ROBERT HILL WAVES GOODBYE (Photo by Tené Croom)
“I am fortunate to have led the effort to tell the remarkable Pitt story to its multiple audiences through multiple media. Now I look forward to volunteering in support of worthy community causes.”
Those were serious words in a statement from Robert Hill, who has retired as the Vice Chancellor for Public Affairs at the University of Pittsburgh after 14 years in the position.
But, at his retirement luncheon on the Pitt campus he threw barbs at himself much like those that would be tossed by a comedian at a roast. He realized something, he said, very significant about his last day on the job, “At five o’clock today I will be a mere statistic—yet another unemployed brother.”
That remark caused many of the scholars, civil rights leaders and others among the hundreds in the room wishing Hill a fond farewell to break out into uproarious laughter.
Hill, 65, had a lot of responsibility which included heading up executive communications, national media relations, university marketing communications, university newspapers and magazines, as well as managing the university’s digital and video communications.
“Robert’s most significant contribution in my mind has been taking the African-American history of this institution and its own region and making it an integral part of Pitt history and of Pittsburgh history,” declared Pitt Chancellor Mark Nordenberg.
Hill acknowledged that “one cannot help but be touched by the acquaintances, friendships and relationships I have encountered among many Pitt people.”
Hill also pointed out the people with whom he has grown acquainted represents a cross section of the university, “the overachievers, the unlettered—and then, of course, the honorary doctors, those who graduated summa cum laude as well as those who graduated thank the lordy.”
To his pleasant surprise he was presented with a first edition author autographed copy of Richard Wright’s acclaimed novel “Native Son.”
(Reach Tené Croom at email@example.com.)
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