Mt. Pleasant Township man earns prominent post at Duquesne University
When Fairchance native Jason Broadwater caught rides home from his father after classes at St. John the Evangelist Regional Catholic School in Uniontown, Tom Broadwater Sr. often had the radio tuned to the afternoon talk shows.
“He'd have KDKA-AM on, and whoever was on would always be talking about politics or some other important topic,” said Broadwater, 32, who today lives in Mt. Pleasant Township with his wife, township native Rachael (Bell) Broadwater, and the couple's 3-year-old son, Jackson.
“I didn't always fully understand what people were talking about, and sometimes it would turn into a screaming match, but just that ability to connect with people on air really interested me,” he said.
Broadwater's fascination with the field of media communications has driven him in his educational and career choices.
It also contributed to his recent appointment as assistant dean of Duquesne University's McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts, he said.
“I definitely have to give credit to my dad. He still listens to those talk shows, and that got me interested in journalism and in working with people at an early age,” Broadwater said.
In his new position, Broadwater leads the college's student recruitment and marketing efforts, as well as its print and web communication and social media practices.
“A lot of what I do involves managing the university's social media presence, including Facebook and Twitter, and managing its website. That all goes hand-in-glove with recruitment of graduate and undergraduate students ... everything I've done has sort of centered around admissions,” he said.
“Actually, all the positions I've had in higher education compliment what I am doing now,” he said.
Geibel student mixes well with peers
Coming up through Geibel Catholic Junior-Senior High School, Broadwater's outgoing nature led him to participate in myriad sports, musicals and other high-profile activities.
“I never had a fear of talking to large groups of people,” he said. “I actually ended up being the public address announcer for the Geibel basketball team during home games.”
It was in that role that Thomasine Rose, the school's dean of operations and planning and mathematics teacher, saw in Broadwater the talents to forge a path in the field of media communications, he said. Broadwater laughingly recalled another reason why Rose may have guided him in that direction.
“Math was never my strength. I think she may have been thinking of that, too,” he quipped.
Collegian spends years in newsroom, on-air
Upon graduating from Geibel in 1999, Broadwater set out for Bethany College in Bethany, W.Va.
While there, he became heavily involved with the campus radio station and The Tower, the college's student newspaper.
“The funny part is I get to use some of those skills now,” he said.
After graduating from Bethany with a bachelor's degree in communication, Broadwater earned a master's degree in integrated marketing communication from West Virginia University in Morgantown.
He then served as an undergraduate admissions counselor at the university in charge of East Coast recruitment territories.
After that, he was hired as student services coordinator at the university's P.I. Reed School of Journalism, where he taught journalism courses.
He also managed new student recruitment/enrollment, as well as coordinating internships and career management.
Prior to taking his current job at Duquesne, Broadwater worked as director of student and enrollment services at the Penn State Fayette, The Eberly Campus.
While there, he developed print, email and social media recruiting campaigns.
Those efforts contributed to a 23 percent increase in new, first-year baccalaureate enrollments. He also launched an alumni recruitment network and collaborated with new student orientation to further involve first-year students.
A family tragedy leads to another path
Broadwater eventually sought schooling at Duquesne in the master's degree program for counseling when he soon after learned that his younger brother, Andrew, had been diagnosed with osteocarcoma. The cancerous bone tumor usually develops in teenagers, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
“I moved back home because I wanted to help my family care for him,” he said.
Andrew Broadwater was treated at Children's Hospital in Pittsburgh for more than a year. He passed away on June 19, 2005. He was 18.
The Broadwaters — including Jason, older brother Tom Jr., Tom Sr. and mother Michelle — subsequently developed the Andy B. Fund through the Pittsburgh Foundation in honor of his late brother.
“My older brother (Tom Jr.) and I, and our parents put our heads together and we decided we wanted to do something,” Broadwater said.
“It would have been easy to go into a tailspin and let that moment define us. We decided to make something positive out of it,” he said.
The family soon learned of a facility dedicated to the research of osteosarcoma at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.
“We've been fortunate enough to go out there and visit the researchers,” Broadwater said.
The fund has raised more than $40,000 for pediatric cancer research, awareness and support.
Such financial support is difficult to acquire since osteocarcoma is lesser-known form of cancer than are others, said Susan Ragg, the facility's lead osteosarcoma researcher.
“Without the effort of families like the Broadwaters, it's hard to get funding for research into understanding why osteocarcoma happens, so their initiative to make people more aware of these rare cancers is very important,” Ragg said.
In 2007, the family established the Andy B. Fund Memorial Golf Tournament held each summer at Nemacolin Country Club. Event proceeds go to the IUPUI facility for use.
“Andrew was a big golfer, and the money could be as simple as them funding lab supplies, or hiring another researcher; 100 percent goes to them,” Broadwater said. “Generally speaking, it's been very successful.”
All the while, Broadwater said he never forgot the time he spent at Duquesne.
“I knew then this place was very special. I always thought to myself, it would nice to come back and work here some day.”
Professional aims to evolve in new role
In May, Broadwater spotted the posting for his current job.
With the experience he gained working at Penn State since September 2011, he said he felt ready to take on his new role.
“Actually, all the positions I've had in higher education complement what I am doing now,” Broadwater said.
“Duquesne is really hitting its stride, I think the best is yet to come for the university as a whole, I hope to be here for a long time,” he said.
As for living locally, Broadwater said he feels he has the best of both worlds.
“When I walk out of my front door, I can see the high school and the mountains,” he said. “I've always liked Mt. Pleasant. I always thought it had a really strong sense of community.”
Broadwater's father said he's proud of his son, particularly his career accomplishments.
“This last move was a great one for him,” Tom Broadwater Sr. said.
A.J. Panian is an editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-547-5722 or firstname.lastname@example.org.