Passings

Harper was law school’s first Black tenured professor

Robert Berkley Harper, first Black tenured professor in the School of Law, died Oct. 12, 2021 at 82.

“Bob was a larger-than-life figure in the law school for many years,” said his former colleague Arthur Hellman, now professor emeritus, who arrived at Pitt in the middle of Harper’s first Pitt Law post as the school’s assistant dean (1973-77). “He was one of the most engaged teachers we've ever had at the law school, because he loved being with students and talking to students.”

Hellman recalled seeing Harper in the school’s hallways, surrounded by debating students. “They'd follow him on the elevator to get up to the fifth floor,” where faculty offices are located, and continue the discussion there. “For Bob, the class meetings were just the start of what he felt were his responsibilities as a teacher.

“He was something of a performer, always conveying ideas in a way that would help students understand them but also keep their attention,” Hellman said.

“Bob was a very bright, big-hearted person,” said another long-time colleague, Lawrence Frolik, now emeritus professor. “He cared about the law and he cared about people.

“Bob had an upper-level class in evidence and that class was always heavily enrolled,” Frolik recalled — even though this course was not required and Harper could be tough on students who weren’t prepared to respond in class discussions.

“When he retired, he was a loss to the school,” Frolik said.

Born in the Hill District, Harper graduated in 1958 from Fifth Avenue High School as a member of the National Honor Society. He earned his undergraduate degree in education from Pitt in 1962; had a stint in the Army, including time in Korea as a first lieutenant; and eventually entered Pitt’s law school, graduating in 1971. He worked for the city’s police bureau as chief legal adviser before joining the Pitt faculty.

Hellman and Frolik both remembered Harper as a force for compromise in a profession trained to argue persistently for your own side. In committee meetings, Hellman said, “he was always focusing on the task at hand and pushing us to do it efficiently … In faculty meetings, he was always one to find the middle ground — to bridge the gap and allow faculty to reach a consensus.”

Relatively late in his career, Harper began a new focus on education law, which was rare at the time. This placed him greatly in demand at education conferences, Hellman said.

“He really did have a gift for taking complex legal topics and explaining them in a way that people without a legal education could understand … without distorting them or making them simpler than they were,” Hellman said. “Bob found an entirely new audience for Pitt expertise … In that sense he was an ambassador for the law school.”

Harper is survived by his brother Henry (Yvonne).

A memorial service will be held in March 2022 in Pittsburgh.

— Marty Levine

LaPorte pioneered registry for diabetes patients

Ronald LaPorte, an emeritus professor of epidemiology who had a unique and lasting impact on everything from diabetes research to open-access academic lectures, the modern Library of Alexandria and care for homeless veterans, died on Oct. 30, 2021 at 72.

As LaPorte finished his Ph.D. in psychology at Pitt in 1976, he jumped at the chance to take a post-doctoral fellowship in a completely new field for him, epidemiology, to work under that department’s new chair, Lew Kuller (now emeritus) and his research program. LaPorte soon struck out in his own direction as well, examining the benefits of steady, rather than intense, physical activity and of low to moderate alcohol intake on cholesterol levels. 

He completed an M.S. Hyg. degree in epidemiology and served as a faculty member for 35 years. 

Early on, he proposed and organized the first registry for insulin-dependent diabetes patients in Allegheny County, then worked through the World Health Organization to establish similar registries in 50 countries, which has been a boon to diabetes research.

As his colleagues note in the funeral notice composed after his death: “The most remarkable feature of this project was not the extensive and novel data collected, nor the methodology that was established (including capture-recapture to determine completeness of case ascertainment), rather it was the fact that this was achieved with virtually no funding despite WHO recognition. Ron’s enthusiasm, passion and willingness to help collaborators day or night was sufficient for them to work, for free, on this project and on related studies,” including Diacomp, a worldwide study of type 1 diabetes complications, and Diabetes Epidemiology Research International, a study of mortality in the disease.

This led to early population genetic studies as well as short, intensive diabetes epidemiology training courses. These efforts prompted the establishment of a WHO Collaborating Center at Pitt, which LaPorte directed and for which he received the Kelly West Award for Outstanding Achievement in Diabetes Epidemiology from the American Diabetes Association in 1988.

His colleagues also noted on the department webpage: “To his many friends and collaborators across the globe, Ron LaPorte was both the inexhaustible investigator who led them down the path of constant enquiry and an instant friend who brought energy and fun to any gathering.”

LaPorte’s connections around the world were astounding, Kuller recalled. LaPorte insisted Kuller look up LaPorte’s contact in Beijing when Kuller and his wife vacationed there, and Kuller ended up with a tour of a Chinese chronic disease hospital and a symposium with Chinese graduate students. The same thing happened to Kuller on trips to Korea and Japan, he said.

“They were basically one huge family of scientists all over the world who collaborated” on the registries, he said, thanks to LaPorte.

Kuller recalls LaPorte as “a very unique man” whose impulse to make epidemiological findings open to the world, along with his fascination with the possibilities of the internet, prompted him to create the Supercourse: a collection of free lectures from leading experts on all aspects of public health. Today it has reached approximately 2 million scientists around the globe with 203,050 lectures in 38 languages.

“He continued through his entire life to build on his idea of an open-society approach to information,” Kuller notes, most recently adding early COVID-19 studies as soon as they were available. “He was way ahead of his time on this. The Supercourse was a super-activity he was undertaking. He had very little funding. … It’s truly amazing that he fought through all these barriers” to get his projects done.

That included shipping thousands of books that were no longer needed here, but which had not been seen in certain developing countries, to the Library of Alexandria, Egypt. He asked scientists across the world to donate epidemiology and statistical textbooks, thus making them available to African students. The library’s emeritus director, Ismail Serageldin, memorialized LaPorte as “always smiling, always brimming with new ideas, always questioning why we could not make this a better world. Always laughing at the boldness, not to say the craziness, of his own ideas. Ron always had the confidence that, somehow, by working together we could make it happen… (He had) endless energy. He would write emails at all hours. 24/7. Always inventing something new to do.”

In more recent years, LaPorte took up the problem of homeless veterans, and began asking people to contribute their old cell phones to allow these vets to stay in contact with their families and with health care providers — a concept that the Veterans Administration has since adopted, Kuller said.

“He was a very good teacher,” Kuller adds, pointing to the students who went on to great success after his tutelage as ministers of health, presidents of national societies and leading positions at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and its National Center for Health Statistics. LaPorte earned the Lilienfeld Lifetime Achievement in Teaching Award from the American Public Health Association. 

One of his first doctoral students was Lucile L. Adams-Campbell, associate director of minority health and health disparities research and oncology faculty member at Georgetown. “Mentoring was his strongest suit,” she said. “He was considered the mentor’s mentor.

“He was really good at guiding and instructing and teaching on an individual basis,” she added, “and simplifying concepts. I talked to Ron seven days a week as a student. This was a 24/7 guy. He was always engaged the entire time. He enjoyed working, doing the science, talking about it.

LaPorte helped organize a department gathering of students and faculty every Friday during her years at Pitt (1979-83). “The key to that … was to get the faculty and students constantly talking and engaged. I haven’t seen that anywhere else. He definitely made certain that people were working together, collaborating.”

LaPorte is survived by his wife of 24 years, Jan Dorman (professor emerita in the School of Nursing), his sister Susan Bennett, her husband Jerry and their children Timothy and Jennifer Bennett.

Visitation is 6-8 p.m. Nov. 8 and 2-4 and 6-8 p.m. Nov. 9 at Schellhaas & Sons Funeral Home, 1600 Stone Mansion Dr., Sewickley. Memorial services will be in the funeral home at 11 a.m. Nov. 10.

Memorial gifts are suggested to the Department of Epidemiology at the Graduate School of Public Health, giveto.pitt.edu/ronlaporte or 412-608-0058.

— Marty Levine

Wolke had a knack for making chemistry understandable to all

Chemistry Professor-emeritus Robert L. Wolke — known for his ability to interpret chemistry to the least-experienced students and the public, and his talent for developing faculty and facilities — died Aug. 29, 2021.

“He was a brilliant scientist, gifted teacher and a real raconteur,” said W. Richard Howe, associate dean for administration and planning in the Dietrich School of Arts & Sciences. Howe recalled Wolke as “an active contributor to any discussion with a wealth of insights, facts and personal experiences.

“Bob’s core teaching assignments were graduate-level physical chemistry and nuclear chemistry,” he said. “However, he had a special knack for teaching chemistry for undergraduate non-science majors. Bob had a flair for presenting basic chemical principles in a fashion that was clear and meaningful to those students who didn’t have a mathematical background,” in the classroom and in the textbooks Impact: Science on Society and Chemistry Explained.

Wolke was the first director of the University’s Office of Faculty Development (1977-87), working with new and experienced faculty as well as graduate teaching assistants. He was also chair of the chemistry department’s Facilities Planning Committee, which worked with the architects and lab designers to consolidate the highly scattered chemistry unit “to address the department’s current needs and to provide for the future requirements of faculty research in fields that hadn’t even been identified,” Howe said. The result was a new 15-floor science facility, since dubbed the Chevron Science Center.

“Bob provided comedic updates on campus politics whenever the opportunity presented itself,” Howe remembered. “Former Chancellor (Wesley) Posvar held a series of off-site, annual leadership conferences. Although Bob never shielded the chancellor from his hard-hitting satire, Chancellor Posvar enjoyed Bob’s view of the University and didn’t hesitate to include Bob as part of the evening entertainment.”

After his retirement in 1990, Wolke channeled his many talents into a column for the Washington Post, titled Food 101, and wrote a series of popular books that included “What Einstein Didn’t Know”; “What Einstein Told His Barber”; “What Einstein Told His Cook”; and “What Einstein Kept Under His Hat,” the latter two of which were nominated for best technical or reference book by both the James Beard Foundation and the International Association of Culinary Professionals.

He won both the IACP’s Bert Greene Award for best newspaper food writing, and the American Chemical Society’s 2005 Grady-Stack Award for interpreting chemistry to the public.

Born April 2, 1928, Wolke earned his B.S. in chemistry from the Polytechnic Institute of NYU and a Ph.D. in nuclear chemistry from Cornell.

He began his Pitt career directing the Wherrett Laboratory of Nuclear Chemistry (1961-77), and was academic dean of Semester at Sea (1982).

In addition, he taught chemistry in Spanish at universities in Puerto Rico and Venezuela, was a higher-education consultant for UNESCO and the USIA in Bangladesh, and served as a resident fellow in French history and culture at the Camargo Foundation in Cassis, France.

One former colleague who joined the chemistry department in 1968, Alfred Moye, counts Wolke as a mentor. “I was really very fortunate that Bob Wolke embraced me,” Moye said. “He was a fellow who was really interested in teaching and how to make chemistry less intimidating to his students. He was quite a role model for me. And I believe he was among the faculty who submitted my name for outstanding teaching award” during the award’s first year, Moye said.

“The fact that he started writing about cooking was not a surprise,” Moye added. “He was bringing alive the chemistry that all of us see” — but don’t always understand as chemistry.

He is survived by his wife Marlene Parrish; daughter Leslie Wolke; and brother Arthur Wolke. Memorial gifts are suggested to World Central Kitchen.

— Marty Levine

Ake Grenvik was a giant in critical care medicine

Ake Grenvik, founding chief of the Division of Critical Care Medicine — eulogized by his department as “one of Critical Care Medicine’s giants” — died Sept. 5, 2021, at 92.

"Ake was one of a special small group of visionaries who paved the way for the rest of us in critical care,” said Ann Thompson, School of Medicine vice dean, in the department’s memorial.

Critical Care Medicine chair Derek Angus called him “A North Star for critical care.”

Grenvik was editor of the first major textbook on the subject, a founding member of the Society of Critical Care Medicine, and instrumental in the national effort to define such critical care concepts as “critical care triage” and “brain dead” and the ideas of “letting die” and “terminal weaning,” including participating in White House councils on the subject.

Grenvik’s former colleague, Michael R. Pinsky, vice chair emeritus of the department, knew him for 40 years. Pinsky joined Pitt in 1981 as director of one intensive care unit — another concept Grenvik helped to pioneer — while Grenvik headed another ICU.

“When you met Ake, he just had an aura about him that you could just trust him,” Pinsky said,  and that he was interested in collaboration above all. “He was gracious and involving. He was a profoundly honest and fair man,” in assessing fellows’ daily reports, for instance — correcting legitimate issues they might have found but also gently explaining reasons why procedural changes perhaps weren’t needed.

Grenvik was instrumental in the multidisciplinary critical care training program, Pinsky said — the first such program to combine surgeons, anesthesiologists and internists. He also worked closely with pioneering transplant surgeon Thomas Starzl on the ICU component of liver and lung transplants.

“When he became one of the first critical care medicine doctors, he discovered right away that you could keep people alive forever using artificial means, and that raised a very important question: Should you?” Pinsky added — thus instituting a more humanistic approach to management of the critically ill. “He constantly brought the conversation back to: ‘What does the patient need or want?’”

Born in 1929 in Sweden, Grenvik earned his medical degree from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm in 1956. He completed residencies in general and thoracic surgery, mostly in anesthesia at the University of Uppsala, and there completed crucial clinical studies on cardiopulmonary interactions in the critically ill.

“His studies linked the fragmented laboratory and clinical observations from the past into a cohesive picture of heart-lung interactions that forms the basis for what is known today,” his department said. “That work also prepared him to understand and guide the care of critically ill patients.”

He was recruited to Pitt in 1968, where he was an anesthesiology resident and head of a new intensive care unit at what would become UPMC Presbyterian Hospital. It was second ICU of its kind in the world — both begun by Peter Safar, then at Pitt but earlier in Baltimore. Grenvik received the University’s Distinguished Professorship award. His 43-year Pitt career ended with his retirement in 2011.

Grenvik is survived by his children Anders, Monica and Stefan, their spouses and his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

From 10 a.m. to noon Sept. 25, the family will receive visitors at Beinhauer Funeral Home, 2828 Washington Road, McMurray, PA 15317. A graveside service will follow immediately at Forest Lawn Gardens Cemetery.

A reception for all guests will be held that day from 4 to 7 p.m., at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Pittsburgh at the Meadow Lands, 340 Racetrack Road, Washington, PA 15301.

Memorial gifts are suggested to the Grenvik Family Foundation at the Society of Critical Care Medicine, 500 Midway Drive, Mount Prospect, IL 60056, or www.sccm.org/donate.

— Marty Levine

Yousem was internationally recognized lung pathologist

Samuel Alan Yousem, head of anatomic pathology in the School of Medicine’s Department of Pathology, died at 64 on Aug. 17, 2021.

George Michalopoulos, department chair, wrote in eulogizing Yousem for the Pulmonary Pathology Society: “I always knew that I had made the right decision by appointing Sam Yousem as the executive vice chair for anatomic pathology around 1997. … In addition to expanding the depth and scope of our department, he and I worked together to make the academic center a team of deeply subspecialized pathologists, so that we would provide the best diagnosis not only for our immediate hospitals, but also for all the 30-some community hospitals and centers owned by UPMC.

“In the years that followed, Sam and I worked closely together towards maintaining a high caliber of faculty, both in the academic and the community hospitals. I will miss Sam as a friend and partner.”

In the introduction to the society’s remembrances, Yousem is lauded as an internationally recognized lung pathologist and premier in his field.

Sam Yousem was born on Oct. 17, 1956, in Baltimore. He graduated from high school at 16 and then from Duke University, Phi Beta Kappa and summa cum laude, in 1977. He earned his M.D. from the University of Maryland Medical School, graduating Alpha Omega Alpha and magna cum laude in 1981.

Yousem completed anatomic pathology training at Stanford (1981-85) and became best known throughout his career as a pulmonary pathologist, an interest he developed while working at Stanford with Charles Carrington, one of the giants of pulmonary pathology at that time. Yousem published approximately a dozen peer-reviewed journals papers while at Stanford, including the first detailed descriptions of obliterative bronchiolitis following lung transplantation.

Yousem then joined the pulmonary division at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology (1985-87), publishing nearly three dozen peer-reviewed articles during this time. He was then recruited to Pitt, starting his career here as an assistant professor but quickly ascending the ranks, becoming the Leon Barnes Professor, as well as director of anatomic pathology and vice chair of anatomic pathology services (both 1994-2020).

During his years at the University, he also served as residency program director (1992-98). A former trainee, writing about Yousem, remembered him as using stories to make his teachings tremendously memorable and for taking great care to walk trainees through the thought process toward a difficult diagnosis.

In 2001, while vice chair, Yousem converted the UPMC Anatomic Pathology Division into an organ-based Center of Excellence subspecialty system — one of the first in the U.S. He advocated for the use of new techniques in pathology, such as molecular diagnostics, and is remembered as an innovator in telepathology. He also was known for creating and furthering relations among American and foreign institutions.

Yousem’s research through the years reported early descriptions of light chain disease in the lung, myoepithelioma of the lung, alveolar adenoma, bronchiolocentric interstitial pneumonia, respiratory bronchiolitis associated interstitial lung disease, intravascular lymphomatosis, HPV in lung cancer, clonality in pulmonary Langerhans cell histiocytosis, genetic studies of pulmonary IMTs and other entities that have since become widely recognized.

He is best known for studies and writing about the pathology of lung transplantation and biopsy surveillance for rejection, which resulted in invitations to speak across the globe.

Yousem is survived by his children Jack, Bailey and Emilie; brother David (Kelly); and mother Stella. Memorial gifts are suggested to North American Butterfly Association, 4 Delaware Road, Morristown, NJ 07960.

— Marty Levine

Gerald S. Levey

Levey helped transform the Department of Medicine

Gerald S. Levey, a transformative leader of the School of Medicine’s Department of Medicine, died June 25, 2021, at 84.

Alan Robinson, vice chair under Levey, recalls the state of the department when Levey took the leadership post in 1979: “When he came there, the department was in debt, it didn't have any organized plan. He started a unified practice plan” — before such things were common, Robinson said.

“He hired a number of new division chiefs and new faculty members and in three short years the department was in a positive situation financially. That was a huge contribution” to the entire school, Robinson said.

He and Levey were colleagues across four decades, at Pitt and later at UCLA, where Robinson is associate vice chancellor of medical sciences and associate dean of the School of Medicine. In both places, Levey displayed a “fantastic memory for names.” In Pitt division and department meetings, if a colleague asked a question, “he invariably knew their name. He knew all the residents and interacted with them. He knew them years after they had left the program.

“Jerry had a tremendous sense of humor,” Robinson added, recalling how, long after Levey’s 2010 retirement, the two of them still enjoyed reviewing the jokes Levey had collected as meeting ice breakers

Levey left Pitt in 1991 to take a job at Merck for three years, Robinson said, after then-UPMC head Thomas Detre advised Levey he didn’t yet have the requisite training to lead a large academic medical center. He moved to UCLA to do exactly that three years later and recruited Robinson to follow him.

“I knew him so long,” Robinson said, that, when asked to edit any piece praising Levey’s work, he knew to give most of the credit to Levey’s faculty, “because I knew that's what Jerry would want.”

Linda Marts, administrator for undergraduate medical education under Levey for his first decade here, recalled: “Those were the best years of my life. He changed the whole trajectory of the Department of Medicine. He really got the faculty more involved. He brought in new faculty who were known nationally.”

When Levey drove into work with colleagues, he would sometimes pass Marts at her bus stop in Shadyside and pick her up. “By the time we got to Scaife Hall, I had two or three projects I had to handle. And I had to keep it in my head until we got to work. I always found that delightful — although sometimes a little stressful if I forgot something.”

However, she added, “I always felt that he had my back. He was just a really good and kind man.”

Another Pitt colleague, emeritus Medicine faculty member Frank Kroboth, wrote in a remembrance: “To a brand-new faculty member, Jerry was the best. He was always positive, encouraging, with just the right amount of advice and feedback. … He took personal interest in developing my skill even though he presided over a large department. His boundless energy proved very effective in constructing a new department around a core of veterans. … Jerry was able to be a great leader and a most memorable friend.”

Famed for his fundraising, particularly at UCLA, he wrote a book on the subject, “A Gift for the Asking,” and another on leadership, which he titled after his favorite expression, “Never Be Afraid to Do the Right Thing.”

After graduating from Cornell, Levey earned his medical degree from Seton Hall and took subsequent training at the National Institutes of Health, Harvard and Massachusetts General. His wife Barbara, who died in 2019, joined him at Pitt in 1979 as associate dean and director of admissions.

He is survived by children John and Robin, a sister and three grandchildren.

Memorial gifts are suggested to the Parkinson’s Disease Research Fund at UCLA.

— Marty Levine

Eddie Carmack in police uniform

Pitt Police’s Carmack ‘just cut from a different cloth’

Eddie Carmack of the Pitt Police department, who rose quickly from patrolman to detective and member of the SWAT team in his six-year career, died June 22, 2021 at 49, following a three-year battle with cancer.

As Chief of Police James K. Loftus notes, Carmack worked half of his time at Pitt under the diagnosis.

“He worked hard,” Loftus said. “I’ve been around this kind of work for 40 years and I’ve never seen anybody handle anything like this with as much grace, courage and optimism. He had a world-class amount of persistence. I’ve never known anyone who made as much effort to get better.”

Through tough medical treatments, Loftus recalls, “he showed up here way more often” than anyone would have expected. “He realized he had a responsibility to the police department and never wanted to shirk his responsibility. He was just put together very uniquely — just very driven in everything that he did, and that probably allowed him to surpass any time limits the doctors had put on him before.”

Loftus remembers their last conversation, a short while ago. Carmack, he recalls, “apologized for leaving the department short-handed. He was just cut from a different cloth.”

Carmack’s police career also included stints as an officer for the city of Charleston, S.C., and at CIA headquarters.

Carmack graduated from Chartiers Valley High School in 1990 and attended Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

He is survived by his son Blake; father Patrick Earl; sister Suzanne; and nephews and nieces Christopher, Brandon and Sophia Celentano and Patricia Reardon.

Memorial gifts are suggested to the Eddie Carmack Memorial Fund.

— Marty Levine

Rosenberg had huge impact at Pitt over 64 years here

Jerome “Jerry” Rosenberg, who served 64 years as a Pitt faculty member and administrator — organizing disparate departments into the School of Arts and Sciences as its dean, founding the Jewish Studies program, establishing Pitt’s program of research integrity oversight — died June 12, 2021 at 99.

“Jerry shaped the minds of generations of young scholars, leaving an indelible mark on society,” the University said in a statement.

Former Chancellor Mark Nordenberg was School of Law dean when Rosenberg, then vice provost, “reinvented himself,” Nordenberg recalled, “becoming Pitt’s chief research integrity officer, which includes many lawyer-like responsibilities, without the need for further formal education.”

He called Rosenberg “an inspiration … He loved being a part of the University community, and regularly could be seen enjoying conversations with colleagues. He also made determined, and obviously successful, efforts to maintain his health, regularly walking to campus from his home and playing tennis well into his later years. In many ways and over so many years, Jerry provided an inspiring example to many of the rest of us.”

“He was always a scholar and a gentleman,” said John Cooper, the most recent former dean of the Dietrich School of Arts & Sciences. “He had a really deep integrity and a great knowledge across a huge breadth of areas.”

Cooper remembered Rosenberg as “extraordinary” in his ability to advise Cooper on research issues. “He was somebody who had impact as an intellectual leader as well as an academic. And he was just a tremendous person.”

Cooper credits Rosenberg as “really the person who created the school” from separate divisions of the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences, and helped to drive the creation of the general education requirements.

Rosenberg began his Pitt career in 1953 as a faculty member in chemistry, and through the years chaired the new microbiology and biophysics departments.

He served as vice president of the University Senate in the 1960s and was named acting dean of the faculty of arts and sciences in 1969, soon taking the job full time until 1986. He was vice provost until 1989 and in 2003 became the first chair of Pitt’s Conflict of Interest Committee, creating the Conflict of Interest Office, which oversees conflict disclosures and compliance throughout the entire University.

He also was central to the establishment of the Israel Heritage Room among the Nationality Rooms in the Cathedral of Learning.

“He had in his office a rather large, about 10 inches tall, hourglass,” Cooper recalled. Rosenberg would turn over the hourglass at the beginning of a meeting, “and people knew that was how much time they had. He had a very dry sense of humor.”

Born June 20, 1921, and raised in Harrisburg, he earned his bachelor’s degree in chemistry in 1941 from Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pa., and a master’s degree from Columbia in 1944. While pursuing his doctorate there, he was recruited to join the Manhattan Project — the secret laboratory developing the first atomic bombs.

Finally earning his doctorate at Columbia in 1948, he helped found the biophysics department at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel and then became a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Chicago.

He is survived by his children, Judith and Jonathan, six grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

— Marty Levine

Blasier founded Pitt’s Center for Latin American Studies

Cole Blasier, founder of the Center for Latin American Studies and a former diplomat, died on June 6, 2021, at 96.

Blasier had met Pitt’s then-Chancellor Edward Litchfield in Moscow in 1956 while Blasier — who spoke Spanish, Russian and French — was giving a State Department tour of the city to U.S. executives. In 1964, Litchfield asked Blasier to start the Center for Latin American Studies at Pitt, where Blasier also taught political science and international relations until 1987. He was the academic dean of the Semester at Sea program in 1984, traveling the world with his students. Blasier also co-founded and was president of the U.S. Latin American Studies Association in 1986.

Carmelo Mesa, an emeritus economics faculty member and former center director, recalls being hired as the center’s assistant director in its fourth year.

At its inception, Pitt’s Latin American center already faced competition from academic centers at other universities amid much larger Hispanic populations, such as Florida, Texas, New Mexico and California.

“It was not easy to establish a center in Pittsburgh,” Mesa says. “He managed to put Pittsburgh on the map. Today the center is one of the finest in the world. We have a significant endowment and about 200 faculty members covering every discipline and profession. That became the core of a group that became extremely influential — and made the center great.”

Blasier created the graduate certificate in Latin American studies, which had a unique field research component for students to undertake in a chosen country, and teamed with the University of Pittsburgh Press to develop a Latin American studies series.

Blasier also recruited Argentine literary bibliographer Eduardo Lozano to the center in 1967 to begin amassing what would become the extensive Lozano Latin American Collection at Hillman Library.

Mesa recalls Blasier leading a delegation to a conference in then-Soviet Moscow in 1982, where they were confronted by their Russian hosts, who were trying to prevent Mesa from presenting his paper on Cuban economics. “It was problematic for the Soviets that an American was presenting a paper on Cuba,” Mesa said — even with Mesa a native Cuban. “Cole told them that if I was unable to give my paper that the delegation would stop immediately and return to the United States. That’s one indication of his character. He was not intimidated.”

“Cole traveled all over the world,” Mesa added, recalling the world map Blasier kept that was eventually ablaze with red pushpins marking all his destinations.

“It was an honor for me to work with him for so many years,” added Mesa. “He was an amazing person.”

Born March 16, 1925, in Jackson, Mich., Blasier was valedictorian of his high school class and then president of his class at the University of Illinois. He served as a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy in New Guinea and the Philippines in World War II. Graduating from the University of Illinois in 1947, in 1950 he received a Ph.D. in international relations and law from the Russian (now Harriman) Institute of Columbia University in New York.

He began his career as a foreign service officer in political, economic, consular and intelligence positions for the U.S. State Department (1951-1960). In 1960, he joined Colgate University, both as a faculty member and as executive assistant to the president (1960-63). He then taught at the Universidad del Valle in Cali, Colombia (1963-4) while acting as a political/economic advisor to the Rockefeller Foundation and at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Buenos Aires (1964).

After his work at Pitt, in 1987 he became chief of the Hispanic Division of the U.S. Library of Congress until his retirement in 1993. In 1992, he was knighted by King Juan Carlos of Spain and awarded the Order of Isabella for contributions to the Hispanic community.

He published several books on U.S. foreign policy, most prominently “The Hovering Giant: U.S. Responses to Revolutionary Change in Latin America” (1976), and wrote more than 60 articles on U.S. foreign policy.

Blasier also held adjunct professorships at many institutions, most recently the Center for Interamerican Relations at the University of Miami (2003-05). He was a consultant to the U.S. State Department, the International Executive Service Corps in Egypt and the International Research and Exchanges Board, for which he chaired the joint US/USSR Project on Latin America.

He is survived by a son, Peter, and a daughter, Holly; grandchildren Emily, Louisa and Gavin; and daughter-in-law, Molly.

A memorial service is planned for a later date.

Memorial contributions are suggested to the Center for Latin American Studies, University Center for International Studies, 4200 Wesley W. Posvar Hall, 230 South Bouquet St., Pittsburgh, PA 15260, or www.ucis.pitt.edu/clas/donate.

— Marty Levine

Man standing in front of books

Music department’s Franklin specialized in Bach and the Baroque

Department of Music Professor Emeritus Don O. Franklin, who served for four decades, including a dozen years as chair, died May 31, 2021, at 82.

“Don set the tone for what it meant to be a professor and a responsible colleague in the department,” recalled former chair Mathew Rosenblum, in a written remembrance on the Music department website. “He set the standards for teaching and scholarship through example and his students and colleagues loved him.”

Beginning in 1970 and retiring in 2009, Franklin was a “pillar” of the department and its musicology concentration, noted a department release about his death. He was a leading Bach scholar and president of the American Bach Society for four years, as well as a founding editor of its Bach Perspectives publication. In 2018, Bach scholars from around the United States published “Compositional Choices and Meaning in the Vocal Music of J.S. Bach” in Franklin’s honor.

In 1991, Franklin co-founded the department’s 16-year Bach and the Baroque series, which featured a period-instrument ensemble. He also led the Heinz Chapel Choir for his first five years at Pitt, expanding its repertoire and taking the group on their first international tour.

His 40 years at Pitt included visiting professorships at Hochschule der Künste in Berlin, Germany; University of Louisville; Indiana University, Bloomington; and University of Augsburg, Germany. He also earned several international fellowships.

Born in Willmar, Minn., he attended North Park College in Chicago for two years, then completed his B.A. at the University of Minnesota and a master's degree and a Ph.D. in historical musicology from Stanford. There, he began conducting Bach’s works and studied harpsichord with pioneering Dutch keyboardist Gustav Leonhardt.

As a frequent collaborator with Chatham Baroque, Franklin conducted performances of J.S. Bach’s “St. John Passion” in 2011 and Henry Purcell’s “The Fairy Queen” in 2016.

Franklin’s many publications focused on tempo, proportion and dimension in Bach’s music, as well as compositional procedure and musico-theological structure in late 18th-century liturgical music. He presented papers regularly at baroque music conferences throughout North America, Great Britain and Germany.

“Don could tell fascinating stories of how the music department functioned when it was housed in the Cathedral of Learning, and the challenges of moving to the Holland residence, the renovated oldest building on campus (which it still occupies),” recalled another former chair, Deane Root, in the written remembrance. “He worked hard on attracting a diverse series of Mellon professors to work with Pitt’s students. 

“Don was quiet, reserved and deeply committed to furthering the careers of his students and junior colleagues,” Root recalled. “Through his Bach and Baroque series he gave them opportunities to engage in public musicology by writing program notes, presenting on public radio, editing music and lyrics for performance and performing on period instruments and with vocal ensembles. He extended that work beyond campus — still involving music department students — through engagements with early-music groups in Pittsburgh and the Calvary Episcopal Church in Squirrel Hill, not far from his home.

“In many ways, Don’s persona set the tone for the music department as a whole.  His work was based on solid research, applied not only in scholarly communication media but to a wide range of public activities. He was understated, modest in acknowledging his own accomplishments, but excitedly enthusiastic about the successes of his associates.”

“I am very grateful for the enduring scholarship he has left us,” added Rosenblum, “and for the many ways in which he inspired our students, faculty and staff. He helped to create the solid foundation on which our department rests today.”

Nancy Tannery

Tannery’s long Pitt career took her from research to librarian to assistant provost

Nancy Tannery, whose 40-year Pitt career took her from researcher to senior leadership in the Health Sciences Library System to assistant provost, died May 14, 2021.

“She was just a consummate professional and added value to everything she got involved with,” recalled David DeJong, senior vice chancellor for Business & Operations. “She was always looking to go above and beyond the task at hand.”

“Nancy was incredibly talented and she was really versatile,” said Patricia Beeson, faculty member in economics in the Dietrich School of Arts & Sciences and former provost, under whom Tannery started as assistant provost in 2017. “She was good at everything she did — extraordinarily good. She had remarkably strong organizational skills. She was able to bring together really diverse elements of a project and make sense of them. She had the ability, which not everyone has, of working with both the data and the people.

“She was a fabulous person to have on your team,” Beeson added.

Following a two-decade career in medical technology and research, at both the University and local specialty hospitals, Tannery earned a master of library science degree from Pitt in 1995. She then joined the Health Sciences Library System (HSLS) as a faculty librarian and rose through several management positions, from reference librarian through assistant director for information services to associate director for information services. In 2010, she was named associate director for user services, becoming senior associate director the next year.

During her last library position, she helped shape the programs and future direction of HSLS while supervising more than 20 librarians and staff members. She also was co-investigator of the HealthCAS project, a year-long, online 15-credit post-master’s degree Certificate of Advanced Study in Health Sciences Librarianship. 

In addition, she held a secondary Pitt appointment as affiliated faculty in the Department of Biomedical Informatics in the School of Medicine. She served on the Provost’s Advisory Committee on Women’s Concerns and the School of Medicine’s Curriculum Committee.

She was chair of the Pittsburgh chapter of the Medical Library Association and co-taught several MLA classes. She was a leader in the Librarians in Medical Education group of the Association of American Medical Colleges’ Northeastern Group on Education Affairs.

In 2009, she was selected to participate in the National Library of Medicine/Association of Academic Health Sciences Libraries’ Leadership Fellows Program, which prepares individuals to be directors in academic health sciences libraries. In 2011, she was awarded the MLA’s Brodman Award for the Academic Medical Librarian of the Year.

Over the years, she authored or co-authored numerous peer-reviewed articles, abstracts and presentations on the development of clinical information tools for the electronic health record, clinicians’ use of knowledge-based information resources, evaluation of a self-paced learning module to teach responsible literature searching for research, the design of library-based information services in molecular biology and other topics.

Said Barbara A. Epstein, director of HSLS: “Nancy was not only a consummate professional, but also a caring and compassionate colleague and mentor. So many people at Pitt, and in the local and national library community, benefitted from her friendship and wise counsel.”

In her three and a half years as assistant provost, Tannery oversaw many projects. She directed the implementation of the Open Education Resources initiative to promote faculty use of OER resources on all Pitt campuses, chairing the OER Standing Committee that distributed funding for the efforts of 44 faculty to customize course materials.

Most recently, she co-chaired Pitt’s successful application for the Carnegie Classification for Community Engagement and helped to create Pitt’s Public Art on Campus initiative.

“Even after her retirement last year” on Sept. 2, Provost Ann E. Cudd remarked, “she continued key projects in the Office of the Provost focused on Open Educational Resources, the further development of the Public Art Committee, and the Middle States accreditation process. Her contributions have been great, and her spirit of collaboration will never be forgotten.”

DeJong remembered Tannery’s extraordinary work on one benchmarking project for the University: “She volunteered to jump on that and did an incredible job of using her library skills to gather and then compile and present it in a very clear and concise way — a six-dimensional benchmarking study — and did it in such a fast and efficient way. It was a very valuable presentation.

“She was a caring, empathetic person,” he adds, “with a great sense of humor — just brightens any room she walked into and left a positive impression with absolutely everybody she interacted with.”

She is survived by husband Rick Tannery; children Emily and Sarah; parents Eleanor and Leo Hrinya; siblings Jan Gardner (John), Stephen Hrinya (Elizabeth) and Mark Hrinya (Joyce); and nieces and nephews John, Rachel and Mallory Gardner; Ryan, Alex and Jane Hrinya; Amy and Cara Campbell; and William and Matthew Tannery.

— Marty Levine

Franklin Toker brought architecture of Pittsburgh and the world to life

Franklin K. Toker, Distinguished Professor of History of Art and Architecture — who brought hundreds of years of world architecture alive for his students and the public, and made the city of Pittsburgh a special subject of his study — died April 19, 2021.

Departmental colleague Christopher J. Nygren believes Toker’s legacy is clear: “The most obvious thing is the engagement with the city. In the history of art and architecture, we tend often to be teaching about great cities in Europe, buildings in China, mosques in Iran. So we are frequently showing our students things they will never see and unconsciously creating in them the impression that their own city doesn’t stack up. … One of the things Frank taught us was to look around — the argument that our city was something to offer our students …

“Frank gave to us and our students a love for our city — it challenged all of us to try to use the city, to try to look at the city, not just as an example of a post-industrial city. When you look at it through Frank’s eye you begin to see the layers of humanity in the city of Pittsburgh in a new way.

“It’s a huge loss,” Nygren said. “They do not make scholars like this anymore. In truth they never made scholars like this.” In many areas Toker seems to have trained himself, adding additional expertise, said Nygren. “He had an essential drive to master things where he never had a teacher. That is a humbling thing when you are a scholar — I have no excuse for not learning a new field.”

Toker’s scholarly achievements became internationally recognized during his lifetime. He was as well regarded for his work on the history of the Baptistery and Cathedral in Florence as for his revelatory work on the development of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater.

Born April 29, 1944, Toker earned his degrees from McGill University, Oberlin College and Harvard. His early career began with his archaeological excavation at Florence Cathedral. Starting as a graduate student, he eventually became superintending archaeologist and later director of excavations, which resulted in four books, published 2009-2016.  

But Toker is best known to the public for two works. The first is “Pittsburgh: An Urban Portrait” (1986), supplemented by “Buildings of Pittsburgh” (2007), and updated later as “Pittsburgh: A New Portrait.” More recently, he released “Fallingwater Rising: Frank Lloyd Wright, E.J. Kauffmann Jr and America’s Most Extraordinary House” (2003), which was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, and which Janet Maslin in the New York Times labeled “a contentious, rapt and utterly fascinating book.”

Toker was president of the Society of Architectural Historians (1993-94), the premier professional organization in his field, and was active there and in other top academic organizations in Europe and the United States. He was awarded the major fellowships in his field from the Kress Foundation, Guggenheim Foundation, National Endowment for the Humanities, Graham Foundation and others, as well as research residencies at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, and a Rockefeller Foundation residency at Bellagio.

He was also a visiting professor at three universities in Italy and was an expert consultant on several built heritage projects in Pittsburgh and in Québec. He was regularly invited to speak at international and local conferences, including frequent keynote addresses.

His colleagues credit him with playing a crucial role in the development of the architectural studies program, as he taught large and popular courses on every subject from American to Renaissance and medieval architecture.

He also regularly conducted architectural tours of the Pittsburgh region for students.

He served on the Faculty Assembly and the University Senate, on the councils of the Honors College and College of General Studies, on provost-led panels and on Dietrich School of Arts & Sciences councils. He was also acting chair of his department in 2007.

Drew Armstrong, Toker’s faculty colleague since 2005 and director of architectural studies, recalls Toker’s dedication to teaching such a large number of courses: “He was always a very engaging and enthusiastic speaker and he really brought the material alive for the students.”

Toker took equal care with his public lectures, Armstrong said, calling them “remarkable. You could really see how carefully he crafted his lectures. He was someone who really took into account his audience — so they were never dull.” Toker even consulted with reporters on national news magazines of the time, when preparing his popular works, to learn how journalists balanced research and writing for their audience.

His legacy, to Armstrong, remains “that we have a flourishing group of faculty who are architecture specialists. Our program is in good shape because he was one of our colleagues.”

“Professor Toker’s scholarly attainments as a historian of the architecture of late medieval and early Renaissance Italy and of twentieth-century America are internationally recognized as path-breaking in both fields,” said another departmental colleague, Terry Smith. “A very rare achievement. Based on painstaking interdisciplinary research, they led to the posing of unexpected questions and resulted in highly original answers that are appreciated by both scholars and the general public.”

As for his teaching, Smith said, “Professor Toker was dedicated above all to the idea that students must have the opportunity to experience the built environment for themselves.”  

For all his celebration of Pittsburgh, Toker was not afraid to express contrary opinions. He told the University Times in 2002: “The people running this University would fall into the counter-modernist camp. … If you look at the range of architecture surrounding the Cathedral of Learning, it’s kind of a theme park of replica buildings, representing the architecture of the past speaking to the present.” And he found the brutalist Posvar Hall to be simply “hideous.”

Christopher Nygren recalled his first impression of Toker, at Nygren’s job interview here in 2014: “Frank was a very jovial man who was hard to forget. He took me on the Frank Toker tour of Pittsburgh, for three hours. He made it clear that he was just doing this because he wanted me to see the city. That was a real act of generosity — there were few things that got him more energized than showing off the city of Pittsburgh.”

And he remembered another early occasion, when the sound of a bell and wheels in the hallway of Frick Fine Arts Building surprised him — it was Toker cycling in from home to pick up his mail on a summer day.

“He was a theatrical presence in every part of his life, from a dinner party to the classroom,” Nygren said. “He always had an amazing archive of stories that he could go to that were simultaneously entertaining and revealing.”

His long-time colleague Katheryn Linduff, now retired, composed a remembrance of Toker, calling him “as true a Pittsburgher as one could ever be — a Pittsburgh landmark, a walking historic plaque, as well as a towering world class scholar …  Frank was masterful at engaging [students] by promising that if they really listened and thought about what was being discussed, that such a study/course had the potential to change one’s life … He really started them on lifelong journeys of thought and inquiry. 

“In his memory, gaze over your own part of the world,” she concluded.

He is survived by his wife, Ellen; children Sarah, Mackie and Jeffrey (Tarah); grandchildren Ayden, Franklin, Sylvia, Cameron, Dexter and Mason; and sister Charlotte Guttman.

— Marty Levine

Losing Jarad Prinkey will leave a hole in the Swanson School

Jarad W. Prinkey, a member of the first bioengineering class at the Swanson School of Engineeering in 2000 — whose subsequent work as a staff member was vital to several Swanson programs — died April 23, 2021 at 43.

Most recently, as research engineer at the Swanson Center for Product Innovation – Professional/Industrial beginning in 2018, Prinkey worked with researchers in primary product development for potential commercialization, taking ideas and coming up with the right technology to develop prototypes — then constructing them himself. He worked under Assistant Dean of Engineering Schohn Shannon, director of SCPI2.

“Jarad was overall just a great person, both professionally and personally,” Shannon said. “He had an amazing broad knowledge in a lot of areas,” from electromechanical design to bioengineering and programming. “I have only run into one or two people who have had his broad capability in problem solving.

“A lot of meetings I put in with the client, Jarad would sit there and listen and just say, ‘Well, I did this, years ago,’ and he knew what could possibly be applied to solve this problem,” Shannon recalled. “It was amazing how he could apply his knowledge to accomplish what we needed to accomplish for the task.

“He was very personable and worked well with undergraduate students, all the way up to faculty — across the board,” he added.

Bioengineering faculty member Mark Redfern hired Prinkey from Swanson’s 2000 class as a research engineer for his Human Movement and Balance Lab. “His expertise in designing and building experimental equipment and data acquisition systems made him a key member of our team,” Redfern wrote in a remembrance sent to colleagues. “Clearly, we would not have had the successes we did without his contributions.”

Redfern told the University Times: “He was such a nice person, very friendly, always there to help you. None of us remember him saying a bad word about anybody.”

David Vorp, associate dean for research in the Swanson School, said Prinkey was widely known at the University Club as well, where he lunched but also could be found at many of their social events. “He had this smile that always looked like he was up to something,” Vorp remembered. “He was very talented at what he did, and he will be sorely missed. He will be leaving a gap here in the school.”

Born Feb. 27, 1978 in Marietta, Ohio, Prinkey graduated from Middletown High School and followed his Pitt bioengineering degree with a master’s degree here in the same program. Alongside his Swanson work, he also served as a judge at both state and national science fairs for school-aged children.

He is survived by his parents, Lucy and Gary Prinkey; brother Josh Prinkey and his wife Jamie and their daughter, Sofia; maternal grandmother Shirley Davis and her companion, Richard Conn; paternal aunts Sharon Grimm and husband Russ, and Anita Barndt and husband Rick; as well as his great-aunt Jeanie DiSanto and extended family.

— Marty Levin

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

Nicholas Eror

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