December 2001


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First came the music from my alarm clock. Then came an elbow from my wife. It was the start of another work day for me as senior editor of Pitt Med, the magazine for the medical school. In the next hour I would shave, shower, dress, grab my packed lunch and a frosted Pop-Tart, and head out the front door.

After a two-traffic-light commute from Shadyside to Oakland on that particular day early last summer, I unlocked my office door on the fourth floor of Craig Hall, just as I always did. Next, I made my first important visit of the day—to the coffee maker. While my Pop-Tart toasted, I cleaned my bacteria-laden mug, and filled it with as much of the black stuff as it could hold.

Back at my desk, coffee and Pop-Tart strategically placed in a no-mess zone, I brought my Power Mac G3 to life, and was open for business.

So were my Office of Public Affairs colleagues with whom I share the fourth floor—the staffs from Pitt Magazine, Pitt Med, Pitt Campaign Chronicle, the news and information bureau, and the University’s design and communications department.

Even though everyone’s respective offices—most in dire need of a paint job—are side by side, we have very different days. The news and information people don’t have anything to do with a Pitt Med feature on stem cells, and the Pitt Med staffers aren’t worried about the alumni happenings from the English department, and the Pitt Magazine team has no input into a law school brochure.

While everyone keeps very busy with their own projects, there is a kind of unwritten rule on the fourth floor of Craig Hall. We work with our doors open. So, on that June day when a temp from Pitt Magazine hustled into my office and abruptly closed the door, I knew we weren’t about to discuss the Pirates’ nonexistent pennant chances.

He had just come from a staff meeting where Sally Ann Flecker, the editor in chief, announced her intention to resign so she could pursue her freelance writing and teaching careers full-time.

“Wow!” was all I could initially say after hearing the confidential news. This typical day was no longer typical. Sally had been at the helm of Pitt Magazine for more than a decade. She had become a tradition. An award-winning tradition.

Meanwhile in my world at Pitt Med, that magazine—under the leadership of editor-in-chief Erica Lloyd—had established its own award-winning tradition in less than two years of existence. It’s Erica’s vision to tell stories about those connected with the medical school who are affecting all of us in wondrous ways—whether by searching for a vaccine for cancer or a cure for Alzheimer’s or finding a better way to teach and train tomorrow’s physicians.

Now, having been chosen to follow in Sally’s footsteps, I hope the pages of Pitt Magazine will carry on the traditions established by Sally and Erica. I want every issue to report on the awe-inspiring aspirations and accomplishments of our alumni, faculty, and students; I want their stories chronicled in the kind of compelling voice that Sally has nurtured over the years. I guess what I’m stating is that traditions don’t have to end. They can evolve. Look no further than this issue’s cover story about what it’s like to attend a Panthers’ home football game.

For my routine, I still set my alarm clock to go off at the same time. Within Craig Hall, I have a new office. It’s slightly bigger, three windows instead of two, along with a few more pieces of furniture. As for my door, it remains open.

Robert Mendelson, Editor in Chief

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