It is with deep sadness that we announce the passing of Dr. Frank H. Blackington, III, President of the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown from 1974 to 1993. Dr. Blackington passed away June 19 in Duxbury, Mass.
Dr. Blackington served as third President of Pitt-Johnstown for nearly 20 years, a period during which the campus experienced significant growth. During his administration, Pitt-Johnstown transitioned from a small commuter college to one that was increasingly residential through the addition of nine residence facilities. He also oversaw the construction of the Zamias Aquatic Center, new athletics fields, the Sports Center, the Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center, the Physical Plant building, Whalley Chapel, and Living-Learning Center, and the expansion of the Student Union. Baccalaureate degree programs established during his tenure include secondary education programs in biology, chemistry, Earth and space science, and general science; geology; chemistry; computer science; geography; and business economics. An associate's degree in respiratory therapy was also established, as were certificate programs in business and international studies. Dr. Blackington's tenure also saw the introduction of women's intercollegiate athletics, acceptance as the first regional campus into the National Collegiate Athletic Association, establishment of the President's Scholars Program, and the first "computerization" of the campus.
During his time at Pitt-Johnstown, Dr. Blackington was actively involved in the community, serving on several local boards, and was a champion for the economic development of our region. He oversaw the successful "Shaping a Future" capital campaign that raised more than $16 million, sponsored six major symposia for the campus and community, established the Center for Technological Training of the Unemployed (CENTECH), the John P. and Joyce Murtha Center for Continuing Education and Professional Development, and was instrumental in the creation of the National Center for Excellence in Metalworking Technology, which evolved into today's Concurrent Technologies Corporation. Additionally, Pitt-Johnstown became a Regional Computer Resource Center.
Following the devastating flood of 1977, Dr. Blackington opened the campus to evacuees and relief workers. More than 400 community members were provided with temporary housing in the campus' residential facilities, and an additional 540 volunteers and workers from relief organizations were provided with accommodations.
At the time of his retirement, when asked to reflect on his accomplishments, Dr. Blackington modestly commented, "All I did was my job. Then I remind myself that it is important for people to have the opportunity to say this is a job eminently worth doing and I look at it as a celebration of the enterprise rather than the individual."
Following his retirement from Pitt-Johnstown, Dr. Blackington and his wife Rosella relocated to Duxbury, where he continued to remain active in his community. He served on the board of directors for the Sandwich Glass Museum and was as a member of the Snug Harbor Community Chorus and the Pilgrim Church of Duxbury Choir.
A native of Keene, New Hampshire, Dr. Blackington earned his bachelor's degree in education at Keene State College, his master's degree in education from Boston University, and his PhD in education from Michigan State University. He served in the US Army from 1951 to 1953, during the Korean Conflict, and held the rank of sergeant major.
After completing military service, he briefly served as director of publicity at Keene State, and then was appointed head of the social studies department of Peterborough High School in New Hampshire. He also held appointments as head of the social studies department and assistant principal at Marshfield High School in Massachusetts. Upon earning his PhD in 1960, he joined the faculty of Michigan State University where he remained until accepting the Presidency of Pitt-Johnstown.
Pitt-Johnstown President Dr. Jem Spectar offered, "The University is grateful for the excellent service of Dr. Blackington and for the enormous contribution he made to enhancing the quality and impact of Pitt-Johnstown and strengthening links between our University and the greater Johnstown community. Our campus, our community, and our world are a better place because of the service of Dr. Blackington. Our hearts go out to his family."
Dr. Blackington is survived by his wife of 53 years, Rosella; his daughter Deborah Blackington of Duxbury; his son Bradley Blackington and his wife Stephanie of Carmel, Ind.; and his grandchildren Courtney, Tyler, Brynne, and Grace Blackington.
A Funeral Service will be held on Saturday in Duxbury. Interment will be in the Mayflower Cemetery, Duxbury. The family suggests that contributions in Dr. Blackington’s memory may be made to the “Frank Blackington Memorial Fund” for the Pilgrim Church of Duxbury Choir, P.O. Box 186, Duxbury, MA, 02331, or to Snug Harbor Community Chorus, P.O. Box 945, Duxbury, MA. 02331.
Celebrating its 85th anniversary this year, Pitt-Johnstown is located in the Laurel Highlands of Western Pennsylvania and is the first and largest regional campus of the University of Pittsburgh. The University offers a high-quality educational experience in a supportive living-learning environment designed to prepare students for the real world of the 21st century. Pitt-Johnstown is recognized by the Princeton Review as a “Best Northeastern College,” by G.I. Jobs as a “Military Friendly School,” and Pennsylvania Business Central as a "Top 100 Organization" for 2011. Additionally, Pitt-Johnstown has been named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll.