John and Joyce Murtha Inducted Into Pitt Cathedral of Learning Society

Natalie Bombatch

posted June 20, 2014


University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown President Jem Spectar joined University of Pittsburgh Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg and other dignitaries at a special dinner and ceremony in Pittsburgh on June 20 to honor the newest inductees into the prestigious Cathedral of Learning Society of the University of Pittsburgh.

Among the honorees is Johnstown’s own Joyce Murtha and her late husband, the Honorable John P. Murtha, Jr.

The Cathedral of Learning Society pays tribute to those outstanding individuals who have given $1 million or more over their lifetime to the University of Pittsburgh. Induction into the Cathedral of Learning Society is among the highest honors the University bestows. The Murthas join fellow Society members Joseph Katz, Frank Pasquerilla, Drue Heinz, Arnold Palmer, and many others.

“Congressman Murtha was an American hero and legislative giant whose work has had a transformational impact on the Johnstown community, the region, and the nation. Mr. Murtha is an alumnus of the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown and, along with his wife, never wavered in a commitment to the growth and vitality of the Johnstown area. This award appropriately recognizes two great friends of the University and honors an exemplary legacy of commitment, service, and generosity,” said Dr. Spectar.

US Representative John P. “Jack” Murtha dedicated his life to public service, serving his country both in the military and in the Halls of Congress. He had a long and distinguished 37-year career in the U.S. Marine Corps. Congressman Murtha received a Bronze Star with Combat V, two Purple Hearts, and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry. Upon his retirement from the Marine Corps Reserve in 1990, he was awarded the Navy Distinguished Service Medal by the commandant of the US Marine Corps. In 1974, John Murtha became the first Vietnam War combat veteran to be elected to the US Congress, representing the 12th Congressional District of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. As a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1974-2010, he was the longest serving member of Congress in state history and served as the Dean of the Pennsylvania Congressional Delegation. In addition, Mr. Murtha served on a number of House Committees, most notably as the Chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense. 

Joyce Murtha, together with her husband of more than 54 years, developed a passion for education, public service, health care, the Girl Scouts, and the Johnstown Symphony. She continues to spend time supporting related issues and organizations, including the John P. Murtha Cancer Center at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.; the Joyce Murtha Breast Care Center at Windber Medical Center in Somerset County; Women's Help Center for battered women and families in Johnstown; the Girl Scouts, with which she has been involved for 50 years; and the Johnstown Symphony.

Plans are well underway for the construction of the John P. Murtha Center for Public Service on the campus of the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown, with groundbreaking planned for this fall. The center will be dedicated to Congressman Murtha’s commitment to public service and national competitiveness in the region and will host events to facilitate and highlight service to the greater Johnstown area.

In addition to the Murthas’ tremendous support to the University of Pittsburgh, Congressman Murtha donated his papers (spanning four decades of Congressional leadership) to the University’s Hillman Library in Pittsburgh.

Founded in 1927, 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 is the regional leader, educating for the RealWorld. The distinctive combination of our people, programs, and place results in exceptional performance in preparing students for career and professional success. Pitt-Johnstown is recognized by the Princeton Review as a “Best in the Northeast” college, by G.I. Jobs as a “Military Friendly School,” by AC Online as one of the “Highest ROI Colleges in Pennsylvania,” and by Pennsylvania Business Central as a "Top 100 Organization.” Additionally, Pitt-Johnstown has been presented with The Seven Seals Award by the US Department of Defense’s office of Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR).