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Homecoming


Spotlight on Alumni



Throngs of Pitt students clogged Forbes Avenue on this victorious day in 1947. No, they’re not cheering because they all received full scholarships.

Any idea why this crowd is so happy? (Hint: They’re heading toward Carnegie Mellon University, back then known as Carnegie Tech.)

We’d love to hear about this or other enthusiastic Pitt gatherings and rallies in the past. In appreciation, the Pitt Magazine staff will arrive en masse at your home to sing the Panther victory song, again and again and again and ...


Arts and Sciences

Robert W. Lewis ’52 edited Ernest Hemingway’s Under Kilimanjaro (Kent State University Press). It’s the first time the manuscript has been published in its entirety. Jim O’Brien ’64 wrote his 22nd book, Steeler Stuff (James P. O’Brien Publishing). It includes profiles of former Pitt football players Marshall Goldberg (CAS ’39), Craig “Ironhead” Heyward, and Curtis Martin. Bill Slomanson ’67 is a visiting professor with the University of Pristina in Kosovo. He wrote Fundamental Perspectives on International Law, now in its fifth edition (Thomson/Wadsworth). Joan Saltzman ’69 wrote Mr. Right and My Left Kidney, a memoir that’s forthcoming from Peripety Press. Don Huber ’70 wrote a novel, Kick Butt (Sewanee Mountain). He’s a visiting assistant professor of classical languages with Sewanee, The University of the South in Tennessee. Donald Shaw ’70 is teaching English in the People’s Republic of China. David Zahren ’71 hosts “It’s Academic,” a quiz show for Baltimore-area high school students and “Science Bowl,” a quiz show for elementary and middle school students in Prince George’s County Public Schools in Maryland. He’s also a weather forecaster with the ABC television affiliate in Washington, D.C. Cynthia M. Maleski ’73 was appointed to the law committee of the National Fraternal Congress of America. She’s an attorney based in Natrona Heights, Pa., and a national trustee of the First Catholic Slovak Ladies Association. Mitch Spero ’79, director of Child & Family Psychologists in Plantation, Fla., received the 2006 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Broward County Chapter of the Florida Psychological Association. He’s served the association for more than 15 years, and currently holds the position of treasurer. Leonard C. Ferrington Jr. ’80G, ’75 received the 2006 International Achievement Award from the College of Food, Agricultural, and Natural Resource Sciences at the University of Minnesota, where he’s an entomology professor. He was recognized for his research, which has led to collaborations with scientists from five other continents, and for hosting an international symposium attended by representatives from 32 countries. Gary Cruciani ’82, an attorney focusing on business litigation, joined the Dallas law firm Baron & Budd. Elizabeth Drescher ’83 is a doctoral student studying medieval English religion with the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, Calif. Daniel Punday ’88 received the Outstanding Scholar Award from Purdue University Calumet in Hammond, Ind., where he’s an associate professor of English. Kevin E. Feige ’90 is a software design engineer with Microsoft in Redmond, Wash. Michael A. Neuman ’90 launched Amplify Sports & Entertainment, a consulting agency based in New York City. John Champagne ’93G earned a Fulbright Scholar grant to teach American studies with the University of La Manouba in Tunisia. He’s an associate professor and chair of the English program at Penn State Erie, The Behrend College. William V. Ganis ’93 is an assistant professor of art history at Wells College in Aurora, N.Y. Jennifer M. Proffitt ’94 is an assistant professor of communication at Florida State University. Jerome Clayton Ross ’97G is an associate professor of religious studies with Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, Va. Brent Aaron Barnes ’02 earned a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. He also received the William E. Daiber, DO Memorial Award, recognizing his achievements in the field of cardiology. He’s interning with Crozer Keystone Health Systems in the Philadelphia region. Joseph Stephen Demidovich III ’02 earned a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. He’s interning with Mercy Suburban Hospital in Norristown, Pa. Michael Guss ’02 earned a Master of Public Administration degree from the University of Baltimore. Elizabeth Anne Larsen ’02G joined California University of Pennsylvania as an assistant professor of sociology. Diana Tuorto ’02 wrote a children’s book, My Desert Sun, and a poetry collection, Let the Horses Die: Poems of Longing, Love, and Loss from 1997–2005, both published by BookSurge. She resides in Madison, N.J. Jason Fox Wander ’02 earned a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. He’s interning with UPMC St. Margaret in Pittsburgh. Megan L. Forsythe ’03 earned a Juris Doctor degree from Ohio Northern University in Ada, Ohio. Paymon Bagheri ’04 is a legislative intern for U.S. Congressman Joe Pitts. He’s pursuing a master’s degree in health services administration from George Washington University. Elizabeth G. Bayne ’04 earned a Master of Public Health degree from Yale University. Jennifer B. Sebastianelli ’04 married Brian Neill in July 2006 in Grantville, Pa.

College of General Studies

Jon R. Luptak ’81, past president of the Pitt Band Alumni Council, was named regional vice president for development with the American Lung Association of Pennsylvania. He’s overseeing operations in western Pennsylvania. Blaine W. Feeser II ’94 and his wife, Holly, announce the birth of their son, Theron Samuel, in February 2006. They also have a daughter, Kira. Kathleen Scanlon Amerkhanian ’97 is director of communications with the University of Toledo College of Law in Ohio. She and her husband, Steve, have two children.

Graduate School of Public and International Affairs

Philip Shafer Kronenberg ’69 was named professor emeritus of public administration and policy at Virginia Tech. The university also honored him this year with the Outstanding Dissertation Advisor for the Social Sciences distinction and the Certificate for Excellence in Teaching Award. Frank Gargiulo ’93 was named planning and development coordinator with HHSDR Architects/Engineers in Sharon, Pa. Clarence Augustus Martin ’99 was appointed assistant vice president for faculty affairs at California State University, Dominguez Hills, in Carson, Calif.

Graduate School of Public Health

Natalie A. Solomon ’06, CAS ’99 is a fellow with the Health Resources and Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in Washington, D.C.

Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business

Richard E. Wokutch ’77, CAS ’72 was awarded the Sumner Marcus Award for Outstanding Service by the Social Issues in Management Division of the Academy of Management. He’s the R.B. Pamplin Professor of Management and head of the management department at Virginia Tech.

School of Education

Marjorie Brody ’67 was inducted into the Council of Peers Award for Excellence Speaker Hall of Fame sponsored by the National Speakers Association. She’s the founder of Brody Communications in Jenkintown, Pa. Gary Meckley ’70G, ’65, a former Pitt pole-vaulter, was inducted into the Western Chapter of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame. He was the head coach of the men’s cross-country and track and field teams at Carnegie Mellon University for 33 years before retiring in 2001. His cross-country teams won 129 consecutive meets from 1978 to 1999, setting an NCAA Division III record. Albert E. Smith ’74G retired after a 13-year tenure as president of Florida Memorial University in Miami Gardens, Fla. During his term, enrollment increased, the institution changed its designation from college to university, and programs in urban minority education, nursing, and environmental studies were established. Kathleen M. Huebner ’80G, ’71G was elected regional chairman of the International Council for Education of People with Visual Impairment. She’s a professor and associate dean of graduate studies in vision impairment with the Pennsylvania College of Optometry in Elkins Park. Abdel-Latif El-Safy El-Gazzar ’84G, SIS ’84G is the vice dean of graduate affairs, research, and cultural relations for the College for Women at Ain Shams University in Cairo, Egypt.

School of Engineering

Istvan Stephen Tuba ’65G, executive director of the International Technology Institute in San Diego, wrote The Third Resource: A Universal Ideology of Economics (iUniverse). Dennis E. Wisnosky ’68G was appointed chief technical officer with the U.S. Department of Defense Business Mission Area. He received the Distinguished Alumni Award from Pitt’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering this year. Amy Bell ’92G, ’85 received the 2006 Outstanding Student Branch Advisor Award from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. She’s an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at Virginia Tech. Amit Arun Patel ’96 and his wife, Shama, announce the birth of their son, Aiden Amit, in February 2006 in Lawrence, Mass.

School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences

Vanessa Edwards ’06 was named a 2006 Barbara Jordan Health Policy Scholar by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, an award that supported her summer congressional internship on health policy research with U.S. Senator Olympia J. Snowe from Maine.

School of Information Sciences

Ellen Litman ’95 received the 2006 Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award, which is given annually to female writers who demonstrate promise in the early stages of their careers. She’s a fiction writer residing in Somerville, Mass.

School of Law

Dick Thornburgh ’57, a Pitt trustee, is listed in the 2007 edition of The Best Lawyers in America (Woodward/White). He’s an attorney with Kirkpatrick & Lockhart Nicholson Graham in Washington, D.C. He’s also former governor of Pennsylvania and former U.S. Attorney General. Richard H. Galloway ’65 was elected treasurer of the Pennsylvania Bar Association’s Board of Directors. He’s a partner with Quatrini Rafferty Galloway in Greensburg, Pa. Michael D. McDowell ’73, a Pittsburgh-based arbitrator, was appointed to the Alternative Dispute Resolution program, a pilot of the U.S. District Court, Western District of Pennsylvania. Dennis Unkovic ’73, Laura A. Candris ’78, and Kevin F. McKeegan ’82 were all named 2006 Pennsylvania Super Lawyers by Philadelphia Magazine. They’re attorneys with Meyer, Unkovic, & Scott in Pittsburgh. Unkovic specializes in international law, Candris is chair of the firm’s Labor, Employment Law & Employee Benefits Group, and McKeegan is managing partner. Tammy Singleton-English ’90 was re-elected to the board of the Estate Planning Council of Pittsburgh. She’s the founder and principal attorney of Singleton-English Law Offices. Edward E. Gilbert ’89 joined Eric M. Berman, Attorneys at Law as an associate in the firm’s North Charleston, S.C., office. Nicholas Phucas ’98 was named assistant general counsel with the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. Heike E. Mills ’03 joined Peacock Keller & Ecker in Washington, Pa., where she’s focusing on real estate law. Daniel Bentz ’05, CAS ’96 joined Willman & Arnold in Pittsburgh as an associate concentrating on tort litigation.

School of Nursing

Michele Louise Macey ’90 is engaged to Anthony Null. They’re planning an October 2006 wedding in White Oak, Pa.

University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown

Jamie S. Bodenlos ’98 is a doctoral student with Louisiana State University, scheduled to earn her degree in clinical psychology in December.

In Memoriam

John A. Fichter ENGR ’49 died in February 2006 at age 83. During his civil engineering career, he worked on highway projects in Florida and Virginia and on dam construction in Clearfield, Pa. He retired in 1977 as vice president of the U.S. Steel Homes Division.

William J. Lesko CAS ’49, an educational television pioneer, died in July 2006 at age 82. For more than 40 years, he directed television programs for school districts and universities in Pennsylvania, New York, North Dakota, and Texas.

Jean C. Leuchtenberger CAS ’51 died in August 2006 at age 75. She was an elementary school teacher who taught in Lima, Peru, and in New York and Massachusetts. After she retired in 1993, she volunteered as an “English as a Second Language” literacy tutor.

Leonard H. Marks LAW ’65H, ’38, CAS ’35, a federal communications expert, died in August 2006 at age 90. He served as director of the U.S. Information Agency during Lyndon B. Johnson’s presidential administration and as chairman of the International Communications Advisory Committee of the U.S. Department of State from 1989 to 1994. He was a founder of the Cohn and Marks law firm in Washington, D.C.

Judith Delisi Mihealsick NURS ’72 died in July 2006 at age 56. She served as a school nurse for 17 years at Creekwood Middle School in Kingwood, Texas.

Ruth Victorhaus Rosen EDUC ’40, a Phi Sigma Sigma sorority member, died in August 2006 at age 87. She was a retired teacher who specialized in remedial reading in the Miami school system.

Sue Junker Steele, a Pitt administrator for more than 17 years, died in July 2006 at age 57. She most recently served as executive director of annual programs and administrative services. During her career, she was the manager of Pitt’s campus-wide fundraising campaign for the United Way of Allegheny County, raising more than $1.5 million. She was scheduled to graduate from the College of General Studies in 2007.

Richard C. Tobias, professor of English, died in September 2006 at age 81. He was entering his 49th year of teaching at Pitt, and had begun teaching a Shakespeare course this semester. An active leader in Pitt’s University Senate, he served as president twice and was a member of the Tenure and Academic Freedom Committee since 1960.

Florence E. Yerkins EDUC ’40G, believed to be the oldest living female veteran of World War II, died in August 2006 at age 103. She was a first lieutenant in the Women’s Army Corps (1943–45) and retired from teaching at elementary schools in Shaler, Pa.

Imagine That

Irv Popkin says, “Close your eyes, feel the sun on your face, the sand between your toes. Listen to the gentle waves lap the shore as you sip your Mai Tai.” He pauses as he pops a pineapple chunk into his mouth. “Now, walk along the beach and over to your checkbook,” he says.
Popkin (FAS ’70, CAS ’58) surveys the smiling faces of his audience, many wheelchair-bound, all enjoying a Hawaiian luau. They don’t worry about getting sand in their spokes because they haven’t left Mt. Lebanon, Pa. Popkin is leading a fantasy walk, where participants roam the world in their imagination.

The only part of the night based in reality is the trip to the donation box. Popkin’s fantasy-walk fundraisers bring in $45,000 annually to benefit the Parkinson Chapter of Greater Pittsburgh. Popkin, a founding member of the organization, has led guests—many suffering from Parkinson’s disease—up Mt. Everest, over the moon, and along the Great Wall of China on his quest to provide funding for Parkinson’s research. He developed this twist on traditional walkathon fundraisers so Parkinson’s patients, who ultimately lose control of their muscles, can participate, too.

Popkin knows firsthand the difficulties of living with Parkinson’s disease. About 15 years ago, he noticed a tremor in his left leg during warm-ups for a handball game. Eventually, the symptoms robbed Popkin of his favorite pastime. He swats the air like a bear catching fish, demonstrating proper form. “Handball is a great game,” he says, “I miss that more than anything.”

Popkin transferred his energy into reading about the disease, creating public awareness, fundraising, and leading support groups. Last year, he was recognized with the 2005 United Way Senator John Heinz Award for his decade-long efforts with the Parkinson chapter.

Next on the travel itinerary for Popkin: the North Pole. No parkas required.
—Katy Rank

Geo Trek

Kevin Geiselman makes his way through the forest, stepping over brush and ducking to miss low-hanging foliage. He hops across a boulder and pauses to swat mosquitoes and wipe sweat from his brow. Six companions push through the brush behind him, toting water bottles, spare batteries, and digital cameras, the only other tools necessary for their quest. Geiselman checks his Magellan Platinum Global Positioning System (GPS) to verify his destination: N 39° 36.218 W 079° 26.049. After bushwacking through another half-mile of woods, the trekkers arrive at the final coordinates. Now, the real search begins.

Geiselman (SLIS ’90) and his crew are geocachers, part of a new tech-savvy trend that amounts to a modern treasure hunt in which a “hider” posts coordinates online and “seekers” follow GPS instructions to locate the spoils.

Geiselman’s group begins to look for the cache. Soon, one of them reaches behind a rock and pulls out a shoebox-size, watertight canister brimming with toys, coins, and a logbook. They read the log, sign it, add items to the cache, and hide it again behind the rock for the next person to find. Mission accomplished.

When he returns home, Geiselman goes to the online log, where he’ll document his experience of finding that cache behind the rock. He signs in under his “trekker” name, Kordite, and smiles. According to the geocacher Web site, someone has just located a cache he created—the Uneven Pavement cache—hidden near the Cathedral of Learning.
—Katy Rank

Inspired Art

The candlelit chapel in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is empty at 9:30 a.m. save for a few kneeling pilgrims and solemn priests whose dark robes whoosh across the stone-tiled floor. Fragrant incense permeates the air like invisible flowers. From behind her easel, Ann Schneider focuses on the floor tiles, recreating their colors on her canvas. She has little time to finish painting the tiles before crowds of tourists obscure the floor, forcing her to turn her gaze to the gilded altar resting upon the place where Jesus was crucified centuries ago.

Schneider (A&S ’05), a graduate of Pitt’s art history and studio arts programs, traveled to Jerusalem to create a complete view of the divided city through a series of paintings of Christian, Muslim, and Jewish holy sites. Her first project was to paint the 14 Stations of the Cross—places of specific importance during Jesus’ final hours—as they exist today.

“My work overall as an artist tends to show the relationship between contemporary life and religion,” says Schneider. After six weeks in Jerusalem, she completed her Stations of the Cross series, which has attracted significant attention in its initial showings in Pittsburgh. She plans to return to Jerusalem to paint sites of Jewish and Muslim significance, harmonizing the city’s religions through the colors on her canvases.

In the candlelit chapel, Schneider stands before the 12th station, the site of the crucifixion, dabbing cobalt blue onto her canvas. One of the priests approaches, and Schneider pauses, afraid she’ll be asked to leave. The priest studies Schneider’s canvas. His somber face lightens with a smile.
—Bo Schwerin


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