Dr. Jem Spectar has served as the President of the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown (Pitt-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 - that have elevated the stature, profile and impact of the institution.
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.
In addition, the Campus has undertaken extensive infrastructure upgrades including construction of new facilities and renovation exceeding $80 million (including several major projects that are currently underway). Transformative construction projects to date include a new Wellness Center, the Nursing and Health Sciences Building, and the John P. Murtha Center for Public Service. Major renovations (completed or ongoing) included, Krebs Hall, Biddle Hall, the Engineering & Science Building, the new Biology Department, as well as several residence halls, notably the ongoing College Park Apartments.
Furthermore, under the auspices of its Real World Action Program, 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 recent 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 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 approximately $40 million. The Campus is now in the quiet phase of its “Campaign for the Next Century”, and has accumulated several substantial gifts and pledges to that end.
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. Passionate about the arts, he has developed and curated an extensive collection of paintings, sculptures and artifacts from around the world.
He has served on several boards including the American Conference of Academic Deans (ACAD), the Association of International Educators (NAFSA), the Johnstown Educational Foundation, the Committee on International Education of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, and the Johnstown Area Regional Industries (JARI).
Initiatives & Programs
- State of the University
- Awards for Excellence
- Equity and Inclusion
- Embrace and Enjoy Your World
- Real World Action Program
- Pitt-Johnstown Magazine
- An Invitation to Pitt-Johnstown
- Community Report 2014
- Strategic Plan, 2014-2021
- The Heroes Memorial
- MountainCat Veterans Program
- Distinctive Excellence @ Pitt-Johnstown
- Board of Advisors Report
- Times Higher Education (September 29, 2019) - Good moves: exercise can help tackle the mental health crisis by Jem Spectar
- The Washington Post (February 20, 2019) - Want to close America’s rural-urban divide? Digital infrastructure is the key, by Pitt-Johnstown President Jem Spectar
- International Educator magazine’s profile of Dr. Spectar
- Working With Our Community: CODE for Commonwealth and Country
- Tribune-Democrat, Feb. 28, 2016: Higher-ed sector matches job trends and serves as 'catalyst'