Briefly Noted

Issue Date: 
January 23, 2012

Measuring Poverty Is Topic of Jan. 25 CRSP Lecture

The University of Pittsburgh Center on Race and Social Problems (CRSP) launches its Reed Smith Spring 2012 Speaker Series Jan. 25 with a noon lecture by Kathleen Short, research economist with the U.S. Census Bureau.

Short’s talk, titled “The Supplemental Poverty Measure: Taking Account of Taxes and Transfers,” will take place in the School of Social Work Conference Center on the 20th floor of the Cathedral of Learning. It is free and open to the public, and registration is not required; lunch will be provided. For more information, call 412-624-7382.

Short’s work with the Census Bureau made news last fall when the bureau released its first supplemental poverty measure, which took into account the impact of many forms of noncash public assistance, such as food stamps, housing subsidies, and energy assistance. Under the new measure, the poverty threshold for a family with two adults and two children in 2010 was $24,343, more than $2,000 higher than the official threshold of $22,113.

After earning a PhD in economics from the University of Michigan, Short joined the Census Bureau in 1984. She has worked primarily in the area of measuring economic well-being and developing an international database on children’s well-being.

—Sharon S. Blake

Poets Wayne Koestenbaum, Myung Mi Kim to Give Reading Jan. 26

Noted poets Wayne Koestenbaum, Distinguished Professor of English at The Graduate Center of the City University of New York, and Myung Mi Kim, professor of English at the University at Buffalo, State University of New York, will read from their works as part of the Pittsburgh Contemporary Writers Series at 8:30 p.m. Jan. 26 in the University of Pittsburgh’s Frick Fine Arts Auditorium. The event is free and open to the public.

The reading will be followed by a conversation about life, work, and literary friendship moderated by poet Dawn Lundy Martin, assistant professor of English in Pitt’s Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences.

The 2011-12 Pittsburgh Contemporary Writers Series season is sponsored by Pitt’s Writing Program and The Book Center.

A celebrated poet and cultural critic, Koestenbaum is the author of five books of poetry, five works of criticism, a novel, and two mixed-genre works. His work of criticism The Queen’s Throat was nominated for a National Book Critics Circle Award and Koestenbaum received a Whiting Writers’ Award in 1994.

Kim is an avant-garde poet who often employs fragmentary language in her work to explore issues of dislocation, colonization, immigration, loss of her first language, and the fallout of history. Among her recent honors are a residency at the University of Minnesota as Edelstein-Keller Writer in Residence and an award from the Fund for Poetry.

For more information about the Pittsburgh Contemporary Writers Series, call 412-624-6508 or visit

— Baindu Saidu

Call for 2012 Baranger Teaching Award Nominations

The University of Pittsburgh’s Arts and Sciences Graduate Student Organization is accepting nominations for the 2012 Elizabeth Baranger Excellence in Teaching Award.

The award, named after Elizabeth Baranger, a professor emeritus in Pitt’s Department of Physics and Astronomy and a former vice provost for graduate studies, honors outstanding teaching by graduate students in the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences.

The deadline for submissions is Feb. 1. Nominations may be submitted by Pitt faculty, teaching assistants, and teaching fellows, as well as by graduate and undergraduate students. To be eligible for the $250 award, an instructor must have been enrolled as a graduate student in the Dietrich School and have taught a class in any semester of the previous calendar year, 2011. Winners will be notified on April 2.

Nomination forms are available at Questions may be directed to Katherine Martin ( or Michael Lipschultz (

—Baindu Saidu

Pitt Ranked a Best Value in Public Higher Education

The University of Pittsburgh ranks as the top value in Pennsylvania for in-state students, the nation’s 15th-best value for out-of-state students, and the country’s 29th-best value for in-state students in The Kiplinger 100: Best Values in Public Colleges, 2011-12, published in the February 2012 issue of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, currently available on newsstands. The rankings can be accessed online at

Kiplinger’s, which has been producing its Best Values in Public Colleges rankings since 1998, has called the top 100 institutions in its listing “four-year institutions that deliver a stellar education at an affordable price.”

According to Kiplinger’s, its editors start with data from more than 500 public four-year schools and then narrow the list to about 120 schools “based on measures of academic quality, including SAT or ACT scores, admissions and retention rates, student-faculty ratios, and four- and six-year graduation rates. The editors then rank each school based on cost and financial aid. Academic quality carries more weight than costs.” This year, Kiplinger’s states that it “revamped the rankings” to give additional weight “to academic value, such as the percentage of students who return for sophomore year and the four-year graduation rate. Cost criteria include low sticker prices, abundant financial aid, and low average debt at graduation.”

“As states cut funding for higher education and tuition continues to climb, the word ‘value’ becomes more significant than ever,” says Jane Bennett Clark, senior editor at Kiplinger’s Personal Finance. “This year’s top 100 public schools deliver strong academics at reasonable prices. We applaud these institutions for tightening their belts without compromising quality.”

—John Harvith

Sock-a-Thon Launched to Help Those in Need

Pitt’s Office of Community and Governmental Relations has begun a sock drive to provide several shelters, day-care/after-school centers, and the homeless with new socks for use during this cold season.

Socks of all sizes can be dropped off in Room 710 Alumni Hall until March 30.

A campus flyer advertising the campaign asks the Pitt family, in recognition of the University’s 225th anniversary celebration, to “please recruit your coworkers, family, and friends to join Community Relations in one of its many ‘Acts of Kindness’ projects by supplying socks (new, of course) to those less fortunate.”

Questions may be addressed to Gwen Watkins, community activities coordinator for Pitt’s Office of Community and Governmental Relations, 412-624-7702,