Students awarded first Hall scholarships

By Will Scheff

Pitt seniors Lorie Ann Fischer and Koty Nadeau remember John Knox Hall Jr. as the kind of… Pitt seniors Lorie Ann Fischer and Koty Nadeau remember John Knox Hall Jr. as the kind of professor who made it easy to show up for class.

“It was the only class I’ve ever been in where people were upset when class was cancelled,” Fischer said.

Both Fischer and Nadeau are former students of Hall, who died last year, at the age of 37. And both are also the first recipients of the recently created scholarships named in Hall’s honor.

“Dr. Hall was an incredible professor who truly impacted the lives of hundreds of students,” Nadeau said.

“He had a gift for teaching,” Fischer added. “It was so obvious that he loved what he did that you couldn’t help but love it with him.”

Fischer and Nadeau were honored Tuesday afternoon at Pitt’s Psychology Department’s annual fall reception, which features large posters giving information about the background of the department’s professors, information about what the professors teach and what their current research involves. Students munched on cheese and crackers, veggies and dip, and egg rolls as they milled about the Martin Colloquium Center in Sennott Square, inspecting the posters.

“This is an important event for the department because it’s the first opportunity for students to interact with professors in an informal setting,” said Anna Halechko, assistant chair of Pitt’s Department of Psychology.

According to Halechko, the Hall scholarship application process is in the spring, and that the criteria for awarding them includes a student’s QPA, an essay about their goals and a letter of recommendation from a professor.

The scholarships were made possible by a donation from Hall’s family. His father, John Knox Hall Sr., a retired history teacher and principal, attended the reception.

“We wanted to do something to memorialize him,” Hall’s father said. “It seemed apropos to his life to have a scholarship to the University. He loved Pitt – all of his degrees were from Pitt. And he loved teaching, no matter if the class was 500 students or five.”

Hall had been a member of the psychology faculty since 1999. Department Chair Anthony Caggiula said the scholarships are a “fitting tribute” to a professor who was “extraordinarily popular with his students and really connected with them.”

Fischer and Nadeau will each receive $5,000 for tuition through the scholarships. Both students are planning on attending graduate school, where Fischer plans to study neuropsychology and Nadeau to focus on terminal illnesses.

“There’s so much uncharted territory,” Nadeau said. “I just want to be a part of expanding the knowledge of disease causality and psychological illnesses.”

Hall died in April 2002 of cardiac arrhythmia and myocardial fibrosis – a heart attack, according to a coroner’s report.

Fischer added that the scholarships would help Hall’s memory to flourish.

“I think it’s a great way to have him continue to impact the lives of students,” Fischer said.