University of Pittsburgh
September 25, 2000

Pitt Hosts Black Conference on Higher Education Former Pennsylvania Speaker K. Leroy Irvis to be Honored

Contact:  412-624-4147

Pittsburgh, September 26 -- Teachers, academic administrators, and health care professionals will gather on Friday, October 13, at the University of Pittsburgh's William Pitt Union for the Pennsylvania Black Conference on Higher Education (PBCOHE) Western Region Mini Conference. Conference attendees will also honor K. Leroy Irvis, former Pennsylvania Speaker of the House, for his instrumental role in creating PBCOHE 30 years ago.

The conference, "Closing the Gap: Preparing Students for Higher Education in the Health Sciences," will address organ donation and six priority areas identified in the national agenda to eliminate health disparities, but it will also explore ways to increase minority participation in the health sciences by ensuring that minority students are aware of, and prepared for, careers in the health professions, according to Angela Ford, conference chair and associate director for the Center for Minority Health at the University of Pittsburgh.

The PBCOHE will present former Pennsylvania Speaker of the House K. Leroy Irvis with the Distinguished Educator Award for his unwavering commitment to education and his important role in creating the PBCOHE.

"It is our distinct honor to present our founder, Mr. Irvis, with the Distinguished Educator award, in honor of his dedication and service to the PBCOHE over the years," said Carmelle Nickens, PBCOHE Western region director and assistant director of development of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute.

"Mr. Irvis was the person who, as a result of his work in government, saw there was a need to address the concerns of blacks in education," Nickens continued. "He provided the impetus to address these concerns through the PBCOHE."

The keynote address, "Renal Disease and Transplantation among People of Color," will be delivered by Velma Scantlebury, associate professor of surgery at the Thomas E. Starzl Transplantation Institute, UPMC Health System.

Conference attendees will also participate in a panel discussion on "Preparing Students for Higher Education," moderated by Carol Calloway, registrar/special assistant to the president for minority affairs at Pitt's Greensburg Campus. Other panelists include Paula Butterfield, chief academic officer, Pittsburgh Public Schools; Rosalyn Wilson, assistant superintendent, Woodland Hills School District; Michael Phillips, assistant director for minority admissions, Penn State University; Herman Reid, executive director, National Education Emergency Drive; and the Reverend Delano R. Paige of the Rodman Street Missionary Baptist Church.

Afternoon workshops for the attendees include: "AIDS in Diverse Communities," hosted by Karen Reddick of Reddick & Associates; "Women and Heart Disease," hosted by Alice Pittrell of the American Heart Association; and "Prostate Cancer in African American Men," hosted by Judith Daniels of the NAACP Health Committee and UPMC Health System.

An afternoon panel will explore the provocative topic "Toward Respectful Name Calling: Is the Term 'Minority' Passé?," moderated by Edgar Duncan, interim director, Partners in Education Consortium, Center for Minority Health, University of Pittsburgh. Panelists include Robert Hill, executive director, public affairs, University of Pittsburgh; Esther Bush, president and chief executive officer, Urban League of Pittsburgh; Jerome Taylor, executive director, Center for Family Excellence; and Robert Flores, president of the Community College of Allegheny County.

Several health related organizations also will be on hand to provide additional information to conference attendees. For more information on the conference, call Carmelle Nickens at (412) 692-2760 or Angela Ford at (412) 624-3402.