December 2001


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Job Hunting

Picking up a new job is Richard E. McDowell’s idea of retiring. What job he chooses is a matter of speculation. After nearly 30 years as president of the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford, McDowell will retire from that position next June.

He will remain at the Bradford campus; that much is sure. But his new role hasn’t been defined. “What I’m going to be when I grow up isn’t exactly clear at this point,” the 58-year-old Bradford native jokes. “That’s the only hitch.”

His accomplishments are many. When he was appointed in 1973, he was just 29, the youngest campus president in the country. During his tenure, Pitt-Bradford blossomed from a two-year program to four years, and its enrollment tripled to 1,300 students. The campus, too, has expanded on his watch.

Here are some clues about what he may be up to after he retires as president. Pitt-Bradford is roughly 155 miles northeast of Pittsburgh, in the heart of the 500-square-mile Allegheny National Forest. The forest is home to Pennsylvania’s prized hardwood trees. In recent years, the forest has also been ground zero in a debate over conservation, and the region’s economic needs. Pitt-Bradford, perhaps the only campus in the world with a stocked trout stream, is helping shape this debate. For sportsmen, conservationists, and others involved in debating environmental policy, they can access the campus’s Allegheny Institute of Natural History, which McDowell helped found. The institute, begun two years ago, studies the natural history of living organisms.

For the record, McDowell will say only that research, teaching biology, and raising money for the institute are among his retirement plans. As a retiree, he also expects to find a little more time for grouse hunting and some fly-fishing, too. —Kris B. Mamula


During the next seven years, major changes are slated for the Oakland medical campus. The plans call for a $600 million expansion project—primarily funded by UPMC and Pitt—that will connect current facilities and construct three buildings: a new Children’s Hospital, a biotechnology tower, and an ambulatory care center. Aesthetic improvements include a 1.2-acre park-like gateway to the medical campus. —Mark Dragotta

Used Book

On Hillman Library's ground floor, past the stacks of novels, the squishy armchairs, the e-mail kiosks, and the coffee shop, there is a book. Not just any book. It’s the library’s four millionth book and it cost $16,000.

The author—a tax collector for King Richard II—died around 1400, and was never paid for his work. A scribe compiled this tax collector’s works into one manuscript. The oak-bound facsimile housed in Hillman Library is a replica of the original manuscript—complete with gilded calligraphy and illustrations. Written in the 1390s, after the Black Plague, it is among first literary works in English and is well known to anyone who spent some time in a lit class.

The book is none other than Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales.

Students getting coffee can see the book, encased in bronze and glass, opened to a rare picture of Chaucer. The illustrations give readers clues about medieval culture, says Kellie Robertson, an English professor at the University. For example, when a character misquotes scripture, hands in the margins point their fingers.

“What’s really exciting about it,” says Robertson, “are the links between past and present. Someone sat down and wrote this by hand, and now we can touch what they wrote so long ago.”
—Susanne Devore

Philosophically Speaking

With world leaders—and not a few consumers—debating the merits of genetically modified foods, stem-cell research, and experimental drug therapies, the moral and ethical dilemmas facing scientists have moved from the classrooms to the front pages.

For more than 40 years, Pitt’s Center for Philosophy of Science has been questioning the prevailing wisdom about scientific methods and theories and asking how the personal values of researchers and engineers affect their work.

Founded by philosophy professor Adolf Grünbaum, the research institute has earned recognition around the globe as one of the leading groups of its kind. Through May, the center will mark its anniversary with free monthly lectures at Frick Fine Arts Auditorium.

According to Director James G. Lennox, during the past 25 years, the center has supported the work of 200 scholars from 32 nations. Guests from Israel, Germany, Poland, Argentina, Japan, Britain and Italy are scheduled to speak during this lecture series. —Jason Togyer

Complex Solution

With hopes of providing much-needed classroom and research space, University of Pittsburgh planners thought big. Their idea will soon become a reality. The six-story, $35 million Multi-Purpose Academic Complex (MPAC) at the corner of Forbes Avenue and Bouquet Street is expected to open by spring.

The structure will be much more than room for desks and computer equipment, says Robert F. Pack, vice provost for academic planning and resources. With a streetscape created by University and civic leaders, the building is designed to enhance both the community and campus, he says.

The ground floor will feature retail shops, while 82 parking spaces will be created, including 70 underground. Pitt law school will open a new legal clinic in the MPAC, which will also be new home to the College of Business Administration, now housed in Posvar Hall. The departments of computer science and psychology will relocate to the MPAC from their scattered spaces in Alumni Hall, Clapp Hall, and elsewhere.

Construction of the MPAC is part of what has been described as the biggest campus building boom in at least a quarter-century. What’s more, the new building will free up space elsewhere. The space left behind by computer science, and psychology will give chemistry, biology, neuroscience, and other arts and sciences programs room to grow, officials say. —Emily Tipping

Campus Newsmakers

This past summer, a display at the Smithsonian Institution’s Sackler Gallery shed light on the Chinese tradition of ancestor worship. Pitt history professor Evelyn Rawski arranged the display, Worshiping the Ancestors: Chinese Commemorative Portraits along with a Smithsonian curator. The exhibition included traditional portraits and artifacts dating from 1451 to 1943. Rawski also co-wrote the book that accompanies the exhibit.

Another book written by a Pitt professor won the 2001 Textbook Excellence Award. The Academic Textbook Association gave Ida Flynn the award for her work Understanding Operating Systems because it explains common computer glitches without digressing into the abyss of computer program technical design.

Research Periscope

W hat do a decision sciences professor, an information sciences professor, and a Pitt artificial intelligence alumnus have in common? Jerrold May, Paul Munro, and Mordechai Gal-Or are part of a team studying TV-watchers and uncovering how TV ads affect how we spend money. The result: commercials could be tailored just for you.

A new study by Alan Lesgold, dean of the School of Education, will develop ways to incorporate technology into a teacher’s training. The study is funded through a Buhl Foundation grant of more than $600,000.

The National Institute of General Medical Sciences is extending funding for a Pitt research project for up to 10 more years. The study focuses on protein molecules and DNA. Biology professor Linda Jen-Jacobson received a MERIT award to continue her study of protein molecules and DNA. She has received roughly $1.9 million over the first five years of the project.


On the Cathedral of Learning’s 21st floor, Larry E. Davis now resides as the new dean of Pitt’s School of Social Work. Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg noted that Davis, in his previous position at Washington University, helped make its School of Social Work one of the premier programs in the country.

In another office on University Place, James McCrea now directs Generations Together, a program of the University Center for Social and Urban Research that encourages people of different generations to learn from each other. As a staff member during the past decade, he managed the youth programs, Intergenerational Specialist Certificate Program, and gave more than 40 workshops nationwide.

Up Cardiac Hill at the Victoria Building, the fifth dean of the School of Nursing has settled in. She is Jacqueline Dunbar-Jacob. She came here in 1984, serving most recently as professor in the nursing program. She helped launch the Center for Nursing Research and serves on the National Advisory Board of the National Institute for Nursing Research at the NIH.

Farther away, women's basketball has a new lineup. Former assistant coach Bill Broderick is now associate head coach. Deborah Perry, who coached for the University of Buffalo, and Lisa Smith, who graduated from the University of Arizona last year, are assistant coaches. —SD

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