Passings

Staniland helped shape programs in GSPIA

Martin Staniland, Graduate School of Public and International Affairs emeritus professor, died Nov. 26, 2020.

“Dr. Staniland played a central role in building our school and shaping our international affairs and development programs,” said GSPIA Dean Carissa Slotterback. “He was a mentor to many and will be truly missed.”

Staniland received his bachelor’s degree in history from Cambridge University, his master’s degree in African studies from the University of Ghana, and his Ph.D. in social and political sciences from Cambridge. He began his academic career teaching at the University of Glasgow and was then a post-doctoral fellow at UCLA and a research fellow at the University of California-Berkeley and Harvard.

Staniland joined GSPIA in 1984 as an associate professor, was promoted to full professor and served the school as interim dean (1995-1996), interim associate dean (2012) and director of the International Affairs program. He published five books and an edited volume concerning his main research interests of commercial aviation, international political economy and development theory and received the Joseph Pois Award for Distinguished Service from GSPIA twice. He retired in 2018.

“Martin Staniland was an accomplished scholar and a teacher who cared deeply about his students,” recalled GSPIA faculty colleague Kevin Kearns. “Above all, he was a fine human being who reveled in the embrace of his loving family and who showed care and empathy to all. His colleagues and friends will fondly remember Martin’s dry British wit and his delightful storytelling.

“I had the privilege of serving with Martin as his associate dean and working closely with him on many GSPIA initiatives. But I will most fondly remember his thoughtful and loving friendship.”

Added former GSPIA dean and professor emerita Carolyn Ban: “Martin’s scholarship was impressive. His work on air transport policy and regulation of the airline industry and the policy conference he organized brought some of the key European experts and policymakers to Pitt. It was a first-class example of policy research that was grounded in both theory and extensive empirical research and that had an impact on the field.”

He is survived by his wife Alberta Sbragia, a long-time Pitt faculty member; sister Kay Staniland; half-sister Brenda Delamain; daughter Laura Trybus and son-in-law Matthew Trybus; son Paul Staniland; and daughter-in-law Rebecca Incledon, as well as two grandchildren, Ethan and Leo Staniland.

Memorial gifts are suggested to Doctors Without Borders or the GSPIA Internship Resource Fund.

— Marty Levine

Elspeth Wissner

Wissner called ‘the heart’ of Dietrich School dean’s office

Elspeth A. Poultney Wissner, who retired in 2018 after a long career in the Dietrich School of Arts & Sciences, including most recently as administrative coordinator for business and finance in the dean’s office, died Nov. 26, 2020 at 75.

She was an alumna of the Dietrich School with a master’s degree in music in 2002.

“Elspeth was a joy to work and talk with as a student, a supporting staff member, and a friend,” recalled Deane Root, professor emeritus of music. “When she approached me with an idea for a master’s thesis, I wasn’t sure how to help her with the project she envisioned, but we found a way, and she wrote a helpful study of cantorial practice in Pittsburgh Jewish congregations. Later, as a staff member in the dean’s office, she was always welcoming, patient and prompt in responding to needs of individual faculty and departments.”  

Michele Montag, senior assistant dean at the Dietrich School, wrote in remembrance: “Elspeth was well-known for her warm greetings and kind heart, her stories of home in Australia, her incredible mentoring of student workers in the office, and the amazing snacks and treats she frequently shared with her co-workers. She was a go-to person for many people across the school; if you didn’t know an answer or weren’t sure who to talk to about something, Elspeth would go out of her way to help you succeed.”

"One of the greatest pleasures of my University career was having had the opportunity to work closely with Elspeth Wissner,” said Monika Losagio, administrative officer in languages and classics, “which ultimately led to the cultivation of a treasured friendship that continued into her retirement. Elspeth was a trusted colleague and noble advisor not only to me but to many administrators who regularly called upon her for guidance. For many of us, Elspeth was the first point of contact in the dean’s office since we knew that she would either already know the answer or she would be the one to find out."

"Simply stated,” added Kelly Lloyd, director of payroll and personnel, “Elspeth was the heart of our office.”

Born July 4, 1945, Wissner was married for 37 years to the late George A. Wissner and is the sister of Jackie Brennan (Des) and the late Bill Poultney (Maureen); sister-in-law of Velma Wissner (late William) and Beth Cancilla (late Frank); and aunt to numerous nieces and nephews.

Anicet Mundundu

Mundundu helped introduce Pitt students to music and dance of Africa

Anicet Mundundu, instructor for the Pitt African Music and Dance Ensemble who also helped to run the Department of Music’s jazz archives and the William R. Robinson recording studio, died Nov. 26, 2020 at 62.

As music faculty colleague Andrew Weintraub wrote in a remembrance: “Anicet Mundundu was a multi-talented musician who performed traditional music, popular music, religious music, and art music equally well.”

“He introduced hundreds of Pitt students to various styles of music, dance, and other artistic expressions of Africa,” Weintraub said. “PAMDE concerts under his direction were always exciting and well-attended events that brought together University and community members from diverse places, spaces and races throughout Pittsburgh.”

An African drum master and ethnomusicologist, Mundundu earned his master’s and doctoral degrees in Pitt's ethnomusicology department, where he taught music fundamentals, piano, world music and music technology.

Born in Congo, he came to Pittsburgh and was part of many local Africa-centered music and dance groups. He earned his bachelor’s degree in music education in 1982 from the Institut National des Arts of the Université Nationale du Zaire and directed the GEVAKIN choir of Kinshasa, Congo.

“In addition to being an extraordinary musician and teacher,” Weintraub said, “Anicet was a fine scholar. His doctoral dissertation was a study of the Umoja African Arts Company, a Pittsburgh-based group of African immigrants that performs music and dance from various parts of Africa. His study applied the theories and methods of ethnomusicology to a community-based musical practice and connected the university with the larger Pittsburgh community. His dissertation …  is a pioneering example of public ethnomusicology."

Through the years, Mundundu worked with such local groups as the River City Brass, Kuntu Repertory Theatre, Pittsburgh Symphony and Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre.

Mundundu is survived by his wife, Ruth, and son, Anicet Mundundu Jr.

— Marty Levine

Robert Gale remembered as ‘the best of Pitt’

By LINDA TASHBOOK

When retired Pitt English professor Robert L. Gale died on Thanksgiving Day, at the tender age of 100 years and 11 months, he left behind scores of publications, three children, five grandchildren, thousands of former students, and an unusually large quantity of true friends, as well as piles and shelves of stuff that he had accumulated.

MORE INFORMATION

For more details on Robert Gale’s life and funeral service information, see the obituary from the Dec. 2 Post-Gazette.

He appreciated long opening lines. In fact, he appreciated a lot of things. His best legacy is surely the trail of grateful and complimentary notes that he wrote as he made his way through life. I have one of them, formally typed on stationery, tacked to the bulletin board above my desk, plus several that are handwritten as autographs in copies of his books.

He could have written, “Enjoy the book!” or “Eureka! My desk is clear” or even quoted the author whose writing he explicated. (All of his books and articles were explications of American writers.) But instead, Bob expressed gratitude in his autographs. This was true English professor gratitude — thanks and praise efficiently composed with precise compliments reflecting the conversations he’d had as he worked on each book. He must have critiqued students’ work over the years and given some bad grades, but most of his writing, that which went to friends and colleagues or explained individual authors, was gracious.

The formal letter on my bulletin board is praise for an article that I wrote about Bob and another retired Pitt English professor, Ed Marrs. Bob had come to the library at the School of Law, seeking justice for Ed when a professor at another university appropriated his work, and I happened to be the librarian on duty. That was when we met. A series of law library reference inquiries followed as those two retired literary analysts used the written word, not brute strength or the court system, to fight the force of evil. In the end, Ed prevailed, thanks to Bob’s heroic friendship.

Bob continued to visit the law library for years afterward, until he just couldn’t make the trip from Techview Terrace anymore. He made even more frequent use of the Hillman Library as he kept publishing books for decades beyond retirement. In one of my favorite online ironies, a University webmaster made a screensaver from a photo of Bob reading a book at the Hillman Library. I printed and mailed a screenshot to Bob, knowing that he would love it even though he did not have a computer at home and was not familiar with the words “webmaster” and “screensaver.”

Bob Gale represented the best of Pitt. Teaching, writing and collegiality all resulting from his own appreciation and all generating appreciation in the rest of us.

Linda Tashbook is the Foreign, International and Comparative Law librarian and an adjunct professor in Pitt’s School of Law.

GSPIA professor Miller was a ‘practitioner-scholar’

David Young Miller, long-time professor in the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs and strong proponent of cooperation for efficiency among municipalities, died Nov. 17, 2020, at 73.

“He was really the perfect practitioner-scholar,” recalled his faculty colleague of decades, Kevin Kearns. “Very few people could bring that to the table.”

Already an experienced manager in three different Maine communities when he earned his Ph.D. from GSPIA in 1988, Miller founded the school’s Center for Metropolitan Studies and served as associate dean (1998-2006) and interim dean (2006-07). He was also co-director of GSPIA’s Center for Public Policy and Management in Macedonia (2000-06) with founding leader and faculty colleague William Dunn. Miller was important in administering and teaching in this program, through which many Macedonian government officials passed as students through the years.

He was the author of several highly praised books and many articles on regional governance and earned the Chancellor’s Distinguished Public Service Award in 2012.

Miller was perhaps most widely known for his work that brought together municipal officials in cooperation for the benefit of the region. He was the founding advisor of the Congress of Neighboring Communities (CONNECT) at Pitt, which joins Pittsburgh with its surrounding communities to aim for a public-policy agenda of benefit to all.

Miller also was managing director of the Pennsylvania Economy League (1987-95), whose work remains crucial in the region, says Kearns, and which helped to institute Allegheny County’s home rule charter and the Regional Assets District. The league also helped to modernize the city of Pittsburgh’s governmental functions, he said, and published influential studies concerning municipal fiscal distress and intergovernmental cooperation.

Miller worked as director of Management and Budget for Pittsburgh during the Tom Murphy administration (1996-98), and drew recent praise from Mayor Bill Peduto for his mentorship and advice.

At GSPIA, Kearns said, “He brought that knowledge back into the classroom, which students in a program like GSPIA really appreciate. David was the kind of person who would re-link that practice to the literature, to the theory … to engage students in a vigorous discussion on how the theory plays out in practice, to give them very tangible examples of not only good thinking but about bad thinking and how it plays out in government.

“I was always impressed by the way he did his work with students who came to see him, how he encouraged them,” Kearns said. “He was an excellent teacher. He was a consummate practitioner.”

Miller retired just this summer. He is survived by his wife of 50 years, Marie; children Carrie Hanak, Laura Sowerby and David J. “D.J.” Miller; brothers Donald and Douglas; stepmother JoAnn Miller; and seven grandchildren.

Memorial donations are suggested to the David Y. Miller and Marie K. Miller Fund of the Pittsburgh Foundation, Five PPG Place, Suite 250, Pittsburgh, PA 15222. A service is planned for the future.

— Marty Levine

 

Former anatomic pathology director Lee had impact as teacher, researcher

Robert E. Lee, professor emeritus and former director of anatomic pathology in the School of Medicine’s Department of Pathology, died Oct. 29, 2020, at 90.

Pathology Chair George K. Michalopoulos recalls arriving in 1991 and appreciating the advice that Lee, a professor since 1962, had to offer: “He was the best person I always turned toward” for recommendations about managing the department, Michalopoulos said.

He also saw how many of Lee’s former students and residents were now nationally and internationally known. “That was a testament to his power as a teacher,” Michalopoulos said. “He always impressed me.”

Lee’s research looked into the use of biomarkers in diagnosing certain types of tumors, and he was one of the organizers and teachers of the pathology course for first- and second-year medical students. Michalopoulos praised Lee’s work as a mentor, adding that Lee was “highly, highly respected and loved by everybody in the faculty.”

Born Oct. 11, 1930 in Pittsburgh, Lee attended Central Catholic High School and earned his B.S. (1952) and M.D. (1956) from Pitt. He interned at St. Francis General Hospital, then became a resident in pathology at Presbyterian & Women’s Hospital here, and then a research fellow in 1961 in Pitt’s pathology department, where he joined the faculty the next year.

He rose to be chief of pathology at what was then Presbyterian University Hospital, as well as vice chairman for clinical affairs and director of laboratories. He was author or co-author of more than 60 research papers focused largely on Gaucher's Disease and was inducted into the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Society. Lee received the Philip S. Hench Award as distinguished alumnus of his school and retired in 2001.

Lee was also a lieutenant in the U.S. Naval Reserve (1957-1968) and was married to Kathleen McClain for 54 years; they had six children. He served on many boards, including Achieva, St. Anthony School for Exceptional Children and Allegheny County Medical Society.

After Lee’s retirement, Michalopoulos recalls, Lee returned frequently to the department to talk with residents. The pair saw each other just a few months ago at the school, and Michalopoulos remembers “the kind face, the nice smile, the person who lived in the academic environment. It was still the definition of his life and character.”

Lee is survived by his wife and children Robert Jr., Kevin (Karen), Margie O'Leary (John), Thomas (Patti) and Brian, as well as grandchildren Kyle (Shannon), Meredith, Claire, Matthew, Daniel and Thomas Lee, Caitlin Echelberger (Eric), and David O'Leary, and great-grandchild Brigid Lee. He was predeceased by his daughter Maria in 2018, his first wife Ruth Anne Carazola in 1964, his sisters Peggy and Mary Frances Schreibeis and his brother William.

Memorial gifts are suggested to the Scholarship Fund at Central Catholic High School, 4720 Fifth Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15213 or the Down Syndrome Center at Children's Hospital, 4401 Penn Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15224.

— Marty Levine

 

LRDC’s Greeno was ‘a giant in the field of cognitive sciences’

Learning Research and Development Center senior scientist James Greeno, whom former dean of the School of Education Alan Lesgold recently recalled as an “Isaac Newton for the world of learning and education,” died Sept. 8, 2020.

In a book of remembrances for Greeno's family, Lesgold recalled meeting Greeno when Greeno was an established professor at the University of Michigan and Lesgold was a student at Stanford.

“I always felt like he was a fellow student,” Lesgold said. “Jim was always humble, decent and a good listener. When he had something to say, it was worth hearing.

“Jim’s work spanned some major evolutions of learning theory,” he said. At Berkeley in 1984, for instance, Greeno began focusing on “how learning theory could be relevant to real learning in school and elsewhere rather than the abstracted learning performances of the laboratory,” concentrating on the learning of math and science.

“Throughout the second half of his career, Jim looked hard at the interactions and artifacts that promote learning, including Socratic dialogue and diagrams, as well as at what is learned and how what is learned is structured,” Lesgold added.

The resemblance to Newton, he said, arose when “Jim immersed himself both in the world of theory and formalisms and in the real world of school learning,” for a career that “was stellar and important both in scholarly and in social terms …

“As a gentleman, as a scholar, and as an advocate for better schooling, Jim will be missed greatly. I certainly am a better person when I try to emulate his actions, disposition, analytical thinking and kindness.”

Greeno had two stints on the Pitt faculty — first in the LRDC as a psychology faculty member in the Dietrich School of Arts & Sciences, and then as a School of Education faculty member from 2003 until his death. A recent University-published article notes that he had moved back to Pitt from Stanford to be near his children and grandchildren. He co-taught courses in the school’s Ph.D. program, including the new doctoral program in learning sciences and policy.

The school’s associate dean and former Greeno colleague, Kevin Crowley, said in the article that Greeno was “a giant in the field of cognitive sciences and learning sciences. He helped us to rethink how to define, how to support, and how to understand conceptions of teaching and learning. He also got us out of the lab and into the places where learning occurs.”

Born on May 1, 1935, Greeno was co-founder and senior research fellow of the Institute for Research on Learning in California, and held leadership positions with the National Academy of Education; the Society of Experimental Psychologists; Federation of Behavioral, Psychological and Cognitive Sciences; Cognitive Science Society; Psychonomic Society; Society for Mathematical Psychology; American Psychological Association; American Educational Research Association; American Association for the Advancement of Science and others.

He was executive editor of Cognitive Science and received a Guggenheim Fellowship, J. McKeen Catrell Award and E.L. Thorndike Award from the APA.

Greeno is survived by his wife, Noreen Herreid Greeno; son John; daughter Catherine; grandchildren Emily, James and Grace Greeno and Jack Fischbeck; daughter-in-law Patricia Greeno and son-in-law Paul Fischbeck.

Memorial donations are suggested to the James G. Greeno Scholarship Fund to assist Pitt undergraduates, through this link or by check to the University of Pittsburgh with “James G. Greeno Fund” in the memo line, to the University of Pittsburgh, Philanthropic & Alumni Engagement, 107 Park Plaza, 128 N. Craig St., Pittsburgh, PA 15260.

Pharmacy’s Drab was student favorite and creator of service-learning program

Scott R. Drab — winner of the student-selected School of Pharmacy Preceptor of the Year Award in multiple years and creator of the school’s first service-learning program and a nationwide diabetes education program — died July 27, 2020.

Amy Seybert, chair of the school’s Department of Pharmacy and Therapeutics, joined the faculty alongside Drab in August 1997 and coordinated the beginning of the service-learning course with him.

“He was meticulous with his course planning, and he was excited to teach the class every day,” Seybert recalls. “Everything was planned; it was perfectly executed and the whole room came alive. He got everyone excited because he was so excited. He was a really impactful teacher.”

The program, she says, teaches students in their first year of pharmacy “how to give back, how to be human, how to speak to people,” as they serve at a soup kitchen or deliver books to patients in a hospital. The program places students in community pharmacies in their second year and hospital pharmacies in their third year.

When pharmacists-in-training took their month-long rotation through his clinic, she says, “the students tell us that experience changed their life.”

“He was the greatest storyteller I’ve ever seen,” Seybert says. “He lights up the room when he would teach. He was entertaining and funny, but he would hold those students accountable for what they had to learn, and they loved him for it.

“Teaching was his life,” she continues. “He loved teaching more than anyone I have ever met, and he was the best teacher I have ever seen.”

Drab was so gratified to receive continued student recognition that he endowed the honor as the Scott R. Drab Preceptor Award several years ago, Seybert says, as well as joining with colleagues to create the Student Resource Fund in the school and raising money as the auctioneer at school fundraising functions.

He also led the design team that created the DME, or Diabetes Mellitus Education, program, which developed video content featuring lectures by Drab and other diabetes experts, in use by more than 90 schools.

Born on Nov. 9, 1966, Drab graduated in 1989 from Pitt’s pharmacy school, then earned a certificate in alcoholism and drug dependencies from the University of Utah, and certificates as a diabetes care specialist and pharmaceutical care consultant from the Medical University of South Carolina. In 2000, he was awarded his Doctor of Pharmacy degree from Duquesne University.

At Pitt, he advanced from instructor to associate professor, and served as the pharmacy school’s director of professional experience programs (2000-2006) and experiential learning coordinator (1997-2000).

He was also director of University Diabetes Care Associates, a private practice, beginning in 2002, first in North Huntingdon, then in Jeannette and Greensburg.

Beginning in his student days, he received many awards, from the University of Pittsburgh Leadership Award (1987) and membership in the Rho Chi Pharmacy Honor Society (1988) to the school’s Rho Chi Society Innovation in Teaching Award (2014) and Outstanding Scholarly Contribution Award (2016) and its Cohen Teacher of the Year Award that same year. In 2019, Drab was named a distinguished alumnus.

He was invited to present his clinical research throughout the United States and published many book chapters and papers concerning the pharmaceutical care, understanding and treatment of diabetes. He was a certified diabetes educator, a board certified advanced diabetes management specialist and an internationally known diabetes pharmacist.

Also known for his collection of antique cars, Drab provided one of them, a Jaguar, to Jerry Seinfeld for an episode of his Netflix series, “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.”

Drab is survived by his wife, Amanda Lawson-Drab; their children, Grayson and Delaney; his parents, Richard and Connie Benko Drab; and his sister, Kathleen Weissberg (Jason), as well as numerous aunts, uncles and cousins. 

Memorial donations are suggested to the Scott R. Drab Student Resource Fund, University of Pittsburgh Philanthropic & Alumni Engagement, 128 North Craig Street, Pittsburgh, PA, 15260. 

A virtual memorial service will be held on Oct. 5. Find details here.

— Marty Levine

Clark Strausser taught economics at Pitt–Johnstown for 35 years

Clark Strausser, professor emeritus of Economics at Pitt–Johnstown, died Aug. 20, 2020. 

A familiar face on campus for decades, he was hired on Sept. 1, 1973 as an associate professor of Economics at the Johnstown campus and retired on Aug. 31, 2008.

“Although he retired over a decade ago, Dr. Strausser was a distinguished member of the university family for 47 years, until the very last day of his life when several of us here at the University called to chat with him on Thursday morning,” said Jem Spectar, president of Pitt–Johnstown. “As a professor, students benefitted from his brilliance as he challenged them to bring out their best. Over the years, alums have shared with me that his excellent and rigorous teaching as well as his high expectations, pushed them to work extremely hard and they credit him for their success later in life.”

“Dr. Strausser was a smart and tough professor,” said Raymond B. Wrabley, chair of the Division of Social Sciences and Division of Business and Enterprise. “To many he seemed intimidating, but he was also a hugely generous, gentle and compassionate man. He gave gifts to the children of faculty and staff, tutored struggling students long after he retired, and cared deeply about Pitt–Johnstown and our community. I'll miss our daily conversations.” 

Along with his work in the classroom, Strausser was also an avid supporter of Pitt–Johnstown athletics, both academically and financially. 

“We formed a unique and unlikely friendship for two men from completely different backgrounds,” said Pat Pecora, Pitt–Johnstown’s athletic director and head wrestling coach. “The relationship withstood the test of time, for over 45 years, and touched thousands of lives. I will always value and treasure our friendship. ‘Doc’ Strausser became a part of my family and was a vital member of the UPJ wrestling family. He will be missed but never forgotten.”

The university recognized Strausser for his distinguished service to student-athletes and the collegiate athletic program with the Meritorious Service Award at the Athletics Hall of Fame in 2017. He also created the Clark W. Strausser Scholarship Fund.

— From the Pitt–Johnstown website

Assistant treasurer, Susan Gilbert, stayed positive despite struggles

Pitt’s assistant treasurer, Susan Gilbert, died Aug. 11.

“Sue courageously battled cancer for eight years,” said her colleague, Lori Doran, executive administrator in the office, “but so many didn’t realize it because she was such a positive person and maintained such an unwavering professional outlook.

“She was not only a high-performer admired for her work, but she was the whole, complete package as a leader,” Doran recalled.

“She took it upon herself to ignore her own challenges and instead chose to lift up others through her incredible energy, positive attitude and infectious smile,” Treasurer Paul Lawrence wrote to his staff. “While I’m sure everyone has their own memories of Sue, this is how I will remember her. A true fighter. A selfless person. A bright light in what sometimes seems like a harsh world.”

“There were so many things that were going on, and you would never have known,” he told the University Times. “She was pleasant and happy and had this great energy about her and such a positive attitude.”

Gilbert joined Pitt as assistant treasurer in 2000. 

“Throughout her tenure,” noted Chief Financial Officer Hari Sastry in a remembrance, “she provided strategic oversight and effective management of the University's capital finance structure, banking and cash management policies/systems, and short-term investment management.”

Most recently, she was instrumental in helping the University issue a $400 million century bond — a 100-year loan — at a very low price, Sastry wrote: “Sue’s efforts directly helped to secure a stable future for the University.”

Born Jan. 3, 1965, Gilbert received her bachelor’s degree in finance and economics from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, then earned two degrees from Pitt: an MBA from the Katz Graduate School of Business and a master’s degree in public policy and management from the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs. 

“She loved the University of Pittsburgh,” Doran said, “and it was very evident,” not only from her dedication to the treasurer’s office team but in the way in which she signed almost everything “#H2P.”

“She really made you feel we were on the same team and she was grateful always for how we all contributed to work,” Doran added. “She considered her colleagues at Pitt like her second family, and we absolutely believed it.

“She just kept going on, when so many people would not have continued to work. She would go into chemotherapy treatment and then come into the office. She didn’t want anyone asking her: How are you doing? How are you feeling? She just had that strength.”

She is survived by her husband Steve; mother Patricia; children, Lauren and Shane; and siblings, Debby (Jeff) Recker, Mike (Ellen) Murray, Kathy (Jim) Griener and Eileen (Don) Stanford, and many other family members.

Memorial contributions are suggested to the Whitehall Public Library, 100 Borough Park Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15236.

— Marty Levine

Radiology’s Fuhrman was consummate educator and clinician

Carl Fuhrman, chief of the Thoracic Imaging Division of the School of Medicine’s Department of Radiology — memorialized as a “consummate medical educator, clinician and all-around academic radiologist” by his colleagues — died June 27, 2020, at 67.

“Carl was really unique,” recalled his department chair, Jules Sumkin. “Teaching was clearly his passion. People do it for different reasons. For Carl, it was down to the core of his being and satisfied something deeply in him.”

Just in the past several days, Sumkin said, he heard from one of Fuhrman’s medical school classmates, who recalls Fuhrman teaching her, even then. He has heard also from Fuhrman’s residents, who were still in touch with him today — a rare occurrence, Sumkin said. 

Fuhrman gave 7 a.m. conferences to any residents who wished to attend. “He just did it because he had a calling,” Sumkin said. “His profession here and the people he taught became his family.”

He also was famed for his clinical abilities: “His fund of knowledge was massive. He had a photographic memory. He could be reading a case, look at the name, and he would remember whether he’d seen a relative’s images. I would show him cases” — even cases in Sumkin’s specialty — “and I’d always learn something from him.”

Fuhrman mentored other junior faculty, including Sumkin, who joined the faculty just a few years after Fuhrman. “He was kind of a role model, someone I looked to, to see how they did it. It was very daunting to me because he was so accomplished and so smart at such a young age. But he was always very low-key about it. He would never make you feel ‘You will not get to the place where I’m at.’ ”

Fuhrman received the Ronald J. Hoy Excellence in Teaching Award from the Department of Radiology 15 times — to the point where the award was renamed for him. He won the University’s Golden Apple Award nine times, presented by the senior medical class in recognition of the best teacher each year. He also earned Pitt’s Distinguished Teaching Award.

Fuhrman served as director of Undergraduate Medical Education and recently completed his tenure as president of the Alliance of Medical Student Educators in Radiology. He directed the medical school’s advanced radiology course and co-directed the anatomy life science course, and served on a variety of committees for his school and UPMC hospitals. He frequently presented lectures both in the United States and abroad and served as a visiting professor at multiple institutions.

Born in Erie on Aug. 11, 1952, Fuhrman earned his medical degree from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine cum laude in 1979 and became an assistant professor in radiology in 1983 and a full professor in 1994. He was chief of thoracic radiology almost continuously for the past 27 years.

“Carl’s gift of teaching was rivaled only by his academic and clinical prowess,” remembered Jacob W. Sechrist, interim section chief of the Division of Cardiothoracic Imaging. “He had an impressive track record of research involving interstitial lung disease, emphysema and lung cancer.” Fuhrman, he said, had a work ethic that was “astounding. … He has inspired all of us in our daily work and will be deeply missed.”

“Carl Fuhrman was an irreplaceable treasure in the medical community,” added Christopher N. Faber, faculty member in the school’s Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Medicine. He noted that Fuhrman “was a central figure in the education of over 180 pulmonologists” from the school over the past 35 years, including those attending his weekly thoracic radiology conferences. 

“I happened to attend the last such conference he gave,” said Faber, “in which he taught me about a pulmonary disease previously unknown to me (and I have been a pulmonologist for 33 years). The most prominent physicians in the region across numerous specialties would seek out his opinion to help guide the care of their patients with thoracic disease.”

Fuhrman and his colleagues had moved a few years ago to the new south tower of UPMC Presbyterian, where the waiting area has high windows looking over Oakland, past the medical center, the Cathedral of Learning and even beyond Carnegie Mellon University.

“The image that I have most of him,” said Sumkin, “I can remember coming in for a very early meeting and seeing Carl standing by himself, looking out those windows, just appreciating the view, and he was very happy to be here.”

He is survived by three sisters, Barbara Pugel (late Lud Pugel), Mary McIlroy (Bill) and Carol Hagen; nieces Stacey Serafini (Chris) and Elizabeth Pugel Runevitch (Scott); nephews Paul Hagen (Laura), Jeff Pugel (Alina) and John McIlroy (Katie); great-niece Sophia Pugel; and great-nephews Will Pugel and John McIlroy.

A memorial service is planned for noon July 15 outside UPMC Presbyterian. Memorial gifts are suggested to the Carl Fuhrman Radiology Education Fund, Division of Philanthropic and Alumni Engagement, University of Pittsburgh, 128 N. Craig St., Pittsburgh, PA 15260.

— Marty Levine

Anne Pascasio

Founding dean of SHRS was icon in physical therapy

Anne Pascasio, founding dean of the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences and a pioneering female leader at Pitt, died June 22, 2020, at 95.

Working early in her academic career at the Watson School of Physiatrics at the D. T. Watson Home in Sewickley, she then moved the program to Pitt in 1967 to form what was dubbed the School of Health Related Professions in 1969. Starting with three programs — physical therapy, medical technology and child development/child care — under her direction, the school added health records management, clinical dietetics and occupational therapy.

An extremely well-regarded physical therapist who had the rare honor of being named a fellow of the American Physical Therapy Association, Pascasio left the deanship in 1982 to join the faculty of the Department of Physical Therapy and retired from the University in 1986.

“She was an icon in this profession,” said current Dean and Professor Anthony Delitto, “a founding dean at a time when there weren’t a lot of females in leadership positions at the University of Pittsburgh, especially in the health sciences.”

The school instructs students in 13 different professions today, “so if you become the dean you almost have to lose that tribal mentality, and she did that,” he said. “But people forget that she was very highly accomplished in her field.

“Everyone spoke highly of her ability to teach, and she was considered a mentor to many,” including young faculty at Pitt, he said. “Teaching was her passion, and she taught people how to teach.”

Delitto recalls how Pascasio commanded respect: “She spoke very eloquently. There was always a pause before she would say anything, and you knew it was always precise and on target. When she didn’t think you were doing something in the best way, she would let you know — but not in a loud voice.”

Jerry Martin, who succeeded Pascasio as dean, watched her in action since joining the school faculty in 1969 and worked closely with her for a dozen years.

“She was very organized, from a budgeting perspective and very considerate of everybody she worked with,” Martin recalled. “She had a unique presence. She gained respect simply because she was always able to make a good case and do it in a very diplomatic way. I saw her in the tensest of meetings. She was always prepared. She gained respect because her case was always so solid.”

Pascasio remained active in the school for decades after retirement, funding its Learning Resource Center as a memorial to her parents and the Anne Pascasio Endowed Scholarship Fund, created originally by the school to honor her, which continues to aid numerous students.

An alumnus of Pitt, where she earned her bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees, she also worked throughout her career with UPMC Children’s Hospital, the Illinois Medical Center, the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and its School of Medicine.

 “She was able to see her school, which she created, evolve over the past 50 years, and I think it is just where she wanted it to be,” Martin said.

She is survived by nieces and nephews Judy Pascasio Cain, Regis and Jeannie Miller, Kathleen Miller, Richard and Carole Miller, Bob and Vicki Pascasio, Ed and Jarita Pascasio and Janet Pascasio, as well as many great, great-great and great-great-great nieces and nephews.

Memorial gifts are suggested to the Anne Pascasio Endowment Fund, c/o the University of Pittsburgh School of Health & Rehabilitation Sciences, 4028 Forbes Tower, Pittsburgh, PA 15260, or the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank.

— Marty Levine

Vernell Lillie

Former Africana Studies professor Lillie founded Kuntu Repertory Theatre

Vernell A. Lillie, a former associate professor of Africana Studies and founder of Pitt’s Kuntu Repertory Theatre, died on May 11, her 89th birthday. She retired from Pitt in 2006.

Born in 1931 in Hempstead, Texas, Lillie arrived in Pittsburgh in 1969 to pursue a doctorate at Carnegie Mellon University. In 1973, she began teaching in what was then Pitt’s Department of Black Community, Education, and Research and, along with prolific poet and playwright Rob Penny, founded Kuntu the following year.

The new theater company exposed Pittsburgh audiences to cutting edge ideas, art, culture and the Black community’s social and political concerns. For nearly four decades, it featured works by Penny, Pulitzer Prize-winning Pittsburgh native August Wilson and other Black playwrights.

Kuntu was the first company to mount the August Wilson play “Homecoming” in 1976, which Lillie directed. Actors such as Emmy-winner Esther Rolle, Sala Udin and Pittsburgh Playwrights Theater Company founder Mark Southers performed on the Kuntu stage, located at Pitt’s Stephen Foster Memorial, and later at Alumni Hall. Chadwick Boseman of “Black Panther” fame also had a play staged by Kuntu and acted in it.

Lillie’s career at Pitt garnered her many awards, including the Chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching Award in 1986, a Distinguished Daughter of Pennsylvania in 1998 and the Pennsylvania Creative Community Award in 2006. A scholarship in Lillie’s name was established at Dillard University in New Orleans, her alma mater. She kept Kuntu alive even after her retirement. The company’s final performances were at the Homewood Library in 2013.

For a full reflection on her life, see Pittwire.

Longtime anthropology professor McPherron dies at 91

Alan Locke McPherron, who spent his entire career in the Department of Anthropology in the Dietrich School of Arts & Sciences, died April 16, 2020, at 91.

Born March 3, 1929, in Chicago, McPherron earned his bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Chicago in 1950, then was drafted into the Army in 1955, working as a radio operator in Hanau, Germany through 1957. 

He married his first wife, Stase, that year, and soon received his Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of Michigan.

His Pitt career included many summers overseas working on archaeological sites, mainly in Kragujevac, Serbia, and Sardinia, Italy.

“Alan was one of the first colleagues I met upon joining the department in 1986,” recalls Robert M. Hayden, who today has joint appointments in law and public & international affairs and is also faculty in the University Center for International Studies. “He had surprised me when I interviewed by striking up a conversation in very good Serbo-Croatian” — a language Hayden also knew from his work in what was then Yugoslavia.

“Being an assistant professor in an American department is never easy, but Alan provided me with a sympathetic ear … When Yugoslavia went into war he stopped speaking the language — I think he felt the tragedy too closely.”

Returning two years ago to archaeological sites where McPherron worked, Hayden says, he found individuals who still “had very good memories” of their collaboration with McPherron, who continued to do academic research after his retirement in 2000.

He is survived by his second wife, Beth Prinz, children Kate, Patrick and Jesse, and grandchild Jasper.

— Marty Levine

Bruce Baker

Bruce Baker’s invention helped many with language disabilities

Bruce Baker, inventor of a pioneering system to help those with severe language disabilities to communicate — who brought his expertise and dedication to the students of the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences — died May 7, 2020, at 77.

Katya Hill, a faculty member in the school’s Department of Communication Science and Disorders, was working as a speech-language pathologist in northwestern Pennsylvania when Baker spoke there about his device, which she was already using, and convinced her to come to Pitt for her Ph.D.

Hill points to the documentary made about Baker’s work and the individuals whom he has helped. “Only God Can Hear Me” shows “how speakers have been independent, have a higher quality of life and are participating more in the community” thanks to Baker’s invention, called Minspeak, made by his company, Semantic Compaction Systems.

“It’s an especially robust communications app,” Hill says, which allows users to pair icons representing words with buttons representing a part of speech, from noun and adjective to all the conjugations of verbs, to create sentences.

Baker had the idea for Minspeak while pursuing his Ph.D. and caring for someone with cerebral palsy, Hill said. Watching this person spell out every word in order to communicate inspired Baker to seek out a better method for allowing the reproduction of speech.

Coming to the school after his invention was on the market and successful, Hill says, “Bruce was a generous individual. He looked for people that he felt had talent and provided them with support,” including sponsoring hourly student workers in her laboratory. 

“Bruce also knew individuals that used his device, and that’s what motivated him,” she adds. “I don’t think many manufacturers of products have close relationships with people who use their products.”

His influence on his field of augmentative and alternative communication made him “one of the founding fathers,” she says. In the classroom, “he was challenging. He always had a different twist to things.” She could attend a lecture on the same topic over and over, she recalls, “and I would always learn something new — he always had something different to share, something he would find in the literature.”

Patty Kummick, the school’s executive director of internal and external relations, lauds Baker’s creation of several awards, including the Semantic Compaction Systems Educational Travel Fund, a school-wide fund that supported students and junior faculty travel opportunities to conduct research, attend professional conferences, undertake service programs, study abroad or pursue other educational opportunities.

Baker attended the scholarship reception each year: “He loved the opportunity to engage with the students and learn about their travels and study. He was just a kind soul who loved to help students and see them excel in any way possible.”

He was an adjunct associate professor in two school departments, Rehabilitation Science and Technology (since 1993) and secondarily Communications Science and Disorders, and was still active at his death. He also served on the school’s advisory Board of Visitors.

“His whole life was his work and I think his goal in life was to help other people,” Kummick says. “He believed in the power of education and the power of travel to expand knowledge, and that was truly an opportunity he wanted to make sure the students had.”

— Marty Levine

Geology's Cassidy tripled the world’s meteorite collection

Emeritus Professor William A. Cassidy of the Department of Geology and Environmental Science in the Dietrich School of Arts & Sciences — creator of the Antarctic Search for Meteorites (ANSMET) program in 1976 and its primary investigator for nearly 20 years — died March 25, 2020.

Bruce Hapke, a department geophysicist who arrived with Cassidy in 1967 and retired in 2001, just a few years after him, had the office next door and spent many a lunch together. Hapke recalled Cassidy as “a very kind person and thoughtful. He was very considerate, and he had a kind of unique gift: If two people were discussing something and they started to argue, he would be able to come up with just the right sentence and diffuse the situation. It made him a good leader.

“He was a good friend and a good scientist,” Hapke added. “He was a meticulous observer and researcher and he mentored his students well.”

Cassidy’s greatest impact came with ANSMET, Hapke said. Learning that a Japanese team had discovered several meteorites on the Antarctic ice and theorizing that glacier movement and subsequent wind erosion of the ice was exposing meteorite falls from disparate times and locations, Cassidy received National Science Foundation funding over many years to explore the area. His own team recovered more than 22,000 meteorite samples, tripling the world's meteorite collection. Some of his finds were later discovered to be pieces from the moon and Mars.

In recognition of his work, Antarctica’s Cassidy Glacier was named for him, as well as the mineral Cassidyite and an asteroid, 3382 Cassidy. He recounted his work in a 2003 Cambridge University Press memoir, “Meteorites, Ice, and Antarctica: A Personal Account.”

Cassidy also spent years studying the impact craters left by meteorites, particularly in Argentina, where about 20 clustered craters were left from a large iron meteorite that had broken up in mid-air. Employing local people to help with the excavation, Cassidy received another NSF grant to uncover a 13-ton iron meteorite, one of the largest iron meteorites in the world, which the Argentine government subsequently turned into the center of a national park.

One meteorite, however, eluded Cassidy, Hapke said. Searching through the records of the original Spanish conquerors of what would become Argentina, Cassidy noticed their sighting of “a mountain of fire” that had fallen from the sky. It must have arrived during the same meteorite shower that produced the 20 craters, Cassidy surmised. But he could never find this other impact area. “He said, ‘How can you lose a meteorite that big?’” Hapke remembered. “But he never did find the ‘mountain of fire.’ He figured the Spaniards melted it down for weapons or something.”

Another departmental colleague, William Harbert, who joined Pitt in 1989, remembered Cassidy as “a world-class scientist” and instructor. “His teaching was really exceptional. He was a very popular teacher. Any time people saw him or his office door was open, people were welcome to walk in, and he was always focused on what they were talking about.

“He was just a voice of common sense, very good natured as a mentor for me and giving me advice” as a fellow faculty member, Harbert said. “He was someone who was extremely generous with his time, focusing on what needed to be done and what the path forward was – what was best collectively.

“He had a very wry sense of humor,” he added. “It’s the kind of sense of humor you see in field geologists who have spent a lot of time in remote field areas.”

According to a department memorial statement, Cassidy graduated from the University of New Mexico with a bachelor’s degree in geology and earned his Ph.D. in geochemistry from Penn State University, where he met his wife, Beverly, at Penn State. They had three children, Shauna, Laura and Brian.

— Marty Levine

Euba helped grow the African music program at Pitt

Akin Euba — Andrew W. Mellon professor emeritus in the Department of Music (1993-2011) and an influential teacher of intercultural and creative ethnomusicology courses — died April 14, 2020.

“Akin Euba was a big reason why I decided to come to Pitt as a grad student, for his understanding of composition and African music,” said Philip Thompson, the department’s concerts and communications coordinator, who first joined the department as a graduate student in composition and theory in 1996.

After taking Euba’s creative ethnomusicology course, “it’s not a stretch to call that a life-changing experience,” Thompson recalled. Euba’s teaching “broadened my mind in ways I’m still working at years later … It had a huge impact on how I think about music creatively and intellectually.

“The thing that was most influential was the way he encouraged us to explore freely regardless of our own usual cultural backgrounds,” Thompson added. “He wanted us to explore unusual cultures that we were unfamiliar with and incorporate it into our own work.” As an African scholar and artist, knowledgeable about African and European traditions, Euba “had this understanding that empires come and go, and you don’t let the empires define what you’re expressing. He just had this understanding: Culture is diverse and fluid.”

At Pitt, Euba also taught Music in Africa, Field and Lab Methods and World Music. As a memorial posted on the department’s website notes: “He was a leading composer of African Art Music and composed for a variety of mediums from solo piano to opera.” He was also “well known for his pioneering theory of African Pianism,” which uses the piano to translate African music for a worldwide audience.

The Guardian of Nigeria said that Euba was born in Lagos on April 28, 1935, and attended the Trinity College of Music, London, receiving his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from UCLA and a Ph.D. in ethnomusicology from the University of Ghana. He received a Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship in 1962.

Euba’s career had impact across the globe, from starting a department of music at the University of Ife in Nigeria to serving as a research scholar and artist in residence at IWALEWA House, the African studies center of the University of Bayreuth in Germany (1986-1992).

He was also the founder and director of the Centre for Intercultural Music Arts in London (1989) and director emeritus of the Centre for Intercultural Musicology at Churchill College, University of Cambridge.

After Euba had a stroke about a decade ago, Thompson recalled his continued vitality: “I remember from that time his tenacity,” as Thompson was recruited to aid Euba in organizing and running the International Conference on Musical Intersections in Practice at Cambridge soon after. “He was determined to accomplish everything that needed to be accomplished. That was very inspirational to me.”

Department chair Mathew Rosenblum remembered Euba as “a huge mentor to students,” as Euba and other faculty drew students to Pitt from Africa for study. “He was very warm and very energetic. He always had a smile – he would always bring a lot of positive energy to the room, wherever he was…. His legacy lives on through many students throughout the world.”

— Marty Levine

LaValley kept Human Genetics department running

Michele LaValley, long-time administrator of the Department of Human Genetics in the Graduate School of Public Health, died March 23, 2020 at 62.

LaValley joined Pitt in August 1976 and retired in May 2014.

“She was the person who kept the department running as chairs came and went,” recalls Eleanor Feingold, the department’s interim chair and a faculty member who arrived in 1997. “She was the steady state that kept the department going.”

LaValley helped to bring new faculty onboard and to keep faculty research running smoothly, Feingold says. She also tackled issues that were new and difficult, such as a new formula for giving a portion of tuition money back to schools, based on enrollment.

“No one knew what to do with it at first,” Feingold says. “She made sure we knew how this new thing worked and that we knew what to do. (LaValley) really dug into all the financial stuff and really figured it out.

“She was a lot of fun to sit around and talk with,” Feingold adds. “Working with her was just a pleasure. She was supportive of everyone. … She was really the heartbeat of the department, both functionally and socially. She taught me everything I needed to know about crazy administrative stuff, and that has been valuable throughout my career.”

Matt Weaver, administrator of the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health in the school, began his Pitt career 25 years ago working for LaValley on grants and contracts. “She was a stickler for detail, and she preached that all the time,” Weaver says. “For her it wasn’t how long it took you to get it done, it was that when it was done it was a good product.

“She was always available,” he adds. “She was a very good mentor,” teaching him how to deal with people and how to be customer-service oriented administrator. “She was one of the nicest people and most trusting people you’d ever meet. She was a wonderful person.”

She is survived by siblings Robert DeMauro and Debra Williams, as well as nieces Autumn and Sarah Williams.

— Marty Levine

Colclaser was chair and associate dean in electrical engineering

Robert Gerald “Jerry” Colclaser Jr., former chair of electrical engineering and associate dean for research in electrical engineering in the Swanson School of Engineering, died March 4, 2020, at 86.

He will be remembered both for bringing the lessons of industry to Pitt classrooms, says his former doctoral degree advisee, Swanson faculty member Gregory Reed, and for inventing, with a partner, technology that is still used by the electrical utility industry.

In 1992, Reed was in New York City, working for the city’s electrical utility, Consolidated Edison, and contemplating his Ph.D. Jerry Colclaser was tops on his list as potential advisors, Reed recalls, since Colclaser was already famed for his work and had his name on many research publications, as “one of the world’s foremost authorities on electromagnetic transient analysis.”

Reed’s campus visit with Colclaser cemented the decision to come to Pitt, he recalls: “That was a wonderful five years. He was such a pleasant person. He was always upbeat, made you laugh, made you smile. He was just a delightful person to have as a mentor.”

Colclaser had joined Pitt after working for Westinghouse Electric Corp., and still did work for them. He was thus able to bring many practical experiences into his courses, focusing his class assignments on those with applications to real-world projects.

“As a professor, better than anybody, he brought industry into the classroom,” Reed says. “He meant a lot to his students. He had a lot of influence on what I did next,” first working in industry for another dozen years, then joining Pitt as a faculty member.

However, Reed adds, “First and foremost, his biggest contribution to industry was as one of the original developers of the gas-current breaker. To this day, it is the technology of choice for utilities worldwide for how they apply current breakers for the protection of their networks.” In a memorial remembrance sent to colleagues, Reed labeled the invention “one of the most important elements of power system protection, operation, safety and reliability to this day.”

He and many other students stayed in touch with Colchester after his retirement. “It’s a special bond, when someone like Jerry, who has had so much impact on people, passes,” Reed says.

Colclaser was born on Sept. 21, 1933, in Wilkinsburg and received his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Cincinnati in 1956 and his doctoral degree in the same subject from Pitt.

He was a life fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and won 21 patents for his inventions in electrical power generation and distribution.

He is survived by his wife, Helen; children, Jan M. Hanks (Dale), Robert G. Colclaser III (Alison) and Linda S. Parshook (Bruce); his stepchildren, Michael M. Heck (Debbie), Matthew J. Heck (Theresa) and Michele M. Heck; his brother, Roy A. Colclaser (Judi); and grandchildren Jessica Nicklos, Alexis and Nikolas Parshook, Lara De La Vega and Chase Heck.

Memorial gifts are suggested to the Delmont Public Library, 77 Greensburg Street, Delmont, PA 15626. Please write "R. Colclaser" on check memo line.

— Marty Levine

Lombardi was leading scholar on liver cancer research

Benito Lombardi, called “one of the pillars of research on liver cancer” by his former colleague and current chair of pathology in the School of Medicine, George K. Michalopoulos, died Jan. 24, 2020, at 91.

Lombardi joined the department in the early 1970s and retired in 1995 but continued to attend pathology seminars at the school for years, Michalopoulos recalled. “He’s been extremely well recognized as an outstanding researcher,” Michalopoulos said.

Lombardi researched characteristics of the early forms of liver cancer, using pre-cancerous indicators in mice and rats to chart the stages of cancer development.

“He had a defining role in the whole direction of liver cancer research at that time,” Michalopoulos said. “He carved a pathway for many other investigators to follow in this area.”

When Michalopoulos began as chair in 1991, he didn’t have administrative experience. But he remembered the help he received from Lombardi: “He was always guiding me, giving advice.” In fact, Lombardi mentored many faculty through the years, the chair added.

Born near Venice, Italy, Lombardi received his medical degree from the University of Padua. His academic career included stints at institutions in Toronto in the mid-1950s, and in Cleveland.

While at Pitt, he was a member of the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health. In 2008, his department created the Lombardi and Shinozuka Experimental Pathology Research Chair in recognition of contributions that he and his long-time research collaborator, Hisashi Shinozuka, made to the field of experimental pathology.

Lombardi is survived by his daughters, Gabriella (Lella) and Laura, brother Mariano and an extended family of nieces, nephews and their children in Italy. Memorial donations are suggested to the Alzheimer’s Association.

— Marty Levine