Pitt-Johnstown alumni, current and retired faculty and staff, and friends from the community honored our distinguished alumni at the September 30, 2016, event at Heritage Hall in the Living-Learning Center. The event drew 114 attendees and raised more than $8,000 for student scholarships.
The evening recognized the 2016 Distinguished Alumnus of the Year honoree Thomas Kurtz, Legacy Award recipient Ralph Graff and Young Alumna of the Year winner Kecia Bal (pictured at right with Dr. Spectar).
Proceeds from this annual event provide scholarships to deserving students.
Distinguished Alumnus of the Year - Thomas Kurtz, class of ’77.
Tom is the President and CEO of the Chan Soon-Shiong Institute of Molecular Medicine at Windber. Mr. Kurtz earned an MBA in Medical Practice Management and is one of approximately 600 people in the country with this degree. He is also a certified member in the American College of Medical Practice Executives (ACMPE). In addition to his current position, Mr. Kurtz is also the Chairman of the3 Board of Directors for the American Red Cross Keystone Chapter, and is also a member of numerous other boards such as JARI, Johnstown YMCA, and Chairman of the Pitt-Johnstown Board of Advisors. Mr. Kurtz has also developed and taught classes in Healthcare Sociology at Penn Highlands Community College and Mount Aloysius College.
Legacy Award - Ralph Graff, class of ’47.
An Alumnus of the 1947 class of the University of Pittsburgh, Ralph Graff began his education at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown’s original concrete campus in Moxham after serving in the United States Army 6th Signal Corps during World War II. A chemical engineer and expert in elastomeric polymers, Mr. Graff spend 40 yard working for the DuPont Company, and retired as the head of Market Exploration of Elastomers. Mr. Graff was a 65-year member of the American Chemical Society. While a student at Pitt-Johnstown, he was involved with a number of organizations, including president of Sigma Tau engineering honor society and the editor of the Panther Club, UPJ’s first student-run yearbook. Mr. Graff is a generous supporter of Pitt-Johnstown student scholarships because he credits donor support of scholarship for his success.
Young Alumna of the Year - Kecia Bal, class of ’04
A reporter with The Tribune-Democrat, Kecia has more than a decade of professional storytelling, writing, and editing experience. More than 5,000 of her articles have been published in newspapers, magazines and online. Her work has appeared across the country, from Human Resource Executive Magazine and The Los Angeles Times to numerous trade publications. Kecia was recently selected to write a novel with best-selling author James Patterson after winning a competition through Master Class. Bal covers the business beat and Somerset County for The Tribune-Democrat. She recently took home first place awards in the Keystone Press and Golden Quills journalism contests.