Pitt-Bradford to inaugurate fifth president

Sept. 25 ceremony to be part of Alumni and Family Weekend

President Rick Esch in front of clock tower

Pitt-Bradford is preparing for the inauguration of its fifth president, Rick Esch, on Sept. 25 as part of the university’s celebration for Alumni and Family Weekend.    

Esch is also the third Pitt-Bradford president to also lead the University of Pittsburgh’s campus in Titusville. The Bradford, Titusville and academic communities are invited to take part in the inauguration, which will take place at 2 p.m. in the KOA Arena of the Richard E. and Ruth McDowell Sport and Fitness Center. A reception will follow. Reservations are requested, but not required.   

The event will feature a procession of faculty and staff dressed in regalia and the bestowing of the presidential medallion.   

Speakers will be Dr. Livingston Alexander, president emeritus of Pitt-Bradford; Dr. K. James Evans, retired vice president and dean of student affairs; Dr. Patrick Gallagher, chancellor of the University of Pittsburgh; Dr. Ann Cudd, provost of the University of Pittsburgh; and Jeannine Schoenecker, chair of the Pitt-Bradford Advisory Board.   

Both Alexander and Evans worked closely with Esch during their time at Pitt-Bradford in his former role as vice president of business affairs.   

Cudd appointed Esch president after he had served a year as an interim president in the role.   

As part of the weekend’s festivities, Esch will be the featured speaker at the university’s annual Career Networking Luncheon to be held at 11:30 a.m. Sept. 23 in the Mukaiyama University Room of the Frame-Westerberg Commons. The event is open to the pubic but there is a $10 charge and reservations are required.   

On Sept. 22, faculty members will hold a panel discussion from 6:30 to 8 p.m. in the Bromeley Family Theater of Blaisdell Hall about the importance of a college education.   

“We wanted to highlight the importance of higher education during inauguration week,” said Dr. David Fitz, interim vice president and dean of academic affairs. “As we inaugurate a new president, it’s important for us to emphasize that what we do is important.  A college education makes a positive difference in the lives of individuals and contributes to the well-being of society.”   

Faculty participating in the discussion are Dr. Tracee Howell, associate professor of English; Dr. William Clark, assistant professor of secondary education; Dr. Julia Morgan, assistant professor of philosophy; Dr. Behnaz Rezaie, assistant professor of engineering; and Dr. Robin Choo, assistant professor of biology.   

A 1983 graduate of Pitt-Bradford, Esch began his career there in 1995 as the director of auxiliary services and five years later was named chief business and administrative affairs officer. In 2003, he was promoted to vice president for business affairs. In 2012, he was named vice president for business affairs at Pitt-Titusville. He held both of those positions at the time that he was named interim president of both campuses.   

Esch is continually active in the region, including serving as president and charter member of the Tuna Valley Trail Association, a board member and immediate past chair of Journey Health System, a board member and managing director of the Bradford Educational Foundation, and a board member and vice president of the Bradford Economic Development Corp.

He also is a member of the McKean County Advisory Board at Northwest Bank, a founding board member and treasurer of the McKean County Community Foundation, and a board member of the Community Foundation of the Upper Alleghenies.

He holds a bachelor’s degree in environmental science from Pitt-Bradford and a Master of Business Administration from Pitt’s Katz School of Business Executive MBA program.

He and his wife, Lisa, live in Bradford and have three grown children.

To make reservations for the Sept. 23 luncheon or Sept. 25 inauguration, contact Joelle Warner, director of donor relations and stewardship, at 814-362-5104 or