Joseph Werlinich, longtime Education faculty member

Joseph Stevan Werlinich, a School of Education faculty member for 47 years, died Aug. 14, 2018, two weeks before his 88th birthday.

Hired in 1965 as a lecturer in counseling education, Werlinich rose to associate professor with tenure in 1975, when he became chairman of the division of specialized professional development for the next three years. He also served as the counselor education program’s doctoral and day master’s program director as well as assistant to the dean in his school. He taught many students now serving as teachers and principals and retired as professor emeritus in 2012.

Born in McKees Rocks on Aug. 31, 1930, Werlinich earned his bachelor’s in 1952 from Thiel College in Greenville, Pa., and master’s in education in 1956 from Pitt. He served as a captain in the Marine Corps and company commander in the First Reconnaissance Company of the Second Marine Division, leading reconnaissance missions during the Korean war.

He also participated in the civil rights movement locally and nationally, marching in Birmingham, Ala., with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and later worked in conflict resolution and diversity training across the country, including for the Department of Justice.

In Pittsburgh, he was a teacher and facilitator for principals, superintendents and other school leaders at the Principals Leadership Academy of Western Pennsylvania, which he founded and co-directed, and via the Danforth Foundation's National Principals Initiative.

In retirement, Werlinich continued to advise school districts, serve on dissertation committees and facilitate the Assistant Superintendents Forum of the Educational Leadership Academy. He received the Grable Foundation’s Decade Award in 2002, was named to the Post-Gazette’s “Top 48 Making a Difference in Education” in 2004, and got an honorary doctorate from Thiel in 2008.

He is survived by his wife of 29 years, Pat Buchanan Dunkis; children Amy Devenzio, Sheri Benson, Joseph Werlinich and Kathy Latorre, and their mother, Sally Whaley Werlinich; 10 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. He was brother of the late Melva Werlinich Vujan, Stevan and Samuel.

Memorial gifts are suggested to the development office at Manchester Bidwell Corporation, 1815 Metropolitan St., Pittsburgh, PA 15233. 

W. Austin Flanders, English professor 1964-99

W. Austin Flanders, professor of English literature 1964-1999, died July 29 at age 81.

Wallace Austin Flanders was born in Wrightsville, Georgia, and earned his bachelor’s degree from Emory University, master’s degree from Columbia University and Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin.

He joined the Pitt faculty as an assistant professor in 1964 and was promoted to associate in 1969. He taught graduate seminars on 18th-century British literature and an array of undergraduate literature courses. He was the author of “Structures of Experience: History, Society, and Personal Life in the 18th Century British Novel” (1984), contributed to the book “Daniel Defoe: A Collection of Critical Essays” (1975) and served on the editorial board of “Eighteenth Century Life.”

Flanders retired as a professor in May 1999.

He was the husband of the late Jane Townend Flanders. He is survived by his children, Garth and Sarah, and grandchildren Nicholas, Peter and Gabriel.

Jerry Cochran

Jerry Cochran left his mark on Pitt's facilities

Jerry Cochran — remembered for helping to create the most recent “golden age” at Pitt in his 19-year stint as executive vice chancellor — died Aug. 1 at 69.

Cochran’s numerous contributions, said Chancellor Emeritus Mark Nordenberg at the Aug. 17 memorial celebration for his one-time School of Law student and administrative colleague, “included helping to build a culture that was fueled both by high institutional ambition and a genuine concern for the people of Pitt; deploying his very considerable negotiating skills to maintain employee health-care coverage that was affordable even during challenging times; not only building and renovating buildings but beautifying campuses and keeping them clean and attractive; assembling a legal team that helped ensure we did things in the right way but that we also were no longer a push-over but, instead, were positioned to ensure that our institutional interests were advanced; (and) stepping in whenever his special skills could make a difference — something that we often saw, for example, in athletics.”

Born May 31, 1949, in Fox Chapel, Jerome “Jerry” Cochran earned bachelor’s degrees in 1971 from Indiana University of Pennsylvania in administration of justice and political science, then joined UPMC Presbyterian Hospital as unit manager, where he pioneered the formation of clinical practices for hospital physicians. He then joined Pitt under Chancellor Wesley W. Posvar as assistant senior vice chancellor, aiding in the formation of similar practice plans among faculty in the University’s health sciences schools.

In the late 1980s, Cochran shifted careers, entering Pitt’s law school, then joining the law firm of Buchanan, Ingersoll & Rooney downtown. By 1995, he was looking to return to the University, Nordenberg recalled.

Cochran was executive vice chancellor 1995-2014, where his oversight included public safety and Pitt’s business offices, adding the post of general counsel, 2004-2013. He retired in 2014, after also having served, across both his stints at Pitt, as assistant senior vice president for health sciences, interim dean of the School of Pharmacy, director of planned giving, interim vice chancellor for business and finance and interim athletic director.

Rich Colwell, who began two decades as a top officer for Staff Council just as Cochran rejoined the University, termed Cochran “quite easily one of the toughest administrators I have ever had the pleasure of working with, but he was always fair, and he always had the best interest of staff at the forefront. When there were policy changes, decisions or matters that would affect staff, Jerry would make sure that the Staff Council had the opportunity to voice their opinion before any final action was taken or announced.”

“Jerry was fearless,” recalled Nordenberg, noting that one Pitt board chairman dubbed Cochran “Pitt’s pitbull or Rottweiler” early on.

“Among other things, he possessed an amazing combination of book smarts and street smarts,” Nordenberg remarked at the celebration. “Jerry was a master diagnostician of situations. He could almost intuitively size up any set of circumstances — promising or threatening — and quickly map out a mental plan for dealing effectively with them.

Jerry Cochran Public Safety Building"Jerry was a great team player,” he added, “strongly voicing his individual views when alternatives were being debated but working hard to advance the option ultimately chosen. Jerry also was a great steward of institutional resources, getting as much as he could out of every Pitt dollar.”

Cochran’s work overseeing the facilities division left its mark across campus, Nordenberg said, “from the Peterson Events Center, to the Biomedical Science Tower, to the Schenley Plaza Park, to the new residence halls on the upper and lower campuses, to the completely renovated Alumni Hall, to the cleaned and repaired exterior of the Cathedral of Learning. And that list does not even include the transformational projects undertaken on all four of our regional campuses.”

The public safety building on Forbes Avenue was renamed in Cochran’s honor, upon his retirement. It was a fitting tribute to a man, concluded Nordenberg, who “spent most of his career here, where his work positively touched the lives of everyone who worked at Pitt, or studied at Pitt or in some other way was connected to Pitt.”

He is survived by his wife, Cathy; children Jill, Jason and Joshua; brother James; and grandchildren Emma, Jamie and Max. 

Memorial contributions are suggested to the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank.

David Cleland

David Cleland literally wrote the book on project management

Industrial engineering faculty member David I. Cleland, a pioneer in project management and co-founder of the Swanson School of Engineering’s Manufacturing Assistance Center (MAC), died Aug. 1, 2018 at 92.

Earning his initial degrees from Pitt (a bachelor’s degree in 1954 and MBA in 1958), Cleland received his Ph.D. from Ohio State University and joined the Swanson School faculty in 1967, retiring as professor emeritus in 1999. He was appointed the school’s Ernest E. Roth Professor of Industrial Engineering in 1990 and wrote, co-wrote or edited more than three dozen books on project management, engineering management and manufacturing management, including “Project Manager's Portable Handbook” in 2000.

Cleland’s work had many fans, including future Russian President Vladimir Putin, who heavily “borrowed” from “Strategic Planning and Public Policy,” written by Cleland and fellow Pitt professor William R. King, in his 1976 doctoral thesis, according to researchers at the Brookings Institute in Washington, D.C.

Cleland received the lifetime achievement award in project management in 2010 from the Project Management Institute (PMI), where he was a charter member of the Pittsburgh chapter. He was named a PMI fellow in 1987 and received PMI’s distinguished contribution to project management award three times (1983, 1993 and 2001), as well as its special contribution award in 1990 and presidential citation in 1991. The organization named an award in his honor, the PMI David I. Cleland Excellence in Project Management Literature award.

During his years at Pitt, he presented seminars on project management throughout the world, served as a management consultant and as an expert witness in legal cases, and received funding for more than a dozen major research projects. The MAC, which he also co-directed, provides manufacturing systems technology assistance for small to mid-sized Western Pennsylvania companies.

Bopaya Bidanda — Cleland’s department chair and his successor as the Ernest E. Roth professor — recalled his colleague as “one of the giants in the field of project management.” Known as a father of the field, Cleland “first proposed integrating strategic planning and project management,” Bidanda said. The pair co-authored five books.

“He really mentored many, many junior faculty,” Bidanda added. “He would reach out to them, and he treated them as equals from day one.”

Cleland also taught an influential department class in engineering management.

“He taught core courses at the undergraduate level, and every student who went through his classes remembered the material and used the material for a long time,” Bidanda said. “He would have students coming back 25, 30 years later and saying it was the best course they ever had.”

Cleland, Bidanda remembered, “had a wicked sense of humor but he was a gentleman to the core. His sense of ethics was incredible. They don’t make them like him anymore.”

Born on March 21, 1926, in Harmony, Pa., Cleland served two years in the Navy during World War II in the South Pacific and later in West Germany and Ohio, where he was project manager in the development of ballistic weapon systems. He retired as a lieutenant colonel. He married Velma Jane “Janie” Bintrim in 1950; they were married 65 years until her death in 2016, and had three children. He is survived by daughter Jennifer Leigh, son Matthew Brent and many nieces and nephews.


Susan Cohen

Susan Cohen

Susan Cohen, associate professor in the Department of Health Promotion and Development at the School of Nursing, died June 12.

Cohen joined the School of Nursing as a faculty member in 2002 and was awarded the Dean’s Distinguished Teaching Award in 2015. In addition to being a strong research advocate among students and faculty, Cohen also was the School of Nursing’s research liaison and consultant for the nursing staff at UPMC Passavant Hospital and mentored several nurses.

According to a remembrance sent to colleagues by department chair Denise Charron-Prochownik, Cohen “exemplified the characteristics of an outstanding teacher and a great thinker; and had taught at all three levels from the undergraduates to the doctoral students. She always encouraged students to be critical thinkers and used discussion to engage the class.

“Susan was a role model for her leadership” at the school, added Charron-Prochownik, noting that Cohen “was nationally and internationally known for her impact and legacy in women’s health and improving the lives and outcomes of cancer survivors (most notably in meditation for menopausal breast cancer survivors).”

Born in West Palm Beach, Fla., Cohen received her B.S.N. in 1972 from the University of Pennsylvania, going on to earn an M.S.N. from the Catholic University of America in 1975 in maternal-infant nursing and her Ph.D. from the University of Alabama in 1983 in maternal-child nursing.

She began her teaching at Radford College, continuing through the years as a faculty member at the University of Alabama, Southern Illinois University, University of Pennsylvania, University of Texas-Houston, Duquesne University and Yale before joining Pitt. Her research findings were widely published, and she presented them at many national, regional and local conferences.

She is survived by siblings Joel Cohen and Dianne Reeves, Judith (Cohen) and David Kolko and Sharon Cohen and Elliot Rosen, as well as many nieces and nephews.

Roger R. Flynn

Roger R. Flynn, associate professor in the School of Computing and Information and co-founder of its undergraduate information science program, died June 6, 2018 at age 79.

Roger FlynnAfter earning his Ph.D. at Pitt in 1978, he joined the faculty and helped to develop undergraduate information science education at the school. He co-coordinated the new program with his wife, Ida Moretti Flynn, from 1979-1983, directing it himself after she passed away. He also was an early manager of the school’s computer laboratories.

He wrote the textbook “An Introduction to Information Science” (1987) and served as editor-in-chief of the four-volume Computer Science encyclopedia (2002).

Faculty member Michael B. Spring saw Flynn in action for 25 years, as they had adjacent offices.

“He was the finest teacher I have ever seen,” Spring said. “He relished helping people who had difficulty understanding the fundamentals of computer science.”

And there was no limit to the amount of time Flynn was willing to commit, Spring added.

“It would be very hard for you to be in the building any time between 7 in the morning and 10 at night and not run into him sitting in the hallway with a student,” Spring said. “Until he died, he was teaching two courses a term, three terms a year.”

Spring called Flynn “a very kind man, too, but he held students to standards. You didn’t want to lie to him or try to get away with stuff.” For those students willing to work, Spring added, “he would give you as many hours as you could consume.”

Flynn also was dedicated to teaching information science to inmates at the State Correctional Institute-Pittsburgh, otherwise known as Western State Penitentiary, in the 1980s and ’90s.

Jim Williams, Flynn’s teaching colleague until Williams’ retirement in 2001, also had Flynn as a student and recalls him as “a very bright, intelligent young man.” As department chair, Williams sat in on Flynn’s classes and was “amazed” at his ability to aid students: “He would come up with ideas about research projects that nobody would think of.”

Born May 11, 1939 in Chicago, Flynn earned a B.A. in philosophy from Villanova in 1962 and an M.S.T. in computer science from Illinois Institute of Technology in 1973. He published and presented widely during his many years at Pitt.

Flynn was predeceased by his wife and by his brother, Robert, and is survived by sons Anthony and wife Gina Godfrey, and Christopher and wife Kelly, as well as his four grandchildren, Flynn and Zedueh Godfrey and Emerson and Logan Flynn.

A memorial service will be held Aug. 25, at a location to be announced, followed by interment in Homewood Cemetery. Contributions may be made to the Ida M. Flynn Memorial Award through the Office of Institutional Advancement, 412-624-5800 (, or to the Epilepsy Foundation of Vermont, 802-775-1686 (

Marguerite Stella Jackson Schaefer

Marguerite Stella Jackson Schaefer, past dean of the University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing, passed away June 19, 2018 in Slingerlands, N.Y., at the age of 95.

Schaefer was dean of the School of Nursing from 1966 until 1972 and was the first non-nurse to become dean of any school of nursing in the United States.

As dean, she was instrumental in the construction, plan and development of the Victoria Building, which now houses the School of Nursing. Nationally, Schaefer was the first non-nurse to receive the Alpha Tau Delta National Nursing Award, and was recognized for her contributions to the National Committee for the Study of Nursing and Nursing Education.

After stepping down as dean of the School of Nursing, she returned to the school in 1974 as a professor of nursing education and taught nursing administration for several years.

Schaefer was a founding member of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing and was a member of numerous health care organizations. She also was cited as one of Pittsburgh's Ten Distinguished Women.

Later as a resident of Pine Cay, Turks and Caicos Islands, she served for several years as board president of the Meridian Club. In 2008, she established the Marguerite J. Schaefer Institute to implement new concepts in health care for the elderly. 

Schaefer earned her bachelor’s degree at the University of New Hampshire, her master’s at Michigan State University, and her doctorate in biochemistry and human nutrition in 1963 at the University of Pittsburgh.

As a musician from an early age, Schaefer was an admirer particularly of Brahms, Chopin and Schumann and maintained a lifelong love of classical music, playing piano for enthusiastic audiences well into her 90s. She was a longtime supporter of the Pittsburgh Symphony, and in 2008 she established the Marguerite J. Schaefer Endowment for Music to support concert performances and music education at the Beverwyck Retirement Community in Slingerlands, where she lived for 20 years. 

She is survived by her children, Martha Johanna Schaefer and August George Schaefer, and five grandchildren.

Donations may be made to the Marguerite J. Schaefer Endowment for Music, c/o Northeast Health Foundation, 310 S. Manning Blvd., Albany, NY 12208. 


Lawrence Cabot Howard

Lawrence Cabot Howard, former dean of the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs (GSPIA), died March 19, 2018.

Born in Des Moines, Iowa in 1925, Howard served in the Army in the Pacific during World War II. He earned his undergraduate degree from Drake University in 1949, his master's degree at Wayne State University in 1950 and a Ph.D. in political science in 1956 from Harvard University. During his graduate school years, a trip to sub-Saharan Africa sparked a career-long interest in that region’s development.

Howard began his academic career at Hofstra University (1956-1958) and Brandeis University (1958-1961, 1963) and then worked as an associate director of the Peace Corps in the Philippines (1961-1963). He then became associate director of the Center of Innovation in the New York State Department of Education in Albany, followed by a post as director of the Institute of Human Relations at the University of Wisconsin (1964-1967) and vice president of the Danforth Foundation in St. Louis (1967-69).

In 1969, Howard joined Pitt as GSPIA dean until his retirement as professor emeritus in 1973. During a sabbatical, he traveled to Maiduguri in northeast Nigeria as a Fulbright Scholar, and worked with the government of the Bahamas as a consultant in public administration policy management.

Clarence Curry, a retired lecturer in the Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business (1975-97) and Howard’s fraternity brother, recalls Howard’s tenure here as one of the few Black leaders at the University during his time.

Howard took an interest in aiding all students, Curry recalled, “but given the scarcity of Black faculty and students at Pitt in that era, he took a general interest in mentoring minority faculty and students. He was outgoing and interested in developing younger faculty as well as students. He mentored me in terms of my career in the business school.”

This focus was also reflected in Howard’s work. He recruited students from African countries to attend a business development program, in which Curry also taught, as well as a special program for students from French-speaking African countries, taught in French.

“Part of GSPIA’s national and international reputation were the strong programs it had for students from developing countries,” Curry said. “He was very proud of that.”

Howard was an editor of the volume “Public Administration and Public Policy: A Minority Perspective” (1977), and co-author of “Public Administration: Balancing Power and Accountability” (1998).

In 1994, the Lawrence Cabot Howard Doctoral Research Award was established to support doctoral students with an approved dissertation proposal, excellent scholarship and a commitment to social justice, to which memorial contributions are suggested.

Howard is survived by his wife, Elizabeth Fitzgerald Howard; daughters Jane, Susan and Laura; and many grandchildren, nieces and nephews.

Bodie Douglas

Bodie Douglas, Professor Emeritus of Chemistry, died on March 24, 2018.

Douglas joined the Pitt faculty in 1952, teaching and conducting research until his retirement in 1989. He stayed active in the department well into the 2000s, advising graduate students in inorganic chemistry.

During his academic career, he published numerous articles and several books, including a senior-level chemistry book in wide use across 49 years, “Concepts and Models of Inorganic Chemistry,” on which he was lead author. He taught as a Fulbright lecturer at the University of Leeds (England), and as a visiting professor at Osaka University (Japan) and in the former Yugoslavia.

Carol Fortney, chemistry lecturer, was a Ph.D. student in the chemistry department in 2003 when her thesis advisor of the past three years, faculty member Rex Shepherd, died suddenly. To prevent Fortney from having to start over on the research toward her degree, she recalled, Douglas came out of retirement to become her adviser. As she learned only later, he was returning a favor from 20 years earlier, when Shepherd had temporarily advised Douglas’ students after Douglas suffered a heart attack.

Fortney met with Douglas through the last months of his life, she said, to aid him in finishing a paper on crystal structures. Then in hospice care, Douglas was working with the software CrystalMaker and, just recently, donated the software to the University for the use of future students.

“He instilled his passion for chemistry in other people,” Fortney said. “I promised him that I would get his paper finished.”

Born Dec. 31, 1924, in New Orleans, Douglas entered Tulane University at age 15, graduating in absentia at age 18 because he was already attending the Navy’s officer training school. He served 1943-46 aboard battleships in the Pacific Theater in World War II. During his military stint, he married Gladys Backstrom, enjoying a 72-year marriage that ended with her death just two months before his own.

Douglas earned his master's degree at Tulane University and a Ph.D. in inorganic chemistry at the University of Illinois.  

He is survived by his children, Judy, Bruce, Sharon and Jan.

Nathan Davis

Nathan Davis

Professor Emeritus of Music Nathan Davis — pioneer in the academic study of jazz as the founder and director of the Pitt Jazz Studies Program and the annual Pitt Jazz Seminar and Concert — died April 8, 2018, at age 81.

Upon his 2013 retirement from the University, Davis was recognized as “an institution and an institution builder” by N. John Cooper, then Bettye J. and Ralph E. Baily Dean of the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences. Davis was celebrated for creating only the third curriculum-based jazz studies program at a major university in 1969 at Pitt. In its 48th year, the Pitt Jazz Seminar and Concert draws international jazz musicians to campus to present lectures and demonstrations and perform in the community, culminating in a star-studded concert.

Davis, a saxophonist who played and recorded widely throughout the years, also founded the University of Pittsburgh Sonny Rollins International Jazz Archives in the University Archives and the International Academy of Jazz Hall of Fame in the William Pitt Union. He established the Pitt Jazz Ensemble of student jazz musicians and vocalists, who present a concert on campus every spring and have performed internationally, and the William R. Robinson Recording Studio in Bellefield Hall for student use and education in recording methods. He also began the peer-reviewed International Jazz Archives Journal and was a composer of pieces in a plethora of musical genres, from jazz to classical, with fusions of multiple musical styles. His “Jazzopera: Just Above My Head” had its premiere in Pittsburgh in 2004, while the cello-piano duet “Matryoshka Blues” debuted in New York City in 2013 at the InterHarmony International Music Festival at Carnegie Hall.

He published several books, including “Flute Improvisation” (1975); “African American Music: A Philosophical Look at African American Music in Society,” with his wife, Ursula Broschke-Davis (1996); and “Writings in Jazz” (2002).

In 2013, he received the BNY Mellon Jazz Living Legacy Award from the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

“Of all the things I’ve done, the one I’ve enjoyed the most is teaching the history of jazz to undergraduate students,” Davis said as he was retiring from the University.

Don Franklin, professor emeritus and Department of Music chair for much of the time Davis was at Pitt, noted Davis’ singular impact: “We both came to the University as faculty members the same year, so I was able to see first-hand the passion he brought. I’d even call it a missionary zeal. He was a force in the department and the high profile he brought to jazz will remain at the University.”

Born in Kansas City, Kansas, Davis earned a bachelor’s degree in music education from the University of Kansas and his Ph.D. in ethnomusicology from Wesleyan University. Following a stint in the U.S. Army Band in Berlin, Davis stayed in Europe, performing and recording in Paris. He studied ethnomusicology at Sorbonne University in 1967 and composition under French composer and jazz critic André Hodeir.

Dave Pistolesi, a longtime member of the Pitt Jazz Committee, recalled meeting Davis in 1969, as Davis performed with Art Blakey at the famed Crawford Grill in the Hill District neighborhood of Pittsburgh. Davis eventually served on Pistolesi’s Ph.D. committee — his thesis was a history of jazz — and Pistolesi helped organize Davis’ jazz events each year.

He remembered sitting in Davis’ office, trying to take care of business for that year’s jazz seminar: “His office door would be open, students would pop by. I told him, ‘Nathan, we have things to do!’

“He made time for everybody,” Pistolesi added. “He was a straight shooter, a warm guy.”

Davis also relished the chance to join the Pitt football team as honorary assistant coach for its last game in Pitt Stadium in 1999, which Pistolesi facilitated. (Pistolesi retired 13 years ago as academic advisor to Pitt athletes.) It gave Davis the chance to visit the locker room and to have lunch with the team. “He talked about that for 20 years,” Pistolesi said. “He loved Pitt athletics and he loved Pitt.”

Davis is survived by his wife; children Pierre and Joyce; three grandchildren; and a brother, Raymond.

Additional obituaries for Davis can be read online at The New York Times, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and JazzTimes.


Linda Penkower

Linda Penkower

Linda Penkower, associate professor and chair of the Department of Religious Studies in the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, died Feb. 27, 2018, after a long battle with cancer.

Joseph S. Alter, director of the Asian Studies Center, memorialized her as “a valued and beloved colleague whose energetic, enthusiastic and broad contribution to Asian studies will be sorely missed.”

Penkower earned her bachelor’s degree in philosophy at the State University of New York-Buffalo in 1972, and received her other degrees from Columbia University — an M.A. in 1977, M.Phil. in 1992 and Ph.D. in 1993. Scholarships, including two Fulbright-Hays fellowships, and visiting faculty appointments allowed her to undertake extensive scholarship in Japan and China through 2004.

She taught at New York University and the University of Colorado-Boulder before joining Pitt in 1991. During her tenure at Pitt, she received numerous awards and grants, including several National Endowment for the Humanities fellowships, and served on the University Senate’s tenure and academic freedom committee.

Penkower’s work focused on medieval Chinese and Japanese Buddhist history as well as modern East Asian popular religion. Among her most recent publications was the book “Hindu Rituals at the Margins: Innovations, Transformations, Reconsiderations,” 2014, which she co-edited.

“She was a fighter — clearly,” said Adam Shear, her departmental colleague since 2001 and currently acting chair. He noted that, following a cancer diagnosis nine years ago, Penkower was teaching the demanding senior capstone seminar as recently as last fall.

“She was so dedicated to mentoring the work of young scholars,” Shear recalled. “She kept on being a relentless advocate for the department, and a wonderful mentor for the faculty in the department, especially the junior faculty.”

Shear said that during her 11 years as religious studies chair, among the 11 department faculty, Penkower brought three junior faculty members to tenure, hired two assistant professors and a new lecturer and worked to get lecturers promoted — “all the while being a mentor to graduate students,” he added.

Shear was particularly struck by Penkower’s ability to teach a seminar for undergraduates and graduate students on death and the afterlife in the Buddhist tradition. “She’s teaching this seminar while she is facing this real health crisis — and kept it to herself,” he said. “I really admired her teaching this class on this topic that must have weighed personally on her mind. She was also very optimistic about being able to beat the disease.”

He recalled his last conversation with her: “‘Let’s talk about what I’m going to be teaching next fall,’ she said. She wasn’t going to say, ‘I’m going to give up’ until the end.”

She is survived by her sister and brother-in-law, Sheila and Bruce Post, as well as nieces and nephews.

Memorial donations should be directed to the GCS Project, which aims to find a cure for gynecological carcinosarcoma, at

A memorial service for the Pitt community is set for March 18, 1 p.m. in the second-floor Alcoa Room of the School of Law, with the gathering beginning at 12:30 p.m.

Edward Gerjuoy

Edward Gerjuoy, emeritus professor of physics and astronomy in the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, died Jan. 31, 2018, at 99 following a long and varied career as a theoretical physicist, environmental lawyer and human rights activist.

Born in Brooklyn, New York, Gerjuoy studied quantum mechanics at the University of California-Berkeley under Robert Oppenheimer (known as “father of the atomic bomb”), earning his Ph.D. in 1941. Not wishing to be involved in Oppenheimer’s atomic weapons research, Gerjuoy chose to work in a shipyard during World War II and then moved to New London, Connecticut, to research new Navy sonar technology. He helped develop anti-submarine strategies for Allied destroyers.

He joined the University of Southern California faculty in 1946, then discovered Pittsburgh during the summer of 1952, when he worked at Westinghouse Laboratory. That fall, he became a University of Pittsburgh faculty member.

After a stint back in industry beginning in 1958 — at the General Atomics Laboratory in San Diego and RCA Labs in Princeton, working on plasma physics — Gerjuoy returned to Pitt as a full professor in 1964. He researched nonrelativistic collision theory and electron-atom collisions through the early 1970s.

After spending a sabbatical year in 1974 as a first-year law student at Hastings College of Law in San Francisco, he enrolled in Pitt’s School of Law and graduated in 1977. He was appointed to the Pennsylvania Environmental Hearing Board by Gov. Richard Thornburgh in 1981 and served until 1987. Gerjuoy was editor-in-chief of the American Bar Association’s Jurimetrics: The Journal of Law, Science, and Technology for six years, published a number of legal papers concerning the qualifications of scientific expert witnesses and worked on environmental law cases for the Pittsburgh law firm Rose Schmidt, 1987 to 2002.

Gerjuoy was also involved with several prominent human rights cases, including serving on the defense team for Los Alamos employee Wen Ho Lee, who had been accused of espionage.

Physics and astronomy department chair Arthur B. Kosowsky noted that Gerjuoy’s contributions to their field continued long after his retirement. Starting in 2002, when he was named emeritus professor, Gerjuoy began his sixth decade of research by investigating the theory of quantum computing. One of his last articles, “Memories of Julian Schwinger,” concerning his former classmate, a Nobel Prize winner, appeared in the Asian Journal of Physics in 2014.

Professor Emeritus Ezra “Ted” Newman recalled his longtime departmental colleague as “the sweetest cantankerous person I’ve known” and “bigger than life.”

“He was one of the most fascinating characters I have ever known,” Newman said. “He had many, many moods, but Ed was an extraordinarily decent person. He was always for the downtrodden.”

Newman also noted that Gerjuoy was the first to welcome him to Pitt by inviting Newman to his home: “It was very, very lovely. I’ve had a good time with Ed for 60 years.”

Gerjuoy was married for 65 years to the late Jacqueline Reid, and is survived by sons Neil and Leif.