ICYMI: Summer News Recap

There’s been a lot of news to keep up with this summer. Here are some of the biggest events of the summer in Pittsburgh so you’re up to date when you get back to campus.

Jason Peters Lawsuit

Former Pitt head wrestling coach Jason Peters filed a lawsuit against Pitt June 6, citing wrongful termination. He is demanding a jury trial.

Jason Peters worked as Pitt’s assistant wrestling coach for 10 years and head wrestling coach for four years before he and three wrestlers were suspended in January 2017. (TPN file photo)

Peters was fired in January 2017 after the University became aware of an alleged incident that occurred while the wrestling team was on a trip in Evanston, Illinois, in December 2016. According to the police report from the incident, an unnamed 22-year-old man called Evanston police and claimed that a woman that the men had found on backpage.com — a now-defunct website previously popular among sex-workers — had stolen $100 from one of his friends, a 19-year-old man.

Peters was fired the same day that Pitt released a statement on the incident, Jan. 19, 2017. In his complaint, Peters alleges that nobody from the Pitt athletic department spoke with Peters about the incident between Jan. 5 and Jan. 13, 2017. When the two sides did meet Jan. 17, Peters’ complaint says Pitt officials claimed he had “not properly responded” in Evanston.

Peters and his lawyer, John Stemper, are accusing Pitt of wrongful termination for firing Peters without just cause and racial discrimination, claiming that “Caucasian coaches at Pitt have not faced termination in similar situations.”

Antwon Rose

Antwon Rose Jr., a 17-year-old black Woodland Hills High School student, was shot and killed during a traffic stop by East Pittsburgh police officer Michael Rosfeld, a former Pitt Police officer, June 19. The ensuing weeks brought the case and Pittsburgh into the national spotlight and saw the streets of Pittsburgh filled with protests.

A man pleads with police during a protest that stopped traffic on I-376 after Antwon Rose, 17, was shot and killed by a cop in late June. (Photo by Anna Bongardino | Visual Editor)

Rose was one of three men in a car stopped by Rosfeld and another officer on the evening of June 19. The officers pulled the car over suspecting it had been involved in a shooting in North Braddock earlier that evening. Rose and another passenger in the car — 17-year-old Zaijuan Hester — fled the vehicle after the police approached it. Rosfeld fired three shots that hit Rose while he ran away. He was unarmed at the time. Hester was later arrested June 26 on charges of criminal attempted homicide, aggravated assault, receiving stolen property and firearms violations.

A video of the shooting was posted on Facebook and public outcry soon followed. Protesters stopped traffic on I-376 late into the night June 21. Organizers led protests in the South Side, North Shore and East Pittsburgh in the following two weeks.

Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappalla charged Rosfeld with one count of criminal homicide June 27. Rosfeld waived his preliminary hearing and will face a jury trial.

New Provost

The Pitt Board of Trustees saw a shake-up in the middle of summer as a new provost was appointed and five new trustees were inducted to the Board. The Board of Trustees named former Boston University Dean of the College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Dr. Ann E. Cudd as provost June 29, replacing Dr. Patricia Beeson, who held the position since 2010 and is returning to her position as a professor in the economics department.

Aimee Obidzinski
Former Boston University Dean of the College of the Arts and Sciences Ann E. Cudd succeeds Patricia Beeson as Pitt’s new provost. (Photo via Pittwire)

Cudd previously graduated from Pitt with three degrees — two master’s degrees in philosophy and economics, respectively, and a doctorate degree in philosophy. She returns to Pitt after spending a combined 27 years at the University of Kansas and Boston University.

Among Cudd’s plans for the University, she said she’s focused on hiring a more diverse faculty and promoting more scientific work at Pitt.

Parran Hall

After months of public debate about the name of Pitt’s Graduate School of Public Health, the Board of Trustees passed a vote June 29 to officially remove Thomas Parran’s name from the hall.

The decision came in an unanimous vote just four days after Chancellor Patrick Gallagher recommended the Board change the name of the hall. Student petitions and protests against the name Parran Hall had been going on since February.

The plaque outside of Parran Hall was removed after the University announced its decision to rename the building for the Graduate School of Public Health. (Photo by Anna Bongardino | Visual Editor)

The push to take former U.S. Surgeon General and Pitt Dean of GSPH Thomas Parran’s name off the building began after information came to light tying Parran to several controversial medical experiments. One of these is the infamous Tuskegee syphilis experiments, in which researchers observed the effects of syphilis on hundreds of African-American men without treating it between 1932 and 1972.

Parran was also involved in the Guatemala syphilis experiments, which were similar to the Tuskegee experiments but not publicly acknowledged until 2010.

The Board has not yet decided on a new name for the building.

CLP Theft

A two-decade-long heist of some of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s most precious materials was put to an end July 20. Two men — Greg Priore, 61, of Oakland and John Schulman, 54, of Squirrel Hill — turned themselves in to police for stealing rare books from the CLP archives at CLP Main on Forbes Avenue and reselling them at Caliban book store on North Craig Street for years.

Gregory Priore and John Schulman were arrested on counts of theft, criminal conspiracy and forgery in late july after stealing $8 million worth of material from Carnegie Library. (Photo via Wikimedia Commons)

Pall Mall Art Advisors first found 320 items to be missing from the library’s Oliver Room during an appraisal in April 2017. Priore had been working as the primary archivist for the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh and had control over access to the Oliver Room. He would take entire rare books from the library’s archive or cut pages out of them and sell them to Schulman, who ran the Caliban book store.

The Carnegie Library or Pittsburgh found that over $8 million worth of materials in total were stolen from the library. Priore received over $100,000 in checks from Schulman during the heist. Priore claims the last time he took items to Schulman was in December 2016.

Budget Passed

The Pitt Board of Trustees passed an operating and capital budget for 2019 on July 16. The budget also stipulates that, unlike last year, Pitt’s in-state tuition will not increase for the 2018-19 school year. Tuition for graduate and out-of-state students will.

In an email, Chancellor Patrick Gallagher said that the $2.3 billion operating budget will go towards investing in “research, academic excellence and economic development.” He also said the $339.5 million capital budget will go toward addressing “deferred maintenance and mak[ing] needed renovations.”

Train Derailment

Several freight cars came off their tracks Aug. 5 near Station Square. No injuries were reported at the scene of the derailment, although Listerine mouthwash and other products the train was carrying spilled.

Several freight cars of a Norfolk Southern train derailed near Station Square Aug. 5. No injuries were reported. (Photo by Janine Faust | Contributing Editor)

The incident caused a section of East Carson Street to close for a week before being reopened for traffic Aug. 11.