Baldisseri, Cooper, and Glasco Win 2011 Chancellor’s Distinguished Public Service Award

Issue Date: 
February 21, 2011

Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg announced the winners of the 2011 Chancellor’s Distinguished Public Service Award, which will be given to the following three faculty members:

Marie Baldisseri, a professor in the Department of Critical Care Medicine, Pitt School of Medicine;

Rory Cooper, Distinguished Professor and FISA-Paralyzed Veterans of America Chair in the Department of Rehabilitation Science and Technology, Pitt School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences; and

Laurence Glasco, a professor in the Department of History, School of Arts and Sciences.

Each awardee will receive a $2,000 cash prize, a grant of $3,000 for the support of his or her public service activities, and recognition at the University of Pittsburgh’s 35th annual Honors Convocation, to be held at 3 p.m. Feb. 25 in Carnegie Music Hall, 4400 Forbes Ave., Oakland.

Baldisseri is being honored for her national and international humanitarian work in the service of public health. “As a physician with academic and clinical responsibilities in the field of critical care medicine, you have used your expertise far beyond the University,” the chancellor wrote in his award letter to Baldisseri. As a regular volunteer for numerous medical missions, Baldisseri was instrumental in designing and implementing the first intensive care unit in the capital city of Swaziland in southern Africa. Following the devastating 2010 earthquake in Haiti, she was part of a team that within three days brought the Society of Critical Care Medicine Fundamentals of Critical Care Support course to physicians in the Dominican Republic caring for Haitian earthquake victims. Recently, she founded the Critical Care Disaster Foundation, which is dedicated to working and teaching in areas preemptively, before a disaster strikes. “Further, you are incorporating this new knowledge in the training of students within the University and of colleagues within the profession,” the chancellor wrote.

Cooper is being recognized for his dedication to improving the lives of individuals with disabilities and for his leadership in the field of rehabilitation engineering. His academic accomplishments in this arena “have been unparalleled … as evidenced by your  distinguished academic appointments, by your nine issued or pending patents, and by your receipt of countless honors, including both The Olin Teague Award and the Paul Magnuson Award, among the highest forms of recognition from the Department of Veterans Affairs,” Nordenberg wrote in his notification letter. When he arrived at Pitt in 1994, Cooper founded the Human Engineering Research Laboratories, and, in 1999, the facility became the first, and remains the only, national VA Rehabilitation Research and Development Center of Excellence in Pennsylvania. The chancellor also noted Cooper’s creation of, and advising on, a number of programs for people with disabilities. His counseling services to the U.S. Department of Defense helped give Pittsburgh the edge in its selection as host of the 2011 National Veterans Wheelchair Games.

Glasco is being honored for his innovative efforts on behalf of, and tireless commitment to, preserving the history of Black Pittsburgh and for making that history available to current and future generations. Glasco’s dedication and the broad range of his work is evident in the methods he uses to communicate with diverse audiences, including documentaries, exhibitions, writings, presentations, and radio and television appearances. “Your stories serve the public by revealing the significant accomplishments of Frank E. Bolden, K. Leroy Irvis, Teenie Harris, Romare Bearden, and August Wilson, among others, and by celebrating black history in this region. As a result, individual citizens have come together in groups to form a vision for revitalizing their communities based on a collective memory,” the chancellor wrote in his notification letter to Glasco. Nordenberg added that Glasco’s work has brought national recognition to Pittsburgh as historians focus on the importance of Pittsburgh’s African American legacy.