The University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown’s 85th anniversary celebration will culminate next week with a series of events planned as part of the school’s annual Homecoming and Family Weekend. It’s been 85 years since Pitt-Johnstown offered its first class in downtown Johnstown (at the site of the former Johnstown High School) on September 24, 1927. Next week also marks the 45th anniversary of the dedication of the school’s 655-acre Richland Township campus. Former President Dwight Eisenhower presided over the ceremony held on September 27, 1967.
The celebration will kick off with the sixth annual PITT-nic in the Park on Wednesday, September 26 in downtown Johnstown where the school first started. The event, which will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in Central Park, features free hot dogs, refreshments, prizes, and entertainment. The school’s mascot, PJ the Mountain Cat will be on hand to distribute balloons and greet visitors.
On Thursday, September 27, Pitt-Johnstown will host Johnstown native Dr. Michael Walzer, one of our country’s foremost political thinkers, for a Glocal Society Lecture. Dr. Walzer’s lecture, “Social Justice: Local and Global,” will begin at 8 p.m. in the J. Irving Whalley Memorial Chapel. It is free and open to the public. Pitt-Johnstown is proud to be partnering with the Johnstown Area Heritage Association and the Beth Sholom Congregation on this event, which coincides with the launch of the year-long Johnstown Jewish Community Heritage Project.
On Friday evening, the skies above Richland Township will be illuminated by a spectacular fireworks display by Zambelli Fireworks, one of the nation’s oldest and largest fireworks companies and known as the “First Family of Fireworks.” The display, which will be choreographed to music, will begin at 8:30 a.m. on the Campus Mall. The Pitt-Johnstown Alumni Association will host a reception earlier that evening for alumni and current and retired faculty and staff. Advance registration is preferred for the event. Musical entertainment will be provided throughout the evening by the local band Shades of June.
The events on Saturday, September 29 will begin with the Mountain Cat Dash 5k FunRun/walk at 9 a.m. followed by the annual Homecoming parade at 11 a.m. Keeping with the 85th anniversary celebration, the theme of the parade will be “The Roaring Twenties.” The parade will feature floats and banners, the Forest Hills marching band, and Homecoming queen candidates. The parade will form at the Richland Cinemas before moving onto Theatre Drive then onto Schoolhouse Road. The parade will enter campus via Picking Drive and proceed onto Kunk’s Drive where a reviewing stand will be erected in front of the J. Irving Whalley Memorial Chapel.
Immediately following the parade, the coronation of the 2012 Homecoming Queen will be held at 12:30 at University Square. The afternoon will include a number of activities for children of all ages ranging from a live performance by Pitt-Johnstown’s own “Mad Scientist” David Willey (nationally known for his appearances on the “Tonight Show with Jay Leno”), an up-close and personal look at more than a dozen different animals at the Pitt-Johnstown Zoo, and inflatables and games on the campus mall.
A special 85th Anniversary Dinner will be held on Saturday beginning at 6 p.m. in the grand lobby of Blackington Hall. The evening will conclude with a concert on the lawn by the band Elowen.
Additional information on events being held as part of Homecoming and Family Weekend is available online at: www.pitt-johnstown.pitt.edu/Homecoming.
Today, Pitt-Johnstown’s enrollment has grown to 3,000 students and its number of alumni now exceeds 19,500. The school employs nearly 500 individuals and has an annual economic impact on the region that exceeds $65 million. With a vast physical plant, Pitt-Johnstown maintains more than one million-square-feet of facility space, which includes 37 buildings and a new Nursing and Health Sciences Building currently under construction. In the past five years, alone, Pitt-Johnstown has invested more than $30 million in facility upgrades on its campus. With an ever-expanding global footprint, Pitt-Johnstown welcomed 90 international students to its campus for the current academic year. Pitt-Johnstown is nationally recognized by the Princeton Review as a “Best in the Northeast” College, a G.I. Jobs “Military Friendly School,” and a President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll honoree.