Three new members were inducted into the Century Club of Distinguished Duquesne University Alumni Oct. 25 as part of Homecoming Weekend.
The Century Club was established during Duquesne’s 100th anniversary in 1978 to recognize graduates with exemplary records of professional achievement and service to the University and their communities. To date, only 341 alumni have been admitted to its ranks.
In addition, a past Century Club honoree was presented with the McAnulty Service Award in recognition of his outstanding continued support of Duquesne since his induction. The award is named for the University’s 10th president, the Rev. Henry McAnulty, C.S.Sp., and was initially bestowed on him in 1980.
The 2019 new Century Club inductees are:
Thomas R. Kline, Law 1978
Partner, Kline & Specter, P.C.
One of America’s most respected and influential lawyers, Kline is a founding partner of Kline & Specter, P.C., described by The Philadelphia Inquirer as “one of the country’s leading personal injury law firms.” His groundbreaking cases have helped shape the law and resulted in corporate, institutional and governmental change and justice for his clients.
Kline has been selected every year as the attorney ranked first among 65,000 active Pennsylvania lawyers by Super Lawyers since its inception in 2004. Lawdragon, listing Kline as one of the top 500 lawyers among 1.3 million active lawyers in America, has described him as “the leading personal injury plaintiffs’ lawyer in Pennsylvania.” He is the past president of the Inner Circle of Advocates, which The Washington Post described as “a select group of 100 of the nation’s most celebrated trial lawyers.”
Kline achieved many landmark jury verdicts in product liability and medical malpractice dating back to the 1980s, with seven- and eight-figure jury verdicts in each of four decades. Recent accomplishments include jury verdicts in the national Risperdal litigation and the transvaginal mesh device litigation, and his leadership as Chair of the Plaintiffs Management Committee in achieving the historic Amtrak 188 settlement.
Kline’s work in the Penn State/Sandusky litigation and the Piazza fraternity hazing case have gained national attention. In the national Vioxx litigation, he was described by The Wall Street Journal as “a key player.”
A graduate and recipient of the Distinguished Alumnus Award of Albright College, Kline earned his M.A. from Lehigh University and his J.D. from Duquesne University School of Law, where he received the Distinguished Student Award in 1978 and Distinguished Alumnus Award in 2008.
The Thomas R. Kline School of Law at Drexel University was named in his honor in 2014. The Thomas R. Kline Center for Judicial Education at Duquesne Law School was established in 2017.
Catharine Murray Ryan, Graduate Arts 1993
Co-Founder and Former Assistant Director, National Institute for Newman Studies
Ryan was born in Bronxville, New York, the second of 10 children. A graduate of The Ursuline School in New Rochelle, she attended Newton College of the Sacred Heart and, in 1968, earned a Bachelor of Arts degree, cum laude, in Economics. In 1993, she earned a Master’s degree in Pastoral Ministry from Duquesne’s Department of Theology.
Catharine and her husband, John, have called Pittsburgh home since 1969. John is retired chairman and chief executive officer of Mine Safety Appliances Company, the world’s leading manufacturer of worker safety and protective equipment.
While raising their two daughters, Mary Catharine and Maureen, and son, John, Ryan was active in community, school and church organizations. She worked as a chaplain at Magee Women’s Hospital and at Forbes Regional Hospital. She also served on the board of trustees of UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh for 13 years and on the board of the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh Foundation for seven years, the last three as chair.
In the early 1990s, Ryan welcomed the opportunity to work with the priests of The Pittsburgh Oratory to build a new Newman campus ministry center for the students of the University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University and Chatham University. She co-chaired the fundraising campaign for that facility, which is also the residence of the Oratorian community. Ryan serves on the Oratory’s board of trustees.
In 2002, Ryan co-founded the National Institute for Newman Studies (NINS). Since its inception, NINS has launched the Newman Studies Journal, developed both an extensive real and digital Newman library collection, and has hosted more than 70 Newman scholars from around the world. Along with co-founder the Rev. Drew Morgan, C.O., Ryan also raised funds for the new building which houses NINS, named the Gailliot Center for Newman Studies.
Currently, Ryan is a member of the board of trustees and a fellow of The Catholic University of America. She also is a member of Duquesne University’s board of directors. With her husband, she established Duquesne’s Ryan Endowed Chair in Newman Studies and has supported scholarships for doctoral students in Theology.
Dr. Robert L. Wintermyer, Graduate Sciences 1969
Adjunct Professor of Physician Assistant Studies, Central Michigan University
Wintermyer received a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and psychology from the University of Pittsburgh in 1964 and finished his master’s and doctorate in chemistry at Duquesne in 1969. He served in the United States Army and later in the Army Reserves, assigned to the EraChemical Corps, Research, Intelligence and Special Operations.
After teaching biology and chemistry at North Allegheny High School, Wintermyer joined Dow Chemical, where he conducted research and published extensively in the fields of organic and inorganic chemistry. His work contributed to the development and improvement of such popular consumer products as Saran Wrap and Styrofoam. Promoted into management, he completed his 30-year career with Dow as an intellectual asset manager. At a point in life when many would choose to settle into retirement, Wintermyer launched a new career.
Drawn to medicine, and desiring to directly work with patients, Wintermyer pursued physician assistant studies at Central Michigan University, earning a master’s degree in 2005. He joined a clinic in the Midland, Mich. area and remained in private practice after becoming an adjunct professor at Central Michigan in 2007. He served on the full-time faculty there from 2010-2015, and returned to part-time adjunct status from 2015-2017.
Wintermyer was an active member of the American Red Cross in Midland for more than 30 years, serving on its board and as a Clara Barton Society leadership donor. He also established an endowed scholarship in art education at Western Michigan University in memory of his late wife, and was a Survivors’ Assistance Officer with the U.S. Army.
A consistent annual donor to Duquesne University for more than 45 years, Wintermyer served on the “Celebration of Excellence” campaign leadership committee in the 1990s. He has established an endowed scholarship fund for science students at Duquesne, and served on the dean’s advisory board for the McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts. Wintermyer recently began exploring opportunities to help the physician assistant studies program in Duquesne’s John G. Rangos, Sr. School of Health Sciences.
Robert N. Peirce, Jr., a 1962 law graduate and founder and partner of Robert Peirce & Associates, P.C., received the 2019 McAnulty Service Award.
Peirce first decided to commit to a legal career when he was in high school, just after he finished reading the autobiography of Clarence Darrow.
As an undergraduate at Geneva College, Peirce participated as an active debater to pursue his legal goals. After receiving a bachelor’s degree in business administration, he was admitted to the Duquesne law school. However, as a child of missionaries, he grew up without much of a living wage. To help pay tuition, Peirce took an interest-free loan from the University and accepted a part-time job at the law library. Since that time, Peirce has repaid the school’s act of kindness many times over, through the establishment of a grant/loan program that assisted students in similar circumstances and a scholarship fund supporting law students who demonstrate financial need, academic merit and service.
After graduating from law school, Peirce worked at a small, two-member law firm for a salary of $100 per week. In an era when there were no public defenders, Peirce represented people lodged in the county jail to help supplement his income.
In 1971, Peirce was elected Allegheny County Clerk of Courts, becoming the youngest elected official in county history. Four years later, he was elected to a seat as an Allegheny County Commissioner. In 1980, Peirce founded his own firm, which currently employs 16 attorneys and is one of the region’s dominant firms in personal injury, disability, medical malpractice and nursing home abuse law.
Peirce is deeply committed to the causes of literacy and overcoming learning disabilities such as dyslexia. Through his family foundation, he funded a Reading Structure Program at Robert Morris University and, earlier this year, made a major gift to Duquesne establishing a scholarship program that trains reading specialists for Catholic schools across the Pittsburgh Diocese. He also recently funded enhancements to staff training and programs in the Reading Clinic at Duquesne University’s School of Education.
Peirce is a past president of the Pittsburgh Hearing and Speech Association, serves on the boards of the Heinz History Center, Manchester Bidwell Corporation and Brother’s Brother Foundation. He also is a benefactor of the Pittsburgh Symphony, Carnegie Science Center and the Extra Mile Foundation. Peirce is a recipient of Duquesne law school’s Meritorious Service Award and was inducted into the Century Club in 2003.