Posted: Wednesday, February 1, 2012 12:04 pm
Jack E. Freeman, who held a series of high-level administrative positions at the University of Pittsburgh between 1967 and 1990—including service as president of the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown from 1971 to 1974—passed away Jan. 24 at the age of 80 following a brief illness.
Freeman died from a brief, unexpected illness on Jan. 24 in Virginia.
As one of the University of Pittsburgh's top executives -- including three years as president of the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown -- Jack Freeman was regarded as a mentor and model for the university's younger administrators.
One of those inspired was Mark Nordenberg, the university chancellor, who first met Mr. Freeman in 1985, when he served as dean of the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.
"He not only offered us support but made us feel comfortable in our new leadership roles."
Under Freeman's administration, UPJ established five academic divisions – education, engineering technology, humanities, natural sciences, and social sciences – and began offering its first four-year degrees. His tenure at UPJ also saw the formation of the faculty senate, the first academic convocation, and groundbreaking for the Engineering and Science Building. Additionally, UPJ held its first homecoming celebration, introduced the Mountain Cat as the official school mascot, and added wrestling as a third intercollegiate sport.
Freeman earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in political science from Baylor University prior to joining the Air Force in 1954. He was appointed as an assistant professor of political science at the Air Force Academy in 1959. From 1964 to 1967, Captain Freeman worked at the Pentagon for United States Air Force Chief of Staff General Curtis Lemay and later for the Assistant to the Deputy Undersecretary USAF for International Affairs.
Jerry Cochran, executive vice chancellor and general counsel for the university, said both Mr. Freeman and Posvar served in the Air Force, and their experience in the military had an impact on younger executives like him.
Freeman resigned his commission in the U.S. Air Force in 1967 to accept a position at the University’s Pittsburgh campus, where he joined then-Chancellor Wesley W. Posvar, who was a longtime friend of Freeman’s and his mentor at the Air Force Academy.
"Dr. Posvar was his mentor at the Air Force Academy," Cochran said.
"Leaders are born," said Cochran. "Both Freeman and Posvar were Air Force officers, and this commitment to the military enhanced their quality of leadership.
"I had the highest level of respect for Jack Freeman, who taught us the ropes in our new undertakings," he added. "I often sit in my office and think of Jack and what he meant not only to me, but to the university."
Freeman served as executive assistant to Posvar and secretary to the Pitt Board of Trustees. He became Pitt-Johnstown’s second president in 1971.
In 1974, Freeman returned to the Pittsburgh campus as vice chancellor for planning and budget. In 1977, he earned his PhD at Pitt in higher education administration, and he was named senior vice chancellor for administration two years later. He became executive vice president for the university in 1986.. He resigned in 1990 after Posvar announced his plans to retire. After leaving Pitt, Freeman held administrative positions at Penn and Cornell, and worked as a higher education management consultant until his retirement in 2006.
Following his Pitt career, Freeman served as executive vice president at Temple University, at the University of Pennsylvania, and at Cornell University, and he worked as a higher education management consultant until his retirement in 2006.
Under Freeman’s administration, Pitt-Johnstown established five academic divisions (education, engineering technology, humanities, natural sciences, and social sciences) and began offering its first four-year degrees. He also established its faculty senate, held its first academic convocation, and broke ground for its Engineering and Science Building. Freeman’s tenure at Pitt-Johnstown also saw the university’s first Homecoming celebration and the addition of wrestling as a third intercollegiate sport.
Freeman is survived by his wife of 60 years, Betty Hawling Freeman; sons Jack R. Freeman, David M. Freeman, Mark R. Freeman; daughter Melissa Emanuele; seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. He is also survived by his elder brother, Bob Freeman. The family is being served by the Hall Funeral Home, Purcellville, Va