University of Pittsburgh
April 19, 2010

University of Pittsburgh Offers Story Ideas for May 2 Commencement Coverage

Contact:  412-624-4147

PITTSBURGH-The University of Pittsburgh 2010 Commencement will take place at 2 p.m. May 2 at Pitt's Petersen Events Center, 3719 Terrace St., Oakland. Pitt engineering alumnus and trustee John A. Swanson, who helped revolutionize computer-aided engineering shortly after receiving his Pitt PhD degree in applied mechanics in 1966, will deliver the University's 2009 commencement address. Pitt will confer approximately 7,000 undergraduate, graduate, and professional degrees this year at its five campuses; Pitt-Bradford, Pitt-Greensburg, Pitt-Johnstown, and Pitt-Titusville will hold their own commencement ceremonies.

The following are suggestions for commencement stories.

Pitt School of Education Marks Its 100th Anniversary, Jumps in U.S. News Rankings

As the University of Pittsburgh School of Education prepares to celebrate its 100th anniversary this fall, the school has made some notable achievements, including a significant climb in the "U.S. News & World Report's" America's Best Graduate Schools rankings. The school is now among the top 25 schools of education in the country, advancing from 32nd last year to 23rd in this year's rankings. Highlights of these rankings appear in the May 2010 print issue of "U.S. News & World Report" magazine.

Founded in February 1910, the seed for Pitt's School of Education was planted by Edmund Burke Huey, who joined the Western University of Pennsylvania (later to become the University of Pittsburgh) in 1904 as a professor of psychology and education. In 1905, the school offered its first two courses on education for practicing teachers; Huey promoted the idea of a Teacher's College, prompting then-Chancellor Samuel Black McCormick to propose the creation of a school of education. Huey eventually left the University to pursue research on mental retardation and was replaced by Will Grant Chambers, who became the founding dean when the School of Education was created in September 1910.

The school's Center for Urban Education serves as a vital link to the regional K-12 educational community, leading the school's initiatives in urban education research, training, and practice. The center's partnership with the Pittsburgh Pubic School's University Prep School serves a national model for school district/university cooperation.

Among Pitt's other education and learning programs are the Learning and Research Development Center, founded in 1963, where scholars from across the University study what learning is, how it happens, and ways it can be improved; the Institute for Learning, which helps school districts around the country improve their performance; the Learning Policy Center, a universitywide effort dedicated to advancing ideas that encompass both education policy and learning theories; and the Department of Health and Physical Activity, which focuses its efforts on promoting physically active lifestyles and other health-related behaviors. For more information, contact Trish White at 412-624-9101 (office), 412-215-9932 (cell), and

Employment Outlook

The National Association of Colleges and Employers' Job Outlook 2010 Spring Update report shows employers plan to hire 5.3 percent more new college graduates in 2009-10 than they did in 2008-2009. That is the first positive news since October 2008, said Cheryl S. Finlay, director of Pitt's Office of Student Employment and Placement Assistance (SEPA). Pitt's SEPA connects students entering the marketplace to employers by providing a variety of innovative services. Employment development specialists representing designated industry sectors assist all jobs-seeking graduates with specialized services and resources. Finlay can be reached through Trish White at 412-624-9101 (office), 412-215-9932 (cell), and

Mother/son graduates

Nancy S. George and her son James T. George are earning degrees in information sciences, Nancy with a master's degree in library and information science and James with a bachelor's degree in information science. This is Nancy George's third degree from Pitt; she earned a bachelor's and master's degree in education in 1978 and 1986, respectively. A Beaver County resident, Nancy has taught middle school English for 30 years and says that education has always been a major part of her life. She was inspired to pursue her latest degree when James, the eldest of her three children, entered Pitt in 2006. James says that his mother's pursuit of education has been a lifelong inspiration to him and his family. Nancy and James George can be reached through Morgan Kelly at 412-624-4356 (office), 412-897-1400 (cell), or

Student Turned Morgan Stanley Trading Analyst

After having earned her BS in finance with a minor in economics, College of Business Administration (CBA) student Cara Repasky will embark on a career on Wall Street as an institutional equities trading analyst at Morgan Stanley. She is the founder, vice president, and former president of the CBA's Trading Pitt, the University's first investment club for undergraduate students. She served as an executive board member of the undergraduate finance club and a regular contributor and recruiter for the "Bulls & Bears Press, LLC," the largest collegiate financial news publication distributed to investment clubs at more than 60 universities internationally and a host of investment professionals. While at Pitt, she completed competitive internships at UBS Financial Services, PNC Capital Markets, Wachovia Securities, and UBS Investment Bank. Repasky can be reached through Amanda Leff Ritchie at 412-624-4238 (office), 412-337-3350 (cell), or

Think Globally, Plant (and Eat) Locally

Before Marc Schutzbank continues his education at the University of British Columbia, he hopes to help Pittsburghers eat a little better, for themselves and their communities. As a student in Pitt's Honors College, Schutzbank joined several other students to establish Plant 2 Plate, a farm at Forbes Avenue and Plainfield Street in Squirrel Hill that doubles as a model for local agriculture and sustainability. Only a few weeks from planting their first crops, the students of Plant 2 Plate also are designing tutorials about local agriculture and cooking with locally grown ingredients (a program they hope to pitch to Pittsburgh Public Schools). Schutzbank's foray into farming stems from his years at Pitt, from which he will graduate with a bachelor's in finance and in politics and philosophy. Schutzbank was recently awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to study green-roof urban agriculture in Vancouver, Canada, but will spend the summer in Pittsburgh seeing Plant 2 Plate through its inaugural season of herbs, fruit, and vegetables. The farm is funded by Pitt's Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation. For more information, contact Pitt News Representative Morgan Kelly at 412-624-4356 (office), 412-897-1400 (cell), or

From Science to the Stage

Following graduation, Ruffin Prentiss will be continuing his education at the prestigious Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University. The young actor, who originally enrolled at Pitt with intention of going to dental school, is graduating with a BA in theater arts, with honors, and a certificate in the Conceptual Foundations of Medicine. Prentiss' acting experience includes a number of Pitt Repertory and Kuntu Repertory Theatre productions, several radio and TV commercials, and a role as a featured extra in the Nick Nolte feature film "Warrior," filmed on the Pitt campus. Pretiss can be reached through Sharon Blake at 412-624-4364 (office), 412-277-6926 (cell), or

Minding the Tiniest Details

Jonathan Withers has an eye-and ear-for the minute components that form life's invisible monoliths: the words that make a language, the notes that produce a song, and the invisible particles that give the universe structure. Withers, of Pittsburgh's Regent Square neighborhood, will graduate May 2 with a Bachelor of Philosophy in music as well as a BS in physics and a certificate in Russian and Eastern European Studies (for Turkish). Withers will pursue his interest in music, language, and culture in his graduate studies in ethnomusicology at Harvard University, where he will focus on the music of Turkey and its influence on Turkish culture. To prepare, Withers will spend the summer in Turkey studying under a 2010 U.S. Department of State Critical Language Scholarship (CLS). Withers was one of the American students selected for the scholarship out of 5,300 applicants; he also received a CLS in 2009 to study in Turkey. For more information, contact Pitt News Representative Morgan Kelly at 412-624-4356 (office), 412-897-1400 (cell), or