Gollaher scholarship to benefit energy students

Alumni active in local oil and gas industry

Joan and Stephan Gollaher spent their entire lives in the forest and oil industries, from the time they met as undergraduate students in Paul Smith’s College in the Adirondack Mountains of New York state until she sold the last of their properties a few years ago.

“My husband was born with oil in his veins,” Joan Gollaher said.

“We had a very blessed life, and I want to be a good steward of the gifts that we’ve been given. The revenue that we had came from oil, and education is extremely important.”

It seems natural then, that Gollaher would establish a scholarship at Pitt-Bradford, where she and her husband would eventually further their educations and where she can support students of the energy industry.

The new R. Stephan ’84 and Joan A. Gollaher ’86 Scholarship gives priority to Pitt-Bradford students enrolled in the university’s two-year petroleum technology program or those pursing other energy-related fields such as energy science and technology or energy engineering technology.

“I realize that oil is not going to be the center of everything as it has been in the past, but there’s going to be energy always,” Joan Gollaher said.

When they were at Paul Smith’s, Joan earned an associate degree in hospitality, and Stephan Gollaher earned his associate degree in forestry.

Later, Steve Gollaher went to work on the land that his great-grandfather had purchased in the Four Mile Valley of Allegany, N.Y., in 1854 as a place to run a sawmill. When oil was discovered, the family went into oil as well.

The Gollahers managed that land together, adding additional land and leases, with Steve in charge of field operations, producing and drilling, and Joan running the office. In the 1980s, they both sought out further education at Pitt-Bradford: Steve Gollaher in the university’s first petroleum technology program, and Joan Gollaher finishing a bachelor’s degree in social sciences.

Both Gollahers were active in oil and gas associations: Steve Gollaher served in different capacities on the boards of the Independent Oil and Gas Association of New York, Pennsylvania Independent Oil and Gas Association, New York State Oil Producers Association and the Penn-Brad Oil Museum, while Joan Gollaher was active in the Desk and Derrick Club for many years as an officer and served as president.

Joan Gollaher said she enjoys seeing the growth of the campus.

“It’s exciting. Pitt-Bradford started in a hotel in the ’60s,” she said, referring to the former Emery Hotel that served as the university’s first residence hall during its early years. “Oil money helped build a lot of that campus.”

To learn more about creating a scholarship at Pitt-Bradford, contact the university’s Office of Philanthropic and Alumni Engagement at 814-362-5091 or visit