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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'" (https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-04-16/china-s-ambitious-tra...).

University of Miami Hosting Event Surrounding Vice Provost's Book

On Monday, April 15, the University of Miami will host a panel discussion on The Global Edge: Miami in the Twenty-First Century, the new book by University of Pittsburgh Vice Provost for Global Affairs and director of the University Center for International Studies, Ariel Armony. Dr. Armony and his co-author, University of Miami and Princeton University professor Alejandro Portes, will provide commentary on the discussion between Sallie Hughes, associate professor at the University of Miami, and Philip Kasinitz, professor at the City University of New York.

The event will be held at the Kislak Center at the University of Miami from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., with a reception to follow. RSVP.

UCIS Remembers Glema Burke

It is with great sadness that the University Center for International Studies announces the death of Glema Burke, a former UCIS administrator. Burke retired in 2006 as UCIS director of management. She was hired by then director Burkart Holzner in 1979 as a finance assistant (after serving in the Graduate School of Public Health for nine years) and moved through UCIS administration as assistant to the director, then assistant director of management and finally director of management.

Burke played a vital role in helping to build UCIS into what it is today. During her tenure, she managed the successful Title VI funding for the Asian Studies Center, the Center for Russian and East European Studies, the Center for Latin American Studies, and the European Studies Center. She also helped establish many of the endowments that UCIS has today including the Malmberg Fellowship, Heinz Fellowship, International Studies Fund, and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation Fund for International Studies.  She was an integral part of launching the Global Studies Program, now the Global Studies Center, and helped plan the Fifth General Chautauqua Conference on U.S.-Soviet Relations hosted at Pitt in 1989. 

In 1997, Burke was one of the inaugural recipients of the Chancellor’s Award for Staff, which honors Pitt staff who have demonstrated dedication to the University beyond the responsibilities of their jobs.

“Glema was a leader, mentor, and inspiration for anyone who had the pleasure to work with her both at Pitt and in the community,” said Rose Wooten, the current UCIS business manager who worked with Burke over the years. “She managed the day-to-day financial and human resources of this University-wide center during a time when Pitt was still developing study and research abroad and attracting international students, scholars, and faculty to campus.

“One minute she would be working on some high-level policy or grant and the next minute she would be helping a center clean a Posvar Hall suite,” Wooten continued. “She was so knowledgeable and a remarkable resource for anyone who needed help.  She cared deeply about people. Pitt was so fortunate that she chose to spend her career here.”  

Burke’s dedicated service will long remain an important part of the history of UCIS. A memorial service will be held on Saturday, April 13, 2019, 11 a.m., at Covenant Presbyterian Church in Ligonier.
Two University Leaders Discuss Community-based Research

A discussion of the role of universities in an urban environment occurred during “Our Place in Changing Cities: A Conversation with the Leaders of the University of Pittsburgh and Newcastle University” at the University Club the afternoon of March 20. Pitt Chancellor Patrick Gallagher welcomed Newcastle Vice-Chancellor Chris Day as a follow-up to the visit the Chancellor paid to the Newcastle campus on the east coast of England last year.

The two institutions have had an undergraduate student exchange program for several years and there have been exchanges of faculty and graduate students who have conducted research in areas ranging from Latin American studies to shale policy.

In this discussion, both leaders agreed that the typical business model of research is sometimes replaced by large-scale community-based projects.

“Studying problems in the context of a real-life situation is a frontier in research,” noted Gallagher.

Day says his institution is also trying to move to a challenge-based approach and to bring some of his city’s poorer residents into some of the discussions. However, he said his university doesn’t have something similar to Pitt’s Community Engagement Center (CEC), which is a hub for collaborations between Pitt staff and the Homewood neighborhood. While Day says his researchers focus on national and global problems, community problems make research more relevant. Gallagher said a university-community relationship is hard work, one that has to be built on integrity, trust, and a long-term commitment.

Day also said he observed how well the Pitt community comingles with Pittsburgh residents and business people. “I could see it just from walking from one building to another,” he said.

It was a busy three-day schedule for the team from Newcastle, which included meetings at Pitt Law, the Center for Energy, and the Shale Gas Governance Center, as well as tours of the Nationality Rooms and the CEC.

Photo album of the event.

New Research Co-authored European Studies Center Director Jae-Jae Spoon Examines Mainstream Party Decline in Europe

European Studies Director Jae-Jae Spoon and co-author Heike Klüver of Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin recently published research examining the decline of mainstream political parties across Europe and the rise of extremist parties to fill the vaccuum. Read an article by the authors summarizing the research.

Sheth Awards Winners Honored for Work in Global Health

(Note: This article first appeared in Pittwire, November 26, 2018.)

When Tushar Singh (GSPH ’14) was tending to feverishly ill patients during the 2014 Ebola epidemic in the rainy tropics of Sierra Leone, Pitt Professor of Medicine P.S. Reddy was never very far from his mind.

The relationship between the two men began in 2010 when Singh was a PhD student in epidemiology at Pitt. Singh was managing a study examining cardiovascular disease among a rural population in India, funded through Science Health Allied Research Education(SHARE), a charitable foundation founded by Reddy and dedicated to promoting scientific exchange between the U.S. and developing nations.

Reddy, a renowned cardiologist who joined the Pitt faculty in 1971, had established the MediCiti Hospital in Hyderabad, India, where Singh was doing his work with elderly patients.

As the two men worked on the project, both in Pittsburgh and in India, Singh flourished under Reddy’s mentoring and guidance.

The two men met again recently on a stage at Pitt’s William Pitt Union. They both accepted the 2018 Sheth International Achievement Award, which is given every year to a Pitt faculty member and a Pitt alumnus who are increasing Pitt’s global footprint with their work.

The Sheth Awards were established in 2012 by the Sheth Family Foundation, founded by Jagdish N. Sheth (KATZ ’62, ’66) and his wife Madhu, who were in attendance at this year’s ceremony. The foundation, based in Georgia, fosters education, wellness and sustainability in the United States and India.

Also in attendance was Pitt Chancellor Emeritus Mark A. Nordenberg, who has traveled extensively in India. During his remarks, Nordenberg noted that he is well-acquainted with Reddy and the work being done at the MediCiti Institute of Medical Sciences, which now includes a city and rural hospital, medical school and a nursing school.

Nordenberg said the hospitals have made progress in cancer prevention, AIDS prevention and prenatal and postnatal care.

“When you see all that has been accomplished, as well as the work still underway, it takes your breath away,” he said. “Dr. Reddy’s work is driven by a desire to bring world class medical care to rural areas.”

Singh at the CDC

Singh’s work beyond India has also had a profound impact — it brought him to the villages of Sierra Leone, where the Ebola epidemic was claiming thousands of lives.

As an epidemic intelligence service officer for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Singh trained staffers in infection control practices. He said he used his skills from that earlier Pitt cardiovascular study to develop a team, manage the field workers and supervise their work.

The CDC efforts to manage and curb the outbreak of the rare and deadly Ebola virus throughout West Africa were its largest and longest response to a public health hazard to date. Due to his work during the epidemic, in January, Singh was named the CDC’s country director for Sierra Leone, where he leads all strategic planning and development of CDC activities.

In his remarks at the award ceremony, Singh referred to Anne Newman, chair of epidemiology in Pitt’s Graduate School of Public Health, who is a close friend and mentor. Singh admitted lacking confidence in himself in early years, but said that Newman always encouraged him.

Later, Newman said: “When you’re a teacher, you have students who come along and you can see who is particularly bright and capable of working with others. His personality ... his way of interacting with people. ... Tushar is such a light.”

Dr. Belkys Torres and Dr. Macrina Lelei Quoted in @Pitt Item About Mentoring and Advising Summit

Dr. Belkys Torres, Executive Director of Global Engagement for the University Center for International Studies, and Dr. Macrina Lelei, Associate Director of the African Studies Program, were quoted in a recent @Pitt article about the university's Mentoring and Advising Summit that took place Thursday, March 7. Read the article here.

Sean's Russia Blog Podcast - Live Recording With University of Warwick Fellow

Sean Guillory, Digital Scholarships Coordinator for the Center for Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies, hosts Sean's Russia Blog, a podcast dedicated to Eurasian history, politics, and society.

On March 7, Sean will conduct a live interview with Natalia Telepneva of the University of Warwick.

The Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact satellites were ideologically, materially, and geopolitically committed to aiding national liberation struggles in Africa during the Cold War. Communist states gave economic aid, provided weapons, and sent spies and military advisors. This live interview with Natalia Telepneva will explore the relationship between Soviet and Warsaw Pact policy and activities in African anti-colonial struggles, the role of espionage in the Cold War and the influence of Soviet and Warsaw Pact secret services on the development of state security in post-independent Africa.

You can listen to the podcast and read Sean's work at https://seansrussiablog.org/.