Pitt Alumni Help Promote the University in Harrisburg

Pitt Alumni Help Promote the University in Harrisburg
A group of Pitt alumni on the steps of the capitol building
Several of the nearly 70 Pitt alumni who participated in the 2019 Pitt Day in Harrisburg gather for a picture in the capitol rotunda.

Pennsylvania State Senator Wayne Fontana has one of the larger offices in the Capitol building in Harrisburg but it was bursting at the seams Tuesday March 26, 2019 with Pitt alumni, students, faculty, staff, and friends who all wanted to speak to the senator as part of the 25th annual Pitt Day in Harrisburg.

In all, nearly 325 individuals, including more than 70 alumni, came out to help the University make its case for increased state funding. They met individually and in groups with lawmakers to highlight the impact the University has on the commonwealth intellectually and economically.

“I love to tell my Pitt Story,” said Bruce Mountjoy (CGS ’91) who attended his ninth Pitt Day in Harrisburg. “As an in-state student I was the beneficiary of the reduced tuition made possible by the commonwealth’s investment and I want to make sure current and future students are able to benefit from the same thing.”

Governor Tom Wolf has presented a 2019-2020 budget that keeps funding for Pitt flat at $149 million. The University is asking for $168 million.  

“It is a critically important effort because it’s the one day of the year when the capitol is awash in Pitt blue and gold and there is a palpable sense that the University of Pittsburgh is in the building,” said Paul Supowitz, Pitt Vice Chancellor for Community and Governmental Relations. “Lawmakers get to hear directly from students, alumni, faculty, and staff how Pitt influences individual lives.”

Valerie Corbin Ketchen (A&S ’81) leads the Keystone Pitt Club with Pitt Pride.
Kelly Kleinhenz (A&S ’19) meets Vicki Wilken (A&S ’84, G ’86) and Tim Rodrigo (A&S ’01) before the Pitt Day in Harrisburg government career seminar. Wilken is Legislative Council for Sen. Patrick Brown and Rodrigo is a Budget Analyst for the PA House of Representatives.

Among those telling lawmakers about Pitt’s impact was Bhavini Patel (A&S ’16). This first generation American and first generation college graduate was on break from the University of Oxford where she is studying how biometric data is used in the surveillance of immigrant populations.

“Had it not been for Pitt I would not be where I am today, said Patel. “I’m proud of what I have accomplished but I’m also proud that I attended a University that invested so heavily in me as a student and as a person.”

Each senator and representative was presented with a packet of information outlining the impact Pitt has on the state in general and specifically on his or her district. Pitt employs more than 18,000 people on its five campuses and has a $4.2 billion economic impact on the state. Alumni living in Pennsylvania contribute $114 billion to the state’s economy.

“Pitt did a great sales job today,” said Anthony Bruno (MED ’55), who was on his first Pitt Day in Harrisburg trip. When the 90-year-old wasn’t able to meet in person with Representative Bob Brooks’ in his office, he left him a long hand-written note.

Making that “sales pitch” was especially important this year. There are nearly 50 new members of the Pennsylvania House and Senate who have not yet heard the great story Pitt has to tell of its community and economic impact, and who better to tell that story than those who are directly impacted. 

“It’s just a good time,” said Mountjoy. “It’s a great way to connect with alumni and students, and it really helps the cause of the University and future students.