Founded in 1878 by the Spiritan Congregation

Duquesne has grown in size and stature to become respected as one of Pittsburgh's premier institutions of higher education.

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A Brief History

Duquesne University was founded in 1878 by a group of Catholic missionaries also known as the Spiritans.  From humble beginnings as a school for the children of Pittsburgh's poor immigrants, Duquesne today is an educational and economic powerhouse comprising ten schools of study that serve more than 10,000 students.

Some of the University's historic milestones* include:

  • Duquesne was founded on Oct. 1, 1878, as Pittsburgh Catholic College by the Rev. Joseph Strub and the Congregation of the Holy Ghost. The College's 40 students and six faculty members held classes in rented space above a bakery on Wylie Avenue, in Pittsburgh's Hill District.
  • Duquesne's original "Old Main" building was constructed in 1885, as a result of the University's growth. This five-story red brick landmark was, for years, the highest point on the Pittsburgh skyline. It is still actively used as the administrative building on campus.
  • On May 27, 1911, the name was changed to Duquesne University of the Holy Ghost. The university's first professional school, the School of Law, was also established this year. 
  • Over the next three decades, Duquesne established five additional schools: Business, Pharmacy, Music, Education, and Nursing.
  • Assumption Hall opened in 1950 as the first student dormitory.
  • Between 1950 and 1980, the University underwent a period of development as College Hall, Mellon Hall, Rockwell Hall, the School of Music, the library and the Student Union were constructed. Additionally, four more dormitories were built to accommodate the influx of new students to the University.
  • During the 1980s the School of Law was expanded and construction began on the A. J. Palumbo Center.
  • Between 1990 and 2001, the University opened its first new schools in 50 years: the John G. Rangos Sr. School of Health Sciences, the Bayer School of Natural and Environmental Sciences; and the School of Leadership and Professional Advancement.  New spaces for classrooms, offices and residence halls; parking garages and the Arthur J. Rooney Athletic Field were also developed.
  • In January 2008 Duquesne expanded its footprint onto Forbes Avenue with the dedication of the Power Center. This new five-story building, named for Duquesne's first president, Spiritan Fr. William Patrick Power, includes an 80,000 sq. ft. fitness center, banquet facilities, retail shops, restaurant and a Barnes and Noble bookstore.
  • In 2010, Duquesne began construction on a new 12-story Des Places Residence Hall for junior, senior, graduate and law students. The University also purchased an eight-story academic building at 600 Fifth Avenue and dedicated it as Libermann Hall. The purchase of Libermann Hall doubled the size of the University's classroom space.

*Compiled from  The Spirit That Gives Life: The History of Duquesne University, 1878-1996, by Joseph F. Rishel.