To: Patrick Gallagher, Chancellor

From: Working Group Members:

            Zachary Brodt, University Archivist, University Library System

            Edward Galloway, Associate University Librarian for Archives and Special Collections, University Library System

            Laurence Glasco, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of History

            David Grinnell, Coordinator of Archives and Manuscripts, University Library System

            Kathy Humphrey, PhD, Senior Vice Chancellor for Engagement and Secretary of the Board of Trustees

            Naudia Jonassaint, MD, MHS, Vice Chair for Diversity and Inclusion, Department of Medicine, Medical Director, Hepatology

             Chenits Pettigrew Jr., EdD, Assistant Dean for Student Affairs, Director of Diversity Programs, School of Medicine

             Katie Pope, Associate Vice Chancellor for Civil Rights and Title IX, Office of Diversity and Inclusion

             Kirk Savage, PhD, Professor and Chair, Department of History of Art and Architecture

             Jeannette South-Paul, MD, Andrew W. Mathieson UPMC Professor and Chair, Department of Family Medicine

Date:    8/10/2020

Re:       Charge to Review Complaint Regarding Naming of Scaife Hall


On June 15, 2020, a small working group was charged to review a complaint made regarding the allegation that select members of the Scaife family contributed to organizations that support eugenics and used family funds to support anti-immigration efforts. The complaint asserted that the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine building, named for Alan Magee Scaife in 1960, should be renamed.

Our working group answered this charge according to the process outlined under the Office of Diversity and Inclusion Complaint Response Guidelines for Institutional Complaints.

Research Findings

A team from the University Library System’s Archives and Special Collections provided a significant review of the history of Alan Magee Scaife’s time as chair of Pitt’s Board of Trustees, as well as additional information related to the building of Scaife Hall, and the Scaife Family charities. 

Some key dates include:  

On Feb. 13, 1931, Alan Magee Scaife was elected as a Pitt trustee. 

From 1942 to 1944, during World War II, Scaife served in Army Intelligence in Washington, D.C., resulting in his absence from the Board during much of the war. 

On May 22, 1947, Scaife—already a member of the Medical Committee—was named the first chair of the Board’s new Planning and Development Committee, which would oversee and fundraise for various campus building projects. He brought experience in medical care facility administration. As a member of the Magee family, Scaife had been serving as a trustee of the Elizabeth Steel Magee Hospital. 

On July 1, 1949—following the passing of George H. Clapp, the sitting chairperson of Pitt’s Board of Trustees—Scaife was elected to fill this chairperson role.  

Several noteworthy developments occurred during or immediately following the time that Scaife was Board chair.  

  • As the Board chair, Scaife was actively involved in the search to hire a vice chancellor for medical affairs and Chancellor Rufus Fitzgerald’s replacement. He worked to raise money for the Building Campaign Fund and actively promoted the improvement of the University’s health professions schools, including the new Health Professions building that would be renamed in his honor after his death on July 24, 1958. 
  • Also during this time period: Our working group found no record of significant University policies established or enforced to the detriment of underrepresented people. Additionally, a review of student evaluation materials from this time period failed to reveal any inherent bias or exclusionary practices. 
  • During the postwar period, Scaife helped to direct the newly formed philanthropic foundation named for his wife, Sarah Mellon Scaife. As chairman of the Foundation, Scaife supported projects that promoted the expansion of medical research, educational programs and civic organizations in Pittsburgh and beyond. Working with Chancellor Fitzgerald and Chancellor Edward Litchfield, and often leveraging his business connections, Scaife helped to ensure that the University would be an active participant in the Pittsburgh Renaissance. 
  • The University increasingly involved local residents, including members of the predominantly Black Hill District, in its discussions about evolving the campus. Though at times contentious due to concerns about access and use of space, these conversations helped local residents connect to valuable campus resources. Examples include the Community Leisure Learn program, launched in the 1960s and still serving residents today, as well as the Freedom House Ambulance Service, which enlisted Pitt School of Medicine physicians to help provide first aid services to residents of the Hill District. 

One document that stood out to members of our working group was the transcript of a speech from the dedication of Scaife Hall. In these remarks, Scaife was identified as a driving force behind the project, which would create a place of learning, research and practice that would benefit residents throughout the region.  

Members of our group felt that this was a significant detail that aligned with Scaife’s larger legacy. It is clear in the reviewed materials that Scaife—while leading the Board—had a broad vision for improving Pittsburgh and that this vision included making health services available to all members of the community. 


Based on our group’s extensive review of this issue, we concluded: 

  1. The original intention was that the School of Medicine building be named in honor of Alan Magee Scaife. Over time, this intention became less clear and enabled people to believe that the building is named after the entire Scaife family.
  2. There is credible evidence that Scaife’s daughter funded anti-immigrant efforts through the Colcom Foundation. However, we found no record that Scaife himself—or even his wife, Sarah—had similar philanthropic interests.
  3. We found no indication that Scaife, as Board chair, supported policies or processes that aided in exacerbating the prevailing climate of racial inequity. In fact, during this time, the schools of the health sciences forged significant partnerships with predominantly Black neighborhoods, which we believe indicates such efforts were of particular interest to Scaife. 
  4. Substantial records exist indicating that Alan and Sarah Scaife helped to evolve Pitt and the Pittsburgh community in positive and even inclusive ways. Scaife’s contributions include significant support for the United Negro College Fund and the Freedom House Ambulance Service and span both his time as Board chair and his works as a philanthropist—including posthumously.  
  5. Our group does not believe this inquiry warrants further review. Instead, we support clearly communicating with the campus community—and the individuals who voiced concern—to clarify the correct name of the building and Alan Magee Scaife’s history of service to the University.