University of Pittsburgh

#95 / #31
Global Influence / U.S. Influence
Most Desirable School
State-related research university located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States

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About University of Pittsburgh

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George Yancy ranks among our Top Influential Philosophers Today.

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

According to Wikipedia, The University of Pittsburgh is a public state-related 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 around 28,000 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 and is classified among "R1: Doctoral Universities – Very high research activity". It is the second-largest non-government employer in the Pittsburgh metropolitan area.

University of Pittsburgh's Online Degrees

University of Pittsburgh Admissions, Retention, and Graduation Information

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How Much Does University of Pittsburgh Cost To Attend?

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How Much Do University of Pittsburgh Graduates Make?

If you graduate from University of Pittsburgh, then you can expect to earn an average of $61,200 per year. You also have a 93% chance of being employed after 10 years.

University of Pittsburgh's Demographics

Demographic data is for full-time, on-campus students.

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Where is University of Pittsburgh?

University of Pittsburgh is located at 4200 Fifth Avenue, Pittsburgh PA 15260

How Safe is University of Pittsburgh?

Pittsburgh has a violent crime rate of less than .01% and a property crime rate of less than .01%.

What Is University of Pittsburgh Known For?

University of Pittsburgh is known for it's academic work in the following disciplines:

University of Pittsburgh's Top Areas of Influence With Degrees Offered

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, Criminal Justice, and Social Work. Here are some of University of Pittsburgh's most famous alumni:

Paul Churchland
A Canadian philosopher.
Stuart Hameroff
Stuart Hameroff
An American anesthesiologist.
Patricia Churchland
Patricia Churchland
A Canadian philosopher.
Paul Lauterbur
Paul Lauterbur
An American chemist.
John Taylor Gatto
John Taylor Gatto
An American teacher and author.
Ernest Sosa
An American philosopher.
Bas van Fraassen
An American philosopher.
Michael Chabon
Michael Chabon
An American novelist, short story writer, essayist.
Richard Lazarus
An American psychologist .
August Wilson
August Wilson
An American playwright .
Bennet Omalu
Bennet Omalu
A Nigerian-American pathologist.
Noël Carroll
Noël Carroll
An American philosopher.

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