Carnegie Mellon University

Remembering Patti Pavlus

Pam Wigley

The College of Fine Arts and all of Carnegie Mellon University lost a colleague and friend when Patti Pavlus passed away on Friday, Aug. 19. Pavlus, the associate dean for CFA Finance and Operations, was a member of the campus community for nearly 40 years. Colleagues from across the university gathered at a noon memorial service on Tuesday, Sept. 6, in the Alumni Concert Hall (ACH) on campus to share their memories and pay tribute to Pavlus’ extraordinary service to the university.

Pavlus was recognized posthumously for her service to Carnegie Mellon at the 2022 Andy Awards. Her husband, Adel Assaad, and sons, Adam and Alec, were on hand to receive the award. Now, a memorial fund will be established in the College of Fine Arts to provide funding for staff development. Even in her absence, her legacy of supporting fellow staff members will live on through the fund, said CFA Dean Mary Ellen Poole.

"Patti joined the College of Fine Arts in 1983, and she was a treasured member of this merry band," Poole said. "This fund represents her fierce advocacy for her fellow staff members and her belief in their talents and potential. Patti wanted CFA to be the best place to work."

Rob Sauritch, who worked for Pavlus and, ultimately, assumed many of her job duties upon her passing, said he is grateful for her tutelage and her guidance on caring for other employees.

"I worked with Patti for 12 years, and she had a significant impact on my education as a new finance person for CFA," Sauritch said. "My role was brand new, so there was a lot of wiggle room to create what we wanted. As a perfectionist, Patti instilled those values into me and, because of her oversight, I have been able to manage CFA finance completely independently over the past few years."

Pavlus earned her bachelor’s degree from Chatham University and took her first job in CFA as the assistant director of the Music Preparatory School Program. She then served in various positions of increasing responsibility in the CFA Dean’s Office throughout her tenure. At the time of her death, she managed the financial and administrative functions of the college, including budgeting, payroll, human resources and facilities management, as well as the promotion and tenure process for faculty. She was a member of CMU’s Administrative Leadership Group (ALG) and the Academic Business Managers Council (ABMC).

"Patti had encyclopedic and historic knowledge of every aspect of the college," Poole said. "She’d worked for a whole cast of characters when it came to deans, and I would imagine adapted quickly and gracefully to the idiosyncrasies of each one — as she did to mine! She knew the intricacies of human resources, finance and facilities in a global way that made her the go-to person for a quick tutorial on why things are the way they are at CMU. She stitched us all together."

In a crowded ACH on Sept. 6, CMU friends and colleagues shared fond memories of Pavlus with members of her family. Her husband, Adel Assaad, talked about meeting Pavlus at CMU and about their first date — at the Beaux Arts Ball — and their long journey as husband and wife. He said he readily shared Pavlus with CFA, recounting her many evenings in front of the computer, taking care of things she hadn’t finished during the day.

"I knew she loved what she was doing," he said. "She loved CFA. She wouldn’t have wanted it any other way than to take care of things so that others could benefit. That was Patti."

Learn more about how you may remember Patti Pavlus through a donation to the fund