education

I, Teacher

Early in Isaac Asimov’s speculative fiction classic “I, Robot,” a little girl named Gloria becomes more attached to a robot named Robbie than to her own parents. Originally wary of Robbie, Gloria’s parents grow to love and respect the tin man after it saves their little munchkin’s life by sweeping her away from the path …

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The Short, Happy Life of the WASP ascendancy

Once upon a time in America, when the going was good, there emerged what looked like a ruling class. We’ll call it the WASP Ascendancy. Standing for White Anglo-Saxon Protestant, WASP was coined by University of Pennsylvania sociologist E. Digby Baltzell (1916–1996). This WASP Ascendancy traces a soft 20th century parabola reaching its apogee in …

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Katherine MacCord: A Chance to Change the World

This fall, 23-year-old Katherine MacCord will begin her studies at England’s Cambridge University on the dime of Microsoft co-founder and billionaire Bill Gates as the first University of Pittsburgh student to earn a Gates Cambridge Scholarship. While such an achievement suggests she followed an academic strategy carefully conceived before college or later, the path that …

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Gibbons, Waite, Hansen, Ashburner, Benedict, Humar, Kiehn

David P. Gibbons will become the president of UPMC Northwest, in Seneca, Venango County. He comes to western Pennsylvania from Voorhees, N.J., where he was vice president of operations for the Kennedy Health System’s three hospitals.Before joining Kennedy in 1997, he was director of managed care for the Visiting Nurses Association of Greater Philadelphia; regional …

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Mark Roosevelt, Superintendent

My interest in educational reform started when I was in the legislature in Massachusetts. I was lucky enough, as a young legislator, to be offered the chairmanship of the Education Committee. The Speaker of the House brought me in and said, “I want you to look at how Massachusetts funds and runs its public schools …

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Head of the class

Ben Gordon sits in his sparse office, with its bright fluorescents, the textbooks on the shelf, the dry-erase board smudged with equations and graphs. He is talking thermodynamics right now and how power plants are really “just huge engines,” but just a few minutes ago, he was talking about the guys he once called friends …

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Friends in Unfriendly Times

Adena Johnson Davis remembers marching up to the front desk at the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Nursing, plunking down her test scores, report cards and transcripts. She was a slight, young woman and had been an ‘A’ student at Peabody High School. For sure, she thought, this will get me in. The school’s secretary, …

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Thomas Hales: The Proof of the Proof

The message went out without fanfare on a quiet summer morning. Thomas Hales finally was done—or so it seemed. Near collapse, he e-mailed his colleagues announcing that he had achieved the impossible. After more than a decade of work, Hales had completed a proof of the Kepler conjecture, a centuries-old conundrum about how best to …

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Bet the Farm

Selected by owners Jack and Dale Duff from a small field of candidates, they have been operating the venerable Blackberry Meadows Farm all summer under a lease/purchase agreement. With heads full of “green” theory and their own, seemingly endless renewable energy, the four entrepreneurs have passed the halfway mark in the growing season and are …

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Can Video Games Save the World?

The main entrance to the Carnegie Mellon Entertainment Technology Center off Second Avenue looks like the inside of a space ship. Neon blue and purple lamps wash the corridor with cool, luminescent hues, like a Death Star antechamber, and trapezoidal wall moldings recall Star Trek interiors. “Blast door” portcullises, complete with tooth-like eaves ready to …

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A good lesson

Eleanore Childs may have had as many lives as Joanie Caucus, that trailblazing mom/feminist/late-in-life-lawyer of the “Doonesbury” comic strip — each reincarnation a mirror of the social upheavals of the last half of the last century. As the daughter of Sewickley pediatrician Robert Nix, a beloved figure in that community who, in the 1950s, helped …

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Saving Science

On a quiet afternoon inside Seville Elementary School’s modest, unprepossessing building in Pittsburgh’s northern suburb of Ross, something electric is happening—literally and figuratively. The subject at hand is electricity: what it is and how to create it. But there’s a charge in the atmosphere, too, the kind that might make the hair on parents’ necks …

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Arrivals: Fall ’06

John R. Price is president and CEO of Federal Home Loan Bank of Pittsburgh. He is a Rhodes Scholar, who earned advanced degrees in development economics and diplomatic history from Queens College at Oxford University. He is also a graduate of Harvard Law School. During the first Nixon Administration, Price succeeded the late Daniel Patrick …

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Front and Center

Good evening ladies and gentlemen. It is a pleasure to be with you (And if you knew how frightened I am of speaking in public you would have pity on this terrorstricken speaker).” The thought expressed above is an all too common phenomenon for many who find themselves standing before an audience of strangers, all …

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