The Pittsburgh Foundation

John R. and Margaret S. McCartan Charitable Fund

Established: 12/27/1995

J.R. "Jack" McCartan devoted his life and career to the support and growth of educational institutions and organizations in the region.

His father, J.R. McCartan Sr., was instrumental in instilling strong educational values in the family. It was the elder McCartan who purchased the Pittsburgh for-profit accounting and secretarial school in 1948 that has grown into Robert Morris University today.

After graduating from Notre Dame in 1956, Jack went to work for his father at Robert Morris since his father's public accounting business prevented him from overseeing day-to-day operations. Jack believed Robert Morris needed to broaden its customer base to attract more high school graduates, which no other business school was doing at the time.

To address this, Jack hit on a creative solution, hiring several IBM typewriter salesman to work as college recruiters. Enrollment immediately began to increase. Through creative financing, Robert Morris was also able to purchase the Oliver Kaufmann estate in Moon Township where the school established its suburban residential campus. Robert Morris assumed full-fledged university status in 2002.

"My entire career has been spent in one form of education or another," Jack told the Post-Gazette in January 2004. "I really came to see the difference between good teachers and not-so-good teachers. And a good teacher is truly priceless."

After leaving Robert Morris, Jack went on to rescue the Pittsburgh Technical Institute from bankruptcy court. He subsequently became president of PTI, growing the Institute from 230 students and one academic program to more than 2000 students and 22 programs of study.

He founded the Teacher Excellence Foundation, a professional development organization that offered awards to some of the best teachers in southwestern Pennsylvania.

Jack died April 12, 2014 from lymphoma. He was 79.

The McCartan family supports two funds. The J.R. McCartan Sr. Scholarship Fund was established by Jack as an enduring tribute to his parents. It is a four-year renewable scholarship available to Robert Morris University accounting students who maintain a QPA of 2.0 or higher.

The John R. McCartan and Margaret S. McCartan Charitable Fund supports homeless and educational programs, primarily for low-income students and their families from preschool through grade 12.

Type of Fund

  • Advised