September 2001


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Panther mascot at Pitt Stadium, circa 1950

Alumni Association Notebook

Fostering Partners

After three years at Cornell University in the late ’60s, Lee Foster (Arts and Sciences ’72) pointed south for a summer job with one of his professors. But south, in this case, was Colombia, and summer lasted two years: Instead of returning to school in the fall Foster stayed on to see as much as he could.

“Colombia is a spectacular country,” says Foster. “At that time it was a paradise. It has a Caribbean coast, a Pacific coast, desert, jungle, three chains of the Andes Mountains. Every thousand feet of elevation is a different ecosystem.” From a base in Bogota, Foster wandered across South America, as well as north into Central America and Mexico, working a few weeks teaching English here or guiding tours there before taking three or four months to travel some more.

When it was time to come back to the States, he returned to his hometown of Pittsburgh to Pitt to finish his senior year. After graduation, Foster joined the family company, L. B. Foster, which was founded by his grandfather in 1902 and manufactures and distributes rail, pipe, and construction products. The business was sold in 1977, but Foster chose to stay after moving swiftly from his entry-level accounting job in the Atlanta office to running the international division in Houston. That business took him frequently back to South America. Indeed, friends from Colombia introduced him to his future wife, Isabel, in the United States.

Foster is now CEO of the company and a new member of the Alumni Association Board of Directors. (He is also on the board of the Center for Latin American Studies and has worked with the medical school and Graduate School of Public Health.) Foster will use his time on the board to help find the best ways for Pitt, along with partners such as CMU, to assist economic growth in Western Pennsylvania. Says Foster, Pitt is a major key to the well-being of the whole region.—Mark Jacobs

They Also Serve

Tucked into a tight corner on the third floor of Craig Hall, the old location of the Pitt Alumni Association was too modest to permit any functions to be held. Those would take place in the Holiday Inn, the William Pitt Union, the University Club, venues where there was room to accommodate the number of people that association events would draw.

Brian Generalovich (Arts and Sciences ’66, Dental Medicine ’68), then (and again now) a member of the association’s board of directors, was determined that the association have its own center to serve nearly 200,000 alumni. Starting in 1991, he spent hundreds of hours working to make that happen. The result of his efforts and that of the rest of the board with the strong support of the University administration is the dark wood and bright glass of the association’s new offices in the Masonic Temple.

Are the other members of the board equally dedicated? This past May, at one of three annual meetings, 55 of the 65 members showed up, including all eight regional representatives, flying or driving in from all over the country—even from abroad. Since board members pay their own way to those meetings and use their own time to attend, it’s an extraordinary show of support and loyalty.

Without that support, many of the association’s programs would not exist. Two board members, Bob Lovett (Arts and Sciences ’66) and Alex Minno (Arts and Sciences ’43, Medicine ’47), believed the association had to increase the number of scholarships awarded. Both are trustees of the local Hilda Willis foundation, which has provided the initial gift of $100,000 to help create the Pitt Alumni Association Scholarship Fund. That gift encouraged many others, and the four scholarships in 1992 have grown to a total of 81 as of last year.

Roger Glunt (Business ’60) realized that trying to establish contact in Pittsburgh with state legislators wasn’t working. At the first meeting on campus, only a couple of legislative aides showed up. Now, regular trips to Harrisburg by swarms of alumni have made the legislative network a forceful voice for the University.

Board members serve on committees, get out the word about the University, help recruit new students, raise funds, and on and on. They are both participants in and advocates for the life of the University, alumni whose time as students was prelude to a lifetime of service. —MJ

Sowing the Future

Gardens of Knowledge, the Pitt Alumni Association’s Alumnae Council Spring Event, captured the imaginations of more than 150 participants. The event is the council’s fundraiser for scholarships. Seen entering the magnificent Masonic Temple ballroom on April 19 were Carrie Anderson (Engineering ’96), Carolyn Hill (Arts and Sciences ’81, Public and International Affairs ’91), Doris LaPietra (Arts and Sciences ’48), and Virginia Nicklas (Business ’51). Attendees swarmed around the silent auction table where everything from buckets of gardening supplies to theatre tickets were available for the winning bid. Seen perusing the items were Kathleen Sacco Hann (Education ’61), Ruth Mrozek (Nursing ’64, ’70), Jan Frisch (General Studies ’79), and Theresa Colecchia (Arts and Sciences ’86, Law ’89), who attended with her mother, Mary Colecchia. Three generations of Swanson women were in attendance led by Stacia Swanson (Social Work, ’94). Sestili Nursery had a display of plants and answered questions. Even the Penn State Extension Service could not resist setting up a booth at the event. The Men’s Garden Club gave attendees small potted plants, and Alex Danenberg (General Studies ’83) of Alex’s Flowers provided floral favors for the attendees. Caterer Rania Harris did a cooking demonstration that had mouths watering throughout the ballroom. The dishes she made on stage were those served for dinner. Seen watching Rania were Angi Yucas (Arts and Sciences ’72), Erroline Williams (General Studies ’80), Mary Ann Stuart-Templeton (Arts and Sciences ’61, ’63), Stephanie Johnson (Information Sciences ’90, ’94), Virginia Madden Dunst (Pharmacy ’58), and Becky Brandt (Arts and Sciences ’88). During dinner, Master Gardener Warren Dana (Arts and Sciences ’48) spoke about the fine art of raising plants in small places, particularly herbs. Listening to Dana’s advice were Michelle Garraux (Education ’79), in an appropriately botanically printed cardigan, and Dorothy Drake Brooks (Nursing ’64, ’67), in a stunning pale pink suede suit. Marilyn Burke (Education ’67), received the Alumnae Council Special Service award, and the 2001 Distinguished Alumna Award went to Mary Robb Jackson (Arts and Sciences ’74). One very happy face seen was that of Amanda M. Rider, recipient of this year’s Alumnae Council Scholarship, and an exceptional student and community volunteer. After all of the silent auction items had been picked up by the lucky bidders, Spring Event 2001 Committee Chair Ruth Forsyth (Arts and Sciences ’76) was seen counting the money. More than $2,500 was collected at the event Mimi Koral

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