University announces new honors dean

By Mallory Grossman

Edward Stricker grew up thinking that a teacher was the best thing a person could be in this… Edward Stricker grew up thinking that a teacher was the best thing a person could be in this world. To him, it always seemed obvious where his future would take him.

But Stricker’s gone a bit farther than teacher. Starting July 1, Stricker will take over as the dean of the University Honors College, a position that will allow him to influence and teach the hundreds of students enrolled in the college.

Stricker, a Pitt neuroscience professor, said he decided to pursue the open position as dean of the Honors College because he wanted a bigger platform to be able to have more influence to do good.

“I can do more good as an educator from the dean’s office than from in the classroom,” Stricker said.

The new dean has plenty of ideas for the future of the Honors College.

His main goal is to make the school more inclusive of both students and faculty.

“In most schools, the honors college is something that’s separate, but that has never been the case at Pitt,” Stricker said. “I don’t want it to be a special nugget that only some students can take advantage of.”

Stricker plans to open up the Honors College to more people who might benefit from it and contribute to it, but who right now simply don’t know about it. He wants this effort to reach all schools, not just the School of Arts & Sciences.

Stricker said there are three reasons that students come to college: to get a degree, to get an education or to enjoy a moratorium. His goal for the Honors College is to allow students to strive for an education, not just a degree.

“College can be a fabulous experience where you get an education that serves as a foundation for the rest of your life,” he said.

The education he is referring to is not just about classroom learning. To Stricker, college is about exposing students to things that they might not have known they had a passion for, things they can enjoy for the rest of their lives, such as art and music.

Through being dean, Stricker is aiming to widen the reach of his philosophy. But he will not be giving up teaching.

“I’m going to keep teaching, it would be a punishment not to,” Stricker said.

Stricker has had a passion for teaching ever since he was a child. To him, becoming a dean is just the next step in his education-centered career.

Growing up as a child of immigrant parents, Stricker had the importance of education drilled into him from a young age.

“My parents said you need to do three things to be successful in this country: work hard, be honest and get an education,” Stricker said.

The neuroscience professor comes from a family of teachers, with both of his siblings and his parents working in the field.

Stricker has pursued his passion for teaching at Pitt since 1971. He started out as an associate professor of psychology and biological sciences and was promoted to full professor in 1976. He was named a University Professor of Neuroscience in 1986, a title which recognized his accomplishments in several fields of study and multiple disciplines.

As the founding chair of the neuroscience department from 1986 to 2002, Stricker has been instrumental in developing the neuroscience community at Pitt.

Throughout his 40 years here, Stricker has held three different positions in the neuroscience community, and he has enjoyed each one of them.

Stricker describes his three roles — in teaching, research and administration — as all different types of fun.

For him, teaching is about interaction with students and being able to educate people, research is about the thrill of figuring something out that’s never been figured out before and administration is “wonderfully satisfying,” Stricker said.

Elizabeth Kline, a junior neuroscience and history and philosophy of science major, was thrilled to learn that her former professor was going to be the new dean of the Honors College.

Kline, who had Stricker for Introduction to Neuroscience, had a great experience in his class.

“I thought that he was real remarkable in the way that he asked a class of 150 students to think about what we wanted to get out of not only his course, but our entire undergraduate education,” Kline said. “That’s something an adviser asks you, and it was our professor that did it.”

Chris Henderson, a junior who also had Stricker for Introduction to Neuroscience, said that he is “possibly my favorite teacher of all time.”

Along with his being an amazing teacher, Henderson also said that Stricker is a very personable and approachable person.

“I think he’s going to do a wonderful job as dean,” Henderson said. “His passion is going to drive what the honors program is all about forward.”

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