A Reason to Sing
It’s part of Roger Glunt’s weekly routine—standing in Trees Field to sing to the autumn-gilded Oakland campus on grand display below the hill. Glunt and about 120 other men are crisply bedecked in Pitt band uniforms, backs straight, chins high. They raise their voices into the cool fall winds blowing around them:
“Crowned with love of son and daughter / Thou shalt conquer as of yore. / Dear old Pittsburgh, alma mater …”
Band director Robert “Ace” Arthur waves his hands in a canceling motion, cutting the voices off mid-verse. “Again,” he shouts. “From the beginning.”
“Alma mater, wise and glorious / Child of light and bride of truth …”
“If Ace didn’t think we were singing the Alma Mater with enough enthusiasm,” Glunt (CBA ’60) recalls now, years from those undergraduate days in Trees Field, “he would stop us and say, ‘Sing it like you’re proud of this place.’”
Glunt did. He was proud of the uniform, proud of the marching band, and proud of the University. When he returned to Pittsburgh after a military career in the early 1960s, he became a successful businessman and a member of the Pitt Band Alumni Council. From 1994-96, he served as president of the University’s alumni association.
One of the first changes he made was to bring the Alma Mater into the association’s boardroom. “That’s still one of my great joys,” he says. “We close every one of our meetings singing the Pitt Alma Mater.”
Glunt’s passion for Pitt led him to help transform the alumni association in a mere 10 years. From 1995 to 2005, the organization grew from no dues-paying members to 17,000 paying members and climbing. Once limited to a few administrative offices, the association now has its own center on campus. In addition to traditional print publications, a monthly e-mail newsletter now reaches 60,000 alums. As incoming association president Brian Generalovich (DEN ’68, CAS ’66) notes, since 1995 the Pitt alumni association has undergone a metamorphosis from community organization to national organization.
“I’m a proud gardener,” says Glunt. “I feel like the seeds we planted in the mid-’90s are bearing fruit and blooms.”
Glunt and other alumni volunteers credit Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg with providing key support. They also praise Leland Patouillet (EDUC ’00G), the association’s executive director, with moving the vision forward.
Patouillet says that the leadership of the association’s presidents has been a catalyst for its success during the past decade: “Each president contributed something vital.” Roger Glunt initiated the first strategic plan. Andy Kuzneski (CBA ’62) promoted the association tirelessly, logging more miles for Pitt than any other association president. The life member program’s expansion was the brainchild of Cindi Roth (NURS ’81). Sam Zacharias (CAS ’64) greatly increased the association’s presence on the Internet, while Eva Blum (CAS ’70, LAW ’73) expanded the association’s global outreach efforts.
The new vision began with the dues program. Until 1995, no paying membership program for alumni existed at Pitt. “We said everybody was a member, but there was really no buying in,” Glunt explains. “One of the ways you connect with people is to make them really feel like vested members.” Today, the association offers annual and life memberships with special rates for new and older alums. Last year, membership rose 16 percent. With the dues program and a Pitt-affiliated credit card, the association generates 70 percent of its own budget, supporting student scholarships and alumni programs. Another element that initially was lacking was a place on campus for alumni to call home. Patouillet, who is also Pitt’s associate vice chancellor for alumni relations, views alumni as the “permanent members of the University community.” However, until 2000, alums visiting campus didn’t have their own space.
That changed when Chancellor Nordenberg contacted the alumni association about restoring the former Masonic Temple on Fifth Avenue. The 90-year-old historic landmark became Alumni Hall, where Pitt graduates gather to celebrate their bonds. “Alumni now feel they have an existence on campus,” says Generalovich, who helped with the hall’s planning process. The main entrances to the building pour into an elegant, marble-floored lobby. Alumni crossing the lobby from the east, where the alumni association’s office is located, can glimpse through great doorways into a stately, two-level ballroom ringed by gold-capped pillars and lit by burnished chandeliers. On the lobby’s west side is the University’s admissions office, where new students—“alumni-in-residence” as the association likes to call them—start their careers at Pitt. The association helps with careers after graduation, as well. In 2005, the association responded to alumni desires for networking opportunities by establishing the Pitt Career Network in cooperation with Pitt’s Career Services. The database allows alumni to tap into their best career resources—each other.
The career network is merely one aspect of the association’s efforts to maintain links among the 235,000 Pitt grads living across the United States (100,000 of them in the Pittsburgh area) and internationally. The alumni association Web site went “live” a decade ago, and the association keeps in touch with a network of alumni from Squirrel Hill to Singapore via the Web. In addition to receiving the monthly e-mail, alumni within clicking distance can view online continuing education lectures, read up on Pitt news and the successes of former classmates, and learn when Chancellor Nordenberg is visiting their areas. Patouillet points to outgoing president Keith Schaefer (CAS ’71)—a 2000 distinguished alumni fellow and the first association president living outside Pennsylvania—as a source of important insights about using the Web to reach alumni.
Mimi Koral (CAS ’75), director of alumni communications, sends the monthly e-mail and gets 200 to 300 responses a month. “It keeps my finger on the pulse of what people want to hear about,” she says.
All of these efforts have, in the short span of a decade, revitalized the spirit of Pitt’s extended family. Roger Glunt may no longer frequent Trees Field, but he, like other alumni, has found a means to cultivate his pride for his alma mater: the ever-expanding web of friendship and support centering around Alumni Hall.
It makes him feel like singing. —Erika Fricke
The Talk of the University
Food, drink, balloons, and a rockin’ band are all signs of celebration—and all were present when the Pitt Alumni Association membership program celebrated its 10th anniversary on Sept. 2. In honor of the occasion, life members were invited to an appreciation party at Alumni Hall. A boisterous crowd of life members and guests 250 strong enjoyed a Chinese feast and talks by students who spoke from experience about the benefits of association scholarships, student programs, and career networking. And then there was dancing.
Dues from life members are special in that they go into an endowment for perpetuity that will aid the association’s efforts to “support the University of Pittsburgh and enrich the lives of alumni worldwide.” The life members who attended are pretty special, too. John Schano (LAW ’57, CAS ’52) was seen with his wife, Winnie, and their new friend, Anita Gallagher (KGSB ’77, CAS ’74). David Lower and his wife, Maureen McBride, were seen toasting their membership, and Henry Sundermann (CBA ’50) and his wife, Hilda (EDUC ’51), enjoyed the ambiance of the Connolly Ballroom. Also seen were Jay (SHRP ’84, ’83) and Patricia (SHRP ’83) Lemke and M. Perry Jones (ENGR ’59), who was sporting some new facial hair. Ron Hornak (KGSB ’70, ENGR ’67) made it in from New Jersey for the party, and Michelle (CAS ’01) and Mark (CGS ’96) Tallarico came up from Falls Church, Va. Bart Whitehead (KGSB ’97, DEN ’90) took a break from hurricane-prone Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to join the fun. The Pitt Band, always to be counted on to get festive, was represented by Becky (CAS ’99) and David (SIS ’99) Yuhas, Tony Roscoe (SHRS ’99), and Ryan Minster (SIS ’03G, CAS ’98). The prize for family participation goes to Doug Marvin (EDUC ’72), who attended with his wife, Angela; daughter and life member Mariangela Marvin Peters (ENGR ’97) and her husband, Nathan; and daughter and life member Teriangela Abbett (CAS ’00) with her husband, Taylor. Former association president Cecile Springer (GSPIA ’71) and her husband, Eric, took the opportunity to talk to Deanna Moorehead, a senior communications major and recipient of the Springer scholarship, while William Fisher (CAS ’48) was spied doing the electric slide. Bernard (CAS ’88) and Renee (EDUC ’83G, ’79G) Mack took to the dance floor as association membership coordinator Kristen Jones sang “Last Dance.”
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