Follow My Lead
Walking, with charm, in hallways of power
Ivan Novick, a Pitt senior, strides into the mayor’s office and extends his right hand. He doesn’t have an appointment. In fact, he has never met the man in charge of the City of Pittsburgh. But with a firm handshake and youthful smile, he introduces himself and invites the city leader to Pitt’s Spring Festival Main Ball. It’s an unusual way to request the mayor’s attendance, but the politician is impressed with Novick, a confident political science student bedecked in a striped suit and tie. The mayor agrees to attend the gala at West View Park.
That visit happened in 1949, nearly five years after the end of World War II. The postwar industrial boom was gaining momentum, and a spirit of optimism buoyed the nation, energizing young adults who, on the eve of the 1950s, were embarking on careers and starting families.
At the festive spring event, then- Mayor David Lawrence—who went on to become governor of Pennsylvania and a Pittsburgh icon—crowned the “Miss Panther” popularity queen. As an honored guest, he heightened the ball’s prestige and impact. Along with dancing to Russ Morgan’s Orchestra and offering a lively awards ceremony, the bash was exactly what Novick, the ball chairman, had hoped to produce. It was a fine grand finale to Novick’s many accomplishments as a campus leader in the postwar 1940s.
During the next half-century, the confident charm that endeared him to Mayor Lawrence also established him as a trusted counsel to U.S. presidents and Israeli leaders. His energetic and engaging leadership skills propelled him to the highest levels of international discussion and decision making.
Soon after graduation, Novick (CAS ’49) joined the John Whiteman Real Estate agency in Pittsburgh and became involved with several charities. He served as chair of the young adult division of Pittsburgh’s United Jewish Federation and was a founding member of the national Young Leadership Cabinet, United Israel Appeal. As he climbed the real estate ranks to his current position as president of Pittsburgh’s NN & Associates, he also took on larger volunteer roles.
As president of the Zionist Organization of America from 1978 to 1983, Novick—representing the American Jewish community—was an advisor to presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan. He received the 1982 Israel Knesset Medal from the legislative body of the Israeli government for his advisory efforts. During the late 1980s, he participated in peacekeeping missions with then-President George H. W. Bush and the late Menachem Begin, then prime minister of Israel. Now, Novick’s an active member of the Government Relations Committee of the International Council of Shopping Centers and the immediate past chair of the council’s Subcommittee on Economic Issues.
Novick realizes that he was able to achieve so much, at the highest levels of influence and governance, because he was encouraged to be a leader during his younger days—as an Air Force officer after high school, as business manager of The Pitt News, and as chairman of the Spring Festival ball. Today, he’s on a mission to help Pitt students and young alumni achieve similar success. He’s a member of Pitt’s Alumni Leadership Council and has been active in career networking activities with students. He also chairs the Pitt Annual Fund’s Chancellor’s Circle program, which honors donors who have contributed $1,000 or more to the University.
A few years ago, he noticed that many volunteers in the alumni association are middle-aged or older. He wondered why younger graduates weren’t involved, knowing that young adults as enthusiastic as he was 50 years ago could really benefit the University.
So this year, he and his wife, Mary, established the Ivan and Mary Novick Young Alumni Leadership Award to recognize alumni who have graduated from Pitt within 15 years, are age 38 or younger, and are actively involved in University affairs. The gift will boost the Pitt Alumni Association’s recent efforts to connect students to the association as soon as possible. The first recipient will be selected in April.
“We expect this award will be a vehicle to encourage young people to be involved with the Pitt Alumni Association,” Novick says. “We also hope it will show graduates that the University recognizes the importance of young alumni.”
Mary Novick is dedicated to philanthropic causes, too, primarily as a member of the Ladies Hospital Aid Society of Western Pennsylvania. During her 1999–2001 tenure as the society’s president, she was instrumental in establishing the Ladies Hospital Aid Society Student Resource Fund in Pitt’s School of Nursing. The endowment supports an annual scholarship for a nursing student who is planning to pursue a career in women’s healthcare.
She’s also a Panthers fan, joining Novick and his Phi Epsilon Pi fraternity brothers at Pitt football and basketball games. Daughter Phyllis Silverman (LAW ’83) and her husband, Stephen (CGS ’83), cheer on the Pitt teams as well. Last year, everyone attended a basketball game with Blue and Gold Society members—student leaders who serve as liaisons to alumni. Phyllis recalls her father engaging in conversations with the students, making them feel welcome in the “Hail to Pitt” crowd.
“He’s been involved with Pitt for as long as I can remember,” she says, noting that he established lifelong friendships during his undergraduate days. “He loves to talk about how Pitt has soared to the forefront of public institutions.” Her brother Howard Novick (DEN ’78) also attended Pitt. With help and encouragement from generous achievers like the Novicks, Pitt students and young alumni will carry on the tradition of strong leaders produced by the University of Pittsburgh—starting with a bold handshake.
—Cara J. Hayden
Notes from Novak
There’s news to celebrate. We’ve reached the $1 billion mark in the University of Pittsburgh’s history-making capital campaign—and we’re ahead of schedule!
Clearly, this is a moment for all of us to relish, and it wouldn’t have happened without the sustained support of a broad base of generous people who care about Pitt—alumni, trustees, faculty, staff, and friends.
But while we celebrate this tremendous accomplishment, we cannot forget that we have an even more ambitious goal yet to achieve, one that will ensure Pitt’s place among those distinguished universities that constantly seek to elevate their impact and outcomes in ways that make the world a better place for all of us.
As you might remember, in June, Pitt’s Board of Trustees passed a resolution at its annual meeting authorizing the University to extend the campaign, doubling its goal to $2 billion. Pitt’s fundraising campaign has been and continues to be the largest and most successful fundraising campaign in the history of southwestern Pennsylvania. And, by extending the campaign, the Board made the University’s campaign the largest publicly announced campaign in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania—advancing Pitt into the ranks of only eight other American universities then pursuing campaigns of $2 billion or more.
On behalf of the University, I want to thank you for helping us ensure the future of exceptional education, research, and community development on all five of Pitt’s campuses and their regions. With adequate resources, Pitt people and programs can accomplish extraordinary things.
The $1 billion investment is already elevating the University’s capabilities, stature, and worldwide impact. Our new target goal—with your help—will produce additional and profound
benefits for generations to come.
For more information about the Discover a World of Possibilities campaign, go online: www.giveto.pitt.edu
Institutional Advancement is committed to reaching the University’s ambitious new $2 billion goal. Pitt’s alumni and friends have contributed generously, making our current campaign status $1 billion!