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 March 2001
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Cornerstones

Strength in Numbers
Sigma Chis and Sweethearts team up to make a difference.

Jack Hardman (Education ’54, Arts and Sciences ’52), always an avid athlete, spent childhood summers swimming through paddlewheel-generated waves on Pittsburgh’s rivers. At Pitt, he swam competitively his first year, but opted to manage the swim team for the rest of his undergraduate career. He also captained the then-all-male cheerleading squad and was tennis player/manager. In all, he earned 11 varsity letters.

Throughout his 43-year career as a school counselor and summer camp director—including seven years early on as Pitt’s assistant dean of students—Hardman managed not only to continue his devotion to athletics but also to maintain ties with Sigma Chi fraternity buddies and their wives. The group of about a dozen couples calls itself the "Sigma Chis and Sweethearts from the Mid-1950s," and includes Congressman Bud Shuster (Arts and Sciences ’54), Joe Marasco (Medicine ’57, Arts and Sciences ’53), and Ben Thomas (Law ’57, Arts and Sciences ’52). They have met four or five times a year for the last 45 years.

In 1999, Hardman and Marasco came up with an idea that would provide a lasting legacy for the group while aiding current and future Pitt students. The group has begun an endowed scholarship especially for Southwest Pennsylvania students. Hardman and the others encourage participation in this endowment from other Sigma Chi alums from the mid-’50s, wherever they may be, and hope that their joint effort may act as a catalyst for other groups of alumni.

"I would like to see more small group endowments," says Hardman. "It’s hard for some of us to make a difference as individuals. But if we go in together, we can leave a real legacy." —MK

Close Ties
Alum creates alliances between industry and academia.

Board of Trustees member Al Moyé (Arts and Sciences ’68) likes what happens when institutions share capabilities. "There is strength in collaboration," he says. As director of university affairs for Hewlett-Packard in Palo Alto, California, Moyé pursued the benefits of meshing corporate and academic goals. He forged alliances between H-P and 30 of the nation’s strongest research institutions, fostering exploration of the directions that industry and technology—therefore curriculum—might go. He was particularly pleased when Hewlett-Packard presented a major design equipment award to Pitt’s School of Engineering.

Moyé’s 30 years of close ties to the University began in graduate school. He received his PhD, became an award-winning chemistry professor, rose to vice chancellor of Pitt’s student affairs, was tapped by Jimmy Carter to serve as deputy assistant secretary for higher and continuing education, and went on to the corporate world of technology. Though "officially" retired from H-P, he remains "just as busy" consulting for the communications technology giant. It is a career that has straddled academia, government, and corporate life. It has also let Moyé see the University whole.

He is pleased that Pitt’s widening outlook is part of the institution’s "sense that it is a vital regional resource." He sees beneficial change, he says, in the University’s trying to develop itself through alliances: "It shows in Pitt’s partnership with the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center. In Pitt, CMU, and the medical center coming together to attract biotechnology to this area—We used to fight with CMU!—and in the University’s partnering with the city of Pittsburgh to use the new stadium."

Moyé sees Pitt tending to fundamentals: "We have successfully strengthened our undergraduates’ satisfaction. Student retention and faculty satisfaction, all are up." His beloved chemistry department "continues to be a shining star." The engineering department, rebounding from a 1970s slump, "is on the brink of doing great things," he says.

"Pitt’s capital campaign is so needed. We have the team in place—professionals running the show. The trustees are taking it seriously. People have come to realize that even though Pitt is a state-related institution, there still must be a lot of private money to advance the University’s agenda." —Virginia R. Phillips

Thanks for the Chance
Depression-era alum repays the generosity extended to him by the pharmacy school dean and faculty.

In 1931, the Depression was in full swing, bread lines were long, and Father Cox was making soup for the inhabitants of the shantytown in the Strip District. Maurice D. Levenson (Pharmacy ’35) graduated from high school that year, having saved $50 through Union Bank’s savings program for students. He approached the dean of the then-Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy, C. Leonard O’Connell, and said, "I only have $50, but I want to go to pharmacy school. If you’ll take a chance on me, I’ll pay you back." O’Connell agreed. Levenson found work in a drug store and paid five dollars a week toward his education. Sometimes five dollars was a lot to put together in a week. He remembers that the dean’s secretary, Thelma Carr, would arrive in class each Monday and call a number of students’ names. They would then file into her office and pay the five dollars. Levenson’s family sacrificed while he studied since he could not work full time to contribute to their support.

After graduation, Levenson worked for five years at the Central Drug Store in New Kensington. He then moved to the McKeesport branch of the store as assistant manager for another five years. In 1945, he opened Morrys Drug Store in Clairton. As the steel industry scaled back after World War II, Levenson and his family resolved to move to California. In 1955, Levenson retired and sold the family’s house in Glassport with all it contained save the bed linens, which were shipped ahead. The Levensons settled in Los Angeles.

Levenson had long thought it appropriate to give something back to the University and the people of the Mon Valley when he read about a woman named Osceola McCarty, who gave $150,000 of her life savings to the University of Southern Mississippi for scholarships after a lifetime working as a laundress. Levenson resolved to acknowledge the enthusiasm and support of the faculty who inspired him at Pitt and give an opportunity to students whose grandparents might have patronized his pharmacy. The result is the Maurice David Levenson Scholarship Fund, which acknowledges Dean C. Leonard O’Connell and faculty members Albert F. Judd, David E. Leven, Edward C. Reif (dean, 1945-58), Louis Saalbach, and John H. Wurdak. Preference will be given to students whose permanent residence is Clairton, McKeesport, or Glassport, Pennsylvania, or the boroughs or municipalities of East McKeesport, Liberty Boro, Port Vue, Versailles Township, or White Oak, Pennsylvania.

"The people in those communities are important to me," says Levenson. "And I wanted to give something back to the University that took a chance on me."—MK

Building Blocks

Economics students at CAS can rest easy about their own profit and loss statements. Mike and Susan Ford, both 1981 Arts and Sciences grads, have given $25,000 to establish the Michael and Susan Ford Scholarship within the Department of Economics. Says Mike: "We’re at the point where we are able to give back."...Joy and Leonard Baxt (Arts and Sciences ’69) wanted to be able to contribute to a variety of projects and so have made their generous $100,000 gift to the University a flexible one. The Baxts’ gift will be divided: $75,000 to the Dean’s Discretionary Fund at the College of Arts and Sciences and $25,000 to the Dean’s Discretionary Fund at the School of Nursing....If you’re studying in the A. J. Schneider Reading Room, stop to admire some of the most vibrant new art on campus, courtesy of Arthur A. and Arlene Schneider. The Schneiders established the reading room three years ago, in memory of their late son, A. J. (Arts and Sciences ’93). Their recent $45,000 pledge supports the A. J. Schneider Studio Arts Award, the largest monetary award available to Pitt studio art students. Winning selections from an annual student art exhibition will be displayed in the reading room for a one-year period.



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