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Leader guided changes at Robert Morris

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By Bobby Kerlik
Wednesday, April 16, 2014, 12:01 a.m.

Jack McCartan didn't mince words when he wanted answers at Robert Morris University.

“There wasn't a lot of chit-chat with Jack. He got right to the point. He asked questions and wanted direct answers, which we appreciated. He always kept you on your toes,” said Robert Morris University President Gregory Dell'Omo. “He wanted to know about student debt, the student experience. He supported the institution.”

John R. “Jack” McCartan of Shadyside, one of the key figures in guiding Robert Morris from a for-profit business school to a nonprofit suburban college, died of lymphoma on Saturday, April 12, 2014. He was 79.

Mr. McCartan's father purchased Robert Morris, then a for-profit accounting and secretarial school, in 1948. He went to work for his father — not long after his graduation from the University of Notre Dame — in running the school.

Mr. McCartan wasn't yet 30 when, under his leadership, the school purchased the Oliver Kaufmann estate in Moon in order to build a suburban residential campus. The school later became nonprofit when the state changed its certification rules for accountants. Mr. McCartan moved on in 1966 to operate other proprietary schools, including more recently, Pittsburgh Technical Institute.

“He was very good at that. He was very respected in that industry,” said his wife, Margaret Stefan McCartan. “He wasn't abrupt, but when it came to business, he could do that. He was very up-front.”

The couple met while he was finishing college at Notre Dame and she was graduating from the secretarial program at Robert Morris. Mrs. McCartan was working at Robert Morris part time and a co-worker introduced them.

Mr. McCartan grew up in Mt. Lebanon and graduated from high school there in 1952. He graduated from Notre Dame in 1956 with a bachelor's degree and in 1960 from the University of Pittsburgh with a master's in business administration.

Mr. McCartan was a longtime members of Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church in Shadyside.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by a sister, Patricia Snyder of Sarasota, Fla.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Wednesday in Sacred Heart church, 310 Shady Ave. Burial will be at Queen of Heaven Cemetery in Peters.

Bobby Kerlik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7886 or

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