Duquesne President Shares Insight Into University’s Mission and Identity
At his annual Convocation address today, President Charles J. Dougherty shared with Duquesne faculty, staff and students his reflections on the University’s mission and identity.
Duquesne, founded in 1878 by the Spiritan Congregation, brought higher education to the children of struggling immigrant workers and was one of the first universities to admit women and minorities. During his remarks, Dougherty pointed out that the University’s rich history brings the Duquesne community together.
“But of all the things that unite us, the most important is our purpose for being here together at this time and place, doing the special things we do,” said Dougherty. “We call that purpose our mission, and it is linked inextricably to our institutional identity as a Spiritan, Catholic university.”
Dougherty explored Duquesne’s mission and identity, focusing on academic excellence, service, the integrity of creation, community of faith, moral and spiritual values, the Spiritan mission and goals, and serving God by serving students.
Teaching, at Duquesne, is motivated by a concern for the development of the whole person, Dougherty said.
“We are conscious of the role we play in shaping (students’) lifelong attitudes toward learning and toward their own commitments to serving others,” he said. “At the same time, our concern for person-centered teaching is also expressed in the highest possible standards of performance.”
Dougherty described service as a traditional part of Duquesne’s identity, as something “deeply linked” to the University’s Catholic and Spiritan heritage.
“Large numbers of hours of service are now donated annually not only by students, but by faculty and staff as well; so many that we have recently been named among the top fifteen universities in the country for community service,” said Dougherty, who also credited Duquesne for becoming a leader in service learning.
Acknowledging the recognitions that Duquesne has received for its energy-efficient campus, Dougherty also touted the attractiveness of the Bluff as well as the important of the University’s Pittsburgh roots.
“We want to live, work and educate in a place of beauty. Such an environment lifts and sustains the spirit,” Dougherty said. “…We must always be proud of our hometown and how the City and the University have helped to shape—and will continue to shape—one another.”
When discussing Duquesne as a community of faith, Dougherty noted that Duquesne is comprised of Catholics and non-Catholics alike.
“We must always be mindful of this and of the many contributions made by our colleagues of all faiths here,” he said. “But we are a Catholic institution. As such, we have an opportunity and an obligation to help define the meaning of a Catholic university for our age.”
Dougherty reflected upon spiritual and moral values, touching on values related to the nature of the person and the community, and stressing the importance of social justice and its role in shaping human dignity in a community.
“The ethos of our University community and its ability to support the dignity of all our members is a profound spiritual and moral value,” Dougherty explained. “In our support of one another, we should strive to be of ‘one heart and one soul.’”
He also discussed the University’s founders, the Spiritans, and their mission to provide service to the poor and do missionary work in Africa and around the world. He cited their stress on education, cultural sensitivity and spiritual openness as representing a “rich and distinctive asset for the Spiritan Congregation and for Duquesne University.”
Dougherty pointed out the challenge of remaining faithful to the core mission insight of service to the poor, stating “we must be forthright about it so that we never become complacent about our fundamental values.”
“Though we may not be on the front lines in fighting poverty and injustice, we can make our own important contributions,” he added, reminding the Duquesne community of the University’s Strategic Plan directive to strengthen links with Spiritan works around the world, making service to others a consistent theme, increasing our students’ awareness of poverty and injustice, highlighting these themes in faculty research, and focusing on our links to Africa and to the Hill District. “All of these efforts make us partners in the struggle against poverty and for justice.”