The Pitt-Johnstown campus community officially welcomed the Class of 2017 today, beginning at 7 a.m. when students starting arriving on campus to move into their residence halls. Students and parents were greeted by eager PALs (Peer Assistance Leaders) and student volunteers, who quickly unpacked vehicles and carried items directly to the students' rooms, and staff members shuttled parents from the parking lots back to the residence hall.
Following a break for lunch, students and their parents filled the Sports Center where the members of the Class of 2017 officially started their Pitt-Johnstown college careers. This fall, more than 850 students will begin their Pitt-Johnstown careers. Students entered the Sports Center proudly wearing their “Class of 2017” t-shirts provided by the Student Affairs Division and the Pitt-Johnstown Alumni Association.
Speakers at Convocation were President Jem Spectar, Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Janet Grady, Student Government Association President Noam Berns ‘14, Pitt-Johnstown Alumni Association President Gladys Go ‘92, and Stanley Pisarski, this year's recipient of the President's Award for Teaching Excellence. The prevailing message to the students was seize the opportunities being presented to you during your time at Pitt-Johnstown to get ready for the RealWorld.
Vice President Grady emphasized the importance of taking an active role in the learning process and encouraged students to get to know their faculty members and then led students in reciting the Pitt-Johnstown Pledge, which is a commitment to excellence for real world readiness:
By joining the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown, I acknowledge this commitment and I make the following pledge:
- I pledge to honor Pitt-Johnstown’s legacy of academic excellence and to contribute to this heritage.
- I pledge to fully commit myself to the continuous pursuit of knowledge, to fulfill my academic plan with diligence and integrity, and to persist until graduation.
- I pledge to make the most of every opportunity to develop and advance my personal, career, and professional goals.
- I pledge to make the most of campus life, to be fully engaged on campus, and to work collaboratively to enhance collegiate life.
- I pledge to be involved in the civic, social, and cultural life of my community and to use my knowledge, skills, and talents in service of community, country and the common good.
- I pledge to increase my knowledge and awareness of the opportunities and challenges in our world and to be ready to make a positive difference in the Real World.
In his remarks, President Spectar enthusiastically greeted the students and took a moment to acknowledge and thank all of the parents, families, and significant others who helped bring these students to this special point in their lives. He started by asking parents to reflect on when their children were younger and asked what question was invariably asked soon after starting a long road trip. Parents responded in chorus, “Are we there yet?” President Spectar’s words resounded with the entire audience as he told the incoming first-year students that they are embarking on a journey. He told students that while it is critical to have a destination in mind, the journey is made more memorable and enriching with a few side trips along the way.
President Spectar then challenged the students and asked them to think about where their future journeys will take them. “What are you doing in 2030? Are you changing our world? Are you remaking our world? Are you inventing something new? Curing the disease you thought you’d cure? Helping to solve the crime and the poverty in our neighborhoods? Are you making a difference in the community? Are you an active citizen? Do you have a good job?... Is your degree working for you? “ He concluded by asking, “What will your answer be in 2030 when you are asked, “are you there yet?”
First-year students will spend the next few days participating in a number of activities to help them make the successful transition from high school to college. Among the topics that will be presented are conflict management, academic integrity, health and wellness, financial management, career planning, and inclusivity. Several activities have been planned to promote team building among the Class of 2017. Tonight, students will gather in the Sports Center to form a human-lit Pitt-Johnstown Mountain Cat. On Saturday, students will participate in a day of service, both in the community and on campus, as part of “Pitt-Johnstown @ Your Service.”
Upperclass students will move onto campus Sunday, with Fall Term classes beginning Monday, August 26.