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Summer Study Abroad Awards

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University of Pittsburgh

Congratulations to the 2011 winners of the Summer Study Abroad Nationality Rooms Scholarships.

Read about their studies.

Committee Awards

The Summer Study Abroad scholarships sponsored by the Nationality Rooms Committees reflect decades of work by those committees to honor an ideal--education through cultural exchange.  After their rooms were built, the groups decided to stay together to raise funds enabling eligible University of Pittsburgh students to study abroad, thereby experiencing another culture in depth.

What To Know About Applying

2012 Information Sessions

2012 Scholarships being Offered

The Undergraduate NRIEP Application

The Graduate NRIEP Application

Foundation Awards

The Rachel McMasters Miller Hunt Award is given each year by The Hunt Foundation as a memorial to Rachel Hunt, a bibliophile and staunch friend of the Nationality Rooms Program in th 1930's and 1940's.  (click to read more about Rachel McMasters Miller Hunt)

The Polish Room Committee / Kosciusko Foundation Award provides an opportunity for study in Poland.  The Kosciusko Foundation in New York jointly sponsors an award to Poland with the Polish Room Committee, providing tuition, room and board to an appropriate institution in Poland.  The Pittsburgh Chapter of the Kosciusko Foundation pays the airfare.  In 2005, the Polish Room Committee awarded $1000 for expenses.  (click to read more)

Other Awards

Several scholarships are named for friends of the Program who shared the committees' educational goals.

 Stanley Prostrednik endowed a scholarship in his name in 1977.  He left his native Czechoslovakia during World War II and took up residence in Pittsburgh.  He was an active member of the Czechoslovak Room Committee until his death. (click to read more about Stanley Prostrednik) 

David L. Lawrence, former mayor of Pittsburgh and governor of Pennsylvania, was a member of the Irish Room Committee.  After his death, funds were raised to establish an endowment in his memory.

Wendell L. Wray, former faculty member at the University of Pittsburgh, left a bequest to fund a summer study abroad scholarship for study in Africa.  A native of Pittsburgh, he attended the Carnegie Institute of Technology (now the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Information Science) and made history as the first African-American graduate from the school.  Wray was then hired by the Carnegie Public Library, the first African-American male hired by the Library system.  (click to read more about Wendell Wray)

Helen Pool Rush graduated from the University of Pittsburgh and became a staff member in the Dean of Women's office, the beginning of a life-long affiliation with the University.  In lieu of retirement presents, well wishers collected donations to establish a scholarship endowment in Dean Rush's name.  She was the first woman Vice-Chancellor at the University of Pittsburgh. (click to read more about Helen Pool Rush)

Savina S. Skewis began her tenure at the University of Pittsburgh in1946 as a dietician, supervising meal preparation for men in training as Army specialists who were housed in the Cathedral of Learning.  In 1950, she became the Associate Dean of Women. Many students fondly recall hours spent under her tutelage in the Braun Room and the 12th floor kitchen in the Cathedral of Learning.  Heinz Chapel choir members and others contributed to establish this award for her. (click to read more about Savina Skewis)  

Frank and Vilma Slater began this award to promote study in Scotland.  Both Mr. and Mrs. Slater are deceased.  Mr. Slater served for many years as chairman of the Scottish Room Committee.  (click to read more about the Slaters)

John H. Tsui was chairman of the Chinese Room Committee during its fundraising and construction phases.  Mr. Tsui, a Tsinghua College (Peiping) and University of Pittsburgh graduate, became an engineer for Westinghouse. He was a loyal advocate and often the sole financial support of the Chinese Room Committee for four decades.  A bequest from his will in 1978 began the endowment that bears his name. 

James Affleck belonged to the Scottish Room Committee. He was encouraged to start an endowment for study in Scotland by his dear friend Frank Slater.  He died in August 1997. 

Ruth Crawford Mitchell was the founding director of the Nationality Rooms Program from 1926 to 1956.  She maintained a keen interest in people and international affairs throughout her life.  She died in Pittsburgh in 1984 at age 93. (click to read about Ruth Crawford Mitchell

Dr. Samuel Gomory  (Hungarian Room Committee Award) became chairman of the Hungarian Room Committee in 1928.  He was a graduate of the University of Budapest and a member of the University of Pittsburgh Medical School faculty.  Joseph Arvay was a member of the Hungarian Room Committee. 

Eugene Manasterski worked tirelessly as a young man to raise funds for the construction of the Ukrainian Room.  A University of Pittsburgh graduate, he held elected positions on the Ukrainian Room Committee and was treasurer at the time of his death.  His family, friends, and Ukrainian Room Committee members contributed the funds to establish the endowment.  (click to read more about Eugene Manasterski)

Ivan Santa-Cruz, a Chilean native and architect, lived in Pittsburgh.  After his sudden death on a tennis court, family members and friends endowed this memorial scholarship for summer study in Chile.

 Herbert E. Lieberkind was a member of the Danish Room Committee.  Funds accrue to offer this award for study in Denmark approximately every three years. 

Dr. Douglas Radcliff-Umstead chaired the Department of Renaissance and Medieval Studies at the University of Pittsburgh before transferring to other universities to teach.  Upon his tragic death in an airplane crash, a friend established this award for summer study in Italy.  

The Women's International Club, comprised of members of the Nationality Rooms committees, was founded in 1938 and originally met once a month at the Faculty Club to listen to a discussion of world events over lunch.  In a desire to do more for the education of the next generation, the group decided to provide a scholarship for a University of Pittsburgh woman to study abroad.  In 1975, a collection of tested recipes from members and friends resulted in the Nationality Rooms Recipe Book, now in its third printing.  Proceeds from the sale of this book permanently endowed a scholarship which funds an annual award for a woman undergraduate. (click to read more about WIC

Judge Genevieve Blatt graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with degrees in Political Science and Law.  She served the citizens of Pennsylvania throughout her lifetime in positions at the local and state levels.  Family and friends contributed to establish this award after her death in 1996.  It provides funds for a graduate woman majoring in Political Science or Law to study abroad. (click to read more about Judge Blatt

Dorothy Bradley Brown, a 1939 University of Pittsburgh alumna from the then School of Health Related Professions, established an endowment that provides opportunities for graduate students in the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences to add an international dimension to their education.      

James W. Knox graduated from the University of Pittsburgh and pursued a career in local government.  While an undergraduate he began a life-long affiliation with the Nationality Rooms Program, establishing many scholarship endowments on this list.  (click to read more about James Knox

Frances and Sully Nesta were long-time members of the Italian Room Committee.  Frances Nesta served as chairman of that committee for many years.  She and Sully were very generous during their tenure, often providing additional awards for summer study in Italy. (click to read more about the Nestas)


Fred C. Bruhns worked with refugees in a number of countries from 1946 through 1965.  He came to the University of Pittsburgh to complete his Ph.D. and joined the faculty of the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs.  (click to read more about Fred Bruhns)



Rachel McMasters Miller married Roy Hunt on June 11, 1913.  The daughter of Mortimer Craig Miller and Rachel Hughey McMasters, she was born on June 30, 1882 in Turtle Creek, Pennsylvania and was educated at the Thurston School in Pittsburgh and Miss Mittleberger’s School for Girls in Cleveland.  She and Roy had four sons:  Alfred M. Hunt (1919-1984), Torrence M. Hunt (1921-2004), Roy A. Hunt, Jr. (1924-1981), and Richard M. Hunt (b.1926).  Throughout her life, Rachel maintained an active interest in botany, horticulture and bookbinding.  An accomplished bookbinder, she exhibited thirty-four of her books at the New York School of Applied Design for Women in 1911, an exhibit that later moved to the Wunderly Galleries in Pittsburgh.  Her first gift to Roy was a copy of The Book of Common Prayer, which she had bound and appropriately tooled in aluminum.  Rachel studied bookbinding with Euphemia Bakewell, a student of the English master binder, T. J. Cobden-Sanderson.  Her considerable mastery of the bookbinder’s craft enabled her to produce approximately 90 bindings, many of which are now held by the Hunt Institute.  Her binding activity is documented in Marianne Titcombe’s The Bookbinding Career of Rachel McMasters Miller Hunt, Pittsburgh, 1974.  She also began to collect rare books in earnest.  In addition to books on plant-related subjects, she collected works on bookbinding, typography and book production, as well as the products of selected private presses.  In the Foreword of The Bookbinding Career of Rachel McMasters Miller Hunt, Frederick B. Adams, Jr. writes, “It is rare to find combined in one person both the technical and artistic powers required to carry out satisfactorily all the steps necessary to create a gilt-tooled leather bookbinding from start to finish.  For this reason, for several centuries the various stages have commonly been accomplished by different persons in a bindery, sewing by one, forwarding by another, and finishing (tooling and onlaying) by the principal craftsman of the team.  But Miss Miller followed through all parts of the process herself except the edge gilding…” Rachel was a member of more than thirty horticultural and botanical organizations, some of which she helped to establish.  In 1956, she was named Honorary Vice President of the American Horticultural Society.  She authored books and papers, and lectured widely in the fields of horticulture and literature.  Carnegie Institute of Technology awarded her an Honorary Doctor of Human Letters in 1960. Due to her love of books and flowers, Rachel acquired a remarkable collection of historically significant botanical books and art.  In 1961, she and Roy established the Hunt Botanical Library at Carnegie Institute of Technology (now the Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation at Carnegie Mellon University).  The Institute continues its curatorial work and research in systematic botany and serves as a resource for botanists from around the world. 

Taken from the web site of the Roy A. Hunt Foundation:   


 Founded in 1925, the Kosciuszko Foundation is dedicated to promoting and strengthening understanding and friendship between the peoples of Poland and the United States through educational, scientific, and cultural exchanges as well as other related program activities.  It awards fellowships and grants to students, scholars, scientists, professionals, and artists and helps increase the visibility and prestige of Polish culture in America’s pluralistic society by sponsoring exhibits, publications, film festivals and the performing arts such as concerts and recitals.  It assists other institutions with similar goals. The Kosciuszko Foundation had its beginnings in the Polish American Scholarship Committee, launched in 1923 by Dr. Stephen Mizwa at the request of the Polish Government to bring students to American universities.  Dr. Mizwa was put in touch with Dr. Henry Noble McCracken, President of Vassar College, who had recently returned from an investigative visit to Poland and Eastern Europe.  Eventually the two men enlarged the Committee’s mission to the promotion of cultural and educational exchange between the United States and Poland.  In December 1925, the Committee was changed into the newly-incorporated Kosciuszko Foundation, named as a living memorial to the Polish military hero who had come to fight in the American War of Independence in 1776.  He offered his services to George Washington and was appointed an engineer with the rank of colonel in the American army. After more than six years of service, he was appointed brigadier-general and awarded the Cincinnati Order.  He returned to Poland in July 1894.


In 2000, the Kosciuszko Foundation marked its Diamond Jubilee and celebrated 75 years of carrying out this mission.  Its activities have grown to include scholarship and exchange programs; teaching English in Poland; and cultural programs at its New York townhouse headquarters and throughout the country.  It has Chapters in seven other cities and members across the nations of the world.  Many of its grantees occupy important positions in Polish academic life.  Thanks to its members and benefactors, the Foundation is able to disburse more than $1 million annually to hundreds of Polish Americans and others involved in Polish studies.  It has continued through the difficulties of the Depression, World War Two, and decades of Communist rule.  With the support of individuals, corporations, and foundations, it shall continue in the tradition of its namesake, General Tadeusz Kosciuszko (1746-1817), to enrich the educational and cultural lives in both America and Poland.



                         Czechoslovak Patriot                               

June 29, 1901 – August 8, 1986

 Stanley Charles Prostrednik, also known as Stanley Preston and simply “Stanley” or “Standa” to his friends, was born in Nove Mesto n. Metuji, Czechoslovakia, the youngest of thirteen children. After a four-year apprenticeship in horticulture at the Jiran Greenhouses in Pardubice, Stanley worked as an assistant to the head horticulturist at Hradcany castle in Prague, the home of Czechoslovak President Tômas G. Masaryk.  He was responsible for interior floral decorations as well as tributes for all State occasions.   Stanley was drafted for compulsory service in the Czechoslovak Army (1921-1925) and, upon discharge, worked in various capacities, including Station Master for the electric railroad in the Tatra Mountains.  He married, but was widowed shortly after the birth of his only child, a daughter, Hana. In 1932, Stanley did intelligence work for the Civil Defense Corps and also was active in the underground, assisting many fugitives to escape to Poland.  In 1939, he was arrested by the Hlinka Garda, the Slovakian Gestapo, and imprisoned in various concentration camps, among them Ilava in Moravia, and Levoce in Slovakia.  Stanley escaped, joined the Czechoslovak Army in Exile and fought in the Loire Valley.  After the fall of France, he fled to Bermuda.  There he had extensive surgery for injuries received in the concentration camps.  He then worked at the Department of Agriculture Experimental Station taking care of the gardens in the Governor’s House and Admiralty House.  While in Bermuda, through the International Red Cross, he located his daughter in Czechoslovakia.  He also met with Ján Masaryk who was en route to Washington, D. C., for an audience with President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Stanley next came to the United States for further medical attention.  A visit to a friend in Chicago led to positions with several florists and then to a military specialty parts company as a machinist.  During this time, he began speaking to numerous Czech, Slovak, fraternal and civic organizations about his experiences in the concentration camps and with the Czechoslovak Army in Exile.  He also had a reunion with President Eduard Benes whom he had known in Prague as Secretary of State under President Masaryk. 

When his employer relocated in New Lexington, Ohio, Stanley, still a machinist, also transferred.  He became involved in organizing a Youth Center and helped to set up a physical fitness program.  In 1945, he moved to Pittsburgh to be closer to his sister Magda.  In the summer of 1947, he became horticulturist and landscape architect at Hartwood, Mary Flinn Lawrence’s estate in Fox Chapel.  He remained in this position after Hartwood was acquired by Allegheny County, until he retired in 1981 at the age of 80.

 In retirement, Stanley continued to garden and to pursue his many interests, all loyal to the Czechoslovak cause:  the Sokols, which he had served as Chairman and then as Secretary; the Nationality Rooms Council; and the Czechoslovak Room Committee, serving as its Treasurer from 1957 until his death.  Stanley’s many associations at the University of Pittsburgh and his interest in young people prompted him and his second wife, the late Anna Punzak of Munhall, to establish the Stanley Prostrednik Award in 1977, an annual scholarship by which a student could study during the summer in Czechoslovakia or another country.  Stanley also collected almost 5,000 books by Czech or Slovak authors for Hillman Library, as well as works relevant to Czechoslovak language, literature, history, and culture, many of them rare editions. 

His autobiography, Long Journey: Memoirs of a Czechoslovak Patriot, completed before his death, awaits publication.                                                                                          biography prepared by Margaret Mary Vojtko


Ruth Crawford Mitchell


Ruth Crawford Mitchell, founder and Director Emerita of the University of Pittsburgh’s Nationality Rooms Program, was born in Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey on June 2, 1890, an only child, and grew up in St. Louis, Missouri.  Both her parents had international experiences – her mother studied art; her father pursued graduate studies.  In fact, they met in Stuttgart, Germany, and married in the United States after her father had established himself in business.  As soon as Ruth was old enough, she joined them on holidays abroad.  In St. Louis, she attended Mary Institute, an all-girls school, and was captain of the basketball team.  While at Vassar College, she and a friend went to England to meet her parents and to participate in the festivities during the coronation of King George V.  The trip also included Norway, Finland and Tsarist Russia.  The pair made their way back to the United States via the Trans-Siberian Railroad and steamboat.  The gloating juniors returned to Vassar a month into the school term (with permission, of course).  After graduating from Vassar College in 1912, she received a master’s degree in social work from Washington University in St. Louis in 1915. 

During World War I, she served as National YWCA Secretary organizing International Institutes for foreign-born young women.  From 1919 to 1921, she worked in Czechoslovakia conducting social surveys of Prague and organizing Czechoslovakia’s first school of social work with Dr. Alice G. Masaryk, daughter of the president of Czechoslovakia.  While in Prague with two other Vassar graduates, it occurred to the three women that two years of study at Vassar would greatly benefit the Czech and Slovak women training for positions in the Czechoslovak Red Cross.  Eventually a donor was found who endowed a scholarship for that purpose.  In 1920 the first five Czechoslovak women arrived at Vassar to begin their work.  Vassar continued to provide at least one scholarship a year to a Czechoslovak student until 1948.  In 1980, Mrs. Mitchell published a memoir of Alice Garrigue Masaryk (1879-1966) through Pittsburgh’s University Center for International Studies.

Mrs. Mitchell came to Pittsburgh in 1922 and two years later began to lecture on the history of immigration in the University of Pittsburgh’s Department of Economics.  In 1926, Chancellor John G. Bowman asked her to coordinate work on the interior of the Cathedral of Learning.  It was from this task that the Nationality Rooms Program eventually emerged.  She organized committees which raised the funds and worked with the architects at the University and abroad until 16 Nationality Rooms were completed by 1943.  The rooms are decorated in authentic period styles of


the nationality groups which helped to settle the Pittsburgh region, and are gifts from those ethnic communities to the University.








Mrs. Mitchell in Egypt.

During World War II, she was granted a leave of absence from the University to serve with the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Agency, first in the Middle East, then in London and Germany.  En route to Egypt, she wrote “You will hold together and work for the Rooms and the University and for good will among men” and from Egypt, she cabled “Every good wish to each good friend.  Working together, although of different nationalities, is one way to secure the peace.  Let us work at this art until we meet again.”


Mrs. Mitchell returned to Pittsburgh in 1946 and oversaw the completion of three more classrooms.  In addition, the Nationality Room committees focused their efforts on raising funds to assist the rapidly developing international aspects of the University curriculum by purchasing books in other languages for Hillman library.  In 1948, they began to raise scholarship money for University of Pittsburgh students to study abroad.  In 1939, Mrs. Mitchell met with a group of women, one from each of the active Nationality Room Committees, to exchange information about the rooms.  Out of that meeting came the Women’s International Club, which remains in existence and has funded many scholarships for University women undergraduates to study abroad. 

After her retirement in 1956, Mrs. Mitchell served as Director Emerita of the Nationality Rooms Program and as consultant to the Nationality Rooms and Intercultural Exchange Programs at the University of Pittsburgh.  Between 1969 and 1978, she conceived and planned the Tercentenary Celebration to honor the first woman in history to receive a university degree, Elena Lucrezia Cornaro Piscopia, MA, PhD, 1678, University of Padua, Italy.


Mrs. Mitchell has been decorated by five governments.  Her many honors include the Order of the White Lion from the Republic of Czechoslovakia, and the David Glick Award for distinguished services in the field of international affairs from the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh.  In 1955 she was selected a Distinguished Daughter of Pennsylvania.  In 1966, she was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Humanities degree from the University of Pittsburgh.  In 1972, she received the Chancellor’s Medal from Pittsburgh Chancellor Wesley W. Posvar for “a long and distinguished contribution to the University of Pittsburgh.”  Mrs. Mitchell was an Honoree at the Courthouse Gallery Forum program “Discovery in the 70’s.”  She was made an Honorary Member of Phi Beta Kappa in 1979.   She died in Presbyterian University Hospital in Pittsburgh on February 7, 1984, after an extended illness at age 93.



  Mr. Manasterski, a University of Pittsburgh graduate who received his undergraduate degree in Economics from the College of Arts and Sciences in 1979, died on March 20, 1992 at the age of 35.  His late father, Chester Manasterski, was a founding member of the Ukrainian Room Committee at the University of Pittsburgh.   Eugene organized the annual Ukrainian Festival in the Commons Room for 10 years, was general chairman in 1987-88, and served as Treasurer of the Ukrainian Room Committee for many years.  The festival contributed a large portion of its proceeds to the construction of the Ukrainian Room.   At the time of his death, Eugene Manasterski was serving as an officer or committee member in the following groups: 

  • the Ukrainian Technological Societythe Ukrainian Nationality Room Committeethe Ukrainian Heritage Foundation of North America the Ukrainian Selfreliance of Western Pennsylvania Chernobyl Relief Fund
  • and the Diocesan Resource Committee of the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of St. Josaphat in Parma, Ohio. 

He was also a member of St. John the Baptist Ukrainian Catholic Church in Pittsburgh’s South Side, and of Branch 120 of the Ukrainian National Association in Aliquippa, PA.  He was a strong supporter of the Ukrainian Radio Program and arranged for many traveling Ukrainian concert troupes to perform in Pittsburgh.  He was a strong financial supporter of Ukrainian cultural interests. 



Genevieve Blatt was born in East Brady, Pennsylvania, daughter of George and Clara (Laurent) Blatt.  She attended Sacred Heart High School in Pittsburgh, graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with both a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Political Science, and a Juris Doctor.  While attending the University, she organized the Pennsylvania Intercollegiate Conference on Government.  Later she created the James A. Finnegan Foundation which is devoted to the same cause.

This remarkable lady was admitted to the Bar in 1938 and became Secretary and Chief Examiner for the Pittsburgh Civil Service Commission.  In 1945, she became Assistant City Solicitor and drafted the city’s first Anti-Smoke Ordinance.  She served as Executive Director, Pennsylvania State Treasury Department in 1946.  She then was elected Secretary of the Pennsylvania State Democratic Committee in 1948; elected Secretary of Internal Affairs in 1954, and re-elected in 1958 and 1962.  She was the Democratic Party Nominee for U.S. Senate in 1964 and later served as Assistant Director of the Office of Economic Opportunity, appointed by President Lyndon Johnson.  In 1972, she was appointed by Governor Milton Shapp to the position of Judge-Commonwealth Court.  She was re-elected in 1973 and 1983.  In 1993, Judge Blatt retired.

Genevieve Blatt was active in a long list of community endeavors and received numerous awards.  Her strong religious faith was evident in all she said and did throughout her life.  She was a pioneer for women in government and the professions.  She was a woman who inspired many people because of her leadership and dedication to good government, and her high degree of integrity and honesty.  Her appeal went well beyond party lines.

On Judge Blatt’s death, it was said of her life: “Idealism was the drive seen as key to her success;” “For three generations of public service to this State and Nation, she has been a role model;” “She worked tirelessly to motivate young people to become involved in the political process;”  “She had a keen sense of history and knowledge of Pennsylvania and its people;”  “This lady indeed was an outstanding Distinguished Daughter of Pennsylvania.”



In 1939, James W. Knox, a student at the University of Pittsburgh, was drinking tea prepared by Mrs. Jessie Farmer, Ruth Crawford Mitchell’s volunteer assistant, in the Commons Room when Mrs. Mitchell came to him and asked, “Where might you be from?”  After that encounter, Jim embarked on a lifelong effort to help the Nationality Rooms Program.  Interrupted only by his World War II Service as an LST commander in the D-Day landing in Europe as well as in the Pacific, Jim became a stalwart member of the Irish Room Committee and served as Chairman for more than 40 years until his death.  Mayor, then Governor David L. Lawrence was Jim’s mentor and called him Jimmy.

Jim’s career in local government service included four terms as County Controller, as well as Director of the Allegheny County Housing Authority and the Allegheny County Planning Department.  Other organizations to which Jim devoted his talents included the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation, the Pennsylvania Bible Society, the Gaelic Arts Society, and countless events celebrating Irish culture.

His marriage to Valerie O. Weber took place on St. Patrick’s Day in New York City.  Their children, Jennie-Lynn Knox, Christopher John Knox, and Ronald James Knox, have formed a new generation of Knoxes, along with their five grandbabies, as Jim called them:  Shannon Lynn, Kelsey Ann, Emily Reid, Aileen Madison, and Bethena Emlyn.

Jim wore many hats with the Nationality Rooms and Intercultural Exchange Programs:  Chair, Irish Room Committee; Chair, Intercultural Educational Endowment Fund; Chair of the 40th and 50th anniversary celebrations; Chair, many terms, Nationality Council.  He always sought out our needs and went to work.  Some examples: the Commons Room organ – a gift from former Chairman of the Board of Trustees George Hubbard Clapp’s daughters; the Irish Room’s Book of Kells wrought iron stand – a gift from Helen Clay Frick; the exhibit of wrought iron works by Samuel Yellin of Philadelphia; study abroad scholarship endowments in memory of Chancellor John G. Bowman, John H. Tsui (former Chinese Room Committee chairman), Helen Pool Rush, Savina S. Skewis, Ruth Crawford Mitchell, and the Honorable Genevieve Blatt.  He also obtained several “one-time-only” gifts designated for summer study abroad scholarships.  All in all, he generated approximately $1,000,000 in scholarship funds to the University through the Nationality Rooms Program for the study abroad program.

Jim’s innate talent for bringing important people to speak at Irish Room fundraising dinners extended to Gene Kelly, a native Pittsburgher turned Hollywood movie star, and Evelyn Lincoln, President John F. Kennedy’s secretary.

The day after President Kennedy’s assassination, Mrs. Kennedy asked a Marine guard to deliver the two Oval Office flags to Evelyn Lincoln.  Mrs. Lincoln, in turn, bequeathed the flags to the Irish Room in honor of James W. Knox.

Jim was named a University of Pittsburgh Alumnus of Distinction in 1996 and won the Nationality Rooms Millennium Award in 2000.

Words cannot express our affection for and appreciation of James W. Knox’s spirit and his devotion to the goals of the Nationality Rooms Program.  He was proud of his Irish heritage and sought to extend the opportunity for immersion in other cultures to hundreds of University of Pittsburgh students and faculty.

He is missed.


Salvatore “Sully” Nesta and his beloved wife, Frances Statti Nesta, were leaders and trail-setters of the University of Pittsburgh’s Italian Nationality Room.  They also participated in the Cornaro experience.

Frances, along with her two brothers and two sisters, graduated from Schenley High School, while Sully matriculated at Central Catholic High School.  For her career, Frances Statti went to Frick Training School which was highly regarded in educational circles.  In 1931, she obtained a Bachelor’s in Education degree, and in 1944, a Masters in Arts in Education from the University of Pittsburgh.  She taught at Homes School in Oakland.  Sully proposed and they were married.

Frances Nesta assumed chairmanship of the Italian Room Committee following the untimely death of Erma D’Ascenzo, the first woman to serve on Pittsburgh’s City Council, in an automobile accident. 

Mrs. Nesta served as a member of the Cornaro Tercentenary Committee which commemorated the 300th anniversary (1967-1978) of Elena Lucrezia Cornaro Piscopia, the first woman in the world to earn a university degree.  The portrait of Elena Piscopia graces the rear wall of the Italian Room.  Celebrations of this remarkable Italian woman were held both in the United States and in Padua, Italy.

Devoted to the scholarship program, the Nestas gave generously to the Italian Room Committee Summer Study Abroad Scholarship, which has been given since 1958.  No other committee has matched their number.  Shortly before his death, Mr. Nesta informed the Nationality Rooms Program that he and his late wife intended to establish an endowment of $50,000 to continue the awards in perpetuity.  On four of his birthdays, he presented Director E. Maxine Bruhns with a check for $10,000.  His estate has fulfilled the intention. 



I believe there is no finality to a life or a task.-  Caryl M Kline

Caryl Kline’s multi-faceted life touched so many individuals in government, education and health care as well as cattle raising, gardening and politics, that one wonders how she could have crowded so many accomplishments into one lifetime.  She made things happen which made a difference.  Once she targeted a cause, she never wavered in her advocacy and support. 

One hesitates to catalog her “jobs” because some will surely be omitted.  However, after marrying Hibberd Kline in 1939, she taught public speaking at the Universities of Wisconsin and Syracuse; served in Sierra Leone as a diplomatic envoy; was an assistant to University of Pittsburgh Chancellor Litchfield before becoming Founding Director of Continuing Education for Women.  From 1977-79 she was the Secretary of Education for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania – the first woman to hold this position.  She was declared a Distinguished Daughter of Pennsylvania in 1966.  

Caryl Morse Kline is fondly remembered by many young women who were privileged to hear her encouraging words at gatherings such as “Mothers’ Days Out” which were popular in the 1970’s.  These young women, many of whom had small children and who were just beginning to grasp the idea that they had much to give to their communities, were uncertain how to proceed.  She promoted the cause of the older woman student, defended her rights, and facilitated her re-entry into formal education.  Mrs. Kline told of her own experiences and inspired everyone by her example.  She acknowledged that many professions were closed to her when she was a young woman, and was encouraged that, in the 1970’s, there were more opportunities opening for women in all fields.

She herself had been strongly influenced by her own mother.  As a farmer’s wife, Caryl’’s mother knew that her children’s education was her responsibility.  In addition to her regular tasks, she made extra butter and baked bread, which she sold in Madison, Wisconsin, and bought a piano, an organ, and books for her children, so that their education might be thorough and well rounded.  Conversation at meal times covered both sides of all the topics of the time.  Lively debate gave all the Morse children confidence in speaking and in expressing and defending their beliefs. 

As might be expected, Caryl was an excellent speaker, and at the University of Wisconsin she majored in American history and public speaking.  She dreamed of becoming a minister, a lawyer, an historian, a politician.  She was elected president of her senior class, and, as the first woman elected to the office, appointed a senior class council, also a first, that represented the diverse groups on campus.

As a graduate student, she led the student body out on strike in a march on the state capitol because Gov. Philip LaFollette sought to load the Board of Regents with political appointees, contrary to the state statutes.  This action, unfortunately, cost her brother, Wayne, the presidency of the university, but he went on to become Dean of the Law School at the University of Oregon and then was elected a United States senator in 1944. 

Mrs. Kline taught public speaking at Syracuse University.  She ran for Congress for the 35th District of New York when she and her husband were on the faculty at Syracuse.  She lost the election but made a good friend in Jack Kennedy, who was a senator at the time and helped her campaign.  She was appointed Special Ambassador to Sierra Leone by President Kennedy in 1961.  Through this connection she continued her earlier work in Sierra Leone -- to open education to women.  In 1954 and 1955 she was a guest lecturer in American history and government at Fourah Bay College in Sierra Leone.

Mrs. Kline was Assistant to the Chancellor of the University of Pittsburgh from 1964 to 1966, and from 1966 to 1977 served the University as Director of Continuing Education for Women.  It was in that position that Mrs. Kline built her reputation as an advocate for women, and in which her influence was felt by countless women in this region.


Frank and Vilma Slater/Scottish Room Scholarship


Frances E. Slater was born on October 1, 1914.  He maintained a lifelong interest in all things Scottish.  He served in various capacities for the clan organizations in Pittsburgh.  A castle front was constructed for use at the annual Pittsburgh Folk Festival and Mr. Slater stored it in his house.

He was a member of the Tartan Educational and Cultural Society, an international organization which is the world’s authority on tartans.  It is located in Scotland, but there was also an office in the U.S. known as STA USA.  The group has a Guild of Scholars consisting of seven people who are the top experts on tartans.  Frank Slater was one of the two scholars in the United States.

Mr. Slater died on September 27, 2002.  He was preceded in death by his wife Vilma.  There were no children.


Fred C. Bruhns, professor emeritus at the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs (GSPIA), died on March 20, 2006, after a brief illness.  He was 90.

Fred Bruhns came to Pitt in 1965 to complete his Ph.D. and joined the faculty at GSPIA, where he taught comparative administration and administrative theory.  He also held a master’s degree in sociology from Stanford University, and an undergraduate degree from Ohio State University.  He retired as professor emeritus in 1985.

Colleague and friend Joseph Eaton, also an emeritus professor at GSPIA, said that while the German-born Bruhns rarely talked about the multiple dimensions of his life, he had pursued four distinct careers: military, diplomatic, academic, and, after retirement from Pitt, investment brokering.

Following World War II, Bruhns had widespread and varying diplomatic experience with international refugee and U.S. governmental organizations.  Between 1948 and 1964, he served in Austria with the International Refugee Organization, resettling European refugees; in Lebanon and Jordan as a Ford Foundation scholar, conducting research on Palestinian refugee attitudes, and in South Vietnam, resettling North Vietnamese refugees.  In those years he also served stints in Cambodia, Iran and Gabon under the auspices of the United States Agency for International Development and in Germany and Greece as a delegate of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. In 1961 Bruhns was honored with the Royal Order of the Phoenix for service to the Greek government.

Bruhns’ work with refugees was foreshadowed by his own early life, friends said. 

In a 2001 interview published in the Center for West European Studies newsletter, Bruhns discussed his formative years.  “On January 30, 1933, when Hitler came to power I was 17 years old,” said Bruhns, whose given name was Friedrich Karl Otto Bruhns.  “I was opposed to Hitler and I joined the German resistance,” a group that included social democrats, members of religious groups and leftists, among others, he said.

“We published ‘illegal things’ since Hitler immediately forbade all publications not expressing Nazi ideology.  I was arrested and became a political prisoner,” sentenced to two years for preparation for high treason, he said.  Upon his discharge from prison in 1938, he no longer had a passport.  He visited Switzerland, where he discovered that its government was unwilling to recognize his political refugee status.  Bruhns then crossed the Swiss border into France illegally, and enrolled at the University of Grenoble.  But after the German invasion of France in 1939, Bruhns again was arrested and interned in a series of refugee camps. By the time he obtained a United States visa to attend Ohio State in 1941, he had served more than three years as a political prisoner.  After arriving in America, he changed his name to Fred Charles Bruhns.

Following the Pearl Harbor attack, he was drafted into the U.S. Army and earned a battlefield commission as a second lieutenant in military intelligence for his role in interrogating German prisoners.  In 1946, Bruhns married E. Maxine Moose Bruhns and completed his degree at Ohio State, where the couple had met.


The couple has funded a number of international scholarships and other programs at the University of Pittsburgh totaling more than $1 million in gifts.  About a quarter of the Bruhns’ donations have gone to Pitt’s European Union Center of Excellence.



For more than thirty years the Nationality Room Committees of the University of Pittsburgh worked with joyous excitement to build eighteen classrooms in the Cathedral of Learning that would tell the people of Pittsburgh about their cultural heritage and thus keep their promise to Chancellor John G. Bowman.

In 1938 the world horizon began to darken, especially for the ethnic groups that had gained political independence as a result of World War I.  In 1939, the world of the League of Nations – old nations and new nations – crashed.

The members of the Nationality Committees knew, then, that they were first and foremost American.  As many of their motherlands were soon pitted against each other in war, they became concerned lest there be division in their new country which would affect their work at the University.  As so often happens in life, the women quietly met this issue – the issue of “sticking together.”

Each committee had a woman as vice-chairman.  In many cases this leader had developed a women’s auxiliary to provide hospitality for social events.  Some of these leaders came to me to ask what could be done to help maintain unity.  The Women’s International Luncheon Club was born.  Each month we met for luncheon at the Faculty Club and listened to a member of the faculty discuss current world political events that were disturbing to us and needed clarification.

Soon we began working together as hostesses for the Council of all the Nationality Committees and for special University events.  The word “luncheon” was dropped from the Club’s name – too limiting and wrong emphasis.  We met to think, not to eat.  We met to achieve harmony and to work in that harmony for the University and the education of the oncoming generation.

 What wonderful discoveries we made – our common basic ideals and concerns – how much alike the different nationalities are, e.g., ground meat and grape leaves are

derived from the same products of nature though the flavoring of each in a particular nation may differ.  Some people like potatoes as a staple, others rice.  But one thing is certain – the human being loves to eat.

It was not long before we discovered that money for a woman’s scholarship could be raised by bake sales or international dinners with “koláce” or “baklava” for dessert.  This scholarship would make it possible for a Pitt student to attend a university in the country of her forebears, getting credits toward her degree and, at the same time, acquiring more fluency in her grandmother’s tongue.

In 1974 the happy idea of compiling a Nationality cookbook, “The Nationality Rooms Recipe Book,” in order to permanently endow such an annual scholarship, became the goal of the Women’s International Club of the University of Pittsburgh.  What better way to share and perpetuate cherished family traditions?  This book is lasting evidence of women’s belief in and willingness to work for harmony among people and nations.

Prepared byRuth Crawford Mitchell, Director Emeritus, 1975




A social worker by profession, Nancy H. Lee worked her way through the University of Pittsburgh, planning to be a teacher, but when no placement was found for her, she became a social worker for the Pittsburgh Association for the Improvement of the Poor.  Offered a scholarship in 1941, Miss Lee returned to Pitt and earned a master’s degree in social work.  She left that job to work with the Domestic Relations Division of Allegheny County Common Pleas Court, which later became Family Court and retired in 1972 as chief of counseling. 

Following her retirement, Miss Lee worked as a volunteer for the African Heritage Room at the University of Pittsburgh, coordinating other volunteers who raised more than $200,000 for the construction fund.  When the room was finished, she turned her efforts to establishing the African Heritage Classroom Committee Scholarship Endowment fund.  Lee’s volunteerism was actually a second career.  She began working with the Nationality Rooms Program at age 68, after a remarkable 45-year career in social work. 

A Bloomingburg, Ohio native, Lee came to Pittsburgh in 1922 to pursue a life-long dream of teaching.  After graduating from Pitt in 1927, she found racial barriers blocking her career path in education.  She turned to social work in 1929 and has been described as a “trailblazer” during her career.  With the same pioneering spirit that served to advance her professionally, Lee made a career of her volunteer work.  She worked tirelessly every day to garner support for the Room.  Over the years, her grass-roots campaign reached area foundations, corporations, and black organizations as well as individuals. 

Miss Lee said her greatest influences were her own parents and Mary McLeod Bethune, the founder of the National Council of Negro Women.  “Each one, reach one” was Bethune’s guiding philosophy (paraphrased from “Each one, teach one”).  It was embodied well in Nancy Lee, both in spirit and action.  Nancy Lee died on January 11, 2005 at the age of 90.



Professor emeritus Wendell L. Wray, a native of the Beltzhoover neighborhood of Pittsburgh, was the first African American man to graduate from the library school housed at then-Carnegie Institute of Technology, earning his M.L.S. in 1952. 

Wray graduated from South Hills High School, where he mastered Spanish and learned the art of making mobiles by studying the work of Alexander Calder.

Following military service in the U.S. Army during World War II, he accepted a scholarship under the GI Bill to attend a small liberal arts college – sight unseen – in Maine.  He entered Bates College in Lewiston for what he described as the four happiest years of his life.  He was the poet laureate of his class, and his poetry was celebrated at the class’s 50th reunion in 2000. 

He graduated from Bates in 1950, Phi Beta Kappa in Spanish and psychology, and returned to Pittsburgh, to participate in the library science program.  After earning his M.L.S., he became the first African male hired by the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, where he worked for seven years during the 1950’s.

In 1959, Wray moved to New York City, working at the New York Public Library for 14 years, serving in the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and directing the North Manhattan Library Project, a cultural outreach program that introduced arts and humanities programs to inner-city youths.  While in New York, he was encouraged by Alex Haley, author of “Roots,” to study at Columbia University’s newly-established program in oral history, where his personal and professional fascination with this approach to historical and literary documentation began.

In 1973, Wray was appointed a faculty member at Pitt’s library school, the academic successor to the Carnegie Tech program from which he had graduated and from which he had received the 1973 Distinguished Alumnus Award.  He remained at the school for 15 years and retired in 1988. 

(photograph and text taken from the University Times, 9/11/2003)


Dr. Rao is recognized internationally as a pioneer who laid the foundation of modern statistics, with multifaceted distinctions as a mathematician, statistician, researcher, scientist and teacher.  His contributions to mathematics and to the theory and application of statistics during the last six decades have become part of graduate and postgraduate courses in statistics, econometrics, electrical engineering and many other disciplines at most universities throughout the world.  His theoretical work helped lay the foundation of modern statistics.

Rao’s research in multivariate analysis, for example, is useful in economic planning, weather predictions, medical diagnosis, tracking the movements of spy planes, and monitoring the movements of spacecraft.  Technical terms bearing his name appear in all standard textbooks on statistics, econometrics and engineering, including Inequality, Rao-Blackwell Theorem, Fisher-Rao Theorem, Rao Distance, Rao’s Orthoganal Arrays, and Rao’s Score test.    A book he wrote in 1965, Linear Statistical Inference and Its Applications, is one of the most-often-cited books in science.  The American Statistical Association has described him as “a living legend whose work has influenced not just statistics, but has had far reaching implications for fields as varied as economics, genetics, anthropology, geology, national planning, demography, biometry and medicine.”  The Times of India listed Rao as one of the top 10 Indian scientists of all time. 

Among his numerous awards, Rao has received 32 honorary doctoral degrees from universities in 18 countries on six continents, and was honored in 2003 with the first Mahalanobis International Award in Statistics from the International Statistical Institute and the Srinivasa Ramanujan Medal by the Indian National Science Academy.  In 2002, Dr. Rao was honored by President George W. Bush with the National Medal of Science, the highest award given to an American scientist for lifetime achievement in fields of scientific research.  He has been honored by the government of India with the Padma Vibhushan award in 2001, the country’s second-highest civilian honor, for outstanding contributions to Science, Engineering and Statistics’ with being selected in 2000 as the namesake for a National Award to be presented to India’s outstanding Young Statisticians’ with the highest honor bestowed by the University of Visva-Bharati, the 2002 Desikottama Award, in recognition of his “enormous contributions in the field of statistics and its applications”; with the India Science Award by the Indian Department of Science and Technology in 2010, the highest honor given to a scientist.

Dr. Rao is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Science in the United States, a Fellow of the Royal Society in the United Kingdom, and a member of the Indian National Science Academy, the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences, and the Developing World Academy of Sciences.  He has authored or co-authored 14 books, some of which have been translated into several languages, and more than 300 research papers published in scientific journals.  He has supervised the doctoral research of 50 students, who have in turn trained another 390 doctoral students themselves.  Most of his former students are now employed in universities and other research organizations worldwide, many becoming research leaders in their areas of specialization. 

 Dr. Rao earned his Ph.D. and Sc.D. degrees in 1948 at Cambridge University in England.  He came to the United States in 1978 after serving as the director of the Indian Statistical Institute, where he had held various research and administrative positions since 1943.  In 1982 he established the Center for Multivariate Analysis at the University of Pittsburgh where he continued as an adjunct professor.  He joined the Penn State faculty in 1988 as a professor and holder of the Eberly chair in Statistics.  He was named the Eberly Professor of Statistics in 1989 and became the Eberly Professor Emeritus of Statistics in 2009.  Among his many achievements at Penn State, he was the founding director of the Center for Multivariate Statistics.

Several international events were organized in honor of Dr. Rao turning 90 years old:

  • International Workshop on Matrices and Statistics - June 5-8, 2010 in Shanghai, China
  • Frontiers of Interface between Statistics and Sciences Conference  - Dec. 30, 2009 - Jan. 2010 in Hyderabad, India  
  • The International Conference on Statistics, Probability, Operations Research, Computer Science and Allied Areas – January 4-8, 2010, in Vizag, India
  • Statistical Science Reflections and Visions Conference, January 10-11, 2010 in Kolkata, India
  • India’s Postal Department released a special envelope featuring his photograph



 Helen Rush was a legendary figure at the University of Pittsburgh, having served the institution through eight chancellors over 50 years.  She died on June 22, 1992, at Presbyterian University Hospital at the age of 94.   “In her magnificent career at the University, Miss Rush served women students, served all students – with her warmth, her wisdom, and her great capacity of caring for others.  This University was a community, a home for her for more than 70 years.  And she made this place, for many thousands of others, a more enlightened community of learning and a better home.  By the merit of her work, by the quality of her life, she was a true and loving educator,” said then Chancellor J. Dennis O’Connor. After her graduation from Pitt in 1919, until her retirement in 1970, Miss Rush served Pitt students in various capacities.  She was named Dean of Women in 1942 and became Dean of Students in 1961. In 1965, she was appointed Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs.  She originated Pitt traditions, including Lantern Night (the ceremony for freshmen women), and Mortar Board (a senior women’s honorary organization).  Miss Rush is also responsible for forming Quo Vadis, the guide group of the Nationality Rooms in the Cathedral of Learning.  She was the first Director of Heinz Chapel, and, in this capacity, helped many hundreds of Pitt alumni plan their Chapel weddings.  In 1976, the Nationality Rooms Program established the Helen Pool Rush Award.  Over the years, the scholarship has sent undergraduate men and women to such diverse countries as Norway, Russia, Tunisia, and China. In 1964, she was named a Distinguished Daughter of Pennsylvania.  During her career, she was president of the Pennsylvania Association of Women Deans and Counselors, on the board of the National Association of Deans of Women, and was a member of the American Association of University Women.  Upon retirement she was named Vice Chancellor Emerita and maintained close ties with the University.  In 1985, she received the University of Pittsburgh Bicentennial Medallion for her achievement and loyal service to the University. 


A native of Pittsburgh, Miss Rush resided in Oakland within sight of the University she served for so many years.  In addition to her bachelor’s degree, she earned a master’s degree from Pitt in 1933.  She studied at Columbia University and the University of Oslo, Norway.  She was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and Pi Lambda Theta, and many other honorary societies.  An eloquent speaker, she received a Winifred Cullis Lecture Fellowship under British American Associates and delivered 38 lectures in England.  Among many other honors and awards, she was awarded an honorary doctorate in 1963 by Beaver College.  She was a trustee for the Vira I. Heinz endowment since its inception in 1986. 



When asked to state her philosophy, Miss Rush would quote poet John Masefield:“There are few earthly things more splendid than a University; In these days of broken frontiers and collapsing values; When every ancient foothold has become something of a quagmire; Wherever a university stands, it stands and shines; Wherever it exists, the free minds of men, urged on to full and free inquiry, may still bring wisdom into human affairs.”      

From :”A University Stands and Shines”



Savina Stark Skewis, a native of Delaware, received a bachelor’s degree in Home Economics from the University of Delaware in 1927 and a master’s degree from the University of Pittsburgh in 1939.  Her prior experience as a home economics teacher in the McKeesport and Carnegie School Districts prepared her to move to the University of Pittsburgh in 1946 as a dietitian with the University Food Service.  By 1950, Miss Skewis had become the Associate Dean of Women, the Dean of Women in 1965 and the Associate Dean of Students from 1968-1970.  In 1946, only 25% of the student body was women; by 1982, the number had grown to 52%.


Her first exposure to the University actually was with young men training to become Army officers.  The Army “invaded” the Cathedral of Learning in 1944 to set up its special training program.  Miss Skewis started working in food service at the very end of their stay.  The Army barracks was on the 12th floor and the Dean of Women’s offices had to vacate the space over a weekend and weren’t returned there for two years.  Miss Skewis recalled “There was a major problem with the Army’s occupation.  They had no place to eat.  But within three weeks the Army built a mess hall and kitchen in the Cathedral’s sub-basement.” 



During the ensuing years, she was Director of Heinz Chapel, Advisor to the Chancellor, Consultant to the Secretary of the University, and advisor to numerous student, women’s and community organizations.  She mentored and travelled with Heinz Chapel Choir for many years, travelling to Europe four times with the Choir and once with the Men’s Glee Club.  Her office was the Braun Room from where she supervised the use of the 12th floor kitchen (she and Helen Pool Rush are pictured above in the kitchen which opened in 1951) which was furnished by Vira I. Heinz for the Dean of Women’s Program.  Miss Skewis worked with the architect to design the kitchen.  She also helped in the planning of Lothrop Hall and in the setting up of the quadrangle for women.  She was also involved in the organization of the resident assistant and mentor systems.  In October 1986, she was a panel speaker at the University’s “Women at Pitt” program.

Generations of students – men and women – gravitated to the 12th floor where Miss Skewis, if not in her office, could be found in the kitchen offering soup, sandwiches, cookies, sticky buns, and a sympathetic ear to help students plan events and discuss their concerns in a homelike atmosphere.

Miss Skewis was named a Distinguished Daughter of Pennsylvania in 1982, honoring her contributions in the field of Higher Education.  She was awarded the status of Dean of Women Emerita by the University of Pittsburgh and received many honors and citations from student and women’s organizations.   Her struggle with Parkinson’s disease in her later years didn’t keep her from participating in University events and enjoying everyone she came in contact with.




The Nationality Rooms Programs
1209 Cathedral of Learning
Pittsburgh, PA 15260

Phone/tours 412-624-6000

Affiliated with the University Center for International Studies

Updated 11-29-2010