University of Pittsburgh
April 3, 2002

Pitt Alumnus and Trustee William E. Strickland Jr., President and CEO of Manchester Craftsmen's Guild and Bidwell Training Center, Will Deliver University's 2002 Commencement Address

Contact:  412-624-4147

April 4, 2002

Ceremony Will Take Place at 1 p.m. April 28 in Mellon Arena

PITTSBURGH––University of Pittsburgh alumnus and trustee William E.

Strickland Jr.–– president and CEO of Manchester Craftsmen's Guild and Bidwell Training Center––will deliver the University's 2002 commencement address.

Strickland founded Manchester Craftsmen's Guild in 1968, while he was still an undergraduate at Pitt, "to help combat the economic and social devastation experienced by the residents of his predominantly African American North Side neighborhood"; it describes itself as "a multi-discipline learning community" including service and arts training for urban youth, evening classes for adults, lectures, and master classes, with programs in ceramics, photography, and jazz, and fellowships for nonprofit executives who wish to develop social entrepreneurship ventures in their home communities.

Bidwell Training Center offers adult vocational training in computer skills, information sciences, culinary arts, corporate travel, and medical technologies, targeting minorities and downsized workers.

Strickland founded the Craftsmen's Guild program to reflect his own life experience: He had not been a good student in Pittsburgh's David B. Oliver High School until he met art teacher Frank Ross, who interested him in the school's ceramics arts program. After that, Strickland was able to enroll at Pitt, and founded the Guild with the objectives of enhancing education through the arts and demonstrating the possibility of getting children into undergraduate programs as a result of their arts training; about 80 percent of children in Guild programs go on to higher education.

The University of Pittsburgh's commencement ceremony will take place at 1 p.m. April 28 in Pittsburgh's Mellon Arena, Pitt Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg stated today in a campuswide "Chancellor's Update" memorandum that also announced the 2002 commencement speaker, noting that the University "had hoped to inaugurate the new Petersen Events Center by holding an on-campus commencement ceremony there this Spring." Nevertheless, the Chancellor wrote in his Update, "commencement is now less than four weeks away, and there is enough work yet to be done [on the Petersen Events Center] that the only prudent course is to take advantage of the opportunity to return to the Mellon Arena. We are, of course, very familiar with that facility and know that we can create a memorable experience there, while avoiding the unforeseen complications associated with continuing work on the Petersen Center."

Calling Strickland "one of our University's most accomplished, interesting and inspirational graduates," the Chancellor stated that the alumnus and trustee "grew up on Pittsburgh's North Side and, by his own account, was admitted to Pitt on academic probation. Since earning his degree here [B.A. cum laude in history in 1970], he has attracted national attention and respect for his work. . . .

"His work is the subject of a Harvard Business School case study," the Chancellor continued, "which has labeled him a 'social entrepreneur,' and his successes have led to many requests that he replicate his initiatives in other cities. In fact, a new 'Strickland center' is under construction in the San Francisco Bay area. Mr. Strickland has served as a Council Member of the National Endowment for the Arts, is a recipient of a MacArthur 'genius award,' and, with his Manchester Craftsmen's Guild colleagues, won a Grammy for the recording of a jazz concert performed there."

Among Strickland's many other honors are the 1997 Pitt Distinguished Alumni Fellows Award, the 1999 Pennsylvania Governor's Award for Arts Leadership and Service, inclusion in the first class of Pitt Legacy Laureates in October 2000, and being named by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette as one of the 50 most influential business executives in the area. In 1998, he received the Kilby Award and "Coming Up Taller" Award, presented in a White House ceremony by Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Strickland has served on numerous boards of directors, among them those of Mellon Financial Corporation, the Mattress Factory, Phipps Conservatory, Pittsburgh Fund for Arts Education, and Harvard Business School's Institute for Social Enterprise. He also has served as a lecturer in the arts and arts education, community development, and social enterprise at the Kellogg School of Business, Harvard Business School, Harvard School of Education, and Stanford Business School. And he has served as a consultant to the British/American Arts Association in London.

Strickland, his wife Rose, and daughters Julie and Olivia reside on the city's North Side.

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