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Prince Andrew praises Pitt, region at luncheon

Saturday, October 25, 2003

By Ed Blazina, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

No doubt Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, can command a room.

Prince Andrew finds humor in remarks made during his introduction at a luncheon at Alumni Hall at the University of Pittsburgh yesterday. The Duke of York is the United Kingdom’s special representative for trade and is here for a trans-Atlantic business conference. (Steve Mellon, Post-Gazette)

The duke, visiting Western Pennsylvania this weekend as part of a mission to improve trade with Great Britain, spoke at an invitation-only luncheon yesterday at the University of Pittsburgh. The audience of Pittsburgh's biggest movers and shakers stood as Prince Andrew entered the room and made his way to his table.

After a nervous moment, Prince Andrew looked at the audience of about 300 and said simply, "Sit." That quick comment seemed to lighten the mood in the Connolly Ballroom in the Pitt Alumni Hall.

In addition to his trade activities, Prince Andrew is in the area to honor the late U.S. Gen. George C. Marshall. As a gesture of thanks for U.S. help during World War II, the British Parliament created the Marshall Scholarship, which allows up to 40 students to receive two years of graduate study at any British university. Marshall was a native of Uniontown, where the prince will visit tomorrow to dedicate the George C. Marshall Memorial Plaza.

Because University of Pittsburgh students have been successful in receiving the scholarship -- one student each for the past four years and five in the last six years -- Prince Andrew named the university a Marshall Center of Excellence.

After a lunch of stuffed filet of beef with quince and cranberry glaze, state Supreme Court Chief Justice Ralph J. Cappy, head of Pitt's board of trustees, introduced the duke.

In remarks that lasted about 10 minutes, Prince Andrew recounted the university's long history and segued into its role in providing Marshall scholars. He said Pitt had "an international reputation for excellence in teaching and research" and that the university was "a unique treasure in a great city and region."

He singled out Alec Stewart, dean of the honors college, for special recognition for his role in developing Marshall scholars.

Earlier in the day, Prince Andrew visited with Mayor Tom Murphy.

In five minutes of remarks to reporters in Murphy's office, the duke mentioned that Pittsburgh was the first U.S. city he visited as a student in 1977, and he praised the city's efforts at "regeneration" of former industrial sites, which dot the English landscape as well.

"Like many industrial cities, Pittsburgh has been through some difficult times, adjusting to the changing demands of the 20th and 21st centuries. The transformation of Pittsburgh's economy from the home of steel to a dynamic new center of high technology, biotechnology and health care is truly remarkable," the duke said.

Prince Andrew also toured British-based drug and consumer products company GlaxoSmithKline's North American headquarters in Moon.

There, he unveiled a 5-foot-high, 10-foot-long fiberglass dinosaur aptly named, "DNAsaurus." GlaxoSmithKline developed the dinosaur with the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, which placed about 100 dinosaur's throughout the city over the summer as part of a public art display.

The dinosaur is a collage of molecular structures, strands of DNA and images of U.S. and American flags. On its tail is a dab of Aquafresh toothpaste, one of the company's signature products.

The significance of the DNA is that Prince Andrew met James Watson, one of the scientists who discovered DNA about 50 years ago, during a visit to the original Cold Spring Laboratory in Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y., last year.

This morning, Prince Andrew is scheduled to be the keynote speaker at the British-American Business Conference at the Sheraton Station Square. He also will speak tonight at a dinner celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Marshall Scholarship.

He is scheduled to be in Uniontown tomorrow for dedication of the Marshall plaza at 3 p.m.

Staff writer Tim McNulty contributed to this story. Ed Blazina can be reached at or 412-263-1470.

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