Eva Tansky Blum, Toi Derricotte Named Distinguished Daughters of Pennsylvania

Issue Date: 
November 2, 2009
Eva Tansky BlumEva Tansky Blum
Toi DerricotteToi Derricotte

Pitt alumnus and trustee Eva Tansky Blum and noted poet, author, and Pitt Professor of English Toi Derricotte have been named Distinguished Daughters of Pennsylvania by Pennsylvania Governor Edward G. Rendell and First Lady Judge Marjorie O. Rendell. Blum and Derricotte were two of eight women recognized by the Rendells Oct. 21 as Distinguished Daughters of Pennsylvania for their contributions to a variety of fields.

Blum (A&S ’70, LAW ’73) is senior vice president and director of community affairs at PNC Bank and chair of the PNC Foundation. In this role, Blum directs the company’s philanthropic programs, including PNC Grow Up Great, a 10-year, $100 million program that was launched in 2004 to support quality early-childhood education. Actively involved in her alma mater, Blum, who received the Pitt Volunteer of the Year award in 1990, is a member of the Pitt Board of Trustees’ Executive and Institutional Advancement committees, chairs the board’s Student Affairs Committee, and cochairs Pitt’s
$2 billion Building Our Future Together capital campaign, the most successful fundraising campaign in the history of both Pitt and Western Pennsylvania; to date, the campaign has raised more than
$1.4 billion in support. She also serves on the Pitt School of Law Board of Visitors and is past president and a life member of the Pitt Alumni Association. She was one of 12 “Phenomenal (Pitt) Women” featured by Pitt Magazine in its Winter 2009 issue, was the 2001 recipient of the Carlow College Women of Spirit Award, was named in 1999 one of Pennsylvania’s Best 50 Women in Business by former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge, and was honored with the YWCA Tribute to Women Award in 1998.

A Pitt faculty member since 1998, Derricotte is cofounder and director of Cave Canem, the first workshop/retreat committed to the discovery and cultivation of new voices in African American poetry. She is the author of more than a thousand poems in published anthologies and journals as well as the books of poetry The Empress of the Death House (1978), Natural Birth (1983), Captivity (1989), and Tender (1997), winner of the 1998 Paterson Poetry Prize. Her literary memoir The Black Notebooks: An Interior Journey (1999) was a recipient of the 1998 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award and  the Black Caucus of the American Library Association Nonfiction Award; was nominated for the PEN Martha Albrand Award for the Art of the Memoir; and was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. She has won numerous other awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, two fellowships in poetry from the National Endowment for the Arts, two Pushcart Prizes, and the first Dudley Randall Award for National Contributions to Literature. Derricotte earned her BA degree in special education at Wayne State University in 1965 and the MA degree in English literature and creative writing at New York University in 1984.

“This year’s Distinguished Daughters of Pennsylvania have done extraordinary work in many different capacities,” the governor said. “Their contributions to Pennsylvania and the nation have benefited everything from academics to athletics, the arts to the military, as well as businesses and communities. I am grateful for the work that these women have done on our behalf to strengthen our state and the quality of life for so many residents.”

“It is a privilege to honor the dedication and commitment of these extraordinary women of Pennsylvania,” said Marjorie Rendell. “Their legacy of leadership is making a difference across the state.”