Board of Advisors Report

Pitt-Johnstown 2016


Board of Advisors report

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Guided by our vision of being the regional leader educating for success in the real world, our strategic plan implements our commitment “to offer a high-quality educational experience in a supportive living-learning environment, that is grounded in the liberal arts and sciences, that is current, and that is responsive both to our students’ personal and professional needs and to our communities’ needs”. This Annual Report provides an overview of how Pitt-Johnstown is fulfilling this mission through the distinctive combination of people, programs, and place, resulting in exceptional performance in preparing students for career and professional success.

Having clarified our brand promise and strengthened our value proposition, Pitt-Johnstown is now recognized as the best choice for real world preparation in our region, a proven pathway for students seeking career and professional success.

The successful implementation of our strategic plans, and further, aligning our most recent plan with The Plan for Pitt, has continued to illuminate Pitt-Johnstown’s distinctive elements that have propelled it to a best in class status:

  • High-quality programs for career & professional success in the real world
  • Up-close-and-personal teaching & learning environment
  • Talented, dedicated, supportive faculty and staff
  • Practical, hands-on, real world learning-in-action
  • High-Impact civic engagement through signature Real World Action Program
  • World-class Pitt-quality education……comparable to quality private colleges


In light of our mission-driven focus to provide an Up-Close-and-Personal Teaching and Learning environment to educate for success in the real world, our plan prioritizes support for faculty and staff.

With our strong commitment to teaching excellence, about full time 150 full-time faculty and several part-time faculty engage in Up-Close-and-Personal Teaching and Learning, advising, and mentoring, contributing to the higher levels of student engagement, retention, graduation and professional success. Thanks to aggressive recruiting on a national level, eleven new faculty members joined our community of scholars in FY15. Through our faculty hiring efforts, we have made concerted efforts to increase the credentials of our faculty. Currently, 92% of our faculty are doctorally or terminally prepared in their respective areas.

Over the past academic year, the professional development budget for faculty supported 110 funding requests. Represented among these requests were a range of workshops, meetings, and conferences to enhance faculty professional development. At various regional, national, and international meetings, Pitt-Johnstown faculty made approximately 50 peer-reviewed presentations including lectures, papers, research projects, and posters. Many faculty also participated on conference panels and committees; some hold leadership positions in their various professional associations and have chaired committees at these conferences.

This year, as on several previous occasions, students responding to NSSE rated our faculty above peers with regard to advising, mentoring and career counseling and engagement outside of the classroom.

A signature feature of our Up-Close-and-Personal Teaching and Learning pedagogic experience is an expanded focus on faculty-student mentored scholarship and research projects.  More than 50 faculty members and undergraduate students presented their research during the annual Fall Into Research: A Day of Scholarship event; 31% of students reported working with a faculty member on a research project.

The Princeton Review commends the college for being "an excellent undergraduate campus to explore scientific fields" as well as engineering and education programs that "have a high success rate.”  - Robert Franek, The Princeton Review Senior VP-Publisher.

In the same vein, dozens of faculty participated in our Teaching Showcase - sharing wisdom and expertise from their own classroom experience, with topics including strategies to engage and connect with students, facilitating critical thinking and the role of the teacher as mentor to encourage development of students’ civic responsibility.

We continue to fulfill our goal by continuing to support our talented faculty and dedicated staff as they make rich contributions to our students’ personal and professional development. Over the years, a key aspect of this commitment has been to take aggressive steps to continue to make market, merit and equity increases to ensure that we recruit, retain and recognize the excellent contributions of our talented faculty and staff. Over the past five years, we have steadily moved ahead in all ranks and have made gains against our peer groups, as reported in the 2015 IPEDS data feedback. Regular presentations to our faculty senate on this and other issues have also improved the climate of collaboration and communication.

With regard to part-time faculty, we were very pleased to learn about the Provost’s multi-year commitment to improve part-time faculty salaries across the University. The news of the Provost’s strong support and commitment of resources to advance this issue was very well-received and will go a long way towards improving the lives of our part-time faculty.

Likewise, a review of Johnstown Campus’ staff salaries vis-a-vis regional campus peers showed Johnstown lagging behind in all categories, but especially so with regard to the clerical/administrative category. Following our strategic initiative to enhance our support for our dedicated staff, we enacted salary adjustments that resulted in an average raise of 5.7% for clerical and administrative staff.

Our investments in increased professional development, workplace enhancements, improved communication and an overall strengthening in support for faculty and staff have contributed to a significant increase in the overall satisfaction rate of the Pitt-Johnstown faculty and staff. For example, 87% of faculty respondents strongly agreed that they are satisfied with their experience at Pitt-Johnstown, with overall faculty satisfaction rate approximately the same as our first survey about three years ago. Meanwhile, we saw the largest gains in staff satisfaction, largely as a result of a broad range of new initiatives launched as part of the Next Level plan. This year, 84% of the staff reported high levels of satisfaction with their Pitt-Johnstown experience -- a huge sea-change compared to three years ago when we first conducted the staff survey.


During the past year, Pitt-Johnstown engaged in several strategic initiatives to recruit and retain full time freshmen students.

We have responded to changing workforce needs by adjusting our academic profile with programs that better prepare students for in-demand skills. This past year, we launched a new engineering program that will culminate in the Bachelor of Science in Engineering (BSE) degree – a historic achievement for our Campus and community. In addition to transitioning our current engineering technology programs to engineering programs, we also launched a new, and much-needed, program in Chemical Engineering beginning in fall 2016. The new Bachelor of Science in Engineering (BSE) degree which was developed in response to student, faculty, alumni, and community needs, has been a centerpiece of campus long-range planning for decades.

Furthermore, offering the highly sought-after engineering degree will be essential to meet emerging workforce needs of the Johnstown community and our region, raise the institutional profile and strengthen student recruitment, and advance the Campus’ mission of preparing students for success in the real world. The launch of the new BSE degree program is the fulfillment of long held aspiration for our community and a longstanding strategic goal going back several decades. Interest in the new engineering program has resulted in a 58% increase of applications over last year.

Our highly popular business major also received a boost recently when the faculty elected to form a new Division of Business and Enterprise. Promoting an ethos of creativity and innovation, the new division will build on area business collaborations among the entrepreneurship - focused programs and offer “In-Demand” job skills with new degrees in accounting, marketing, finance, human resources, and information systems. Building on the goal to prepare students for success in the Real World, the new business programs will require six credits of Real World Experiential Learning. We have seen a record of applications for the new degree programs, up 73% over last year.

Separately, we have expanded our recruiting efforts to include a wider geographic area, including central Pa and Allegheny and surrounding counties. We increased the number of high school visits and redoubled our marketing efforts across media platforms, leveraging our unique combination of people, programs and place.

Our strategic recruitment initiatives have resulted in an unprecedented increase in freshmen applications.

The academic profile of our admitted students continues to be very strong. We are on target to reach our recruitment goals this year in terms of quantity and quality. The median SAT score of incoming freshmen is 1040.

Pitt-Johnstown Celebrates Launch of Engineering Program Expansion
“The new program illustrates Pitt-Johnstown’s commitment to serving the needs of region. “It’s an advantage that a small university has responded to the needs of the community,” Kurtz said, adding that Pitt-Johnstown’s affiliation with the whole of Pitt gives its students the best of a small university and the best of a large university.”

Tom Kurtz, CEO Windber Medical Center and Windber Research Institute.

UPJ, Business Leaders See More Energy in Town
 “Pitt-Johnstown administrators’’ decision to bolster its business degree offerings and create a Business and Enterprise Division builds on collaboration already at play in the region.” Mike Kane, President, The Community Foundation. “This is big. Eighty-five percent of the people who work at our company are from Pitt-Johnstown. It’s the lifeblood for talent.”

Mike Hruska, President Problem Solutions



Recognizing the importance of learning beyond the walls of the university, Pitt-Johnstown’s signature Real World Action Program is our unique and purposeful way of combining classroom learning with campus and civic engagement to provide students with a solid foundation for career and professional success. Emphasizing experiences that link theory to practice, students are encouraged and supported as they participate in internships, community service, elections, co-ops, service learning, study abroad and mentored research projects. Throughout, the emphasis is on developing in-demand job skills and attributes, including knowledge, critical thinking skills, effective communications, creativity, problem-solving abilities, teamwork, and overall real world readiness. Compared to respondents from Mid-east Public Institutions, Pitt-Johnstown students far exceeded their peers in participation in internships, co-ops, field experience, student teach or clinical placement.

This year, a record high number of students completed mentored undergraduate research projects under the guidance of faculty across all disciplines.

A very high proportion of students acknowledge Pitt-Johnstown prepares them for the Real World. 55% of students participating in the NSSE survey report completing a culminating senior experience (capstone course, senior project or thesis, comprehensive exam, portfolio, etc.)

A key component of our Real World Action Program is the culminating Real World Civic Engagement Week. This year, including a nationally recognized speaker on civic engagement and a mammoth voter registration drive, students were invited to Pitt Day in Harrisburg with an opportunity to meet their lawmakers, to get a first-hand view of how state government works, and to network with fellow students, alumni, and students from the other Pitt campuses.

Our real world focus on civic engagement has resulted in 86% of surveyed students reporting that they are registered to vote and 79% report that they will vote in the upcoming election.

Pitt-Johnstown recently launched the inaugural Robert M. Smith Academy with a Real World College Readiness Program for local high school students. The goal of the program was to prepare the cohort for their upcoming transition to college by exposing them to the elements of the collegiate experience. As the Academy cohort moves throughout the academic year, additional opportunities will be made available by Pitt-Johnstown, including dual enrollment, accelerated admission, and intensive advising, as well as other support.


experiential learning
study abroad
community service
mentored research programs
entrepreneurship initiatives
interdisciplinary learning & initiatives

Compared to Respondents from Mid-east Public Institutions, Pitt-Johnstown students far exceeded their peers in: Participation, Internships, Co-ops, Field Experience and Student Teaching or Clinical Placements

Compared to respondents on the Noel Levitz Student Satisfaction Survey, Pitt-Johnstown students exceeded their peers in faculty satisfaction factors including: Academic Advising, Classroom Instruction, Faculty-student Interaction and Faculty Availability


We are continuing our efforts to increase, sustain, and enhance the quality of our facilities and technology. A complete redesign and renovation of our Engineering and Science Building will house our new Engineering program and provide the unique space and technology to promote our STEM curriculum. Construction is underway and will include the following: 

  • Renovation of 65,000 square foot Engineering and Science Building
  • Expanded space for both the Engineering and Chemistry programs housed in building
  • Chemistry will have three new teaching labs and two new research labs
  • Engineering will have 15 teaching labs, an expanded computer lab and additional classrooms
  • New Design/Build Lab and new Magnetics lab
  • About 9,000 additional square feet for engineering
  • Building will feature student lounge space and student collaboration spaces for both engineering and chemistry students
  • Additional faculty offices 

Construction has also begun on the Murtha Center, which will provide a much-needed multipurpose space on campus that is capable of hosting workshops, academic symposia, student assemblies and public debates.

Substantial interior renovations were made to the Biology and Pre-Medical Sciences academic center. The $1.9 million project involved the renovation of 5720 sq. ft. of space in Krebs Hall, creating five new teaching and research laboratories as well as over a dozen new faculty offices. The biology areas, as well as the renovations underway in chemistry and engineering, will fulfill our strategic commitment to completely overhaul or renovate and redesign our teaching and learning spaces as well as upgrades in associated instructional technologies.

Meanwhile, in the residential sphere, the College Park Apartments (CPA), a property of 140 apartment style beds located near campus, are slated for renovation. The upcoming CPA renovation will include extensive upgrades for students. The scope of work for the $6.5 million project includes:

  • New Heating and Air Conditioning System
  • New Roof
  • WI-Fi
  • New kitchens and flooring in apartments not previously renovated
  • Bathroom upgrades
  • Removal of balconies, replacement windows and repairs to exterior facade
  • New lighting and carpeting in corridors and lobby
  • Sprinklers and updated fire protection
  • Renovation to selected apartments for ADA Accessibility

Responding to the evolving needs of our students, plans are also underway to create a Learning Commons on the Owen Library first floor. Specifically, the renovated space will be a comfortable study area that could be utilized for group or individual study. An emphasis on technology resources, including those related to information literacy and on-line research databases, will enable students not only to access library resources in the library space, but also to utilize a wide range of digital and virtual learning tools in a sophisticated yet informal learning environment.

Three of our student townhouses are also slated for renovations. Summit, Wilderness, Cascade and Timberline Manors are high demand townhouse style student housing that are slated for interior upgrades to include new finishes and furnishings as well as resurfacing adjacent parking spaces. Upgrades to safety and security will be made through installation of proximity readers to control access to residential units. Other upgrades will include the addition of central laundry facilities for the units.

The Pitt-Johnstown campus continues to take strides to elevate our environmental profile and make a positive contribution to the environment in which we live, work and recreate. By joining the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program, Pitt-Johnstown will be involved in projects that enhance habitat for wildlife and preserve natural resources for the benefit of the local community. These projects may include: placing nesting boxes for cavity-nesting birds such as bluebirds and swallows, utilizing integrated pest management techniques, conserving water, and maintaining food and cover for wildlife.

In upgrades towards Residence life
(CPA, Buckhorn, Sunset, Lodges, etc.)


Pitt-Johnstown has identified, as a principal goal within its strategic plan, that the university will make progress toward sustaining and enhancing programs that have a positive community impact. Our profile and relevance in the communities we serve has never been stronger.

In 2009, the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown embarked upon the most extensive community service initiative in its history. Since then, “Pitt-Johnstown @ Your Service” has evolved into a year-round initiative that connects students, faculty, and staff with community organizations and events throughout the area.

Through this distinctive program, members of the Pitt-Johnstown community have volunteered more than 30,000 hours to service projects - efforts equating to more than $3.6 million in value - to support areas of vital importance to Pitt-Johnstown and the community. The program has resulted in Pitt-Johnstown being named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for the fourth time.

The university announced in September 2014 our partnership with a number of community associations and other entities to work toward strengthening our community with a focus on the Moxham area of Johnstown. The Moxham neighborhood of Johnstown, the original home to Pitt-Johnstown before moving to its current location in suburban Richland Township, has been a focus of many @ Your Service projects. As part of its commitment to the Johnstown community, Pitt-Johnstown has embraced a leadership role in working to reduce blight throughout the city.

The concerted efforts of our talented and dedicated faculty and staff committed to effective advising, counseling and support for student learning has resulting in higher levels of student engagement than peer institutions. The average number of hours per week that students engage in community service or volunteer work will meet or exceed 2.5

Recognizing the rising trend of students to combine community college with four-year institutions, Pitt-Johnstown entered into a formal articulation agreement with Penn Highlands Community College. The University also formalized a strategic partnership with Concurrent Technologies Corporation that will provide research opportunities for engineering students.

The faculty and students of the new Division of Business and Enterprise will also play an important role in regional efforts to stimulate innovation and manufacturing. Sponsored programs such as Pitt-Johnstown LIVE, (Launching Innovative Ventures and Entrepreneurs) PITTch Fest and our Shark Tank competitions have been very well received by the local business community. Pitt-Johnstown will once again build on the host Pitt-Johnstown LIVE, a community showcase for makers and innovators to sell products, exchange ideas, collaborate with potential partners and to PITTch their ideas to investors.

UPJ Connects with Community Public Service Big Part of Campus Life

“Thanks to the school’s spirit of leadership and interaction, this is an exciting time for our region. Our region is blessed to have such a community-focused university in our midst. We are certain UPJ’s students are also inspired to greatness by the example of their own university’s dedication to improving the world around it, by Pitt-Johnstown’s commitment to “do something to improve our community.”  - Excerpt from Tribune Democrat, Editorial

Pitt-Johnstown hosted a community event = with keynote speaker David McDonald, author of Saving America’s Cities: A Tried and Proven Plan to Revive Stagnant and Decaying Cities. This event focused on strengthening and advancing the community, jobs and economic growth, and addressing challenging demographics, reinforcing our role as an anchor institution that takes seriously its role in convening the leaders and opinion makers in the area to find solutions affecting our community.


The Marketing Team enthusiastically embraced the goal to build awareness and increase support for Pitt-Johnstown through enhanced marketing and communications efforts.  Over the past year, we have expanded our market and outreach effort throughout Pennsylvania and beyond.  Additionally, newly developed strategic marketing efforts, delivered across media platforms, were implemented to drive traffic to the Pitt-Johnstown website and increase applications.

All of our communications promote the Pitt-quality education that is offered in an up-close-and-personal learning environment, where talented faculty cultivate excellence and facilitate student success and real world readiness.

Traditional print and television buys were coupled with intense social media campaigns to bolster recruitment across the state.  Initial and positive results of the marketing effort are evidenced by the sharp increase in applications as well as the greatly improved website and social media analytics. 

Pitt-Johnstown Wins 2015 University Standard of Excellence Web Award
Twitter followers increased by 343% to 2,735
Facebook followers increased by 275% to 7,534



As we move toward formalizing our Capital Campaign, we continue to see very significant fundraising successes. Over the past two years, we have taken in about $6 million in donations during the silent phase.

Additionally, we have revamped our development operation with the hiring of the first Vice President of Institutional Advancement and several other key personnel. In preparation for the capital campaign, we significantly enhanced our Board of Advisors with the addition of eight new community members and distinguished alumni. 

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

These new board members will help us 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.

Academic and athletic student aid
Facility enhancements
Faculty support
Real World civic engagement and experiential learning
Faculty and student undergraduate research
Where most needed

The $30-million fundraising goal of the campaign for Pitt-Johnstown will focus on providing endowed and current fund support to benefit.


• We continue to be proud of the achievements of our students and welcome opportunities to showcase them.  One of the ways we showcase their success is the annual “Fall into Research – A Day of Scholarship.” Now in its fifth year, the event showcased the work of faculty and summer students.

• More than 200 undergraduate students presented in the form of posters or talks at the 2015 Symposium for Promotion of Academic and Creative Enquiry (SPACE). A total of 135 posters and 16 talks were presented on subjects as diverse as original works of creative writing, dye-sensitized solar cells for renewable energy, hydraulic fracturing and air pollution, and an app that aggregates events in the Johnstown area.

• A joint venture by Windber Research Institute (WRI) and University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown has led to the publication of a manuscript in the Journal of Translational Medicine. The research, titled Inhibition of cancer cell growth by ruthenium complexes, was published February 12, 2016, and capped a four-year study.

A team led by Lisa Bell-Loncella, associate professor and Chemistry Department chair at Pitt-Johnstown, and George Iida, director of cell biology at WRI, hypothesized that some metal-containing complexes recently reported in the literature might have potential in treating breast cancer.

Two Pitt-Johnstown students, Marc Purazo and Yifeng Lu, began experiments in the WRI facilities to test the hypothesis. They found that one complex showed significant growth inhibition against various cancer cells, including breast and bone cancers, and also melanoma and lymphoma. Purazo, who is now a research associate at WRI, demonstrated that the complex inhibited the production of growth factors that are important for establishing tumor metastasis.

Our student athletes continue to make us Mt. Cat Proud! Since joining the PSAC two years ago, Pitt-Johnstown athletics teams and coaches have distinguished themselves in the conference and well beyond.

Pitt-Johnstown student athletes have achieved distinction not only on the playing field, but in the classroom and community as well.  This year, a record 271 students participated in athletics and maintained GPAs that exceed the average for the student body. 

Additionally, Pitt-Johnstown has the unique distinction of being the only school in the PSAC with every team maintaining an above average GPA in the Academic Success Rate.  Our student athletes successfully balance athletics and academics while contributing an average of 2.5 hours per week to community service.


  • PSAC Coach of the Year
  • Coached 12 individual National

Champions… including 2 this year

  • Won his 21st Regional Championship
  • Remains the third “Winningest” Wrestling Coach in the History of the NCAA [all divisions] with 555 victories
  • The first NCAA Divisions II Coach to reach 500 victories
  • Was inducted into the Western Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame on April 23, 2016






  • 4 College Scholar Recipients
  • 4 All-American Honors Wrestlers
  • 2 National Title Wrestlers
  • 1 National Runner Up Wrestler
  • 10 All-Conference Honor Athletes
  • 1 University Scholars Award

The commitment of our students to serving the community has earned Pitt-Johnstown a place on the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for 2014.  Details on the service efforts of our students are included on the Community and Economic Impact section of our website


Our key indicators for success are all on the rise. Efforts to increase the successful integration of first-year students have proven successful. Our dedicated faculty and staff have provided the advising, counseling and support for student learning that contributed to a rise in retention rate for first-year students. Our retention rate of 82% is well above the 72% rate in 2007 and well exceeded our goal of 77%.

Additionally, our six year graduation rate now stands at 57% exceeding our short term goal of 55%. More than 85% of our 2016 graduates earned professional & pre-professional degrees.