University Dedicates Dick Thornburgh Room In Hillman Library

Issue Date: 
April 16, 2007

Pitt dedicated the Dick Thornburgh Room in the University’s Hillman Library on April 5.

The event also marked the establishment of The Dick Thornburgh Forum in Law and Public Policy, which will provide an organizational framework for activities and programs based on Thornburgh’s papers, career, contributions, and interests. An endowed fund has been established to support the forum, and plans are under way for an advisory committee to assist with ongoing fundraising and provide input on programming and activities.

Thornburgh, a 1957 graduate of Pitt’s School of Law and a member of the University’s Board of Trustees, served as Governor of Pennsylvania, Attorney General of the United States under two presidents, and the highest-ranking American at the United Nations. Currently, he is counsel to the international law firm of Kirkpatrick & Lockhart Preston Gates Ellis LLP in its Washington, D.C., office.

“The name Dick Thornburgh is synonymous with accomplishment and with integrity in public service,” said Pitt Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg. “Throughout a distinguished public career that has spanned more than a quarter century, University of Pittsburgh trustee and alumnus Dick Thornburgh has made extraordinary contributions to the public good. His legacy of achievement and impact is chronicled in the extensive Dick Thornburgh Archive Collection, which is accessible through the beautifully designed Dick Thornburgh Room. Both the Thornburgh Room and the Dick Thornburgh Forum for Law and Public Policy are treasures from which students, scholars, and the public will benefit in perpetuity.”

Designed to showcase Thornburgh’s legacy, The Dick Thornburgh Room is a glass-enclosed reading and research room with natural teak walls and floor-to-ceiling windows.

Large glass cases flank the entrance and provide museum-quality display space for items from the Dick Thornburgh Archive Collection—a chronicle of Thornburgh’s more than 25 years in public service, his five political campaigns, and his notable legal career. Custom-designed teak study tables feature drawers to display artifacts and original documents under glass table tops.

The displays will change periodically to create a living, evolving exhibition.

The room’s media center displays more than 500 photographs on a rotating basis and can be used for other visual exhibits or presentations. The Thornburgh Room has been designed to be fully compliant with the Americans With Disabilities Act, reflecting Dick and Ginny Thornburgh’s lifelong commitment to improve the quality of life for people with disabilities. Housed within The Dick Thornburgh Room is a seminar room named after the late Judge Jay C. Waldman, a long-time colleague of Thornburgh. That room will be officially commemorated in the fall.

The Dick Thornburgh Archive Collection, donated to Pitt in 1998, provides a comprehensive record of Thornburgh’s life, from his community participation in the early 1960s to his career that included service as governor of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (1979-1987), attorney general of the United States (1988-1991), and under-secretary-general at the United Nations (1992-1993). Housed at the Pitt Archives Service Center, 7500 Thomas Blvd., Point Breeze, the collection comprises 1,007 boxes of documents, thousands of photographs, and many hours of video and audio. It includes Thornburgh’s personal scorecard from the 1960 World Series, the textbooks he used while a student at Pitt’s School of Law, and his well-documented experience as governor during the historic nuclear accident at Three Mile Island.
Pitt’s Digital Research Library has encoded and scanned selected materials, which are available worldwide at

A native of Pittsburgh, Thornburgh received the Bachelor of Engineering degree from Yale University and the LLB degree from Pitt’s School of Law, where he served as an editor of the University of Pittsburgh Law Review. He has been awarded honorary degrees by 31 colleges and universities.

Thornburgh is a member of the American Law Institute, the American Bar Foundation, the American Judicature Society, and the Council on Foreign Relations. In 2006, he received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Lawyer Magazine for “important contributions to the public life.” In 1992, he was honored by The American Legion with its highest award, the Distinguished Service Medal, for “outstanding service to the community, state, and nation.” In 2001, he was selected as a lifetime National Associate of the National Academies of Science and Engineering in recognition of his pro bono service to its programs.

Thornburgh, born July 16, 1932, is married to Ginny Judson Thornburgh. The Thornburghs were featured speakers at the Vatican Conference on Disabilities held in November 1992 and were corecipients in 2003 of the Henry B. Betts Award presented by the American Association of Persons with Disabilities, the proceeds from which were used to establish the Thornburgh Family Lecture Series on Disability Law and Policy at the University of Pittsburgh.

Thornburgh’s autobiography, Where the Evidence Leads, was published by the University of Pittsburgh Press in 2003.