Etheridge was provost and vice president for academic affairs at Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, La. before he became UPJ president in 1994.
His decision to step down, he said, was “a matter of deciding that I’d had a very productive 12 years — it will be 13 when I finish. I am of the age that I can retire and I think I’ve reached the point in my tenure that I’m satisfied with the progress I’ve made on my goals and achievements. I think it’s time to let someone take a fresh look at UPJ.”
Etheridge, 65, said he has several options he’s considering pursuing following his retirement, but did not wish to discuss them immediately.
Although he and his wife will likely move to Baton Rouge, La. following his retirement, “I’ve not really reached a decision on what I’m going to do,” he said.
He commended the UPJ administrative team and faculty for the progress that’s been made on campus in the past dozen years.
Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg praised Etheridge’s commitment and contributions to UPJ. “During his tenure as president of the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown, Dr. Etheridge consistently has affirmed that UPJ is grounded both in the creation of individual opportunity and in the strengthening of its home community,” said Nordenberg. “He also has overseen a period of dramatic institutional growth, fostered a culture that encourages inspiring examples of individual success, and created an environment that carries with it the promise of even more momentous days to come at Pitt-Johnstown.”
Under his leadership, UPJ has been recognized in U.S. News & World Report’s “America’s Best Colleges” rankings for the past three years.
Etheridge has directed more than $20 million worth of improvements at UPJ with significant investments in academic facilities and residence halls, including Blackington Hall and Willow Residence Hall.
He helped establish the school’s $10 million capital campaign, which has reached 90 percent of its goal, and created the UPJ Excellence in Teaching and Service Awards. He also established the school’s Phi Kappa Phi National Honor Society chapter and initiated an economic impact study that determined UPJ contributes some $60 million and 600 jobs to the region’s economy.
Etheridge has been active in the Johnstown community, serving on the boards of Memorial and Good Samaritan hospitals, the Joint Executive Committee of the Conemaugh Health System, the Community Foundation of Johnstown, the United Way of Greater Johnstown and the Johnstown Area Regional Industries.
He is a graduate of the University of Arkansas at Monticello (UAM) and earned a master’s degree in biology at the University of Mississippi. He earned a doctorate in zoology from the University of Texas at Austin.
He began his faculty career at Louisiana State University and subsequently served as a visiting associate professor of zoology at the University of Texas at Austin before returning to his alma mater to become professor of biology, then head of the Department of Natural Sciences and subsequently vice chancellor for academic affairs and graduate dean at UAM.
Provost James V. Maher also praised Etheridge’s contributions.
“Under his leadership, the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown has developed the quality and size of its undergraduate student program and its physical facilities. He has shown unerring attention to the campus’s mission to provide a high-quality education at a reasonable cost and to contribute to the important regional agenda of economic development.”
A search committee will be formed with the goal of identifying Etheridge’s successor by the next spring.
—Kimberly K. Barlow, via University Times