The University of Pittsburgh
School of Arts & Sciences Snapshot

June 2010 Issue


Karla Boos: Taking a Quantum Leap into Experimental Theatre >

“Engrossing, bewildering, provocative, vivid and unrelenting.”

“An epic, poetic, highly theatrical provocation.”

“Assaulting you in fragments, jumping over time and place, even as the actors beckon you to follow them into shadowy new corners.”

These are just a few of the comments published by Pittsburgh theatre critics after Karla Boos and Quantum Theatre premiered their latest play, Heiner Müller’s The Task, in May. They’re not unusual comments when it comes to Quantum—a theatre which, by its very definition, bucks tradition.

Set in Jamaica in 1799, the action of The Task revolves around three emissaries of the French Republic who arrive planning to incite a slave rebellion. Read More.

In Focus

Yann Le Gall: Transcending
Boundaries >

Student. Computer programmer. Artist. Engineer.

These labels all describe University of Pittsburgh student Yann Le Gall. He’s a Princeton grad who decided after earning his bachelor of science degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering in 2008—an accomplishment that would make most 22-year-olds ready to call it a day—that he’d like to take his career in a different direction, which led him to Pitt’s computer science program. He’s also a talented artist who creates using traditional drawing and painting methods, as well as image editing software and a digital tablet.

His intensity and motivation have turned more than a few heads on campus. Le Gall has won the Alfred Moy√© Information Technology Fellowship, the K. Leroy Irvis Graduate Fellowship, and the University of Pittsburgh Chancellor’s Undergraduate Research Fellowship. He’s also a member of the University’s chapter of the venerable scientific research society Sigma Xi. Read More.

Close Up

Daniel Balderston: Capturing the Essence of a Literary Giant >

When Daniel Balderston walks into L.A. Murillo’s classroom in the spring of 1974, he doesn’t realize this moment will change his life. Murillo is a renowned Cervantes scholar teaching a course that focuses on famed Hispanic authors Cervantes, Unamuno, and Borges. Balderston is a Berkeley senior and English major. On paper, this course serves the simple purpose of filling a few final credit hours. In real life, it ends up sparking a lifelong fascination with Jorge Luis Borges—one of the 20th century’s most influential writers. 

Today, Balderston, Mellon Professor of Modern Languages at the University of Pittsburgh and director of the University’s Borges Center, is recognized as one of the foremost authorities on Borges’ life and work. Read More.

Wide Angle

New Program Helps Build a Bridge to Success >

The School of Arts and Sciences is committed to building a community of scholars who represent and reflect the diversity of the world around us. As part of that commitment, the School has a number of initiatives aimed at attracting and retaining underrepresented students, including the FOCUS peer mentoring program and the K. Leroy Irvis Fellowships.One of the most recent efforts aimed at increasing the diversity of the School’s graduate student body, the Hot Metal Bridge Program, was launched in 2009.

The Hot Metal Bridge Program—named after the signature Pittsburgh structure that links Oakland to the city’s South Side—is a two-semester, post-baccalaureate fellowship program for underrepresented students, designed to “bridge the gap” between an undergraduate degree and a graduate training program, and to help individuals prepare themselves for a successful program of doctoral studies. As part of the inaugural year of this three-year pilot program, the School offered two-semester fellowships, including tuition and stipend, for up to nine qualified fellows in three featured academic disciplines, English, mathematics, and psychology. During the second year of the program, computer science will replace mathematics among the three areas of concentration. Read More.


Kirk Savage, professor and chair of the Department of History of Art and Architecture, has been awarded the 2010 Charles C. Eldredge Prize for Distinguished Scholarship in American Art by the Smithsonian American Art Museum for his book, Monument Wars: Washington, D.C., the National Mall, and the Transformation of the Memorial Landscape (University of California Press, 2009). Read the University Times story.

Graham Hatfull, Eberly Family Professor and chair of the Department of Biological Sciences, was selected for a prestigious Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professorship and two grants. Hatfull’s selection for the HHMI Professors Program includes $800,000 to support his nationally implemented Phage Hunter program. Established in 2002, the Phage Hunter program takes students into the field to collect and study the genetics of bacteriophages, tiny viruses that infect bacteria and show promise in treating such human diseases as tuberculosis. More information on the Phage Hunter project is available on Hatfull’s Pitt Web site and more information on the HHMI awards is available on the Institute’s Web site.

Barbara Warnick, chair of the Department of Communication,has been chosen as a Fellow of the Rhetoric Society of America. Fellows of the Rhetoric Society of America are named by the Board of Directors in recognition of sustained and distinguished scholarship, teaching, and service to the field of rhetoric studies.

On May 3, the School of Arts and Sciences welcomed Joelleen Yerace as the new director of constituent relations. In this newly created position, her responsibilities include building relationships with Arts and Sciences graduates by establishing individual connections, assisting departments in the development of alumni and friends programs, and coordinating school-level alumni events.

Says Yerace, “I am excited to work with you, our alumni and friends, to build mutually beneficial lifelong connections with the University, School of Arts and Sciences, and the departments with which you are affiliated. Your feedback is important to the future success of the School. Should you have any questions, comments or suggestions, feel free to contact me directly at or 412-624-7283.”

Prior to joining the School of Arts and Sciences, Yerace served in a similar role for the University’s School of Information Sciences, where she managed alumni relations and development efforts.

Steven Husted, a professor of economics in the School of Arts and Sciences, has been named interim dean of the University Honors College, effective August 1.

Husted's appointment follows the passing of longtime dean and founder of the University Honors College G. Alec Stewart, on April 7, 2010. Read the full announcement of Husted’s appointment.

The University of Pittsburgh will celebrate Homecoming 2010 during the weekend of October 28-31. Highlights will include a welcome back reception and a fireworks and laser show on Friday, October 29, and, of course, the Pitt vs. Louisville football game on Saturday, October 30. Please check the Alumni Association Web site at for a complete schedule of activities.

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