Dr. Barbara Lazarus Was Noted Education Leader
Dr. Barbara Lazarus of Pittsburgh, Pa., and Chilmark died on Tuesday, July 15, after a long and courageous battle with cancer. She was associate provost for academic affairs at Carnegie Mellon University.
Barbara was the dedicated wife of Marvin Sirbu and loving mother of Margaret Ann and Benjamin James Sirbu of Pittsburgh, Pa. The daughter of Professor David and Betty Lazarus of Urbana, Ill., and Chilmark, Barbara was the older sister of William and Richard Lazarus of Washington, D.C., and Mary Ann Lazarus of St. Louis, and cousin of Amanda Broun of Washington, D.C. Barbara was a wonderful sister in law and aunt, and a devoted friend to Karen Frerichs of San Francisco and to many women in Pittsburgh, Boston and throughout the world.
Barbara and her family have been important members of the Chilmark summer community and the Chilmark Community Center for more than four decades. From 1959 until 1978, the Lazarus family rented the Parsonage in Chilmark, near Beetlebung Corner. Since 1979, the family has owned a home on Middle Road, where Barbara has brought her own family to vacation for a month every summer.
Born in Chicago in 1946, Barbara was raised in Urbana, Ill., where she was graduated from University High School in 1963. Dr. Lazarus credited her years at Uni High for teaching her that "it was okay for a girl to be smart." In many ways, her own professional career testified to the depth of her convictions and her aspirations for professional women. Dr. Lazarus received her bachelor's degree in anthropology from Brown University (1967), master's degree in anthropology from the University of Connecticut (1969), and her doctoral degree in educational anthropology from the University of Massachusetts (1973). The role of professional women in an increasingly multicultural, global society was the constant in her own academic studies as well as in her highly acclaimed professional contributions to scholarly discourse and to her own community.
Dr. Lazarus served as the director of the Center for Women's Careers at Wellesley College from 1975 to 1985 and also as director of Wellesley's Institutional Programs. She joined Carnegie Mellon University in 1985, where she most recently served as associate provost for academic affairs and as an adjunct professor of educational anthropology. As associate provost, she was responsible for university academic programs and policies for graduate and undergraduate students. Dr. Lazarus also had teaching appointments in both Carnegie Mellon's Heinz School of Public Policy and in the Department of History.
Winner of Carnegie Mellon University's Doherty Prize, the university's highest honor for educational contributions, she touched the lives of hundreds of students and staff. She promoted access by women to nontraditional occupations, particularly in Asia and in science and engineering. She also created Carnegie Mellon's Undergraduate Research Initiative.
Dr. Lazarus was the co-author or editor of several widely celebrated books, including Changing Lives: Life Stories of Asian Pioneers in Women's Studies (1995); The Equity Equation: Fostering the Advancement of Women in Science and Engineering (1996); and Journeys of Women in Science and Engineering: No Universal Constants (1997).
Dr. Lazarus was an active and contagiously energetic member of the Pittsburgh community. She served as chairman of the Academic Affairs Council of the Pittsburgh Council on Higher Education from 1997 to 1999. Even more recently, she championed the Girls Math and Science Project in its development of "Explanatoids," a series of short lessons explaining the science behind everyday phenomena ranging from Kennywood roller coasters to curve balls at the Pittsburgh Pirates' ballpark.
Contributions in her memory may be made to Carnegie Mellon University for the Small Undergraduate Research Grant Program, 5000 Forbes avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15213.