Sussna developed MBA program that grew into Katz School

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GSPIA’s first female professor Altenburger focused on ethics

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Biological sciences lecturer Curto was ‘very passionate about teaching’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Gemma Burke helped build UCIS to its current form

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Don Martin taught in School of Education for 40 years

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Former chair of music department Nketia dies at 97

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Donna Sue Close

Donna Sue Close was a role model in Student Affairs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bill Cleland

Physics professor Cleland did crucial work on Higgs boson particle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A future memorial service is being planned.


Marilyn Davies was a strong presence to Nursing students and faculty

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Robert Yee

Robert Yee was a ‘founding father’ of the Graduate School of Public Health

Robert Yee, noted as one of the “founding fathers” of the Graduate School of Public Health, died Jan. 19, 2019 at 91.

Charles R. Rinaldo, faculty member and former chair of Yee’s department — Infectious Diseases and Microbiology — joined Pitt in 1978, in Yee’s 26th year as a teacher. In a forthcoming department newsletter, Rinaldo notes that Yee “was a towering figure over seven decades in this department, school and university,” particularly as assistant chair under Monto Ho for many years.

“Bob would never say this, but we all knew that Monto was greatly dependent on Bob’s organizational skills in helping him run the department,” Rinaldo wrote. “With his passing we lost the most dedicated faculty member of our department, and particularly to our graduate students.”

In an interview, Rinaldo added: “He was indispensable to the department and really to the school,” and was most valued as a teacher of the school’s master’s and doctoral students. “They are the lifeblood of our department and Bob treated them like that. He found the time for the students and they knew they could count on him.

“He made sure the courses were top quality.” Rinaldo said. “He was a strong champion of minority students, all throughout his career,” and of the department’s female students as well.

Yee had a formal manner about him, Rinaldo recalled: “He spoke to the students as Mr. and Ms. He stood by the more traditional role” and preferred that the students call him Dr. Yee. Such displays of public deference served to demonstrate “how he was concerned about them,” Rinaldo said.

He was also a valuable mentor, advising students about course subject matter as well as on their impending careers. “It can be a lot of pressure on these kids to do well. You're now becoming a professional. I think he helped them adjust to that.

“Bob pushed our department and our school into the computer age in the 1980s,” Rinaldo remembered. “So we got into it early.”

Born June 28, 1927, Yee earned all his degrees at Pitt: a bachelor of science in 1950; master of science in 1952; and a doctorate in 1957. He joined the faculty as a biological sciences instructor following his master’s degree, was promoted to lecturer in 1954 and then appointed assistant research professor in Public Health’s Department of Epidemiology and Microbiology in 1961.

He began his career studying the use of antibiotics against shigella, a gastrointestinal infection, and then Legionella pneumophilia, the cause of Legionnaires’ disease.

In 1990, Ho instituted a scholarship in Yee’s name, and when Rinaldo became chair — with Yee staying on as assistant — Rinaldo directed the annual funds to incoming master’s students. Following Yee’s retirement as emeritus professor, a bacterium was named in Yee’s honor in 2003 by Robbin S. Weyant, Yee’s former student and then chief of the laboratory safety branch of the Centers for Disease Control’s Office of Health and Safety.


Fritz Froehlich set a research tone at SCI

Fritz Froehlich, who established the master of science in telecommunications program in what is now the School of Computing and Information (SCI), died on Jan. 8, 2019.

“He had a vision for the telecommunications program that was not just teaching students,” recalled Martin B.H. Weiss, SCI faculty member and chair of the Department of Informatics and Networked Systems. “He wanted us to become well-known for the research work that we did.”

Froehlich arrived at the school in 1987, after years with AT&T’s Bell Laboratories, armed with money from the breakup of the U.S. telephone monopoly and a vision for educating the first generation of IT experts who would compete to replace AT&T’s corporate staff, on whom the U.S. had once depended for their expertise.

He hired Weiss and other future SCI chairs, as well as the faculty member who would eventually succeed him. He was at Pitt for just five years, Weiss noted, “but they were formative.”

“We probably led the school in moving toward a more research-focused approach, because the school was really focused on professional education before,” Weiss said. “A lot of that was motivated by Fritz’s vision and leadership in that area. If Fritz hadn’t set the tone, we may not have gone in that direction. We got there way sooner because of what Fritz did. So it’s a real contribution that he made.”

He remembered Froehlich as “a very intellectual man. He liked things very orderly. His classroom instruction was methodical. He had a capacity for sitting in meetings that far exceeded other people. Sometimes he would achieve his objective by meeting people to death,” Weiss said with fondness. “It’s an artifact of the age he grew up in. The way you got things done is you held meetings about it.”

Born on Nov. 12, 1925 in Worms, Germany, Froehlich earned all his physics degrees at Syracuse University: a bachelor of science in 1950, a master of science in 1952 and a doctor of philosophy in 1955.

Memorial information posted by his alma mater calls him “a brilliant scientist leading the development of the first commercial modem and mag stripe card reader (as) a scientist and department head at Bell Labs.” It notes that he was also the editor of the 18-volume Encyclopedia of Telecommunications.

The SCI’s Fritz Froehlich Scholarship is presented annually to a student who demonstrates outstanding contributions to the program Froehlich founded.

He is survived by his wife of 69 years, Eileen; son Phillip; daughter Georgine Scharff; grandchildren Ilana Lipman, Justin Binder, Joshua Scharff and Jason, Robin, Stephen and Michael Froehlich; and seven great-grandchildren. Memorial contributions are suggested to the Fritz Froehlich Scholarship; the American Friends of Magen David Adom, c/o Betty Remmlinger, 9417 Aston Gardens Ct., Apt. 206, Parkland, FL; or Hadassah.

Robert Duca was ‘one-man language department’ at UPJ

Robert Anthony Duca Sr., a long-time Pitt–Johnstown humanities professor, died Jan. 10, at 85.

Duca taught courses in Spanish, French and Italian, and was fluent in Sicilian as well, making him Johnstown’s “one-man language department,” said Duca’s colleague, Marty Rice, a philosophy faculty member on campus.

Duca joined Pitt–Johnstown’s faculty in the Humanities Division in 1969 and retired as associate professor in 1998, returning to the regional campus as a part-time faculty member through 2005.

“Teaching languages was more than a job for Dr. Duca,” said Patty Derrick, emeritus professor of English and Humanities chair, in tributes gathered on campus. “It was a passion and a mission. He had a global view of people and took great joy in sharing with students his deep knowledge of foreign cultures and languages. Even in retirement, he continued to teach conversational Italian and to lead groups on trips to Italy.”

“Bob was from Johnstown,” noted Denis Robitaille, emeritus associate professor of French at Johnstown. “We would tell him that we could never get anywhere when we were out with him because there seemed to be no one he didn't know or was related to. Families were important to Bob, and of course especially his own.  He spared nothing to help his three sons or his wife, Sory.”

Born July 19, 1933, he was an alumnus of Pitt–Johnstown, later earning master's degrees in Italian from Middlebury College and in Spanish from Kent State University. He received his Ph.D. in Spanish Language and Civilization at Penn State. He also served in the Army at Fort Buchanan in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Duca began his teaching career at Hubbard High School in Ohio, moving next to the Greater Johnstown Area Vocational Technical School, Slippery Rock University and Youngstown State University, before coming to his alma mater, from which he retired as chairman of the language department. He was honored for his work by both the Spanish and Italian governments

He is survived by his wife of 60 years, Zoraida Gutierrez Sanchez; children Robert Anthony Jr. (married to Lourdes Rexach), Frederick Joseph (Mary Pamela Barks) and Mark Anthony (Megan Keisling); grandchildren Frederick Joseph Jr., Michael Anthony, Daniel James, Mary Elisa, Christopher Anthony, Katherine Ann, Robert Anthony III and Giovanni Antonio; and many nieces and nephews.

Memorial contributions are suggested to the Dr. Robert A. Duca Sr. Scholarship in Humanities and Romance Languages Fund at the University of Pittsburgh–Johnstown, c/o Frank Duca Funeral Home, 1622 Menoher Blvd., Johnstown, PA 15905.

Former nursing dean Rudy pushed for more research

Ellen Beam Rudy, the former School of Nursing dean who added a research focus at the school — now recognized nationally — died Dec. 22, 2018 at 82.

“She took on that challenge with vigor and was very successful in helping to steer us in the direction of becoming a nationally ranked research school,” recalled current Dean Jacqueline Dunbar-Jacob, a faculty member and department chair under Rudy.

Rudy accomplished this, Dunbar-Jacob said, “by establishing new expectations for faculty, which included scholarship, and hiring individuals who had an interest in and experience with research.” Rudy’s own research on critical care was funded by the National Institutes of Health. She was principal investigator on five NIH grants, an accomplishment that made Rudy a role model, Dunbar-Jacob added.

During four years of Rudy’s decade as dean (1991-2001), she was a member of the NIH’s National Advisory Council for Nursing Research. Today, the school has been named a Nursing Research Intensive Environment by the NIH’s National Institute of Nursing Research, and, among nursing schools, receives the NIH’s fifth highest amount of research dollars.

Teamed with a UPMC nursing official, Rudy created the Cameos of Caring program in 1999 to recognize excellence among bedside nursing staff in acute care hospitals in Western Pennsylvania and the surrounding area. Each fall, the program also raises money for local nursing scholarships.

After her deanship, she was recognized with a career achievement award by Pitt’s chapter of Sigma Theta Tau, the nursing honor society. She was named professor emeritus in 2001.

“She was very committed to the nursing profession, and she was very committed to her family,” Dunbar-Jacob said.

Mary Ellen Beam Rudy was raised in Moundsville, W.Va., and received a B.S.N. in 1958 from Ohio State University; an M.P.A. in 1974 from the University of Dayton; an M.S.N. in medical-surgical nursing in 1977 from the University of Maryland; and a Ph.D. in nursing in 1980 from Case Western Reserve University.

She married her husband, Ted, in 1959 and began her career as a nurse and instructor at various hospitals in Ohio and Maryland, followed by a stint as faculty member at Kent State University. At Case Western, she held the Edward J. and Louise Mellen Professorship in Nursing and was the associate dean for research.

Rudy was widely published and co-authored several textbooks. She received the OSU College of Nursing outstanding alumni award, as well as Ohio Nurses Association excellence in nursing award, and was named a "living legend" by the American Academy of Nursing.

In 2007, she left retirement temporarily to serve as interim dean at the College of Nursing at Marquette University.

She is survived by her husband; sons Richard, Alan and William; 9 grandchildren; 2 great-grandchildren; and brother William D. Beam

Contributions are suggested to:

  • Ellen B. Rudy Endowed Scholarship for Nursing Leaders, c/o University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing Forbes Tower Suite 8084, 3600 Forbes Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15213
  • Ohio State University College of Nursing fund #303492, 116 Newton Hall, 1585 Neil Ave., Columbus, OH 43210
  • Case Western Reserve Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing, c/o Development office, 10900 Euclid Ave., Cleveland, OH 44106


Janyce Wiebe was a leader in sentiment analysis

Janyce Wiebe, a pioneer in sentiment analysis — a subfield of computational linguistics — and professor of computer science in the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, died Dec. 10, 2018 at 59.

Wiebe joined Pitt in 2000.

“She was one of the reasons I came here,” said Diane Litman, Wiebe’s departmental colleague since 2001. “She really was the founder of a field.”

Wiebe described her work as “ ‘subjectivity analysis,’ recognizing and interpreting expressions of opinions and sentiments in text, to support NLP (natural language processing) applications such as question answering, information extraction, text categorization and summarization.”

“It was very good work, very creative, and it had a very strong computational component as well as a very strong linguistic component,” Litman said — and “extremely influential. A lot of people work on it and it has a lot of commercial impact.”

Wiebe directed the Intelligent Systems Program at Pitt from 2004-2010, and co-directed it with Litman from 2010-2016. She was a fellow of the Association for Computational Linguistics (ACL) and the ACL program co-chair, as well as program chair and executive board member of ACL’s North American chapter.

“She was a great mentor,” Litman said. And she was very devoted to her students, serving on many of their PhD committees.

“She deeply cared about her teaching and she was a great colleague. She always stepped up to do things she didn’t have to; she was very generous with her time.”

Wiebe earned all her degrees from the State University of New York, receiving her bachelor’s in English and general literature from the Binghamton campus in 1981 and her master of science and Ph.D. in computer science from Buffalo in 1985 and 1990, respectively. She was in the post-doctoral computer science program at the University of Toronto, 1989-1992, and began her teaching career in the Department of Computer Science at New Mexico State University from 1992-2000.

Wiebe was involved in the early stages of planning for the School of Computing and Information, to which her department has since moved, and spoke all over the world about her research, including keynoting the Canadian Artificial Intelligence Conference in Halifax, Nova Scotia, in June 2015. She had been on medical leave, battling leukemia, since later in 2015.

She is survived by her parents, Richard and Jean; her aunt, Robin Wiebe; siblings Ellen and Rick and their spouses; and many nieces and nephews.

A memorial service will be held in spring 2019; details will be announced through the Rose Funeral Home. Memorial donations are suggested to the Director's Development Fund at the UPMC Hillman Cancer Center.



Martin Votruba kept Slovak studies alive

Martin Votruba — Pitt’s one-man Slovak studies program since 1990 — died Nov. 23, 2018.

“He was a resource like none other for anything having to do with Slovakia,” recalled Christine Metil, Votruba’s colleague for 30 years as academic coordinator of languages and classics in the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures. She also helped Votruba plan and run the Slovak Heritage Festival, held here each November, which recently celebrated its 28th year.

Born in Bratislava, in the former Czechoslovakia, on March 6, 1948, Votruba joined Pitt when department faculty member Oscar Swan secured the future of Slovak studies by getting endowment funding for what became Votruba’s position, Metil said. Just before his death, Votruba established his own endowment to supplement this fund, fully endowing his post.

Votruba stayed in Metil’s home upon first arriving in Pittsburgh, she remembered, and was an invaluable aid to her husband’s research on Slovakia. Thanks to Votruba, she said, today Pitt’s Slovak studies program is unique in the U.S.

“We are the only Slovak studies program in the United States with a full-time dedicated faculty member, and that offers all levels of Slovak regardless of the number enrolled, with additional courses offered in Slovak culture, history, literature and film,” she said.

Votruba regularly used connections in his native country’s embassy in Washington, D.C., to secure study abroad opportunities for his students, Metil added.

“I know his students had deep respect for him,” she said. “He was very dedicated and a very excellent teacher. He was a very just person and very nonjudgmental. He never turned people away when they had academic questions. He was teaching up to the end.”

Raised in the Tatra Mountains, Votruba often returned there to visit his mother and enjoyed mountain climbing there and in the Rockies.

He earned a diploma in Slovak and English from Comenius University in Bratislava in 1972; a diploma in English Studies from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland in 1980; a PhDr in foreign language teaching methods from Comenius in 1983; and a Ph.D. in comparative linguistics there in 1985.

He began his academic career in several Czechoslovakian institutions, including Comenius, in 1972 and worked in the broadcast division of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty from 1988-90 before joining Pitt.

His work was recognized with an excellence in teaching award from the American Association of Teachers of Slavic and East European Languages; a best academic article bi-annual prize from the Slovak Studies Association — Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies; and the Milan Hodža Award of Honor from the prime minister of Slovakia and Milan Hodža Days Committee, among others. He spoke widely about the history and culture of his native country.

The University will hold a memorial service for Votruba at 2 p.m. Jan. 13 in the Frick Fine Arts Auditorium.  According to his department, gifts made to the Dr. Martin Votruba Memorial Fund at Pitt will be placed into a holding account until the department determines how best to use the gifts.


GSPIA staff member Valiquette spent 42 years at school

Joyce Valiquette, a 42-year staff member in the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, died Nov. 18, 2018, at 61.

She was most recently program coordinator for the master of public administration, master of public policy and management and undergraduate programs.

Mary Ann Gebet, executive assistant to the dean and associate dean of GSPIA, joined the school just two years earlier than Valiquette. “I guess you could say we both grew up here together at GSPIA,” Gebet says.

“She had a great presence about her,” Gebet says of Valiquette. “She talked to anybody and everybody and was always helpful. She knew the school inside and out. She was always readily available to lend a helping hand with everything and anything, whether it be a smaller event the school was holding or a larger event, such as our graduation.

“She’s really going to be missed here.”

The pair were friendly outside work as well, trading babysitting and teaming for family trips to Cedar Point. Valiquette was a roller coaster enthusiast, and on weekends worked as a dispatcher for public safety at Kennywood Park.

Valiquette had become a grandmother just six months ago.

“She loved her grandbaby — she was constantly showing pictures,” Gebet says. “Just a few weeks ago we were in the outer office. I said, ‘Joyce, remember all those times when we would chuckle to ourselves about those little old ladies? Here we are — the little old ladies.’”

On her 40th anniversary at Pitt, master of public policy and management director George Dougherty commented: “Joyce is a joy to work with. In addition to being kind, fun and professional, she goes out of her way to help GSPIA and the faculty she works with shine.”

“We fought all the time. We made up all the time,” Gebet says. “But it took her 42 years to make me cry.”

Valiquette earned her associate’s degree from Bradford Business School in 1976, then joined the University. She began her GSPIA career working in the public and urban affairs program, then moved to the dean’s office and then to her current posts.

She is survived by husband John “Jack” Valiquette, daughter Nicole, grandchild Gianna and brother Joseph.

Adolf Grünbaum helped lift Pitt’s philosophy department to worldwide renown

Adolf Grünbaum, the chair of Pitt’s Center for Philosophy of Science, died Nov. 15 at the age of 95.

Grünbaum’s writings deal with the philosophy of physics, the theory of scientific rationality, the philosophy of psychiatry and the critique of theism. He also held the titles of Andrew Mellon professor of Philosophy of Science, primary research professor in the Department of History and Philosophy of Science, and research professor of Psychiatry

“Adolf’s contributions to the University of Pittsburgh — and the field of philosophy — were prolific and profound,” Chancellor Patrick Gallagher said in a news release. “He was bold — a visionary architect who helped grow our philosophy department into what is now known as the best program worldwide. He was beloved, having served on our faculty for nearly 60 years. And he was renowned — a proverbial giant in the scholarly exploration of space and time.”

Provost Ann E. Cudd, a former student of Grünbaum’s, said he was “a formative influence in my educational life at the University of Pittsburgh — and in the lives of so many others. I am incredibly grateful to him for building the Department of Philosophy into one of the greatest in the world.  And the Center for Philosophy of Science, founded by Dr. Grünbaum, is world-renowned. I consider it a true honor to have been one of his students, and I feel deep sadness at his passing.”

The 2012 book, “Why Does the World Exist?” by New York Times journalist Jim Holt, described Grünbaum as “arguably the greatest living philosopher of science.”

A former president of the American Philosophical Association Eastern Division, Grünbaum was also a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He served two terms as president of the Philosophy of Science Association from 1965-70. In 2004-2005, he was president of the Division of Logic, Methodology and Philosophy of Science of the International Union of History and Philosophy of Science.

His 12 books include “Philosophical Problems of Space and Time,” “Modern Science and Zeno’s Paradoxes” and “The Foundations of Psychoanalysis: A Philosophical Critique.” He contributed more than 370 articles to anthologies and to philosophical and scientific periodicals.

Find more details about Grünbaum in obituary from the Post-Gazette.



Lucile Stark remembered for innovative work at Western Psych library

Lucile Stark, innovative director of the library at Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic (WPIC), died October 29, 2018, at 95.

“She was a remarkable person, ahead of her time in so many ways,” said Barbara A. Epstein, who worked in the library under Stark’s directorship (1975-1985) and succeeded her. Epstein today is director of the Health Sciences Library System, which has absorbed the WPIC library collection.

“She was a remarkable person and she left a big impact on people who knew her,” Epstein said.

Stark led the fundraising effort that transformed the WPIC library from its cramped original quarters to a modern two-floor space that offered widely used services in the leading technologies of the time: videos and electronic and database searches that aided the Department of Psychiatry’s prominent research efforts, as well as mental health facilities throughout the nation.

She also was ahead of her time in her activism for social justice for underrepresented minorities and in her support for young women joining WPIC, including Epstein as a new mother with a career. “She modelled how to do that — she was so supportive,” Epstein said.

As a colleague, Epstein added, “she was bright, unconventional and irreverent, with a mischievous sense of humor — lots of fun to be with.”

Stark, whose father was an ob-gyn, “sometimes like to shock people” — wearing an IUD as a necklace, for instance, which drew startled recognition from physicians. Stark also paid for the removal of a concentration camp tattoo from an acquaintance for whom she knew the mark was a painful daily reminder of the past, Epstein said.

Her husband was Nathan J. Stark, vice chancellor for Health Sciences 1974-1984, who died in 2002. But Lucile Stark “was intent on making her own way,” Epstein said. “She went out of her way to be independent.”

The pair often entertained at a farmhouse in Punxsutawney, which they had renovated as a rural retreat and named “Falling Downs.” They were married for 60 years.

Born in Chicago, Lucile Stark earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Chicago and a master's degree in library science from the University of Missouri. She and her husband had retired to Washington, D.C., where she was a docent of the Sackler and Freer galleries of Asian art at the Smithsonian Institution for 30 years.

She is survived by children Margaret, Robert, David and Paul, six grandchildren, two great-grandchildren and many nephews and cousins. Memorial contributions are suggested to the ACLU, Emily's List or Planned Parenthood.


John Wick was the go-to guy for years in the chemistry department

John I. Wick, a retired staff member in the chemistry department of the Dietrich School of Arts & Sciences who died Oct. 31, 2018 at 88, is remembered as an indispensable aide to the department during his 33 years at Pitt.

“His official working title was director of the departmental stock rooms, but John’s unofficial duties were legendary,” recalled W. Richard Howe, a chemistry department administrator beginning in 1970 and retired associate dean for Administration and Planning in the Dietrich School. “When he started in the department, the size of its staff was minimal and the diversity of duties he and others fulfilled went far beyond any of their specified job descriptions.”

Noting that Wick was a Korean War veteran, Howe compared Wick’s impressive efficiency to the “wheeling and dealing” of the “M*A*S*H” character Corporal Max Klinger: “So too did John find ways to make things happen for the faculty and other staff within the chemistry department. He developed a very effective operating network that connected the department with facilities management, purchasing, central receiving, the movers and all other logistical central services ….

“Because of his ability to pull off one unexpected magical solution after another, he quickly became the hero of many of the graduate students who needed all the help they could summon. … If you needed a 5-gallon container of an unusual organic solvent, go see John Wick. If you needed an emergency team to clean up a nasty chemical spill in your labs, go see John Wick. If you needed to find a way to have a research proposal in the hands of a federal funding agency by morning” – in the days before overnight delivery was common – “go see John Wick.”

Added Howe: “John also served as the sage dispenser of non-academic information that graduate students were afraid to seek from their faculty advisors. He often dispensed advice shrouded with a heavy dose of humor and served with a side dose of departmental history.”

Wick coordinated the department’s relocation from six scattered buildings to its new location, now the Chevron Science Center, in 1974. He began his Pitt career as the department’s assistant stockroom clerk and later became the stockroom manager and operations manager. He also served on the departmental safety committee.

Greg Meisner, executive assistant to the chemistry department chairman and laboratory manager, 1976-2003, was Wick’s supervisor from 1976 until Wick’s retirement in the 1980s.

“John was known by an enormous number of students, post-docs, faculty and staff during his 33 years at Pitt,” Meisner said. “He made a particular effort to develop the skills and career of stockroom clerks that he supervised. Several advanced to the purchasing department and one took his position when he retired.

Wick was born Oct. 25, 1930, in New Castle. During the Korean War, he served in the Air Force in Korea and then at the Air Force research center in Cambridge, Mass.

He is survived by his wife Ruth, sons David and Timothy, sister Jane Anne, six grandchildren and numerous great-grandchildren.

Memorial contributions are suggested to the American Cancer Society.


Former Pitt–Bradford Advisory Board chair, Pitt Board of Trustees member Higie

William F. Higie, chair of the Pitt–Bradford Advisory Board for 21 years and member of the Pitt Board of Trustees from 1993-95, died Oct. 29 in Gibsonia.

He served as advisory board chair from 1973 to 1995, and continued to serve as a member of the Advisory Board as chair emeritus.

During Higie’s tenure as chair, the university broke ground on four academic buildings, became a four-year, degree-granting institution and saw enrollment increase from 400 to more than 1,200 students.

“Bill shaped the Advisory Board to function and operate much like a board of trustees of a private college with committees and councils,” Richard McDowell, former president of Pitt–Bradford, said in a news release. “This structure and Bill’s leadership were major forces to the development of the university we see today.”

Higie was one of the founders and served as the director and vice president of the Bradford Educational Foundation, which exclusively benefits Pitt–Bradford. In 1996, the campus awarded him its highest honor, the Presidential Medal of Distinction.

A retired vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary of Forest Oil Corp., Higie served on the Forest Oil Board of Directors from 1977 to 1992 and also as managing director of the Glendorn Foundation.

Among his survivors are his wife, Pauline “Boots” Higie, and his son David Higie ’76, a current member of the Pitt–Bradford Advisory Board.