President Gormley's Remarks at His Appointment
November 3, 2015
It's the greatest honor imaginable to stand in front of you today as the individual selected to lead this special university to the next level of success and excellence.
I'd like to thank the Chair of the Board of Directors-Marie Millie Jones-for her dedicated work and professionalism throughout this entire search process. Similarly, my sincere thanks to the whole Board and to all of the fabulous faculty members, students and administrators who participated in the process. Spending time with each of these groups only reinforced my conviction that Duquesne University of the Holy Spirit is one of the greatest, most vigorous and most caring institutions of higher education in the United States.
My wife, Laura, is here today, too, and she joins me in expressing our deep gratitude for the faith and confidence that the Board has placed in me in making this important appointment.
I've been at Duquesne since 1994-for 21 years-and I truly believe that we're more solid and stable than at any time during our history. I also believe that we're poised for the next important phase in the life of this special institution, and we will get there, working collaboratively as an academic family and thinking big.
Part of that involves figuring out how to re-imagine the Spiritan mission for a modern time here in Pittsburgh as the city itself is transforming. I've spent much of my career trying to formulate big ideas and execute them. I see this as a moment for great creativity, and it's exciting to be the person who leads Duquesne into the next stage of its upward trajectory, taking us into a new era that reflects a powerful, energetic and ambitious vision of this university-a university that has been an anchor of this region for over 130 years.
As many of you know, I grew up in Pittsburgh-in Edgewood and Swissvale-where my mom taught third grade at St. Anselm School for 20 years, and where most of the families worked in the Union Switch & Signal. I was the first one of five children to be born in Pittsburgh, and I always say that explains my irrational Pittsburgh loyalty.
I went to Pitt undergrad; after that, they made a mistake and let me into Harvard Law School. When I graduated I had job offers in Hawaii, Coral Gables, Florida, and Boston. But in each case I said, "It just isn't Pittsburgh." I wanted to make a contribution here, in the community where I'd grown up. That was the whole reason I'd gone off to law school in the first place. And the rest of my career I've devoted to building my professional career here.
I'm confident that these life-long connections to the region will help me to forge relationships that will allow Duquesne to shine more than ever, pushing off from the strong foundation that's been built during the past two presidencies.
If we harness all of the energy that exists on this campus thanks to our extraordinarily talented faculty, students, staff and alums and put Duquesne in the epicenter of the wonderful changes taking place here in Pittsburgh itself, I believe that we can allow these changes to reflect the energy and creativity of the Spiritan tradition that founded this university back in 1878 marked by a commitment to serving God by serving our students so that they, in turn, can serve others.
I also plan to see Duquesne move out even more so onto the national and international stage. We're sometimes far too shy about bragging about the talent of our faculty and students, and I hope to let the region and world see what I've seen for the past 20-plus years: that Duquesne University is home to some of the most talented scholars, creative problem-solvers and entrepreneurial students every bit as strong as those at the very best universities in the United States.
One of our secret weapons is our 86,000 alums. They are the most loyal and dedicated individuals imaginable. I brag about them every time I visit another city. It will be an honor to work even more closely with them in the years ahead.
Our other great treasure is our remarkable student body, typified by John Foster, president of the Student Government Association, and some of the other great students Laura and I met with during the search process. In everything we undertake at this university, advancing the interests of our students will be the polestar of whatever we do. This afternoon I'll be in the classroom teaching a seminar to undergraduate honors and international relations students, and I couldn't be prouder of the high quality of our entire student body. Students energize me, and I can't wait to partner even more with them as we learn and grow together as an institution thanks to their incredible enthusiasm and creative energy.
Our star really is on the rise. I can envision the day, soon, when we will not only be one of the top universities in the region, but also one of the leading Catholic universities in the world driven by our unique Spiritan identity.
That's what's so exciting about this appointment, and why I'm humbled and honored to be the person selected by the Board to lead this special institution forward, creating a pathways to something bigger than each of us that the Spiritan founders would look down upon with pride.
I'll conclude by saying that Duquesne is my home. It's also my family's home. When I moved into my office in 1994 in the basement of the Law Library, Laura was carrying boxes and was pregnant out to here. Two weeks later, our third child was born. That baby, Rebecca, is now a senior at Duquesne. In fact, I tricked Becca into coming here today, supposedly for another event. I wanted her to be here to see her dad stand up here for this special moment. It's as special as the day last May when I stood on stage and hooded my son Luke when he graduated from pharmacy school. That was another best day of my life.
It's the greatest honor imaginable for me, not just to be selected as the president of a university, but to be selected as the president of this particular university - Duquesne University of the Holy Spirit.
Thank you, and I'm happy to answer your questions.