Campaign for the University
Pedagogical Power Education students get a high-tech take on teaching, thanks to Buhl gift
At Pitts new football training facility on the South Side, Coach Walt Harris sits in a conference room with players, watching game footage on state-of-the-art video technology. Theyre analyzing plays, studying what happened, learning to become better players.
Alan Lesgold, dean of Pitts School of Education, thought it was high time to use that same pedagogical power to teach prospective teachers to hone their teaching skills. Now, thanks to a $650,000 capital campaign gift from the Buhl Foundation, those efforts have begun in the schools newly renovated and expanded Computer and Curriculum Inquiry Center (CCIC).
CCIC is the first of three computer labs to be completely refitted using funds from the Buhl Foundation. CCIC houses two computer clusters, where classes can be held, and a library. The main cluster features 32 new Macintosh G4s and three Gateway PCs, all with dual processors for video editing and the ability to produce single-copy DVDs. A smaller back lab, equipped with PCs, has comparable video-editing technology.
When we talk about multimedia capability, we mean more than words, says Susan Pittman, the schools director of technology and media services. We mean photographs, short movies, animation, interactive conferencing, digital editing, camcorder capability, special effects, zoom-in features, softening and sharpening focus, audio capability, music, titles. You can download files from the Web, record voice-overs, create your own movie, then take it home, play it on your VCR, even e-mail it.
The smaller facility is well suited to advanced methodology classes. A large SMART Board at the front of the room accepts commands from the podium console and also functions as a huge touch screen. Special pens enable the user to make notations directly on the screen pages. Then, unlike conventional boards, SMART Board technology allows the user to save the notes in HTML, post the files to a course Web page, and e-mail them to a distribution list.
Its been very clear to us, said Doreen Boyce, director of the Buhl Foundation, that there was a need to be sure that teachers are well prepared to employ technology for the enhancement of student learning. What may help slower-learning students may not be appropriate for high-performing students. Teachers need to learn to manage that difference to the benefit of each.
A student can now go out, use a low-end camera, take some video in a classroom situation, bring it back, and talk about it in class, Lesgold explains. A supervising teacher can film a teaching activity by one of our masters students or professional-year students. That way, student teachers can see their performance from their students point-of-view and assess whats workingand what could stand improvement. Funds from the grant will also support a substantial upgrade of the schools website and the creation of an archival database. Its essential that a school of education as distinguished as the University of Pittsburghs prepare their teachers with up-to-date technologies and teaching and learning techniques, Boyce commented. Im delighted that the school has taken on the challenge. And we, at the Buhl Foundation, are very proud to be partners in that challenge. Karen Levine
The Jurenko Effect Engineering alum provides computer engineering support
The Jurenko family must be a School of Engineering legend. Between 1956 and 1970, four Jurenko brothers completed bachelors degrees in electrical engineering at Pitt: Robert in 1970, Donald in 1963 (and a masters degree in 1966), David in 1960, and the eldest, John, in 1956. And today, thanks to John Jurenko, the Jurenko presence lives on.
After receiving his bachelors degree, he went to work for the government and electronics division of Philco in Philadelphia. There he worked up through the ranks from junior engineer to department manager in 1968. In 1969, he was co-founder and VP of engineering for II Corp. He left the company when it was acquired in 1972, joining Tele-Dynamics as marketing director. Three years later, in 1975, he joined Universal Data Systems (UDS) and led its sales force until 1986 (building sales from less than $1 million to more than $100 million a year). In 1986, he and six others founded Adtran Inc. The first few years were hard ones. The companys founders took no salaries and looked for no outside investment, insisting on supporting the venture themselves. Adtran is now a $460 million company that trades on the NASDAQ exchange, and Jurenko has retired.
Knowing that digital data communication is a key curriculum component for anyone who wants to succeed today, Jurenko and his wife established the John A. and Ruth R. Jurenko Charitable Lead Annuity Trust in 1998. The trust provides the computer engineering program $1 million over 10 years, including funds for the John A. Jurenko Professorship in Computer Engineering, which will help the school to attract outstanding faculty. In addition, the funds were also used to establish the John A. Jurenko Computer Engineering Laboratory. Most recently, Jurenko endowed a scholarship for undergrads and a laboratory maintenance fund for the computer engineering labs.
Jurenkos goal in making his generous gifts is clear. I would like to see the computer engineering program at Pitt be the most reputable in the country, he says. And with the Jurenko effect behind it, the possibilities are endless. Mimi Koral
Always Taking an Interest in Life Class of 28 alumna creates Alden Forbes Family Scholarship
Mary Gordon Forbes (Arts and Sciences 28) was born 80 years too soon. At least thats what she says. And once you meet her, you can see why she might feel that way.
Im alive and taking an interest in life, she says upon answering the phone in her apartment in Pittsburghs West View section. And she certainly is. Ninety-four years old, shes active in her church, shed be glad to talk to you about the recent election, and she made sure to attend Pitts Discovery Weekend last fall to catch up with the latest developments at her alma mater.
Forbeswho likes to be remembered as Mary F., the name her classmates used for her, short for Mary Francesemphasizes the important role Pitt played in her life. The knowledge my husband and I gained at Pitt allowed us to do what we did, she says. And thats why, in 1999, she created a charitable gift annuity to establish the Alden Forbes Family Scholarship Fund, so that Pitt may continue to influence lives.
Born in the Oklahoma Territory before it became a state, Forbes, along with her family, moved on to Virginia and then Pennsylvania as her mother pursued a career in music. It was Forbes who put girls pigtails in the inkwell back when she was a grammar student in a one-room schoolhouse. (Thats what inkwells were for, after all! she exclaims.) After her family moved to Pittsburgh, you could find her climbing any old tree in the orchards of Mt. Lebanon, or swinging from her trapeze.
You might also have found the young Forbes identifying various plants and animalsa fascination that would lead her to study at Pitt. Ive been interested in biology since I was born, she says.
Forbes met her late husband, Alden Forbes, at Pitt when she was a freshman. He worked for Professor Fishhead of the zoology departmenttaking care of the rabbit genetics experiment in a building referred to as the rabbit house, located on the lot that would become the Cathedral lawn. By the time Forbes graduated, Alden had hit on the idea of creating his own biological supply business. Together they founded and ran Alden H. Forbes Laboratories, which supplied biological materials to schools and research laboratories. The business, which she sold after her husbands death in 1979, is still in operation today.
Forbes fondly recalls the days when the company was run out of their house and Jonas Salk would stop by to pick up rabbits for his experiments. The burgeoning business kept them on their toes. Our car never saw the garage because it was full of pickled things, she remembers. We had rabbits, rats, mice, guinea pigs, and chickens, and on the third floor we had amoebae and protozoa.
Forbes made sure to attend Chancellor Mark A. Nordenbergs State of the University address during Discovery Weekend. Had she stayed for the pyrotechnics and laser light show Saturday evening on the Cathedral lawn, she no doubt would have reflected on just how much the lawn has changed.
She remembers when her world revolved around the two zoology houses on what was then mostly a big field, and how they used to take the rabbit cages out from the barn so the animals could sun themselves on the grass. And she can still hear the thunder of the machinery as the foundation was dug for the great new building. But reminisce as she might, shes thrilled with the direction Pitt is taking today. I think its marvelous the way Pitt has grown, she says, emphasizing her enthusiasm for the current administration. Pitt today is bigger and more beautiful than it was then. Alison DAddieco