Board of Advisors Adds Eight New Members


posted June 09, 2016

Pitt-Johnstown President Dr. Jem Spectar is pleased to announce the addition of eight new members to the Pitt-Johnstown Board of Advisors.

The following appointments will take effect in June 2016: G. Henry Cook, Michael P. Hruska, Dorothy L. Stroz, Dr. Gerald L. Zahorchak, Richard A. Bross, Stephen G. Zamias, Sr., John J. Polacek, Jr., and Douglas R. Weimer.

“The University is excited to welcome these community leaders and distinguished alumni to the Board of Advisors,” said Dr. Spectar. “The new members will continue our outstanding tradition of educating for success in the Real World by sharing their expertise and further strengthening our ties to the communities served by Pitt-Johnstown.”

Mr. Bross, Mr. Cook, and Mr. Weimer will join area businessman Mark Pasquerilla as members of the Executive Committee for Fundraising and Institutional Advancement. Mr. Hruska and Dr.  Zahorchak have accepted appointments to the Academic Affairs Committee. Ms. Stroz and Mr. Polacek will also contribute their talents to the Fundraising and Institutional Advancement efforts.

The Board of Advisors guides the college on matters concerning the educational and economic needs of the greater Johnstown area. The Board elicits and maintains public support for the institution and counsels the administrative officials of the college in the discharge of their respective functions.

Specific Member Profiles

G.  Henry Cook

Mr. Cook is President, CEO, and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Somerset Trust Company. He is the fifth generation of his family to be president of this 125-year old bank. Somerset Trust Company is a $900 million bank with a $532 million Trust Department based in Somerset, PA.

G.  Henry Cook“The future of our region is dependent on the entrepreneurial insights of a new generation," he said. "Pitt-Johnstown has stepped up to help develop the entrepreneurial spirit of our future leaders. I am honored to be part of the team that guides this initiative.”

Mr. Cook is active in many local, state, and national civic activities, including: Flight 93 National Memorial Federal Commissioner, Board of Directors of the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium, and President of Somerset County Economic Development Council, as well as the Authority. Mr. Cook recently completed six years as President of the Somerset Volunteer Fire Department and was honored by fellow firefighters with their Lifetime Achievement Award. He served on the committee to commission the USS Somerset in Philadelphia in the U.S. Navy. He has been involved with Junior Achievement since 1980, with most of his work being in Somerset and paired with Honors Students. He served on the advisory group to the engineering firm designing the US 219 corridor from Meyersdale to Interstate 68, and is involved with three organizations committed to the completion of US 219: Continental One, Casselman Valley Economic Development Group, and The Greater Cumberland Committee.

Michael P. Hruska

Mr. Hruska, a 2000 graduate of Pitt-Johnstown, is currently the President and CEO of Problem Solutions, which provides learning technology solutions to government, Fortune 500 companies, and startups. As a former researcher at National Institute of Standards and Technology (Gaithersburg, MD), he was responsible for joint research and technology development initiatives in materials and quality systems.

Michael P. Hruska“I'm excited to be part of a great maker of change for student lives and the community abroad," he said. "I'm anticipating a continuous acceleration in what we all can do together for the better between students, the campus, and the community.”

Mr. Hruska is a member of the e-Learning Guild, the Association for Training and Development (ATD), the Society for Applied Learning Technologies (SALT), and the National Defense and Industrial Association (NDIA) and regularly presents at industry events. He currently serves in a board capacity on the Goodwill Industries of Conemaugh Valley, Venue of Merging Arts (VOMA), the Young Professionals of the Alleghenies, and the Somerset County Economic Development Council. He has previously held board positions at the Cambria County Chamber of Commerce, United Way of the Laurel Highlands, and the Johnstown Business District Development Corporation.

Dorothy L. Stroz

Ms. Stroz, a 1984 Pitt-Johnstown alumna, is retired from the Department of Commerce’s U.S. Census Bureau/Geography Division in Washington, DC, where she developed and managed geography programs to support the 1990, 2000, and 2010 decennial census. She also served as adjunct instructor at Penn Highlands Community College for the World Regional Geography Class for fall semester 2013.

Dorothy L. Stroz“I am very humbled and honored to serve the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown as an Advisory Board member,” she said. “My experiences as a student opened my mind to the joys of education and provided me with the knowledge and values needed for professional success. I look forward to working with Dr. Spectar and the other Advisory Board members to continue the growth of the institution and in-turn aid in the transformation of the Johnstown region.”

Recognitions include Excellence in Leadership Certificate (2000) and Distinguished Toastmaster Award (2001) from Toastmasters International. Ms. Stroz is currently a Member of the Pennsylvania Geographic Society.

Dr. Gerald L. Zahorchak

Dr. Zahorchak has served as Superintendent of the Greater Johnstown School District since 2012, retiring at the end of the 2015 school year. Prior experience includes Superintendent of Allentown School District (2010-2012); Secretary of Education for Pennsylvania (2005-2010); Deputy Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education for the PA Department of Education (2003-2005); Superintendent for Greater Johnstown School District (1997-2003); Middle/Elementary School Principal at North Star School District (1992-1996); and Elementary & Secondary Principal at Shanksville-Stonycreek School District (1989-1992).

Dr. Gerald L. Zahorchak“I am honored to serve the University of Pittsburgh of Johnstown in an advisory role,” he said. “UPJ is key to economic development in the greater Johnstown area, and President Spectar has done remarkably well as a prominent leader in our community. I'm looking forward to supporting efforts to build upon the strong foundation in place at the University.”

Dr. Zahorchak has led the creation and implementation of more than $3 billion in new and nationally recognized investments in public education. He actively serves in a leading role on many national and state boards committed to enhancing public and higher education systems since 2003. Dr. Zahorchak has been keynote speaker for a wide variety of education audiences.   He has received numerous awards, including Data Quality Campaign Leadership Award – State Policymaker of the Year (2008); Educational Excellence Award (2005); Penn State School Study Council’s “William Caldwell Outstanding Supervision and Administration” Award (2001), Pennsylvania Outstanding Research and Publication Award (1996), to name a few.

Richard A. Bross

Mr. Bross, a 1973 Pitt-Johnstown economics graduate, retired after a nearly 40-year career with Hormel Foods Corporation. He and his wife, Suzanne, who also attended the University, now live in Colorado.

Richard A. Bross“I was so excited when Dr. Spectar called to inform me I was chosen for the UPJ Board of Advisors," he said. "I am honored for the opportunity to use my business experience to help my alma mater grow and better serve the needs of students.”

During his illustrious career with Hormel, Mr. Bross held the positions of Director of Marketing, Vice President, and 13 years as President of Hormel Foods International. His responsibilities focused on sales, marketing, innovation, strategy, and management. Mr. Bross was one of the top leaders in Hormel Foods for many years during a period of strong top and bottom line growth, outperforming the S&P 500 and the industry Peer Group.

Ever desirous of deepening his knowledge, Mr. Bross completed executive education programs related to business at The Wharton School of Business of the University of Pennsylvania, the J. L. Kellogg Graduate School of Business at Northwestern University, and Harvard Business School, among others.

Recently, Mr. and Mrs. Bross founded the Bross Family Scholarship in Business at Pitt-Johnstown. Their large gift provides scholarships in perpetuity for students who are Business majors; who have demonstrated academic excellence; who possess strength in communication and interpersonal skills; and who have demonstrated ethical leadership.

Stephen G. Zamias, Sr.

Mr. Zamias is owner and Vice Chairman of Zamias Services, Inc., which he joined in 1979.

Stephen G. Zamias, Sr.His professional background includes service as Executive Vice President of Finance for George D. Zamias Developer and overseeing the Accounting and Finance Departments. Mr. Zamias began his career as the Director of Property Management.

“I am truly honored and humbled to serve the crown jewel of Johnstown," he said. "I have always believed that education is the key to success.”

He is a graduate of St. Francis University in 1979, with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Economics and a minor in Real Estate. Mr. Zamias served as President and CEO with his brother, Sam, from 2001-2012.

John J. Polacek, Jr.

Mr. Polacek is the CEO of JWF Defense Systems and JWF Industries.  JWF is a full-service, process-based, metal fabrication and metal processing contract manufacturer in Johnstown and has been with the company since 2007.  Prior to joining JWF, he served as Vice President and General Manager of the Defense Solutions Group at BAE SYSTEMS.

John J. Polacek, Jr.“I am really excited to be a part of University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown’s Board of Advisors because it is the only four year college committed to Johnstown and it continues to expand its educational offerings as evidenced by the Bachelor of Science degree in nursing and also in electrical engineering," he said. "I hope that my 40-plus years’ business background will prove to be an asset to the University."

Prior to BAE SYSTEMS, Mr. Polacek was a partner and Vice President for Operations at Unitec Digital Systems.  Prior to BAE SYSTEMS, he was with Quest Research Corporation for 12 years.  He was the Assistant Vice President for Business Development and Director for a wide range of Department of Defense and Intelligence Agencies customers.

Mr. Polacek’s community involvement includes: Girl Scouts of Western Pennsylvania Board Member and Member of the Audit Committee; Sgt. Michael Strank Memorial Committee; University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown Shark Tank; as well as a Board Member for Veteran Community Initiatives, Greater Johnstown Chamber of Commerce, Arbutus Park Manor, American Red Cross, Arcadia Theatre and Problem Solutions.

Douglas R. Weimer

Mr. Weimer, a 1975 graduate of Pitt-Johnstown and retired attorney, is currently a Museum/Historic Preservation Consultant/Volunteer.

Douglas R. WeimerHis professional career includes being a legislative attorney with the Library of Congress, Staff Attorney with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission; and Law Clerk, Chief Judge with US Army JAG Corps. 

He also served on the Pitt-Johnstown Alumni Association Board of Directors from 1997-2002.Mr. Weimer was honored in various editions of Who’s Who in America; Who’s Who in American Law, and Who’s Who in the Northeast, as well as receiving various merit awards and bar association awards.

Mr. Weimer established The Reid A. Weimer Memorial Scholarship as a memorial to his father, a long-term Somerset County educator and community activist.

“I am very honored and humbled by my appointment to UPJ's Advisory Board,” he said. “It is a privilege to serve the University family and also to have to opportunity to give back to the greater Cambria-Somerset community.”

The University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown, located in the Laurel Highlands of Western Pennsylvania, 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.” Additionally, Pitt-Johnstown has been presented with The Seven Seals Award by the US Department of Defense’s office of Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR). Pitt-Johnstown is the regional leader, educating for success in the Real World. The distinctive combination of our people, programs, and place results in exceptional performance in preparing students for career and professional success.