papers. She was a regular presence.

“Unfortunately, Marilyn’s long-standing management of her cancer interfered with her ability to continue the research she began when she started with us,” Dunbar-Jacob said. However, Davies was able to re-direct her enthusiasm to teaching, becoming involved early in the school’s online education program, where she became a regular instructor.

“She was very devoted, very thorough in her preparation and delivery of her courses,” the dean recalled. “Students said they learned a lot from her.”

Davies “was a very devoted wife and mother,” Dunbar-Jacob added. “Her family was always a priority to her. Marilyn certainly talked very proudly about her kids across the years.”

Davies earned all her degrees from Pitt: a BSN in 1970; an MSN in psychiatric mental health nursing in 1977; and a Ph.D .from the Graduate School of Public Health in psychiatric epidemiology in 1985.

She began her nursing career as a staff nurse at Magee-Womens Hospital (1970-1971), moving next to St. Francis General Hospital School of Nursing, where she was a clinical instructor in psychiatric nursing (1971-1973), then to Altoona Hospital Community Mental Health Center as assistant coordinator of intensive care (1973-1974), finally joining Pitt’s School of Nursing for an initial stint as clinical instructor (1976-1978). She quickly became senior administrator for the schizophrenia module at WPIC (1978-1988), during which time she was also an instructor in psychiatry and epidemiology.

In 1989, Davies moved to University Hospitals of Cleveland as vice president of psychiatry services, and became assistant professor at Case Western Reserve University in 1994 and chief of the family study section of the Department of Psychiatry there the next year.

She returned to Pitt in 2006 as assistant professor in nursing’s Department of Health and Community Systems, where she finished her career.

Davies was the co-author of the book “Rape: Nursing Care of Victims” (1983) and of book chapters in volumes about the study of adolescents with schizophrenia and other topics. She was principal investigator in many studies involving hypertension in adults, atypical antipsychotic drugs, providing health information to young children and their caregivers and the treatment of schizophrenia, and was widely published in research journals.

She is survived by her husband Bill; children William (Kathleen) and Ashley Clements (Benjamin); grandchildren Emma and Patrick Davies; and siblings Diane Weil and Robert, Jim and Jack Brickner. Memorial contributions are suggested to the Dr. Marilyn A. Davies Memorial Scholarship.


Robert Yee

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.