John P. Murtha Center for Public Service and National Competitiveness to Open

Pitt-Johnstown

posted April 04, 2017


Pitt-Johnstown welcomed national dignitaries as well as state and regional political figures to the grand opening of the John P. Murtha Center for Public Service and National Competitiveness, April 6, 2017.

Benjamin Cassidy

Keynote speaker for the event was Benjamin L. Cassidy, the Assistant Secretary for Legislative Affairs at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, representing Retired Marine Corps General and current Secretary of Homeland Security John F. Kelly.

Prior to joining DHS, Secretary Cassidy was a senior executive at The Boeing Company, leading international business development and government relations assignments in the defense sector. He is a retired Marine Corps colonel who served 26 years as an infantry officer.

Mr. Murtha was a former Marine Corps officer and was the first Vietnam War veteran elected to the in the U.S. House of Representatives, where he served for 36 years until his death in 2010.

Mrs. Joyce Murtha and children, John and Patrick, joined Pitt-Johnstown President Jem Spectar for a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

The event also featured speakers:

  • Pitt-Johnstown President Jem Spectar
  • Congressman Mark Critz
  • Mark Pasquerilla, Chairman and President of Crown Holding
  • Ed Sheehan, President and CEO of Concurrent Technologies Corporation
  • Michael Lauf, President and CEO of Cape Cod Healthcare
  • Col. John Hugya (ret), former chief of staff to Congressman Murtha
  • State Sen. John Wozniak
  • State Rep. Bryan Barbin
  • State Sen. Wayne Langerholc
  • Tom Kurtz, President and CEO of the Chan Soon-Shiong Institute of Molecular Medicine at Windber

Mr. Murtha was a former Marine Corps officer and was the first Vietnam War veteran elected to the in the U.S. House of Representatives, where he served for 36 years until his death in 2010.

In 1974, John Murtha became the first Vietnam War combat veteran to be elected to the U.S. Congress, representing the 12th Congressional District of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.  Congressman Murtha, at various times, represented all or parts of Allegheny, Armstrong, Cambria, Clarion, Fayette, Greene, Indiana, Jefferson, Somerset, Washington, and Westmoreland Counties. As a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1974-2010, he was the longest-serving member of Congress in the history of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, including his role as Chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense.

The John P. Murtha Foundation was established in 2010, following Congressman Murtha’s death. The Foundation’s primary focus is to honor the Congressman’s distinguished legacy by inspiring students and the general public to become active in their communities, the military, and in public service.

The 7,400-square-foot center is dedicated to Congressman Murtha’s commitment to public service and national competitiveness in the region. The center includes an exhibit, where visitors can access the John P. Murtha Congressional Papers, a collection of Murtha’s personal documents and possessions that were donated to Pitt in 2010 by his widow Joyce Murtha, an Assembly Hall, Veteran’s Lounge, and offices, and will host public lectures, symposiums, debates, and guest lecturers.

A public open house featuring self-guided tours and a welcome presentation is set for Friday, April 7, 2017.


The University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown is marking its 90th anniversary well as the 50th year of the campus in its Richland Township location. Pitt-Johnstown was founded in 1927 and is the first and largest regional campus of the University of Pittsburgh. Pitt-Johnstown is recognized by the Princeton Review as a “Best in the Northeast” college, by G.I. Jobs as a “Military Friendly School,” and by Pennsylvania Business Central as a "Top 100 Organization.” The distinctive combination of Pitt-Johnstown’s people, programs, and place results in exceptional performance in preparing students for career and professional success. Pitt-Johnstown is the regional leader, educating for success in the Real World.