The Pitt-Greensburg Alumni Association (PGAA) will present its Volunteer of Excellence award to James Smith at the Alumni Celebration Dinner to be held Saturday, October 20, at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg as part of Blue & Gold Weekend: Homecoming 2018.
The PGAA Volunteer of Excellence Award was established in 2009 to recognize alumni who volunteer their time to the PGAA and the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg. The award honors alumni who have dedicated a significant amount of personal time to attending alumni meetings and events, working on special projects, and contributing to the overall success of both the alumni association and the University it represents.
James R. Smith graduated in 1975 from Pitt-Greensburg with a bachelor’s of science degree in business and earned his master’s degree in business administration from the University of Pittsburgh’s Katz School of Business in 1984. Smith, who is now retired, has had a career that has taken him from Pittsburgh to Germany to New York to Ohio and to the Rocky Mountains.
“A few short years ago, Jim and his wife moved back to Westmoreland County after many years away, and Jim decided to reconnect with Pitt-Greensburg,” said JP Hilzendeger ’12, vice president of the PGAA board of directors. “Given how much has changed here over the years, you can say that Jim's rediscovery of our campus was a sense of rebirth. As a board member and ultimately president of the PGAA, has been a great example of leadership and passion that has further advanced our alumni association. We are incredibly thankful for Jim!”
After graduating from Pitt, Smith joined D'Appolonia Consulting Engineers in Pittsburgh as a staff accountant. Several year later, he moved to Vesuvius Crucible Company as an international accountant and was transferred to their plant in Germany. From there, he joined Hewlett-Packard GmbH and, after a few years, was transferred to the field organization in the United States. He stayed with the company for more than 20 years. From 2005 to 2010, he was the board treasurer for the non-profit organization Christmas Unlimited and worked as director of finance and administration for Ecumenical Social Ministries. In 2011, he became director of finance and operations for Sunrise Methodist Church. He also served as a lecturer for the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs School of Public Affairs, instructing a course on nonprofit financial management.
Smith became involved with the PGAA when he moved back to the Greensburg area and joined the PGAA board of directors in 2014. Currently in his second term, he was elected president in 2015. His responsibilities include serving on the Pitt Alumni Association’s (PAA) Student, Colleges and Regional School Committee (SCR) and working to forge bonds among the campuses. He also sits on the Pitt-Greensburg Advisory Board as an ex-officio member. The board liaison for the PGAA Professional Development Committee, he volunteers at admissions events, and is actively involved with all PGAA events.
A native of Ligonier, Smith and his wife, Kim, reside in Greensburg. He has three children: his oldest, Emily, works for Amazon Corporation in Seattle; his middle son, Aaron, works in Silicon Valley; and his youngest son, Stephen, is pursuing his undergraduate degree in secondary education.
Past recipients of the Volunteer Excellence Award are Brian Moreland, DC, ’98 (2010), Jason P. Gongaware ’87 (2011), Robert Merda ’85 (2012), Mary Lynn Yothers, DC, ’80 (2014), Brian Root ’04 (2015), Harry P. Bowser ’72 (2016), and Scott Szypulski ’14 (2017).
Founded in 1963, the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg is a publicly assisted, four-year, liberal arts college in southwestern Pennsylvania. Pitt-Greensburg offers 29 baccalaureate degree programs, including new majors in Nursing, Healthcare Management, and Education, as well as 24 minors and four certificate programs. With nearly 1,500 students, more than 10,000 alumni, and faculty and staff numbering 260, Pitt-Greensburg provides a vibrant, diverse community that is a dynamic model of a 21st century liberal arts education. As part of the University of Pittsburgh system, Pitt-Greensburg offers the resources of a world-renowned university combined with the individualized and immersive experiences of a small liberal arts college. Creativity and an entrepreneurial spirit permeate the campus and extend into its many collaborative projects with the Westmoreland County community. Nestled in Pennsylvania’s beautiful Laurel Highlands, the campus is a five-minute drive from uptown Greensburg’s coffee shops, restaurants, art museums, theatres and boutiques and less than an hour’s drive from Pittsburgh.