University of Pittsburgh
June 28, 2001

The University of Pittsburgh Names Masonic Temple Ballroom in Honor of Outgoing Board Chair Connolly

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PITTSBURGH—The University of Pittsburgh Board of Trustees will honor outgoing Chair J. W. Connolly by dedicating the ballroom of the Masonic Temple as the "J.W. Connolly Ballroom," it was announced during the Board meeting Thursday, June 28, 2001.

J.W. Connolly, a retired senior vice president of H.J. Heinz Corporation, joined the Board of Trustees at Pitt in 1985, and became chair in 1995.

"We will always be indebted to J. Connolly for his leadership and vision in shaping the University of Pittsburgh into the world-class educational and research institution it is today," said Pitt Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg. "He has been a valuable source of wisdom, integrity, and guidance during my term as chancellor, and I am pleased that he will remain active as a member of the Board."

During his time as chair, Connolly led the trustees in developing a bold vision for the University of Pittsburgh that included five ambitious objectives:

• Aggressively pursuing excellence in undergraduate education;

• Maintaining excellence in research;

• Ensuring operational efficiency and effectiveness;

• Securing an adequate research base; and

• Partnering in community development.

Connolly also played a major role in securing the means necessary to accomplish those goals, serving as vice chair of the University's $500 million fundraising campaign.

During his tenure, the numbers and quality of students enrolled at the University increased after years of declining in the early '90s, as the school's reputation for educational excellence spread. Applications increased 97 percent during the past six years, and entering freshmen averaged 50 points higher in SAT scores during that period.

During Connolly's term, Pitt's annual research funding increased by more than $150 million—from $230 million to more than $380 million in the current fiscal year—and voluntary contributions rose more than 100 percent during that time.

While Connolly was chair, the University launched major construction and renovation projects on all five of its campuses, including the development of the Multi-Purpose Academic Complex and several other buildings.

Connolly's term also saw enhancements to student life that included additional and aesthetically pleasing housing, with the townhouse-style Bouquet Gardens dormitories, which addressed concerns from students and Oakland residents. In response to student surveys that identified improved recreational and sports facilities as a priority, the University recently began construction of the John M. and Gertrude E. Petersen Events Center, which centralized student activities, and created additional green space on campus, as well as providing the impetus to the football team's move to its new home at Heinz Field.

The University of Pittsburgh acquired the Masonic Temple in the early 1990s and committed $16 million to renovations that preserved most of the original wood doors, window casings, and baseboards, as well as many of the original light fixtures. The nine-story building, located on Fifth Avenue in Oakland between Lytton and Tennyson Avenues, was designed by Benno Janssen and constructed in 1914-15 as a meeting facility for local Masons.