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Duquesne Psychology Department Named Emerald View Park Advocate for 2013

Duquesne University's psychology department has been named Mount Washington's Emerald View Park Advocate for 2013.

Under the guidance of Dr. Eva Simms, a psychologist and environmentalist, seniors from her service-learning seminar have been helping residents to make the most of green space in Mount Washington since 2007. Simms and her students will be recognized as the park's advocate of the year at the Nov. 14 dinner.

"It's an important award because it honors the dedication and creativity of my students and my colleagues Drs. (Will) Adams and (Marco) Gemignani, who spent many hours with the community," said Simms. She set up a framework for the community with Dr. Ilyssa Manspeizer, director of park development and conservation for the Mount Washington Community Development Corporation, to help the community get a handle on what it envisioned for its park.

"We fostered community conversations about the park, surveyed park perception and held focus groups to find out what people wanted."

Working with lower socioeconomic groups that are not often asked their opinions was an important part of the survey, as well as collecting oral histories about how nonagenarians remembered using the park as children. The goal of all the different forms of community conversations has been to encourage use of the urban park and to integrate the natural spaces into the neighborhood.

"Now Emerald View is a new norm; now the neighbors live in a park," said Simms.

Manspeizer describes Simms as "a strong voice for parks, green spaces and youth in the City of Pittsburgh; she spreads a clear message about how parks improve our lives and inspires people around her-from her family to her neighbors to her students-to give back to their communities through service.

"Eva is a role model for her neighbors, but perhaps even more importantly, she is a role model for her students, teaching them how to become involved in the communities in which they live."

Duquesne University

Founded in 1878, Duquesne is consistently ranked among the nation's top Catholic universities for its award-winning faculty and tradition of academic excellence. Duquesne, a campus of nearly 9,500 graduate and undergraduate students, has been nationally recognized for its academic programs, community service and commitment to sustainability. Follow Duquesne University on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.