University of Pittsburgh
April 25, 2002

University of Pittsburgh Holds Its 2002 Commencement April 28

Contact:  412-624-4147

April 25, 2002

Pitt alumnus and trustee William E. Strickland Jr., recipient of a MacArthur Foundation "genius award," to deliver commencement address

PITTSBURGH—University of Pittsburgh Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg will welcome the more than 12,000 faculty, staff, graduating members of the Class of 2002 and invited guests, family, and friends who are expected to attend the University's 2002 Commencement, beginning at 1 p.m. Sunday, April 28, in Pittsburgh's Mellon Arena. The University, founded in 1787, also will be celebrating its 215th anniversary.

The ceremony will be opened by Chief University Marshal James H. Cassing, professor of economics and president of the University Senate, who will lead the procession of the faculty, staff, Council of Deans, trustees, administrative officers, and graduating class members in full academic regalia. Music will be provided by the 65-piece University of Pittsburgh Symphonic Band, conducted by Pitt Director of Bands Jack R. Anderson.

University of Pittsburgh alumnus and trustee William E. Strickland Jr., president and CEO of Manchester Craftsmen's Guild and Bidwell Training Center and recipient of a MacArthur Foundation "genius award," will deliver the commencement address. Before he gives his speech, Strickland will have conferred upon him by Chancellor Nordenberg Pitt's Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree. Board of Trustees Chair William S. Dietrich II will assist in the awarding of the honorary degree.

After the awarding of diplomas by Chancellor Nordenberg, Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor James V. Maher, and the deans of the schools and colleges, Brooke Monet Sealy will speak on behalf of the graduating class. Sealy, of Rochester, N.Y., is a Helen Faison Scholar and 2002 Omicron Delta Kappa Senior of the Year Award-winner who is graduating from Pitt's Honors College as a double-degree recipient with a triple major: She is earning the Bachelor of Science degree in economics and the Bachelor of Arts degree in politics and philosophy and in cultural diversity and race relations. She will be followed in the ceremony by Samuel Zacharias (CAS '64), president of the University of Pittsburgh Alumni Association, who will welcome the graduates as Pitt's newest alumni.

In all, Pitt is conferring approximately 6,700 undergraduate, graduate, and professional degrees this year to students at the main campus in Oakland and nearly 1,000 additional undergraduate degrees to students from the four regional campuses, in Bradford, Greensburg, Johnstown, and Titusville, which will hold their own commencement ceremonies.

Students at Sunday's ceremony represent the 16 academic units on the Oakland campus, including the Faculty and College of Arts and Sciences, the Honors College, the College of General Studies, the College of Business Administration and the Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business, the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, the Graduate School of Public Health, and the Schools of Law, Engineering, Education, Social Work, Information Sciences, Medicine, Pharmacy, Nursing, Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, and Dental Medicine.

Biographical Information on William E. Strickland Jr.

William E. Strickland Jr. 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 this 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 teacher Frank Ross, who interested him in the school's ceramics arts program. After that, Strickland was able to enroll at Pitt, and he 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. Strickland graduated from Pitt cum laude in history in 1970.

Strickland's work is the subject of a Harvard Business School case study, which has labeled him a "social entrepreneur," and his successes have led to many requests that he replicate his initiatives in other cities. A new "Strickland center" is under construction in the San Francisco Bay area. Strickland has served as a council member of the National Endowment for the Arts and, with his Manchester Craftsmen's Guild colleagues, won a Grammy for the recording of a jazz concert there.

Among Strickland's many 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.

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