Pitt Magazine Homepage Table of Contents



A few recent
visitors to campus

Nuremberg prosecutors Benjamin Ferencz and Henry King, at the fifth annual McLean Lectures on World Law, co-sponsored by Pitt's School of Law. ("Atrocities continue all over the world," said Ferencz, "and the world stands by, never exercising their right of humanitarian intervention which was established by the Nuremberg Trials.") International journalist Martin Walker, speaker at the School of Information Sciences forum on ethics. ("Journalism is too damn important to be left to us journalists.") Jo Jorgenson, vice-presidential candidate for the Libertarian Party. (On her party's refusal to tap into federal election funds: "We don't want to take any government money. Ross Perot talks about reducing the [federal] debt, but he just added $29 million to it.")


Today Lorca and Pound
fell off my shelf.
They lay there on the floor
like a couple of drunks.
How humble are the lives
of books!
How small their expectations!
They wait quietly,
pressed together,
to be called into
the light. When you open them,
they tell you everything
they know. They exhaust
you, like convicts
or madmen
too eager to talk.
--By Toi Derricotte, associate professor of English. From her collection Captivity, ©University of Pittsburgh Press, 1989. Derricotte's latest book for the Pitt Poetry Series, Tender, is due out later this year.


The 10-Meter
Platform at
Trees Pool

During last year's Atlanta Olympics, television commentators went to great lengths to explain how high the 10-meter diving platform is--as if people at home were thinking, "Oh, that's not so bad."

Non-swimmers may not realize that there's a 10-meter platform at Trees Pool. In a literal example of immersion journalism, I took the plunge. And it's really high. Although it doesn't look that high from the ground, it's, like, really high. Ten meters is 32 feet, 10 inches. Imagine jumping off the roof of your house into a kiddie pool. (Okay, there's a real pool underneath, about 700,000 gallons' worth. But up there, your target seems very far away.)

Junior diver George "Andy" Anderson from Liverpool, New York, accompanied me to the top of the platform. We climbed up past the five- meter and 7.5-meter platforms until we reached the summit. "Cross your feet when you jump," Anderson said. "You don't want your legs to splay open when you hit the water." And with that he leapt, disappearing into a small dot like the coyote on Roadrunner cartoons.

It was my turn, and I was ready--ready to turn and go back down the ladder. Then I heard diving coach Julian Krug's baritone voice: "Ten, go," he said, which is coachspeak for: You there, on the 10-meter platform, please commence your jump so I can return to training the real athletes.

I hesitated. The entire diving team was looking at me.

"Ten, go," I heard again.

Out of options, I stepped forward.

In the short downward trip, I could feel the Doppler effect as sound disappeared behind me; the only noise was the wind rushing past my ears. I could feel myself accelerating as I hit the water (at about 26 miles an hour—I did the math). The odd part was rising to the surface. I kept reaching for the top, but I was much further down than I thought.

Finally I broke through--and heard applause. Some members of the diving team (and Coach Krug) were clapping--happy, I'm sure, that they could return to the business at hand. You don't win a string of Big East diving championships by waiting for writers to leap from tall platforms.

But maybe they saw something in my style--the way I so gracefully closed my eyes and covered my face. Maybe they saw some spark of Olympic talent in the way I so carefully crossed my feet. Then again, maybe not.--Mark Collins

Beefcake with Brains

John Fung, chief of the division of transplant surgery at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, academic genius (he finished college at 18)--and centerfold model. Fung is "Dr. May" in the 1997 Studmuffins of Science calendar. (No, we're not making this up.) The calendar's gimmick--using pin-up photos of accomplished scientists, including a Nobel Prize laureate --is all for a good cause: Part of the proceeds benefit the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Why is it
so hard to face
the music?

"Facing the music isn't tough. It's facing the audience while you're playing music--that's the tough part."--Nathan Davis, director of jazz studies and chairman of the annual Pitt Jazz Seminar and Concert committee

"Facing the music is army slang from the nineteenth century. When a soldier was dishonorably discharged, the band would play a rogue march while he was stripped of his rank and sent out of the fort.

"Obviously, facing the music is a positive thing for me, but I'm biased."

--Jack Anderson, director of Pitt bands


March 1-4--Women's Big East Basketball Championships, University of Connecticut...March 2-9-- Spring Break for students. (BTW: Attention all Floridians--run for your lives!)...March 5-8-- Men's Big East Tournament, Madison Square Garden (BTW: "Now I lay me down to sleep/Praying the Panthers to the next round leap.")...March 16--Bach concert, Heinz Chapel, 3 p.m (BTW: This will be the first time in Pittsburgh that selections from Bach's Mass in B Minor will be performed on period instruments.)...March 26-April 5--Pitt theatre department: Karel Capek's RUR, directed by Gwen Orel, Studio Theatre...April 12-- Men's Glee Club, Frick Fine Arts, 3 p.m...April 8-19--Pitt theatre department: Donald Marguiles' What's Wrong With This Picture? directed by Richard Keitel, Stephen Foster Memorial...April 21-26-- Finals. (BTW: So now you have to make up all that work. Should've thought of that when you were in Florida.)...April 27-- Commencement (BTW: Forecast calls for 2,600 degrees, including honorary ones. Dress cool under those robes.)


Computer science prof hailed: Martha Pollack, associate professor of computer science, has been named as a fellow in the American Association for Artificial Intelligence in recognition of her sustained research and teaching contributions. Engineering's Loughlin Wins NSF Award: Pat Loughlin, assistant professor of electrical engineering, has won a Faculty Early Career Development Award from the National Science Foundation. Loughlin plans to use his more than $200,000 award to study new methods of applied, non–stationary signal processing. White Honored: Harvey White, associate professor of the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, has been elected president of the National Conference of Minority Public Administrators. White previously served the group as editor of The Journal of Public Management and Social Policy.


New Gamma Knife at UPMC: A second 20-ton, computer-driven gamma knife has been installed at the Center for Image Guided Neurosurgery at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. The "knife" is really 201 tightly focused beams of cobalt, which provide precise radiation treatments to brain tumors and other abnormalities once considered inoperable. The procedure--done without an incision--is quick and pain-less, and patients usually leave the hospital after 24 hours. Pitt Researchers Study City's Aging Population: Pittsburgh and Allegheny County--demographically, the second-oldest metropolitan area in the country--face a myriad of problems in the coming decades as the area's population continues to age. According to the recent study by Richard Schulz and Cheryl Zarlenga Kerchis of the University Center for Social and Urban Research, the continued migration of young people means that local leaders must address several emerging issues, including support services for the aged and the consequences of an aging population on the region's economic growth. Pitt's study is the first formal demographic look at the area's elderly.



If Walt Harris' previous exploits are any indication, the scoreboard at Pitt Stadium may soon be flashing like a strobe light.

Harris, recently named Pitt's 33rd head football coach by Athletic Director Steve Pederson, has directed some of the best offensive programs in the country. With Harris as quarterback coach, Ohio State's Buckeyes averaged 450 yards per game in 1996, on their way to a Rose Bowl victory over Arizona State.

"Pitt fans have had a first-hand view of the offensive fire power Walt has orchestrated at Ohio State," says Pederson, an oblique reference to the Buckeyes' 72-0 thrashing of the Panthers last season. "It became apparent to me quickly that his expertise, work ethic, and experience would be a key to accomplishing all the goals we have set at Pitt."

Harris, 50, is already at work wooing new players--and fans. "There's a great tradition of high school football in Western Pennsylvania," he says. "From the standpoint of academics, local high school students should already be considering the University. Our job--the coaches' job--is to put these kids in a mindset that we have an equally great football program. It's a great opportunity--rebuilding the Panthers to their rightful place among the elite football programs in the country."


It was a homecoming of sorts for Carol Carter, Pitt's new vice chancellor for institutional advancement. Carter, who now oversees the University's development and alumni relations efforts, served in a similar capacity at Pitt's law school from 1986 to 1989. She then moved up Forbes Avenue to CMU, where she worked as associate vice president for development and director of individual giving until returning to Pitt in January.

Chancellor Mark Nordenberg, who worked with Carter at the law school, praised her as "a capable and inspiring manager," noting her experience with capital campaigns.

Margaret McDonald, who served as interim vice chancellor, returned to her post as assistant vice chancellor for academic affairs in Pitt's health sciences.

Pitt Magazine Homepage Table of