Helen Pool Rush Scholarship

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Helen Pool Rush graduated from the University of Pittsburgh and became a staff member in the Dean of Women's office, the beginning of a life-long affiliation with the University. In lieu of retirement presents, well wishers collected donations to establish a scholarship endowment in Dean Rush's name. She was the first woman Vice-Chancellor at the University of Pittsburgh.



Helen Pool Rush


 Helen Rush was a legendary figure at the University of Pittsburgh, having served the institution through eight chancellors over 50 years.  She died on June 22, 1992, at Presbyterian University Hospital at the age of 94.   “In her magnificent career at the University, Miss Rush served women students, served all students – with her warmth, her wisdom, and her great capacity of caring for others.  This University was a community, a home for her for more than 70 years.  And she made this place, for many thousands of others, a more enlightened community of learning and a better home.  By the merit of her work, by the quality of her life, she was a true and loving educator,” said then Chancellor J. Dennis O’Connor. After her graduation from Pitt in 1919, until her retirement in 1970, Miss Rush served Pitt students in various capacities.  She was named Dean of Women in 1942 and became Dean of Students in 1961. In 1965, she was appointed Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs.  She originated Pitt traditions, including Lantern Night (the ceremony for freshmen women), and Mortar Board (a senior women’s honorary organization).  Miss Rush is also responsible for forming Quo Vadis, the guide group of the Nationality Rooms in the Cathedral of Learning.  She was the first Director of Heinz Chapel, and, in this capacity, helped many hundreds of Pitt alumni plan their Chapel weddings.  In 1976, the Nationality Rooms Program established the Helen Pool Rush Award.  Over the years, the scholarship has sent undergraduate men and women to such diverse countries as Norway, Russia, Tunisia, and China. In 1964, she was named a Distinguished Daughter of Pennsylvania.  During her career, she was president of the Pennsylvania Association of Women Deans and Counselors, on the board of the National Association of Deans of Women, and was a member of the American Association of University Women.  Upon retirement she was named Vice Chancellor Emerita and maintained close ties with the University.  In 1985, she received the University of Pittsburgh Bicentennial Medallion for her achievement and loyal service to the University.


A native of Pittsburgh, Miss Rush resided in Oakland within sight of the University she served for so many years.  In addition to her bachelor’s degree, she earned a master’s degree from Pitt in 1933.  She studied at Columbia University and the University of Oslo, Norway.  She was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and Pi Lambda Theta, and many other honorary societies.  An eloquent speaker, she received a Winifred Cullis Lecture Fellowship under British American Associates and delivered 38 lectures in England.  Among many other honors and awards, she was awarded an honorary doctorate in 1963 by Beaver College.  She was a trustee for the Vira I. Heinz endowment since its inception in 1986.


When asked to state her philosophy, Miss Rush would quote poet John Masefield:“There are few earthly things more splendid than a University; In these days of broken frontiers and collapsing values; When every ancient foothold has become something of a quagmire; Wherever a university stands, it stands and shines; Wherever it exists, the free minds of men, urged on to full and free inquiry, may still bring wisdom into human affairs.”      
From :”A University Stands and Shines”