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Five Questions with Monica Riordan

Name: Monica Riordan
Title: Assistant Professor of Experimental Psychology
Joined Chatham: August 2012
Born & Raised: St. Louis, Missouri
Interests: family time, hiking, and travel

 

 

  1. What was your first job and what did you learn from it?

My first job was at the YMCA when I was 15. I worked in the baby nursery and taught gymnastics classes and summer camps for children. I learned quite a lot about negotiating and compromise (especially from the toddlers), how to make boring tasks seem fun (like making up songs for stretching routines), and showing leadership skills when in charge of a group of many different personalities and interests.

  1. What aspect of your life before teaching best prepared you to do so?

Working with children is a fantastic training ground for just about any career you ever take in life. It teaches you to think on the fly, be flexible from one moment to another, always have a plan B (and often C and D), work with many different people of many different backgrounds and needs, develop coping skills for high-stress environments, and show grace under pressure.

  1. What makes teaching at Chatham special for you? 

At many universities, teacher-student interaction is limited to the classroom, but I have found at Chatham (for better or worse), students weave themselves into the teachers’ lives. They email me articles that they think will be interesting to me, they ask about my son, they invite me to their plays and sporting events, and greet me by name and a hearty “good morning!”

  1. What is your favorite thing about working with Chatham students?

Most students are eager to learn and they spend time trying to relate material to their own lives and come up with examples of how they see psychological theories acted out in the real world. This transfer of learning from paper to practice is heartening to me as a teacher.

  1. What is your passion?

I like to design experiments and collect data, but am happiest when analyzing the data in the hope of finally finding answers to questions. Despite my passion for research, though, writing, unfortunately, I find to be necessary drudgery.

Monica Riordan is an assistant professor in the Psychology department at Chatham.  She challenges her students to identify her one tattoo.

 

 

Five Questions with Julie Slade

Name: Julie Slade
Title: RN-BSN Program Coordinator and Assistant Professor of Nursing
Joined Chatham: July 2010
Born & Raised: Born in Honolulu, Hawaii (my dad was in the military), I moved back to Pittsburgh, PA on my first birthday and have been here ever since
Interests: Nursing education, hospice/end-of-life nursing, spending time with my family and puppy, traveling

1.  How did you develop an interest in the field in which you teach?

When I was four, I told my mother that I wanted to be a nurse. To this day I don’t know where the idea came from, because neither I nor anyone in my family had been sick or in need of medical care. When I graduated from high school, I went straight into a 4-year program and earned my Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree. I worked in a few different intensive care units in local hospitals and eventually returned to school to earn my Master of Science in Nursing with a focus on nursing education and my Doctor of Nursing Practice degree. Even after earning my DNP degree I wasn’t sure where I was going to take my career. I applied for a job at Chatham as a Clinical (Practice Experience) Coordinator and fell in love with nursing education. Nowhere in my life plans or on my career path did it ever occur to me that I wanted to teach nursing. Somehow I always knew that I wanted to be a nurse.

2. What was your first job and what did you learn from it?

One summer break in high school I worked a temporary job doing filing, mailing, and a small amount of data entry. Every day, I reported to a woman who gave me my assignments. On several occasions, I would do them, and when I returned for more she would say “Why are you working so fast? Take your time. You’ll make the rest of us look bad.” I remember feeling very uneasy at this. Why do a job when I’m not going to do it to the best of my ability? Why waste time doing purposefully slow work? I learned that any job worth doing was worth doing well, and that anything less than my best effort was not good enough for me.

3. What is your favorite thing about working with Chatham students?

I mostly work with RN-BSN students—working adults who have completed an Associate or Diploma program and are now working towards a Bachelor degree in nursing. My students, by far, are my favorite part of my job. They are bright, motivated individuals who are making a difference in the lives of their patients but they don’t always realize how far they can go as individuals or how far they can take the profession. During the program, I see students grow and develop in ways that they didn’t even know they could and, by the end of the program, many realize they are the leaders I knew they could be. Often students reach out to me after graduation and ask for letters of recommendation because they are going on to even higher levels of education. Or students will reach out and tell me about new positions they are taking or endeavors they are conquering. I couldn’t be more proud!

4. What is your passion?

That’s a really hard question, especially because I don’t have just one passion. In nursing, I’m passionate about nursing education and hospice/end-of-life nursing. As a nurse educator I don’t currently work clinically at bedside. I feel that my job right now is to nurse nurses. Through my students, I touch a myriad of patients and by helping nurses be the best nurses they can be, I am improving the care patients receive.

Many people are afraid of death, understandably so, but I see death as a special time in life that none of us can avoid. I don’t believe anything will ever eliminate a person’s fear of death but, with proper care, the dying process can be greatly improved. Our country has a far way to go in making this a universal idea. I spend time learning about improvements in end-of-life care and sharing the knowledge I have in an effort to benefit patients and families facing end-of-life situations.

Outside of nursing I also have many passions; my most intense is probably for my family. I believe everyone should be the best version of himself or herself and I try to always give my all to those I love and care about.

5. What one individual had the greatest impact on you and how?

I don’t know that I could identify one individual that had the greatest impact on me. My father taught me the value of hard work and providing for your family. My mother taught me to be a strong woman and that anything is possible. My colleagues teach me how to continuously improve my teaching skills. My students are a constant source of inspiration. I truly can’t identify one individual as the most influential in my life.

Julie Slade is program coordinator and an assistant professor in Chatham’s Master of Science in Nursing Program. You may find her changing a tire on the weekends when she serves as her husband’s dirt track racing pit crew.

Five Questions with Kristin Harty


Name: Kristin Harty
Title: Chairperson/Program Director for Education
Joined Chatham: 2012
Born & Raised: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Interests: My children and their interests

  1. How did you develop an interest in the field in which you teach?

When I was a teenager, I volunteered in The John Merck Unit at Western Psychiatric Hospital.  That unit was specifically for children with dual diagnoses of an intellectual disability and mental health issue. I knew I wanted to be a teacher when I entered college, but had no idea that I could teach children with disabilities. As I was reviewing the advising sheet, one of the majors was special education! I knew then and there that I was going to be a special education teacher.

  1. What makes teaching at Chatham special for you?

My colleagues from all departments make Chatham special. They always have the students’ best interests in mind. I enjoy working with everyone and am very grateful they are willing to help me, even if I ask the same question ten times!

  1. What is your favorite thing about working with Chatham students?

They are the best part of my day! I love teaching! I enjoy getting to know students in and outside of the classroom.  I love when they drop by and ask a question or just stop and chat.

  1. What is your passion?

My passion is working to improve the lives of students with disabilities. I hope that I teach my students to treat people with disabilities with respect and to never place limitations on them.  Allow them to reach for the stars, you just might have to take a different path to get there.

  1. What one individual had the greatest impact on you and how?

My mom and dad! They are my biggest cheerleaders and they lead by example. They instilled the importance of education when I was young. My mom went to night school part time to get her BSN and we graduated together with our master’s degrees from the same university. It was very special having my mom right next to me during the commencement ceremony. My dad always said, “when you go to college“ (never if) and “once you get that degree, no one can take that away from you!” My parents’ love and support for me is what has led to my success.

Kristin Harty is an associate professor of Special Education in the Chatham University Education Department. She loves musicals where her children perform and work on stage crew and the whole family goes to see as many musicals as possible in Pittsburgh and New York.

 

Five Questions with Steve Karas, PT, DSc, CMPT

Name: Steve Karas
Title: Assistant Professor (PT, DSc, CMPT)
Joined Chatham: Jan 2009
Born & Raised: Pittsburgh, PA
Interests: Cycling, Running, Travel, Hemingway

 

 

1. What was your first job and what did you learn from it?

My first PT job was at Shadyside hospital. I worked with athletes, patients after joint replacements, patients in the hospital, and those receiving cardiac care. I learned that although medicine tends to compartmentalize, having experience in several areas will strengthen your personal discipline and ability to think and reason.

2. What aspect of your life before teaching best prepared you to do so?

My mom was a teacher, and even when she came home she worked on lesson plans and creative ways to teach. She taught at a lower-income schools with disciplinary issues, but she loved to teach and would talk about the successes of individual students, some of whom were first to attend college in their family. Watching someone who loves what they do played a role in my decision to teach.

3. What makes teaching at Chatham special for you? 

I graduated from the first PT class. I was able to come back to be a teaching assistant, then help in class, and when the faculty position was offered to me, I was very grateful. I felt like it was my opportunity to influence the next generation of physical therapists and work among a very impressive faculty. I feel bad for people who don’t like their job, because I love mine.

4. What is your favorite thing about working with Chatham students?

 The moment I realize they know more than me.

5What one thing would your students be surprised to know about you?

I am jealous of them. They are learning at a time when information is readily available and the world is smaller than ever. They are all in a position to change the world.

Steve Karas is an assistant professor in the Physical Therapy program.  When he’s not working, he’d rather be watching the sun set over Grace Bay with a San Pellegrino and lime.

 

Interview with Marc Nieson on Writing his New Memoir

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Associate Professor Marc Nieson teaches fiction and creative nonfiction in Chatham’s MFA Creative Writing program. He recently published Schoolhouse: Lessons on Love & Landscape—a memoir twenty years in the making about his time living in a rural one-room schoolhouse while attending the prestigious Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and the changes he was experiencing at that time. 

In one of the interviews I read about your book, you called it a coming of age tale—except you’re in your thirties when this story takes place.  That’s a little untraditional.  What do you make of that—just a matter of us all aging and maturing differently?

Well, I took longer than most people!  I move slowly; and I do think that’s the truth.  But, it’s a tale of the end of innocence—I think all memoirs are coming of age tales, no matter the duration.  They take you through a movement from where you were then to where you are now.  They’re coming to understanding, and allowing someone to ride shotgun to pick something up with you along the way.

You often talk about how long it took you to write this—twenty years in all.  How does that passage of time affect your writing of it?  How do you go back to write from the perspective of someone you no longer are?  And where does ‘truth’ enter the equation when you’re writing a memoir, but your memory has so long to shift about?

Well, I had early drafts of this book done 15 to 20 years ago.  But it’s been in the past three or four years that I’ve been able to go back and be more forthcoming about emotional kinds of things.  One main character in the book, I couldn’t even name for the longest time—I could only address them by a letter.  That distance of years has helped for that.  And the landscape I’m writing about is so specific that it’s made re-entering that place possible—that’s another kind of interest behind this book: those woodlands were a great kind of treasure to me, and now I get to share them a bit.

As far as the truth, I’m not so worried about fact-checking but representing people well, doing that truthfully.  Some of that you can only do the best you can.  You just make sure there’s no attempt to be malicious, you fact-check against your own personal compass.

What made this story something you had to tell?

On my side, it was an old heartthrob that needed to be put to rest.  I think I’ve carried misgivings over how I carried myself at that time, when I simply didn’t know better.  And some things need to be better put to rest, or owned up to.  I write in the prologue it’s not a recounting, but an accounting.

To go to a place you could escape to and be out of contact had become strangely exotic—and making this sort of escape was getting harder and harder, especially over the last ten years. It was the sense that this kind of place was going to be lost, like I discovered while staying there that the schoolhouse was going to be sold, and has since been demolished. That sense of loss connected to the narrative. That made sharing it more vital.

You currently have a novel in the works—Houdini’s Heirs.  You had to write Schoolhouse to account for something in your past; what is it that inspires you to write a novel? How is the writing of fiction and nonfiction different for you?

They both come from internal places.  The circus and sideshow, which this novel is built around, lets me break from the realist writing I’ve been doing so much of recently. Everyone says, why does the world need another novel?  There is dialogue going on right now about things in our society that I’d like to contribute something to: the blur between what’s real and what’s virtual, which I approach in the context of sideshow and illusion.  And, race.  This has given me the stage where I could talk about these things.

Getting done with this memoir, where it’s all a matter of structuring something that already happened, felt really freeing.  But then a month in I was like oh god I have to make something up again!  Oh god, again!  Fiction is a different sort of challenge.

The twenty years you took to publish this book must be a hard sell to your students, especially with the rapid world we live in.  How does wrestling with your own writing become something teachable to them?

I let them know that I wrestle, first and foremost.  Just that I’ve done one thing doesn’t mean the next isn’t just as difficult. I try to help my students get past the presumption that this should be an easy thing.  When you’re a visual artist, you know you’re going to have to do 8,000 sketches.  Somehow in writing that idea isn’t so present; people think they can just jump in and do it.  It’s all about building your facility and taking on the next challenge.  It’s an apprenticeship; you create your next challenge for yourself.

 Marc’s book is available online via Ice Cube Press

Inside the Aquaculture Lab

Roy Weitzell, PhD (back row, second from right) leads a tour of the Aquaculture Lab.
Roy Weitzell, PhD (back row, second from right) leads a tour of the Aquaculture Lab.

Aquaculture—the farming of marine organisms, including fish, shellfish, turtles, and plants—is responsible for more than half of all seafood eaten worldwide,[1] and getting bigger. It’s widely seen as the most efficient way to provide protein to the rapidly growing global population, slated to reach over 10 billion people by 2050. The rapid growth in global aquaculture production has created questions of long-term sustainability in aquaculture.

Falk School Aquatic  Lab Director Roy Weitzell, PhD is ready.

The Lab is loud. Not factory-loud, but it’s abundantly clear that things are happening. As befits Eden Hall Campus, these things are powered entirely by energy generated on campus. Water is cooled or heated on demand using the geothermal heating system, electricity is generated by solar panels, and Roy hopes to eventually use Eden Hall crops to make fish pellets. Perhaps most impressively, between 98 and 99 percent of the 5000 or so gallons of water is recycled in a continual process of filtering within the Lab (the other one to two percent is used to water plants across campus or treated in the campus sanitation system and re-infiltrated into the local aquifer).

“It’s a great example of how all these sustainable systems can come together and support serious infrastructure in a relatively small space,” says Roy. The lab is divided into three main parts: fish tanks, aquaponics and research stacks.

Aquaculture tanks
The space is dominated by three large, round fish tanks holding a total of about 1500 gallons of water. Combined, they’re able to hold around 850-1000 foot-long rainbow trout. Having three tanks allows Roy and his students to research how fish-related variables (e.g., coloration, taste, texture, size, and growth rate) are affected by environmental variables (e.g., insect-based vs. plant-based fish food, amount fed, and water source). Roy notes that the lab is able to culture a range of cold-water and warm-water species.fish

Fish from the tanks will also be used by Eden Hall Chef Chris Galarza and his team to create meals for the EHC community and special products, such as a “signature smoked trout spread.” Roy also looks forward to working with the Falk School’s Food Studies Department, mentioning an Asian fish paste as a possible initiative that the Lab could help support. 

Aquaponics
Aquaponics—a portmanteau made from aquaculture and hydroponics—refers to the mutually beneficial growing of fish and plants together in one physically interconnected system. Here’s how it works:

  1. Waste is collected from the fish tank, and pumped to the growing beds.
  2. Bacteria in the growing beds transform ammonia from the waste into nitrate, which makes an ideal plant fertilizer.
  3. Plants filter nutrients (nitrate and macronutrients) from the water, and the water is returned to the tank.

“Aquaponics has a lot of backyard hobbyists. It’s very easy to do, cost-effective, and there are a lot of resources to help,” Roy says, mentioning Pittsburgh Aquaponics as one of them. Chatham’s system was built by four students in the Falk School’s Agroecology and Sustainable Aquaculture classes.

In the growing beds, plants are embedded in a bed of expanded clay pellets. “We use these because they’re very light, easy to work with, and the porous surface provides more space for bacteria to grow,” notes Roy. Come fall, students will be using the system to grow collard greens (also chard, peppers, tomatoes, basil, etc.).

Roy estimates that the aquaponics system will be able to grow 40 tilapias from one to two inches to “plate size” in four to five months. “But that’s part of the grand experiment,” he says. “We’ll be adjusting variables to see where we get the best results.”

You’re basically recreating what nature does on its own, but could never do it at this density. Growing a lot of fish in a small space lets us feed more people.”

Eventually, Roy hopes to add insects and worms to the food they feed the fish. “They’re nutritionally dense, and their larvae are an ideal food source,” he says, adding that worms in the growing beds can also help break down organic material.

Research stacks
Toward the back of the Lab are the “research stacks” – aisles of many small tanks stacked together (“sort of like a fish condominium,” Roy says) with a recirculating system.  At the moment they’re mostly empty, but Roy plans to use them to grow and display aquatic life, such as native fishes and aquatic invertebrates. “The life cycle of fathead minnows is the perfect fit for the teaching semester,” he says, explaining that they grow from an egg to a reproducing adult in only three to four months. Roy is also interested in using the stacks to expose students to other such forms of local aquatic life, such as salamanders and fresh water shrimp. The large number of tanks allow a degree of statistical rigor that lets us expand our findings to the outside world.

This is first and foremost a teaching laboratory,” Roy says. “Education comes first; research is second.”

That’s not to say some pretty fascinating research isn’t in the cards. Inside fish ears are tiny structures called otoliths. As fish age, the otoliths lay down bands, much like rings inside tree trunks. Like rings of a tree trunk, these bands can be “read.” They can be used to determine not only the age of the fish, but also potentially abrupt chemical changes in the fish’s environment, and together with Duquesne University’s Brady Porter, PhD, that’s what Roy is interested in exploring. The plan is to start by breeding minnows in the research stacks, to minimize variables. Once the minnows are grown, they’ll be exposed to salt compounds, such as road salt, fracking brine, and acid mine drainage. The researchers anticipate that this exposure will produce telltale otolith rings that can then be used to help identify toxicity in rivers and streams.

In Spring 2017, Roy will be teaching Sustainable Aquaculture for the Falk School of Sustainability.

[1] FAO 2012. The State of the World’s Fisheries and Aquaculture. United Nations Food and Agriculture Department

Campus Community Profile: Deborah DeLong, PhD

Dr. DeLong, front-right, with members of the CMA at the AMA Collegiate Case Competition.
Dr. DeLong, front-right, with members of the CMA at the AMA Collegiate Case Competition.

Professor DeLong is advisor to the Chatham Marketing Association. This year, CMA placed third in the prestigious national American Marketing Association (AMA)’s Collegiate Case Competition, out of 91 total submissions.  

This is the most prestigious and challenging event that the AMA offers to students; CMA once again put Chatham on the map as a significant source of marketing talent. ” – Deborah DeLong

Hometown: Annandale, VA
Position at Chatham: Associate Professor of Marketing and faculty advisor to the Chatham Marketing Association
Came to Chatham: 2006
Interests: Running, book club, travel

What got you interested in marketing?
In graduate school, I intended to pursue a career in industrial psychology since that’s where I had my training. Next thing I know, I’m working at an advertising agency. This position allowed me to turn those skills around to focus on customers instead of on employees.

What are your main areas of research interest?
Mostly branding and marketing strategy, but since coming to Chatham my research has focused on sustainability. Sustainability ties in with one of my interests, consumer behavior. I research how and why a consumer or an employee might be motivated to buy green products, engage in environmentally responsible behaviors, and in general adopt a more sustainable lifestyle. Both industrial psychology and marketing come into play when explaining the motivations and conditions that foster sustainable behavior inside and outside of a company setting.

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Short course write-up from “The Recorder”, Chatham’s alumni magazine, Fall 2014.

What is your role in the American Marketing Association?
I first joined AMA when I was working as a business analytics manager at Entergy Corporation in 1998. I continued as an AMA member as a Clinical Marketing Professor at Tulane University in 2002. When I came to Chatham in 2006, I realized that the collegiate division of the AMA offers a world of opportunities for students, so we began the Chatham Marketing Association chapter. About four or five years ago, I was elected to the AMA Collegiate Chapters Council (CCC), which is the planning group of 10 faculty advisors from the 350 collegiate chapters in the organization. It’s a pretty big honor and a lot of responsibility. Within the Council, I am in charge of the annual Collegiate Case Competition and a few other smaller competitions. I also help with all aspects of year-round collegiate programming and help coordinate the annual conference that is attended by 1500+ marketing undergraduates each spring. I’m currently the president-elect of the Council and also serve as Collegiate Relations Committee co-chair for the Pittsburgh AMA, our local professional AMA chapter. 

What is the Collegiate Case Competition?
It’s a rigorous, nationally-recognized competition with two goals—to allow students to work together on a real-world business challenge, and to allow the client to benefit from input by the country’s top marketing students. I help the sponsoring company define their key business challenges and constraints; write the case; coordinate all of the details related to recruiting the judges, managing multiple rounds of submissions and scoring, and overseeing the final presentations by finalist teams. The case sponsor is usually a big name brand company. Last year it was The Hershey Company, and this coming year it is eBay.  Students use the written case to develop the marketing strategy that they present to the client if they become finalists. This year, we were one of only 10 finalist teams (out of 350 collegiate chapters) invited to present our case solution to The Hershey Company’s brand management team. Our students delivered a fantastic case solution followed by Q&A with Hershey’s team.

What’s in a case?
The case is very clear about the business challenge and what student teams should focus on. It will say something like “the analysis and your solution and submission needs to address this, this, this and this.” So for Cool Blasts (the Hershey Company’s Icebreakers’ product) last year, it was value proposition and target market. In general it’s also the marketing mix, but the client might say “don’t change the price or packaging.”

For a school of our size, competing against “Ivies”, the best business schools in the country, and massive state universities with tons of resources and support, coming in third in the Collegiate Case Competition is an unbelievably significant accomplishment.”

What makes participating in AMA enjoyable for you?
I realized very quickly that if I didn’t get involved with outside organizations in my field, I was going to be alone in my work. I needed to submit my research to conferences and meet colleagues, but also get involved with the operational side of organizations and be able to partner with colleagues that have similar interests and a similar commitment to student education. It’s enjoyable because it helps me to get outside of the perimeter of Chatham, which makes me a better teacher, a better practitioner, a better scientist, and a better member of the academy.

How does AMA help students learn about marketing and/or business?
There is a lot to be said for projects and assignments in a class. However, I think that there is a certain comfort level in only ever being exposed to other students in your own institution. The value of the AMA is that it really is an infusion of what it’s like down the road after you’re done with your degree. You get exposure to other students and other schools. While the collegiate AMA is competitive in that students compete for awards and recognition, I see it as cooperative too, because in marketing one of the biggest success factors is learning how to work and play nicely with others.

Any CMA accomplishments that you’re especially proud of?
Definitely our performance in the Collegiate Case Competition, where we’ve placed in the finals twice since I have been at Chatham. This is an incredible repeat accomplishment —the other schools that make it to the finals are usually large state schools and the Ivy League Whartons of the world. Each time I helped the team along, but more importantly it’s about my students taking it upon themselves to be committed and follow through on a challenge that is really almost insurmountable. I also think we do an amazing job with social impact. The Young Art Fair is our signature accomplishment; we’re becoming known for it in the Pittsburgh area. I’m also really proud of the fact that a lot of the officers in CMA have gone on to have decent careers in marketing, and from what I hear it was their experiences as CMA officers that helped make this happen for them, and some of the main things they talked about in their interviews.

 

In Memoriam, Dr. Helen Faison

Dr. Helen FaisonThe Chatham University community mourns the loss of Dr. Helen Faison, who passed away on July 16th, and extends our deepest sympathy to Helen’s family and many friends.

Prior to joining the Chatham faculty, Dr. Faison was a trailblazer during her long and distinguished career as an educator and administrator with the Pittsburgh Public School District.  In 1968, for example, she became the first woman and first African American to hold a high school principal position in the District.  In 1983, as deputy superintendent, she became the District’s then-highest ranking woman.

In 1994, Dr. Faison arrived at then-Chatham College as a Distinguished Professor of Education. Her high educational standards, effective leadership style, and devotion to her students led to her appointment as Chair of Chatham’s Department of Education in 1996.  As Department Chair, Dr. Faison secured Pennsylvania Department of Education authorization for expanded teacher certification offerings and for the environmental education, special education, and physics subject areas.  A driving force behind the creation of these new programs was the difficulty experienced by the Pittsburgh Public Schools in their recruitment of qualified teachers in such specialties, particularly in physics.  In response, Dr. Faison created a groundbreaking physics certification program, in which Chatham certification students were instructed in their physics content area by the faculty of Carnegie Mellon University (CMU).  This collaborative certification program was the first of its kind to be granted in Pennsylvania.

As Chair, she also guided the development of the Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) program, one of Chatham’s first masters programs.  Because of her belief in the importance of integrating technology into urban schools, Dr. Faison implemented a special project to bring instructional technology education to teachers already working in the schools.  The Center for Excellence in Technology-Based Teaching and Learning, supported by a grant from the Eden Hall Foundation, provided instructional technology workshops, a resource center, and mini-grants for teachers in urban schools to develop technology-based curricula.

Under Dr. Faison’s leadership, Chatham, in partnership with CMU and the Pittsburgh Public School District, was selected in 1998 as one of only four sites nationwide to receive an implementation grant, which led to the establishment of the Pittsburgh Teachers Institute (PTI) at Chatham University.  As Director of PTI, Dr. Faison helped make Chatham a leader in supporting and improving Pittsburgh’s public schools.  The Institute strengthened teaching and learning in the local schools and, by example and assistance, in schools across the country.  The Institute offered seminars in the humanities and sciences led by university faculty members in response to the needs and interests of local school teachers.  The faculty and school teachers, or Fellows, worked collegially to explore a variety of topics that Fellows then used to write curriculum units they used in their own classrooms and, potentially, in the classrooms of other teachers.  Dr. Faison’s efforts provided 77 seminars to nearly 1000 of these teachers.

Dr. Faison left Chatham during the academic year 1999-2000 to assume temporarily the responsibilities of Interim Superintendent of the Pittsburgh Public Schools, becoming the first African American to lead Pittsburgh’s schools.  She returned to Chatham and her post as Director of PTI in September 2000.  In 2010, Dr. Faison retired after fifteen years as the Director of PTI.

Prior to retiring from Chatham, Dr. Faison participated in a film project of Jessica’s Labyrinth by the late Chatham faculty member Bob Cooley (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NjNjmWrptq4). Dr. Faison is the first person to enter and the last person to leave the labyrinth during the piece.

At Chatham’s May 1998 Commencement ceremony, Chatham’s Board of Trustees recognized Dr. Faison for her exceptional service and dedication with the Trustee Distinguished Service Award.  In August 2007, shortly after Chatham College had been granted university status, Chatham selected Dr. Faison to receive the first honorary doctorate award to be awarded by Chatham University.