University of Pittsburgh
November 1, 2010

Two Distinguished Pitt MD Alumni Put African American Alumni Council’s $3 Million Diversity Campaign Beyond the $2 Million Mark in Pledges and Gifts

Margaret Larkins-Pettigrew and Vaughn Clagette Start Chenits Pettigrew Jr. Fund to Support Diversity in the Pitt School of Medicine
Contact:  412-624-4147

PITTSBURGH—Distinguished University of Pittsburgh MD alumni Margaret Larkins-Pettigrew (NURS ’76, MED ’94, GSPIA ‘10) and Vaughn Clagette (A&S ’89, MED ’93) have put the $3 million African American Alumni Council (AAAC) student financial assistance fundraising campaign beyond the $2 million mark in pledges and gifts just one year after the campaign’s public phase began. The announcement was made today during the AAAC’s Sankofa Homecoming Weekend Fellowship Brunch in the Pittsburgh Grand Hotel, Downtown. 

The AAAC’s $3 million fundraising drive—its first major gifts campaign—has been designed to provide financial assistance to undergraduate and graduate students of diverse backgrounds throughout the University. [For information on two Pitt students who have already benefited from the campaign, see the story that accompanies this release.] The AAAC launched its $3 million diversity fundraising initiative during Pitt’s 2009 Homecoming. The AAAC’s efforts have attracted support from more than 1,000 donors, whose contributions to the more than 120 diversity funds Universitywide have made possible the campaign’s swift and steady progress. 

Larkins-Pettigrew and Clagette have made pledges to establish a new fund in honor of Larkins-Pettigrew’s husband, Chenits Pettigrew Jr., who earned the Master of Education degree from Pitt in 1976 and a PhD in education from Pepperdine University in 1984; he received his undergraduate degree, in political science, from Westminster College in 1969. The new endowment will supply funding for the Office of Diversity Affairs in the School of Medicine to provide need-based scholarships and program support. 

Pettigrew, who is an instructor in the School of Medicine, has served as assistant dean for student affairs and director of diversity programs in the Pitt medical school since 2006. In that role, he has been a dedicated advocate for underrepresented students in the School of Medicine, helping many of them find resources they need to pursue their medical education. The endowment created in his name will provide ongoing financial support to the outstanding dedication he has shown to the many students he serves. 

“For 41 years, Chenits has dedicated his career to changing the world, one life at a time,” said Larkins-Pettigrew. “When given the responsibility of recruiting students who traditionally had been underrepresented in the University community, Chenits understood how important the responsibility was. His life is intertwined with the lives of the students he has known. He has stood watch and guided many who have realized their dreams. This gift is a testament to Chenits’ belief in possibilities and a guarantee that someone will always be there to stand watch.” 

Larkins-Pettigrew is currently an assistant professor at Case Western Reserve University, where she serves as program director for global health and reproductive science. Throughout her career, she has served in many medical positions, including program director for global health and reproductive science in Pitt’s School of Medicine; assistant director of student health at Tuskegee University; and critical care instructor at Brotman Medical Center. She volunteers with several not-for-profit organizations worldwide and has received numerous awards and honors. In 2009, during her years as a faculty member at Pitt, she was a nominee for the Chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching Award. 

Larkins-Pettigrew and Louis Kelly (EDUC ’77, ’78G) are cochairs of the AAAC Scholarship Campaign Steering Committee. She attributes the campaign’s early success to a number of factors: “We have been very well supported by Pitt’s development team. We have a dedicated committee that meets regularly and is made up of people from many different professions and backgrounds. The challenge is to make sure we maintain momentum and continue to educate, so the people really know the good that the donations bring.” 

Clagette is founder, clinical codirector, and practicing hospitalist of Tanner Intensive Medical Services in Carrollton, Ga., where he specializes in the overall medical care of hospitalized patients. Tanner Health System has consistently been named “hospital of choice” in the region by its patients and has been recognized by the Atlanta Business Chronicle as a Best Place to Work. Clagette is also founder and chief operating officer of HGA Hospitalist Consultants in Atlanta. In addition, he is a member of the Society of Hospital Medicine. Clagette and Larkins-Pettigrew first became friends as students in the Pitt medical school. 

The AAAC campaign is part of the University’s $2 billion Building Our Future Together capital campaign, which has raised more than $1.5 billion to date. The University’s capital campaign is the largest and most successful in the history of both Pitt and Southwestern Pennsylvania. 

To learn more about supporting the Pettigrew Endowed Fund and other diversity initiatives at Pitt, or to make a gift, visit or call 1-800-817-8943. 


Pitt African American Alumni Council Fundraising Efforts Support Student Leaders 

Grateful scholarship recipients demonstrate their appreciation through service to University


PITTSBURGH—Glory Ojiere and Deitrick Franklin are among the recent Pitt students to receive scholarship support from the African American Alumni Council (AAAC). Both have exceeded the high expectations of their benefactors by not only maintaining high grade point averages, but also by having made outstanding contributions to the University as student leaders. 

The AAAC is a group that appreciates the importance of meeting and exceeding expectations. Last October, it announced the launch of its first major fundraising campaign and set a goal of $3 million to increase financial support for promising students like Ojiere and Franklin. In less than one year, the AAAC campaign has raised more than $2 million in gifts and pledges toward that goal. 

The AAAC, which was founded in the late 1980s to recruit and retain African American students, faculty, administrators, and staff, selected Ojiere to receive the AAAC Endowed Scholarship. It is one of the alumni group’s three giving priorities for the campaign; the Bebe Moore Campbell Scholarship Fund and the Jack L. Daniel Endowed Book Award are the other two funds the AAAC has earmarked to provide students of diverse backgrounds with direct aid. 

Margaret Larkins-Pettigrew, who is cochair of the AAAC campaign, believes in the power and potential of the support the AAAC provides to students: “I have not seen any student that has not been phenomenal. Considering that these are students of ordinary means who would not have the opportunity to reach their educational goals—and their real potential—without someone helping financially, it is no surprise that the students who ultimately received the scholarships continue to be grateful. We see every single day that they are able to live their dreams. And because of their appreciation for this, the desire to help other students and give back what was given to them is always there—even after graduation, even when they leave Pitt for anywhere in the world.” 

Ojiere is a junior majoring in psychology with a focus on premedicine. She plans to join the Peace Corps and aspires to work for Doctors Without Borders, an international medical humanitarian organization. In addition to pursuing her academic endeavors, Ojiere is the director of hiring, training, and recruitment for the Pitt Pathfinders, the University’s group of student recruiters. In that role, she is one of Pitt’s most exuberant ambassadors. 

“I love Pitt, and I wouldn’t want to hire someone who doesn’t share the same enthusiasm,” said Ojiere. 

She excels academically while at the same time staying very busy hiring and training all of the new student recruiters. It is a job that is very close to her heart—first, because she started as a recruiter herself, and second, because she cares deeply for the University. It was largely because Pitt Pathfinders kept in close contact with her that Ojiere visited and eventually chose Pitt. She had toured 13 different schools in her college search—among them NYU and Columbia in New York City and Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, her hometown. 

“I have so much appreciation for a school I love returning its love to me,” Ojiere commented. “I hope to always be an advocate for Pitt, starting with being a role model for students.” 

The daughter of Nigerian immigrants, Ojiere believes in giving back. “It wasn’t easy for my parents to leave everything to come here. I am the first child in my family able to go to college. I fell in love with medicine. It is important for me to thank my family for always being supportive.” 

Franklin is a junior majoring in mechanical engineering who receives financial support from the AAAC’s Karl Lewis Impact Fund, which honors Associate Professor Emeritus Karl Lewis, who created the Impact program while teaching civil engineering at Pitt. Impact provides tutoring, counseling, and financial aid to help underrepresented students succeed in engineering. In 2004, five Impact program alumni recognized Lewis' work by establishing the Karl H. Lewis Impact Alumni Endowed Fund. 

Franklin, who also is from Baltimore, maintains high grades while also devoting a considerable amount of time to the Pitt chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers, a student organization that strives to increase the number of culturally responsible Black engineers who excel academically, succeed professionally, and positively impact the community. 

Franklin currently serves on the Pitt chapter’s executive board as program chair and is responsible for planning and coordinating the student group’s events, which include an annual banquet, study-a-thons, and a ski trip. Last year, Franklin served as the academic excellence chair for the organization. 

As the Karl Lewis Impact Scholar, Franklin has had the opportunity to meet Lewis as well as other AAAC members who attended the 2009 Sankofa event. His contacts have inspired him and helped him land an internship with Chevron in Houston this past summer. 

“It’s really been a wonderful opportunity,” Franklin said of the financial support he receives, adding, “I’m glad I was chosen as the first student to receive this scholarship.”