Duquesne President Initiates Series for Campus Community to Engage in Civil Discourse

Duquesne University faculty, staff and students are invited to participate in a special, campus-only event as part of a new series initiated by President Ken Gormley to explore the importance of respectful debate on challenging topics.

Racial and Cultural Understanding in a New Era will be held on Monday, Feb. 13, from 3 to 4:30 p.m. in the Power Center Ballroom.

"This program is the first in a series, primarily designed for our students-but also important for faculty and staff-that brings together our campus community to engage in civil discourse relating to difficult issues of the day," explained Gormley. "It goes to the very heart of our mission as educators at this values-based, Spiritan-Catholic University."

Moderated by Esther Bush, president of the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh, and David Hickton, former U.S. attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania, Racial and Cultural Understanding in a New Era will feature two panel discussions, each of which will be followed by a question-and-answer period featuring written questions submitted by the audience.

The first panel, Race and Police: Building Trust in Communities, will feature:

  • Coleman McDonough, superintendent of Allegheny County Police
  • Tracey McCants-Lewis, assistant clinical professor in Duquesne's School of Law.

The second panel, Muslims, Immigration and the American Dream, will feature:

  • Imam AbduSemi'h Tádése, director of religious affairs, Islamic University Center
  • Lawrence M. Lebowitz, chair of immigration group, Cohen & Grigsby, PC
  • Dr. Emad Mirmotahari, associate professor of English and African studies in the McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts.

In addition, third-year law student Fayezah Hassan, whose parents were forced to flee from Iran to Afghanistan for defending religious minority groups, will reflect on some of her experience and talk about her own work to advance international human rights.

Gormley said he first began work on developing this program last summer, when racial issues involving police conduct were making news across the country. "Since that time, our country has become even more polarized with respect to issues regarding race, ethnicity, religious affiliation and cultural understanding," said Gormley. "This first program in the series on civil discourse is particularly timely, in my view, and will provide a foundation for future conversations on campus, so that students and other members of the Duquesne family can feel comfortable sharing their views on complicated and trying issues, in a respectful fashion."

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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