Nordenberg chair given


A longtime Pitt professor will probably take her new honor sitting down.

Last week,… A longtime Pitt professor will probably take her new honor sitting down.

Last week, Chancellor Mark Nordenberg named Alberta Sbragia, a professor and director of Pitt’s European Union Center for Excellence, to The Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg University Chair.

Nordenberg’s decision to name Sbragia to the Chair came as a surprise to her, but as a welcomed recognition for the work she has done in her field.

“I was completely thunderstruck,” Sbragia said. “I had no idea I was being considered for it.”

The chair was also a surprise for Nordenberg when it was announced last year. The Chair, with a $2.5 million endowment, was a way of showing the donors’ appreciation for the Chancellor’s work.

“At this time last year,” Nordenberg said in a press release, “I was stunned when Chief Justice [Ralph J.] Cappy made the surprise announcement that an endowed chair was created in my name. Without question, that always will be one of the most memorable moments in my life.”

For Sbragia, the Chair will help further undergraduate learning in a field that many overlook, despite the importance of European and United States relations.

Sbragia cited a report by Daniel Hamilton and Joseph Quinlan of Johns Hopkins University that helped clarify the relationship between the European Union and the United States, especially Pennsylvania.

The report detailed that $30.2 billion is invested in Pennsylvania by foreign companies. Out of that sum, 74 percent, or $22.4 billion, came from countries in the European Union. Companies with majority owners in the European Union are directly responsible for 175,200 jobs in Pennsylvania as of 2003.

“People don’t realize how economically interdependent we are with the European Union,” Sbragia said. “It’s really almost the indispensable partner with the United States.”

Sbragia first came to Pitt in 1974 and became the director of the Center for Western European Studies. In 1998, she became the director of Pitt’s European Union Center.

She has written four books covering subjects such as European integration, economic development and the complex relationships between governments.

Nordenberg said that it was this work that has made Sbragia an asset to the University.

“Through that work, she has enriched the lives of faculty and students throughout the University. In a very real sense, she has been an institution builder, and the funds generated by this endowment will support her future efforts in that role,” Nordenberg said in a press release.

“What I hope we can do is really be pioneers in what programs we can do,” Sbragia said. She said that the funds from the endowed chair will allow greater versatility in what the Center can accomplish, and it was versatility that allowed Pitt’s European Union Center to become one of the leading institutions on this subject.