Stepping Up: Alia Pustorino-Clevenger and the Brother Keating Initiative

Since its founding in 2018, the Brother Keating Initiative (BKI) has been helping food insecure members of Duquesne's campus community receive access to supportive services. Current circumstance has forced Dr. Alia Pustorino-Clevenger-who oversees the program-to transition the initiative to a model in which students could request services online or by telephone.

Pustorino-Clevenger has seen increased need due to coronavirus-related business closures and financial uncertainties. She hand delivers grocery items and gift cards on behalf of the BKI on Fridays to in-need students and their families.  

Alia Pustorino-Clevenger holds a bag of groceries

"It is abundantly clear that Alia cares deeply for the students she serves," said Dr. Adam Wasilko, assistant vice president for student involvement. "I believe she is not only serving our students with food insecurity with the essentials they need, but also with the kindness and extreme compassion that characterizes our Duquesne community."  

According to Pustorino-Clevenger, faculty and staff have been generous in collecting gift cards and donating supplies for the food pantry. She says the Center for Global Engagement has been instrumental in reaching Duquesne's international student population. The BKI has also become a campus referral site for the Student Emergency Fund.  

"The pandemic has solidified the opportunity for us to discuss the reality of housing and food insecurity in collegian populations," said Pustorino-Clevenger. "The outpouring of support from campus colleagues, departments and our Student Government Association is overwhelming."  

Since the beginning of March 2020, the BKI has served more than 170 individuals. Pustorino-Clevenger has made more than 22 grocery deliveries and has mailed more than 14 grocery store gift cards to students and their families/roommates in need.  

groceries in the trunk of an SUV

The initiative is named for Spiritan Brother Gerald Keating, who served the Duquesne community from 1924 until 1980. During the Great Depression, Brother Keating quietly supported students who felt the crippling impact of the economic collapse, thus enabling them to successfully complete their academic studies.  

The BKI seeks to assist food insecure students, faculty and staff. The initiative includes comprehensive services that include health and wellness, meal vouchers and a campus food pantry.  

"The Brother Keating Initiative is one of the many things that makes our campus community an incredibly special group to be a part of," says Wasilko. "Alia and the Brother Keating team are helping to keep our Spiritan mission moving forward during this difficult time."  

For more information about the BKI or to donate, contact Pustorino-Clevenger at  

Thank you, Alia and team, for your service to students and their families in need!

Stepping Up

We're recognizing individual Duquesne employees who are going above and beyond in their job duties (beyond transitioning to online services) to serve our students, our campus and local community during these uncertain times. To submit an individual for nomination, email Emily Stock at

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 9,500 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. 

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