Homecoming 2017 Recap

Homecoming 2017 Recap

More than 10,000 University of Pittsburgh alumni returned to the Oakland campus earlier this month to reunite with friends, classmates, and faculty members at Pitt’s 89th annual Homecoming celebration. A week-long series of events – more than 55 in all – offered a range of opportunities for University graduates of all ages to reminisce.

“I’m so excited to be back with my daughter who is also a Pitt grad,” said Roslyn Munsch (A&S’80) who enjoyed several events with her daughter Maria Munsch (ENG’14). “This is just so much fun.”

Traditional events included the Distinguished Alumni Fellows dinner, the Pitt Alumni Association (PAA) awards luncheon, the annual Welcome Back Reception, and the fireworks and laser show against the backdrop of the historic Cathedral of Learning. This year’s homecoming also featured several exciting new events, such as the Academic Showcase, Volunteer Summit, and Cabaret.

“What an outstanding week we had on campus,” said Associate Vice Chancellor and Executive Director for the PAA Jeff Gleim. “Thousands of alumni came back to reunite with friends and classmates, and to further strengthen their connections to the University.”

Distinguished Alumni

Among those returning alumni were four of Pitt’s most accomplished graduates who were recognized with the highest alumni award conferred by the University and Alumni Association: the Distinguished Alumni Fellow Award. At a special dinner ceremony, Chancellor Pat Gallagher and PAA President Gary Brownlee (KATZ’78) honored Carol and Gene McGrevin,Gordon Vanscoy, and Marna CuppWhittington for their outstanding personal and professional achievements.

Carol (EDUC’64) and Gene McGrevin (A&S’66)found success both individually and as a couple. Carol began her career in the classroom before transitioning first to public school administration and then to higher education where she focused on educational leadership. Since retiring, she has been an educational consultant and master trainer. 

Gene led the commercialization of Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scanning by co-founding PETNet Pharmaceutical and led the commercial introduction of therapies for cooling for post-sudden cardiac arrest patients as Chairman of Medivance. The couple cofounded MCG Partners, an investment company focused on education and health opportunities.

Gordon Vanscoy (PHARM’84 & KATZ’91) is a pioneer in the specialty pharmacy industry. Dr. Vanscoy founded PANTHERx Specialty Pharmacy, which specializes in medications for patients with rare and devastating conditions. He also founded UPMC’s Drug Information and Pharmacoepidemiology Center and developed one of the nation’s first anticoagulation clinic services.

Marna Cupp Whittington (A&S’70 & ’74) blazed a trail for like-minded women with her impressive resume of financial management positions with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the State of Delaware, and the University of Pennsylvania, as well as leadership roles within several illustrious corporate finance firms.

This year’s honorees join fewer than 60 other Pitt alumni who have been recipients of the Distinguished Alumni Fellow Award since its inception in 1993.

Volunteers Acknowledged

Homecoming 2017 also featured a day-long gathering of alumni volunteers. The Pitt Alumni Volunteer Summit is a new event designed to facilitate stronger connections among current volunteers as well as to provide ideas and opportunities for broader engagement.

“Our graduates are leaders in their communities both professionally and as volunteers,” Gleim noted. “They want to be engaged with other Pitt grads and help make a difference at the University.”

Anchoring this new event was the PAA annual volunteer awards luncheon which recognized five highly engaged alumni. John P. Gismondi (A&S’75, LAW’78) received the Bill Baierl Distinguished Alumni Service Award; Bruce Mountjoy (CGS’91) was recognized with the Volunteer Excellence Award; the Ivan and Mary Novick Award for Young Alumni Leadership was presented to Gordon Louderback (ENGR’13); and Darryl (A&S’89, MED’94) and Tracy Floyd (NURS’91) received the ROC Spirit Award.

More of Pitt’s Best

“Last spring, we conducted an alumni engagement survey—the most comprehensive in Pitt’s history,” Gleim said. “And while we look forward to sharing a final report on those results later this year, the preliminary feedback we received will help us design new programs as well as expand upon popular programs that are of particular interest to our alumni.”

For example, in addition to recognizing several of the University’s most outstanding alumni, this year’s programming shined a spotlight on several of Pitt’s world-renowned faculty. The first Academic Showcase, a panel discussion moderated by Provost Patricia Beeson, highlighted faculty researchers and the work that Pitt and UPMC are leading in data-driven discovery.

Panelists Dr. Paul Cohen, founding dean and professor of the School of Computing and Information; Dr. Michael Colaresi, William S. Dietrich II Chair of Political Science in the Dietrich School of Arts & Sciences; Dr. Rebecca Jacobson, vice president of analytics at UPMC Enterprises; and Dr. Jeremy Levy, distinguished professor of condensed matter physics in the Department of Physics and Astronomy and director of the Pittsburgh Quantum Institute, all shared their vision of how mining massive data sets will change the world and how Pitt will lead the way. 

Dozens of talented students in three musical groups delighted homecoming guests at the second annual Sounds of Pitt in Pitt’s Heinz Chapel. The University’s Women’s Choral Ensemble, String Orchestra, and the a cappella group comprised entirely of graduate health sciences students, PalPITTations, all performed signature pieces.

A Golden Year for Hillman Library

Gleim added that along with the wide array of events produced by the PAA, many schools, centers, and units also hosted events throughout homecoming week. Among the highlights was the kickoff of the Hillman Library’s year-long 50th anniversary celebration. Visiting alumni were given the opportunity to check out the library’s state-of-the-art One Button Video Recording Studio by recording their favorite “Hillman Story.”

Gleim said that the University plans a follow-up to the alumni engagement survey. This survey will explore the impact Pitt graduates have made around the world.

“We’re very grateful to all those who completed last spring’s survey and hope that they—along with all of our proud Pitt alumni—will take the time to respond and share their thoughts in our next survey.” Gleim said. “The input we receive from our graduates will continue to guide our planning for Homecoming as well as other programs and events, all with the goal of meeting the interests and needs of our alumni.”

Check back here at alumni.pitt.edu for details on next year’s 90th anniversary homecoming week, to be held in October 2018!

View additional photo galleries from Pitt Homecoming 2017 at http://www.alumni.pitt.edu/news-events/photo-galleries/.