Jim & Jennifer Troha

President James Troha, his wife, Jennifer, and their dogs, Lyla and Lainey, enjoy walking through campus and attending events. Photo by JD Cavrich

A Presidential Purpose

By: Amanda S. Drumm

Jim & Jennifer Troha

A Presidential Purpose

By: Amanda S. Drumm

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A decade is measured in years, and within that period are days, hours, and countless moments that join to form this passage of time. But it is not this measurable span that is important, it is the events and experiences in between that give meaning. President James A. Troha, who recently concluded his first decade at the helm of Juniata College, met this milestone with purpose, passion, and anticipation for the years ahead.

Troha began his post in the fall 2013 semester, with Juniata having just finished its full 10-year Middle States Reaccreditation the preceding spring. “That is a significant accomplishment and I thought ‘there won’t be another one for a long time’,” he joked. The interval until the next reaccreditation proved to be fast, with Juniata having successfully finished in June 2023.

“Juniata is a great community where great things are done. This reaccreditation was a collective effort, and it is a big deal. It demonstrates you are doing what you say you are doing,” he said.

Speaking about that achievement, Troha is quick to deflect attention from his efforts in the process and redirect the commendation to the administration, faculty, and staff. He is genuine in his praise of them, and in the collaborative ways they worked together to elevate Juniata.

That honesty has marked the past 10 years of Troha’s tenure, where he has met tribulations and trials, and openly apprised the Juniata community of its conditions, whether positive or negative.

“One that was both a high and low was COVID-19. The challenges around it and our ability to maneuver a global pandemic were immense. The high was that we really displayed the best of who Juniata is. We pulled together as a community—the faculty, students, board, and staff. We welcomed students back in the fall of 2020 and were able to keep people safe and deliver the educational experience. It wouldn’t have been possible if we didn’t all work together as one big family, with advice, protocols, and students who cooperated,” Troha said.

Early in the pandemic, he recognized students’ home circumstances are unique and strove to ensure there was not a disruption in instruction, and that classes were equitable for all. “I am proud of the effort we made as a community. This wasn’t possible without the support of what we were trying to do. We never once had an interruption of service. The students wanted to be here; the faculty wanted to be here. It really was a high-water moment where everyone worked together,” Troha said.

Academically I want to remain innovative and entrepreneurial, meeting the demands of a changing marketplace, remaining flexible, and continuing to evolve academically. We need to be open, flexible, and able to pivot. We need to pay attention to what students need in this changing, dynamic economy. President James Troha

That spirit of cooperation and the student-centric model is Troha’s motivation. It is likewise why Juniata has witnessed an evolution and vast growth this last decade. For example, Juniata exceeded its $100 million comprehensive campaign by raising over $128 million, which is a testament to the value placed on a Juniata degree and how a Juniata education resonates.

“That historic campaign helped us do many things—new buildings and renovated facilities, scholarships, faculty support, and growing the endowment. The work we have done on campus in terms of facilities and infrastructure and investment in our people is making a difference,” he said.

Juniata has invested in updating residence halls and the library is currently under renovation. “Students care about where they are studying and where they are living. I think facilities matter in today’s competitive landscape, and we have made great progress there,” said Troha.

Limiting the financial worry of students has been a priority, too. “The campaign we had provided money to support scholarships and the philanthropy from alumni and donors helps make it possible to afford the Juniata experience. Additionally, we made a major effort to try to eliminate the burden of book costs. We found some students were not buying books or were sharing them. As part of matriculation, now all books are taken care of—free of charge—so students don’t have to worry about that burden,” he said.

photo of President Troha during move in
photo of President Troha at football celebration
LEFT: Move-in day for first-year students is an all-hands-on-deck event at Juniata, with volunteers, including President James Troha, making quick work of helping to unload cars. Photo by Maggie Eckroat ’26. RIGHT: Following Head Football Coach Blake Treadwell’s first win at Juniata College on September 16, President James Troha joined in the celebration at Knox Stadium. Photo by JD Cavrich.

These initiatives have culminated in an increase in the size of the first-year class who started this fall; one of the largest classes in the College’s history. Troha credits the investment in new programs, experiential opportunities like mock trial and the pep band, and additional athletic teams for the number of students and Juniata’s forward momentum.

As Troha looks into the future, he wants to continue to see the innovation of new undergraduate and graduate programs, more diversity in the college, and a place that achieves high academic pursuits and is athletically competitive.

“Academically I want to remain innovative and entrepreneurial, meeting the demands of a changing marketplace, remaining flexible, and continuing to evolve academically. We need to be open, flexible, and able to pivot. We need to pay attention to what students need in this changing, dynamic economy,” Troha said. This encompasses his vision to collaborate more with the Huntingdon community and to be a strong economic partner for the region while continuing the rich tradition of the college.

“Juniata has a strongly earned reputation. Students receive a tremendous education and do wonderful things in our world. It was already a strong institution when I came here, and I wanted it to get even stronger. We are on our way to doing that,” he said.