Edward McCord

  • Director of Programming and Special Projects

Edward McCord serves a number of roles for the University Honors College (UHC). These include many years directing UHC field courses in Wyoming, which relate to his principal interests in environmental law, ethics, and public policy. His book, The Value of Species (Yale University Press, 2012), is marketed widely for the general public and academe. It was recently selected by the Association of College and Research Libraries as a Choice Outstanding Title 2012 for Biology in the Science and Technology category. Ed regularly advises students in a wide range of matters from personal essays to educational and career planning including legal careers.  

The University appointed Ed director of The Dick Thornburgh Forum for Law and Public Policy in 2010. The Thornburgh Forum is a campus-wide instrument for public education and civic action to advance effective and principled governance at local, state, and national levels. One of the University’s most distinguished alumni, Dick Thornburgh (LAW ‘57) served as United States Attorney for Western Pennsylvania, two terms as Governor of Pennsylvania, Director of the Institute of Politics at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, Attorney General of the United States for two Presidents, and Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations for Administration and Management.

The Thornburgh Forum collaborates with the Honors College every year to produce The American Experience Distinguished Lectures, which Ed has directed since 2005. The late Robert G. Hazo, devoted Honors College friend and associate, founded The American Experience more than 43 years ago to stimulate discussion of seminal issues in the company of the nation’s preeminent opinion makers. The roster of speakers in The American Experience reads as a virtual Who’s Who of political, journalistic, White House, congressional, and Pennsylvania leadership over the past three decades.

For many years Ed team taught with a geologist the core course for environmental studies majors, Environmental Science, Ethics, and Public Policy. Every summer he runs the Honors College Yellowstone Field Course where students learn geology, ecology, and environmental issues on hikes in Yellowstone National Park, the Beartooth Mountains, and Sunlight Basin. He is also director of the Allen L. Cook Spring Creek Preserve in Wyoming, 6,000 acres of land assets donated to the University in 2005 by cattle rancher Allen Cook. Ed was a driving force from the start in conceptualizing this rich preserve of dinosaur paleontology, archaeology, and ecology to be a consortium shared by Pitt, the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, the National Aviary, and the University of Wyoming.

Ed received his AB from Princeton University and graduate degrees from Pitt in anthropology (MA), philosophy (PhD), and law (JD). He taught undergraduate courses in philosophy of science, logic, ethics, and the history of philosophy before completing the doctorate in philosophy. His dissertation analyzed the foundation of cultural anthropology in the interpretation of human behavior and responded to skepticism about the objectivity and precision of the discipline in light of this foundation. He is an affiliate professor in the Department of Philosophy and a resident fellow in Pitt’s Center for Philosophy of Science.

Following graduate school, Ed served as a research associate for the senior vice chancellor of the health sciences, completing a report to the National Cancer Institute on the effect of federal regulations on the development of cancer drugs and redesigning the University-wide system that protects human subjects of research under federal law. Subsequently, Ed was appointed assistant for academic affairs to the chancellor of the University (Posvar), a position he held for seven years, and he completed law school in part-time study. Among many duties, he staffed the chancellor in his chairmanship of the EPA’s National Advisory Council on Environmental Policy and Technology (NACEPT) and served on the international and education committees of NACEPT.

Ed is admitted to law practice in the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania and the U.S. Western District Court of the Western District of Pennsylvania. He served as a litigation associate in the Pittsburgh law firm, Reed Smith, for several years, and he was admitted to practice pro hac vice in litigation in Florida, where he has assisted in several real estate class actions.

Ed is a Florida native and lifelong naturalist. He is an expert on carnivorous plants worldwide and the native orchids of North America. In his youth, he held employment with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, Glacier National Park, the Wisconsin field station of the National Audubon Society and Florida’s Tall Timbers Research Station, a renowned pioneer in fire ecology. His interests have led to travels throughout the United States, as well as Europe, Malaysia, Mongolia, and South Africa.

Education & Training

  • JD (Law), University of Pittsburgh
  • PhD (Philosophy), University of Pittsburgh
  • MA (Anthropology), University of Pittsburgh
  • AB, Princeton University