Burton M. Tansky, Tracey Thomas Travis Named 2009 Distinguished Alumni Fellows

Issue Date: 
February 23, 2009
Burton Marvin TanskyBurton M. Tansky
Tracey Thomas TravisTracey Thomas Travis

The University of Pittsburgh Alumni Association has named Burton M. Tansky (A&S ’61), chair and chief executive officer of The Neiman Marcus Group, Inc., and Tracey Thomas Travis (ENG ’83), senior vice president of finance and chief financial officer at Polo Ralph Lauren Corporation, as Distinguished Alumni Fellows for 2009.

The fellows will be honored at the University’s annual Honors Convocation at 3 p.m. Feb. 27 in Carnegie Music Hall, 4400 Forbes Ave., Oakland.

The keynote speaker at Honors Convocation will be Raymond W. Smith, a former University trustee who received his MBA from Pitt’s Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business in 1969. Smith, who in 2008 was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, became chair of Verizon Ventures in 1999. He also was a founding partner of Arlington Capital Partners and chair of Rothschild, North America, Inc., part of the oldest international investment-banking firm in the world. Smith’s address is titled “Heisenberg’s ‘Certainty’ Principle.”

The convocation recognizes outstanding undergraduate, graduate, and professional student academic achievement; student leadership; and faculty accomplishments, including recipients of the 2009 Chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching Award, Chancellor’s Distinguished Research Award, and Chancellor’s Distinguished Public Service Award.

Brief biographies of the 2009 Distinguished Alumni Fellows follow.

Tansky, a member of Pitt’s Board of Trustees, joined Neiman Marcus in 1990 as chair and CEO of Bergdorf Goodman, serving in various senior executive positions before assuming his current position in 2000. After graduating from the University in 1961, he began his career as an assistant buyer at Kaufmann’s Department Store in Pittsburgh. Prior to his years at Neiman Marcus, Tansky worked for Filene’s in Boston, Mass.; Rike’s in Dayton, Ohio; Forbes and Wallace in Springfield, Mass.; I. Magnin in San Francisco, Calif.; and Saks Fifth Avenue in New York City.

A trustee since 2003, Tansky initially served as an alumni trustee from June 2003 to June 2007. He and his sister, Eva Tansky Blum—senior vice president, director of community affairs, and chair of the PNC Foundation, the PNC Financial Services Group—are cochairs of the University’s $2 billion Building Our Future Together capital campaign. Tansky also is a member of both the Board of Trustee’s Academic Affairs/Libraries Committee and the Institutional Advancement Committee.

In 2000, the University named Tansky a Pitt Legacy Laureate and, in 1990, he received the Pitt Alumni Association Award of Distinction. He is a lifetime member of the Pitt Alumni Association. In 2006, Tansky, Blum, and their sister, Shirley Gordon, supported and named the Tansky Family Lounge in the William Pitt Union in memory of their parents.

Among Tansky’s honors are a 2006 Superstar Award from Fashion Group International; a 2005 Museum of Arts and Design Visionaries! Award; a 2004 Gold Medal Award from the National Retail Federation, considered the highest honor in retailing; and, in 2002, an appointment as Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur by the French government.

Travis joined Ralph Lauren in 2005 following a corporate career at General Motors Corporation, Pepsi-Cola/Pepsi Bottling Group, the Beverage Can Americas Group of American National Can, and Intimate Brands, Inc.  She spent several years at Limited Brands, Inc., serving as chief financial officer from 2001 to 2002 and as senior vice president for finance from 2002 to 2004, prior to assuming her current position. At Ralph Lauren, Travis is responsible for corporate finance, financial planning and analysis, treasury, investor relations, information technology, tax, and corporate compliance.

Travis serves on the boards of Jo-Ann Stores Inc., the Lincoln Center Theater, the Executive Leadership Council Foundation, and the Ralph Lauren Center for Cancer Care and Prevention. She is treasurer of the Ralph Lauren Foundation and a member of Financial Executives International, the National Association of Corporate Directors, the New York Women’s Forum, and the Executive Leadership Council.

In 2005, Treasury and Risk Management Magazine recognized Travis as one of the Top 25 Women in Finance; in 2006, Black Enterprise magazine named her one of the top 50 Women in Business; and in 2008, she received the Best CFO award from Institutional Investor. This year, Black Enterprise magazine named Travis one of the Top 100 African Americans in Corporate America. In addition to earning her Pitt engineering degree, she received an MBA degree in finance and operations management from Columbia University Graduate School of Business.