University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown

Office of the President

Dr. Jem Spectar is the President of the University of Pittsburgh Johnstown, a position he has held since 2007. Since then, the campus has launched new nursing, business, and engineering schools, expanded competitive degree programs, built several major facilities, ramped up community engagement, and quadrupled the endowment. These transformative developments have elevated the institution's stature, profile, and impact. 

Spectar has emerged as a leading voice and thought leader on the issue of preserving American democracy. Under President Spectar's leadership, UPJ developed a unique American Democracy Scholar Certificate and is also partnering with K-12 schools through the American Civic Education (ACE) Initiative. Spectar frequently writes op-ed pieces and speaks about the urgency of working together to sustain democracy and to bridge the growing rural-urban divide and its polarizing effects. Articles include "Could an American Democracy Corps help save the Republic?" and "Democracy Needs Civic Engagement" (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette), The Washington Post: Want to close America's rural-urban divide?and  Pitt & Johnstown: Building our future, together | News | The theme of active citizenship to sustain democracy was also the centerpiece of a keynote address Spectar delivered at the National Constitution Center to newly sworn-in American citizens. (Constitution Day 2022 | Naturalization Ceremony - YouTube). 

Previously, Dr. Spectar was Provost and 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, Assistant Dean and Associate Professor at the University of La Verne. 

Jem Spectar's academic background includes Ph.D. and M.A., Claremont Graduate University; J.D., University of Maryland; M.A., George Washington University; M.B.A., Frostburg State; and B.A., University of La Verne, CA. In addition to penning scholarly articles in international law journals, Spectar recently published two books Movement + Music = Medicine: Fight Alzheimer's, Dementia, and Parkinson's and Open Secret Rx – Tune into Lifestyle MEDicine & Fight Heart Disease, Diabetes & Cancer.

A naturalized citizen from Africa, Spectar has received notable recognitions, including being frequently listed among the most “influential Americans of recent African immigrant heritage…" and one of the "50 reasons" "Why Immigration Matters." Considered one of the first African immigrants to become a university president in the U.S., Spectar has garnered commendations from luminaries such as Liberian President Ellen-Johnson Sirleaf and Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa.[i] 



Dr. Spectar’s article published in the Washington Post has led to several discussions with policymakers and media regarding rural access to broadband. He is the author of two books Movement + Music = Medicine: Fight Alzheimer's, Dementia & Parkinson's, and  Open Secret Rx – Tune into Lifestyle MEDicine & Fight Heart Disease, Diabetes & Cancer

Download the 2023 Strategic Plan

Preparing for a New UPJ Century by Investing in Our People, Our Programs, and Our Place to Better Serve Our Publics and Achieve Our Purposes

2024 Photo Gallery

 President Jem Spectar met with all-Greek alumni on June 1, 2024

 President Jem Spectar met with all-Greek alumni on June 1, 2024

Representative Dan Miller and Dr. Spectar, Pitt’s Institute of Politics reception, November 16, 2023

Archived Photos