#59 Overall Influence #987 Desirability Rank

University of Pittsburgh

State-related research university located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States
By James Barham, PhD

University of Pittsburgh (“Pitt”) traces its roots to the Pittsburgh Academy, a preparatory school founded in 1787, when Pittsburgh was still a frontier outpost. Defined in this way, Pitt is the oldest continuously chartered educational institution west of the Allegheny Mountains.

The city of Pittsburgh itself has an interesting history. It was founded in 1758 in conjunction with the construction of Fort Pitt, near the point where the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers join to form the Ohio River. This act of founding occurred during the French and Indian Wars, and Fort Pitt was built near the site of an earlier, French-built fort—Fort Duquesne—which had recently been captured and destroyed by British forces. The newly established town was named after the prominent British statesman, William Pitt the Elder.

Over the next several decades, increased immigration into the part of Pennsylvania lying west of the Alleghenies gradually created the demand for an institution of higher learning in the region. For this reason, Pittsburgh Academy’s charter was amended in 1819 to create a full-fledged liberal arts college, originally known as the Western University of Pennsylvania (WUP).

The new university was essentially destroyed by the Great Fire of 1845, which devastated 20 square blocks of downtown Pittsburgh. At first, classes were transferred to a local church that had survived the conflagration, but this church too burned to the ground in 1849. Although WUP continued to exist as a legal entity throughout this trying time, classes had to be suspended for the next several years, reopening only in 1855.

As time passed, WUP continued to expand rapidly, eventually necessitating a gradual move during the 1880s from downtown Pittsburgh to the more-spacious Oakland neighborhood—the site of the present-day Pitt campus. In 1908, WUP’s name was officially changed to the University of Pittsburgh.

The Pitt campus’s signature building, the 42-story, late Gothic Revival “Cathedral of Learning,” was built during the 1920s, and opened for classes in 1931. At 535 feet, the Cathedral of Learning is at present the fourth-tallest academic building in the world (the 787-ft. Main Building of Moscow State University is the tallest).

During the nineteenth century, two prominent astronomers taught at WUP (Pitt’s forerunner): Samuel Pierpont Langley, founder in 1867 of the Allegheny Observatory; and James Edward Keeler, the first astronomer to demonstrate observationally that the rings of Saturn do not rotate in the same way as would a solid disc. Thomas Mellon, the founder of Mellon Bank, also graduated from WUP.

During the twentieth century, Pitt has been home to three Nobelists, namely:

  • Paul Lautebur, co-developer of magnetic resonance imaging — physiology or medicine
  • Philip Hench, discoverer of the hormone cortisone — physiology or medicine
  • Wangari Maathai, founder of the Kenyan-based Green Belt Movement — peace

During the second half of the twentieth century, Pitt became home to a distinctive brand of philosophy, which strove to moderate the reductionist and anti-metaphysical tendencies of logical positivism, without relapsing into the subjectivism of neo-Kantianism, by the limited borrowing of methods and insights from Continental phenomenology and American pragmatism. This syncretistic view has come to be dubbed “neo-Hegelianism.” Its principal proponents were Wilfrid Sellars and his younger colleagues and students, including John McDowell, John Haugeland, and Robert Brandom. These thinkers are often referred to collectively as the “Pittsburgh School.”

Other distinguished Pitt-connected individuals include:

  • Physicist, Benjamin W. Lee
  • Cathode ray tube and television transmission pioneer, Vladimir Zworykin
  • Biologist and genetic engineering pioneer and entrepreneur, Herbert Boyer
  • Novelists, John Irving & Michael Chabon
  • Dancer, choreographer, and actor, Gene Kelly
  • Children’s television personality, Fred Rogers (“Mr. Rogers”)
  • Actor, Joe Manganiello

From Wikipedia

The University of Pittsburgh is a state-related public research university in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The university is composed of 17 undergraduate and graduate schools and colleges at its urban Pittsburgh campus, home to the university's central administration and 28,391 undergraduate and graduate students. The 132-acre Pittsburgh campus includes various historic buildings that are part of the Schenley Farms Historic District, most notably its 42-story Gothic revival centerpiece, the Cathedral of Learning. Pitt is a member of the Association of American Universities, a selective group of major research universities in North America, and is classified as an R1 University, meaning that it engages in a very high level of research activity. Pitt was the third-largest recipient of federally sponsored health research funding among U.S. universities in 2018 and it is a major recipient of research funding from the National Institutes of Health. According to the National Science Foundation, Pitt spent $1.0 billion on research and development in 2018, ranking it 14th in the nation. It is the second-largest non-government employer in the Pittsburgh metropolitian area. The university also operates four undergraduate branch campuses in Western Pennsylvania, located in Bradford, Greensburg, Johnstown, and Titusville.

Source: Wikipedia


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4200 Fifth Avenue, Pittsburgh PA 15260

City Crime Rates

Property Crime

33 per 100K

Violent Crime

8 per 100K

What is University of Pittsburgh known for?

Our answer to this is to show you the disciplines in which a school's faculty and alumni have had the highest historical influence. A school may be influential in a discipline even if they do not offer degrees in that area. We've organized two lists to show where they are influential and offer corresponding degrees, and where they are influential through scholarship although they don't offer degrees in the disciplines.

Top areas of influence with degrees offered

#23 World Rank
#39 World Rank
#40 World Rank
#55 World Rank
#40 World Rank
#66 World Rank
#89 World Rank
#48 World Rank
#60 World Rank
#50 World Rank
Political Science
#84 World Rank
#68 World Rank
#138 World Rank
#78 World Rank
Computer Science
#54 World Rank
#90 World Rank
#72 World Rank
#51 World Rank
#46 World Rank
#38 World Rank
Criminal Justice
#220 World Rank
Religious Studies
#24 World Rank
#30 World Rank
Social Work
#174 World Rank
Earth Sciences

Influential People

Who are University of Pittsburgh's Most influential alumni?

University of Pittsburgh 's most influential alumni faculty include professors and professionals in the fields of Medical, Nursing, and Social Work

Kevin G. McAllister

American businessman

Suad Joseph

Suad Joseph

American anthropologist

Rachel Maines

American scholar

Mark B. Rosenberg

Mark B. Rosenberg

American academic

Abel Guobadia

Nigerian diplomat

Patricia Horoho

Nominee for 43rd Army Surgeon General of the United States

John W. Shumaker

President of the University of Tennessee

Penny Sackett

Australian astronomer

Richard B. Mellon

Richard B. Mellon

American banker

Ann Cudd

American philosopher

George Yancy

George Yancy

American philosopher

Terrance Hayes

Terrance Hayes

American poet