As the holidays draw near, it is a most fitting time to reflect on the many treasures that we enjoy at Pitt-Johnstown and to thank you for the important work that you have done to help Pitt-Johnstown earn its place at the forefront of baccalaureate colleges. The holiday spirit is in abundance at Pitt-Johnstown this season. As we look back on 2010, we find many reasons to be grateful and proud of the accomplishments of our students, faculty, and staff.
A source of great inspiration continues to be faculty-student collaboration in scholarship and research. Faculty, such as Dr. Nina Girard, Dr. Kristen Majocha, Dr. Manisha Nigam, and Dr. Thomas Malosh, to name a few, are working collaboratively with students on very impressive research projects in many relevant areas. Beyond the classroom, Dr. John McGrath and Mr. Ron Vickroy continue their scholarly efforts to analyze and promote economic development in our region by conducting the annual Economic Climate Study for the Greater Johnstown/Cambria County Chamber of Commerce. Through our theatre department, students put on a well-attended and very high-quality production of the popular musical "The Wedding Singer," and our geography students participated in an important project that is helping to save churches in the community. Recently, our own Dr. Janet Grady was accepted for fellowship into the American Academy of Nursing, a prestigious honor that places her at the forefront of educators in our country. Mountain Cat Proud! We are currently initiating searches to fill 22 tenure-stream and non-tenure-stream faculty positions, and a full-time director for the Wellness Center.
Our students continue to make the most of their collegiate experience. At the recent ribbon cutting and open house for our new nursing simulation lab, I was inspired by the commitment that our nursing students have made to their education and their future careers. Sophomore nursing student John Cecere enlightened me about the pulse oximetry method of monitoring the oxygenation of a patient’s blood. He even measured mine, after assuring me that “it wouldn’t hurt a bit.”
Participation in our RealWorld Interest Groups has continued to grow during the program’s second year, which means that our first-year students are engaging with faculty, staff, and community mentors in record numbers enabling us to fulfill our promise of preparing students for the real world. Results from the latest Noel-Levitz Satisfaction Survey show that our efforts to enhance student engagement and service to our students are working and adding to our reasons to be Mountain Cat Proud. Pitt-Johnstown rates above our peers in quality campus services, services to help students choose a career, and overall service to students.
Our dedicated staff continue their strong commitment to our campus community and beyond. During our recent “Pitt-Johnstown @ Your Service” week, people like Kim Miller, Joyce Radovanic, and Jenn Kist invested countless hours developing and participating in service projects for the betterment of our communities. I was also privileged, just this week, to recognize two employees for exemplary service. Ms. Carrie Owens, has served our students and their parents for 33 years through her work in the Business Office, was presented with the President’s Staff Award for Excellence to Pitt-Johnstown, and Mrs. Janet Hoffman, a financial aid specialist, was presented with the President’s Staff Award for Excellence in Service to the Community. These two fine examples of staff commitment are among the many staff members to contribute, on a daily basis, to the support of our faculty, students, and community.
As is our tradition and my honor, I recognized several members of our staff who celebrated significant milestones in their careers at Pitt-Johnstown. These 31 employees represent nearly a half-millennium of service:
Sadly, we said farewell to a dedicated and long-serving professor, prolific scholar, and friend with the passing of Dr. Jean Sedlar. During a memorial service attended by her family, friends, and colleagues, we were all moved by the many wonderful memories of Dr. Sedlar that were shared. All painted a portrait of intellectual vigor, passionate musicianship, and quiet philanthropy supporting many students, faculty, and perfect strangers throughout the years.
Over the past year, we have made significant progress in our three-year, $30-million plan to upgrade campus facilities consistent with the lofty recommendations of the Facilities, Infrastructure, and Technology Task Force adopted in the New Dimension of Excellence strategic plan. The fall semester was ushered in with significant enhancements to the Engineering and Science Building and Blackington Hall. Planning is already underway to a complete a major renovation to Biddle Hall and upgrade the classrooms in Krebs Hall, and the design phase is progressing for the new 28,000-square-foot Nursing and Health Sciences Building. By the start of the 2011 fall term, all campus classrooms will be technology ready. The student response to these upgrades has been overwhelmingly positive. Student Government Association President Jacob Shirk remarked, “The projects are a great demonstration of the University’s continuous efforts to create a better environment for the students, despite the current economic times.”
Several upgrades have been completed in our auxiliary areas. While work is nearing completion on the Wellness Center, upgrades have been made to the Sports Center, including an expansion of the wrestling room and installation of carpet on the upper level of the building. In addition to a complete revamping of the Varsity Café in the Living-Learning Center, the Student Union has been transformed with the renovation of several dining areas and the addition of new dining options. Interior renovations have been completed in Larkspur, Foxfire, Woodland, and Heather lodges, and all residential facilities, with the exception of the townhouses, have been converted from key to swipe-card access.
Our alumni and friends continue to engage in many meaningful ways. Throughout the fall, we reached out to alumni through regional mixers held in Westmoreland County and Pittsburgh. More than 75 alumni attended these events and shared many fond memories of their days at Pitt-Johnstown, and membership in the Alumni Association has exceeded 500 for the first time in the Association's history. Additionally, $29,000 was raised for athletic scholarships at the inaugural Blue and Gold Golf Classic. I was heartened by the generosity of the employer, Civil and Environmental Consultants, Inc., and coworkers of our alumnus Matthew Oberst '08 who established a scholarship in his memory. Many of you will remember Matt as the highly visible face of Pitt-Johnstown when he was featured prominently in our "Get Ready for the Real World" marketing campaign. This year, overall, we received $332,757, a 172% increase over last year. We were informed by donors of $1.65 million that they intend to provide through their estate plans.
Recently, we held our fourth annual Campus Light Up Night where we illuminated 25 Goodwill Arches at University Square. While these arches add a beautiful radiance to University Square, they also represent the intense hope and spirit of goodwill that permeates our community. In this season of sharing, I hope that you find greater fulfillment and inspiration as you go about serving and sharing. Season's Greetings!
You can read more about our many accomplishments in our Winter 2010 Community Report. To access the report, please click here (log in using PIN: 2010).