University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown

Pitt-Johnstown Mourns Passing of Professor Emeritus Ronald Vickroy

Pitt-Johnstown Professor Emeritus Ronald Vickroy passed away after a lengthy illness on December 22, 2019.

“Professor Ron Vickroy was a highly talented, engaging and transformative professor - a great teacher and advocate for our community,” said Pitt-Johnstown President Jem Spectar in a statement. “Students, colleagues and alumni all speak very highly of Professor Vickroy’s enormous contributions to their success and his impact on their lives. We extend heartfelt condolences to his family and loved ones.”

He was a Johnstown native, having graduated from Johnstown High School in 1966, a 1972 graduate of the Air Force Academy, and served as a helicopter pilot in the Air Force during the Vietnam War.

Mr. Vickroy earned an MBA from Carnegie Mellon University, worked in Venice, FL, then returned to the area.

He worked at Crown American as director of marketing for its hotel division and became an assistant professor of business management at Pitt-Johnstown in 1985. He retired with emeritus status in August 2012.

"Ron was my mentor and the reason I returned to Johnstown to work for UPJ," said John M McGrath, PhD, a professor of marketing and management.

"I learned my approach to service learning by having our students give back to the community from Ron. He instilled it in me because he learned at a young age that serving others was a cornerstone of his life. As a young man, he saved the lives of dozens of Americans by piloting one of the last helicopters out of Saigon in 1975. He landed his massive USAF Sikorsky CH-53 in the courtyard of the U.S. Embassy and evacuated citizens to U.S. Navy ships off the coast of Vietnam. His mission was part of  Operation Frequent Wind."

Dr. McGrath summarized: "I owe my career in education to Ron, and I am grieving along with his family, friends, business associates, and thousands of his UPJ students. However, his spirit lives on every day through the service work our students do in my classes, giving back to the Johnstown community that Ron loved and served."

Mr. Vickroy received the Provost Award for his service to community, was recognized as an Outstanding Citizen by the Boy Scouts of America, and was inducted into the Business Hall of Fame. Mr. Vickroy was a member of the board of Conemaugh Hospital, CORE and Semper Fi Odessey.

He is survived by his wife Donna (Levergood), sons Brett (Jess) and Bart (Stacy Pomroy) and three grandsons, a sister Diane, brothers Dennis (Connie), David and Richard (Lori).

A celebration of his life was held at Whalley Chapel on the Pitt-Johnstown campus on December 27, 2019.

To honor his legacy, the Ronald Vickroy Fund was established to provide financial support to full-time undergraduate students enrolled in the Business and Enterprise program at the Pitt-Johnstown.


The University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown, founded in 1927, is the first and largest regional campus of the University of Pittsburgh. Pitt-Johnstown is recognized by the Princeton Review as a “Best in the Northeast” college, by G.I. Jobs as a “Military Friendly School,” and by Pennsylvania Business Central as a "Top 100 Organization.” The distinctive combination of Pitt-Johnstown’s people, programs, and place results in exceptional performance in preparing students for career and professional success. Pitt-Johnstown is the regional leader, educating for success in the Real World.