First Class of Pitt-China Partnership Graduates

This article first appeared in Pittwire, May 13, 2019.

High schooler David Hu was not familiar with the University of Pittsburgh when his father talked to him about continuing his education in 2015.

However, he was intrigued that an institute familiar to him, Sichuan University in Chengdu, China, was partnering with Pitt to create the Sichuan University-Pittsburgh Institute, or SCUPI for short.

“I also always wanted to study overseas, so SCUPI became one of my top choices back then,” said Hu.

SCUPI is a joint academic entity formed by the two universities intended to provide a world-class engineering education that focuses on design, innovation and an international outlook.

As part of the partnership, 96 students enrolled in the institute in fall 2015 to study various fields in engineering in China and at Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering.

Nearly four years after talking with his father, Hu now has a place in history as one of the first graduates from the cohort.

On Saturday, April 27, those who finished their studies at Pitt reminisced and looked to the future as part of the inaugural graduation class. While 41 students graduated in April at Pitt, the other 42 students from the 83-student class are currently completing their studies at Sichuan.

This is because SCUPI students can attend both Pitt and Sichuan University through the institute via four degree paths: two years at Sichuan, then two years at Pitt; three years at Sichuan, one year at Pitt; four years at Sichuan; or three years at Sichuan, one year of undergraduate studies at Pitt and one year of graduate studies at Pitt.

“It goes without saying that SCUPI helped me develop professional knowledge in mechanical engineering,” said Hu, who graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from SCUPI, finishing his studies at Pitt. “The group meetings I have had in SCUPI prepared me well for the cooperative environment in the engineering industry. Critical thinking is also one of the best things I learned at SCUPI.”

SCUPI combines research with education, professionalism with academics and Eastern with Western approaches. Three undergraduate degree programs are offered: industrial engineering, materials science and engineering, and mechanical engineering. All classes, built on the Swanson School’s curriculum, are taught in English by faculty recruited worldwide.

Students who complete one of the undergraduate programs earn bachelor’s degrees from both institutions.

In China, students study on Sichuan University’s Jiang'an campus in Chengdu, where Sichuan had a building constructed exclusive to SCUPI.

Among the graduating seniors, nearly 90 percent of them were admitted to graduate schools in the United States, United Kingdom and China, which is a historical high for Sichuan University.

Among the 41 seniors who finished at Pitt, many are going to other top engineering schools in the U.S., including Stanford, Berkeley, Georgia Tech, Michigan, Illinois, Cornell and Purdue.

However, the largest number of the seniors, about 30, will stay or come to Pitt for graduate school.

“This meets our expectation that SCUPI would also benefit our graduate programs,” said Minking Chyu, who has served as dean of the institute since 2014 and was one of several Pitt leaders instrumental in developing the partnership.

One of those students staying at Pitt is Chengyuan Hong, who graduated from SCUPI with a Bachelor of Science in Materials Science and Engineering.

Along with learning more about manufacturing and physics, including using Pitt’s makerspace for woodworking and 3-D printing, Hong also enjoyed extracurricular activities, including captaining a basketball team.

Hong said students enrolling in SCUPI should be ready to adapt to new environments.

“Study abroad means living in a totally different environment; it is normal that you would feel homesick in the first several days, but you can find someone who has the same experience with you in studying abroad and ask them for the way to adapt to the new environment,” he said. “Because of SCUPI, I received a better and more advanced education, which led me to study further in my major and apply for a graduate degree program in the Swanson School.”

With studying abroad at Pitt comes new cultural experiences for students as well, including the chance to make new friends and lasting memories.

“When I first arrived at my apartment in Pittsburgh, my roommates and I went to IKEA to buy furniture. We rented a van and did all the assembling work ourselves. That’s the first time I drove in America. After we filled the empty apartment with all the furniture we ‘made,’ I laid in my bed and started picturing my life at Pitt,” Hu said. “The satisfaction and the expectation are something I will always remember.”

Chyu said when the idea for SCUPI became solidified in 2013, he “knew we had something special in the works.”

“We live in a society that is increasingly thriving on global partnerships on all fronts, and to be able to stand here six years later and see our first graduating class off brings us enormous pride,” he said. “My hope is these aspiring graduates prosper as they take their skills into the professional world or further advance in academia, and serve as role models for future graduating classes of this program and other study abroad endeavors.”

Echoing that sentiment was James Martin, the U.S. Steel Dean of the Swanson School.

“This partnership between Pitt and Sichuan University is important for aspects beyond engineering or education; it’s important for the future, and that future starts today. You are the first class to make this partnership real,” he said at the April graduation ceremony for SCUPI students. “Pittsburgh is well known for its 446 bridges, among the most of any city in the world. But today, you helped to build its 447th bridge, connecting the 7,500 miles between Pittsburgh and Chengdu.”

ISB and the University of Pittsburgh to collaborate for Academic Excellence

The following is from a press release from the Indian School of Business:

May 10, 2019, Hyderabad: Indian School of Business (ISB) signed a five-year Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the University of Pittsburgh, USA, at its Hyderabad campus today.
The two academic institutions have agreed to work on joint research projects; exchange of scholarly publications and reports; share experiences in innovative teaching methods and course design; organise joint symposia, workshops and conferences; work on faculty development and exchange; exchange students.
Professor Rajendra Srivastava, Dean, ISB said, “It is indeed a great opportunity for us to expand the frontiers of academic collaborations globally with like-minded partners. With this prestigious MoU with the University of Pittsburgh, we are very keen to take up joint initiatives of global importance touching upon various areas of collaborative research and pedagogy. Pitt has been a trendsetter and a pioneer in the area of healthcare research. Through this MoU, we will work together to take ideas and research from the laboratory to the marketplace to enhance healthcare delivery systems.”
“This is an exciting partnership for the University of Pittsburgh,” said Chancellor Patrick Gallagher. “I look forward to collaborating with ISB to design strategic programs in the areas of business, engineering and the medical sciences and in developing healthcare and engineering innovations that will benefit people and communities around the world.”
Post the MoU signing, ISB’s Max Institute of Healthcare Management held a roundtable discussion on ‘Innovation from Lab to Patient/Market’, which was participated by ISB and Pitt faculty and senior leaders in the healthcare sector representing industry, government and the academia.
About the University of Pittsburgh:
The University of Pittsburgh is a state-related research university, founded in 1787 as the Pittsburgh Academy. The University of Pittsburgh is a member of the Association of American Universities, which comprises 62 preeminent doctorate-granting research institutions in North America. One of the oldest institutions of higher education in the United States, the University of Pittsburgh has a strong legacy—home to innovators and scholars who have defeated polio, unlocked the secrets of DNA, lead the world in organ transplantation, and pioneered both TV and heavier-than-air flight, among numerous other accomplishments. In 2019, the Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education College Rankings named the University of Pittsburgh among the top-five public universities in the North eastern United States.
About the Indian School of Business:
Indian School of Business (ISB) is a global business school offering world-class management education across its two campuses – Hyderabad and Mohali. ISB has grown at a rapid pace over the 18 years since its inception. The School has several notable accomplishments to its credit: it is the youngest school ever to rank among the top Global MBA programmes consistently; one among the select 100 global B-schools to have AACSB and EQUIS accreditation; one of the largest providers of Executive Education in Asia; the most research-productive Indian management institution. With a vibrant pool of research-oriented resident faculty, strong academic associations with leading global B-schools and the backing of an influential Board, ISB has fast emerged as a premier global B-school in the emerging markets. For details visit
2019 Nationality Rooms Scholarships Winners

Congratulations to all this year's recipients of the Nationality Rooms Scholarship Program! You can see photos of the winners, along with their study and research plans, at the Nationality Rooms Scholarship Program Facebook page. You can also download a comprehensive list of 2019's winners in PDF format.

The Nationality Rooms Committees have awarded scholarships for summer study abroad annually since 1948. This year marked another milestone for the scholarship program, as the committees awarded a record-high amount $205,000 among 54 recipients.

The University Center for International Studies also awards scholarships through the Study Abroad Program.


African Heritage Room Committee Scholarship in memory of Ms. Florence L. Williams: Lindsay Ejoh—Legon, Ghana, to gain a different perspective on music education and learn how non-western societies express themselves artistically. 

African Heritage Room Committee Grant in memory of Ms. Florence L. Williams: Mica House—Iringa, Tanzania, to study Swahili and health issues in East Africa.

Austrian Room Committee Scholarship in memory of Dr. Joseph and Heidi Novak: Danielle Schomer—Vienna, Austria, to study the music and culture of Vienna.

Austrian Room Committee Scholarship in memory of Dr. Joseph and Heidi Novak: Manasi Thirumoorthi—Graz, Austria, to examine the roles of health care workers in Austria in comparison to the United States.

Chinese Room Committee Scholarship: Lindsay Hopewell—Shanghai, China, to study Chinese culture, language, and economics as they relate to the life of the average Chinese citizen.

Czechoslovak Room Committee Scholarship: Mark Garger—Prague, Czech Republic, to immerse himself in the culture of Prague and take classes toward his certificate in Russian and Eastern European Studies.

German Room Committee Scholarship: Jacob Kuzy—Munich, Germany, to study the German language and culture and teach English and German in a local migrant camp.

Indian Room Committee Scholarship: Anupama Jayachandran—Mussoorie, India, to study public health and practical first aid in the Himalayas and research how the Himalayan Mountain Range itself might have influenced cultural identity in the face of occupation by the British.

Indian Room Committee Scholarship: Salena Ringenbach—Mussoorie, India, to study health and wilderness first responder training in the Himalayas.

Italian Room Committee Scholarship: Michael Hayden—Genoa, Italy, to study the literature and history of the city of Genoa and its region.

Japanese Room Committee Scholarship in memory of Mrs. Fukue Takano: Michael Boroch—Tokyo, Japan, to study the Japanese language and culture.

John F. Kennedy/Irish Room Committee Scholarship in memory of Daniel Milton Rooney: Megan McKenzie—Dublin, Ireland, to study cultural differences in health care and clinical practices in speech-language pathology.

David L. Lawrence Memorial Scholarship: Samuel Winderman—Amsterdam, The Netherlands, to study urban sustainability focusing on the three Ps: planet, profit, and people.

David L. Lawrence Memorial Grant: Zeinab Abbas—Entenbe, Uganda, to learn about the hidden people of Uganda and how they affect the nation’s domestic and foreign policy from experts and experienced researchers and staff.

Herbert Lieberkind Memorial Scholarship: Seana Gysling—Copenhagen, Denmark, and Stockholm, Sweden, to study dental health care and patient satisfaction in Scandinavia and compare it to that of  the U.S.

Rachel McMasters Miller Hunt Scholarship: Ciera Thomas—Madrid, Spain, to immerse herself in Spanish language and culture and complete a communications internship.

Rachel McMasters Miller Hunt Grant: Janice Im—Napo, Ecuador, to research what barriers hospitals and health centers in Tena, Ecuador face in offering mental health services to Quechuan women who experience intimate partner violence.

Polish Room Committee Scholarship in memory of Gertrude Jakubowski Long: Noah Kotzin—Krakow, Poland, to increase fluency in the Polish language through immersion and gain better cultural understanding.

Polish Room Committee Scholarship in memory of Gertrude Jakubowski Long: Tyler Rabiger—Warsaw, Poland, to research the impact of state-controlled banks in Poland’s avoidance of the 2007-2009 financial crisis.

Helen Pool Rush Scholarship: Anna Coleman—Johannesburg, South Africa, to research how climate change is addressed outside of the U.S. by working with environmental engineers at the University of Witwatersrand.

Helen Pool Rush Scholarship: Carolyn Brodie—Iringa, Tanzania, to study Swahili and health care in East Africa.

Helen Pool Rush Grant: Madeline Hobbs–Capetown, South Africa, to work with underserved children by facilitating a STEM tutoring program as well as a recreational soccer program.

Helen Pool Rush Grant: Chinyere Iwuanyanwu–Khon Kaen, Thailand, to learn about the food, language, and overall culture of Thailand while studying the health care system.

Nationality Council Scholarship for Quo Vadis Guides: Kayla Paterini—Berlin, Germany, to complete an international business internship.

Savina S. Skewis Scholarship: Julia Rossetti—Cochabamba, Bolivia, to study intensive Spanish language and get involved in the community by participating in a service-learning project.

Savina S. Skewis Grant: Silvia Bononi—London, United Kingdom, to study accounting and complete a business internship to gain an international perspective.

Ivan Santa-Cruz Memorial Scholarship: Prathyusha Pandu—Santiago, Chile, to observe hospitals and work in underprivileged neighborhoods to promote health education.

Robert and Helen Sette Scholarship: Breanne McDermott—Havana, Cuba, to improve upon Spanish speaking skills and immerse herself in the Cuban culture.

John H. Tsui Memorial Scholarship: Alex Anthony-Williams—Taipei City, Taiwan, to study intensive Chinese and complete an 11-week internship in international finance.

John H. Tsui Memorial Scholarship: Sarina Chow—Taipei, Taiwan, to study business and gain a practical understanding of Taiwan’s economic and political role throughout Asia and abroad.

Women’s International Club Grant in honor of Cynthia G. Maleski, Esq.: Emily Fjeldstad—Antananarivo, Madagascar, to study traditional medical practices in Madagascar and use them as a compliment to her practice of Western Medicine.

Women’s International Club Grant in honor of Cynthia G. Maleski, Esq.: Julia Lynch–Iringa, Tanzania, to study health issues in East Africa and gain a culturally-diverse perspective on medical practices.

Women’s International Club Scholarship in honor of Cynthia G. Maleski, Esq.: Benedicta Olonilua—London, United Kingdom, to compare British Sign Language and culture to American Sign Language and culture and to research Deaf art and how it can serve as a tool to educate hearing individuals on Deaf experiences. 


African Heritage Room Committee Scholarship in memory of Ms. Florence L. Williams: Rebecca Babalola—Windhoek, Namibia, to research various infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, HIV, and maternal and child health at the Windhoek Central Hospital.

African Heritage Room Committee Grant in memory of Ms. Florence L. Williams: Samantha Monks—Gulu, Uganda, to research stigmatizations of marginalized groups that emerge from war and conflict and investigate the themes of sexual and gender-based violence and psychological trauma.

Dorothy Bradley Brown Physical Therapy Scholarship: Andrew McCarthy–Brussels, Belgium, to gain an international perspective in the practice of physical therapy.

Fred C. Bruhns Memorial Scholarship: Heather Solomon—Amman, Jordan, to participate in Al Mashriq for intensive Arabic and intern at the Collateral Repair Project, a non-profit that works with refugees.

Chinese Room Committee Scholarship: Azure Wilson—Shanghai, China, to study laryngeal physiology and learn experimental surgical laboratory techniques that support her PhD research.

Ruth Crawford Mitchell Memorial Scholarship: Tanya Shirazi—San Salvador, El Salvador, to research the current conditions Salvadoran women/children may return to if deported back to their home country with the impending elimination of Temporary Protected status for Salvadoran Immigrants. This research will inform creative works of fiction and nonfiction.

Ruth Crawford Mitchell Memorial Grant: Aaron Ross—Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, to complete an internship that connects at-risk youth with social services and to develop Spanish language skills.

James W. Knox Memorial Scholarship: Chloe Glover—Lima, Peru, and La Merced, Peru, to perform fieldwork and collect data pertaining to a geological anomaly at the Central Andean Plateau.

Josephine and John McCloskey Memorial Scholarship: Emma Lamberton—Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, to conduct a cultural analysis and pull from historical, anthropological, sociological and psychological literature to discuss how the Soviet Union changed Mongolian value systems.

Josephine and John McCloskey Memorial Grant: Adam Lee—Oslo, Norway, to investigate why jazz has maintained a continuous and important place in Norwegian society since World War II and explore possibilities for the application of these ideas in the United States.

Frances and Sully Nesta Memorial Grant: Jacob Eisensmith—Southern Italy, to examine the portions of Italy that are left out of the Renaissance narrative, one which often overlooks heightened contact  with Islamic cultures and goods in the wake of the Crusades.

Frances and Sully Nesta Memorial Scholarship: Eliza Jermyn–Perugia, Italy, to study Italian language and do translation-based research related to Fernanda Pivano’s translation of A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway.

Polish Room Committee Scholarship in memory of Dr. Donald F. Mushalko: Kelly Chastain–Krakow, Poland, to research the history of Krakow under Austrian rule during the time of the Polish Partition, focusing on the years between 1895–1905.

Stanley Prostrednik Grant: Kathryn Pataki—Amsterdam, Netherlands, to research sex workers’ own conceptualizations of empowerment/disempowerment within Amsterdam’s Red-Light District.

Stanley Prostrednik Scholarship: Chie Togami–London, United Kingdom, to research key strategic decisions of the environmental movement by examining how climate change activists choose between different tactics and targets and how these decisions shape the successes of the movement.

Stanley Prostrednik Health Sciences Grant: Sana Kagalwalla—Manila, Philippines, to conduct research aiming to reduce health disparities in underserved communities.

Stanley Prostrednik Health Grant: Dzigbordi Kamasa-Quashie–Capetown, South Africa, to study the potential relationship between viral infections and Sudden Unexpected Death of Infants and Sudden Infant Deaths.

Stanley Prostrednik Health and Sciences Scholarship: Inngide Osirus—Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, to assess health disparities that exists among Haitian women who are HIV positive and assess their maternal health outcomes.

Dr. & Mrs. Ryonosuke Shiono Scholarship: Mary Braza–Jumla, Nepal, to explore the variation in the geometry of the main fault beneath the Himalayas in Western Nepal.

Dr. & Mrs. Ryonosuke Shiono Grant: Marin Kheng—Indonesia, to design and implement a community health needs assessment in Indonesia to better understand the current state of surgical access within a specific community.

Turkish Nationality Room Committee Scholarship: Victoria Hoang—Gaziantep, Turkey, to observe on-the-ground operations and develop long-term solutions that alleviate challenges refugees face during the integration process.

Pitt in India

Chancellor Gallagher will lead a University of Pittsburgh delegation to India May 6-13, 2019, to meet with leaders of private industry, government, cultural organizations, and academic institutions. The visit is supported by the Pennsylvania Trade and Investment Office-India. The trip will strengthen existing relationships and establish new links across the country.

On May 8, Chancellor Gallagher spoke at the prestigious Asiatic Society of Mumbai. The chancellor was introduced by Aditya Vikram R. Somani, KGSB’97, a member of the Chancellor's Global Advisory Council, and presented on the topic of cyber security in an information age.

On May 9 the chancellor had the opportunity to meet with officials from Institute of Technology in Hyderabad and the Telangana State Council of Higher Education.

See photos and more updates from the trip on our Facebook page.

Student Spotlight: Alexa Tignall, Center for Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies

Alexa Tignall has “things to say,” and it is no wonder she does. Tignall graduates Pitt with a bachelor’s degree in social science, Africana studies, and an anthropology minor in addition to a certificate in Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies. She’s a student, an ambassador for the Center for Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies (REEES), and a critical language fellowship recipient – but the sum of her accomplishments is only one small part of the powerhouse that she is.

Tignall talks about her life in terms of themes, analyzing herself the way she would a Langston Hughes work. Yet she’s nonchalant in her claim that she “fell into” her interest in Russia, Eurasia, and Eastern Europe back when she was living in Brighton Beach, where she learned to speak Russian to communicate with her roommate and neighbors.

At Pitt, Tignall continued this learning with the guidance of professors Gabby M.H. Yearwood of the Anthropology Department, Imani Owens of the Africana Studies Department, and Dawn Seckler and Sean Guillory of REEES. Tignall studied in Moscow in 2018 through REEES’s Summer Language Institute. As a REEES student ambassador, she has helped other students build networks, secure funding, and study abroad. To her, involvement in international studies means, “becoming a global citizen.”

If Tignall were to deliver to TED Talk, she would speak about the experience of Central Asian students in American high schools, and how notions of race, racism, and masculinity inform their identities. She believes that, “when we start speaking the truth, then we can solve problems.” It comes as no surprise that her favorite classes and involvements at Pitt were those that changed her worldview and encouraged her perspective as a black woman in otherwise white and male spaces.

During summer 2019, Tignall will conduct research in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, through the Critical Language Scholarship awarded by the United States Department of Education.

Pitt Professor Profiled in Chronicle of Higher Education for Her Work in Serving Latinx Community

Pitt professor Gina Ann Garcia was recently profiled in an article in The Chronicle of Higher Education. Dr. Garcia is an assistant professor in the Department of Administrative and Policy Studies, where she teaches master’s and doctoral students pursuing degrees in higher education and student affairs.

The article focuses on Dr. Garcia's work in Hispanic-serving institutions of higher learning and providing better access and service to the Latinx community. The article quotes Dr. Garcia as saying she favors institutions that "provide a culturally engaging environment for students and enhance their sense of belonging, engagement, and racial or ethnic identity while also maximizing their academic attainment" (Peter Monaghan, "What It Means, Politically, to Serve Hispanics," April 21, 2019).

Dr. Garcia is author of a book titled Becoming Hispanic-Serving Institutions: Opportunities for Colleges and Universities published by Johns Hopkins Press.

Year of Pitt Global Showcase

Wednesday, April 24, we will celebrate the success of the Year of Pitt Global as we near its end. The Showcase offers the Pitt community and general public an overview of the amazing Year of Pitt Global and a look at many of the projects and programs supported with matching funds from the Office of the Provost.

Provost Ann E. Cudd, Vice Provost for Global Affairs Ariel C. Armony, and Distinguished Professor Randall Halle, Co-Chair of the Year of Pitt Global, will welcome guests and offer brief remarks. We will celebrate at 4 p.m. on the first floor of Wesley W. Posvar Hall.

UCIS Graduation Ceremony 2019

The University Center for International Studies cordially invites students graduating in Spring and Summer 2019 to celebrate their academic achievements and receive their credentials at the University Center for International Studies’ Graduation Ceremony on Friday, April 26, 3-4 p.m., followed by a reception 4-5 p.m., in the O'Hara Student Center.

Samir Lakhani, A&S ‘14, will give brief remarks before UCIS certificates are conferred. Lakhani is the founder and executive director of Eco-Soap Bank, a global soap-recycling organization that operates in 10 countries in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. To date, Eco-Soap Bank has reached over 1.1 million people with recycled soap and free hygiene education. In 2017, Lakhani received a CNN Hero Award for his work with global hygiene. 

Graduating students should look for their personal email invitations from the University Center for International Studies to RSVP and contact their UCIS academic advisor with any questions about the event.

American Hungarian Educators Association Conference

April 4-6, 2019, the University of Pittsburgh hosted the American Hungarian Educators Association Conference, sponsored by the Hungarian Nationality Room Committee and the Center for Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies Center.

The conference featured keynote speaker János Kenyeres of Eötvös Loránd University, who presented "Manifestations of Hungarian Identity in Literature." Look through an album of photos from the event.

UCIS Director Ariel Armony Quoted in Bloomberg Article on China's Latin American Ambitions

From the article by journalist Daniela Guzman: "'Where there is instability and corruption, there are often easier openings for infrastructure development,' said Ariel Armony, director of the University of Pittsburgh’s Center for International Studies and the co-author of a book on China’s evolving role in Latin America. 'Getting involved in infrastructure in Chile is a new level of maturity and developing expertise for the Chinese'" (