Academic Innovation Annual Report • 2021-2022

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The Forge Your Own Path strategy is an evolution of Pitt’s Personalized Education Initiative. It helps to prepare students for lives of self-determined impact through educational experiences tailored to each student's specific goals and needs. This vision rests on the integration and interdependency of four core components: people, tools, information, and infrastructure. The primary directive of the Academic Innovation team in the Office of the Provost – Undergraduate Studies is to bring the vision to life by creating both capacity and leverage at the unit level through cross-departmental initiatives, resources, and collaborations.

The Year in Numbers

Year In Numbers Data Figures

Team Priorities

In the 2021-2022 academic year, the Academic Innovation team prioritized our efforts under five main workstreams: 1) Mentoring and Advising, 2) Pre-Health Resource Center, 3) Student Success, 4) Grants and Funding, and 5) the Student Toolbox. Outlined below find updates and information from the past year about our work and the team: 

  1. Mentoring and Advising
  2. Pre-Health Resource Center
  3. Student Success
  4. Grants and Funding
  5. Student Toolbox
  6. About Us

University of Pittsburgh Advising Certification and Training (Pitt ACT)

The University of Pittsburgh Advising and Certification Training program (Pitt ACT) is a suite of online onboarding and training materials designed for faculty and staff at Pitt who work with undergraduate students in an advising and mentoring capacity. The main goal of the program is to provide standard resources for all advisors and mentors across the University. Pitt is committed to helping advisors and mentors build networks and grow in the profession, and Pitt ACT is one key resource that allows advisors and mentors to refine their skills and advance their professional development.  

Read the email announcement from Vice Provost Joseph J. McCarthy and Director of Undergraduate Advising and Mentoring April E. Belback. 

Read the University Times article "Training program hopes to give advisors equal access to information." 

This year's accomplishments: 

  • Completed creation of Foundations Level 
  • Officially launched program September 1 
    • 153 enrollees 
    • 82 completed 
  • Presented workshop session at 2022 Mentoring & Advising Summit 
  • Completed curriculum development for Levels 1-3  

2022 Mentoring and Advising Summit 

M&A Summit Banner

We are pleased to have welcomed 967 attendees representing 141 institutions and organizations from 5 countries on 3 continents to the fifth annual Mentoring and Advising Summit.  

The vision for this virtual summit was to explore how we can continue to build a strong culture of inclusion and belonging in our mentoring and advising work. As we strive to enhance and enrich Pitt’s educational offerings, it is increasingly important to embrace different ideas, critical perspectives, challenges, and lived experiences. 

During the event, participants engaged with and learned about specific tools, techniques, theories, and concepts to support students as they chart goals, develop enduring networks of colleagues and mentors, and sustain their pursuit of success after graduation. 

Timely Topics in This Year’s Summit:

  • Creating a sense of belonging and inclusion through mentoring and advising #inclusion  
  • Leveraging technology to improve advising policies and practices #technology  
  • Highlighting collaborative and holistic advising and mentoring approaches #collaboration 
  • Building bridges for student success #studentsuccess  
  • Developing strategies for student, staff and faculty well-being #wellbeing 

Highlights Included:

Presentations from the event are available to view on the 2022 Summit Session Recordings page. 

summit session preview

Thank you to the Mentoring and Advising Planning Committee, a group that includes representatives from across the University: April Belback (Chair), Julia Spears (Co-Chair), Lisa Belczyk, Amanda Brodish, Jennifer Brunner, Larissa Ciuca, Meghan Culpepper, Meredith Guthrie, Jill Harvey, Andrea Hergenroeder, Heather Hoffman, Stephanie Hoogendoorn, Kathy Kelly, Alicia Kemp, Stephen Kilpatrick, Chris Kirchof, Andrew Lotz, David Molina, Kristine Pugliese, John Ramirez, Brett Soltysiak, Amy Tan, and Selena Walsh.

Thank you to our partners and co-sponsors: The Association for Undergraduate Education at Research Universities, Pitt Athletics, Unpack U, and PeopleGrove

Pitt Mentoring and Advising Community Circles

The Pitt Mentoring and Advising Community Circles (PMACCs) are groups of undergraduate mentors and advisors across Pitt who share a common interest or experience. The goal of the PMACCs is to build professional networks, communities, and knowledge around a common interest or experience in advising and mentoring undergraduate students. We have four unique PMACCs, all with their own vision and community group: Staff, Faculty, New Advisors, and FGLI (First Generation Low Income).

This year's accomplishments: 

  • 35 total meetings 
  • 192 total members 
  • Some of the topics discussed 
    • Best Advising Practices 
    • Athlete Advising 
    • Maximizing your Advising Career 
    • Managing Difficult Advising Conversations 
    • Test-Optional Admissions 
    • Professional Development 
    • Impact of Pandemic on Advising 


This year the Office of the Provost Academic Innovation team hosted two workshop series: one focusing on mentoring and advising and the other on student success. Additionally, with the launch of Pitt ACT Advising and Mentoring Foundations Training, each workshop now aligns with one of the six competencies found in the training. Use this color-coded chart and competencies list to find workshops in the categories that most interest you.

workshop grid


In alignment with its traditional workshop series, the Academic Innovation team hosted several workshops centered on advising and mentoring. These workshops allowed those from around the university community to learn more about a specific topic and gather with fellow advisors and mentors in discussion.

Introduction to Pitt ACT

Introduction to the Catalog of Opportunities for Advisors and Mentors

Understanding and Delivering Appropriate FERPA Messages in Advising Interactions

Developing a Holistic and Collaborative Advising Approach: Case Studies from Pitt Advisors and Mentors



In the Fall 2021 term, the Academic Innovation team, in collaboration with the University Center for Teaching and Learning, hosted a Student Success Workshop Series. We know that Pitt faculty are committed to the welfare and success of students, yet putting these ideas into practice can be challenging and complex. Given that the demographics of our students are changing at Pitt, this series aimed to provide practical tools to increase the efficiency of your daily work in your interactions with students.

Understanding and Supporting Students Admitted under the Test-optional Process 

In-class Belonging Initiatives to Support Student Sense of Belonging   

Creating a Culture of Caring in the Classroom

Unpack U Grant

In Fall 2021, Director for Undergraduate Advising and Mentoring April Belback received a UPrize grant from Unpack U titled “Affirming the Pitt Mentoring and Advising Community with Gratitude.” The main goal of the grant was to bring recognition and thanks to advisors and mentors in a more intentional and public way at Pitt. We recognize that our advisors and mentors at Pitt are remarkable and have remained unwavering in support of our students during a time of uncertainty. A national leader in advising, George Kuh noted that “student success is the product of thousands of small gestures extended on a daily basis by caring, supportive educators.” Research on micro-affirmations suggests that small acts such as gratitude and affirmation foster a sense of belonging on a campus (Powell, Demetriou & Fisher, 2013). 

With the help of the grant, we set out to equip our advisors and mentors with gratitude that they could also intentionally apply to their everyday advising practices. In doing so, we created wellness and gratitude calendars specifically for advisors. Additionally, we hosted the first ever “Advisor Appreciation Event” and launched the inaugural “Provost’s Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Advising” to celebrate advising at Pitt.

January calendar March Calendar May Calendar

Watch our UPrize pitch that was streamed live on Instagram.

Pre-Health Resource Center

phrc scholars phrc scholars 2

In a year of growth and transformation, the Pre-Health Resource Center has had endless success. Most notably, the center, which previously held the name the Pitt Interprofessional Center for Health Careers (PIC Health Careers), announced a new name to better align with its broad mission to provide robust education, programming, mentoring, and advising for students aspiring to careers in the health professions. The center was also awarded a Pitt Seed grant titled "Building the Foundation of a Diverse Health Care Workforce," which aims to develop an undergraduate resource program to support students who are underrepresented on their journey to a health career.

Additionally, the center was successful in launching an array of new programs and initiatives that will continue to aid students in their journey to becoming health experts. Several of those new initiatives follow:

  • Launched the Pre-Health Scholar Program in the fall and admitted a cohort of 16 pre-health students who are first- and second-year Pitt undergraduates interested in a variety of health professions including physical therapy, physician assistant, medicine, and dental medicine.
  • Established the Pre-Health Scholar Faculty Affiliates Program composed of Pitt faculty members from the Schools of the Health Sciences. Faculty members were matched with a pre-health undergraduate and have a primary role in providing 1:1 mentoring for the scholars and participating in programs.
  • Developed new monthly programs and enrichment experiences designed and implemented specifically for underrepresented pre-health students including Academic Experience Workshops, a panel presentation "My Journey to a Health Career" with faculty who are URM from the Schools of the Health Sciences, an interprofessional education experience with students enrolled in health professional training programs, and a field trip to the Wellness Pavilion at the Homewood Community Engagement Center.
  • Partnered with the first-year Health Science Living Learning Community to develop programs for this academic year including an orientation for pre-health LLC students and a mental health panel discussion with presenters from PHRC and the University Counseling Center.

Kessler Provost Scholars Program

ATI Kessler Logo

In Fall 2021, the Kessler Scholars Collaborative partnered with the American Talent Initiative (ATI) to invite ATI members to apply for 10 five-year, $1 million grants to implement the Kessler Scholars Program at their institutions. Launched in 2008, the Kessler Scholars is a cohort-based program model that provides financial, academic, professional, and personal support for first-generation, limited-income students throughout their four-year college experience. Following a competitive proposal process, we are delighted that Pitt has been awarded one of these grants and welcomed into the collaborative!

The Pitt Kessler Provost Scholars (KPS) Program will provide four years of holistic academic, financial, and social support to exceptional students who are among the first in their family to attend college, helping them forge their own paths and achieve their dreams.

As such, the University will dedicate at least 40% of the total grant, or $400,000, to direct student aid. Staff and peer mentors will provide personalized advising and support, cohort-based activities throughout the participants’ college experience to reinforce a sense of belonging, and programs designed to elevate first-generation students’ unique strengths, with a focus on ensuring they realize their academic and professional goals.

The next year will be devoted to adapting the model and working with a national network of leading institutions, with plans to welcome the first class of up to 20 Kessler Scholars in Fall 2023.

KPS will be recruited from the already successful Provost Academy and will not only provide high-touch, individual support for the 20 new cohort members each year, but, in conjunction with the also new Strada grant-funded efforts, will provide targeted academic and career-related education, mentoring, and services to the full cohort of 250 new limited-income and/or first-generation students that participate in the Provost Academy. 

Read the Pittwire article on Pitt's participation in the Kessler Scholars Collaborative.

Check out the official announcement from ATI in the National Press Release Announcement.

Transfer Student Support Subcommittee

Over the past few years, the University has invested in the transfer student experience, making the admissions process more seamless. This population of students is a priority for Pitt as we recognize how our student demographics will continue to grow and shift. Thus, an academic support committee was developed in order to better serve these students, hoping to better understand the scope of support such that advisors and mentors can assist students in the best possible way. Additionally, the committee aims to provide a community of practice for those who assist transfer students to share best practices and resources. Recently, a Transfer Student Advising webpage was created, providing students with current and useful transfer information in one convenient location.

The subcommittee lives within the greater University Undergraduate Advising Committee, which seeks to enhance the practice of advising and mentoring at the University of Pittsburgh by sharing ideas, best practices, and information for undergraduate academic advisors and mentors.

We want to thank the subcommittee for the continuing efforts to make a better transfer experience at Pitt: April Belback (Chair), Marcia Borrelli, Jennifer Brunner, Lisa Cherok, Larissa Ciuca, Leland Clark, Kelsey Cole, Kevin Conley, Collen Culley, Alicia Davin, Mike Dolinger, Breanne Donohue, Therese Grimes, Kathy Kelly, Jorden King, Chris Kirchof, Ryan Marhamas, Mary Napoli, Rachel Parkes, Amanda Reis, Brett Soltysiak, Tiwanda Taylor, Heidi Thomas, Kelly Wagner, Chance Wideman, and Andrea Zito.

Student Success Initiatives

This year, the Academic Innovation team had an intentional focus on student success and belonging. We built out careful and well-informed initiatives with the experts in this space from the Learning Research and Development Center (LRDC)​, Omid Fotuhi​, Research Associate and Kevin Binning, Research Scientist and Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology. First, we partnered on the third iteration of the Pitt Transition Study, a 30-minute online activity designed to ease the transition to college for students in general and students from underrepresented backgrounds in particular. The results of the Pitt Transition Study support the argument that addressing belongingness concerns during the transition to college helps students thrive. Moreover, the benefits appear to be the greatest among student populations who, for social, political, and historical reasons, tend to shoulder disproportionate levels of belonging uncertainty.

student experience graph
Another major feature of our Student Success Initiatives involves teaching instructors to deliver an in-class exercise at the beginning of the term that is designed to change classroom norms about the meaning of adversity and belonging in that course. Our process for the in-class belonging initiatives is to tailor our approach for each course so that we target the sources. The first studies using this approach were recently published (Binning et al., 2020). We also created some videos for instructors, staff and students to utilize:

Last, we’ve collected student success resources on our website as a connection and collaboration space to bring insight and best practices in order to build a campus where every student can feel that they belong. We know that the transition to college can be stressful, most particularly for students from traditionally minoritized and underrepresented backgrounds, who experience this stress disproportionally. 

UERU Data Panel

ueru data panel

Dr. Julia Spears moderated a session at the Fall 2021 Virtual Undergraduate Vice President Meeting for the Association for Undergraduate Education at Research Universities (UERU). The session, titled “Academic Advising Data for Research Universities,” featured Cathy Shaw (Tyton Partners), Igor Chirikov (Student Experience in the Research University [SERU] Consortium), Jillian Kinzie (National Survey of Student Engagement [NSSE]), Stephanie Marken (Gallup), and Jennifer Keup (National Resource Center).

2022 Community Engaged Scholarship Forum 

cesf logo

On March 1, 2022, the University of Pittsburgh virtually hosted its third annual Community Engaged Scholarship Forum (CESF). The CESF elevates, celebrates, and reflects on collective approaches to community-engaged scholarship and practices that advance mutually beneficial, community-identified priorities. Over 300 Pitt students, faculty, and staff were united with community members to celebrate the diversity of community-engaged work across the University of Pittsburgh. A collaboration between the Office of Engagement and Community Affairs and the Office of the Provost, the event featured 26 sessions with varied presentations, ranging from lightning talks to community roundtables to poster presentations.

This year’s Partnership of Distinction Awards, which recognize outstanding partnerships that are exemplars of community engagement, were awarded to: The Pittsburgh Study K-3rd grade 3Rs: Reading, Racial Equity, Relationships, Bhutanese Community Association of Pittsburgh Youth Art Program (BCAP YAP) and the Allegheny County Policing Project.

The Tracy Soska and John Wilds Outreach and Engagement Leadership Award, which honors, a faculty member, or staff engagement professional who serves the University through their outstanding dedication to University-community connections, was awarded to Jeff Shook, an associate professor at the school of social work.

Lastly, the CESF Collaboration Champion Award, which recognizes a member of the Pitt community or a community partner who has made significant contributions to the Pitt’s culture of collaboration, was awarded to Sophie Tayde, an undergraduate student and founding director of a summer art program in partnership with the Bhutanese Community Association of Pittsburgh.

Pitt Seed

Pitt Seed Sprout

In 2021, during the previous Pitt Seed cycle, we awarded more than $900,000 in funding to 20 projects from around the University community. Some of these projects included:

Relaunch of Pitt Seed 2.0

Pitt seed timeline

The Pitt Seed Project, funded annually through the Office of the Chancellor, is getting a makeover to align with the new Plan for Pitt, and to encourage and promote more projects of institutional impact. The original Pitt Seed program, which debuted in 2018,  was geared toward the 2020 Plan for Pitt, which had six goal areas. The 2025 Plan for Pitt is broken into three areas—our people, our programs and our purpose—that the new seed grants will focus on. While the original Pitt Seed grants provided up to $50,000 for faculty or staff members to develop their idea, there was no infrastructure for the University to pick up on these ideas and develop them further. One big change is that the program now provides more support for applicants to address logistical problems with bringing their idea to fruition. The new program will address issues of training and scaling through different phases of the project.

PHASE 1: Developing ideas and 90-second pitch videos

  • Submission of “what if?” ideas to bring the Plan for Pitt to life. Submissions should focus on questions such as: What if you had an idea to create a better student experience or to provide better support and training to faculty and staff?

PHASE 2: Cohort selection and training

  • Up to 30 projects will be selected from Phase 1. Those chosen will participate in six training sessions between the first week of March and the first week of May. Each project will receive $2,000.

PHASE 3: Pitt Seed proposal funding

  • From those 30 projects, up to 10 will be awarded $75,000 and be the first cohort of “Pitt Seed 2.0.”

PHASE 4: Scaling up

  • After 1 year, those 10 projects can make another pitch to be selected into a pilot program where up to two projects will receive as much as $500,000

PHASE 5: Moving to the institutional level

  • Finally, one of those projects would be selected to transition to an institutional level and be included in the new budget model for ongoing funding, but the details of how that will work are still being developed.


Watch a short video about the 2022 Pitt Seed 2.0 Projects cohort:

2021 Internal Funding Showcase: Fueling Our Future

internal funding

The second annual Internal Funding Showcase: Fueling Our Future was held on September 2, 2021. This year’s showcase honored the awardees of the 2021 Pitt Momentum Funds (PMF), Pitt Seed and other internal funding awards. Hosted by the Offices of the Provost and the Senior Vice Chancellor for Research, this event is an annual celebration of the transformative research that’s being done across all disciplines leading to new knowledge. It's a time to celebrate the faculty who are brimming with innovative ideas through both research and in teaching. Congratulations to each of this year's awardees!

A video of the entire funding showcase is available for those who were not able to attend this year's event. 

Pitt Commons

Pitt Commons, in partnership with PAE, has had another tremendously successful year. Notably, the Pitt Commons team was awarded a Pitt Seed grant to understand the current landscape of platform usage in order to make data-informed decisions regarding future programming, initiatives, and support. In conjunction with this Pitt Seed-funded study, the team also engaged KPS3, a creative agency, in order to rapidly test and iterate on messaging and engagement tactics within the platform to understand the best ways to communicate with Pitt Commons users. The teams looks forward to continuing this work throughout the summer and into the next academic year.

Pitt Commons Graph 1   Pitt Commons Graph 2

In addition to funding from the Pitt Seed grant, the team received funds to pilot a mentoring program within the Provost Academy, thanks to the recently announced Strada grant awarded to the University. The team also piloted a virtual group networking model, titled "Networking with Panthers" in conjunction with the Pitt Alumni Association. The program, hosted asynchronously on Pitt Commons, matched groups of students with an alum in their intended industry. Due to the success of this model, the team is exploring its usage with other units across campus. And, the team engaged platform users in new ways with the launch of a new monthly newsletter, customized with relevant and timely professional resources for all members of the Pitt Commons community.

The team continued to host and support five long-term, formal mentoring programs across the University, matching students with Pitt alumni in their field for career support, guidance, and mentoring opportunities. In addition, the team welcomed two new formal programs with the School of Computing and Information and the Sigma Eta Nursing Chapter, currently in the soft launch phase. The team also established several new school- and industry-based networking groups to provide students and alumni access to career opportunities, support, and professional development. Partners included Pitt Law, the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, and the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts & Sciences Department of Communication.

Long-term mentoring programs were not the only focus; the team continued with “flash mentoring” programming, partnering with the School of Social Work and School of Education to match their students and alumni in short-term, accessible mentoring opportunities. And, Pitt Commons was featured this spring as an important professional resource at the University’s inaugural “Pitt Forevermore” toast event for graduating students.

Tabling 1 Tabling 2

While there were many new initiatives within Pitt Commons, there was also continued success in established programs as well. These successful initiatives, among others, include:

  • Launched another successful round of Projects on Pitt Commons, sourcing short-term projects from Pitt alumni in order to provide current Pitt students and recent graduates the opportunity to build skills, gain knowledge, and connect with an alumni mentor.
  • Continued monthly newsletters and "Office Hours" to provide updates and support to students, staff, and faculty using the platform.
  • Presented a “Lightning Talk” at the Mentoring and Advising Summit about the role of technology in facilitating meaningful mentoring relationships.

The Pitt Commons team looks forward to continuing to innovate, curate, and cultivate new professional networking and mentoring opportunities for the Pitt community!

Degree Finder

Degree Finder Screengrab 1 Degree Finder Screengrab 2

After its initial launch in April 2021, Degree Finder amassed a traffic volume of more than 500,000 touchpoints in its first year. The site underwent reorganization and revitalization in 2022 to further increase its impact with a focus on providing additional information to users and increasing the site's capacity to inform predictive analytics.  This initiative encompassed the addition of new programs, revision of existing programs, and a new ability for users to identify modes of instruction (online and hybrid) offered by the University. 

Degree finder impact data Degree Finder impact data

Feedback on Degree Finder can be submitted through this form. Be sure to include the specific URL of the page for which you are providing feedback. 

Course Attributes Definition Initiative

Given the expanse of the University of Pittsburgh's program selections, academic requirements are determined by and communicated through academic departments. Departments use course attributes to provide students with requirement-filling and content characteristics of courses to assist students as they navigate their educational path. The definitions of these academic requirements and course characteristics varied incredibly between departments, leaving students confused as they attempted to understand how to fulfill degree requirements. This disconnect for students was most felt during the course registration process each term.   

In collaboration with the Office of the University Registrar, this project sought to create consistency in the definition and application of course attributes. With consistent language, the University is able to best serve students as they develop paths to degree completion and register for courses. This Course Attribute Definition Initiative was dedicated to defining and consolidating the University's course attributes, creating a centrally located resource for definition and application of attributes, embedding the course attribute definition resource within the course registration platform for students’ convenient access. This resource now serves as a connection for students to aid them in making clear academic decisions. 

Civic Learning Transcript Distinction 

A new Interdisciplinary Transcript Distinction—the Civic Learning Transcript Distinction—was created and approved with the partnership of the Urban Studies Program in the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences and PittServes. This distinction marries the concepts of campus-based and community-engaged learning and provides students with a mechanism to be recognized for civic learning accomplishments inside and outside of the classroom. 

Through the creation of the Civic Learning Transcript Distinction, a partnership emerged between the Office of the Provost's Academic Innovation team and the Office of Engagement and Community Affairs' Strategic Projects team to source data for the presence of service and volunteer requirements throughout the University's undergraduate curriculum.

Academic Technology & Support Assembly

The Academic Support Town Halls, initially designed for the support of the TutorOcean platform, purchased in 2020, was renamed the Academic Technology & Support Assembly and reimagined to include other areas of academic technology, including PeopleSoft/HighPoint CX, Pathways, Catalog of Opportunities/Suitable, Canvas, and Pitt Commons. This reimagined venue allows for a higher degree of collaboration and support for advisors, tutoring centers, and other areas of academic support. 

The new Academic Technology & Support Assemblies are held in the months of February, June, and October. For more information or to attend, please contact

Student Experience Initiative

student experience graph

Currently, students at Pitt experience an overwhelming amount of resources throughout the academic year, which is represented by the image above. Therefore, a multi-year project, known as the Student Experience Initiative, launched with an overall goal of improving the student technology infrastructure at Pitt such that students may be provided with the right resources at the right times. 


  • Document the current student journey for various student profiles to understand the information students need, when they need it, who provides it, and how students obtain it. 
  • Identify deficiencies in the flow of information to students. 
  • Design a future-state technology portfolio that eliminates deficiencies. 
  • Enable deliberate, coordinated communication among information providers across the University. 

Elements to address: 

  1. Communications
  2. Scheduling 
  3. Engagement
  4. Human Interaction
  5. Data 
  6. Proactive Programming
  7. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion 


  • Completion: as soon as possible, given the initiative's potential to impact students' experiences. 
  • Elements 1 and 5 are in progress with data collection having taken place and "voice of the customer" interviews occurring throughout all units interacting with students for maximum input. 
  • Elements 2, 3, 4, 6, and 7 to be underway in the future.


newsletter banner

In partnership with the Assistant Provost for Strategic Communications and Communications Director in the Office of the Provost, we produced and disseminated a monthly Forge Your Own Path Newsletter to a mailing list of 3,400 people. In our monthly newsletter, we shared project updates, news, grant spotlights, and amplified other initiatives taking place across campus. In addition, we developed a strategic communications plan for advising and mentoring messaging, through which April Belback connected with advisors and mentors three times per semester to offer reminders, resources, tips and support during the busiest times of the term (add/drop period, mid-term, and end of term).

Presentations & Conferences

Over the past year, several Academic Innovation Team members have presented at national conferences around the country on topics important to their everyday work. 

Highlights Include:​


Andrea HergenroederChancellor's Distinguished Teaching Award

Andrea Hergenroeder, associate professor in the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences and director of the Pre-Health Resource Center, formerly known as the Interprofessional Center for Health Careers, was honored with a Chancellor's Distinguished Teaching Award for leading the Pre-Health Resource Center as its director as well as the Doctor of Physical Therapy program’s residential option.



Danielle Andrews-BrownProvost's Award For Excellence in Undergraduate Advising

Dr. Danielle M. Andrews-Brown, a lecturer, undergraduate academic advisor and Environmental Studies Program coordinator in the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences was presented with the Provost's Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Advising. Danielle holds a BS in biology from South Carolina State University, an MS in plant and soil sciences from University of Kentucky and a PhD in soil sciences from Penn State University.


Karen RiccoProvost's Award For Excellence in Undergraduate Advising

Karen Ricco, an academic advisor at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg, was presented with the Provost's Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Advising. Karen earned three degrees from Pitt: A BS in applied mathematics, a BA linguistics, and an MEd in higher education.  




Devin UlmProvost's Award For Excellence in Undergraduate Advising

Devin N. Ulm, an academic advisor in the First-Year Engineering Program at the Swanson School of Engineering, was presented with the Provost's Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Advising. Devin holds a BS in engineering from Robert Morris University and an MEd in higher education from Pitt.



New Academic Innovation Team Members

Andrea Hergenroeder

Pre-Health Resource Center Director

In the fall, the Academic Innovation team welcomed Andrea Hergenroeder as the new director of the Pre-Health Resource Center, formerly the Pitt Interprofessional Center for Health Careers. Andrea brings 25 years of varied experience and expertise spanning work as a physical therapy clinician, manager, and educator to this role. She is an associate professor in the Department of Physical Therapy in Pitt’s School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, and in 2020, she was appointed director of the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program’s residential offering, a role Andrea will transition from as she begins her new appointment. She is also a board-certified clinical specialist in cardiovascular and pulmonary physical therapy.

Brooke SpencerPitt Seed Program Manager

In alignment with the relaunch of the Pitt Seed program, the Academic Innovation team welcomed Brooke Spencer as a program manager. As program manager, Brooke will support the Pitt Seed program among other projects. She is an experienced administrator and comes to the team from Hillman Cancer Center. She has more than 10 years of grants and project management experience. A proud Pitt alumna, Brooke holds a master’s degree in public policy and management, a certificate in digital media and in corporate and community relations, and a bachelor’s degree in media and professional communications.


Jen MarcoAcademic Technology Analyst

Recently a formal connection was forged between the Office of the Provost's Academic Innovation team and Pitt IT with the creation of the Academic Technology Analyst position, shared between the two entities. The team is proud to welcome Jennifer Marco, a former Assistant Registrar, to the position. In this role, Jen will serve as a cross-functional resource for the administration of applications, support and management of integrations, and innovative development and maintenance of academic information systems. She holds a master's degree in administration and policy management and a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of Pittsburgh.

Our Team

AI Team

Visit the Academic Innovation team directory webpage.

See the Academic Innovation Annual Report for academic year 2020-2021 »