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GO BABY GO helps kids with mobility impairments


Developed by physical therapists at the University of Delaware, Go Baby Go is an initiative with clubs across the country that modifies ride-on toy cars so that they can be used by children with mobility deficits. Erin Gaffney, DPT ’17 brought the idea to Chatham.

Erin and some of her classmates rewired a Hello Kitty car so that it can be used by Ella, a four-year-old who has used a wheelchair since surgery to remove a tumor on her spinal cord left her unable to use her legs. Ella can now use her hand to operate the “gas.”

“Being able to move independently in a play situation does so much for kids’ social skills, and that’s really the whole idea,” says Erin. “Mobility matters for children of all ages, and that’s why we’re doing what we’re doing.”

Part of Chatham’s School of Health Sciences, the Physical Therapy program educates doctors of physical therapy who will advance the quality of human life through excellence in clinical practice.


Chatham Honors Elsie Hillman 1925-2015


It is with great sadness that the Chatham University community learned of the passing earlier today of Elsie Hilliard Hillman, the nationally renowned and admired Pittsburgh philanthropist, civic leader, champion of political engagement and moderation, and tireless worker on behalf of causes of great importance to her – including the rights of women, minorities and gay community.  Her passing is not just a loss for the Hillman family, her many friends, and the political world, but a loss of a piece of Pittsburgh’s heart as well.

Elsie and the Hillman and Hilliard families have enjoyed a long and close relationship with Chatham.  Her late brother Tom Hilliard was for many years a Chatham Trustee before becoming an Emeritus Trustee, a position he held until his passing last year.  And Elsie’s grandson, Henry Simonds, is currently a Chatham Trustee, carrying on the Hillman and Hilliard families’ legacy at Chatham.

Chatham President Esther Barazzone; Elsie Hillman; and the 2015 Elsie Hillman Chair, Cokie Roberts
Chatham President Esther Barazzone; Elsie Hillman; and the 2015 Elsie Hillman Chair, Cokie Roberts

Elsie’s and the Hillman family’s generosity to Chatham includes endowing the Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics at Chatham University, a leader in the effort to engage more Pennsylvania women in the political process, as well as the Elsie Hillman Chair in Women & Politics, which brings women leaders of national and international stature to Chatham.  Elsie is also an honorary Chatham alumna, having received an honorary Doctor of Public Service from Chatham in 1993.

Elsie Hillman and Chatham students
Elsie Hillman and Chatham students

Elsie was also personally engaged with Chatham – and especially with Chatham students – on many fronts.  One of Elsie’s great joys was meeting and interacting with young people, especially Chatham students.  If one looks back at all of the pictures of Elsie posing for photographs with past Hillman Chairs and Chatham undergraduates over the years, it is never quite clear who is having more fun: the students or Elsie!  Just this past spring, Elsie took part in the Pennsylvania Center for Women & Politics New Leadership program, which prepares college-age women from around the state for leadership roles.  Earlier in the spring, she participated in the campus visit by newswoman Cokie Roberts, whose lecture and appearance on campus was made possible through the Hillman Chair.

Christine Bullock ’05 named finalist for Women’s Health’s “The Next Fitness Star”

Christine Bullock '05
Christine Bullock ’05

Christine Bullock took off the year following high school graduation to pursue her dream of becoming professional ballerina, a skill she’d been honing since she was three years old. It was only when she entered Chatham in 2001 that she shifted her focus and discovered that her passion for health and fitness could turn into a full-time career.

While she began Chatham as a ballerina, she was soon certified as a yoga teacher; and as an RA, she taught students yoga in a residence hall living room. Christine recalls being one of the only people lifting weights in the old Chatham gym, and was a ribbon-cutter for the 2004 dedication of the new Athletic and Fitness Center. As a student, she ran through Chatham’s campus to Carnegie Mellon’s, weaving throughout Squirrel Hill neighborhoods and back again down Woodland Road. This routine was where she blew off the stress of a heavy Chatham course load.

She credits her psychology professor and academic advisor, Tom Hershberger, with sparking the flame which ultimately lead to her tutorial, a study of the effects of yoga on psychological and physiological wellbeing. “I taught yoga and then tested the cortisol levels and mood of each participant,” explains Christine. Upon her 2005 graduation, she left Chatham and eventually landed in California where she cemented her passion for fitness into not only a career, but also a way of life.

Christine believes the key to a sustainable healthy lifestyle is to find what you enjoy and focus on the kind of activity you look forward to – mentally, physically and emotionally. In her role as a fitness instructor, she promotes short, effective workouts and metabolism boosts like colorful veggies, smoothies and soups – “Healthy food isn’t just tofu and sprouts,” she asserts. “If you have trouble sticking to a nutrition or exercise program, something has to change, something is not right. Don’t be afraid to mix it up to keep things interesting,” Christine says.

But perhaps the most exciting development in Christine’s professional career is being named as one of five finalists for Women’s Health magazine’s “Next Fitness Star” competition. She’s featured on the July/August issue cover, along with the five other finalists, each competing for a workout DVD contract. The winner will be chosen by a panel of celebrity judges, as well as fans. People may vote once daily until Aug. 3rd with the winner being announced live on NBC’s Today Show.

Christine credits her time at Chatham for making her the woman she is today. “It was such a tremendous time in my life. The small classes and the intimacy of the school developed who I was. It’s where I established my character,” says Christine. She considers women like her Chatham classmates when developing her fitness videos, “My videos are prop-free. They’re perfect for busy women and can be done in small spaces, like dorm rooms. All you need is a yoga mat and a pair of tennis shoes!”

“I’m so lucky to have the Chatham support system to lean upon. They are such amazing women. From business leaders, to full-time moms, to experts in every field. I’m thankful to be a part of this group of exceptional women.”

To take-on Christine’s weekly workouts and vote daily, visit

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 ( 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.