Chatham University Celebrates 150 Years In Pittsburgh

Oct 15, 2019

On today's program: Chatham University celebrates decades of gender equity, entrepreneurship and political acumen; a 55-acre Philadelphia dump-turned-residential neighborhood is getting cleaned up; a look at the use of gag orders in criminal cases; and what to look for on election day in Allegheny County races.  

Celebrating 150 years of Chatham University
(00:00 — 16:10) 

Chatham University was founded in 1869 as the Pennsylvania Female College, but its ethos and perspective have changed a lot over time. What’s in store for Chatham in the years ahead?

President David Finegold says expanding its student body to include men five years ago has radically shifted how students find and remain at Chatham. Enrollment is up—more women want to attend a school with co-ed offerings, too—and he says the undergraduate graduation rate has climbed nearly 20 percentage points since making the switch.

The school remains committed to its founding mission of gender equity, Finegold says, and credits its Falk School of Sustainability and Environment, the centers for Women's Entrepreneurship and Women & Politics, the Women's Institute and other groups for outreach beyond its Shadyside campus.

Celebrations continue with an official “Chatham Day” Tuesday, Nov. 12, which will be recognized by the city, county and state.

How Philadelphia built a neighborhood on toxic soil
(17:50 — 23:35) 

Eighteen years after federal environmental regulators listed Eastwick in southwest Philadelphia as one of the most contaminated sites in the country, cleanup is underway.

The rehab took years of neighborhood organizing, legal battles and an EPA investigation, but WHYY’s Catalina Jaramillo reports that by the end of the year, the landfill’s 55 acres of contaminated soil will be contained and covered. The full $76 million remediation is expected to wrap up in the next four years.

Racial profiling, gag orders and drug delivery of death
(23:38 — 33:59) 

Four innocent teens spent more than a year in jail accused of a shooting that wounded three children in Hill District before District Attorney Stephen Zappala dropped all charges. An Allegheny County judge issued a gag order in the case of Christian Bey, the man accused of killing an off-duty Pittsburgh police officer, after Bey’s attorney did an interview with KDKA-TV. And federal authorities have charged Peter Rene Sanchez Montalvo with distributing the drugs that killed three men and sickened at least three others last month in a South Side apartment building.

90.5 WESA legal analyst and University of Pittsburgh law professor David Harris breaks down each case.

Unchecked alibis criticized in the county DA race
(34:23 — 38:48)

The four teens charged in the 2017 Hill District shooting were the subject of a press conference held by Allegheny County public defender and district attorney candidate Lisa Middleman last week. Zappala, the incumbent, told the Post-Gazette he accepts responsibility, but that Pittsburgh police and the county’s juvenile probation office also failed to investigate properly.

Zappala will appear on both the Democratic and Republican tickets in the general election next month, thanks to a successful write-in bid in May. WESA government editor Chris Potter says Middleman is running well to Zappala’s left with support from the same progressives who helped Liv Bennett defeat Ranalli Russell during the Democratic primary, but it will be tough to overcome both straight party ballots during an off-year election. 

Candidates for other countywide offices turned out Monday night to a forum at the Community College of Allegheny County. Zappala was notably absent. Election day is Tuesday, Nov. 5. 

The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s daily news program. Tune in weekdays at 9 a.m. to hear newsmakers and innovators take an in-depth look at stories important to the Pittsburgh region. Find more episodes of The Confluence here or wherever you get your podcasts.