By Christian Loeffler
Michael Kuhar, adjunct criminology professor, passed away from natural causes at the age of 71 on Monday, Dec. 9, 2019, while hunting at his son’s residence.
Bruce Antkowiak, legal counsel and professor, explained how he met Kuhar and the impact Kuhar had on the criminology department.
“When I came on in the summer of 2011 to really start the criminology program,” Antkowiak said, “I was the only one on the faculty […] and ironically, I just get an email from a guy named Mike Kuhar, who tells me he just finally retired from his positions up in Indiana county.”
"He is going to be very, very missed by faculty and students [...] I just really enjoyed going to his class, and I knew how appreciative he was and that even made it better.” - James Bumar
Antkowiak contacted Kuhar immediately after looking at his background and finding it remarkable.
Kuhar had been the chief probation officer for his county as well as the court administrator, and he had served as the warden of the county jail. Kuhar knew everybody in the probation, parole, and corrections end of the business, Antkowiak said, and he had been a highly well-regarded teacher at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
“He had done about everything that you could imagine a guy could do,” Antkowiak stated.
According to Antkowiak, Kuhar attributed his accomplishments, such as being a court administrator, to his master’s education. In an early conversation between the two, Kuhar suggested that once the criminology program was running, it should be expanded into a master’s program.
“He was really instrumental in encouraging us to develop the masters,” Antkowiak said. “This is why we put the masters together. His advice on that was extremely important for us,”
Kuhar taught Introduction to Criminology alongside courses involving juvenile justice, corrections, and American judicial systems. Antkowiak explained that Kuhar taught classes dense in freshmen and sophomores and that “a lot of people going through the system had Mike.”
“The guy was an adjunct; he would come down one or two days to teach but he went out of his way to help students,” Antkowiak stated, adding that he helped innumerable people by giving advice, bringing a wealth of information, and helping students get interviews for different law and corrections positions.
Antkowiak said that many faculty remarked that when they were hired, Kuhar would sit and chat, helping them get oriented to being a professor.
“He was giving a final exam one time and a kid was unable for some reason [...] to come to campus to do it,” Antkowiak said. “Mike met him in a restaurant and let him take the final exam right there and bought him dinner. That's the kind of guy that he was. And he was just an exemplary human being.”
James Bumar, adjunct professor and retired Latrobe Police Chief, explained that he only met Professor Kuhar four to five years ago, but they immediately “hit it off.”
“He had contacted me at the police department and wanted me to speak at his Introduction to Criminology class when he did the section on police,” Bumar said.
In the class, Bumar lectured on what it was like to have a career in law enforcement, what it took achieve that, and incidents he had encountered in duty.
“I can tell [Kuhar] was good at what he did […] and I got a lot of feedback from the students that they really liked his class,” Bumar stated.
Antkowiak said that Kuhar had a love of the outdoors and of hunting.
“In the fall, he would say to me, ‘'let's work on my schedule so I can go hunting in the morning’ and so we worked that out for him,” Antkowiak explained.
“We [both] had a great passion for hunting, were interested in our jobs, [and] we were both looking toward retirement," Bumar said. "He was just a really good man.”
Antkowiak said that Kuhar will be remembered as “one of the kindest, most generous individuals” who had a “willingness to give his time to the people of Saint Vincent.”
“He is going to be very, very missed by faculty and students […] I just really enjoyed going to his class, and I knew how appreciative he was and that even made it better,” said Bumar.
“We really, really do miss him a lot,” Antkowiak said.