Pitt Magazine Homepage Table of Contents

CORNERSTONES

Viva Pitt


A grant from the Howard Heinz Endowment
promises to sustain the prominence of
Pitt's Center for Latin American Studies.

BY VALERIE R. GREGG


Short of heading south, Pitt is the place to come if you want to learn about Latin America, says Billie R. DeWalt, director of the University's Center for Latin American Studies. Of course, he's biased, but DeWalt has seen the center's international reputation skyrocket over the years, especially among archaeologists.

In December, The Howard Heinz Endowment slid another cornerstone into the center's foundation when it awarded a $2.5 million grant to its graduate fellowship fund. The grant creates a permanent endowment that will pay for eight $15,000 fellowships for graduate students, says DeWalt.

Five of the fellowships will fund research in archaeology and three will support students studying Latin American public policy. Because $500,000 of the money has been issued in the form of a challenge grant, DeWalt hopes to end up with a permanent endowment of $3 million to fund the graduate fellowships indefinitely.

"Heinz has given us about $200,000 a year on an annual basis for fellowships," DeWalt says. "We reapplied every year for that money. This endowment allows us to be self-sustaining."

The Howard Heinz Endowment has been a crucial benefactor of Latin American studies at Pitt since the late '70s, when it began funding the center's library and research efforts. Since then, the endowment also has supported the center's bilingual publication series as well as graduate fellowships.

Says DeWalt: "The partnership between Pitt and Heinz established the Center for Latin American Studies as one of the very best such area studies programs in the world. This [$2.5 million] endowment will help to ensure that the center maintains that degree of stature."

Pitt is ranked among the country's top five academic programs in Latin American studies. Its Latin American archaeology program is regarded as one of the best, and DeWalt hopes the new endowment will help propel Pitt's expertise in Latin American social and public policy studies into the limelight as well.

The center's success has attracted a more diverse student body to Pitt, which enriches everyone at the University, DeWalt adds. The program has drawn students from 20 countries to the University.

Joseph F. Dominic, the senior program officer and director of education programs for the Heinz Endowments, says the center's prominence reflects well on Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania as a whole:

"This center has made great strides in attracting talented graduate students and building its own faculty resources. The University of Pittsburgh is one of the major knowledge centers in this region, and the greater the distinction it gains in the international arena--the more it enhances its international networks and increases its visibility--the more it contributes to the region's academic reputation."




Citizens of the World

A charitable gift annuity will support the Nationality Rooms
and fund visiting scholars from struggling nations.

BY ERICA LLOYD


Fred Bruhns, a retired professor of comparative public administration for GSPIA, and his wife, Maxine Bruhns, director of Pitt's Nationality Rooms since 1965, have lived in Africa, the Middle East, Europe, and East Asia. And they've visited just about everywhere else you can imagine.

The couple recalls wonderful stories of their times abroad. (Ask about dinner with Dr. Schweitzer.) Yet the Bruhns' travels were not initiated out of a quest for novelty. They went where Fred Bruhns' work with refugees, prior to his appointment at Pitt, required them to go. The Bruhns' career choices have been guided, to a large extent, out of humanitarian interests and appreciation for the richness and diversity of the world's cultures. Their recent gift to Pitt--a charitable gift annuity from a significant gift of securities to the University--will uphold those values. The gift will establish three endowments as part of the estate of Fred and Maxine Bruhns.

One endowment will bring scholars from Russia, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Asia to Pitt's University Center for International Studies. The award will go to professionals interested in gaining new perspectives on problems (scientific, political, economic, or humanitarian) affecting their nations. Awardees will be known as Fred C. and Eleanor Maxine Bruhns Scholars.

Two other endowments will help Maxine Bruhns' successors enhance the Nationality Rooms, as she has for the past 31 years. The couple has provided the Fred C. and Eleanor Maxine Bruhns Endowment for temporary expenses related to the Nationality Rooms operations, and the Eleanor Maxine Bruhns Room Maintenance Endowment for the rooms' upkeep.

Maxine Bruhns says the couple sees their gift as an investment in struggling nations and a tribute to the rich array of heritages that have given them so many interesting years.

The Bruhns' gift perpetuates a tradition begun, with similar endowments for foreign scholars and for the rooms, by the late Ruth Crawford Mitchell, the first director of the Nationality Rooms program. "We know what a difference that money made and wanted to do the same," says Maxine Bruhns.




The House that Jack Built

Engineering alum is catalyst for Pitt's
construction management programs.

BY ERICA LLOYD


John C. Mascaro (Engineering '80, '66) knows how to get things done. As president of Mascaro, Inc., he is in the business of building shopping malls whose completion deadlines are unyielding and renovating health care facilities that need to continue operation while construction is going on. Every day he takes on projects that might seem daunting.

When Mascaro saw a need for better-educated construction managers, his mission was clear: He mobilized University of Pittsburgh administrators and industry leaders to establish specialty degree programs in construction management. Then he helped raise the money to support the programs.

Mascaro has a way of making things look easy. Yet he insists that Pitt's new construction management programs have gotten off the ground quickly because they fill a void. "Construction is eight to 10 percent of the national GNP and and employs approximately 10 percent of the national workforce. The industry needs contracting professionals who can hit the ground running," he says.

Mascaro appealed to Pitt's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering with his concern in 1993. He suggested Pitt offer a construction management track within its civil engineering program.

The wheels were set in motion. Working with industry leaders, the department did a needs assessment and learned there was demand for academic programming in areas such as project management, scheduling, cost accounting, construction law, risk assessment, construction design processes, and construction management information systems.

"Some of the projects construction managers get involved in can be very complicated," says Reidar Bjorhovde, chair of the University of Pittsburgh's civil and environmental engineering department. "Imagine coordinating all of the schedules, contractors, and vendors working on the Pittsburgh International Airport."

Mascaro established an industry-wide Construction Management Advisory Committee to work closely with the civil engineering faculty in developing curricula. Contractors, facility owners, architectural and engineering firms, trade associations, unions, and law firms signed on. By the fall of 1994, Pitt students could elect to major in construction management within the Master of Science in Civil Engineering program. A year later, the certificate program in construction management was initiated at the bachelor's level.

Advisory committee members were charged with garnering funding for the new programs. They raised half a million dollars in six months. "When you can do that, you know there's a need," says Mascaro.

Mascaro's committee members led the donations. "They are fantastic," says Bjorhovde. "They've demonstrated a continuing, sustained commitment to the programs." Committee members and other industry professionals help ensure students understand what they'll be faced with on the job. They serve as guest lecturers, give mini-seminars, and set up co-op positions and internships in their organizations. Some teach courses.

Pitt plans to offer other construction management programs soon. In the meantime, enrollment is booming. The master's program presented its first graduate, Nadra Mosley, at the April commencement.

"She'll have no trouble finding a position," says Bjorhovde.

According to Mascaro, there are only a few excellent construction management programs in the country. He would like to make Pitt's the best.

"I want people to come here with their construction management problems--to create a think tank of sorts."


Pitt Magazine Homepage Table of
Contents