Re-Imagining Duquesne’s Spiritan Legacy For A New Era
UPDATED JANUARY 2023
One hundred forty-four years ago a small band of visionary priests traveled from Europe to Pittsburgh on a mission—to found a small Catholic college to educate the families of recent immigrants working in the steel mills. Holding classes in rented space above a bakery on Wylie Avenue, the six Holy Ghost priests believed that a rigorous values-based education would provide otherwise unobtainable opportunities for their first group of 40 students. Over time, the priests built a world-class institution of higher education that grew in size and stature to become Duquesne University, educating the doctors, judges, financiers, journalists and other professionals who contributed to the rich tapestry of life in the Pittsburgh area and beyond.
We remain in awe of the Founders' commitment and perseverance. In recalling those modest beginnings, we need to consider what those Spiritan Founders would think of the institution to which they gave birth.
Ken Gormley, Duquesne's 13th president, poses this question: In what ways can Duquesne's strategic priorities reflect the spirit (and the Spirit) that animated founder Fr. Joseph Strub and his colleagues for a new era?
In this document, we set forth five strategic imperatives that align squarely with our heritage yet embrace the challenges of our ever-evolving world. In pursuing these strategic imperatives, Duquesne will advance for an exciting new era its historic mission of providing an education for the mind, the heart and the spirit.
Five Strategic Imperatives
Duquesne will identify bold pathways to offer students the knowledge and skills they will need for productive and fulfilling lives and careers in the 21st century.
Institutions of higher education often declare they are “student-centered.” Yet, the reality of making daily decisions that advance student interests is not so easy or clear-cut. Today’s Duquesne students have far different backgrounds than those children of immigrant steelworkers who first enrolled; still, they face similar hurdles in attaining success.
To prepare them for the world beyond graduation and to create a student-centered environment that will be a national model, we are committed to ensuring that Duquesne will:
- consider the best interests of our students as the polestar of all decision-making, elevating even further this aspect of Duquesne’s historic mission;
- review and assess demand for all academic programs and majors across the University, including high-demand potential programs (engineering, pre-law, pre-med, allied health programs, etc.), and develop plans for prioritizing resource investment;
- create an engineering department within the existing School of Natural and Environmental Sciences that adds one or more programs that are financially and academically feasible, to complement the existing biomedical engineering program and provide new pathways for students and for market distinction;
- provide individualized services that begin even before students apply for admission and continue long after they graduate, making the Duquesne experience a rich lifetime experience;
- focus on the development and wellbeing of the whole student—intellectual, physical, mental, emotional and spiritual—with a renewed emphasis on core values and ethics and a clear statement of goals for the student experience at Duquesne;
- provide a safe, comfortable, interactive living environment that fosters the growth of students academically, as persons, as citizens and as tomorrow’s leaders;
- build a comprehensive undergraduate research program that is interprofessional and interdisciplinary, encompassing scholarly, professional and creative enterprises;
- incorporate into the curriculum an emphasis on civil discourse and an exploration of the positive and negative impacts of new technology on learning and other aspects of contemporary life;
- continue to integrate practical applications and experiences into academic offerings so as to prepare students for the fluctuating demands of an evolving workforce, having comprehensively reevaluated all facets of our curriculum to build the Bridges Common Learning Experience;
- collaborate with the Spiritan Congregation and its leadership to incorporate programs into academic life at Duquesne that advance the University’s Spiritan mission;
- expand understanding and practice of student advising to better connect with University services and resources and that more strongly emphasizes wellbeing;
- become a University known for providing first-rate internships and meaningful job/career opportunities for its students;
- re-imagine career services as career development to address the ever-changing job market and students’ needs throughout their time at Duquesne and beyond;
- maintain and enhance international offerings for undergraduates, graduate students and law students;
- re-engage Duquesne’s highly-talented alumni to make valuable internship and job opportunities available to students locally and nationally;
- create a vibrant campus that fosters a renewed sense of institutional spirit for all students by supporting the University’s athletic programs;
- recruit and retain students best able to benefit from Duquesne’s programs, including students with limited resources; and
- become a University known for providing a great value in higher education, constituting an excellent investment for students and their families.
Duquesne will become the region's flagship institution for community engagement through mutually beneficial partnerships that advance the city, the region and the world.
Throughout its history, our University has contributed to the dramatic development of the city, the region, the nation, the Catholic Diocese that serves as its home and its partners around the globe. The challenges that confront communities today—locally, nationally and internationally—make Duquesne an invaluable partner.
In the role of a servant leader, Duquesne will:
- refashion and broaden its community engagement initiatives to develop authentic,
mutually beneficial alliances with governmental, faith-based and community organizations, focusing in particular on those in the Hill District, Uptown, the Mon Valley and other underserved areas, bolstered by the commitment of the proposed College of Osteopathic Medicine to address primary care shortages and create opportunities for future medical professionals from marginalized communities;
- position the University to pursue another School- or College-level academic enterprises connected to its mission, values, and community engagement while offering needed interprofessional and interdisciplinary education;
- enhance the University’s community engagement initiatives to promote civic awareness among students, faculty and staff, and to support the work that results;
- empower Duquesne’s inaugural Chief Diversity Officer to develop relationships within the campus community and among external constituents with the goal of creating more opportunities for successful student and employee recruitment and engagement;
- play a central role in the development and sustainability of the Uptown Eco-Innovation District along the Forbes and Fifth Avenue corridors adjoining the Duquesne campus;
- collaborate with the Diocese of Pittsburgh and other dioceses to create educational support programs to assist in the development of their lay associates, clergy and students as these dioceses reconfigure themselves for the 21st century;
- develop creative programs for students in diocesan and public schools, including in underserved areas, through the Duquesne University Leadership Academy initiative and other programs;
- advance curricular offerings that enhance the Catholic and Spiritan identity of the University;
- expand global engagement by recruiting greater numbers of international students and by solidifying rich existing relationships in Africa, Latin America and other areas of the world where Spiritans are already present or their mission needed;
- expose students to languages, cultures and religions that differ from their own in order to encourage them to respond to the needs of others; and
- ensure that all students have an opportunity for an international and/or intercultural experience during their time at Duquesne.
Duquesne's academic programs will transcend traditional boundaries, positioning it as a leader in interdisciplinary and interprofessional programs.
Our University grew in 1911 when it established its first professional school in law.
Other new schools followed: business, pharmacy, nursing, education, music and the
health sciences. Yet, higher education today must resist the notion of rigid silos.
The most exciting and creative work on campus often occurs when scholars collaborate
across traditional academic boundaries. Moreover, employers increasingly seek to recruit
students who are comfortable and nimble
working on interdisciplinary teams.
Recognizing the importance of these trends, therefore, Duquesne will:
- foster interprofessional education in health-related fields, leveraging the expertise of pharmacy, nursing, health sciences, healthcare ethics, biomedical engineering, the basic sciences, forensics and other existing academic programs to advance Duquesne’s reputation In integrative health;
- build faculty strength in interprofessional educational practices;
- expand existing health sciences programs and add new specialties to satisfy the national and international demand for such services;
- strengthen the presence and outreach of the University’s Center for Integrative Health as a community-focused learning environment that also is a regional asset that benefits people on the margins;
- launch its proposed College of Osteopathic Medicine, which will comprise interprofessional simulation labs—next generation technology— clinics and research labs that will allow faculty, students and healthcare professionals to work together in a dynamic educational environment;
- continue to explore developing interdisciplinary programs in other cutting-edge areas, including information technology, informatics, data analytics, sustainability and other areas in which demand and need have grown;
- explore creating a Center for Health and the Humanities to build on existing strengths at Duquesne and to connect the University’s long leadership in ethics and philosophy to the myriad of issues facing health care practitioners, leaders, researchers and consumers;
- continue to develop the Grefenstette Center for Ethics In Science, Technology and Law through naming a Director who will actively seek grants to advance the center and to enhance programs that explore the ethical implications of research and emerging technologies, to build upon historical strengths and address a critical need in this region;
- position the Center for Emerging and Integrative Media as an asset for the entire University;
- create other interdisciplinary programs across traditional academic boundaries linking various schools and disciplines, for example, by devising new ways of delivering instruction in foreign language skills to equip students for global opportunities; and
- continue to innovate and develop future-focused credentials, including certificates, micro-credentials, micro-master’s degrees and other products that meet the lifelong learning needs and expectations of a highly flexible and motivated professional population.
Duquesne will create a vibrant campus community that fosters the achievements of its talented faculty, students and staff.
When it was founded, Duquesne relied heavily on a small number of dedicated Spiritan priests to deliver “the Duquesne education.” Today, the complexity of a modern research university demands an increasingly diverse and talented workforce and resources.
To achieve this end, Duquesne will:
- recruit, hire and retain a talented, diverse, productive and dedicated community of teachers and staff to enrich and energize the entire campus;
- continue to support and strengthen a culture of individual attention and personal contact with respect to students, alumni, parents and community constituents, reflecting the distinctive student-facing character of the University;
- develop goals and resources for staff and faculty professional development in order to build the skills and knowledge necessary to deliver on the goals of this plan and to serve the evolving needs and expectations of students and other constituencies served by the University;
- cultivate an enthusiastic campus culture of diversity and inclusion in recruitment, hiring and programming across campus, supported by a robust Diversity and Inclusion Council;
- refocus support for teaching excellence and pedagogical originality by tapping into advances in learning science to create transformative opportunities for students;
- develop recommendations and guidelines for remote and flexible work arrangements in order to adapt and benefit from new workforce expectations in a manner consistent with Duquesne’s culture of individual attention and personalized education;
- redefine the Office of Research to creatively support research and scholarly initiatives that attract a wide array of current and future funding opportunities;
- re-examine how the University interacts with adjunct faculty and enhance
meaningful connection and inclusion mechanisms for those faculty members;
- develop and infuse a holistic model for well-being across University operations as a factor in supporting a vibrant community;
- explore opportunities for a strong University presence along the Bus Rapid Transit system, particularly on its Fifth Avenue and Forbes Avenue corridors near campus;
- enhance resources, awareness and appreciation for employee well-being both for talent retention purposes and to model for students the expectations the University values;
- continue to strengthen the Staff Advisory Council, which provides input to the administration on matters of importance to all non-faculty employees; and
- pursue national certification and recognition of Duquesne as a desirable place to work.
Duquesne will encourage an entrepreneurial spirit that will allow it to creatively steward University assets, adapt to changing environments and enhance its financial vitality to fulfill its mission for a new era.
The Spiritans constructed Old Main on a limited budget by using bricks that they themselves had fashioned from the clay on which the building now stands. Today’s campus operates like a small city and requires the same commitment to efficiency and detail. To ensure the institution has the physical and financial means to maintain and grow in its mission of serving God by serving students, Duquesne will:
- grow by expanding innovative curricular offerings matched to future-focused demand and the breadth of education necessary to support such focus;
- explore ways to expand the impact and visibility of the proposed new College of Osteopathic Medicine;
- remain on the cutting edge of higher education, pursuing initiatives involving ethics, technology and other areas that allow Duquesne to establish a niche as a regional, national and international leader;
- become nationally known for outstanding enrollment management services, providing personalized attention to applicants, admitted students, current students and their families, and shaping campus development with the student experience foremost in our planning, from first visit to commencement;
- explore creation of a combined welcome center and student services hub on campus;
- build greater affinity with all alumni in ways that inspire and retain a higher number of annual donors, student referrals and volunteers, in order to build an alumni body that is fully engaged and that participates actively, including in supporting a highly successful comprehensive fundraising campaign;
- actively and creatively engage all University stakeholders, including alumni, in the pursuit of sustained endowment growth;
- creatively and effectively develop, manage, maintain, use and/or liquidate University assets to allow optimum focus on core strengths and fuel the institution’s ability to grow, with a particular emphasis on re-evaluating and managing University properties along the Fifth Avenue corridor;
- create a process for succession planning for administration, deans, faculty and staff leadership, Spiritan campus leaders and other key positions;
- maintain, enhance and beautify the physical plant, so that the University’s resources can be utilized in a productive and energizing fashion for present and future generations;
- monitor emergent technologies for their educational and administrative potential and adapt accordingly;
- broaden public appreciation for Duquesne as a leading Catholic, Spiritan university by utilizing new strategies in marketing and communication;
- explore possibilities for regional learning alliances and educational partnerships beyond the campus, including collaborations with community colleges and other institutions, that can help satisfy essential workforce needs and assist students from an array of different backgrounds achieve success;
- engage in outcomes assessment in all areas of the University’s operation, using the results to achieve continuous improvement;
- place a high value on sustainability, encompassing environmental protection, social responsibility, innovation and sound business and policy practices, and communicate regularly and effectively the plans and successes the University achieves in this area; and
- annually assess and revise the current Strategic Plan to reflect the timeless values, energy and foresight of Duquesne’s Spiritan founders, evaluating its outcomes as a measure of success in its implementation.