The following email was shared with Duquesne faculty, staff, students and alumni. A complete list of participating colleges appears at the end of this message.

Dear Duquesne University faculty, staff and students,

In the days immediately following Russian President Vladimir Putin's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, the University swiftly condemned that act of aggression. We watched with horror, with our thoughts and prayers directed to the people of Ukraine as these events unfolded. On a daily basis, we continue to be heartbroken as we observe atrocities the citizens of Ukraine are enduring.

At the same time, the Ukrainian people have shown the world a resolve, bravery and commitment to the independence and freedom of their country that is nearly universally admired and praised. Indeed, it is inspirational to all of us who are committed to the principles of liberty that define democratic nations around the globe.

Duquesne has deep historic ties to many eastern European immigrant populations, including those from Ukraine. Dating back to the 1890s, and again beginning in the 1920s following WWI, Ukrainians were part of the influx of families coming to Pittsburgh and enrolling at Duquesne. The University had been established during that era to assist recent immigrants and their families working in the steel mills and factories so that they could advance themselves through education.

Thus, many families of Ukrainian descent became part of the fabric of Duquesne and our local communities. Indeed, Pittsburgh has enjoyed an enduring presence of Ukrainian Catholic churches and communities with which our University has interacted for generations. These roots and connections run deep.

In recent weeks, we have struggled to identify ways to demonstrate our support to the Ukrainian people and to recognize their enormous spirit and commitment to democratic freedoms. During that time, a group of more than 25 private colleges and universities reached out and asked us to join in bestowing jointly conferred honorary degrees, in absentia, to the Ukrainian people through the person of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. In consultation with our Board of Directors and the Spiritan Corporation, I have determined that it is both fitting and meaningful to join this special initiative along with these fellow universities. Our Spiritan identity calls us to reach out to those on the margins, as the millions of displaced Ukrainians surely are, along with those brave Ukrainians who have remained in place to defend their country against aggression.

In addition to participating in this special degree conferral, the University is taking concrete actions by partnering with Holy Family Institute, an organization here in Pittsburgh led by Sister Linda Yankoski, a prominent Duquesne alumna and former board member who serves as CEO. The Sisters of Sr. Linda's congregation live and serve in Ukraine, Poland, Belarus, and Kazakhstan. Right now, those Sisters are focused on helping refugee families affected by the war, and particularly on helping unaccompanied or orphaned Ukrainian children.

Even with fighting happening close by, these Sisters help pack and distribute humanitarian aid to displaced Ukrainians. Soon, Sr. Linda and the Holy Family Institute here in Pittsburgh will assist in finding homes for refugees-primarily women, children, and elderly individuals-who have made their way to this region from Ukraine.

In support of those concrete steps to aid people trapped in horrific circumstances, we urge all members of the Duquesne community to consider making donations to the organization to help support their much-needed work. Individuals can provide gifts to the "Holy Family Institute-Ukraine Fund," 8235 Ohio River Blvd., Pittsburgh, PA, 15202.

Duquesne University itself will make a $10,000 donation to this important cause, as well as to the Spiritan Provincial of Poland, Fr. Marek Myslinski, C.S.Sp., who is similarly providing direct assistance to the Ukrainian people.

Duquesne is resolved to join many universities to honor the courage and tenacity of our brothers and sisters in Ukraine. We are likewise committed to providing tangible assistance at the same time and we hope you can do the same. It is our mission, as inspired by the Spirit who gives life.


President Ken Gormley

Universities jointly bestowing the honorary degree, as of April 20, 2022:

Adrian College (MI)

Alfred University (NY)

Alvernia University (PA)

Arcadia University (PA)

Bard College (NY)

Canisius College (NY)

Cazenovia College (NY)

Chatham University (PA)

Dominican College (NY)

Duquesne University (PA)

Elmira College (NY)

Hilbert College (NY)

Hobart and William Smith Colleges (NY)

Gratz College (PA)

Keuka College (NY)

Le Moyne College (NY)

Lenoir-Rhyne University (NC)

Manor College (PA)

Rochester Institute of Technology (NY)

Salas University (PA)

Shenandoah University (VA)

Siena Heights University (MI)

Utica University (NY)

Virginia Wesleyan University (VA)

Villa Maria College (NY)

York College (PA)


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 8,500 graduate and undergraduate students, Duquesne prepares students by having them work alongside faculty to discover and reach their goals. The Universitys academic programs, community service, and commitment to equity and opportunity in the Pittsburgh region have earned national acclaim.

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April 20, 2022