Every year, Pitt loses faculty and staff, many with long and storied careers here, through retirement. We’ve singled out a few prominent names who are leaving the University and compiled a list of others, all of whom will be missed by their departments.
Wesley Rohrer, since 1980
Associate professor, Public Health Education, Health Policy and Management
Assistant professor, Behavioral and Community Health Sciences for the Graduate School of Public Health
Assistant professor, Health Information Management, SHRS
Wesley Rohrer, an associate professor at Pitt School of Public Health, will retire this summer with emeritus status after more than 40 years at Pitt.
But he’ll have plenty of things to keep him busy.
After officially retiring on June 30, he’ll cover a section of financial management courses in the fall. He also plans to continue participating on the University Senate’s Budget Policies Committee for an additional year with his emeritus status.
He began at Pitt in 1977 with the Graduate School of Business, before it was later renamed as the Katz School of Business. He then moved to the Graduate School of Public Health in 1980 and became a faculty member there in 1981.
By 1984, he moved to the School of Health-Related Professions, later named the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences. That was when he became involved in faculty governance, starting with the Plant Utilization and Planning Committee.
He then moved onto the Athletics, Community Relations and Educational Policies Committee. These committees aligned with Rohrer’s various interests.
“I’ve always been interested in governance on the big scale — national, international governance to a certain extent,” Rohrer said. “And it just was a natural fit for me.”
He kept active in shared governance, he said, because he felt it was an important vehicle to promote change at the University.
After he retires, he plans to stay active in Pittsburgh nonprofit organizations that he’s been a part of since the ‘80s. He’s chairman of the board for Off the Floor Pittsburgh, which helps provide furniture to families in need.
Bare apartments, Rohrer said, can be a sign of limited resources, which could financially strain other areas, including transportation.
He’s also involved in Community Living and Support Services, or CLASS, an organization designed to help clients struggling with physical and mental disabilities by providing housing and skill building.
Rohrer also plans to conduct adult religious education at his church of 20 years, St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church.
“Teaching has always been my passion,” Rohrer said. “And that is what was really kept me going in my career. The administrative functions, after you’ve been through them a number of times, they become pretty routine. But teaching is always a new challenge, though.”
— Donovan Harrell
Alberta Sbragia, since 1974
Professor of political science, Dietrich School of Arts & Sciences
Director, Center for West European Studies and European Union Center
Research Professor, University Center for International Studies
Vice provost for graduate studies, 2010-17
Alberta Sbragia received her Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin at Madison in 1974 and came to Pitt’s Department of Political Science that same year.
She said she’s seen the quality of students and the reputation of Pitt improve dramatically in her time here.
“My department at Wisconsin was not thrilled I was coming to the University of Pittsburgh,” Sbragia said. “Now one of my Ph.D. students was hired as a faculty member at Wisconsin.”
She chose to come to Pitt because she wanted to be in a city, but not a big city, “and Pittsburgh seemed like the perfect size.”
One her biggest accomplishments was starting a Center for West European Studies at Pitt. In 1984, the then-head of the University Center for International Studies asked her to organize the center and head it, which she did until 2010, when she became vice provost for graduate studies — a post she held until 2017.
As vice provost, “I learned a lot about the University and about what the resources of Pitt are and how good this University is,” she said. It’s easy to become entrenched in your own research and teaching and “you don’t have an idea of how good the other schools are,” Sbragia continued, particularly citing the stellar reputations of the School of Social Work and the Learning Research and Development Center.
In the 1990s, she began urging her contacts in Brussels to consider funding programs at U.S. universities to build centers of excellence in EU Studies. The EU Centers of Excellence program began in 1998, and the EU Center at Pitt, which she headed, was born that year. Pitt is one of only three universities in the world to have its EU Center of Excellence status continuously renewed and funded during the entire time of the program, largely due to Sbragia’s leadership.
In 2005, Sbragia was given the lifetime designation of Jean Monnet Chair ad personam by the European Union. The title “is reserved for professors showing evidence of a high level European commitment that is recognized by the academic world, at both national and international levels," the commission said.
She also was the inaugural Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg University Chair from 2006 to ‘10. The European Studies Center’s symposium on EU studies in the fall of 2018 was named in Sbragia’s honor.
The Alberta Sbragia Fund was set up in her honor to support dissertation research or publication for current Pitt graduate students interested in Europe.
Sbragia will move to emeritus status but doesn’t really know what she’ll be doing after she leaves her Posvar Hall office at the end of August. She hopes to “take advantage of the marvelous people who come in for lectures” — something she never had time for while working in the Provost’s Office. She’d also like to read more fiction and spend more time with her two grandsons, who live in Chicago.
She and husband, Martin Staniland, who retired last year as a professor from the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, may also spend some time in Europe.
— Susan Jones
Tracy Soska, since 1988
Clinical associate professor and Continuing Education Director in the School of Social Work
Chair of the Community, Organization and Social Action concentration in master’s of social work program
Tracy Soska says his impending retirement has given him “a bittersweet feeling.” While it’s great to be finished grading papers, says the School of Social Work clinical associate professor, “at the same time there’s a lot of nostalgia about working with the students — that’s been the best part of it.”
Soska is chair of his school’s Community, Organization and Social Action (COSA) concentration, and director of continuing education; he is so busy that two people are replacing him, one for each job. He’s staying until Aug. 31 to help with the transition.
“I have 26 years to pass on to people, and I want to do that right,” he says.
After graduating from the COSA program himself, Soska worked in Mon Valley nonprofits during the collapse of the steel industry, and collaborated with Pitt faculty studying the social impact of mill closings. It was then that he saw how University-community partnerships could be fruitful.
“The opportunity to come (back) to my own school was terrific,” he said, but even better was the chance to help the Pitt become “a much more engaged University — to be not just of the community but in the community.”
And he is proud to have maintained COSA as a top program of its type. “I feel like I’ve retained the legacy,” he said. “There aren’t a lot of schools of social work that have a strong program (in this area). I feel like I’ve made a mark in this field that insures we take what is best from the past and bring it into the future.”
His continuing education work has been focused on reaching out to his school’s alumni, two-thirds of whom stay in the region, and providing education on current trends and future needs. That has included everything from training gambling addiction counselors when Pennsylvania’s casinos opened to educating the next generation of local nonprofit leaders.
Soska has also been chair of the University Senate’s Community Relations Committee; co-coordinator and co-instructor for the School of Social Work-sponsored Civic Engagement Living-Learning Community for Pitt sophomores, which he initiated in 2006; and faculty liaison with the European Union Center of Excellence in the University Center for International Studies and with the Legislative Office of Research Liaison of the Pennsylvania legislature.
In retirement, Soska plans to continue working with the Association for Community Organization and Social Action, a national group for which he is helping to develop a community practice certificate program. He also will continue to volunteer with local libraries.
As a member of the Allegheny County Library Association Board, he often speaks about “advancing library social work” and refers to libraries as “the new community center, the new settlement houses” for immigrants. You’ll also find him volunteering with the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank and its Pitt outlet.
“Sometimes it’s nice just to be of service,” Soska says.
His school’s alumni association recently raised more than $20,000 to create the Tracy M. Soska Endowed Fund to honor Soska and aid future COSA students.
“I’ll stay involved with my school,” he says. “This is my school. This is my University. I’m not walking away. I’m just changing roles.”
— Marty Levine
Dean of the Graduate School of Public Health
Associate vice chancellor for global health
Professor of global health and professor of health science and policy
Dean Donald S. Burke will share reflections on his 13-year tenure as dean at a lecture from 3 to 4:30 p.m. June 6 in the Public Health Auditorium. The longest-serving dean in the school’s history, Burke will step down on July 1.
See the June 13 edition of the University Times for details from that lecture.
We asked schools and units to submit any notable retirements of long-time Pitt employees this year. Find the list below. If you have others to add, please contact us at email@example.com.
Larry Krysinski (42 years): 24/7 IT Help Desk analyst. After previous careers at Volkswagen, Duquesne University, and PNC Bank, Krysinski started with Pitt at the inception of the CSSD Technology Help Desk in 1997. He has taken on additional roles including being the shift supervisor, schedule supervisor, as well as being the go-to person for account-related issues. Krysinski has worked every shift imaginable at the 24/7 365 call center, and for the last several years of his career has worked first shift, relieving the overnight crew and getting the help desk ready for the day.
DIETRICH SCHOOL OF ARTS & SCIENCES
Elaine Springel (24 years): Chemistry, administrative assistant
David Bartholomae (43 years): English, professor and Charles Crowe chair. His primary research interests are in Composition, Literacy and Pedagogy, although his work engages scholarship in Rhetoric and in American Literature/American Studies.
Lucy Fischer (40 years): English and Film Studies, professor. Fischer directed the Film Studies Program at Pitt for three decades. Beyond teaching she also has had film curatorial experience at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City and the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh.
Pamela O’Brien (19 years): English, lecturer II
Bobby Chamberlain (33 years): Hispanic Languages and Literature, associate professor. Chamberlain’s research focuses on Portuguese language and Brazilian literature, with a concentration on the prose fiction of Brazilian modernism and postmodernism, and on contemporary literary theory. A two-time Fulbright scholar, he was the director of the University of Pittsburgh’s Brazil Studies Program from 1999 to 2001
Janelle Greenberg (45 years): History, professor. Her research interests include a book-length study of political and legal thought in Britain from 1640 to 1660. She served as assistant dean of the Dietrich School from 2011-16.
Carolyn Carson (22 years): History, senior lecturer and coordinator of the Urban Studies Program.
Dorolyn Smith (36 years): Linguistics, lecturer and associate director of the English Language Institute.
Steven Dytman (36 years): Physics and Astronomy, professor. His research includes the study of the fundamental properties of neutrinos.
Ronald Linden (41 years): Political Science, professor. From 2011 to ’16, Linden was director of the European Studies Center at Pitt. He was director of the Center for Russian and East European Studies at Pitt from 1984-89 and 1991-98. From 1989 to 1991 he served as Director of Research for Radio Free Europe in Munich, Germany with responsibility for observing and analyzing the extraordinary changes in East Europe. Linden’s research career has focused on Central and Southeastern Europe, including in recent years, Turkey.
Anna Halechko (18 years): Psychology, assistant chair.
John Levine (49 years): Psychology, professor, and senior scientist, Learning Research and Development Center. His lab houses research on social interaction in dyads and groups. Recent studies have focused on innovation in work teams, reaction to opinion deviance, brainstorming, ingroup and outgroup ostracism, interpersonal conflict and learning, and emotional expressivity in social contexts.
Barbara Cohen (37 years): Research Support Services, research animal technician II, and Department of Neuroscience.
Lucy Di Stazio (15 years): Languages staff support, administrative assistant.
Nancy Pfenning (30 years): Statistics, senior lecturer.
Pamela Weid (22 years): Theatre Arts, department administrator.
Angelina Riccelli (42 years): Associate professor and director of the Dental Hygiene Program from 1992 to present. Her research interests include: aggressive forms of periodontal disease, association between oral and systemic health, the importance of self-care and prevention of dental diseases, and interprofessional education and training. She has been a member of the University Senates Benefits and Welfare Committee from 2007-present, chair 2011 to 2015; and numerous other Pitt committees.
Mark Mooney (36 years): Professor and chair of the Department of Oral Biology. Mooney holds secondary appointments in the Departments of Oral Medicine and Pathology, Anthropology, Surgery–Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Orthodontics, the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine and the Clinical and Translational Science Institute. He was the director of Pitt Surgical Anatomy Research Laboratory for 30 years where his major research foci were the development of animal models for craniofacial research and the effects of surgery on craniofacial growth and development in individuals with craniofacial anomalies. In 2012, Mooney received the Distinguished Scientist Award for Craniofacial Biology Research from the International Association of Dental Research. He also served as the director of student research and has been a research mentor to many pre-doctoral dental students, graduate students, residents and junior faculty over the years.
Anthony DeArdo (44 years): Professor of mechanical engineering and materials science. DeArdo spent 43 teaching at Pitt, plus one year as an emeritus professor. He served as director of Pitt’s Basic Metals Processing Research Institute. He has received numerous awards, including one at the Professor A.J. DeArdo Symposium on Microalloyed Steels at the International Thermec Conference in 2013.
Gerald Meier (50 years): Professor of mechanical engineering and materials science. Meier served 49 years at Pitt, plus one year as an emeritus professor. He published two successful books, “Introduction to the High-Temperature Oxidation of Metals” in 2006 and “Thermodynamics of Surfaces and Interfaces: Concepts in Inorganic Materials” in 2014.
Mohammad Attai (30 years): Professor of chemical and petroleum engineering. Attai was assistant professor of ChemE from 1988 to 1993; associate professor and Whiteford fellow from 1993 to ’98, and full professor starting 1998.
Rose Ford (17 years): Senior buyer, Purchasing Services. Ford began her Pitt career as an administrative assistant for Purchasing Services and Strategic Sourcing after spending many of her pre-Pitt years in real estate sales and management. She worked her way up through the organization, running programs such as the ethanol alcohol program, managing updates to the Purchasing Fundamentals training course, and left as the Conference and Events Procurement Specialist.
Renée Galloway (18 years): Supplier diversity and sustainability coordinator. Galloway began her Pitt career as a commodity analyst and managed various contracted suppliers before taking on supplier diversity and sustainability programs for Purchasing Services. She processed small business subcontracting plans, was instrumental in connecting diverse businesses with University purchasers and worked closely with suppliers to offer sustainable products to the University community.
GRADUATE SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH
Joseph P. Costantino (43 years): Professor in the Department of Biostatistics and director of the NRG Oncology Statistics and Data Management Center (research project)
Jeanette Trauth (31 years): Associate professor, Behavioral and Community Health Sciences.
HEALTH AND REHABILITATION SCIENCES
Tina Fuller (27 years): Department of Physical Therapy administrator. During her time with the department, Fuller provided administrative services to the department chair and faculty. She was responsible for purchasing, payments and served as building liaison.
Marsha LaCovey (34+ years): PA Studies Program Administrator. Lacobey held various administrative roles in the Schools of the Health Sciences, including her service as the founding administrator of the Physician Assistant Studies Program. She remained in this position until her retirement earlier this year.
George Taylor (40 years): Professor of law. In 2017, he received the Robert T. Harper Excellence in Teaching Award, which is selected by the graduating class. He concentrates his research and writing on evaluating the methods by which judges and lawyers interpret statutory and constitutional law. A special interest in his current research is the nature of legal creativity. His courses provided students with a broad background in these subjects.
LEARNING RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT CENTER
John Levine (50 years): Professor in the Department of Psychology and senior scientist at LRDC. Levine studies small group processes, such as team performance and newcomer innovation; learning in social contexts, and social support in online groups. He is currently working with the American Cancer Society to develop and test interfaces that enhance on-line support group experience. He received the Joseph McGrath Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Study of Groups in 2011, and has two honorary doctorates: one from the University of Kent, Canterbury, United Kingdom, and one from the University of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland. He has edited 11 books and more than 135 scholarly publications including seven encyclopedia chapters on the topic of groups processes.
Bradley Hyland (41 years): Fiscal assistant in the LRDC Fiscal Services. Hyland has been a member of the core staff of LRDC for his entire career, evolving with the changing needs of the center. In the early years, he was photographer, videographer and woodworker. If a research project needed a model to teach water displacement for a science class, Hyland built it. Over the years, he worked his way through a number of departments, with his final position being in the fiscal services department.
Christine Milcarek (36 years): Professor of immunology. Milcarek joined Pitt in 1983 as an associate professor. She served as assistant dean for graduate studies from 1988 to 1993, course director of the medical school immunology course, was elected to the School of Medicine Academy of Master Educators, was a liaison with Kazakhstan when they established their medical school, a member of the technology transfer committee for 20 years, and was funded for my research from the NIH on B cells and immunoglobulin production.
Susan Albrecht (40 years): Associate professor of health promotion and development. Albrecht led and taught graduate and undergraduate studies, and served as a Honors B.Phil advisor, a doctoral student advisor and a dissertation chairperson. A fellow of the American Academy of Nursing, she mentors faculty and hospital clinical administrators to complete applications for their fellow membership.
Jan Dorman (40+ years): Professor of health promotion and development. Dorman also holds secondary appointments in epidemiology and human genetics at the Graduate School of Public Health. She has served as associate dean for research at GSPH and the School of Nursing, on Pitt’s University Research Council, the Provost’s Advisory Committee on Women’s Concerns, and on many public health and epidemiological committees.
Carol Hodgkiss (45+ years): Department administrator in School of Nursing. As one of the founding members of the Staff Association Council, she worked on protecting the tuition benefits for children of staff and obtaining many other benefits that staff across the University have today, including paid parental leave and the paid recess between Christmas and New Year’s.
Rachel Libman (Nearly 30 years): Assistant professor. Libman was the primary teacher and clinical instructor for juniors taking Nursing Care of Children and Families and has been clinical faculty for the seniors’ Transitions class. Additionally, she has worked with simulation programs and technology.
Donna Nativio (Nearly 50 years): Director of the doctor of nursing practice program, associate professor, and coordinator of the Family and Neonatal Nurse Practitioner DNP areas of concentration. Nativio is a past officer of the American Nurses Association, the National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties and the Pennsylvania Nurses Association. She was elected to a fellowship in the American Academy of Nursing in 1989 and was elected as a federal Primary Care Health Policy Fellow in 1997.
Kathy Puskar (40 years): Professor and the associate dean for undergraduate education, as well as the director of the Honors Program at the School of Nursing. She was director of the master’s CNS program in psychiatric nursing, interim HCS Department Chair, taught, supervised, and mentored many undergraduate, masters and doctoral nursing students. Her work has been recognized with the Pennsylvania Nightingale Award for Research, the American Psychiatric Nurses Association Research Award, and her induction into the Sigma Theta Tau International Nurse Researcher Hall of Fame.
Valerie Swigart (30 years): Professor in health promotion and development. Swigart has focused on the interface of technology, health care, ethics and human behavior. She has served as the principal investigator or co-investigator for numerous NIH-sponsored and smaller studies. Publications evolving from these studies discussed the impact of long-term mechanical ventilation, homeless persons’ health care seeking behaviors, the use of online education to support clinical language learning and more. Donations from Swigart and her husband, Michael Gold, led to the creation of the Swigart/Gold Doctoral Award for Research in Nursing Ethics, which benefits a selected doctoral candidate each year.
Barry Gold (14 years). Professor and chair of the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences from 2005-2017. Gold increased research funding and more than doubled the size of the graduate program in pharmaceutical sciences. He hired and mentored several faculty members. He also served on University Senate committees and as associate director of the Drug Discovery Institute. Gold is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
John Smith (41 years). Instructional computer support specialist. Smith was hired in the Registrar’s Office as a staff specialist and in December 1988, he transferred to the School of Pharmacy as an instructional computer support specialist. During his time at the University, Smith has obtained his bachelor’s and master’s degree from Pitt. He is truly a die-hard Pitt fan.
Marvin Thomas (50 years): Professor of history. Thomas taught European history as well as ancient history and some Asian history. His favorite class to teach is Medieval European History. “It shows what happens when civilization breaks up,” he said in a news release. His doctoral thesis, “Karl Theodor and the Bavarian Succession, 1777-1778,” was published by Edwin Mellen Press in 1989. He spent 17 years researching and writing its successor, “The Saxon Aspect of the Bavaraian Allodial Succession 1777-1779: The History of a Legal Dispute.” Mellen Press published it in 2016. At Thomas’ retirement reception on April 22, Steven Hardin, vice president and dean of academic affairs, said, “You will find very few who’ve had 50 years at one institution. Can you imagine how many lives he has affected? Marvin has influenced the future.”
Pam Ondeck (30+ years): Assistant professor of management. Ondeck was the 2015 recipient of the Pitt–Greensburg Alumni Association Outstanding Faculty Award. She taught a broad range of accounting courses as well as developing three courses and the senior capstone for the major. The advisor to the Accounting Business Network and the campus student chapter of the Pennsylvania Institute for Certified Public Accountants, Ondeck initiated the Real World Business Insights Conference for business students and sponsored the accounting mock interviews to provide career development opportunities for her students.
J. Wesley Jamison (32 years): Associate professor of information science and vice president for Academic Affairs. Jamison was the first full-time faculty member for the Information Science program at Pitt–Greensburg, overseeing the growth of the program which now enrolls 80 students. He served as Division Chair for Behavioral Sciences (1998-2001), assistant vice president for Academic Affairs (2001-2006), vice president for Academic Affairs (2006-2016) and PI for Pitt-Greensburg’s Title III Strengthening Institutions Program grant (2016-2019). Jamison was the recipient of the President’s Medal for Distinguished Service in 2017 in recognition of his leadership in the development of new majors and certificate programs
Kathleen Fennell (20+ years): Manager of the Campus Bookstore. The recipient of the 2018 President’s Distinguished Service Award for Staff, Fennell joined the Pitt–Greensburg campus community in 2013 after 14 years as general merchandise manager for the University Store in Oakland. In Greensburg, she introduced a series of changes that included repositioning the “bookstore” as the “campus store” and offering a broader range of products. She initiated “Bruiser’s Bookies,” a group of students whom she used as a focus group to fine-tune changes and developed the Campus Store’s online presence.
Lenny Jones (24 years): Maintenance worker II. Jones works in the Pitt-Greensburg Facilities Department, where he specializes in painting and building repairs in all campus buildings.
Mark Greenawalt (15 years): Maintenance Worker II. In the Facilities Department, Greenawalt was assigned to the residence halls at the Greensburg campus and performed all building maintenance needed throughout the year.
Margie K. Bachmann (45 years): Subsidiary rights manager. Bachmann has garnered the respect and appreciation of her colleagues in the university press publishing industry, and the authors with whom she’s worked during the publication of their books.