Pa. State Representative Tom Tangretti has 20 years of experience in the state house to share with the Seton Hill students in his “Pennsylvania State Government” course at Seton Hill University. Recently named “Distinguished Lecturer in Politics” at Seton Hill by President JoAnne Boyle, Tangretti began teaching at the University in February 2008.

“We are delighted to have someone teaching state government here who has such a long and outstanding career in the state legislature,” said Dr. John Spurlock, Seton Hill professor of history and chair of the Humanities Division.

The course Tangretti is teaching at Seton Hill – and which he developed in collaboration with Dr. Spurlock and Dr. Michael Cary, Seton Hill professor of political science/history - combines the history of federalism with its current application at the state government level. “The unique part of the class – at least I think it’s unique, and I hope the students think so too – is that I can relate specific examples from my experiences,” Tangretti says.

To help his students understand how issues are debated at the state level, for instance, he requires them to research controversial topics then debate them in a format that approximates the protocol used on the house floor. The first issue Tangretti’s students were asked to research and then debate was stem cell research. “These students really have the ability to think on their feet, to respond to questions asked by the other debaters,” Tangretti said. “They did a great job. It was just like being in Harrisburg.”

Tangretti’s students are currently researching the topic of gun control. “I’ve asked them to research two specific proposals the governor has put forward, and then be prepared to discuss them by taking the position of a legislator in Philadelphia, and then the position of an Elk County legislator.”

Tangretti finds teaching at the college level time-consuming, but “unbelievably enjoyable.” “I’m really enjoying the students. Their energy, the feedback I get from them, it’s a tremendous experience.”

“Mr. Tangretti is passionate and enthusiastic about what he is teaching, and he makes every attempt to get us involved in debates about issues in today’s world,” said Jessica Martin, a freshman from Coal Center, Pa. who is a student in Tangretti’s course. “He took the time from his own busy schedule to provide an interesting and exciting trip to Harrisburg, so that we would be able to see first hand how the House of Representatives really works when they meet. He introduced us to great people within the House of Representatives and followed up with any information we asked for.”

The Seton Hill course is the first full-semester college level course Tangretti has taught, although he has often served as a guest lecturer at Seton Hill during his 20 years as Pa. State Representative for the 57th legislative district. He looks forward to spending more time in the classroom as Seton Hill’s Distinguished Lecturer in Politics after completing his current term as a member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. Tangretti plans to retire after this term.

“It has been a tremendous honor for me to be involved in the legislative process and with the people who make that process possible,” Tangretti says. “Although democracy at times isn’t pretty, it is also still the truest reflection – and the best servant – of the people it represents.”

Thomas A. Tangretti (D-Westmoreland) is currently serving his tenth (and final) term as a member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. Since arriving in Harrisburg, Rep. Tangretti has focused much of his legislative effort on improving state assistance for local communities and preserving and expanding state services for older Pennsylvanians. Rep. Tangretti graduated from the Indiana University of Pennsylvania in 1968 and received a master's degree in Public Administration from the University of Pittsburgh in 1977. Before his election to the state House, Rep. Tangretti served for 10 years as a legislative assistant to U.S. Congressman John Dent; as director of administration of Mark Lines, Inc.; and as Westmoreland County controller for two terms, where his work was recognized nationally by the Government Finance Officers Association. He was in United States Army Reserve from 1968-74. For more information on Representative Tangretti, please visit