GSPIA students from Professor Sabina Deitrick’s Fall 2016 PIA 2755 course on Neighborhood and Community Development attended the Pitt Day in Harrisburg event. With Governor Wolf’s budget proposal to flat fund the state-related universities, GSPIA students joined the Pitt Advocates group to collaborate with elected officials and others in support of the University.
According to the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, Pennsylvania has cut funding for higher education by 33.3% since 2008. This year, Governor Wolf’s proposal maintains 2015-16 funding levels to the four state-related universities including the University of Pittsburgh, Penn State University, Temple University, and Lincoln University.
During the day, graduate students from across the university had the opportunity to showcase their research in the East Wing Atrium of the Capitol. “It was a really unique opportunity to share our work with both government representatives and visitors to the capitol building,” said Molly Kestner.
GSPIA students displayed their analysis of municipalities that had removed a central city highway and replaced it with at grade boulevards, parks, walking trails and other neighborhood and community enhancements. Across the case studies, neighborhood organization and political leadership were major drivers of change in these efforts. For example, one study focused on the impact of Route 65, an elevated highway, which divides the Manchester neighborhood of Pittsburgh.
Kestner elaborated, “The idea of removing major highways is one that rarely seems like an option to the majority of citizens, so I enjoyed the chance to tell others that it is possible and it has made major positive changes in the cities where it has been done. It is our hope that others will see our work and begin to think about the negative effects of urban highways, especially in our local Manchester neighborhood, so that we can be in the process of planning change.
Pitt Advocates is a network of alumni, faculty, staff, students and friends who share a commitment to higher education and to the University of Pittsburgh. Volunteers communicate to elected officials Pitt's accomplishments, goals, needs, and the importance of supporting an outstanding teaching and research institution. Pitt Advocates receive legislative briefings, invitations to events, and have the opportunity to influence lawmakers during Pitt Day in Harrisburg.
Pictured above, (L-R), GSPIA students Kara Olson, Cristy Schmidt, Jennifer Breeze, and kneeling, Taylor Stessney.