Alumni Association Names Distinguished Fellows

Issue Date: 
February 18, 2008

The University of Pittsburgh Alumni Association has named three Distinguished Alumni Fellows for 2008:

  • Ralph J. Cappy (A&S ’65, LAW ’68), retired chief justice of Pennsylvania;
  • Young Woo Kang (EDUC ’73,’76), president of Education and Rehabilitation Exchange Foundation International; and
  • Roslyn M. Litman (A&S ’49, LAW ’52), president of Litman Law Firm, Downtown.

The three fellows will be honored at the University’s annual Honors Convocation at 2 p.m. Feb. 29 in Carnegie Music Hall, 4400 Forbes Ave., Oakland.

Brief biographies of the honorees follow.

Cappy, chair of Pitt’s Board of Trustees, was elected to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in 1990 and appointed chief justice in 2003. He retired from the court on
Jan. 7, 2008, and has taken a job with the private Downtown law firm of Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC.

After graduating from Pitt’s law school, Cappy spent one year in private practice. From 1968 to 1978, he held various positions, including first assistant homicide attorney and then deputy director and chief public defender in the Office of the Public Defender. In 1978, Cappy was appointed to be a judge on the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas and was elected to that court the following year. He later was appointed as administrative judge of the court’s civil division, serving from 1986 to 1990.

Cappy has served on the University’s Board of Trustees since 1992 and has been its chair since 2003. He also is on Pitt’s School of Law Board of Visitors, where he is past chair. Other board service includes serving on UPMC’s Board of Directors since 1998 and as its vice chair since 2003.

Among Cappy’s honors are an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Widener University, Pitt School of Law Distinguished Alumnus Award, Pitt Legacy Laureate, Mothers Against Drunk Driving Citation of Merit, Pennsylvania State Police Man of the Year, Pennsylvania Fraternal Order of Police Man of the Year, Pennsylvania Bar Association Judicial Award, Sons of Italy Man of the Year, Italian Heritage Foundation Man of the Year, the Allegheny County Academy of Trial Lawyers Judicial Service Award, and in 2007, the Harry Carrico Award from the National Center for State Courts, Williamsburg, Va. In addition, the late U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist appointed Cappy to the U.S. Judicial Conference Committee on Federal-State Jurisdiction, on which he still serves.

Cappy also received the Bar Medals from both the Philadelphia and Pennsylvania bar associations. The Pennsylvania Bar Medal is one of only nine bar medals, awarded in the association’s 112-year history. He was admitted to the Bar of the U.S. Supreme Court in 1975 and is a member of the Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, and American Bar associations.

He was elected a fellow of the American Bar and Allegheny Bar foundations in 1996.

Kang, who grew up in Korea and was blinded while playing soccer as a child, is known worldwide for his accomplishments as a disability advocate.

Kang faced discrimination in Korea after his accident and was told that his only career options were to become a fortune-teller or masseuse. He persisted in his fight against discrimination and became the first blind graduate of Yonsei University in Korea. Through support from a Rotary Foundation Ambassadorial Scholarship, Kang came to Pitt in 1973 and, over the next three years, earned master’s degrees in special education and rehabilitation counseling as well as a doctorate in education. He became the first blind Korean to earn a doctoral degree.

Kang is a presidential appointee to the National Council on Disability, an independent federal agency that makes recommendations to the president and U. S. Congress regarding issues affecting those with disabilities. He also is the founding president of the Education and Rehabilitation Exchange Foundation, a nonprofit organization in the United States and Korea that promotes equal participation for the disabled.

Kang’s advocacy work includes serving as senior advisor at the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute, vice chair of the World Committee on Disability, and a board member, from 1998 to 2004, of the Goodwill Industries International.

His publications include The Wisdom-Driven Life: Seven Keys to Successful Living (Abingdon Press, 2007), My Disability—God’s Ability: 7 Principles of Triumphant Life (Abingdon Press, 2004), and A Light in My Heart: Faith and Hope and the Handicapped (Westminster John Knox Press, 1987), an autobiography published in six languages, made into an audio book, and adapted in Korea into a television drama in 1994 and a motion picture in 1997.

Kang has received numerous awards, including Commemorative Chair at Henry Wallace Visitors Center in Hyde Park, N.Y., Fairfax County Annual Human Rights Award in 2006, Yonsei University 2006 Distinguished Alumnus of the Year, Michigan State University’s Global Korea Award from the Council on Korean Studies in 2004, the Honorary Doctorate in Literature from Yonsei University in 2002, and Asian American Alliance’s Outstanding Contribution Award in 2002. The South Korean government honored Kang during its 50th anniversary in 1998 with the Outstanding Korean Living Abroad award, and in 1992, the Rotary Foundation gave him the 75 Candles award at its 75th anniversary, given to 75 Rotarians who had made significant contribution to world peace and understanding.

Litman has been a pioneer for women in the legal profession. After graduating first in her Pitt law school class, she founded Litman & Litman with her late husband, David, in 1952. She is a former adjunct professor of trial advocacy at Pitt and was the law school’s first female adjunct faculty member.

A member of the America Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Litman serves on the Greater Pittsburgh chapter’s board of directors and on the national board’s executive committee. She is a fellow of the Allegheny County Bar Foundation. In 1974, she was chair and, in 1975, president of the Allegheny County Bar Association’s Antitrust and Class Action Section, and president of its Federal Court Section in 1990. Litman is a Life Fellow of the Pennsylvania Bar Foundation, served as director of the Pennsylvania Bar Institute from 1979 to 1982, and was on both the Board of Governors and House of Delegates of the Pennsylvania Bar Association. She also served on several sections of the American Bar Association. Litman serves as a permanent delegate to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals Judicial Conference, has served on the Third Circuit Lawyers Advisory Committee, and chaired the Civil Justice Advisory Group of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania.

Among Litman’s many honors are the Roscoe Pound Foundation’s Award for Excellence in Teaching Trial Advocacy in 1996, Pitt School of Law’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 1996, the Federal Lawyer of the Year in 1999, the Marjorie H. Matson Civil Libertarian Award in 1999, Pitt Women’s Association Woman of the Year Award in 2001, and the Academy of Trial Lawyers Distinguished Service Award in 2004. She also is listed in the 2007 edition of The Best Lawyers in America for alternative dispute resolution.

Over the years, Litman has handled several prominent cases, including one against the National Basketball Association and another as chief lawyer for the ACLU against Allegheny County in the case of whether two separate holiday displays on public property violated the First Amendment’s establishment of religion clause.