Lutz to receive distinguished alumni award from Pitt


Kalonga Mwenda

Dr. Randal Lutz is the superintendent of Baldwin Whitehall schools.

Dibya Ghimirey and Sam Tobiczyk

When Supt. Dr. Randal Lutz was young, he would look out from his backyard to see the University of Pittsburgh.

“I could see the campus from my yard, and the top of the Cathedral of Learning,” Lutz said.

Years later, when it was time to pick a college, he chose Pitt. He was not sure of what he wanted to do as a career at first, and then his Pitt counselor suggested that he go into elementary education.

“When I got to my junior year, my counselor said, ‘You need to pick a major,’ and then she said, ‘Your credits line up perfectly with elementary ed.’ People always said I was good with kids, but I never thought about being a teacher,” Lutz said.

He took a chance on this path, and he has never looked back.

“I tutored a seventh-grader from Carrick on campus my junior year and loved it, and from there it just skyrocketed,” Lutz said.

Thirty years and three degrees from Pitt later, Lutz is receiving one of the university’s highest honors: the Distinguished Alumni Award from Pitt’s School of Education. The award recognizes alumni for their exceptional professional achievement, public service to the educational field, and commitment to the continued success of Pitt’s School of Education and the University of Pittsburgh. 

“The fact that I started down there as an 18-year-old kid, and now to be recognized by that same group 30-plus years later – it’s a commentary on the career that they have been able to help me achieve,” he said. 

Michael Haas, director of development and alumni affairs at Pitt’s School of Education, commended Lutz.

“Dr. Lutz is a wonderful educator and leader. He is an active school leader in all areas of the Baldwin-Whitehall School District, their community and in Pennsylvania.” Haas said. 

Lutz said he is honored to be selected.

“Through the application process, seeing what other people think of the work that I have been able to do, and the people I do it with — it’s not just about me, it’s about what we are doing collectively — it allows you to take a step back and sometimes just reflect,” Lutz said. “To just be able to reflect, to pause, to breathe, to realize that others greatly appreciate what we do.”

“He does a great job of being aggressive and measured. He is not playing it safe, but he does his homework before he makes a decision.”

— Dr. Daniel Harrold

Lutz is proud of the work he has done in the district, and the culture that has developed here.

“I never knew who my superintendent was when I was here (as a student). I would never have imagined walking up and saying hello or being in a conversation with him,” he said. “I think what makes me proudest is that we have built the environment here where kids know their principal, superintendent, and administrators and are comfortable in these conversations. We care about kids, and hopefully that shows, and the students are aware of it.”

Haas agrees with Lutz. 

“Throughout his career, Dr. Lutz has focused on the success of the students, families, teachers, and his community.” Haas said. 

Looking forward, Lutz is looking to bring more innovation to the district.

“We are really interested in looking at high school reform and the high school experience we generally have here. What students do here now probably isn’t that different (in terms of a class schedule) than what I did from 1984-86,” Lutz said.

In nominating Lutz for the award, Carrie Butler, who does public relations for the district, said he is helping to create an education evolution here. 

“He is fostering a supportive culture that focuses on improving the whole student’s health,” Butler wrote. He models “a state of grace that encourages empathy, inclusivity, and collaborative assistance for students and staff that extends far beyond the classroom.” 

Acting Vice Principal Dr. Daniel Harrold said Lutz is able to draw on his experience first as a student in the district and then through a lifetime of working here to make wise decisions.

“Dr. Lutz has amazing institutional memory. He grew up here, he lives here, he remembers what has worked and what has not in the past, and he is able to draw on that to make a decision,” Harrold said.

That decision making, Harrold said, is one of Lutz’s biggest strengths.

“He does a great job of being aggressive and measured. He is not playing it safe, but he does his homework before he makes a decision,” he said.

Because of his goals for the district, Lutz said he has no thought of retirement in his mind.

“I don’t see myself leaving this community. The work that is happening now is incredibly exciting. I could have retired already – I could retire now. I have had a lot of other job offers, and other job offers that have paid more money, but it is not about that. It’s about what is the work I am able to engage in,” Lutz said

The ceremony for his award will be on Wednesday. 

“I am looking forward to it. My mom and dad will be there, and my aunt and uncle are coming in from Florida to attend, and so I am looking forward to it for sure,” Lutz said.

It will be a moment and an honor he had never anticipated.

“I’m the Pitt kid who never dreamed of being in the position that I am in,” he said.