Chatham News

Chatham names Patty DeMarco, Ph.D. as new director of the Rachel Carson Institute

By: Paul Kovach, Chief Communications Officer
December 20, 2010

PITTSBURGH (December 20, 2010) … To further the legacy of its most renowned alumna, Chatham University has hired Patricia M. DeMarco, Ph.D. as the new director of the Rachel Carson Institute, according to an announcement by Laura S. Armesto, Vice President for Academic Affairs. Dr. DeMarco, who will begin her new role in January 2011, is the former executive director of the Rachel Carson Homestead in Springdale, Pa.

“Over the past five years Dr. DeMarco has transformed the Rachel Carson Homestead into a regional focus for issues surrounding sustainability and the environment,” Dr. Armesto said. “Dr. DeMarco’s passion for educating others about Carson’s impact on our society will be a tremendous asset for Chatham’s Rachel Carson Institute, especially as we approach the 50th anniversary of Rachel’s most significant work, Silent Spring, in 2012.”

With Dr. DeMarco’s arrival, the Rachel Carson Institute will become part of the University’s new School of Sustainability and the Environment under the leadership of David Hassenzahl, Ph.D., its founding dean. The Rachel Carson Institute was established at Chatham in 1989 to continue the legacy of Chatham’s most distinguished alumna by promoting the awareness and understanding of significant and current environmental issues through national and regional conferences, debates, lecture series, seminars, panel discussions and other educational programs. Carson, who graduated from the former Pennsylvania College for Women in 1929, is considered the founder of the modern environmental movement because of the impact of Silent Spring, published in 1962.

“As an integral part of the School of Sustainability and the Environment, the Rachel Carson Institute will focus on articulating her environmental ethic in practical applications,” Dr. DeMarco said. “The new campus will model how a sustainable community functions and offer practical study and learning opportunities across a wide spectrum of interests. The Rachel Carson Institute will become an internationally notable center for analysis and communication of Rachel Carson’s principles applied to today’s issues.”

The Rachel Carson Institute also presents the Rachel Carson Leadership Award to women who exemplify leadership and excellence in their work toward the preservation of the environment. Past recipients include Elizabeth Cushman Titus Putnam, founder of the Student Conservation Association (2007); Sandra Steingraber, ecologist, author, poet, and cancer survivor (2001); Maya Lin, artist, sculptor and designer of the Vietnam Veterans War Memorial in Washington, D.C. (1999); Theo Colborn, zoologist, senior scientist, and director of the Wildlife and Contaminants project at the World Wildlife Fund (1997); and Teresa Heinz, Chair of the Heinz Family Philanthropies and of the Howard Heinz Endowment (1995).

“I especially want to thank Dr. Nancy Gift for her work as acting director as the RCI transitions to the School of Sustainability and the Environment,” Dr. Armesto said. Thanks to her dedication, the Institute has remained a vital part of Chatham’s mission. Dr. Gift will continue as assistant professor of environmental studies and a valued member of Chatham’s faculty.”

About Patricia M. DeMarco, Ph.D.
Dr. DeMarco has long been a leader in energy, economic development, and environmental policy analysis. In her current position as Executive Director of the Rachel Carson Homestead Association, she has brought attention to environmental and sustainability issues by hosting many events that have brought experts to Pittsburgh for public forums. She has also been active in building coalitions and spearheading community action around these issues in Pittsburgh and elsewhere.

Dr. DeMarco has served in both private and public organizations and academic institutions as Associate Dean for Administration and Advancement at the University of Alaska at Anchorage, as Commissioner of the Regulatory Commission of Alaska, as President of the Anchorage Economic Development Corporation, and as a Senior Policy Analyst for the Office of Policy and Management on the State of Connecticut.

Dr. DeMarco holds a Ph.D. in genetics from the University of Pittsburgh and has completed postdoctoral work at Yale University and at the Boston University School of Medicine.

About Chatham University
Chatham University prepares students from around the world to help develop solutions to some of the world’s biggest challenges. Every Chatham student – women in Chatham’s historic women’s residential college, and men and women in Chatham’s graduate programs – receives a highly individualized, experiential educational experience that is informed by Chatham’s strong institutional commitment to globalism, the environment and citizen leadership. Founded in 1869, Chatham University includes the Shadyside Campus, with Chatham Eastside and the historic 39-acre Woodland Road arboretum; and the 388-acre Eden Hall Campus north of Pittsburgh. For more information call 800-837-1290 or visit