Pitt Scholars & Stewards: A Love of Family, Medicine, Sports—and Pitt

Issue Date: 
October 18, 2010
Frances F. and Alexander M. MinnoFrances F. and Alexander M. Minno

As a student at the University of Pittsburgh in the 1940s, Alexander Minno (A&S ’43, MED ’47) made an annual visit to the Office of the Chancellor. Minno’s purpose: to show then-Chancellor John Bowman that he’d earned high enough grades to deserve the University’s continued financial support.

Clearly, Minno made the grade. Born into a Slovakian immigrant family with a steelworker father, Minno went on to pursue a long and successful career practicing internal medicine and rheumatology and teaching as a Pitt clinical professor. He and his wife, Frances, remained steadfast in their support of the University, providing numerous student scholarships both before and following Alex Minno’s death in 2009.

“Pitt was very good to Alex,” said Frances Minno. “He always felt very close to Pitt, and I, of course, felt very close to him.”

The couple supported scholarships for students in medicine and nursing. And, since 2009, Frances Minno has endowed yet another scholarship: The Dr. Alexander and Frances Minno Athletic Scholarship, which supports student athletes majoring in the health sciences. The scholarship honors both her husband’s profession as well as one of his favorite pastimes, Pitt athletics. Over the course of three decades, the Minnos attended many Panthers basketball games and nearly every home football game.

The Minnos also endowed a scholarship for students in the School of Nursing. The Frank and Anna Minno Scholarship Fund is named for Alex Minno’s parents and honors the memory of his sister, Lt. Col. Julia Minno (NURS ’49, ’53), who joined the U.S. Army Nurse Corps in 1954. She served for 17 years in the United States and abroad and ran a general clinic in Ethiopia, where she helped introduce preventive medicine, gave immunizations, and provided health care education.

Frances Minno continues to attend the School of Nursing’s annual Convocation and enjoys meeting the students who are recipients of her family’s generosity. The school shares a similar desire to stay connected with its supporters. In 2004, it recognized Alex Minno with an Honorary Alumni Award for his advocacy on behalf of the School of Nursing.

Alex Minno’s support of his own school is also well documented. In 1995, he helped establish the Class of 1947 Legacy Scholarship with a generous gift to the School of Medicine; he also solicited contributions from other class members. The endowment was presented to the School of Medicine at the Class of 1947’s 50th reunion. The scholarship provides annual awards to students whose parents, grandparents, or other relatives attended Pitt medical school. This year, third-year medical student Christopher Donatelli received the Class of 1947 Legacy Scholarship. The oldest of four children, all of whom are attending college, Donatelli said he is extremely grateful.

“The money helps ease the burden of paying for my medical education—something I have dreamed about since a young age,” said Donatelli.