Duquesne University has received a $1.5 million gift from the Edith L. Trees Charitable Trust to support disability and special needs education for the University’s College of Medicine (COM).

The Edith L. Trees Professorship in Special Needs Medicine will provide funding to develop a disability and special needs curriculum, built from best practices to inform medical educators regarding disability and special care needs. 

“We thank the Edith Trees Charitable Trust for this wonderful gift, which will enhance the training we provide our medical students to treat patients with special needs and disabilities,” said Duquesne President Ken Gormley. “This support helps us ensure we have strong and distinctive components of our medical school curriculum to help future Duquesne physicians meet the needs of a wide array of vulnerable and underserved populations. This gift also builds on the University’s excellent history and mission of promoting health equity in the region, including for individuals with disabilities and special needs.”

More than 25 percent of the U.S. adult population has some sort of disability, ranging from mobility and cognitive issues to hearing and vision problems, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Through this gift, we will integrate special needs medical education throughout all four years of the medical school curriculum,” said COM Dean Dr. John Kauffman. “This will uniquely position Duquesne’s medical college to implement a targeted focus on helping reduce the health care disparities that exist for people with special needs.”

In addition to the coursework, students’ clinical rotations will have them working with patients who have disabilities. 

“We are working with our clinical partners in various healthcare settings, including rehabilitation hospitals and geriatric facilities, to provide students with hands-on experience treating patients with disabilities,” Kauffman said. “These experiences will be invaluable for providing future physicians the tools they need to best treat individuals with special needs.”

The funding will also provide support for the purchase of necessary equipment, such as transfer chairs, special needs strollers and sensory room equipment, students can use during their education. 

The Trees gift continues the COM’s momentum as it plans to enroll its inaugural class in fall 2024. Construction of the medical college building is well underway, with a projected opening in early spring 2024. The college’s curriculum has met accreditation guidelines and its inaugural faculty is in place.

In June, the Dietrich Foundation helped Duquesne establish a $10 million endowment to provide support for the medical college’s leadership. The college is currently recruiting and admitting students for its inaugural class.

Duquesne University

Founded in 1878, Duquesne is consistently ranked among the nation's top Catholic universities for its award-winning faculty and horizon-expanding education. A campus of nearly 8,000 graduate and undergraduate students, Duquesne prepares students by having them work alongside faculty to discover and reach their goals. The University's academic programs, community service and commitment to equity and opportunity in the Pittsburgh region have earned national acclaim.

It's time for bigger goals
. Follow Duquesne University on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.



News Information

News Type

News Releases


September 11, 2023