Pitt’s University Center for Social and Urban Research Celebrates Four Decades of Accomplishments

Issue Date: 
April 22, 2013

After 40 years of “enhancing lives and transforming communities,” the University of Pittsburgh’s University Center for Social and Urban Research (UCSUR) will celebrate its accomplishments with a by-invitation-only cocktail reception from 4 to 7 p.m. April 30 at Pitt’s University Club, 123 University Place, Oakland.

The 40th anniversary event will open with remarks by UCSUR Director and Pitt Professor of Psychiatry Richard Schulz, who will discuss the center’s history and achievements during the past 40 years. Pitt Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg will then introduce former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury and former Alcoa Chief Executive Officer Paul O’Neill, who will present a keynote address titled “Re-Booting the New Federalism.” O’Neill has been a supporter of the center’s regional indicators project, PittsburghTODAY, which is an in-depth journalism program that compares Greater Pittsburgh with 14 other regions in hundreds of measures.

The center was established in 1972 as the University Center for Urban Research with a mandate to “bring together, in an organized and integrated fashion, the many research activities and some of the service activities of the University of Pittsburgh which focus on the urban phenomenon.” The center provides state-of-the-art research and support services for investigators interested in interdisciplinary research in the behavioral and social sciences. Center staff has been involved in hundreds of externally funded research projects and peer-reviewed publications, published more than a dozen books, and received major national awards for their achievements.

“In the last decade, we’ve been able to put a permanent research infrastructure in place, giving us the capacity to conduct all types of survey research; carry out regional econometric modeling; obtain, format, and analyze spatial data; acquire, manage, and analyze large secondary data sets; and carry out computer qualitative analysis,” said Schulz. “These services are used by faculty from every school in the University and provide a platform for training graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, mentoring junior faculty, and serving the community. They have also become an invaluable resource to government agencies and policy makers which rely on the center for demographic and economic analysis, regional benchmarking on key indicators such as employment, transportation, and environmental conditions, as well gauging the quality of life of the region.”

Faculty from different disciplines have participated in the center’s programs in such areas as risk and emergency management, environmental policy studies, intergenerational relationships, child development, gerontology, survey research, geographic information systems and visual analytics, and qualitative data analysis. The center now occupies its seventh different campus location (located at 3343 Forbes Ave., Oakland) and continues to expand.

Among their landmark publications are the Pittsburgh Regional Quality of Life Survey (2013); Gender Wage Disparity in the Pittsburgh Region: Analyzing Causes and Differences in the Gender Wage Gap (2007), Black-White Benchmarks reports (2004); The State of Aging and Health in Pittsburgh and Allegheny County (2003); The State of the Environment in Allegheny County: Land, Water, and Air (2001); Greater Pittsburgh Revitalization Initiative (1993); Adult Development and Aging: Myths and Emerging Realities (three editions published in 1988, 1993, 1999); and State of the Region.

Visit www.ucsur.pitt.edu to learn more about the center.