Chatham University

Chatham Views

Category Archives: +Chatham Views

solar cooking

cooking with hot dogs

Grilling. Each summer, millions of people look forward to rethinking cooking—to stepping out of the kitchen and onto the grass, patio, or beach. Now you’re cooking with gas, as they say. Or with charcoal. With a non-renewable resource, anyway—as we do whenever we cook.

But what if you could cook with a renewable resource? Cook with the world’s first fire, and cut out the middlemen? That is the promise—and increasingly common practice—of solar cooking. Solar cooking works by using curved and reflective surfaces to concentrate the heat of the sun on a small surface area, where the food is placed.

In some places, it’s huge—literally and figuratively. The Solar Bowl in Auroville, India is 45 feet in diameter, and can cook two meals per day for 1,000 people.

Solar Bowl at Auroville
Solar Bowl at Auroville

But most solar cookers are quite portable, and inexpensive. They save cost by requiring no fuel, and reduce environmental damage produced by the use of fuel. And—with the right model—they can do anything from grilling meats and vegetables to making soup to baking bread.

Intrigued? Join us for an overview of all things solar cooking, plus demonstration and food tasting, on Saturday, July 18 from 9:30am – 1:00pm at the Field Lab at our Eden Hall Campus, in the North Hills. The event—which is free and open to the public—will include a tour of the campus, where you’ll see some of our 400+ solar panels. They generate enough energy to power 14 homes for a year, but can cook a hotdog only indirectly. Learn more and sign up today.

Health science students engage in poverty simulation

payday advance

Note: This story originally appeared in the Chatham University Spring 2015 Recorder alumni magazine.

Good news: you have only a bank account. Bad news: there’s $200, and you don’t get paid until next week. Good news: you have a bus pass, so you can get to work. Bad news: you also have to take your child to day care, which is not on the way, and requires an additional bus pass, which you do not have. Good news: this is not real.

Well, not for you. Not right now. You’re in class. Welcome to the Community Action Poverty Simulation, a role-playing initiative that Chatham’s Master of Physician Assistant Studies program has begun using with its students.

“We had been seeing that when our students went out on clinical rotations, they often interacted with people with different backgrounds,” said Gabrielle Strong, remote site development manager and simulation facilitator. “There was sometimes a lack of understanding of how to deal with those situations, so we decided to bring poverty awareness under the umbrella of cultural competence.”

IMAG0283When Strong runs the simulation, as she has done four times at Chatham, between forty and sixty participants are randomly assigned the identity of a person living with poverty – family members, young or elderly persons, many of whom may live in a household headed by grandparents or a single parental figure. Each family unit starts with a sheet detailing their circumstances – descriptions of family members and health, behavioral, or major life issues, a breakdown of bills they owe, their housing situation, income, etc. And you have some resources to start with. “Some families start up with a few bus tickets, or some cash, or a bank account. Others do not,” says Strong. “You might have a job, a TV, a young child, someone who can watch that child so she or he doesn’t need to be in day care. Or, again, maybe not.”

table
Also in the room are volunteers who represent services in the community – bank, supermarket, pawnshop, school, employer, day care, utilities and mortgage offices, social security office, and social services agency. When possible, Strong likes to involve people from the Pittsburgh area who have had firsthand experience working in a social services office, such as the Greater Pittsburgh Food Bank. “They can play their roles from a more authentic standpoint and speak to students afterward about what they saw and how they think it reflected reality,” she says. “One volunteer had experience working in rental properties, and her take was ’You paid your rent, but you never got a receipt. Therefore it didn’t happen.’ These are the realities that unfortunately happen to people,” says Strong. “You have to think of all the ways you have to protect yourself. It’s very eye-opening.”

The challenge is to use what you have at hand – your resources and the community services in the room – to meet your basic needs, for four 15-minute periods, each of which represents one week. As in life, there are rules. Children must not be left alone. If you’re not at work on time, you may be fired. You must feed your family – the supermarket clerk knows how much it costs to feed your family, and will cite you if you don’t spend that amount. There’s a jail, and a juvenile delinquent center. And as in life, things happen: You might be robbed. You might be illegally evicted. You might have a sudden windfall.

Through it all, you must continue to meet the basic needs of you and your family, week after week. “It’s really high energy and exhausting,” Strong says. “Students don’t always know where to get the information they need. But sometimes poverty happens very suddenly, and you have to figure out very quickly what to do. And people in the community may or may not be helpful.”

“Poverty is complex,” she continues. “Some things that we see as simple choices may or may not be actual choices. What we find is that as students are put under more and more stress, it gets harder and harder to meet their basic needs, and they would forget about things. Children would be left at daycare. They’d forget to feed their families.”

After the simulation, Strong has students write a reflection about what they were feeling, how it affected them, and what it made them think as a healthcare provider.

“The poverty simulation taught me a lot about the anxieties that poverty can cause as well as situations poverty can cause. I realized that even in a room of future healthcare providers, once money was enough of an issue we made decisions based on it and not on health,” says one.

“As a future healthcare provider, I need to be aware of the resources in my communities for my patients that may need a helping hand. If I don’t ask what they need help with I won’t know how their life/finances may be affecting their health,” says another.

Strong views the poverty simulation as an important educational tool, and has most recently run the simulation for an inter-professional group of nursing students (including a cohort of nurses from China), counseling psychology students, and faculty. “Students who are going into medicine may find themselves working with people whose situations are complicated. My goal is to expose students to these ideas, to some facts around it, and to be able to see a little bit from an emotional standpoint, which you do when you take on the identity of an individual.”

The Community Action Poverty Simulation was created by the Missouri Association for Community Action.

harvesting rainwater at Eden Hall Campus

ThinkstockPhotos-99234163_v2In January, Governor Jerry Brown called a drought State of Emergency in California. Five months later, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released data showing that May was the wettest month on record in the contiguous U.S. with an average precipitation total 1.45 inches above average. While these are two very different problems, they both point to “two sides of the same coin:” how we must manage water more effectively in our changing climate.

Pittsburgh is rainy: We get an average of 146 days of precipitation compared to a national average of 100 days. On those days, excess water – water that is neither collected nor absorbed by the ground – flows into storm drains. Underground, the stormwater system joins with our sewage system, and sewage and water travel together to be treated at the Allegheny County Sanitary Authority (ALCOSAN) wastewater treatment plant, which processes up to 250 million gallons of wastewater daily.

This system worked fine when it was built at the turn of the century, and it still works in dry weather. But the population has grown, and now whenever it rains more than ¼ inch, the system becomes flooded, and ALCOSAN must close its gates. Sewage flows into our rivers, streams, and creeks, carrying debris, chemicals, bacteria, and animal waste.

At Chatham University’s net zero Eden Hall Campus, we are modeling both innovative and age-old techniques around water management, including rainwater harvesting for collecting and using rainwater. For his thesis project, Master of Sustainability alumnus Tony Miga ’14 designed and implemented a rather large-scale rainwater harvesting system for Eden Hall. On a Friday in May 2015, it was used for the first time.

setup1
Barn and underground cistern tanks

Here’s how it works: Rain falls onto the roof of the storage barn, runs into the gutters, and is piped into three 1500-gallon underground cisterns, where it’s stored for use for irrigation. Overflow from the cisterns waters a nearby rain garden.

“Debris from the rooftops gets mixed in there,” Miga notes, and water is filtered six times, starting with fine mesh screens that fit over the gutters and ending with a UV filter that eliminates pathogens and other contaminants. “It’s probably overkill for our purposes,” he acknowledges. “We’re only using it for irrigation. There’s very little risk. We’re not spraying it, or bringing it into buildings. “

The state of the gutters before being cleaned

When the system is turned on, water runs from the cisterns, underneath a road, and into the moveable high tunnel and hoop house on the other side, where it’s used to water crops. It’s not the only source of water there – a line for municipal water was added for flexibility, back up, and research. Miga says that it allows them to experiment with using different types of water for growing. Harvested rainwater will also be used to irrigate the agriculture field.

hoophouse1
The moveable high tunnel and the hoop house

Miga anticipates that the rainwater harvest system will provide 35,000-40,000 gallons of water annually. He’s also proud that the project makes use of an existing structure, rather than calls for new construction. “We inherited this property, and we’re making an effort to use what is here,” he says.

At Chatham’s Eden Hall Campus,  rainwater harvesting is combined to manage stormwater runoff with permeable surfaces, natural drainage, 22,027 sf of infiltration galleries (small pipes in gravel that collect water when it rains), and almost 30,000 sf of rain gardens. Rain gardens feature deep-rooted native shrubs, perennials, and grasses that receive runoff from roofs, sidewalks, streets and parking lots, and hold the water in a shallow depression as it slowly infiltrates into the ground.

Eden Hall will also treat wastewater on-site, using a six-step system that can handle up to 6,000 gallons per day. Once disinfected, wastewater will be used for toilet flushing and irrigating land. Water quality will meet or exceed all State of Pennsylvania standards.

Learn more at chatham.edu/edenhall.

Much better Tips for a Successful Internship

Intern-MakeBadCoffee (1)

When it comes to acquiring hands-on work experience, learning about which professional environments suit you, and making industry contacts, there’s not much better than an internship.

Employers are keen on them as well – in fact, a recent survey of employers who hire recent college graduates conducted by The Chronicle of Higher Education and American Public Media’s Marketplace has found that:

  • An internship is the single most important credential for recent college graduates to have on their resume in their job search among all industry segments.
  • All industries and hiring levels place slightly more weight on student work or internship experiences than on academic credentials.
  • Employers place more weight on experience, particularly internships and employment during school vs. academic credential when evaluating a recent graduate for employment.
internships
Chart from “The Role of Higher Education in Career Development: Employer Perceptions”, by The Chronicle of Higher Education and American Public Media’s Marketplace, December 2012

It can be daunting to begin an internship, especially if it’s your first one. Here are a few tips to make it the rewarding experience that it should be!

1. Develop a professional persona.  Create a professional image, dress appropriately, and avoid “office gossip”. Be respectful, genuine, helpful, and always show gratitude.  Respond to constructive feedback in a positive manner  by reflecting, learning and growing.

2. Set personal goals. Think about what it is you want to have on your resume or to be able to talk about in future interviews with employers. Discuss these goals with your site supervisor, mentor(s), and your faculty supervisor. The more your supervisors know about your goals, the more they will be able to support you in reaching them.

Think of your internship as a long interview.

3. Maintain open and continuous communication. Ask your supervisors how they prefer to maintain communication with you. Try to set regular meetings, and spend them discussing and reviewing your goals, strengths, and areas of opportunity. Don’t be afraid to ask questions! Supervisors prefer that you ask rather than guess or assume. This willingness to learn typically leads to more hands-on experiences and projects, leading to even more tangible accomplishments. Show your curiosity!

4. Have a positive and flexible attitude. Employers appreciate an enthusiastic, can-do attitude because it really impacts the office moral and environment. Keep in mind that things don’t always go as planned. Every experience is a learning experience. See unexpected situations and new projects as an avenue for developing more of your skills and adding to your professional experience.

5. Take initiative. As a student, it is easy to think of yourself as “just the intern.” Yes, you are the intern, but that doesn’t mean you should sit back and wait for projects to be handed to you. Your internship is technically a long-term interview, and your supervisors and colleagues are paying close attention to see if you have what it takes to be hired on permanently after the internship. Ask to take on big projects, or come up with your own project! As a student, you can offer new innovative ideas that may greatly impact the organization. By taking this type of initiative, you will make yourself known and will be remembered.

Treat your internship as though this is your career and think of yourself as part of the team.

6. Network network network. Studies have found that 80% of today’s jobs are landed through networking. This internship is your opportunity to develop and strengthen lasting professional connections that will give you that “edge” to your future career. If you leave a lasting impression with your supervisors and colleagues, these professionals will be more than willing to speak on behalf of your strengths and competencies to others. Leave your colleagues on a humble, thankful note, and give them a genuine goodbye, keeping the relationship open for your network. Send them a thank you card in the mail, expressing your appreciation and your interest in keeping in touch. Make sure your LinkedIn profile is updated and request to connect with your supervisors, colleagues, and anyone else you networked with during your internship. Most importantly, keep in touch, especially with those who will help you get to where you want to be!

 Crystal Vietmeier is Assistant Director of Career Development, Internships, and Experiential Learning at Chatham University, where internships are a vital (and required) part of a larger approach to professional preparation (learn more at chatham.edu/chathamplan). This summer, Chatham students are interning at companies including the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, The League of Women Voters, Pittsburgh Public Theatre, UPMC, Forbes Regional Hospital, Pittsburgh Pirates, The Carnegie Museum of Art, Quantico Marine Corps Base, Ketchum Inc., The Children’s Institute of Pittsburgh, Table Magazine, GNC Inc, Pittsburgh Center for Creative Reuse, Animal Rescue League and Wildlife Center, the Borough of Swissvale, the Musuneggi Financial Group, Drew Designs, Ltd, Mariani Landscape, and the University of Pittsburgh.

Image: http://sonoarts.org/seeking-energetic-interns-for-event-team/

Student profile: Jenny Schollaert

Schollaert, Jenny
Jenny Schollaert, ’15 Speaks at 2015 Commencement

“It’s a shock of a community.”

That’s how Jenny Schollaert ’15, describes Chatham University, from which she is set to graduate in three days. “A good shock,” she quickly clarifies. “Because we’re so welcoming and everyone wants you to succeed. And I think it’s that shocking to some people, and they’re like are you really this excited about seeing me succeed? But yes, they are!”

It’s safe to say that in her four years as a double major in English and Women’s Studies, Schollaert did not disappoint. In 2015 alone, she won the Outstanding Undergraduate Student Leader Award, the Excellence in the Humanities Award, the Anne Harris Aronson Prize in English, and was a runner up for the Elva Bell McLin Sigma Tau Delta Senior Scholarship. An incomplete list of her other accomplishments at Chatham includes:

  • Presented original research or sat on academic panels at 10 conferences across the country
  • Published an article on the art of Kara Walker in New Errands: The Undergraduate Journal of American Studies
  • Studied abroad in Cambridge, England
  • Completed an internship consisting of working with high school girls at The Ellis School, generating and executing lesson plans concerning women’s activism, and a second internship with the League of Women Voters
  • Served on the University-wide steering committee for the creation of the Women’s Institute in response to the transition to coeducation (as Executive Vice President of Chatham Student Government, a role she held for two years)
  • Founded and served as President of the Beyond the Page Book Club
  • Served as Late Night and Traditions Coordinator for the Office of Student Affairs
  • Worked as a tutor for the PACE Center

“It’s been a great four years. I really sucked the marrow out of it. I got my money’s worth,” Schollaert laughs.

Schollaert—who is from the Pittsburgh area—knew about Chatham because her aunt had gone there “way back,” but it wasn’t until she visited campus that she knew it was for her. To be precise, it wasn’t until Dr. Bill Lenz, Pontius Professor of English, kicked her parents out of his office that she knew it was for her.

“I walked into his office with my parents,” Schollaert recalls. “We chatted for a bit, and then Dr. Lenz said to my parents: ‘You two, go out to the café and have a coffee, this is Jenny’s education; I’m going to talk with her now.’ They balked a bit, but they left, and I was immediately at ease, able to talk so freely with Dr. Lenz about all of these hopes that I had for what I want to accomplish at Chatham.

And the opportunities he presented, the leadership roles—he told me that I can do anything here, that there’s nothing too big. “

Dr. Lenz would prove to be a huge mentor for Schollaert. “I took his Mark Twain seminar during my first year here, and it was an absolute joy,” she says. “I had no idea that this was what English Literature students were capable of, all the things you could do with these words on the page. That seminar gave me the confidence and tools to get really serious about studying literature.” Dr. Lenz was her advisor for all four years, and also chaired her tutorial.

Schollaert names Dr. Lynne Bruckner, Professor of English and Coordinator of the Women’s Studies Department as another major influence during her time here. “She has been fantastic at providing opportunities like an internship at The Ellis School, and since I will have to teach in graduate school, she offered to do an independent study with me, where I learned pedagogical practices and actually took a stab at teaching a class. Does that opportunity even exist elsewhere? Words cannot express the help she’s given me throughout my four years here.”

“The English and Women’s Studies faculty have influenced my thinking in such a huge way,” Schollaert continues. ”I’ll be writing a paper and after each sentence thinking so what would Dr. Lenz , Dr. Bruckner or Dr Prajna (Parasher, Professor of Art, Film and Cultural Studies) think about this. That, I think, is the mark of a really great, really comprehensive education. Even though all these people are so influential, you’ll come up with something that’s completely you.”

“People look at Chatham as that former woman’s college, or Rachel Carson’s alma mater, but what they don’t realize is that we have this huge breadth of faculty and they’re so brilliant and so helpful and you can take a class that’s completely outside your comfort zone and then you you’ll just fall in love with the professor and what they have to offer and then they’ll just be part of your life forever.”

“There’s something magical about Chatham that you don’t see anything else,” says Schollaert. “When your friends come home and talk about their experiences, you think there’s something different about Chatham, something about the way we can get together inside the classroom or outside the classroom and have these conversations that people don’t have often elsewhere. I’m going to miss that. It’ll be interesting to see how the conversations move forward as the transition takes hold. I’m excited for the men to see what we do here.”

Schollaert’s research
Schollaert’s main academic interest is the author Willa Cather. She wrote her tutorial on two of Cather’s novels, O Pioneers! and a lesser known work called One of Ours, which was written in the 1920s and has a male protagonist. “For a woman writer to write a war novel with a male protagonist was just phenomenal. She was able to use him to critique the ideals of masculinity that men were forced to live up to, and by the end of the novel, she brings us back to women’s spaces and women’s voices to say that this ideal of masculinity is not serving us well if we don’t have a balance and spectrum of gender identity, instead of forcing male and female ideals into boxes. Throughout history the novel has been viewed just as a war novel, but it does so much more.” Schollaert considers Women’s Studies to be a great complement to the study of English Literature. “We can look at the text through that lens and see why these words were chosen and how they used the stories for a greater purpose.”

CHATHAM DESIGNATED “TREE CAMPUS USA” FOR 3RD YEAR

treecampus_usa_smallOf the approximately 9,452 institutions of higher education in the US, only 229 have been honored with the “Tree Campus USA” designation. For the third consecutive year, Chatham University is among them. We’re one of nine in Pennsylvania, and the only one in Western PA.

To become a Tree Campus USA, an institution must meet five criteria:

  1. Campus Tree Advisory Committee to help provide guidance for planning and outreach. Ours includes Mary Whitney from the faculty, Elise Richmond from the student body, Kirstin N. Spirl from facility management, and Lisa Ceoffe, City Forester for the City of Pittsburgh, as the community representative.
  1. Campus tree care plan that sets policy and clear guidance for planting, maintaining, and removing trees, communicating with the college community.
  1. Allocated funds for the plan. The organization recommends about $3 per full-time student.
  1. The campus must observe Arbor Day. This year at Chatham, this will coincide with University Day on May 1.
  1. Service learning project that provides an opportunity to engage students with projects related to trees. To fulfill this requirement, Chatham has one tree planting in spring, and another in fall. The 2015 spring planting will occur on University Day/Arbor Day (weather permitting).

collage-treecampus

With elements designed for the original Mellon estate by the renowned Olmsted Brothers, Chatham’s campus encompasses a 32-acre arboretum featuring 115 varieties of species, including Japanese Flowering Crabapple, River Birch and Kentucky Coffee tree.

EDEN HALL GEARS UP FOR FACULTY, STUDENTS, AND WINTER LEAFY GREENS

ehc_1600x645Note: This story appears in the Chatham University Spring 2015 Recorder alumni magazine. 

Two and a half years after its groundbreaking, Eden Hall Campus continues to grow into an epicenter of sustainability and culture in the North Hills. Student commons and residence halls are taking shape, and endeavors to officially move the Falk School of Sustainability from the Shadyside Campus to its new home on Ridge Road have begun to unfold.

The Lodge, once a summer vacation home for female employees of the Heinz factories, is undergoing internal reconstruction as the future home of the Falk School faculty offices. Plans were developed by veteran space and facilities planner Charles Craig, a LEED- certified architect who has worked with Chatham since 1993, and is also working with Chatham on some renovations to the Shadyside Campus.

Craig worked with Falk School of Sustainability faculty and staff to identify creative and functional ways to reinterpret the Lodge for a modern office space. The aesthetic being considered for the Lodge embraces natural light flow and the collaborative spirit of sustainability. Office furniture will be mobile and independent of surrounding architecture, allowing workspaces to be reorganized quickly based on the needs of faculty, staff, and students. These movable studio offices will encourage impromptu collaboration and promote a more flexible use of space.

The student commons and residence halls are underway in preparation for use this fall. Walter Fowler, Vice President of Finance and CFO, attends weekly walk-throughs of the construction areas, and attests to the state-of-the-art design and efficiency of the buildings. “The residence halls are being built to LEED Platinum standards and are tightly constructed” he says, “with wall insulation over twenty inches thick and unique sustainable design features such as panels that run through the ceiling and control the air temperature.”

HERE’S A CLOSER LOOK AT WHAT MAKES THE RESIDENCE HALL EXTRAORDINARY:

Electricity: All power is provided by the solar panels on the roof of the residence hall. Eden Hall has over 400 solar panels across the campus that generate over 126,000 kilowatt-hours annually, easily enough to power more than 14 homes per year.

Water: Water in the residence hall is heated by solar thermal panels on its roof, and the toilet water is recycled from the the campus on-lot wastewater system. This system treats wastewater through a series of steps including constructed wetlands, a trickling filter, and a UV filter. Some of the water is dyed blue and used in the toilets in campus buildings, with the remaining being treated for irrigation on campus. The system treats up to 6,000 gallons of wastewater per day, and water quality will meet or exceed all State of Pennsylvania water quality standards for land application of treated effluent.

Heating and cooling: The residence hall is heated and cooled by Eden Hall’s geothermal system, which consists of just under 40 geothermal wells (mapped by GPS) across campus. These wells are about six inches wide and drilled 485 feet into the earth where two connected pipes are inserted into each well. A solution consisting of 75% water and 25% food grade propylene-glycol mix (which ensures that the water doesn’t freeze or harbor bacteria) is utilized within the pipes. The geothermal system uses the Earth’s temperature and energy storage capability to heat and cool the mixture, which is then pumped across campus into the buildings. In addition, a unique “heat loop” helps balance and share energy between the buildings as needed. In the residence hall, the geothermal-powered system runs the warm or cold mixture up into the ceilings of the rooms for a unique radiant heating and cooling system – the largest installation of its kind in the country.

Smart monitoring: A system that monitors energy use sends alerts to the facilities manager when it detects a change or inefficiency – for example, if a window is left open.

final interiorThe first Eden Hall student residents will live in single-occupancy  or suite-style rooms that foster a sense of family. A Wellness Community will support students as they transition to college life, offering a wealth of community-building opportunities and nature-focused activities in the spirit of sustainability.

The centrally located commons area will be the heart of the developing campus, and Fowler shared some intriguing news about its kitchen: “Eden Hall is a net zero campus, meaning we will produce as much energy as we use – except for the kitchen, which is an energy-intensive space due to its high heat needs,” he explained. “To counter this, we plan to run the appliances with microturbines that will generate that extra electricity the kitchen needs. They’ll first be run on natural gas, then switch to biofuels like methane once farm animals are added to the campus.” Even pots and pans are specially designed for this futuristic kitchen. The cooking range makes use of inductive heating, with the ability to almost instantly heat flat-bottomed cookware without losing heat to open air the way electric and gas ranges do. “Even if you removed the pan after cooking and felt the burner, it would be cool to the touch.”

While all of these highly efficient and modern technologies are said to dramatically reduce Eden Hall’s carbon footprint, where is the evidence? The commons building will have an energy monitoring facility in the lower levels to provide proof. Using a central software system, several flat screens will show real-time energy usage (and production) from each building on campus. Visitors will be able to see how the technology reduces energy use overall and adapts to different human uses.

In addition to construction and renovations that benefit people, plants are also being given extra support – lettuce, spinach, and Chinese cabbage to be specific. The Solar Hoop House, a structure designed to support young plants through the winter season, is already nurturing new life. Leafy green winter crops have been growing there since this January, tended by Chatham’s Master of Arts in Food Studies students. Operational since November of 2014, the hoop house can remain at 80 degrees even in the middle of winter. External solar panels heat water that flows in a closed loop system beneath the floor of the structure.

Traditional hoop houses without heating capabilities have been used at Eden Hall for the past four winter growing seasons, but cannot match the growing potential of a heated hoop house. Allen Matthews, a food studies faculty member active in local farming for over 40 years, said students were unable to grow the quantities they needed using that system. Now they support dining services at the Shadyside Campus with the produce food studies students grow, year round. Matthews says students can gain a real sense of the work needed to grow and successfully sell produce on a regular basis – a perfect example of Eden Hall’s living and learning mentality.

Chatham’s Eden Hall campus brings degree programming, continuing education and professional education classes, life-long learning opportunities and cultural events to the North Hills communities and surrounding region.  In addition to Falk School of Sustainability programming, Eden Hall now offers convenient evening, weekend and online classes for undergraduate and graduate programs in business, education, psychology and nursing.

stage

Following the success of last year’s Eden Hall Summer Series, this year’s Summer Event Series is set to run June through September and feature a few similar events as well as new programing. The series kicks off June 5th with a performance by the Pittsburgh Opera. A whole day will be devoted to celebrating the creativity of children with the KidsCan Festival in June, and more musical and theatrical acts for all ages are on the docket for the amphitheater. Sustainability workshops will return to the Field Labs and examine a new range of engaging topics. The popular Harvest Tasting Dinner will close the series in September, treating guests to farm-to-table fare grown by Eden Hall students.

Eden Hall is rising quickly with support from donors and students alike. Chatham hopes to create a balance of historical beauty coupled with cutting-edge technologies that show Western Pennsylvania and the world how to transition into the next era of human achievement that respects and supports people and planet.

CHATHAM STUDENTS HONORED WITH SCHWEITZER FELLOWSHIP

Tess Wilson provides writing workshops as a vehicle for building self-esteem and reflection.

In April, the Pittsburgh Schweitzer Fellows Program (PSFP) announced the selection of its 2015-16 Fellows. Twenty-four graduate students will spend the next year addressing health disparities in Western Pennsylvania while developing lifelong leadership skills. Two of these students come from Chatham University.

Nicholas Bender (Food Studies, ’16) has been selected as an Environmental Fellow. Nicholas proposes a project working with seniors to help them improve their nutritional intake to combat chronic disease. He will focus on food labels, the importance of eating local produce and a balanced healthy diet.

Jason Lucarelli (Counseling Psychology, ’16) is a Traditional Fellow who will work with LGBTQ young adults. He will provide mentorship and counseling services to help promote a positive transition to adulthood.

Two Chatham students are graduating from the Fellowship as well. Hana Uman (Food Studies, ’15) and Tess Wilson (M.F.A. in Creative Writing, ’15 ) will graduate from the Pittsburgh Schweitzer Fellowship Sunday, May 3rd. We spoke briefly with them about their work:

What is your Fellowship project?

Hana: The site for my Fellowship is Community Kitchen Pittsburgh and the project is called the “Food Education and Empowerment Program.”  I have created a food education curriculum that I am teaching at Manchester Academic Charter School (MACS) at the Sarah Heinz House with 6-8th grade, and I run a cooking club at both MACS and Environmental Charter School (ECS) Upper School. I also work in the ECS Upper School cafeteria two days a week with the students who work on the cafeteria line (they help prepare and serve food along with the staff), and survey the students about their food preferences and cooking experience.

Tess: My program is a writing workshop for girls in traditionally underserved populations called Inside/Outside, and is hosted by libraries around the city. I began Inside/Outside in October of 2014 at the Millvale Community Library, and have since expanded to the Braddock and East Liberty branches of the Carnegie Library. I teach three classes a week and will continue those until the end of the school year. My hope is to continue at least one of them into the summer and take them up again when school starts in the fall. I’d like to see this class live past the length of the Fellowship.

How did you get the idea for your Fellowship?

Hana: I have a variety of experience working with kids, and when I started interning for Community Kitchen Pittsburgh, who provides culinary training for adults with barriers to employment, I was interested in bringing culinary and food education to a younger population. Community Kitchen Pittsburgh was also interested in having more youth programming, and it was good timing for both parties.

Tess: Being a girl is tough sometimes. There are constant reminders of social standards and expectations, and it can be harmful to keep those concerns bottled up. Each week at Inside/Outside, we read and discuss work that addresses social issues, women’s issues, or issues of the body. We then pick out some image, phrase, idea, or technique from the readings that intrigued us and write our own work. If we feel up for it, we share it with each other. Writing is a very powerful medium, and it can prove to be quite therapeutic.

The graduate students I’ve met through this opportunity are some of the most intelligent, most passionate, most empathetic humans I’ve ever known. We meet formally once a month and the electricity in the room is truly incredible. I always leave those meetings feeling inspired. It’s an honor to be a part of such a forward-thinking group that is so deeply focused on bringing good to the world, and to know that this network will transcend our time as Fellows.  – Tess Wilson

 

M.A. IN FOOD STUDIES STUDENTS PRODUCE NEW GINGER WHISKEY

product lineNote: This story appears in the Chatham University Spring 2015 Recorder alumni magazine. All photos by John Altdorfer.

Elizabeth Overholt was born in 1818. She was the fifth child of Abraham Overholt, owner of a prosperous whiskey distillery in Westmoreland County, PA. Romance did not seem to be in the cards for Elizabeth, but at 28, she fell in love and conceived a child with a man called John who worked in her father’s mill. A biographer writes: “It was a common surmise in the community at the time that Elizabeth’s parents would have preferred a more sedate and better established suitor than the impetuous, red-headed scion of the Celts and Burgundians, but as there was no withstanding her calm inflexibility, the wedding took place at the homestead on October 9th, 1847.”[1] Their second child was the industrialist, financier, and art patron Henry Clay Frick.

Three miles from the Frick Fine Arts Building and almost 200 years after Elizabeth’s birth, five M.A. in Food Studies students from the Falk School of Sustainability are gathered around a table at Wigle Whiskey, a local distillery that also offers on-site retail and tasting. With them is Wigle co-owner and Chatham adjunct faculty member, Meredith Grelli. Grelli teaches an intensive two-semester new product development course, and students have been working since the fall to develop—from ideation to market—a ginger whiskey that they plan to release around Valentine’s Day 2016. Why then? Because marketing will be tied to the love story of red-haired John (“ginger”) and distillery daughter Elizabeth (“whiskey”). The decision to pair whiskey and ginger was made before the team made the John and Elizabeth connection, but savvy marketers tell stories, and these are savvy marketers.

organic grains

The class finishes up a conference call about sourcing ingredients with a food scientist from Beam Suntory, maker of Jim Beam. Meredith asks the group—Maureen Gullen, Sam Mass, Erica Rabbin, Katie Walker, and Emily Gallivan—for their thoughts.

“The quality of ginger’s going to be really important,” says one. They had planned to source ginger from the greenhouse at the Frick Conservatory, but now they plan to grow it at Eden Hall. Grelli asks how they would deal with the lack of consistency given that they don’t know that the ginger will come from the same supplier.

The students have done their research and answer with confidence. “Consumers want consistency, but with an artisanal supplier, they’re willing to accept variation and even see it as a positive,” says Gullen.

“I think it adds to the consumer experience,” agrees Mass. “People who are into it like talking about the different deep cuts. It creates a culture and discourse that would never exist in a large company.”

The new product development course began to take shape when Grelli was approached by Food Studies Program Director Alice Julier, Ph.D, about taking on interns. “The Food Studies program sounded amazing, like a program I would want to be in,” says Grelli. “There are immense opportunities to bring education into the business of food, especially exposing students to new product development. I wanted the students to experience the whole process, starting with creating concepts, testing with focus groups, all the way through promotion,” she says. “We’re taking the path you’d take in a big food company, and jerry-rigging it for a small shop.”

Meredith2

Take a look at their first assignment, from last September: 1) visit a grocery store, liquor store, restaurant or bar, 2) identify two innovations, 3) think about what makes them “interesting, successful or flops”, and 4) create a 10 minute PowerPoint presentation on their findings. Two things jump out: The course is exceptionally thoughtful on one hand and participatory on the other. In fact, the degree to which it interpolates theory, research, and hands-on practice is extraordinary, especially considering the truncated time frame. Of course, the truncated time frame makes it an even better idea to assign such readings as “Making Group Brainstorming More Effective: Recommendations from an Associative Memory Perspective.” Everything fits together.

“We’re working together in a group in such a way that it functions like a business. Every week at least one of us presented something to the others,” says Walker. She and Gullen are co-leading production and consumer testing. Rabbin leads recipe development. Mass heads design and labeling, Gallivin is in charge of PR and planning the launch. Grelli has arranged an impressive array of speakers and visits, from a tour of the HJ Heinz Innovation Center from the director of research and development to a meeting with a Pennsylvania ginger farmer to a visit with a food journalist about how to build relationships with reporters. She calls it the new product class she wishes she had in business school.

production

The first Food Studies-Wigle new product development course was held last year, when eight students worked with Grelli to develop Pennsylvania’s first apple whiskey. They conducted a rigorous series of consumer research, worked with local grain growers, apple growers, and the Wigle production team to produce one of Wigle’s most successful releases of the year. In a textbook example of merging business and sustainability, the students made the decision that in terms of cost and marketing, it was more important that the apples be local than organic. Wigle Wayward, as the whiskey is called, is made from five kinds of apples from Soergel’s orchards in the North Hills. “The first year we started I thought “these are not business students, so I’m going to go business-lite,” laughs Grelli, who also co-facilitates the MyBusiness Startup program run by Chatham’s Center for Women and Entrepreneurship.“ But they just wanted more! So I was like, ‘all right’! We’re doing it!”

“I think Chatham is the best place to deliver this kind of program,” she continues. “It’s place-based and focused on community and entrepreneurship,” says Grelli.   “We’re thinking about how to further our partnership, perhaps collaborating on a series of seasonals. Next year’s class might do spring or summer whiskey, for example.”

“I feel like no matter what we do after this there will be an aspect of this class that will help us,” says Mass.

[1] “Henry Clay Frick the Man” by George Harvey, published 1928

CWE 10TH ANNIVERSARY: Q AND A WITH REBECCA HARRIS

harris 1Rebecca Harris is the Executive Director of the Center for Women’s Entrepreneurship at Chatham University. 2015 marks the Center’s 10th anniversary.

What changes have you noticed in the entrepreneurial climate for women?

In Pittsburgh, we’ve noticed more women starting businesses, especially younger women, and an increase in the diversity of industries. At the same time, there has been an incredible increase of support for these businesses within the Center and the Chatham community as well as in the greater Pittsburgh region. And we’ve noticed a shift from need-based entrepreneurs to desire-based entrepreneurs, as pressures from the recession decrease.

Are there any Pittsburgh-based entrepreneurs or start-ups that you think have been particularly successful?

We’ve worked with many exceptional women, some of whom launched their businesses with our programs ten years ago and have now circled back to mentor other members. Most of the women who take our entrepreneurial training programs have been referred by a client of the Center, which is a testament to the success of the businesses who have participated in our offerings.

What would you say are the biggest changes the CWE has gone through in the past 10 years?

Over the past 10 years, the Center has developed a continuum of services, from start-up programs like our proprietary MyBusiness Startup to those that allow us to work with more established businesses, such as MyBusiness Growth and MyBoard. We’re bringing in a wider variety of local and national speakers, offering more events, and spending more time in the community, doing presentations and workshops.  Finally, we have formed strong connections with other universities, entrepreneurial support organizations in Pittsburgh, and a wide variety of departments at Chatham University.

What Center accomplishments are you most proud of?

Over the past two years, we’ve developed a customized curriculum specifically for women in MyBusiness Startup and MyBusiness Growth.  We’re extremely proud of the success that we’ve had developing our own programming, including the MyConsulting Corner program, which combines a field-study experience for MBA students with hands-on assistance for women business owners in the community. Prior to that, the Center began one of Pittsburgh’s first morning networking events for women with our Women Business Leaders Breakfast Series and we’re proud to have such a successful program still happening today. This year we also celebrate ten years of our annual Think Big Forum.

What’s on the horizon for the CWE?

We look forward to continuing to support women as part of the Women’s Institute, as they start and grow their businesses through our programs, mentoring and networking opportunities, and we’re excited to continue working with the local entrepreneurial ecosystem to provide opportunities for our members.