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Posts from the ‘Moon Township campus’ Category

Farewell, Teacher Man – Frank McCourt (1930-2009)

March 26, 2008 was an exciting day for me. That was the day that Pulitzer Prize-winning author Frank McCourt visited the RMU campus and spoke at Rogal Chapel. He was in town as part of the Robert Morris University Pittsburgh Speakers Series, and later that evening he would speak to an admiring audience at Heinz Hall. Being a writer, I was overjoyed to have such an accomplished author right here on campus, as were many others who gathered at the chapel to hear him speak. And Mr. McCourt didn’t let us down.

McCourt is best-known for his bestselling Angela’s Ashes (1999), a haunting memoir that recounts McCourt’s unimaginably tragic childhood growing up in abject poverty in Limerick, Ireland. The book won the Pulitzer Prize for Autobiography in 1997 and was later made into a movie. I had met him once before at a book-signing for Teacher Man (2005) at Joseph-Beth Booksellers on Pittsburgh’s South Side. Although I only spoke to him briefly, I was pleasantly surprised by his candor and sense of humor in regards to the teaching profession, which is something he knew much about.

After serving in Germany during the Korean War, McCourt used the G.I. Bill to enroll in New York University and later received a master’s degree from Brooklyn College in 1967. His teaching career began at McKee High School where he taught English, and finished 30 years later at Stuyvesant High School in New York City. In Teacher Man, he detailed his experiences in the profession, which for him was at times confusing, frustrating, and unsatisfying. But the brilliant writer and philosopher that he was, McCourt was able to find humor in nearly everything. And in the whole, his book does much more to emphasize the importance and nobility of teaching rather than belittle it.

When he spoke at RMU last year, McCourt again used his biting humor to entertain and enlighten those in attendance, as he spoke of his years in teaching and the importance of the profession. He shared several stories with us, some of which made many of us blush, and all of which drew hearty laughs and sincere smiles. He also underlined the importance of institutions like RMU that emphasized individual attention, small class sizes, and real-world application of what is learned.

I was deeply saddened to hear of Frank McCourt’s passing on July 19. For a 78-year-old, he had the heart and mind of someone decades younger. When he was here at RMU, I was delighted by his razor-sharp wit and youthful exuberance. It wasn’t what I’d expected from a man of his age who had lived through such a trying childhood. His ability to find humor even in the bleakest of situations was admirable, and I think it’s something we can all learn from and benefit from in our own lives.

–Valentine J. Brkich

Walk This Way

Although it’s been a little quiet lately here on the RMU campus, one common sound throughout the summer has been the steady “beep, beep, beep” of construction vehicles. From renovations to dorms to freshly paved roads, there have been some exciting changes at RMU this year and, best of all, there’s a lot more to come.

One thing students will notice when they return to RMU this year is the increased walk-ability of the campus. It seems everywhere you look there’s a new sidewalk, paved walkway, or stairway. This is great news because, not only will these new additions make it easier to get around campus, but they will also make it safer. And as an added bonus, after spending a couple semesters climbing these new stairways to get to and from class, our students will be able to boast about their Quads of Steel.

There’s also a new walkway from Nicholson Center to Revere, a new paved pathway from the softball field up to the tennis courts, and a new sidewalk along the new road below the soccer fields, which is a big step in the nearly finished loop road around campus.

Yep, with all these walk-ability improvements, it’s obvious that Robert Morris University is taking a step in the right direction.

Sorry about that.

We’re blushing

RMU got some nice coverage this week in the Tribune-Review: Click here for an article about the transformation of our campus, and here for a story about the women’s hockey program.