University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown

Kudos for Pitt-Johnstown


Pitt-Johnstown’s strong commitment to academic excellence, student engagement, community citizenship, and outreach to veterans has resulted in national recognition — further evidence of Pitt-Johnstown’s ascent to the forefront of baccalaureate colleges.

  • Recognized by US News & World Report as one of the Best Regional Colleges in the North, ranking Pitt-Johnstown as the 8th Best Public School, the 12th Best Regional College, and the 5th Best for Veterans in 2024.

  • Pitt-Johnstown has been named a "Best College in the Northeast" by The Princeton Review for the 12th consecutive year, joining a select listing of colleges nationally. In its profile of Pitt-Johnstown, The Princeton Review commended the University for being "an excellent undergraduate campus to explore scientific fields" as well as engineering and education programs that "have a high success rate." 

  • Pitt-Johnstown has been cited in US News & World Report along with Brown and Georgetown as “schools that build in-demand job skills.”

  • Pitt-Johnstown's partnership with Outlier, that focuses on expanding access and affordability to quality education, was selected by Time Magazine as one of the top 100 innovations of 2020.

  • "President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll" - Pitt-Johnstown has been named to the 2015 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, which annually recognizes institutions of higher education that support exemplary community service programs and raise the visibility of effective practices in campus community partnerships. This is the sixth time Pitt-Johnstown, has been named to the Honor Roll.

  • "Military Friendly School®" - For the seventh year in a row, Pitt-Johnstown has been recognized by GI Jobs as a Military Friendly School. The 2019 list honors the top 20 percent of colleges, universities, and trade schools that are doing the most to embrace America’s military service members, veterans, and spouses as students and ensure their success on campus.

  • "Colleges of Distinction" - Pitt-Johnstown has received national recognition from Colleges of Distinction for the integrity of its truly individualized and engaging education and as an institution whose primary goals are based on student success and satisfaction.

  • "Seven Seals Award" - Pitt-Johnstown received this honor in 2014 due to to its outstanding support of veterans. The distinction is awarded by the Department of Defense's Office of Employers Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR).

  • "Highest Return on Investment" - Pitt-Johnstown has been recognized for providing one of the highest returns on investment in the state by Of the 402 Pennsylvania colleges and universities analyzed, Pitt-Johnstown was 21st among the ranked schools.

  • "Top 100 Organization" - Pitt-Johnstown has been named a "Top 100 Organization" by Pennsylvania Business Central for four years in a row.

  • Noel-Levitz - Results from the most recent Noel-Levitz Student Satisfaction Inventory show that Pitt-Johnstown continues to rate above its peers in areas including quality of campus services, services to help students decide a career, and overall service to students.

  • National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) - Survey results consistently provide favorable comparisons to peer and aspirant schools.

Community Remarks

“Since graduating from Pitt-Johnstown in 1980, I have seen the definitive growth of the University. However, especially over the last five years, tremendous strides have been taken to ensure that the University is a competitive and robust educational facility. Pitt-Johnstown provides top-notch faculty in order to ensure academic excellence and RealWorld experiences for the students so that they are prepared for the futures that await them. Students from the area and from the international student population are fortunate to have such a wonderful place to learn and grow. As Pitt-Johnstown embarks on its new strategic plan, I anticipate further growth in the future... I am proud to say that I am a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown — and I can surely say that I am ‘Mountain Cat Proud.’”

— Past Advisory Board Chair, Dr. Barbara Parkins ’80
Superintendent, United Area School District

“A greater positive change has taken place at Pitt-Johnstown in the last 6 years in people, programs, and facilities than I could ever have imagined as one of the first incoming freshman in 1967 when these highly respected and valued academic doors of opportunity were first opened.”

— Douglas Reed
*Retired Faculty, Pitt-Johnstown

“I am proud to be part of the transformation that is occurring at Pitt-Johnstown, especially as it relates to expanded curricular offerings. The addition of the green chemistry course to our chemistry major is not only timely and relevant, but also provides opportunities for our students to research and incorporate strategies to incorporate sustainability into campus life. These students will have the advantage of RealWorld experience when embarking on their professional careers in the field of chemistry.”

— Dr. Manisha Nigam
Associate Professor of Chemistry, Pitt-Johnstown

“We applaud UPJ for the vision it has shown in developing this program (nursing), which should help fill an ongoing hiring void for the region’s hospitals and clinics.”

— Editorial, Johnstown Tribune-Democrat (April 12, 2010)

“The leadership team at Pitt-Johnstown has done an outstanding job in developing new programs that meet the needs of its students and our community. With a renewed commitment to its pre-medical program and its new nursing degree, the school is joining us in ensuring that the healthcare needs of our region will continue to be met for years to come.”

— Scott Becker
Former President & CEO, Conemaugh Health System

“Congratulations University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown... a true example of how Jem Spectar’s leadership has moved this “Gem” of a University!

In the past five years you have not only graduated over 500 students a year, but you just recently graduated the first 22 students in a new four year Bachelor of Science in Nursing program. Dr. Janet L Grady deserves recognition for her vision and attention to detail in putting together such a successful program in such a high-demand field. But this is typical of the student and community focus that UPJ has had and continues to have for our region. Ranked the eighth best public baccalaureate college in the North by U.S. News & World Report in its “America’s Best Colleges 2010” annual college guide, UPJ is not only an economic driver for our county, but the surrounding counties as well.

From your wellness center to your sports bar; your athletic championships to the new Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified Nursing and Health Sciences Building; your first graduate from the new Computer Engineering Technology Program to the more than 40 other degrees you offer, the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown has not only met its strategic goals in the past five years, but has surpassed them with flying colors! UPJ leads by example and we as a community could not ask for a finer partner with professional education in producing our nation’s future leaders.

Congratulations on your successes as this five year strategic plan comes to a close and the Cambria County Commissioners wish you many more future successes with your future five year vision! Thank you for your leadership and partnership.”

— Douglas R. Lengenfelder
Former President Commissioner of Cambria County

“Dr. Spectar has transformed campus programs and buildings with a vision that embraces evolving educational needs....”

— Andrew Csikos
Retired Pitt-Johnstown Staff – 40+ years, Director of Physical Plant Operations

“What a difference. There aren’t enough superlatives....”

— Marcy Sigmund
Community Member

“As a graduate of Pitt-Johnstown, it makes me proud to see the growth and evolution of the campus... both physically and educationally. The Wellness Center rivals those of large university campuses, and the addition of the School of Nursing program is quite a feather in the academic cap at Pitt-Johnstown....”

— Chuck Salem ‘84
President, Unique Venues

“I’m amazed at the scope and pace of the changes to the campus. Alums who return to visit are immediately struck by the new buildings, the renovations to old favorites, and the obvious leap forward the campus has seen over the last six years! These new buildings and large-scale updates, along with the new programs they support, are exciting proof that Pitt-Johnstown is committed to be among the finest educational institutions in the country. We are not just keeping up: we are leading the way. The Pitt-Johnstown Alumni Association is extremely proud of what we’ve accomplished together!”

— Jeffrey Philibin ’88
President (2011-2013), Pitt-Johnstown Alumni Association

“This place is really on the move.”

— Thomas Trigona ‘66
Former Mayor, City of Johnstown

“Change is never easy, and as a proud alumnus I’m thrilled with the many changes that have occurred at Pitt-Johnstown over the past six years. New academic programs, campus facilities and student demographics are breathing new life and energy into the campus and the surrounding community. These changes will help position Pitt-Johnstown as a leader among like colleges and universities both today and in the future.”

— Matt Mazonkey ‘05
Former Chief of Staff, US 12th Congressional District

“As a management consultant who facilitates organizational strategic planning and as a Pitt-Johnstown Board Member, I am thrilled with the focused and actionable implementation of the strategic plan, resulting in significant progress and measurable results for the university and the overall region. I personally commend and thank the entire Pitt-Johnstown community for their hard work and relentless pursuit of Pitt-Johnstown’s ‘new dimension of excellence.’”

— Dr. Jonna Contacos Sawyer ’83
President and Consulting Principal, HR Consultants

“Dr. Spectar’s implementation and execution of a strategic plan for the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown has been quite impressive. The planning and construction of several campus facilities, renovation and improvement of existing structures, along with developing several new academic programs has been instrumental in the University’s continued success. Dr. Spectar should also be commended for his outreach and forging positive relationships and interactions with the Johnstown community.”

— Jodie Saylor Novak ’84
Somerset Surgical Associates

“This memorial dedication is another noteworthy step forward into the future for Pitt-Johnstown. …To know that our President maintains contact with his veteran-graduates is extraordinary. It adds another remarkable dimension to the Pitt-Johnstown experience.”

— Phil Skuta ’87
Retired Marine Corps Colonel

“Our nation’s history is steeped in battlefields of soldiers, sailors, and foot soldiers from the revolution to the wars we face today. It is right and fitting that we have a memorial at this institution of higher learning so that we can learn to understand that peace is the final solution, not war.”

“This is a great day for Pitt-Johnstown, and a great day for Pennsylvania.”

— Former PA State Senator John N. Wozniak ‘78

“It’s great to see the school so involved in the community. Dr. Spectar has a great attitude towards the city.”

— Curt Davis
Former City Manager

“The growth in facilities, programs, and community involvement at Pitt-Johnstown has been phenomenal and continually evolving. However, more important is the institution’s product: a quality education producing graduates capable of entering the workforce and society ready to contribute to and advance our area.”

— Robert Layo
Former President & CEO, Greater Johnstown-Cambria County Chamber of Commerce

“Pitt-Johnstown is the crown jewel of our community. The superb leadership combined with the outstanding dedicated faculty and staff has proven to be the right formula for success. This has postured the University to be in the forefront of educational institutions across the country. Pitt-Johnstown plays second fiddle to none... Johnstown thanks you!”

— Mary Borkow
Community Member

“To help unemployed 2008 graduates find work, the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown, Pa., began an intensive 100-day effort in April to assist alumni with their job search. Career counselors are providing resume critiques, mock interview exercises, and sending resumes to employers in the graduates’ chosen fields.”

— Editorial, The News and Observer (Raleigh, NC., June 26, 2009)

“I witnessed several outcomes from Pitt-Johnstown’s Strategic Plan, ‘A New Dimension of Excellence.’ The momentum is evident from the growth of new programs, newly hired faculty, and new construction on campus. There is a great synergy for education in Richland Township. Educators in the Richland School District forged new partnerships with Pitt-Johnstown professors resulting in the establishment of a Professional Learning Community and the creation of a pilot program for teaching interns. Teachers and students from the Richland School District benefit from collaborating with Pitt-Johnstown faculty. We worked closely with members of the Education Department to create a successful pilot program that provided rich internship experiences for college students and meaningful experiences for their mentors. I look forward to future opportunities to partner with our neighbor, Pitt-Johnstown, to create mutually beneficial programs.”

— Thomas Fleming, Jr.
Former Superintendent, Richland School District and Bishop McCort Catholic

“UPJ has made great strides under President Jem Spectar at reaching out to both its graduates and the Johnstown region. That focus has helped make UPJ a bigger player in regional issues, and has helped showcase the school to the broader community.”

— Editorial, Johnstown Tribune-Democrat, September 21, 2011

“A different and better place....”

— Richard Burkert
President, Johnstown Area Heritage Association

“Since 2007, Pitt-Johnstown athletic teams have been explosive. With the addition of five new sports, along with many state-of-the-art facility expansions and upgrades, we have joined one of the most-respected and largest athletics conferences in the NCAA Division II... Our move to join the PSAC is a huge step in the progression of Pitt-Johnstown athletics.”

— Pat Pecora
Athletic Director & Head Wrestling Coach, Pitt-Johnstown

“Dr. Spectar has done so much for our Pitt-Johnstown community. All you have to do is walk through and you see it right off the bat. I attend as many sporting events as possible, and Dr. Spectar’s done so much for the sports area, new wrestling room, [and]new Wellness Center, which is second to none. He‘s just doing marvelous things... I [worked] 20 years at Pitt-Johnstown - from 1973 to 1993 - and it was nice when I was there at that time, but since Dr. Spectar came here, it’s just been overwhelming. He’s just done so much for the Pitt-Johnstown community since he’s been here. Overall, it’s a dynamic place to work.”

— Tom Kleban
*Retired Pitt-Johnstown Staff - 20 years, Registrar’s Office Administrative Support

“Pitt-Johnstown has become a powerhouse of experiences right here in the Johnstown region. Committed faculty and staff, state-of-the-art technologies, facilities to rival any urban campus, and exceptional art and cultural amenities have been enhanced throughout the past five years…and it shows.”

— Linda Thomson
President & CEO, Johnstown Area Regional Industries

“Since I arrived in Johnstown in 2009, I have marveled at the growth and momentum at Pitt-Johnstown. In addition to being a leading contributor to our region’s intellectual and cultural development, Pitt-Johnstown plays a significant role in the economic development of our region. The school’s ongoing hiring initiatives, construction projects, and strong enrollment have helped our region to remain viable.”

— Glenn Wilson
Former President, AmeriServ Financial

“My volunteer service at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown has provided the opportunity to observe an amazing growth trajectory. Pitt-Johnstown has been able to achieve its educational mission while truly becoming civically engaged in our community. The University has matured into an institution that is eager to bridge the gap between the classroom and the surrounding region. The ability to harness the energy, enthusiasm, and skills of the students… to productively link the school with local businesses and organizations is remarkable.”

— Tom Kurtz ‘77
President and CEO, Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber
and University of Pittsburgh Trustee

“There was a time when the word ‘fractured’ was used to describe the relationship between Pitt-Johnstown and its alumni. Now, administrators at the Richland Township campus are working hard to ensure that term never again rings true.”

— Editorial, Johnstown Tribune-Democrat, September 27, 2009

“...At every level of competitiveness, most of the colleges with the best graduation rates are private schools. Some exceptions include Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kan., the University of Wisconsin at Platteville, Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania, the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown, and James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Va.”

— Editorial, The News Tribune (Tacoma, Wash.), June 3, 2009

"Pitt-Johnstown has been lauded for completion of its six-year strategic plan. President Jem Spectar received a proclamation from the Cambria County commissioners noting the university’s contributions to the region’s economy and culture. During the plan’s duration, UPJ has completed its Nursing and Health Sciences Building and its Wellness Center. It also has added 12 programs to its curricula, such as nursing, justice administration, special education and management information systems. We’re proud to have Pitt-Johnstown in our backyard."

— Editorial, Johnstown Tribune-Democrat, December 14, 2013