University of Pittsburgh Names 13 New Legacy Laureates

Issue Date: 
October 15, 2012

The University of Pittsburgh has named 13 new Legacy Laureates—alumni recognized for their outstanding professional and personal accomplishments. The laureates were honored during Pitt’s Oct. 9-14 Homecoming festivities.

Launched in 2000, the Legacy Laureate program honors alumni who demonstrate the pinnacle of achievement in professional and civic leadership.

Brief biographies of this year’s honorees follow.

James Fallon is editor of the 102-year-old newspaper Women’s Wear Daily, a Fairchild Fashion Media property often referred to as “the fashion bible.” He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism from the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown in 1977.

Fallon began his journalism career during his undergraduate years in Johnstown, working as an intern with the city’s daily newspaper, The Tribune-Democrat. After attending Stanford University on a full academic scholarship and earning his Master of Arts degree in journalism, he returned to his native Johnstown and rejoined the Tribune-Democrat staff as a copy editor.

In 1979, Fallon began what would become a distinguished career with Fairchild Publications, the precursor to Fairchild Fashion Media. He served as a news editor in the company’s 35-person Washington, D.C., bureau and, two years later, he was appointed chief of Fairchild’s London bureau. He covered continental Europe, contributing to Fairchild’s business publications, as well as interviewing prominent members of the literary and arts worlds—and members of the British royal family.

Editor of Women’s Wear Daily since October 2001, Fallon has revitalized the brand, nearly doubling the paper’s circulation during a time when print media circulation suffers from steady decline. He was recognized for his excellence in fashion journalism in 2003, when AmericasMart Atlanta awarded him a prestigious Design, Impact, Vision, Atlanta award.

John P. Gismondi is a personal-injury trial attorney who has worked in the Pittsburgh area for more than 30 years. Graduating magna cum laude in 1975 with a Bachelor of Arts degree from the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, Gismondi earned his Juris Doctor degree in 1978 from Pitt’s School of Law. He was a nationally published member of the University of Pittsburgh Law Review.

Gismondi began his career as a law clerk to the Honorable Gustave Diamond of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania. He later moved to private practice, where he focused on personal injury litigation, first as a partner in the prominent firm Gilardi, Cooper & Gismondi and then establishing Gismondi & Associates.

Gismondi has received many accolades, including being named a School of Law Distinguished Alumnus, receiving the Allegheny County Bar Association’s Professionalism Award, and being elected a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers. He was elected president of the Allegheny County Bar Association as well as of the Academy of Trial Lawyers of Allegheny County. He serves as board vice chair of Habitat for Humanity of Greater Pittsburgh and chairs the Habitat ReStore Committee.

In addition to pursuing his private practice, Gismondi frequently presents at conferences and seminars and has taught trial advocacy in Pitt’s School of Law for more than 25 years. His contributions to his alma mater extend beyond the classroom: He has provided exceptional financial support to many University programs, including an endowment establishing the John P. Gismondi Civil Litigation Certificate Program in the law school.

Kevin M. Guskiewicz is the Kenan Distinguished Professor and founding director of the Matthew Gfeller Sport-Related Traumatic Brain Injury Research Center and the Center for the Study of Retired Athletes at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. A native of Latrobe, Pa., he graduated in 1992 from the University of Pittsburgh School of Education, earning a Master of Science degree in exercise physiology and athletic training.

While at Pitt, Guskiewicz was a graduate assistant athletic trainer with the Pittsburgh Steelers. That experience gave him knowledge about the devastating consequences of concussions and led to his earning a PhD in sports medicine from the University of Virginia.

He has pioneered the research, education, and practical aspects of studies in concussion, helping to improve the lives of countless athletes, past and present. His clinical innovations and academic endeavors have produced 135 published manuscripts.

Guskiewicz’s contributions in the field of sports medicine have  been recognized with fellowships in the American College of Sports Medicine, the National Academy of Kinesiology, and the National Athletic Trainers’ Association. In 2010, he was named to the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s Concussion Committee and the National Football League’s Head, Neck, and Spine Committee. 

In September 2011, Guskiewicz was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship, a prestigious award given annually by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation for exceptional creativity and the promise for future accomplishments that will benefit human society. 

Ronald Johnson is the chief academic diversity officer and director of the Office of Cultural and Institutional Diversity at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, where he oversees and implements collaborative research and programs throughout the Texas Medical Center. He received his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from the University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine in 1961.

Johnson has led a distinguished career in pediatric dentistry and dental education, accepting prominent appointments at premier hospitals throughout the United States and advancing through academic positions, including associate dean and chair of pediatric dentistry at the University of Southern California and dean of the University of Texas School of Dentistry at Houston. Additionally, he was instrumental in developing the Personal Background and Preparation Survey, a first-of-its-kind diagnostic and prescriptive tool that assesses progress and intervention strategies for students in health education programs.

A member of and leader in many professional organizations, Johnson has made significant contributions to national and local boards, academies, and publications. Among his honors are being named a fellow of the American College of Dentists; being honored as a Distinguished Alumnus of the Year by the Harvard University School of Dental Medicine and a fellow of the International College of Dentists, both in 1999; and receiving the 1998 Distinguished Alumnus of the Year from Pitt’s School of Dental Medicine.

Shinbok Kim recently retired as executive vice president and provost of Seoul National University, where he remains a professor emeritus. He received his Master of Public and International Affairs degree from Pitt’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs (GSPIA) and his PhD degree in educational administration from Pitt’s School of Education in only two years—1972 and 1973, respectively.

Kim began his work in education and educational reform at the Korean Educational Development Institute, later embarking on a teaching career at Kookmin University. He returned to Seoul National University, where he had earned two previous degrees, and was appointed an assistant professor, rising through the academic ranks to his current position.

The South Korean government has recognized Kim’s leadership and scholarship through appointments that include vice minister of the Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development as well as membership on the South Korean Prime Minister’s Policy Evaluation Council. He has published and coauthored numerous articles and books and has held leadership roles in such organizations as the Korean Association for Public Administration and the Korean Society for Studies of Educational Administration, and the Gachon Educational Foundation of Gachon University, where he currently serves as chair of the Board of Trustees.

Kim has been honored as a two-time recipient of the Order of Merit from the president of South Korea. He received the International Public Service Award and the Distinguished Alumnus Award from GSPIA in 2008 and 2009, respectively. A member of GSPIA’s Board of Visitors, Kim has helped to establish the University’s Korean Alumni Endowed Fund.

Betsy Porter served as the University of Pittsburgh’s director of admissions and financial aid for 24 years until her retirement at the end of June 2012. She earned her Doctor of Philosophy degree in higher education administration at the University of Pittsburgh in 1984.

Trained in elementary education, Porter became an associate director of admissions at Duquesne University in 1970. She joined Pitt in 1978 as senior associate director of the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid. During her tenure, Porter measurably exceeded enrollment goals, helping to elevate the University’s status through her shaping of Pitt’s undergraduate student population.

Through her membership in the National Association of College Admission Counseling (NACAC) and the College Board, Porter has shared her expertise in many capacities. She has been a speaker at numerous professional conferences, and her work has been published in such journals as The Admissions Strategist and The Journal of College Admission. 

Porter received the Pitt African American Alumni Council Sankofa Award for outstanding student support, the Direct Marketing Association’s Gold ECHO Award for Creativity, and the NACAC Editor’s Award. In 2000, the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid received the Provost’s Award for Service Excellence.
Porter established the George and Stella Seewald Scholarship Fund, which is part of the Chancellor’s 21st Century Scholarship Fund, in memory of her parents.

Cynthia K. Richey has been the director of the Mt. Lebanon Public Library since 1996. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in English writing from the University of Pittsburgh Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences and her Master of Library Science degree from the School of Information Sciences in 1971 and 1972, respectively.

Richey began volunteering in libraries at age 13, and her professional career began with positions as a children’s librarian at the Pleasant Hills Public Library and the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill branch. In 1983, Richey began working at the Mt. Lebanon Public Library, where she became head of children’s services in 1986.

A respected leader, author, presenter, and advocate of libraries, Richey is a member of numerous boards and served as president of the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, and the Pennsylvania Library Association (PaLA). She also served as chair of the prestigious Newbery Award Selection Committee and the Governor’s Advisory Council on Library Development.

In recognition of her professional contributions, Richey has received the PaLA Distinguished Service Award, The New York Times Librarian Award, and the Distinguished Alumni Award from Pitt’s School of Information Sciences.

Richey has demonstrated her commitment to higher education through generous financial support to a number of programs at the University of Pittsburgh, including the Cynthia K. and P. Jerome Richey Book Fund, which she established along with her husband, Jerry.

Jan E. Schnitzer is the founder and director of the San Diego, Calif.-based Proteogenomics Research Institute for Systems Medicine, which is advancing proteogenomic imaging with the goal of achieving medical discoveries more quickly. He earned his Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine in 1985 and founded the institute in 2009.

After graduating from Pitt, Schnitzer accepted a postdoctoral fellowship in cell biology, which spurred him to pioneer vascular biotechnology research in the fight to eliminate cancer. His research projects have received more than $55 million in grant support from a variety of sources.

Schnitzer has taught courses at the University of California and the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center, both in San Diego; and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School in  Boston, Mass. He has contributed to numerous scholarly publications and has served in an editorial capacity for more than 15 journals, including Science, Nature, and Cancer Cell.

Schnitzer has participated in various National Institutes of Health study sections for research grants, and he is a member of the U.S. Human Proteome Organization’s (HUPO) board of directors as well as a council member of the international HUPO. His awards and honors include the American Heart Association’s National Established Investigator Award, the Kleinerman Lectureship Award for Pulmonary Pathobiology, and the CaP Cure Award in Cancer.

Jack D. Smith  is a physician and director of Excela Health Orthopedics and Sports Medicine. He graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Science degree in biology from the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences in 1969 and with a Doctor of Medicine degree from Pitt’s School of Medicine in 1973.

After completing his residency in orthopaedic surgery at UPMC in 1978, Smith maintained a successful private practice and then joined Excela Health in 2007.
Smith maintains membership in several professional and civic organizations. He served as the team physician for his local high school athletic program for more than 30 years, and he has served on the boards of the YMCA of Greensburg, Westmoreland Museum of American Art, and Boy Scouts of America Westmoreland-Fayette Council.

He is a dedicated volunteer and host for many University functions and a member of the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg Advisory Board. Smith also has held leadership roles in the Pitt Orthopaedic Alumni Association and Pitt Alumni Association, of which he is a Life Member and immediate past president. In 2012, Smith was elected to serve on the University’s Board of Trustees.

Smith has further extended his commitment to Pitt through generous financial support of various initiatives, including the establishment, with his wife, Georgia, of the Jack D. and Georgia M. Smith Endowed Athletic Scholarship.

Charles M. Steiner is the retired CEO and chair of The Branch Group Inc. He earned his Bachelor of Business Administration degree in accounting in 1963 from the University of Pittsburgh. Ten years later, Steiner bought Gee Electric Company, the first of his many successful business ventures. 

Steiner’s accomplishments throughout his career in the electrical distribution industry resulted in several honors, including the Distributor Distinguished Service Award, the Arthur W. Hooper Achievement Award, and the Honorary Life Award, all from the National Association of Electrical Distributors, of which he also served as chair and director at one time. After retiring from The Branch Group, Steiner and his sons founded the Steiner Family Office, an early-stage venture capital firm.

Steiner is active in civic organizations and serves on the board of the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington. He has received the Abe Pollin Humanitarian Award and the Heartsongs Award from the Muscular Dystrophy Association. His generosity to the University includes contributions that established the Charles M. Steiner Atrium in Pitt’s Katz School and the Steiner Family Foundation Scholarship in Basketball. Steiner and his wife, Rhoda, were inducted into the University’s Cathedral of Learning Society in recognition of their exceptional philanthropy.

Steiner is a Life Member of the Pitt Alumni Association and a member of both the Pitt Board of Trustees and the Katz School’s Board of Visitors. The Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business named him a Distinguished Alumnus in 2003.

Dietrich A. Stephan is founder, president, and CEO of Silicon Valley Biosystems, a genome interpretation company. He received his PhD degree in human molecular genetics from Pitt’s Graduate School of Public Health in 1996. After completing a fellowship at the National Institutes of Health’s National Human Genome Research Institute, Stephan held faculty positions at some of the nation’s premier institutions, including Boston Children’s Hospital, where he served as executive director of the Gene Partnership. He began to delve into entrepreneurship with the cofounding of Navigenics Inc. in 2006, followed by the founding and launching of other companies, including Amnestix and Aueon, Inc.

A widely recognized expert in genomics, Stephan has published extensively on the subject, has presented internationally, and has been featured in The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal. He has chaired numerous academic and scientific panels, boards, and committees, notably serving as professor and chair of the Neurogenomics Division and deputy director for discovery research of the Translational Genomics Research Institute.

His contributions to the cause of human health have been recognized with honors that include the Bio-IT World Grand Prize in 2005 and the “Most Influential in Bringing Genomics to the Clinic” award at the Consumer Genetics Conference in 2010.

Captain Rob Tosatto serves as director of the Division of the Civilian Volunteer Medical Reserve Corps, which is sponsored by the Office of the Surgeon General of the United States. A University Scholar in 1989 and 1990, Tosatto earned his Bachelor of Science degree summa cum laude in 1990 from Pitt’s School of Pharmacy.
Tosatto joined the U.S. Public Health Service in 1988 and has completed tours of duty with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and what was then the Office of Global Health Affairs. He was deployed on several response missions, including the 2001 anthrax mailings and Hurricane Katrina. Tosatto also coordinated the United States Biotechnology Engagement Program, aimed at redirecting  former Soviet scientists to develop research skills instead of bioweapons.

A sought-after expert in his field, Tosatto has published numerous articles and made hundreds of presentations, increasing public knowledge about critical health issues. He has received many awards, commendations, and honors, including the U.S. Public Health Service Pharmacist of the Year award, the U.S. Public Health Service Meritorious Service Medal, and the Surgeon General’s Exemplary Service Medal.

Tosatto’s generosity includes providing financial support to the Francis L. Tosatto Memorial Scholarship Fund at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg in memory of his father, who served as Pitt–Greensburg’s director of plant maintenance. 

Stephen R. Tritch, who chairs Pitt’s Board of Trustees, is the retired president, CEO, and chair of Westinghouse Electric Company. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering and his Master of Business Administration degree from Pitt in 1971 and 1977, respectively.

Tritch worked his entire career with Westinghouse, ultimately leading the company through a period of dramatic growth with  a multibillion dollar contract for four new nuclear power plants in China—a first for a U.S. corporation. In the midst of international success, he remained committed to his home region, playing a key role in ensuring that the Westinghouse headquarters would remain in Southwestern Pennsylvania. He serves on the boards of the Allegheny Conference on Community Development, the United Way of Allegheny County, and the Senator John Heinz History Center.

Tritch’s leadership and civic impact have been recognized with several honors and appointments. President George W. Bush appointed him to the President’s Export Council, and at Pitt he received the Swanson School of Engineering Distinguished Alumni Award and the H.J. Zoffer Medal for Meritorious Service from the Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business. He was also named a University of Pittsburgh Distinguished Alumni Fellow.

In addition to providing exceptional financial support to a number of important Pitt initiatives, Tritch serves as chair of Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering Board of Visitors.