University of Pittsburgh
August 17, 2008

Nearly 400 Women to Receive "Light of Learning" During Pitt's Traditional Lantern Night Ceremony Aug. 24

Contact:  412-624-4147

PITTSBURGH-Nearly 400 incoming freshmen and first-year transfer women will receive the "light of learning" from University of Pittsburgh alumni "flame-bearers" during the 88th annual Lantern Night Ceremony at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 24 in Heinz Memorial Chapel, Fifth and Bellefield avenues, Oakland.

The student participants will gather at 7 p.m. in the Cathedral of Learning Commons Room to receive a lantern and prepare for the 7:25 p.m. procession to the chapel.

With unlit lanterns, the women will process on the parallel sidewalks located between the cathedral's Bellefield Avenue entrance and the chapel to the 7:30 p.m. ceremony. During the event, Pitt alumni "flame-bearers," including several mothers and grandmothers of incoming students, will light the lanterns, which will remain lit for the remainder of the program. Carrying the burning lanterns, the new students will process back to the Commons Room for a reception.

Donna Sanft (EDUC '74, '89), Pitt executive associate athletic director, will give the Lantern Night Address. Other program participants include Patti Mathay (KGSB '92), Pitt Alumni Association Alumnae Council Lantern Night Chair, who will offer a greeting and history of Lantern Night; Whitney Hawkins, president of Pitt's Panhellenic Association, who will provide the student welcome; Jack Smith (A&S '69, MED '73), Pitt Alumni Association president-elect, who will give the alumni welcome; and Pitt Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg who will deliver the University welcome. Following the remarks, "flame-bearers" will light the lanterns.

Sanft received bachelor's and master's degrees in health and physical education from Pitt. As a student, she was a member and three-year captain of the gymnastics team and was named Pitt's Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year in 1974. In 1999, the Pitt Varsity Letter Club named Sanft as an "Awardee of Distinction," the first female to receive the honor.

While coaching the Panthers' gymnastics team for 12 years, Sanft compiled an 82-50-1 record and was twice selected the Eastern Collegiate Coach of the Year. She helped produce Pitt's only NCAA champion in women's gymnastics, Lisa Shirk.

For the past two decades, Sanft served as senior associate athletic director for administration, student life, and compliance and as interim athletic director in the Department of Athletics.

Last year, she was named a recipient of the 2007 Chancellor's Award for Staff Excellence in service to the University. She is also a 2008 inductee into the Mid Mon Valley All Sports Hall of Fame.

Lantern Night is one of the University's oldest traditions. The Alumnae Council of the Pitt Alumni Association and Pitt's Office of Student Life cosponsor the ceremony.

For more information, call 412-624-8229 or 1-800-258-7488.