Briefly Noted

Issue Date: 
November 8, 2010

Pitt Innovation in Education Awards Call for Proposals

The University of Pittsburgh Office of the Provost’s Advisory Council on Instructional Excellence (ACIE) is seeking proposals for the 2011 Innovation in Education Awards program.

The awards encourage instructional innovation and teaching excellence. The ACIE seeks high-quality proposals offering innovative and creative approaches to teaching that can be adapted for use in other courses. Annual funding of the 11-year-old program has averaged $173,000.

The deadline for proposal submissions is Monday, Jan. 31, 2011. All full-time and part-time faculty members on the five Pitt campuses are eligible to submit proposals or resubmit revised proposals that were not funded in a previous year. The award period will cover projects undertaken between May 1, 2011, and April 20, 2012.

The request for proposals is available at Summaries of projects successfully funded in previous years are available on the same Web site under the Teaching Times link.

Questions about the submission process should be directed to Linda Wykoff in the Office of the Provost at or 412-624-5760.

Novelist Michael Thomas to Speak Nov. 11

The Pittsburgh Contemporary Writers Series will host a lecture by novelist Michael Thomas, this year’s Fred R. Brown Literary Award winner, at 8:30 p.m. Nov. 11 in the University of Pittsburgh Frick Fine Arts Auditorium. The event is free and open to the public.

Thomas’ debut novel, Man Gone Down (Grove Press, 2006), was selected as one of The New York Times Book Review’s top five novels of the year and was a New York Times and a San Francisco Chronicle Notable Book winner. The book also won the 2009 IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, which is often described as the “largest and most international” literary prize in the world, after the Nobel. Thomas’ forthcoming memoir, The Broken King, is due out in 2011 and is about four generations of men in his family.

Born and raised in Boston, Thomas received his bachelor’s degree from Hunter College and his MFA from Warren Wilson College. Currently, he is a full-time professor of English at Hunter College.

The Fred R. Brown Literary Award recognizes fiction writers in the early stages of their careers. It carries a financial honorarium and is underwritten by Pitt alumni Fred R. (CAS ’71) and Melanie (CGS ’86, KGSB ’90, and KGSB ’93) Brown of Bethel Park, Pa.

This event is sponsored by Pitt’s Book Center, University of Pittsburgh Press, and Pitt’s Department of English. For more information, call 412- 624-6508, or visit

—By Jessica Myers

Pitt’s Annual Shakespeare Workshop for Teachers Is Set For Nov. 12

Sometimes the moans and groans about having to study Shakespeare can come from teachers as well as the students. To help educators make the Bard’s works more relevant and applicable to young people, the University of Pittsburgh’s Shakespeare-in-the-Schools (SITS) program offers its annual teacher workshop—“More Shakespeare Alive!”—from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Nov. 12 in the Stephen Foster Memorial.

The workshop fee is $75 and includes a boxed lunch.

“More Shakespeare Alive!” will be led by Gillian McNally, an assistant professor of theater education at the University of Northern Colorado. She will provide hands-on activities that teachers can apply to classroom instruction; they include building confidence in studying Shakespeare, exploring text and vocal techniques, and using movement to better understand Shakespeare’s storytelling.

Part of Pitt’s Department of Theatre Arts, SITS works to engage students and teachers with the writings of Shakespeare and other classical authors through touring shows, field-trip matinees, K-12 artist residencies, teacher workshops, talk-back sessions, and study guides. For more information, visit

To register for the Nov. 14 workshop, visit, e-mail, or call 412-624-3459. Last year, 30 teachers from 15 counties attended; this year, the program can accommodate 40 participants.

—By Sharon S. Blake

Pitt to Host 25th Annual Polish Festival Nov. 14

The University of Pittsburgh will host the 25th annual Polish Festival from noon to 5 p.m. Nov. 14 in the Commons Room of the Cathedral of Learning.

The family-oriented Polish Festival, which is free and open to the public, will feature a variety of entertainment, crafts, food, and  traditional folk music and dancing. There will be performances by the Lajkonik folk dancers of McKeesport, and musician Radoslaw Fizek will perform traditional folk songs. A variety of Polish imported goods will be available for purchase.

Traditional Polish food will include pierogi (filled dumplings); golabki (stuffed cabbage); kielbasa (Polish sausage); kapusta (sauerkraut), and kluski z kapusta (noodles and cabbage).

Sponsors of the event are Pitt’s Nationality Rooms Program and the Polish Nationality Room Committee. Funds raised will help support the Polish Nationality Room Committee’s Summer Abroad Scholarship program, which enables one or two undergraduate or graduate students to study Polish culture and language abroad.

For more information, call 412-231-1493.

—By Jessica Myers

GSPH Conference on Health Effects of Shale Gas Extraction Is Set for Nov. 19

The University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Public Health (GSPH) will hold a Nov. 19 conference on the health impact of extracting, refining, and delivering natural gas from shale deposits, including the Marcellus Shale. The conference will be held from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the University Club.

Pitt speakers include Donald Burke, GSPH dean; Bernard Goldstein, a professor and former dean of GSPH; Jane Clougherty, an assistant professor in GSPH’s Department of Environmental and Occupational Health; and Dan Bain, assistant professor in the Department of Geology and Planetary Science. Presenters from other universities and schools of public health include faculty from Bucknell, Cornell, Temple, Colorado School of Public Health, and University of North Texas Health Science Center School of Health.

Natural gas plays a key role in the nation’s clean-energy future and energy independence. Over the past few years, there has been increased gas extraction—and especially the use of hydraulic fracturing to recover gas over a wider range of geographic regions and geologic formations. However, as with any technology that involves managing potentially toxic substances, there have been increasing concerns about the impact of increased hydraulic fracturing and other gas-extraction procedures on drinking water resources, air quality, public health, and the environment in the vicinity of gas extraction facilities.

There is no cost to attend the daylong conference, but registration is required. For more information, visit or call 412-383-7540.

Pitt’s Fall 2010 Wherrett Lecture on Sustainability Planned for Nov. 30

Innovative sustainability will be the subject of a lecture at the University of Pittsburgh, presented by George Frederickson, the Edwin O. Stene Distinguished Professor of Public Administration at the University of Kansas and director of that university’s  Metropolitan Studies Center. Titled “When Innovation Meets Sustainability: Building Better Cities,” the lecture will take place at 9 a.m. Nov. 30 in Ballroom A of the University Club. It is a part of the Fall 2010 Wherrett Lecture Series and is sponsored by Pitt’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs (GSPIA).

Frederickson is an advocate for public service. Among his areas of interest are public administration ethics and theories, multilevel governance, and American local government. In 2007, Frederickson received the Lifetime Contribution to Social Equity Award from Virginia Commonwealth University’s Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs.

Cosponsored by the Allegheny Conference on Community Development and the Congress of Neighboring Communities, among others, the GSPIA Innovation Clinic’s Wherrett Lecture Series brings together government, academic, nonprofit, and private-sector leaders in an effort to identify, address, and solve regional public affairs issues.

The event is free and open to the public, though an RSVP is required by Nov. 19. A continental breakfast will be provided 30 minutes prior to the event. For more information or to RSVP, contact the Innovation Clinic at 412-648-2282 or

—By Sierra L. Starks