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June 28, 2012

Obituary: Frank H. Blackington III

blackington.UTarchivesFormer president of the Johnstown campus Frank H. Blackington III died June 19, 2012, in Duxbury, Mass. He was 84.

Blackington served as the third president of Pitt-Johnstown, 1974-93, a period during which the campus experienced significant growth.

During his administration, Pitt-Johnstown transitioned from a small commuter college to one that was increasingly residential through the addition of nine residence facilities.

Blackington also oversaw construction of the Zamias Aquatic Center, new athletics fields, the Sports Center, the Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center, the Physical Plant building, Whalley Chapel and the Living-Learning Center, as well as the expansion of the Student Union.

Baccalaureate degree programs established during his tenure include secondary education programs in biology, chemistry, Earth and space science and general science; geology; chemistry; computer science; geography, and business economics.

An associate’s degree in respiratory therapy also was established, as were certificate programs in business and international studies. Blackington also established the UPJ president’s scholars program.

His tenure also saw the introduction of women’s intercollegiate athletics and the campus’s membership in the National Collegiate Athletic Association.

He oversaw the successful “Shaping a Future” capital campaign that raised more than $16 million; sponsored six major symposia, and established the Center for Technological Training of the Unemployed and the John P. and Joyce Murtha Center for Continuing Education and Professional Development.

Blackington also was instrumental in the creation of the National Center for Excellence in Metalworking Technology, which evolved into today’s Concurrent Technologies Corp. Additionally, Pitt-Johnstown became a Regional Computer Resource Center during his tenure.

During his time at UPJ, Blackington was involved in the community, serving on several local boards, and was a champion for the economic development of the region.

Following the local flood of 1977, Blackington opened the campus to evacuees and relief workers. More than 400 community members were provided with temporary housing in the campus’s residential facilities and 540 volunteers and workers from relief organizations were provided with other accommodations.

At the time of his retirement in December 1993, when asked to reflect on his accomplishments, Blackington said, “All I did was my job. Then I remind myself that it is important for people to have the opportunity to say this is a job eminently worth doing and I look at it as a celebration of the enterprise rather than the individual.”

A native of Keene, New Hampshire, Blackington earned his bachelor’s degree in education at Keene State College, his master’s degree in education from Boston University and his PhD in education from Michigan State University. He served in the U.S. Army from 1951 to 1953 during the Korean conflict and held the rank of sergeant major.

After completing military service, he briefly served as director of publicity at Keene State, and then was appointed as head of the social studies department at Peterborough High School in New Hampshire. He also taught history and held appointments as head of the social studies department and assistant principal at Marshfield High School in Massachusetts.

After earning his PhD in 1960, he joined the education faculty of Michigan State, later serving as director of its Honors College, where he remained until accepting the presidency of Pitt-Johnstown in 1974.

Pitt-Johnstown President Jem Spectar said, “The University is grateful for the excellent service of Dr. Blackington and for the enormous contribution he made to enhancing the quality and impact of Pitt-Johnstown and strengthening links between our University and the greater Johnstown community. Our campus, our community and our world are a better place because of the service of Dr. Blackington. Our hearts go out to his family.”

Blackington is survived by his wife of 53 years, Rosella; his daughter Deborah Blackington; his son Bradley Blackington; his grandchildren Courtney, Tyler, Brynne and Grace Blackington, and numerous nieces, nephews, great-nieces and great-nephews.

The family suggests that contributions in Blackington’s memory be made to the Frank Blackington Memorial Fund for the Pilgrim Church of Duxbury Choir, P.O. Box 186, Duxbury, MA 02331, or to Snug Harbor Community Chorus, P.O. Box 945, Duxbury, MA 02331.

—Peter Hart

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