The St. Patrick's Day celebration was in full effect on Tuesday night, with the normal black and gold at Heinz Field replaced with plenty of green at the American Ireland Fund Pittsburgh Gala.
Carnegie Mellon University President Emeritus Jared L. Cohon and University of Pittsburgh Chancellor Emeritus Mark A. Nordenberg were honored at the 2015 American Ireland Fund Gala at Heinz Field.
With University of Pittsburgh Chancellor Emeritus Mark Nordenberg and Carnegie Mellon University President Emeritus Jared Cohon as the evening's honorees, the East Club Lounge was transformed into a college campus highlighting both institutions.
But there was a wee bit of Irish mixed in as well. Pittsburgh-based Irish band Red Hand Paddy entertained guests, while Irish Dancers stepped their way into the hearts of all attendees and a Gaelic Name Artist provided guests a souvenir.
Steelers Chairman Dan Rooney Sr., along with Pittsburgh businessman Anthony J.F. O'Reilly, created The Ireland Fund, which later merged with the American Irish Foundation (AIF) to create the American Ireland Fund, the leading charitable organization benefiting Ireland. Rooney has been a driving force in the success the AIF has seen over the years, helping with the American Ireland Fund's mission of promoting programs of peace and reconciliation, arts and culture, education and community development throughout Ireland.
"Ireland is doing very well," said Rooney. "People now recognize that it's better as far as bringing peace. Some of the young people still can't find jobs, and that can create problems. We are not finished with the peace. Now peace and education are the two areas we really focus on."
That is why honoring Nordenberg and Cohon, who have done so much for education in Pittsburgh, was so meaningful for Rooney.
Pitt and CMU are ranked in the Top 100 most prestigious Universities worldwide. In a recent report by U.S. News & World Report, both schools rank high for their graduate schools as well. CMU is ranked No. 4 in the United State for fine arts and engineering, and Pitt ranked No. 5 for best engineering schools. Pitt also had a top 10 ranking for graduate nursing schools and top 20 for medical schools for research and primary care.
Nordenberg, who stepped down last August after 19 years as chancellor, oversaw various initiatives that improved the university's academic, research and athletic standing, and contributed to the renovation and expansion of the university.
Cohon was CMU's President from 1997-2013, and under his leadership the university has expanded globally and the university has continued to be among the best in the nation.
"It's definitely a sense of pride to have these two schools here in Pittsburgh, along with the other great universities that we have," said Rooney. "Jared Cohon has been at CMU for a long time and they have been so successful. Their reputation is tremendous throughout the nation. Mark Nordenberg has done a terrific job moving Pitt up.
They have both received great accolades and awards for what they have done in moving the school up and having it grow and develop.
"We are getting known as a great place for education here in Pittsburgh. It's a special place thanks in part to the colleges we have here."