Pitt-Johnstown to note three landmark milestones

George Hancock

posted 八月 04, 2017


Note: The following guest editorial ran in the August 3, 2017, edition of The Tribune-Democrat.
Read The Tribune-Democrat editorial > 


Time’s passage carries different meanings for various individuals.

Many folks regard time as a force that either moves fast or slow. Some people just do not have enough time. Even more people love to squander time. Some anxious individuals attempt to cheat time through various nefarious methods.

Runners love to race against that steadily moving time clock. How fast can I run a 10K? What’s my 5K time on a hilly course? How far can I run in an hour?

A few runners ponder how many miles can they run in 44 years. One runner actually knows the answer to that question.

Time is a runner’s friend. Even for those who run slowly. Time frightens very few runners. Most have time for a daily run. Time treats them well.

Time is also a friend to the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown. Three special anniversaries occur on campus this year.

This year marks the 90th anniversary of Pitt-Johns-town. This year also marks the 50th anniversary of the Richland Township campus.

And it is the 10th anniversary of Jem Spectar’s presidency at Pitt-Johnstown.

The University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown was founded on May 12, 1927.

The Center for Junior College of the University of Pittsburgh was housed in the former Johnstown High School building located at Somerset and Napoleon streets in Johnstown.

The junior college was located there until 1946.

Returning World War II soldiers and the GI bill necessitated a move across town into Moxham and larger quarters at the old Cypress Avenue School. Junior Pitt, also known as the asphalt campus, held classes here until 1967.

A land gift from the Windber-based Berwind-White Corp. coal-mining operation and subsequent land purchases created the beautiful Richland Township campus.

The Richland school opened for the fall term in September 1967. Fifty years later, the campus is a superb 655-acre educational complex.

Ten years ago, Spectar was named president of UPJ. This decade featured incredible renovation and construction campus-wide. The transformation is amazing.

Biddle and Krebs halls were remade into modern academic leaning centers. The engineering building also was recently renovated.

Two new buildings were constructed during this 10-year period. The Nursing and Health Science Building was dedicated in 2013. The John P. Murtha Center for Public Service and National Competiveness opened this year.

The Heroes Memorial, dedicated in 2011, offers a place for reflective solitude.

Student housing areas were also extensively refurbished.

The College Park apartment complex underwent extensive reconstruction. The Buckhorn and Sunset student lodges are currently undergoing a top-to-bottom renovation process.

Several of the student townhouse units underwent makeovers.

The Pitt-Johnstown administrative team skillfully guided these projects to fruition despite tight budgets, escalating construction costs and bureaucratic babel. The finished products are incredible.

When was the last time you walked the Richland Township campus? Are you a Pitt-Johnstown graduate? When did you graduate?

I was a student at UPJ from 1971 through my graduation on April 18, 1975. The campus transformation from that point forward is remarkable.

I have a unique relationship with the local campus. I was employed there – in four different buildings – from 1993 through my retirement on Nov. 30, 2016.

I have lived, since 1987, in several residences bordering the Pitt-Johnstown campus. If I take a short run, I can enter campus grounds. For years, my evening runs began near the campus.

I have this recurring thought while running across the Richland campus: the original junior college at the old Johnstown High School is gone, as is the Cypress Avenue asphalt campus. Memories linger for some but fade as time continues its persistent march.

The Richland Township campus flourishes in abundant fashion. Students, faculty and staff populate the school grounds through the four seasons. The colors, the seasonal sights, the wildlife and the birds impress these daily residents.

Pitt-Johnstown’s special anniversary is upon us.

Autumn’s delightful splendor soon will envelop the campus. A walk across the grounds will invigorate a person’s tortured psyche.

The evolution of this college is astounding. Hmm, that sounds like a great book title.

Enjoy your visit! 

George A. Hancock of Scalp Level Borough is an occasional contributor to the editorial page.