Murtha scholarship is established

Callie Burgan

Pitt-Johnstown political science majors interested in public service are to gain an opportunity to pay for their education while honoring the memory of U.S. Representative John P. Murtha of Johnstown D-12th.

The John P. Murtha scholarship was unveiled to coincide with the 10th anniversary of Murtha’s death on Feb. 8, 2010, according to John P. Murtha Foundation Vice Chairman Ed Sheehan Jr.

Scholarships are to be provided to applicants who have given their time for civic, charitable or humanitarian causes, and were made possible with a $50,000 donation.

“I think, from the foundation members’ perspective and looking forward, this would be something that could perpetuate Mr. Murtha’s legacy to help us into the future to remember the great things that he did.

“It reminds us how important public service and public commitment were to him personally,” Sheehan said. 

“Having worked with Mr. Murtha for about 30 years, I know that universities were very important to him and education was extremely important to the region’s development. 

“I think the second thing that we’re really proud of from the Murtha Foundation is to be able to create a scholarship that we know he would be really excited that would continue to help students into the future,” Sheehan said.

Pitt-Johnstown is home to the John P. Murtha Center, which has hosted events since opening in 2017, including an appearance by former Vice President Dick Cheney.

According to Sheehan, the center’s creation was one of numerous tributes to Murtha during and after his life, including when the USS John P. Murtha, a Navy landing craft, was commissioned in 2016.

Murtha earned two Purple Hearts during the Vietnam War as a Marine, and shortly before his death, he became the longest serving congressman in Pennsylvania history.

He affected the region by supporting defense contracting business development, cancer research, the arts and outdoor recreation.

Sophomore Jacob Corona said he appreciates the upcoming scholarship opportunity because it’s a way to revitalize the political science field at Pitt-Johnstown.

“Political science majors tend to get the back burner a lot because some people consider it to be a useless major,” Corona said.

“It’s definitely nice to see that we haven’t been forgotten.”

President Jem Spectar said he, as well as campus community members, are grateful to the John P. Murtha Foundation members and Mrs. Joyce Murtha for the scholarship, which will help more Pitt-Johnstown students make a difference in the community.

“The John P. Murtha Scholarship honors the great congressman’s legacy of public service and makes it possible for more young people to follow in his courageous footsteps,” Spectar said.