Duquesne Unveils Ambitious Plan for New Era of Excellence

President Ken Gormley has unveiled an ambitious strategic plan that promises to enhance the student experience, further bolster community engagement and foster faculty collaboration and support during the next five years. 

The plan comes at an important time in Duquesne's history, as the University looks to capitalize on its momentum as one of the region's top institutions and build on its growing national reputation as a leader in higher education, embracing new, innovative approaches. The plan, titled Re-Imagining Duquesne's Spiritan Legacy For a New Era, springs from a question President Ken Gormley posed in his Inaugural Address in 2016: What would the Spiritan priests who founded this institution have done if they arrived on this Bluff today instead of 140 years ago?

Gormley led a town hall meeting earlier this month to discuss the plan with hundreds of faculty and staff members. The plan, approved by the Board of Directors last month, was the product of three years' worth of diligent work by members of the University community, including faculty, staff, students and community partners. The president and members of his cabinet reviewed the plan's key elements and answered questions during the meeting. On Nov. 13, Gormley held a "Fireside Chat" meeting for students that focused on the plan's student success imperatives, with a Q & A session moderated by Olivia Erickson, the current president of the Student Government Association, and Kaye Burnett, the past editor of the Duquesne Duke.

"This plan creates bold pathways that guide us in determining our vision and help us make future decisions," Gormley said. "This is a unique time to be at Duquesne. We have the opportunity to significantly impact this region's development while helping to positively shape the world on a much broader scale."

The plan identifies five strategic imperatives:

  • Re-imagining the student experience for the 21st century
  • Becoming a flagship for community engagement
  • Creating a more collaborative and interdisciplinary academic environment
  • Developing a vibrant campus community
  • Encouraging entrepreneurial spirit.

The plan, which will run from 2018-2023 with annual updates to keep it current, recognizes the evolving impact of technology on society and what it may mean for students. As a result, Duquesne will identify pathways to help prepare students for success in the 21st century. The University plans to re-evaluate the curriculum and integrate offerings and experiences that provide students with the skills needed for the future workforce.

Noting the University's rich history, the plan also calls for Duquesne to become the region's flagship institution for community engagement through partnerships that benefit the region and the world. Some opportunities mentioned in the plan include aiding local underserved populations in the Hill District, Uptown, Hazelwood and the Mon Valley; playing a central role in developing the Eco-Innovation District along Forbes and Fifth avenues; and expanding Duquesne's engagement in Africa while exploring new connections, particularly in areas of the world where Spiritans already have a presence.

"Community engagement is the hallmark of this University," Gormley said. "We want to be the driver of change and the epicenter of development in our community and worldwide."

For faculty, the plan looks to create more interdisciplinary and inter-professional opportunities that allow professors to work together across schools. Noting that the most exciting and creative work often occurs when scholars collaborate across traditional academic boundaries, the plan calls for Duquesne to create a center for inter-professional education in health-related fields, leveraging the University's expertise in several specialties including ethics. The plan also suggests exploring building a simulation hospital, comprised of inter-professional simulation labs, clinics and research labs where faculty, students and health professionals can work together in a dynamic environment.

"Our complex and connected world makes educational silos obsolete," Gormley noted. "The mix of specialties at Duquesne is perfectly suited for team-based instruction. And, a simulation hospital also could serve real patients, including vulnerable populations such as veterans and the homeless."

Another aspect of the plan includes creating a vibrant campus community that includes fostering the achievements of the University's faculty, staff and students. Duquesne also would continue to cultivate a campus-wide culture of diversity and inclusion in recruitment, hiring and programming.

In a nod to the changing landscape in higher education, the plan also states that Duquesne will encourage an entrepreneurial spirit that allows it to adapt to evolving environments and enhance its financial vitality to fulfill its mission. The plan notes that this may be accomplished in multiple ways, including expanding curriculum offerings and exploring possibilities for regional learning alliances beyond the campus, including collaboration with community colleges and other institutions to help meet workforce needs.

During the planning process, the University received input from hundreds of members of the campus community. Several task forces were formed to consider ideas and help finalize the plan. "This plan is built on the University's lasting strengths," Gormley said. "It positions us well for future success."

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. 

It's time for bigger goals
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