University of Pittsburgh

The University of Pittsburgh, commonly referred to as Pitt, is a non-sectarian, coeducational, independent, state-related, "public research university located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States. Chartered in 1787, Pitt is a renowned leader in academic fields as diverse as philosophy and medicine, and is well known for pioneering work in the development of the first polio vaccine, among other achievements.

Founded as Pittsburgh Academy in 1787 on what was then the American frontier, Pitt is one of the oldest continuously chartered institutions of higher education in the United States. Pitt evolved into the Western University of Pennsylvania with an alteration to its charter in 1819, and upon relocating to its current campus in the Oakland neighborhood of Pittsburgh in 1908, the school received its current moniker, the University of Pittsburgh. For most of its history, Pitt was a private institution until it became part of the Commonwealth System of Higher Education in 1966.

Pitt's dramatic rise from its humble frontier beginnings to its current stature is due in part to its ability to withstand early pressures to abandon its commitment to liberal education. Along the way Pitt has achieved strong reputations in a variety of academic disciplines including philosophy, physics, astronomy, history of science, creative writing, chemistry, business, biological sciences, jazz, engineering, education, international studies, and a variety of medical and health sciences. In 2006 Pitt was placed in the top cluster of 7 leading U.S. public research universities and among the clusters comprising the overall top 26 research universities, was ranked in U.S. News & World Report's top 20 public universities, and has also been recognized as one of the top universities in the world by multiple studies. Pitt regularly produces internationally recognized scholarship and fellowship award winners.

One of 62 elected members of the Association of American Universities, Pitt is among the top universities in total research expenditures and is a top 10 school in National Institute of Health research allocations, bringing in over $430 million a year for biomedical and health science research alone. Pitt and its medical school are also closely affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, a leading academic medical center and the most active neurosurgical and organ transplant center in the United States. These resources have propelled Pitt to a leadership role in, among other fields, stem cell science, bioterrorism defense, and tissue engineering.

Pitt is popularly recognized for its National Landmark centerpiece building, the Cathedral of Learning at , the tallest educational building in the Western Hemisphere; for its central role in developing the first polio vaccine; and for fielding nationally competitive NCAA Division 1 athletic programs.

History of the University

The Founding

Founded by Hugh Henry Brackenridge as Pittsburgh Academy in 1787, the University of Pittsburgh is among a select group of universities and colleges established in the 18th century in the United States. It is the oldest continuously chartered institution of learning in the U.S., west of the Allegheny Mountains. The school began its life as a preparatory school, presumably in a log cabin, as early as 1770 in Western Pennsylvania, then a frontier. Hugh Henry Brackenridge sought and obtained a charter for the school from the state legislature of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania that was passed by the assembly on February 28, 1787, just ten weeks before the opening of the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia. A brick building was erected in 1790 on the south side of Third Street and Cherry Alley for the Pittsburgh Academy. The small two-story brick building, with a gable facing the alley, contained three rooms: one below and two above.

The Western University

Within a short period, more advanced education in the area was needed, so in 1819 the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania amended the school's 1787 charter to confer university status. The school took the name the Western University of Pennsylvania, or WUP, and was intended to be the western sister institution to the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. By 1830, WUP had moved into a new three-story, freestone-fronted building, with Ionic columns and a cupola, near its original buildings fronting the south side of Third Street, between Smithfield Street and Cherry Alley in downtown Pittsburgh. It was in this era that founder of Mellon Bank, Thomas Mellon (Class of 1837), graduated and later taught at WUP.


The University's buildings, along with most of its records and files, were destroyed in the Great Fire of 1845 that wiped out 20 square blocks of Pittsburgh. Classes were temporarily held in Trinity Church until a new building was constructed on Duquesne Way (on what was the site of the former Horne's department store). Only four years later, in 1849, this building also was destroyed by fire. Due to the catastrophic nature of these fires, operations were suspended for a few years to allow the University time to regroup and rebuild. By 1854, WUP had erected a new building on the corner of Ross and Diamond (now Forbes Avenue) streets (site of the present day City-County building) and classes resumed in 1855. It is during this era, in 1867, that Samuel Pierpoint Langley, inventor and aviation pioneer for which Langley Air Force Base is named, was chosen as director of the Allegheny Observatory that was donated to WUP in 1865. Langley was professor of astronomy and physics and remained at WUP until 1891, when he was succeeded by another prominent astronomer, James Keeler. Growing quickly during this period, WUP outgrew its downtown facilities and the university moved its campus to Allegheny City (present-day North Side).

A move north

The University eventually found itself on a ten-acre site on the North Side's Observatory Hill at the location of its Allegheny Observatory. There, it constructed two new buildings, Science Hall and Main Hall, that were occupied by 1889 and 1890 respectively. During this era, the first collegiate football team was formed at Pitt in 1889. In 1892, the Western Pennsylvania Medical College was amalgamated into the University. By 1893, the University had graduated its first African-American, William Dammond. In 1895, WUP established its School of Law and Andrew Carnegie and George Westinghouse were elected to the Board of Trustees where they joined Andrew Mellon who was elected in 1894. The Pittsburgh College of Pharmacy and Pittsburgh Dental School also joined the University in 1896. In 1898, the first women, sisters Margaret and Stella Stein, graduated from the University. During this period, University engineering professor Reginald Fessenden was conducting pioneering work in radio broadcasting. By 1904, playing at Exposition Park, the University had its first undefeated football team.

A new name and home

Citing a need to avoid confusion, distinguish itself from the University of Pennsylvania, and return to its roots by identifying itself with the city, the Western University of Pennsylvania, by act of the state legislature, was renamed the University of Pittsburgh in the summer of 1908. During this time, Pitt had also outgrown its accommodations on the North Side of Pittsburgh and its departments had been scattered throughout the city for years. To consolidate all of its components on one campus, WUP bought 43 acres of land in December 1907 in what is now the Oakland neighborhood of Pittsburgh and began relocating departments there by 1909. The initial campus plan for the University centered on the winning submission from a national architectural contest that incorporated a Greek Acropolis design by Henry Hornbostel for 30 buildings. However, due to financial and other constraints, only four of the buildings were constructed in this style, of which only Thaw Hall remains today.

A national landmark

In the 1920s, new university chancellor John Gabbert Bowman declared that he had a vision for a centerpiece "tall building" for the university. The Frick Acres property in Oakland was soon purchased and plans for the campus shifted focus from the hillside to a neo-Gothic Revival plan that today comprises the Cathedral of Learning, Heinz Memorial Chapel, Stephen Foster Memorial, and Clapp Hall buildings. By 1925, Bowman had settled on a design by Charles Klauder for the "tall building": an attention-getting tower whose great height, with open spaces all around, would suggest the "character that ought to be in an educated man." The building's "parallel lines going up and up...would express courage [and] fearlessness" and it would "unify Pittsburgh into a community conscious of its character." The Cathedral is "cut off" flat at the top to suggest that its lines, like education, have no ending. The building was financed by donors as well as a campaign to collect dimes from local school children. Bowman was a persuasive leader and although the Great Depression intervened, the Cathedral of Learning, on which construction was begun in 1926, was finally finished in 1937. Today, it remains the second-tallest education building in the world and contains an equally-impressive interior highlighted by a half-acre (2,000 m²) Gothic hall Commons Room with tall arches surrounded by 27 Nationality Rooms.

The Pitt shot

In the early 20th century, epidemics of polio began to hit the United States and other industrialized countries. As hospital wards filled with patients in iron lungs, and tens of thousands were left crippled, fear of contracting polio grew rampant and led to the closing of many public facilities. Meanwhile, Dr. Jonas Salk had set up the University of Pittsburgh's Virus Research Lab in the basement of what is now Salk Hall. By 1951, Salk and his team had begun immunization experiments in monkeys using dead polio virus. Soon, however, Salk began to test inoculations in paralyzed polio patients and by 1953 human trials among the general population were initiated. By the spring of the following year, the largest controlled field trials in medical history were underway and by 1955 the vaccine developed by Jonas Salk and his team of Pitt researchers was declared effective and by 1962 had reduced the incidence of polio in the United States by 95 percent. The breakthroughs in immunology and vaccine development at Pitt by Salk and his team are considered one of the most significant scientific and medical achievements in history.

State relations

In 1966, Pitt was designated by Pennsylvania as a state-related university. As such, Pitt receives public funds (currently more than $200 million per annum) and offers reduced tuition to Pennsylvania residents, but is under independent control. It is typically categorized as a public university. Upon affiliation with the state, subsidized tuition led to a massive influx of new students and rapid expansion of Pitt's size and scope. In the 1970s, Pitt's football team returned to greatness with a national championship season in 1976 led by Hall of Fame running back Tony Dorsett and continued success in the 1980s with players such as Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino. In the 1980s, significant medical research in the field of organ transplantation was conducted by Thomas Starzl, establishing Pitt as the world leader in the field of organ transplantation. In 1991, long-time chancellor Wesley Posvar retired after 24 years in office. His administration is best known for elimination of the university's debt from its 1960s financial crisis and for increasing the school's prestige and endowment. Under Posvar, Pitt's operating budget grew sevenfold to $630 million and its endowment tripled to $257 million. Mark Nordenberg has been chancellor of the University since 1995 and is leading Pitt through a period of substantial progress, including a $2-billion capital-raising campaign that is over half-way toward achieving its goal and a $1-billion 12-year facilities plan. Pitt's endowment in 2007 reached $2.254 billion, a 25 percent increase from 2006. It ranks 28th among all college endowments and 8th nationally among public universities.

Location and campus

The University of Pittsburgh campus is in the historic Oakland neighborhood of Pittsburgh, adjacent to Schenley Plaza, the main branch of the Carnegie Public Library, the Carnegie Museums of Natural History and Art, and the Carnegie Music Hall. Carlow University is just west of campus, adjacent to the University's medical center complexes. Carnegie Mellon University, Central Catholic High School and historic Schenley Park, site of the Phipps Conservatory & Botanical Gardens, lie across Junction Hollow on the east end. Some Pitt professors also hold adjunct professorships at Carnegie Mellon and vice-versa. Pitt's main campus is and is generally bordered by Darragh Street/McKee Place to the west and Bellefield Avenue/Dithridge Street to the east; Forbes and Fifth avenues traverse the campus from west to east. The campus comprises four general parts: upper (sports complexes, residence halls); mid (Benedum, Chevron, Allen and Thaw Halls); lower (Cathedral of Learning, Union, Posvar Hall); and on the west end of campus, the medical center complex.

The focal point of the main campus is the 42-story Cathedral of Learning. This and other University buildings are in the Oakland Civic Center/Schenley Farms Historic District (listed on the National Register of Historic Places) of Pittsburgh. The University of Pittsburgh campus contains an eclectic mix of architecture that includes Greek revival, Neogothic, Italian Renaissance, and modern. It has been termed "a theme park of replica buildings, representing the architecture of the past speaking to the present. The campus was won multiple Green Star Awards from the Professional Grounds Management Society.

Historic buildings

There are two University buildings listed separately on the National Register of Historic Places: Allegheny Observatory (in Pittsburgh's Riverview Park on the Northside) and the Cathedral of Learning. Twenty-one of Pitt's buildings (including the 5 residence halls that make up Schenley Quadrangle, see below) are contributing properties to the Schenley Farms-Oakland Civic Center Historic District that has been designated a National Historic District.

Due to the historical nature of various sites in or around Pitt's buildings, the state of Pennsylvania has placed historical markers outside the Allegheny Observatory, Posvar Hall, Salk Hall, Stephen Foster Memorial, and the William Pitt Union. In addition, a Pennsylvania Historical Marker has been placed on campus near the Cathedral of Learning to mark the significance of the University of Pittsburgh itself. Another state historical marker has been placed to highlight the significance of Pitt's involvement in the archaeological excavation at the Meadowcroft Rockshelter in Avella, Pennsylvania.

In addition, the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation has designated the following Pitt buildings as Pittsburgh Historic Landmarks: Allegheny Observatory, Allen Hall, Alumni Hall, Bellefield Hall, Chancellor's Residence, Cathedral of Learning, the Cathedral of Learning interior rooms, Gardner Steel Conference Center, Heinz Memorial Chapel, Thaw Hall, Salk Hall, Schenley Quadrangle residence halls, Stephen Foster Memorial, the University Child Development Center, and the William Pitt Union.

Other Pitt buildings not designated individually as landmarks, but listed among the 17 Pitt-owned contributing properties to the Schenley Farms Historic District, include Clapp Hall, Ruskin Hall, Thackeray Hall, Frick Fine Arts Building, Music Building, University Club, and the University Place Office Building.

Buildings not belonging to Pitt, but historic structures within, near, or adjacent to Pitt's campus, include the Carnegie Museum buildings, Frick School, Forbes Field wall remnant, Magee Estate iron fence, the Schenley Fountain, Mellon Institute, Phipps Conservatory & Botanical Gardens, the Pittsburgh Athletic Association, St. Paul's Cathedral, St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, Schenley High School, Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall, and the Stephen Foster sculpture. Many of these buildings and their facilities are integrated into the events and activities of the university.

Other buildings

The majority of Pitt-owned buildings reside in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the home of its main campus. The major concentration of buildings comprise Pitt's main campus centered in the Oakland neighborhood of Pittsburgh including within the Schenley Farms Historic District, however a few facilities are scattered elsewhere throughout the city, including the adjacent Shadyside neighborhood. Along with regional campuses in Bradford, Greensburg, Johnstown, and Titusville, Pitt also has a Computer Center in RIDC Park in Blawnox, the Plum Boro Science Center in Plum, the University of Pittsburgh Applied Research Center (U-PARC) in Harmarville, Pennsylvania, the Pymatuning Laboratory of Ecology in Linesville, Pennsylvania, and the Allen L. Cook Spring Creek Preserve archeological research site in Spring Creek, Wyoming.

Athletic facilities of the University of Pittsburgh Panthers that are located in Oakland in the upper campus and include the Charles L Cost Sports Center, Fitzgerald Field House, the Petersen Events Center, Trees Hall and TreesField3.jpg. A major upgrade of on-campus facilities, including a new soccer, baseball, softball, track and field, and band complex, was announced in 2007. Athletic facilities located elsewhere that are utilized by Pitt's sports teams include Heinz Field and the UPMCSportsPerformanceComplex5.jpg.

University of Pittsburgh Medical Center

The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) consists of the following hospitals and facilities in the Oakland area, many of which have shared use with various university departments: UPMC Presbyterian - Main Entrance (larger).JPG, UPMC Montefiore.jpg, Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, Magee-Women's Hospital of UPMC, Western Psychiatric Institute - Thomas Detre Hall.jpg, Eye and Ear Institute, Forbes Tower (home to the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences), Iroquois Building, Kaufmann Medical Building.jpg, Medical Arts Building.JPG, Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC's Rangos Research Center, 230 McKee Place, and UPMC University Center. UPMC facilities are also scattered elsewhere throughout the city, including UPMC Shadyside 01.JPG and the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute in the Hillman Cancer Center located in the Shadyside neighborhood adjacent to Oakland.


In the fall of 1909, the University of Pittsburgh was the first college or university to adopt the panther (Puma concolor) as its mascot. Popular as photo sites, there are ten representations of Panthers in and about Pitt's campus, and ten more painted fiberglass panthers due to be placed over the next year by the Pitt Student Government. The oldest representations are four panthers that guard each corner of the Panther Hollow bridge. Other Oakland locations include both inside and in front of the William Pitt Union, outside the Petersen Events Center, "Pitt the Panther" on the carousel in Schenley Plaza, the Panther head fountain on the front of the Cathedral of Learning, and the Pitt Panther statue outside Heinz Field on Pittsburgh's North Side.


Throughout its history, Pitt has been committed to a liberal arts education with a well-rounded curriculum in the arts, sciences, and humanities. Pitt has an increasing emphasis on undergraduate research experience and for providing real-world opportunities such as co-ops and internships. Undergraduate degrees can be earned as Bachelor's of Arts, Bachelor's of Science, and Bachelor's of Philosophy. Along with providing certificate programs, graduate level masters, professional, and doctoral degrees are also awarded. Pitt has also initiated a University-wide Outside the Classroom Curriculum (OCC) that includes a structured series of extracurricular programs and experiences designed to complement students' academic studies and help develop personal attributes and professional skills. Students who complete the OCC requirements receive an OCC "transcript" and a green cord of distinction to wear at commencement.


Bachelor's, master's, doctoral and professional programs are offered through the following academic units:

International Studies

Pitt’s history of commitment to international education is illustrated by its unique collection of 27 Nationality Rooms on the first and third floors of the Cathedral of Learning. As a demonstration of this commitment, Pitt is one of the country’s leading producers of both Fulbright scholars and Peace Corps volunteers and one of only 17 American universities to claim four or more area studies programs that have been competitively designated National Resource Centers by the U.S. Department of Education.

The National Resource Centers designated at Pitt include the Asian Studies Center, Latin American, Russian and East European, and European centers as well as Pitt's International Business Center. In addition, Pitt's Asian Studies Center has been awarded status as one of only 22  Confucius Institutes in the U.S. by the Chinese Ministry of Education. Also, Pitt is home to one of just ten European Union Centers of Excellence in the U.S., funded by the European Commission.

The University Center for International Studies (UCIS) coordinates international education curricula, centers on topical specializations in international studies, and the centers for area studies, including the National Resource Centers, among existing faculty and departments throughout the university. It does not itself give degrees but awards certificates of attainment to degree candidates in the University's schools and also operates certificate programs in African Studies (undergraduate) and in Global Studies (undergraduate & graduate). UCIS also operates the Study Abroad Office, Nationality Rooms and Intercultural Exchange Programs.


The Center for Measuring University Performance has ranked Pitt, along with only six other schools, in the top tier of U.S. public research universities and in the 6th tier (or top 26) among all universities according to its 2006 annual report.

In 2007, U.S. News & World Report ranked Pitt 19th among public universities in the United States and 57th among all national universities.

Newsweek ranks Pitt 37th in its "The Top 100 Global Universities. Pitt is ranked 49th worldwide (and 36th in the U.S.) in the Shanghai Jiao Tong University's Academic Ranking of World Universities. Pitt ranked 77th out of the top 100 institutions in the world, 28th out of all U.S. institutions, and 9th out out of all public U.S. institutions according to the “Times Higher-QS World University Rankings 2007,” by The Times Higher Education Supplement (THES) and Quacquarelli Symonds.

Pitt's Department of Philosophy has long been renowned in the U.S. and worldwide, and is especially strong in the areas of mathematical and philosophical logic, metaphysics, history and philosophy of science, philosophy of language, philosophy of mathematics, philosophy of mind and psychology, and semantics.

The University also is a leader in the field of business studies. The Joseph M. Katz School of Business MBA program is ranked first in the U.S. in "Value for Money," 51st overall in the nation, and its faculty research is ranked 47th in the world by the 2007 Financial Times ranking. The Joseph Katz Graduate School consistently ranks among the top ten public business schools in the U.S. according to The Wall Street Journal.

Pitt's law school faculty has been ranked 21st in the nation based upon standard objective measures of scholarly impact.

Pitt is home to the Gertrude E. and John M. Petersen Institute of NanoScience and Engineering, which was ranked second in the nation in 2006 for microscale and nanoscale research by the leading global trade publication, Small Times. Pitt also is a global leader in Radio-frequency identification device (RFID) technology, with its research program rated among the top three in the world along with MIT and the University of Cambridge in England.


In addition to the three national military academies, Pitt is one of only nine universities, and the only public university, to claim both Rhodes and Marshall Scholars in 2007. Since 1995, Pitt undergraduates have won two Rhodes Scholarships, six Marshall Scholarships, five Truman Scholarships, four Udall Scholarships, a Churchill Scholarship, 31 Goldwater Scholarships, and three Mellon Humanities Fellowships.

Pitt alumni have won awards such as the Nobel Peace Prize, the Nobel Prize in medicine, the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, the Shaw Prize in medicine, the Albany Prize in medicine, the Fritz Medal in engineering, the Templeton Prize, and the Grainger Challenge Prize for sustainability.

Pitt is also a leading producer of Fulbright scholars.


Pitt, one of 62 elected members of the Association of American Universities, has a strong research presence, ranking among the top 25 universities in the country in terms of total research expenditures, and 13th in the U.S. in Federal Research expenditures, and 11th in total federal obligations for science and engineering research and development. Pitt is ranked 21st in the world according to the 2007 Performance Ranking of Scientific Papers for World Universities by the HIgher Education Evaluation & Accrediation Council of Taiwan and 29th in the world based on Essential Science Indicators according to the Research Center for Chinese Science Evaluation of Wuhan University. Pitt places much emphasis on undergraduate research and has integrated such research experience as a key component of its undergraduate experience.

Pitt is a major center of biomedical research; in FY 2006, it ranked sixth in the nation in competitive peer-reviewed NIH funding allocations, and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center ranked 13th among hospitals nationwide by USNews in 2006.


Pitt was one of just seven AAU-member research universities included in a list of "best neighbor" urban colleges and universities released by the president of the New England Board of Higher Education in 2006, which cited these schools as "dramatically strengthening the economy and quality of life in their neighboring communities. Each year, Pitt spends more than $1.5 billion in the community and supports more than 32,000 jobs in Allegheny County. Pitt's research program alone imports more than $600 million into the region each year and supports more than 17,000 local jobs. Pitt students also spend more than $213 million on goods, services, and rental payments within the local economy. Pitt ranked sixth in the number of startups spawned by technologies developed by its researchers according to Association of University Technology Managers.

Pitt and its medical school are closely affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. With over 40,000 employees and more than $5 billion in annual revenue, the Medical Center is the largest employer in western Pennsylvania.

Through the Pitt Volunteer Pool, faculty and staff members donate more than 10,000 hours annually to community service projects for agencies such as the Salvation Army, Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force, and Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank. Pitt also is a leading producer of Peace Corps volunteers. According to the Peace Corps' 2008 ranking of colleges and universities, only 14 schools in the nation produced more Peace Corp volunteers. Pitt's graduate school also ranked 10th for most alumni Peace Corps volunteers.


Pittsburgh's sports teams, the "Pitt Panthers," participate in NCAA Division I (Division I-A for football) and in the Big East Conference.

In intercollegiate athletics, Pitt’s highest-profile programs, football and men’s basketball, are consistently competitive. Recently, used the Sagarin system to rate universities based on the strength of their performance in football and men’s basketball over the course of the preceding five years. Pitt was tied for 10th as one of the nation’s top dual-sport schools. In a recent all-sports ranking done by Sports Illustrated on Campus, Pitt was ranked 17th among all U.S. universities in terms of the overall strength of its athletic program.

Scholar Athletes

During 2006, of approximately 450 Pitt student athletes, 311 had term grade point averages exceeding 3.0, 23 had a perfect average of 4.0, and 124 were named Big East Academic All-Stars.


Traditionally the most popular sport at the University of Pittsburgh, football has been played at the highest levels at the University since 1889. During the more than 100 years of competitive football at Pitt, the University has helped pioneer the sport by, among other things, instituting the use of numbers on jersey's and desegregating the Sugar Bowl. Some of college football's all-time greatest coaches and players have plied their trade at Pitt, including Pop Warner, Jock Sutherland, Marshall Goldberg, Joe Schmidt, Mike Ditka, Tony Dorsett, Hugh Green, Mark May, Dan Marino, Bill Fralic, and Larry Fitzgerald. Among the top schools in terms of all-time wins, Pitt teams have claimed nine National Championships and boast 86 players that have been chosen as first-team All-Americans.


Pitt began playing men's basketball in 1905 and soon become a national power winning two Helms Foundation National Championships in 1927–28 and 1929–30. Those teams, coached by the innovative and legendary Naismith Hall of Fame inductee "Doc" Carlson, were led by National Player of the Year and Hall of Famer Charlie Hyatt. Following a Final Four appearance in 1941, Pitt appeared in a handful of NCAA tournaments throughout the 50, 60s, and 70s, including a Elite Eight appearance in 1974 led by All-American Billy Knight. Pitt entered the Big East Conference in 1982, and by the end of the decade had secured a pair of Big East regular season championships led by All-Americans Charles Smith and Jerome Lane. Beginning with the hiring of Ben Howland as head coach in 1999, and continuing with his replacement by Jamie Dixon in 2003, an era of consistent national and conference competitiveness was entered. Since 2001, Pitt has achieved seven straight NCAA tournament appearances, four Sweet Sixteen appearances, three Big East regular season championships, two Big East Tournament Championships, and six Big East Tournament Championship game appearances.

The Pittsburgh Panthers Women's Varsity Basketball program started during the 1914–1915 school year and lasted until 1927 before going on hiatus until 1970. Pitt's women's team has posted several conference and NWIT/EAIAW Tournament Appearances, and led head coach Agnus Berenato, advanced to the NCAA Tournament and each of the last two years, including a Sweet Sixteen appearance in 2008.

Olympic sports

Pitt has had a long history of success in other intercollegiate athletic events. In Track and Field, Pitt has produced several Olympic and NCAA champions such as 800 m Olympic gold medalist John Woodruff, two-time 110 m hurdle Olympic gold medalist Roger Kingdom, and seven-time NCAA champion and 2005 World Champion triple jumper Trecia-Kaye Smith. The wrestling program has a rich history and is among the leaders in producing individual national champions with 16. Pitt's women's volleyball team is the 12th winningest program in the nation and has won 11 Big East championships and appeared in 11 NCAA tournaments since the program began in 1974. Pitt's swimming and diving teams have produced several Olympians and won 19 men's and nine women's Big East Championships since joining the conference in 1983. Pitt women's gymnastics has qualified for the NCAA Northeast Regional Championship in all but two years in the past ten seasons. Baseball, Pitt's oldest sport, has produced many major league players and has become a regular participant in the Big East post-season championship. Other sports have also found success to varying degrees.

Support groups

The history-rich Pitt Band was founded in 1911 and performs at athletic and other events. The Pitt cheerleaders have won multiple cheerleading national championships, including three straight from 1992–1994. The Pitt dance team also has been competitive in national competitions.

Pitt People

Heads of the University

Main article: Heads of the University of Pittsburgh

The University of Pittsburgh has had many individual lead it throughout its history. During the academy days, the title of Principal was worn by the head of the school. Due to fires, early records are incomplete. When Pittsburgh Academy transitioned into the Western University, the title was changed to Chancellor. This title has lasted except for a brief change during Wesley Posvar's administration when it was transiently switched to President. Samuel McCormick oversaw the name change from the Western University of Pennsylvania to the University of Pittsburgh in 1908 and is therefore listed with the chancellors of the University of Pittsburgh. Acting chancellors are also included in the list below. For more information on past heads of the University, and for photos, please see Pitt History: Heads of the University.

Pittsburgh Academy Western University of Pennsylvania University of Pittsburgh
Hugh Henry Brackenridge
founder 1787
Robert Bruce
1819-1835, 1836-1843
Samuel McCormick
George Welch
Gilbert Morgan
John Gabbert Bowman
Robert Andrews
Heman Dyer
Rufus Fitzgerald
Robert Steele
David H. Riddle
Charles Nutting
John Taylor
John F. McLaren
Edward Litchfield
Benjamin B. Hopkins
George Woods
Stanton Crawford
James Mountain
Milton Goff
David Kurtzman
Robert Patterson
Henry MacCracken
Wesley Posvar
Joseph Stockton
William Jacob Holland
J. Dennis O'Connor
John Brashear
Mark Nordenberg

Notable alumni and faculty

Pitt alumni have won a wide range of awards and prizes that include the Academy Award, the Super Bowl, the Nobel Prize, and the Pulitzer Prize. Others include awards from the National Medal of Arts, the National Medal of Science, the National Medal of Technology, and the MacArthur "Genius Award". The work of Pitt faculty and alumni have pioneered technology and advancement of society in profound ways and have been noted pioneers in such fields as astronomy, aviation, virology, nuclear energy, psychology, genetics in addition to garnering the popular titles such as the Father of Radio Broadcasting, the Father of Television, the Father of CPR, the Father of the MRI, and the Father of Organ Transplantation.

Student life


See also: Pitt football traditions

Annual Bonfire and Pep Rally hosted by the Pitt Program Council is held prior to or during some football games. Held on the lawn of the Cathedral of Learning, it often involves the band, cheerleaders, football team, visiting dignitaries, and giveaways.

Football Tunnel is a tradition where student organizations, carrying standards, form a tunnel for the football players to run through as the enter the football field from the locker room. Originally, this long standing tradition involved only Pitt fraternities and sororities. The tradition was briefly lost following the 1999 season when Pitt's football program transitioned from playing in Pitt Stadium to Three Rivers Stadium in 2000 followed by Heinz Field in 2001. The tradition was resurrected beginning with the 2008 football season.

Forbes Field Home Plate Slide is a tradition for good luck on midterm and finals in which students slide into or step on a former home plate from Forbes Field, where the Pittsburgh Pirates played for many seasons. The plate is on display inside Posvar Hall near its original location.

Homecoming, as in other universities, revolves around one home football game each year. Pitt's homecoming involves activities hosted by the Pitt Program Council highlighted by fireworks and a laser-light display between the William Pitt Union and the Cathedral of Learning. This is followed by Casino Night in the union, the football game, and a homecoming cruise on a Gateway Clipper Party Liner.

Honors Convocation is a ceremony begun in 1977 that is typically held in late winter to present awards and recognition for academic and service achievements of the students, faculty, alumni, and staff throughout the schools and departments of the university.

Lantern Night is an annual ceremony, initiated in 1921 one of the University’s longest standing traditions. It is a formal induction for freshman women to university life and unites them as they begin their education at Pitt. Traditionally held on the evening before the first day of classes, the ceremony today takes place in Heinz Chapel. Part of the Lantern Night tradition is for a distinguished alumna to give the freshman address, while other distinguished alumnae are flame bearers who light the lanterns given to each freshman woman as a keepsake.

Omicron Delta Kappa Walk is a stone walkway between the Cathedral of Learning and Heinz Memorial Chapel that contains the engraved names of Pitt's Omicron Delta Kappa Senior of the Year award winners. The walk is the only one of its kind in the country.

Panther Sendoff is an annual free reception typically held in Alumni Hall to congratulate each year's graduating class and wish them well.

Rubbing the Panther Nose is another good luck tradition in which students rub the nose of the Millennium Panther outside the William Pitt Union prior to exams.

University of Pittsburgh Annual Jazz Seminar and Concert is a fall lecture and concert series founded by Dr. Nathan Davis, professor in the Music Department, and University officials in 1970. Renowned jazz musicians, critics, and historians lead seminar sessions for students and others in the local jazz community. These sessions are free and open to the public and deal with topics ranging from entering the music business to practice techniques, composing, arranging, and individual instrument mastery. Previous musicians who have attending include Dizzy Gillespie, Kenny Clarke, Sonny Rollins, Dexter Gordon, and Max Roach.

Varsity Walk is a walkway between the Cathedral of Learning and Heinz Memorial Chapel on which is carved the names of former Pitt athletes (each year since 1950) who have promoted the University through their athletic (Panther Award) or academic (Blue-Gold Award) achievements.

Victory Lights is a tradition where golden flood lights illuminate the top of the Cathedral of Learning after every football victory.

E-Week is a spring celebration organized by the Engineer Student Council for a week-long, fun-filled series of activities and competitions to demonstrate engineering skills and foster a spirit of camaraderie. Activities include games such as Monopoly, Ingenuity, Jeopardy, Assassins, and include a talent show, relay race, mini-Olympics, and blood drive. The festivities reach climax with a parade on Friday, a soapbox derby on Saturday, and the `e-ball finale` on Saturday evening. Each year, a unique theme is chosen. Each engineering department competes against the others, while some smaller departments join forces.

Greek Week Greek Week is a year long initive for the Greek organizations on campus to raise money for different charitable organizations through different events. The two biggest events each year are the Pitt Dance Marthon and Greek Sing. The Pitt Greeks have signed a contract with the Hilman Cancer Research Center to raise $500,000 over the next five years.

Student Programs

Bigelow Bash is a spring festival held by the Pitt Program Council between the William Pitt Union and the Cathedral of Learning, involving a range of activities, novelties, and bands.

Fall Fest is a fall festival held by the Pitt Program Council between the William Pitt Union and the Cathedral of Learning, also involving a range of activities, novelties, and bands.

Pitt Arts is a program founded by the University in 1997 to encourage students to explore and connect to the art and cultural opportunities of the City of Pittsburgh via three programs. Art Encounters provides trips to arts events for undergrads that include free tickets, transportation, a catered reception, and encounters with international artists and thinkers. Free Visits grants undergrad and grad students free admission using their Pitt IDs to the Carnegie Museum of Art, Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Senator John Heinz History Center, Phipps Conservatory, Mattress Factory, and the Andy Warhol Museum. Cheap Seats is a program that everyone at Pitt can use to take advantage of deeply-discounted tickets to the most sought-after arts events in the area, including the Pittsburgh ballet, opera, symphony, theater, concerts, and other cultural district activities.

Student Organizations

Pitt Program Council is the all-campus programming organization at the University of Pittsburgh. Comprising eight student committees: Advertising, Arts, Lecture, Leisure Learning, Public Relations, Recreation, Special Events, and Travel, Pitt Program Council offers an unlimited variety of programs and ways to get involved. Each committee is headed by a student Director, and committee members plan and execute dozens of events each semester, such as Fall Fest and Bigelow Bash, Homecoming Laser and Fireworks Show, trips to New York City, Cedar Point, and spring break in Panama City Beach, FL, art gallery exhibits, films, horseback riding, sports tournaments, lectures, fitness and dance classes, and Black and White Ball. All planning committees are open to student involvement at any time.

Graduate and Professional Student Assembly (GPSA) is the student government that represents the interests of all graduate and professional student at the University of Pittsburgh and serves as the umbrella organization for all of the graduate/professional school student governments. GPSA's mission is to act as the voice of our constituents and to actively ensure that the concerns of these students are heard.

GPSA includes both the GPSA Assembly and Assembly Groups. As the chief governing body of GPSA, the Assembly is composed of the four executive officers as well as representatives from each school's student governments. The Groups are organizations designed to represent specific needs of university students across different schools. GPSA funds come from the student activity fee. Examples of programs and services GPSA provides include the following: Annual funding to each graduate school's student government (in addition to supplemental funds for which any student groups may apply); travel grants to students presenting at conferences;free legal and financial consulting services (in conjunction with the undergraduate Student Government Board); sponsorship of additional activities ranging from social functions to academic workshops; representation on university-wide committees such as Provost's Advisory Committees, University Senate Standing Committees, and others; and free mentorship services for undergraduate students interested in applying to grad school.

Student Government Board (SGB) is the governing body that provides undergraduate students with representation as a student voice to University administration. The SGB represents the needs, interests, and concerns of all Pitt students. Another important aspect of the SGB is allocation of the student activities fee, which provides money to over 350 student organizations at the University of Pittsburgh.

The board is comprised of one President and eight Board Members, all elected by the student body. The SGB also has ten standing committees who address various aspects of campus life, including diversity, freshman involvement, and governmental relations.

Blue and Gold Society, founded in 1991, is a group of undergraduate student leaders chosen as liaisons between the student community and the Pitt Alumni Association.

Pitt Pathfinders is a student-run organization that hosts campus tours, assists prospective students in making well-informed college-related decisions, and promotes Pitt pride.

Quo Vadis is a student organization that conducts guided tours and interpretations of the Cathedral of Learning's 27 Nationality Rooms.

Telefact is an informational telephone service run by students that researches and answers callers' questions. The service is free to use and can be reached at 412-624-FACT.

University of Pittsburgh Mock Trial is a year long extracurricular activity open to Pitt undergraduates that provides an opportunity to learn about the practice of litigation through a series of team-based mock trial competitions. Pitt Mock Trial has qualified for American Mock Trial Association post-season tournaments each of the last six years, finishing in the fifth overall place at the 2008 National Championship Tournament.

William Pitt Debating Union is a co-curricular program and hub for a wide range of debating activities, including intercollegiate policy debate, public debate, and debate outreach. 1981 National Debate Tournament champions, it has qualified for the National Debate Tournament forty times and is one of the oldest organizations of its kind in the nation, growing from the University’s Division of Public Speaking in 1912.

Student theater

  • University of Pittsburgh Repertory Theatre, or Pitt Rep, is the production company of the Department of Theatre Arts which puts public student performances of classic masterpieces revivals, cutting-edge contemporary productions, and student-directed labs. It also runs the Shakespeare-in-the-Schools which tours classic theater for K-12 students throughout the Pittsburgh area.
  • Friday Nite Improvs, Pittsburgh's longest-running theatre show, was started in 1989 by graduate theatre students. It takes place weekly inside the Cathedral of Learning's studio theatre.
  • Kuntu Repertory Theatre, founded in 1974, is the second-oldest African American performing arts organization affiliated with a major research university. It promotes and encourages participation in theater arts centered on the African heritage and experience.
  • The Redeye Theatre Project is a festival of one-act plays cast, written, and rehearsed in 24 hours.

Student Music

  • Heinz Chapel Choir is an accomplished and well-known a cappella choir consisting entirely of Pitt students that has been performing for over 65 years.
  • Pitt Men's Glee Club, founded in 1890, is the oldest extracurricular club on campus. The club includes both undergraduate and graduate students, as well as staff members from throughout the University. Traditionally, the Glee Club has sung for a variety of campus-wide and community functions, including graduations, receptions, alumni gatherings, sporting events, and chancellor's events.
  • University of Pittsburgh Women's Choral Ensemble, founded in 1927, is open to all women of the University including undergraduates, graduate students, and staff. The ensemble leads the traditional lamplighter processional each fall and performs repertory ranging from traditional sacred and secular classics to international folk songs, popular music, and show tunes.
  • University of Pittsburgh Orchestra performs several concerts and consists of music students, students from the University at large, faculty, staff, and members of the metropolitan community. The orchestra performs not only works of the standard art music literature, but also new works of student composers.
  • Pitt Jazz Ensemble, founded in 1969, has been recognized internationally as one of the best collegiate jazz groups. Under the direction of Dr. Davis, the ensemble has performed around the world.
  • Pitt African Music and Dance Ensemble, founded in 1983 by a Ghanaian ethnomusicologist Dr. Willie O. Anku, specializes in music and dances from Africa. Under the direction of J. S. Kofi Gbolonyo, it presents a complete African artistic expression including music, dance, drama and visual arts.
  • Pitt Band, founded in 1911, is the varsity marching band of the University of Pittsburgh and performs at various athletic and other University events.

Student Media

  • WPTS-FM is a non-commercial radio station owned by the University of Pittsburgh, and offers a mix of student-run programming. The station operates at 92.1 MHz with an ERP of 16 watts, and is licensed to Pittsburgh. The station's web site allows visitors to listen online.
  • JURIST is the world's only law-school-based, comprehensive, legal news and research service staffed by a mostly-volunteer team of part-time law student reporters, editors and Web developers. It is led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.
  • The Pitt News is an independent, student-written, and student-managed newspaper for the University's Oakland (main) campus. Founded in 1908, it is now published Monday through Friday during the school year and Wednesdays during the summer. It circulates 14,000 copies for each issue published.
  • UPTV (University of Pittsburgh Television) is a student-managed, student-produced, closed-circuit television station. As of June 2006, only students living in campus dormitories can receive the broadcast.
  • Three Rivers Review and Collision are two undergraduate, bi-annual, literary journals publishing both poetry and prose.
  • The Pittsburgh Undergraduate Review is a multidisciplinary journal showcasing undergraduate research.
  • Pitt Political Review is a student-created, student-written publication of the University Honors College. PPR, as it is called, provides a venue for serious discussion of politics and policy issues in a nonpartisan way.

Greek Life

North-American Interfraternity Conference(IFC)

National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC)

National Panhellenic Conference (NPC)


Co-ed Service Fraternity

Co-ed Honor Fraternity

In 2005 the University of Pittsburgh Greek system raised a total of $119,000, and $101,000 in 2006 for the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute. This is part of the Pittsburgh Greek system's 5-year pledge to raise $500,000 for the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute.

Regional campuses

Regional campuses offer Master's, Bachelor's, and Associate's degrees at four locations in Western Pennsylvania. They also allow students to take preliminary courses and relocate to other regional campuses or the Oakland campus to complete their degrees. They offer several degrees and certificates:

References and notes

Pittsburgh Campus Gallery

External links

Further reading:

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