Murtha Center Hosts Opening Ceremony


posted April 07, 2017

Pitt-Johnstown welcomed dignitaries to The John P. Murtha Center for Public Service and National Competitiveness to dedication ceremony and ribbon-cutting, April 6, 2017.

“I think what's most impressive to me is that people recognize that Jack put his whole heart and soul into representing this area because he really felt that he could make a contribution and could do some positive things for his country as well as our district,” said the congressman's widow, Joyce Murtha. Mrs. Murtha and their children, John and Patrick, joined Pitt-Johnstown President Jem Spectar for the ribbon-cutting.

Cassidy Spectar

Benjamin L. Cassidy, the Assistant Secretary for Legislative Affairs at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and Pitt-Johnstown President Jem Spectar at the Heroes Memorial.

President Spectar said Murtha “left a monumental impact on our campus, our community and our country.”

Keynote speaker for the event was Benjamin L. Cassidy, the Assistant Secretary for Legislative Affairs at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, representing Retired Marine Corps General and current Secretary of Homeland Security John F. Kelly.  Secretary Cassidy said Murtha was “a man of tremendous courage” who “was fearless and a staunch believer in speaking truth to power, a quality much admired, but seldom practiced.”

Mr. Murtha was a former Marine Corps officer and was the first Vietnam War veteran elected to the in the U.S. House of Representatives, where he served until his death in 2010.

Prior to his death, John P. Murtha represented Pennsylvania’s 12th congressional district, which includes the City of Johnstown, in the U.S. House of Representatives for more than 35 years. He is the longest-serving member of Congress in the history of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, most notably chairing the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense. A Pitt alumnus, Murtha earned a bachelor’s degree in economics in 1961.

The event also featured speakers:

  • Pitt-Johnstown President Jem Spectar
  • Congressman Mark Critz
  • Mark Pasquerilla, Chairman and President of Crown Holding
  • Ed Sheehan, President and CEO of Concurrent Technologies Corporation
  • Michael Lauf, President and CEO of Cape Cod Healthcare
  • Col. John Hugya (ret), former chief of staff to Congressman Murtha
  • State Sen. John Wozniak
  • State Rep. Bryan Barbin
  • State Sen. Wayne Langerholc
  • Tom Kurtz, President and CEO of the Chan Soon-Shiong Institute of Molecular Medicine at Windber

Virtual MurthaThe 7,400-square-foot center is dedicated to Congressman Murtha’s commitment to public service and national competitiveness in the region.

The center includes an exhibit in which visitors may access the John P. Murtha Congressional Papers, a collection of Mr. Murtha’s personal documents donated to Pitt by his foundation, an Assembly Hall, Veteran’s Lounge, offices, and a mixed-reality display of a virtual Rep. Murtha at his desk. The technology was designed by Concurrent Technologies Corporation through Microsoft HoloLens.

The center will also host public lectures, symposiums, debates, and guest lecturers.

The University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown is marking its 90th anniversary well as the 50th year of the campus in its Richland Township location. Pitt-Johnstown was founded in 1927 and is the first and largest regional campus of the University of Pittsburgh. Pitt-Johnstown is recognized by the Princeton Review as a “Best in the Northeast” college, by G.I. Jobs as a “Military Friendly School,” and by Pennsylvania Business Central as a "Top 100 Organization.” The distinctive combination of Pitt-Johnstown’s people, programs, and place results in exceptional performance in preparing students for career and professional success. Pitt-Johnstown is the regional leader, educating for success in the Real World.