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 June 2001
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Mapping the Sky

Andrew Connolly is writing a chapter of the story of the universe. An assistant professor of physics and astronomy at Pitt, Connolly has spent seven years mapping one-quarter of the sky, and, even with another five years of work ahead, he couldn’t be more excited. “The next 10 to 20 years are going to be a great time in astronomy,” he says.

The Sloan Digital Sky Survey, a project Connolly, then a postdoctoral fellow at Johns Hopkins, joined in 1993, is mapping the positions and brightness of some 100 million celestial objects in one-quarter of the sky (half the Northern Hemisphere), using a dedicated telescope in New Mexico. The project also is measuring the distance to more than a million galaxies and quasars—located within 1,500 million light years from Earth. The map essentially will allow undergrads and professional scientists alike to “dial up” part of the sky over the Internet.

“The work that you want to be able to do or the questions you want to address are going to be limited simply by your imagination,” says Connolly, who recently received a prestigious five-year, $470,000 grant from the National Science Foundation for his work on the survey.

It’s a book that’s long in the making, the story of the universe. Too many questions still remain unanswered. When did stars first form? How do galaxies form? What are the biggest structures in our universe? Soon, the Sloan survey will help scientists begin to find the answers, says Connolly. “It’s essentially like the Human Genome project.”

David R. Eltz

Capital Campaign Soaring toward Goal

Less than a year after kickoff, the Campaign for the University of Pittsburgh: Discover a World of Possibilities continues to cruise toward its goal of $500 million, still far exceeding expectations.

In fact, in March, just five months after Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg celebrated the start of the public phase with Discovery Weekend, the campaign reached $383 million—roughly $100 million ahead of schedule. “It’s the envy of the other Association of American Universities,” says Carol Carter, vice chancellor of Institutional Advancement, referring to the 60 other research-intensive institutions across the United States and Canada, “to announce a campaign 20 percent ahead.”

One of the leading indicators of the campaign’s early success is the amount raised from individual donors: a whopping $122.5 million, or 32 percent of the total, thus far. “Our goal is to have close to 40 percent of the money coming from individuals,” adds Carter. For perspective, consider this: In the last capital campaign, which ended in 1991, individuals contributed only 15 percent of the $225 million raised.

Endowed funds have skyrocketed by 37 percent since the campaign began in July 1997, from 903 to 1,239. This means that, thanks to the campaign, Pitt now has 562 scholarship funds, an increase of 31 percent, while endowed fellowships have risen 18 percent. And endowed chairs, funded with a minimum gift of $1.5 million, are up to 70, an increase of 66 percent in just four years.

“More than about money,” says Carter, “this campaign measures the tangible, positive changes that will occur for the people who breathe life into an educational institution: the students and faculty. It means enhanced academic programs and state-of-the-art facilities so that our faculty can do a better job teaching and our students have improved opportunities to learn."

Building a Filipino Nationality Room

The Filipino American Association of Pittsburgh and regional Filipino community intend to build a classroom in the Cathedral of Learning to commemorate the history, culture, and people of the Philippines.

Twenty-five hundred Filipino Americans live in the tri-state area, and Filipinos are one of the largest Asian American groups in the United States. “We are tapping into a new culture. They’re forging an alliance with the University that they never had before,” says E. Maxine Bruhns, director of Pitt’s Nationality Rooms and cultural exchange programs. “They want people to know they are here.”

While 77 million Filipinos inhabit about 700 of the 7,100 islands that make up this tropical archipelago off the coast of Southeast Asia, vast cultural distinctions remain among the nation’s more than 75 ethnic groups. “Philippine cultures are very diverse,” says architect Warren Bulseco, chairman of the new Philippine Nationality Room Steering Committee. “The biggest problem has been trying to find the best way to show all of the cultures in one room.”

To help with the design, the group intends to seek input from curators of Philippine museums. The actual room design will come from Philippine architectural firms and local design consultants, and its art and furniture from Filipino artists and craftspeople. The association, which is working with other local Filipino organizations on the project, hopes to import indigenous materials, such as capiz seashells, for light fixtures and volcanic stones for the floor. Construction could begin as early as 2007.—Cara Fagan

Online Ice Breaker

The University took extra care this year to meet potential students on their turf—their technological turf. For the first time, Pitt participated in a series of six online college fairs sponsored by the National Association for College Admissions.

Ron Jankowski, Pitt’s student recruitment manager, couldn’t be happier with the results. “I think it is another opportunity to touch base with students who might not have had the chance to visit Pitt, mainly because of geographic location,” he said. By the fourth online fair, Jankowski calculated he’d spoken with some 250 potential students from as far away as California and Texas. The fairs, which took place simultaneously across the nation at more than 150 universities and colleges, gave students an opportunity to talk with people like Jankowski in chat rooms, where they could ask pointed questions about degree programs from the comfort of their own environments.

Pitt’s chat room had links to the University’s website and virtual tour (www.univ-relations.pitt.edu/tour), as well as to a video on the history and traditions of Pitt. It even listed vital statistics about the University—such as the male-to-female student ratio (46 percent male to 54 percent female).

Online chat rooms do not replace traditional face-to-face college fairs, which Pitt will continue to participate in year round. But, said Jankowski, “this is a way to break the ice, to create some excitement.”—DRE

Appointments

Bernard D. Goldstein is the new dean of the Graduate School of Public Health. Goldstein had been professor and chair of the Department of Environmental and Community Medicine at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey—Robert Wood Johnson Medical School….John D. Harvith recently became assistant vice chancellor for national media relations in the University’s Public Affairs department. Harvith previously was executive director for national media relations at Syracuse University….Barbara Mellix (Arts and Sciences ’86, ’84), executive assistant dean of the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS), has been named director of the CAS Advising Center. She remains executive assistant dean as well….The School of Medicine’s Department of Dermatology has appointed Louis D. Falo Jr. chairman. Falo had been interim chairman for the past year….Christopher C. Capelli is the new director of the Office of Technology Management. He succeeds Arthur A. Boni, who has retired.



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