University of Pittsburgh
October 16, 2005

University of Pittsburgh Names 13 New Legacy Laureates

Contact: 

Robert Hill

412-624-8891

Cell: 412-736-9532

PITTSBURGH-The University of Pittsburgh has named 13 new Legacy Laureates, Pitt alumni recognized for their outstanding personal and professional accomplishments. The laureates will be honored Oct. 20, Legacy Laureate Day at Pitt, with a by-invitation-only dinner. They also will participate in an "Emerging Leaders" panel discussion with Pitt students and "Pathway to Professions," a career networking event for Pitt alumni.

Pitt's Legacy Laureate program was launched in 2000. Following are biographies of this year's laureates.

Robert Abraham

Pharmacologist Robert Abraham has devoted much of his life to understanding how chemicals affect the functioning of cells. His research is leading to the identification of novel targets for anticancer drug discovery. Abraham earned the Ph.D. in Pharmacology degree at the University of Pittsburgh, where he was a University Scholar and the Robert Lincoln McNeil Memorial Fellow. He then forged a distinguished career as director, professor, and consultant at the Mayo Clinic and Mayo Foundation; as Duke University's Glaxo-Wellcome Professor of Molecular Cancer Biology; and as professor and director of The Burnham Institute's Cancer Center in La Jolla, Calif. He is vice president of oncology at Wyeth Research in Pearl River, N.Y. His work continues to offer promising insights into effective treatments for cancer and other diseases.

Stanley Battle

Stanley Battle, an internationally recognized leader in social work and higher education, is president of Coppin State University in Baltimore, Md. Among his many accomplishments is the collaboration with a public elementary school, which Coppin State managed and eventually raised to the ranks of the very best. In his multifaceted career as a social worker, educator, researcher, and university administrator, Battle has created countless education opportunities for students, including the Presidential Scholars/Leadership Program, which annually provides a free education to five outstanding high school students. Described as "brilliant, dedicated, and committed to the best social work values," Battle earned the Master of Public Health and the Ph.D. degrees at the University of Pittsburgh.

Judith Davenport

As a practicing dentist for 20 years, Judith Davenport long championed the elimination of healthcare disparities. She appeared in Fred Rogers' award-winning book, Going to the Dentist, and cofounded Sheridan Broadcasting Corporation, the nation's largest Black-owned-and-operated radio network. She earned the Master of Public Health and Doctor of Dental Medicine degrees at the University of Pittsburgh, and she is a member of Pitt's Graduate School of Public Health (GSPH) Board of Visitors and Center for Minority Health Advisory Board and chairs GSPH's Porter Prize Committee. She became the first Black woman chair of the Carlow University Board of Trustees. A board member of such organizations as the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh Public Theater, Davenport is a community leader whose service extends to promotion of the arts.

Peter DeComo

Widely recognized for his leadership, Peter DeComo was a finalist for the 2004 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award, in recognition of his 20-plus-year career in the healthcare industry. A recipient of both the Bachelor and Master of Science degrees in health-related professions from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences (SHRS), he has guided a number of leading-edge healthcare start-ups to success, including Pittsburgh-based Renal Solutions, a company he cofounded that is pioneering portable kidney dialysis machines for the home market. A member of the advisory committee of the Pittsburgh Life Sciences Greenhouse, DeComo has been a vital force in establishing the Pittsburgh region as a burgeoning center of the biotechnology industry. He was recently recognized with SHRS' 2005 Dean's Choice Award.

Sung-Hou Kim

Honored for his life-saving scientific discoveries with election to the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts & Sciences as well as honorary membership in the National Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Korea, Sung-Hou Kim is a world authority on structural biology and structural and computational genomics and proteomics. The holder of 14 patents and cofounder of the drug discovery company Plexxikon, he has contributed to the discovery of drugs that interact with proteins to correct defects believed to cause specific diseases. Kim, who received the Ph.D. in Chemistry degree from Pitt, has served as a faculty member at several leading research universities, including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Duke University Medical School, and the University of California, Berkeley. As the head of the Structural Biology Department at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, he led the team that mapped the protein universe.

William Lerach

A leading securities class-action lawyer in the United States, William Lerach has pursued top executives at Enron, WorldCom, Tyco International, and other high-profile corporations, recovering billions of dollars for defrauded shareholders. Lerach is ranked by The National Law Journal as one of the nation's 100 most influential lawyers and included in the prestigious Best Lawyers of America list. He earned the B.A. in political science and J.D. degrees at the University of Pittsburgh and, as a law student, was elected to the prestigious Order of the Coif. His generosity has enabled other students to study law at Pitt. He has served on the law school's board of visitors and received the school's Distinguished Alumnus of the Year Award in 1997.

Margaret McMillion

Margaret McMillion, deputy commandant for international affairs at the U.S. Army War College, had a distinguished Foreign Service career, including serving as the U.S. ambassador to the Republic of Rwanda from 2001 to 2004; deputy chief of mission in Vientiane, Laos; and director of the Office of Analysis for African in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research. Noted for accepting challenging assignments in developing countries, she has been widely praised for her work on the internally acclaimed art exhibition Regrowth, Rebirth & Reconciliation, helping Rwandans explore ways to heal from the 1994 genocide. McMillion is a three-time recipient of the U.S. Department of State's Superior Honor award. She earned the Master of Public and International Affairs degree at the University of Pittsburgh.

Arturo Porzecanski

A renowned expert in international finance, emerging markets, and Latin American economics and politics, Arturo Porzecanski earned the M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in economics at the University of Pittsburgh. He recently left Wall Street after nearly 30 years as emerging markets chief economist at several prominent financial institutions and is now devoted to teaching, research, and consulting in international economics and finance. A scholar in residence at American University and an adjunct professor at both Columbia and New York universities, Porzecanski received a certificate in Latin American Studies from Pitt's University Center for International Studies and is now a member of the center's Board of Visitors. He holds memberships in the Council on Foreign Relations, the American Economics Association, the Council of the Americas, and the National Association for Business Economics.

Stewart Sell

Distinguished University of Pittsburgh graduate Stewart Sell made medical history by developing the test for alpha-fetoprotein, which allows screening for birth defects and has contributed to a better understanding of liver cancer's root cause. Sell, who earned his medical degree at Pitt's School of Medicine, has authored more than 20 books on such critical topics as immunology, stem cells, and cancer markers. A former faculty member at Pitt and other universities, he continues to make his mark on the world of medicine as an Ordway Research Institute senior scientist and biomedical sciences professor at the University of Albany School of Public Health. He earned the Philip S. Hench Distinguished Alumnus Award from the School of Medicine.

Jack Shilling

Industry leader Jack Shilling is executive vice president of strategic initiatives and technology and chief technology officer for Allegheny Technologies Inc. He built an acclaimed career at Allegheny Ludlum Corporation before being tagged by the parent company to help develop the corporation's international initiative, serving as chair of the board of its precision rolled strip joint venture in Shanghai, China. As chair of the U.S. Specialty Metals Trade Association, he testified before Congress on U.S. manufacturing in specialty metals. Shilling also dedicates himself to groups ranging from the Southwestern Pennsylvania Industrial Resource Center to the Advanced Manufacturing Network to the Civic Light Opera. Shilling earned the Ph.D. in Metallurgical Engineering degree at Pitt and has been honored with the School of Engineering's Distinguished Alumnus Award.

Tom Slone

Tom Slone received the Bachelor of Science in Psychology degree from the University of Pittsburgh and went on to build a successful business career with Associates First Capital Corporation, from which he retired as president of U.S. consumer finance operations. He also founded his own company, Touchstone Communications, which provides offshore integrated customer contact solutions for the financial services and communications industries. His commitment to the University includes working with Pitt and Pakistan's president to help meet that nation's higher education needs, serving as a member of the College of General Studies Board of Visitors and the school's campaign committee, and establishing a scholarship program for students involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters. He also serves as a mentor for that organization and as a member of the board of directors of the North Texas Chapter.

Raymond Smith

Ray Smith served for 10 years as the top corporate officer of Bell Atlantic (now Verizon), where he oversaw the acquisitions of NYNEX and GTE, two of the largest transactions in business history. Among his many honors is being named CEO of the Year by CNBC and Top Manager of the Year by Business Week. He received the M.B.A from Pitt and served as a University trustee for nearly a decade. He was recognized with the University's Bicentennial Medallion of Distinction. He served on the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities, the National Forum on Education and Technology, and advisory boards of the U.S. House of Representatives and the Library of Congress. The NAACP and the National Center for Learning Disabilities also have honored him for his support of civil rights and diversity. He currently serves as chair of Rothschild North America and is a founding partner of Arlington Capital Partners.

Holly Ann Williams

Holly Ann Williams graduated magna cum laude with the Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree from the University of Pittsburgh. She is a captain with the U.S. Public Health Service and in the malaria epidemiology branch in the Division of Parasitic Diseases at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Ga., where she is a nurse epidemiologist/anthropologist. Williams has conducted international health missions for the CDC, the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the World Health Organization, Roll Back Malaria, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, and foreign departments and ministries. Her work involves direct care, teaching, research, and collaboration in global health, with a focus on malaria control. She has had professional assignments in such countries as Tanzania, Mozambique, Kenya, and Zambia. Pitt's School of Nursing has honored her with its 2005 Distinguished Alumna Award.

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