University of Pittsburgh
March 23, 2008

University of Pittsburgh's Cathedral of Learning To Be Featured April 16 on the Travel Channel's "John Ratzenberger's Made In America"

Contact:  412-624-4147

PITTSBURGH-The Cathedral of Learning, the University of Pittsburgh's renowned and architecturally stunning landmark, will be featured at 9:30 p.m. April 16 on the Travel Channel's "John Ratzenberger's Made In America "program. This season of the program will feature behind-the-scenes tours of some of the country's most fascinating American-made wonders, including Pitt's Cathedral of Learning.

In November, a Travel Channel crew filmed the interior and exterior of the Cathedral. Led by E. Maxine Bruhns, director of Pitt's Nationality Rooms and Intercultural Exchange Programs, the film crew toured the Cathedral's nooks and crannies and more than a dozen of the Cathedral's 26 Nationality Rooms. The crew also took footage of the American Master Blacksmith Samuel Yellin's iron gates in the Commons Room and ventured to the 40th floor's Babcock Room to see the peregrine falcons, Erie and Dorothy, that nest on a ledge outside a window.

Also interviewed for the segment was Pitt Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg, who explained to Ratzenberger how the Cathedral owes its existence to the vision and persistence of the late John G. Bowman, Pitt's chancellor from 1921 to 1945. Bowman is attributed with saying of the Cathedral, "They shall find wisdom here and faith-in steel and stone, in character and thought-they shall find beauty, adventure, and moments of high victory."

To fund the costs of the 1920s construction project, a $10 million public fundraising campaign was launched. More than 97,000 schoolchildren each contributed a dime in exchange for a certificate testifying that they were "Builders of the Cathedral of Learning." That campaign is considered one of the first modern fundraising drives.

Alice Sapienza Donnelly, an 87-year-old surviving "builder" with longstanding connection to Pitt, told the Travel Channel host how she gave a dime at the age of 7 or 8 years old. Sapienza Donnelly earned her B.A. degree in English literature in 1974 and the M.A. degree in communication in 1983, both at the University of Pittsburgh. She also taught public speaking and parliamentary rhetoric at Pitt in the evenings for 28 years.

For a history lesson on the architecture of the symbolic structure, Ratzenberger interviewed University Architect Park Rankin. Designed by Philadelphia architect Charles Zeller Klauder, the Cathedral was the world's tallest educational building at the time it was built-now surpassed only by the tower of Russia's Moscow State University. The Cathedral was designated a National Landmark by the National Park Service on Nov. 3, 1975, and designated by the Pittsburgh City Council as a Historic Structure on Feb. 22, 1977.

A profile of the Cathedral wouldn't be complete without highlighting the recently completed $4.8 million exterior preservation project, which Nordenberg discussed with the television host. The 2007 cleaning removed 70 years of soot and grime from the 42-story, 535-foot Gothic Revival tower. Video footage also was shot of the courtyard where several stones remain uncleaned-preserving the history of the steeltown's effect on the city of Pittsburgh's most visible landmark.


"John Ratzenberger's Made In America" is produced for the Travel Channel by Creative Differences. For Creative Differences, Erik Nelson is the executive producer and Dave Harding is the co-executive producer. David Gerber is the executive producer for the Travel Channel.

For series photography, go to More photo options, video clips and episode guides are available upon request by calling Diane McNamara at

617-304-1940 or e-mailing

About Travel Channel Media:

Travel Channel Media is an integrated travel media business, and is wholly owned by Cox Communications, Inc., a leading multi-service broadband communications and entertainment company. Travel Channel Media includes: the Travel Channel television network, available in more than 90 million U.S. cable homes; Travel Channel HDTM, the network's high-definition simulcast;, the network's broadband travel hub; Travel Channel's video-on-demand (VOD) and mobile platforms; and World Hum (, a leading online travel blog.