University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown
Pitt-Johnstown Seal

Pitt-Johnstown Names New President - March 20, 2007

The Tribune-Democrat

Published: March 20, 2007 11:20 pm   

Jem Spectar, provost and vice president of academic affairs at Western Oregon University, was named Tuesday as president of Pitt-Johnstown, effective July 1.

Spectar will succeed President Albert L. Etheridge, who is retiring after 13 years at the helm of the Richland Township campus.

Spectar was among nine finalists and is seen as an administrator with strong academic and leadership credentials.

“As a senior administrator at several institutions of higher education, Dr. Spectar has established a leadership style marked by an emphasis on consultation, collaboration and transparency,” said James V. Maher, Pitt provost and senior vice chancellor.

Spectar is no stranger to Pennsylvania.

Prior to going to Western Oregon three years ago, he was associate provost for academic affairs and a political science professor at the University of Scranton for two years.

“I love Pennsylvania, and I’m looking forward to beginning my work (at Pitt-Johnstown.) I think it’s an excellent institution. The Johnstown campus is an extremely beautiful setting. It looks like a resort,” he said in a brief phone interview from Western Oregon.

He said he has no agenda for any immediate changes and is “strongly committed to student success.”

“I’m interested in listening to campus constituencies to get an understanding of the needs and concerns before (launching) any initiatives,” Spectar said.

When Spectar visited Johnstown’s campus this winter, he had done his homework on Pitt-Johnstown and came armed with a proposed seven-year development plan, said Richard Ulsh, president of the Pitt-Johnstown Faculty Senate.

Ulsh said Spectar wants to examine expanding programs and developing closer relations with the community. Spectar impressed him as a “very good communicator, a person who is direct and articulate, scholarly but yet down to earth.”

Although he is excited by the appointment, Ulsh is disappointed the local finalist – Jerry Samples, Pitt-Johnstown’s academic and student affairs vice president – did not get the job.

“We don’t want to lose a good academic vice president,” he said.

Samples – a mechanical engineering technology professor – said Spectar, whom he has not yet met, “will do a fine job. He had good credentials.”

As for his own future, Samples said, “I have been looking at president positions and will continue that. Until that happens, my future depends on what happens when Dr. Spectar gets here.”

Joe Teets, president of the University Student Senate at Pitt-Johnstown, said he’s excited about the new president’s openness to student input. He said Spectar seemed to be interested in initiatives that the senate will be presenting to him – the establishment of a health and wellness center and wireless Internet.


Last Reviewed: April 20, 2007