Pitt Alumni Association Honors 2008 Volunteers

Issue Date: 
July 7, 2008


Alumni volunteer award winners pictured here are, from left, Gary Brownlee (A&S ’74, KGSB ’78), John Robert Bender (EDUC ’60, ’62, ’63), Fran Gargotta (CGS ’79), Brian Moreland (UPJ ’98), Timothy Davis (A&S ’97, PHARM ’00), and Tom Bigley (KGSB ‘56). Also honored but not pictured are Dorothy Nestel (EDUC ’63) and Kurt Nestel (ENGR ’63).

The Pitt Alumni Association recently recognized outstanding alumni for their volunteerism and commitment to the University at the 2008 Pitt Alumni Association awards luncheon held in Alumni Hall’s Connolly Ballroom. Winners were honored with the 2008 Volunteer Excellence Award, the Pitt Alumni Recruitment Team (PART) award, the Pitt Alumni Legislative Network (ALN) award, Pitt Career Network (PCN) award, the Ivan and Mary Novick Award for Young Alumni Leadership, and the Bill Baierl Award for Distinguished Alumni Service.

The Volunteer Excellence Award recognizes alumni who give their time over one year or provide multiple years of service to the University and Alumni Association. This year, two alumni received the Volunteer Excellence Award.

The first Volunteer Excellence awardee was Gary Brownlee (A&S ’74, KGSB ’78), who just completed a two-year term as treasurer of the Pitt Alumni Association. Brownlee’s association with the Alumni Association began with membership in the Pitt Club of Chicago. He continues to support the club, including playing a lead role in raising funds for the Chicago Club’s endowment fund. Brownlee attended all meetings of the alumni board and executive committee, despite the commute to the Pittsburgh campus. He has served as a regional director representing constituent groups in the Mid West Region and will now serve as senior advisor for the Pitt Alumni Association. An avid Panther fan, Brownlee holds season tickets for Panther football games and was honored as a guest coach in the women’s basketball game against Notre Dame last season.

Brian Moreland (UPG ’98) also received the Volunteer Excellence Award. He is the current vice president and president-elect of the UPG Alumni Association and has served as its former treasurer. Moreland also is a member of the Pitt Alumni Association Board of Directors, the Legislative Committee, and the Alumni Legislative Network. A life member of Pitt’s Alumni Association, Moreland is an active participate in Pitt’s Career Network. His achievements as a chiropractor include having been published in a peer-reviewed publication and serving as secretary/treasurer for the Pennsylvania Chiropractic Educational and Charitable Foundation.

The Ivan (CAS ’49) and Mary Novick Award is given annually to an alumnus who has graduated from Pitt within the past 15 years, is age 38 or younger, and has demonstrated committed involvement as a leadership volunteer for the Pitt Alumni Association and/or the University. This award, presented for the first time last year, is funded with a gift from Ivan and Mary Novick.

This year’s Ivan and Mary Novick award winner was Timothy Davis (A&S ’97, PHARM ’00). Davis joined the School of Pharmacy Alumni Society Board in 2003. He is a member of the golf outing committee, planning and fundraising for the event and playing the role of charity auctioneer. He also serves on the fundraising committee for the Pitt School of Pharmacy’s RXtravaganza 2008: A Night on the Town. Owner of a pharmacy in Beaver, Pa., Davis has worked to prepare students for community practice, sharing with them his extensive knowledge of the business.
Alumni are a valuable resource in the recruitment of incoming students through the Pitt Alumni Recruitment Team (PART) program, a partnership between the Pitt Alumni Association and Office of Admissions and Financial Aid.

This year’s PART Volunteers of the Year were Kurt (ENGR ’63) and Dorothy (EDUC ’63) Nestel of Louisville, Ohio. The Nestels have been lauded for finding the time to share their enthusiasm for Pitt with prospective students and assisting the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid with recruiting the best and brightest students from their home state.

The ALN plays a key role in advocating the University and higher education to Pennsylvania’s state legislators.

This year’s ALN Volunteer of the Year was John Bender (EDUC ’60, ’62G, ’69G). He has a long and distinguished career in higher education and in the Ohio General Assembly. He also was a member-at-large of the Elyria City Council. Between 1993 and 2000, Bender served northeast Lorain County in Ohio as a member of the Ohio House of Representatives, where he became the ranking minority member of the education committee. Since leaving the General Assembly, Bender has been an active member of numerous community agencies. He serves on the State Board of Education within the Ohio Department of Education as the state board member from the second district. He also has participated in annual trips to Harrisburg, highlighting Pitt’s accomplishments and pointing out its needs to legislators in both the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and Senate.

Mary Francis Gargotta (CGS ’79), executive vice president and chief executive resources officer of MARC USA in Pittsburgh, was this year’s PCN Volunteer of the Year. Gargotta is secretary of Pitt’s Alumni Association. She spent more than 20 years at Alcoa before joining MARC USA. She has helped to create and implement MARC’s Standards of Excellence and leads succession planning for the company. Her program, Total Compensation, won the 10 Best Companies for Employee Financial Security award and the S.T.A.R. Performance Management System, an automated performance review and development system, garnered a People DO Matter award. Gargotta was one of the 2004 Pennsylvania Best 50 Women in Business, was in the United Who’s Who Women Executive Registry and the Who’s Who Executive Registry in 2005, and was a Girl Scouts of Western Pennsylvania Woman of Distinction in 2006.

In addition, Thomas G. Bigley (KGSB ’56), Pitt emeritus trustee and retired managing partner at Ernst and Young, LLP, received the Bill Baierl Award for Distinguished Alumni Service. From 1985 to 1988, Bigley served as an alumni trustee and then became a Commonwealth trustee. He was elected vice chair of the board in 2003, a position he held for three years. He also was a member of the Executive, Audit, Compensation, Institutional Advancement, and Nominating committees and chaired the Athletics Committee for four years.

A Pitt Alumni Association lifetime member, Bigley served on Pitt’s Capital Campaign Steering Committee, as vice chair of Discovery Weekend, and as a member of Pitt’s Graduate School of Public Health and School of Social Work boards of visitors. Among his Pitt honors are the 1984 Distinguished Alumnus Award from the Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business, the Pitt Varsity Letter Club Award of Distinction, and the Bicentennial Medallion.