Pitt-Bradford presidents to sign new history book at event

Pitt-Bradford history

A book chronicling the rich 50-year history of Pitt-Bradford has been published, and current president Dr. LivingstonAlexander and former president Dr. Richard E. McDowell will autograph copies at a book signing next week on campus. 

            The book-signing event, being held to mark the release of the book, “A History of the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford,” will be held from 2 to 3 p.m. Friday, April 25, in the Frame-Westerberg Commons. The event will begin with brief remarks by Alexander and McDowell in the Commons’ first-floor lobby. Following the remarks, Alexander and McDowell will move to the Panther Shop, where they will sign books.

              The book is currently available for pre-order at the Panther Shop’s online store at http://thepanthershop.com.Anyone pre-ordering the book will receive a 10 percent discount. Books also will be available for purchase beginning April 25 at the Panther Shop.

            The book signing, which is being co-sponsored by the Friends of Hanley Library, is free and open to the public.

            “This is an inspiring story of how a fledgling, resource-starved regional campus of the University of Pittsburgh emerged as a significant player in Northwest Pennsylvania higher education,” Alexander said. “This is truly a story worth telling, and we’re delighted that this comprehensive and fascinating narrative now becomes the official history of our cherished institution.”

            The book was written by Sherie R. Mershon, an independent scholar and freelance writer and editor from Pittsburgh. The book and its release are part of the university’s 50th anniversary celebration this year.

            The 370-page book spans the entire history of the university. It begins with a brief history of the region followed by a detailed account of the efforts of many individuals in Bradford who recognized the need for an institution of higher education in north central Pennsylvania and mobilized to help make it happen.

            The final chapter, “Going Beyond, 2003-2013,” highlights the university’s more recent advances and accomplishments, from the naming of Alexander as the third president to the addition of several new academic majors and extensive expansion and renovation of the campus.

            In writing the book, Mershon assembled details from various documents and publications from Pitt-Bradford as well as the community, including The Bradford Era and the Olean (N.Y.) Times Herald; Portraits magazine, the university’s alumni magazine; The Source, Pitt-Bradford’s student newspaper; the Bradford Landmark Society; minutes from various administrative meetings; and official documents from other sources on campus. Mershon also gathered information from the University Archives of the University of Pittsburgh.

            Mershon also conducted interviews with several members of the campus community, including McDowell, who was Pitt-Bradford’s president from 1973 to 2002; Dr. K. James Evans, vice president and dean of student affairs who has been at Pitt-Bradford since 1976; Bill Higie, a longtime Advisory Board member and former chairman for 22 years; Dr. Andy Dzirkalis, associate professor emeritus of political science who taught from 1976 to 2006; Tom Bromeley, a longtime Advisory Board member; and Isabelle Champlin, an alumna who taught anthropology for more than 40 years.

            In addition to the written history, the book also features numerous photos from the 1960s up to 2013. Some of the historical photos include the ribbon-cutting ceremony on the first day of school on Sept. 3, 1963, featuring then-president Dr. Don Swarts and Bert Fisher, the first Advisory Board chairman; students peeking out of the windows of Emery Hall, which served as the university’s first residence hall; and a class in session in the Hamsher House. Recent photos include the inauguration of Alexander as Pitt-Bradford’s third president; Harriett B. Wick in front of the chapel on campus that bears her name; and then-student Tim Rooke using equipment in the Crime Scene Investigation House.

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