December 2001


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Robin Williams is flanked by the parents
of McCarl, Foster and Muriel McCarl.

Alumni Association Notebook


It’s a Monday morning, yet there are few places to park along a quiet residential street in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania. One of the spots is taken by a spotless sedan with the license plate FJM III.

FJM III is F. James McCarl (College of General Studies ’73). When he isn’t busy with his duties as a board member of the Alumni Association, or chairman of the Capital Campaign for the College of General Studies, he runs McCarl’s Inc., a family-owned mechanical contracting company that is located in what used to be a home. That makes sense because McCarl tries to nurture a family-like environment for his employees. It seems he does. Amid the cluster of cubicles, workers huddle together swapping stories about the past weekend and making plans to meet for lunch later in the day.

The hallway leading to the boss’s office is lined with framed photographs of mentally and physically challenged children of the McGuire House, a charity McCarl has helped out during the past 30 years.

There are pictures in his office, too, mostly of him and sports stars and politicians. There is only one picture he bothers to point out, however. It wasn’t an easy picture to get, either.

McCarl and his parents were dining at a restaurant in California when he spied a familiar face dining nearby. McCarl approached the maître d’ to enlist his help in getting a picture with the actor Robin Williams. The maître d’ declined, noting the staff doesn’t bother celebrities. So McCarl approached Williams himself and explained it was his mother’s 75th birthday and that a photo taken with a movie star would be quite an unexpected present. Williams not only posed for the picture, he had the McCarls in hysterics with an impromptu monologue.

McCarl has this way of getting things accomplished in a nontraditional manner. Even his degree at Pitt. He took evening classes after putting in eight-hour days in the service department of his father’s company.

Today he is the company’s president, but he remembers those college days, which is why he is helping establish a center at Pitt for nontraditional students. It will be located on the Cathedral of Learning’s fourth floor and be both a meeting place and a resource site. Construction will be completed by next spring. No word on whether Robin Williams will headline the grand opening.
—Janet Frank Atkinson


Nuclear engineering instructor Michael Robinson (Engineering ’99) was surprised to find the Pitt Connection online newsletter waiting in his e-mail in-box. After scrolling through the issue, he made plans to attend the University’s recent “Science 2001: A Research Odyssey.” He may never had heard about the science festival had he not received the e-newsletter. The busy instructor, husband, and father of two boys now relies on the newsletter to keep him in touch with happenings around campus.

The newsletter is just one of several free perks now available for the Pitt online community. For example, there is an updatable online alumni directory. There is also a handy permanent Pitt e-mail address for each alum. Individual e-mail addresses will always be [your name here] Pitt will automatically forward each individual’s e-mails to America Online, Hotmail, or any other chosen e-mail provider. It’s like having a change of address card that never expires.

More information is available at

Koral’s Korner

Many assume that summer means activities at the alumni office slow down. Nothing could be further from the truth. Our volunteers keep buzzing right along. For example, at the June African Alumni Council board meeting, Carloyn Hill, CAS ’81, GSPIA ’91, Marian Clark Watkins, CAS ’75, Michael Whitelock, CAS ’79, SSW ’81, Maureen Cross Bolden, CGS ’92, Bernard Mack, CAS ’88, Madelyn Formley, EDU ’75, Stephanie Johnson, CGS ’90, SLIS ’94, Wayne Williams, CGS ’98, Madalyn Turner-Dickerson, CAS ’70, EDU ’75, ’97, GSPIA ’85, Erroline Williams, CGS ’80, Elliott Coleman, KGSB ’81, and Sige Burden, EDU ’72, were heard discussing upcoming events and strategies to increase the African American Alumni Council Endowed Scholarship Fund. Pitt Clubs all over the country hosted “Pittnics” for incoming freshmen and their families. Tom (EDU ’75) and Edwina Booth (NUR ’79), Lou Slaby, ENGR ’65, club President Ron Hornak, ENG ’67, KGSB ’70, and Bob Freschi, CAS ’69, were among the alumni seen at the New Jersey club Pittnic in July. Closer to campus, the South Hills Pitt Club held its Annual Meeting and Buffet Dinner at Tambellini’s in Bridgeville in early August. Among the 30-plus people in attendance were Janet (EDU ’51) and Jack Tilton (CAS ’51), new club President Nancy Nelson, EDU ’60, ’66, outgoing President Connie Hoon, CGS ’79, and her extravagantly educated husband, Bill Hoon, DEN ’80, GSPH ’81, CGS ’82, ’84, ’86, ’90, Jean Ferketish, KGSB ’81, EDU ’92, and Ann Slowey, CAS ’99. One evening in July, Barb Siegal, CAS ’68, LIS ’73, Bonnie Chojnacki, IS ’98, and Leigh Ann Yant, CAS ’98, came by the Alumni Center to take part in a user study of the Pitt Alumni Association Web site. Lots of alums have stopped by to see the center, and others have visited virtually. The first issue of the Pitt Connection, an alumni association monthly e-mail newsletter, elicited e-mail from hundreds of graduates who wanted to join the Pitt Alumni Online Community. One day in August, WWII veteran Grace Statler Cartus, CAS ’47, wrote from Florida, as did Carl Kaplan, CAS ’66, LAW ’69, from Israel. We heard from James Coulson, BUS ’54, and Josephine Messina, EDU ’50, both from California; and Cedric Salze, GSPIA ’91, who sent regards from Kosovo. Ulton Hodgin Jr., CAS ’55, MED ’59, wrote from New Mexico, Donald Stearns, ENG ’51, from Ohio, and Ted Moan, MED ’70, from Alaska. P. Rudy Mattai, EDU ’75, ’77, usually in Buffalo, sent a note from Santiago, Chile. Chuck Peth, BUS ’52, wrote to say he is happy to see his alma mater taking advantage of the latest technology, and James DiGiambattista, LIS ’77, thanked us for saving trees by communicating electronically. Luciana Lang, CAS ’99, a recent transplant to Dallas, wrote to say, “Thank you for the e-mail, and I look forward to future newsletters. (Gives me information to boast about to all these Texans.)” Our pleasure, Luciana. If you haven’t received the Pitt Connection, one sure way to get on the mailing list is to register for the Pitt Alumni Online Community. The Pitt Alumni Association provides the community free to graduates. Just go to and follow the link.

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