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Dr. John Smetanka

Dr. John J. Smetanka has been a member of the full-time faculty since 1997 and currently serves as the Vice President for Academic Affairs and Academic Dean of Saint Vincent College, a position he has held since January, 2008. Dr. Smetanka, a Latrobe native and Derry Area High School graduate, earned a Bachelor of Science degree in physics in 1989 from Carnegie Mellon, and a Master of Science degree in 1991 and a Ph.D. in 1997 in astronomy and astrophysics from the University of Chicago. In addition to teaching a wide variety of courses in physics, astronomy, geology, and chemistry Dr. Smetanka has been involved in numerous projects and committees during the past decade at Saint Vincent. He held leadership positions in many of these initiatives, including service as chair of the Educational Policy Committee, Science and Theology Forum, the Lancy Scholars Program, and remains director of the Honors Program. As part of the Math and Science Partnership of Southwestern Pennsylvania, Dr. Smetanka has taken part in a number of workshops both locally within the partnership and also at the National Academy of Sciences on the evaluation and implementation of best practices for undergraduate science and mathematics education. Dr. Smetanka has been honored at Saint Vincent with the presentation of the Quentin Schaut Faculty Award in 1999, the Distinguished Faculty Award by Pathways to Success in 2002, and the Student Government Association Award in 2004. He is the author or co-author of numerous publications and presentations including his most recent peer-reviewed journal article with Dr. Anis Maize (Saint Vincent College, Department of Physics) “The Electric Polarizability of a Particle Bound by a Double-Delta Potential” published in the May 2008 European Journal of Physics.

Prior to joining the faculty at Saint Vincent, Dr. Smetanka served as Vice President for Research and Development for On Target Mapping, a Pittsburgh-based software company specializing in the development of Geographical Information Systems (GIS). Dr. Smetanka lives in Latrobe with his wife Sharon, daughter Lindsay, and two sons, Logan and Brent.

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Archived Posts (below)

  • Football Must Evolve

    Posted Mon., September 10, 2012

    Full disclosure, I love football. As I type this on Sunday morning, I am watching the college football highlights on ESPN. Simultaneously, I am looking forward to the opening Steelers game tonight.

  • Rest in Peace Neil Armstrong

    Posted Mon., August 27, 2012

    The sentence he spoke on July 20, 1969 from 250,000 miles away on the powdery regolith of the Sea of Tranquility is one of the most memorable quotes in the English language.

  • The Signs of the End of Summer and Return to School

    Posted Tue., August 21, 2012

    The hot afternoons and thunderstorms of summer are coming to an end, replaced by the cool comfortable nights and turning leaves of early autumn.

  • The Olympic Flame and the Frontiers of Human Achievement

    Posted Thu., August 2, 2012

    This is an awesome time to be a sports fan. Here at Saint Vincent the Steelers are in camp and our Fall sports teams will begin practices in a couple of weeks.

  • The Moon Landing Anniversary and NASA's Latest Challenge

    Posted Mon., July 23, 2012

    Friday July 20 marked the 43rd anniversary of Apollo 11’s landing on the Moon. Certainly one of the milestones of human accomplishment, the 250,000 mile trip to the Moon marks the furthest humans have traveled, in person, from our home.

  • The Discovery of the Higgs Boson

    Posted Fri., July 6, 2012

    As elementary school students we learn that all matter is made of atoms. Later, we learn that atoms are made of protons, neutron and electrons.

  • July 4th - Celebrating our Freedoms

    Posted Mon., July 2, 2012

    China was a wonderful place to visit and has changed rapidly, in many ways for the better, over the past two decades however, my brief time outside of the United States this year reinforced my appreciation for my citizenship.

  • The First Day of Summer – Bad News for Vampires?

    Posted Wed., June 20, 2012

    June 21 is typically the official first day of summer however, this year, in the United States, it comes a day early on Wednesday, June 20 at 7 09pm.

  • Rainbows, Clouds and a Gift of Space Telescopes -- An Interesting Week So Far

    Posted Thu., June 7, 2012

    As beautiful and hospitable as China was, it is wonderful to be back in the United States, back home.

  • First Impressions of China

    Posted Wed., May 30, 2012

    My first trip to Asia began last Wednesday with flights from Pittsburgh to San Francisco to Tokyo to Taipei City, Taiwan. Total time in the air was approximately 20 hours.

  • Graduation Day

    Posted Tue., May 22, 2012

    What a wonderful day we had last Saturday, May 12, 2012 Three hundred and thirty two undergraduate and twenty two graduate degrees conferred to very worthy recipients.

  • Exciting Events in the Summer Sky

    Posted Tue., May 8, 2012

     A twice in a lifetime event (at best) is coming up next month.

  • Easter Memories

    Posted Mon., April 16, 2012

    Easter is a joyous holiday. This year’s early spring brought forth an exquisite Easter fireworks display of trees adorned with vividly colorful blossoms.

  • A Reflection on the Purpose of Higher Education

    Posted Thu., April 5, 2012

    This is an excerpt from the keynote address given at the Induction Ceremony and Senior Recognition for the First Year Honors Society, Alpha Lambda Delta, at Saint Vincent College on Saturday, March 31.

  • Lessons from The Hunger Games

    Posted Wed., March 21, 2012

    Suzanne Collins creates a classic dystopian future in The Hunger Games on par with Huxley’s Brave New World, Orwell’s 1984 and Vonnegut’s Fahrenheit 451. The movie adaption of the book will be released this week.

  • Time to Spring Ahead

    Posted Tue., March 13, 2012

    Moving into daylight savings time can be disruptive. I dislike the loss of an hour’s sleep when we spring ahead – admittedly, I never complain about the extra hour the day we fall back.

  • Spring Break -- Time One Instead of Time Off

    Posted Tue., February 28, 2012

    Next week is spring break, a week uniformly anticipated by both students and faculty, as a much needed respite from the routine rigors of the semester.

  • Appreciating the Opportunities to Enjoy the Fine Arts

    Posted Tue., February 14, 2012

    The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance. – Aristotle, Nichomachean Ethics How important are the visual arts in our society?

  • Fittest Losers

    Posted Tue., February 7, 2012

    My family and friends know that my New Year’s resolution had better involve some significant weight loss.

  • In the Footsteps of Fred Rogers

    Posted Wed., February 1, 2012

    On Saturday, the Rogers Center hosted a seminar for its Early Career Fellows – five professionals currently working in the children’s media or early learning – and Rogers Scholars – six undergraduates in their junior year.