University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown

Office of the President

Watch Dr. Jem Spectar's 2021 Commencement Address

Dr. Jem Spectar has served as the President of the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown since July 2007.

Since then, President Spectar has provided visionary, energetic and creative leadership that has contributed to the achievement of transformative strategic goals including, significant academic program innovation, construction of new facilities, resource development and revitalized community relations. Under Spectar’s leadership, Pitt-Johnstown has since launched three new schools – nursing & health sciences, business & enterprise and engineering & computer science - that have elevated the stature, profile and impact of the institution. During Spectar's tenure, Pitt-Johnstown has been very engaged with the community, launching several initiatives, including Code for the Commonwealth and Country to advance computer literacy in K-16 and REACHland Connect, a wellness loop that will link the Campus to the center of Richland Township.

With regard to new program development, Pitt-Johnstown has added over a dozen much sought after degree programs that are generating great enthusiasm from prospective students, constituents and the communities we serve. Some degree programs added during this period include five engineering degrees, including chemical engineering; five new degrees in business, including information systems as well as a program in entrepreneurship; BSN nursing degree; justice & criminology; multi-media and digital culture; and special education.

We are proud to provide a high-quality educational experience that enables our students to graduate with the knowledge and skills of an educated person – attributes critical to safeguarding our democracy and competing in a highly competitive world in which local and global are increasingly interconnected.

Read Dr. Jem Spectar's full welcome message »

In addition, the campus has engaged in extensive upgrades to physical spaces on campus including new construction of a Wellness Center, Nursing and Health Sciences Building, Chemical Engineering Building and the John P. Murtha Center for Public Service.  Other campus buildings have undergone transformative renovations including the John P. Murtha Engineering and Science Building, full renovation of the College Park Apartments, new Biology laboratories in Krebs Hall, the Cook Family Idea Lab, and classroom spaces throughout Biddle and Krebs Halls.  Several residential buildings upgrades have been completed to include the recent renovation to the Living-Learning Center.  In all, the campus has invested more than $100 million in new facilities and renovation.

Furthermore, under the auspices of our plan for real world action, students are increasingly involved in campus activities and community service.  With its focus on civic engagement and positive action to impact our world, there has been increased involvement with our partners in the Greater Johnstown community to tackle common problems. Students, faculty and staff undertake projects in areas such as Moxham. Additionally, several new academic programs have incorporated and or expanded service-learning, internships and practicums that focus on issues, challenges and opportunities in the community. The launch of the Coding Literacy Initiative is another example as the university engages actively with community partners to advance our region. 

The university has also made significant strides in raising funds from public and private sources.  The most recent $2 million grant for chemical engineering building came on the heels of $10 million for the Murtha Center and a $4 million grant for nursing.  Private gifts from alumni, community supporters and philanthropists like Robert Smith have added millions of dollars to the endowment which has grown from about $16 million in 2007 to over $50 million. The Campus is now in the quiet phase of its "Plan for the Century" that will guide the Campus until the 100th anniversary in 2027.

Previously, he served as Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs and Professor at Western Oregon University, Associate Provost and Professor at the University of Scranton, Director of Studies and Lecturer at Princeton University, and Assistant Dean and Associate Professor of Law at the University of La Verne College of Law.  He holds a BA in international studies from the University of La Verne; an MA from the George Washington University; an MBA from Frostburg State University; a JD from the University of Maryland School Of Law; and an MA in politics and a PhD in political science from the Claremont Graduate University.  His scholarship on pressing justice and human security dilemmas in global society has been published in several international law journals.

He currently serves on University of Pittsburgh’s Institute of Politics Board of Fellows and has served on several boards including the American Conference of Academic Deans, the Association of International Educators, the Johnstown Educational Foundation, the Committee on International Education of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, and the Johnstown Area Regional Industries.

Initiatives & Programs


Dr. Spectar’s article published in the Washington Post has led to several discussions with policy makers and media regarding rural access to broadband. He is the author of the new book Movement + Music = Medicine: Fight Alzheimer's, Dementia & Parkinson's. Passionate about the arts, he has developed and curated an extensive collection of paintings, sculptures and artifacts from around the world.