Passing the Torch

blonde haired womanRenae Barger was working as a reference librarian when her team at the Health Sciences Library System (HSLS) learned of a case unfolding in the UPMC Presbyterian emergency department. A woman’s arm was stuck in a meat grinder, and the doctors were considering the best way to safely extricate the arm without damaging it.

Barbara Epstein, director of HSLS, remembers Barger and co-workers searching the library and finding an article about the exact situation from years prior. “We pulled it off the shelf, and [Barger] had to go running into the surgical suite,” says Epstein. “That was pretty dramatic.”

This summer, Epstein will be passing the torch to Barger, who was named associate vice chancellor for the HSLS. Epstein has been with HSLS since 1995, and Barger joined her in 2002 as a reference librarian.

smiling brunette womanEpstein’s legacy in HSLS is marked by large-scale moves from print to digital references, as well as the development of workshops to assist library users in accessing library resources and services. 

Barger envisions HSLS expanding in areas of open science, online education and virtual reality and hopes to encourage more collaboration across all of Pitt. Barger says Epstein taught her to lead by example.

“She taught me everything I know about being an effective leader. We’re going to miss her terribly,” Barger says.  


Each year, applicants to the School of Medicine face tough competition for admission, but standing out this year was more challenging than usual.

Pitt Med received a 20% increase in applications (8,600 people applied for 150 spots). Of those accepted to the Class of 2025, women outnumber men, making up 58% of the class, and Black students are the largest minority, at 14.56%. The average age is 24 years old, and 65 of the new students are already residents of Pennsylvania. California, Florida, New York and Maryland are other states with 10 or more students accepted.