President Gormley's Remarks at Inauguration
September 22, 2016
Thank you, Marie; and thanks for your extraordinary leadership. I'm grateful to everyone here for the privilege of being on stage today, as part of this historic ceremony. I'm humbled to receive the commission to serve as the 13th President of Duquesne University of the Holy Spirit. Madam Chairwoman and members of this distinguished Board -- and Fr. Jeff Duaime and the Corporation of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit -- I accept this appointment with gratitude, and a deep sense of awe at the responsibility, and great possibilities, that come with this appointment.
My wife, Laura, and I -- and our children and family ---are honored beyond words.
I have to tell you that I feel that this seems like a unique fit for me, at this moment in time of Duquesne's history. As you know, I've been at Duquesne since 1994 -- for 22 years - and I've personally witnessed its steady climb:
During the Presidency of the late President John E. Murray Jr., and continuing under the steady leadership of President Charles Dougherty, assisted at every step by an incredibly talented Board. All of those years of careful stewardship have paid off. At a time when some colleges and universities are struggling for survival, Duquesne is advancing on myriad fronts. I truly believe that we're poised for the next important phase in the life of this special institution -- especially if we aren't afraid to think big and deploy our talented faculty, students and alumni to make that leap of faith.
Part of this involves figuring out how to re-imagine the Spiritan MISSION for a modern time, here in Pittsburgh, as the City itself celebrates its Bicentennial, and transforms itself in magnificent ways. [And I'd like to thank our Mayor Bill Peduto, and our County Executive, Rich Fitzgerald, who are here today - - they're great friends of Duquesne, and they're putting this region on the map nationally and internationally, in a way that's unrivaled in our history.]
The same is true of Senator Jay Costa (our distinguished law school alum); and so many judges and other public officials who are here today. [Ladies and gentlemen - - can we show all of these folks our appreciation for their public service?....]
As you may know, I grew up here in Pittsburgh. I'm a first-generation Pittsburgher. My dad grew up on a farm in Versailles, Kentucky -- but he was the oddball in the family, so he went off to New York to get a Ph.D. in Chemistry at NYU. That's where he met my mom who earned her degrees at Hunter College and Mt. Holyoak; she was the daughter of an Italian immigrant and a school-teacher - - my grandparents John and Jessica Furia - - who valued education above all else. (I have many of my Kentucky kinfolk here, and my Furia relatives from New York and elsewhere - so thanks to all of you for making the trek here.) My parents ended up moving to Pittsburgh because it was half-way between Kentucky and New York. So I was the first of five children to be born here -- and my brothers always claim that this explains my irrational Pittsburgh loyalty. [Incidentally, I was born right next door at Mercy Hospital - - so I haven't strayed too far.]
My brothers and sisters are here today with their families too; I'm proud of all of them. We grew up in Swissvale and Edgewood - directly across from the Union Switch & Signal - in a working-class neighborhood where most families worked at the Switch or in steel mills in the Mon Valley. My mom taught third grade at St. Anselm in Swissvale, and that's where we got our education from the Sisters of Charity, to whom I'm still deeply grateful. [Some of the Sisters and other teachers from St. A's are here today - but they've promised not to tell any stories "out of school" - right Sister Patrice?)]
When the time for college came, my dad gave each of us a roll
of quarters to take the bus to Pitt, because that was the most affordable. [And I'm appreciative that Pitt's Chancellor-emeritus Mark Nordenberg is here today, who was one of my first mentors when I started my teaching career at Pitt]. After college, they made a mistake and let me into Harvard Law School - and when I graduated I had job offers in Boston, Hawaii and Coral Gables, Florida. But each time I said, "It just isn't Pittsburgh." I always wanted to make a contribution HERE, in the community where I'd grown up - that was the whole reason I'd gone to Law School, in the first place. So for the rest of my career, I set out to build my professional career here.
And I'm hoping that these life-long connections to the region can be helpful in leading Duquesne to the next stage of excellence. I've spent the past three decades building professional relationships not only in Pittsburgh; but throughout Pennsylvania and across the country.
I'd like to help to push Duquesne out onto a bigger stage - both locally and nationally -- and allow us to SHINE in a way that's bigger than anything we've done before, building on the strong foundation that's been constructed by the past 12 presidents and our whole Duquesne community.
And it can be intertwined with everything that's going on outside these walls, in the city out there. This is a new moment in Pittsburgh's history - my whole life I've been saying that Pittsburgh's the greatest city in the world; but now others are saying it, too! And one of the hot areas for development is right here in Uptown, with Mayor Peduto's Eco-Innovation Zone taking off in this stretch of Forbes and Fifth Avenues; and County Executive Rich Fitzgerald's bold initiatives; and with opportunities to partner with Pitt and CMU and other institutions interested in seeing this corridor developed. If we harness all this energy and put Duquesne in the epicenter of this change - where it has been since Duquesne helped to build this region, as you saw in that video -- not only do I believe that we can accomplish much bigger things, but we can allow these changes to reflect the energy and creativity of the Spiritan tradition, even more vividly....
So as we begin a new era in the history of Duquesne University, I'd like to mention a few topics that are front-center in my mind.
First - - Mission: One of the things that I loved most about moving to Duquesne, after spending seven years in private law practice, was the religious identity of this institution. Before I came to this campus, I'd never met a Spiritan in my life - I only knew parish priests from St. A's in Swissvale -- so I was wary of these guys at first.
But this was one of the great surprises of coming to Duquesne. I found the Spiritans to be "roll-up-your-sleeves and help others" kinds of priests, which was exciting and wonderful, because it matched my own philosophy of how to accomplish God's work in an academic setting.
Both Laura and I have come to LOVE the Spiritans and everything they stand for - and this feeling has only grown deeper as two of our own children -- Luke and Becca -- have attended Duquesne.
One of my favorite passages in the Bible is the letter from James, where he writes: "Be doers of the word and not hearers only."
These priests live that credo. The founder of the Holy Ghost order, Claude des Places, was a lawyer by training; but he gave up his family's wealth to help poor sweeps and homeless children in Paris. I believe that an integral part of Duquesne's mission is to continue this original goal in a new context - both here, in Western Pennsylvania and around the world.
Incidentally, I've been privileged to interact with Bishop David Zubik for years - not only in his capacity as Bishop of Pittsburgh but as one of our most prominent Duquesne alums, who has a regular presence on campus.
I have enormous respect for his pastoral leadership; his wisdom; his humility; and his genuine compassion for those he serves. So thank you, Bishop Zubik, for being such a great role model to all of us. I hope to emulate those qualities, in some small measure, as we work together to ensure that Duquesne continues to distinguish itself as one of the top Catholic Universities in the United States. And that's my prayer as I start this journey.
Speaking of fervent prayers ... let me say a word about Athletics. I've already heard from plenty of alums, who've advised me: "Just bring back the glory days of Duquesne sports, from the 1950's and 1970's! Just makes us a national powerhouse again!" No pressure there! Incidentally, we remain a powerhouse in many areas: We were in NCAA tournaments or championships last year in women's basketball, women's soccer, and women's swimming. In football, we brought home the NEC Championship last year. And in men's basketball-we had a post-season trip to the College Basketball Invitational -- we should have a great season ahead of us.
And a special shout-out to our Women's Volleyball team - they just sent me this beautiful card, signed by the whole team. You guys are fabulous.
Our new athletic director, Dave Harper, came to us from Dayton - where he had experience not only building competitive athletic programs but in fundraising, a crucial component - - so we're working hard on it. The ultimate goal is to provide fabulous, meaningful experiences for all of our student athletes; and for all Duquesne students so they can enjoy the excitement of athletic life on campus. We're going to gear up and try to re-energize things on that front - not just for students, but for faculty, alums, and a wider base of Western PA fans.
And we're going to start this week-end at Home-coming, when I'll introduce all of our athletic teams at the start of the Dukes' football game. So I hope to see you there!
Let me switch to community engagement -- this is one of my passions. It's also part of the identity of Duquesne since its founding. I believe we can establish ourselves quickly as one of the leaders in the life of the city and County, which can translate into an even bigger presence. Many great universities take lead roles in the lives of the communities around them, and leverage those in bigger ways.
I'd like to see that become one of Duquesne's marks of distinction, because that's our legacy. We should re-ignite our pivotal role in this region by using it as a laboratory for our students and our Faculty's research. If we work on an environmental/sustainability project for the city - as many talented faculty in multiple schools have done -- we should take that expertise and export it to other parts of the country and the world. Our location, on the Bluff, smack overlooking the City, gives us a huge advantage. We also have an advantage because of our long Spiritan tradition as part of the soul of this community. In the next decade, I'd like to see Duquesne become the dominant University in terms of community involvement in Western PA. My job is to assist our talented faculty and others to make that happen. And this is a perfect time to lay claim to that position, since Pittsburgh has become an increasingly attractive destination, as a place for young people to receive a first-class education.
When I think about what the founders of the Spiritans would have done if they'd arrived in Pittsburgh today, instead of 1878, I think it's clear what some of their priorities would be. We have a community that's largely African-American in our backyard, right here in the Hill District and Uptown, with many people still being displaced due to development, with the new arena etc., in recent years. The Mon Valley is filled with elderly, needy individuals whose lives were decimated when the steel mills collapsed; and there they sit, with very little support, faced with daily difficulties for themselves and their families. (And this is where I grew up - folks - - I know these families, and they have hearts of gold and deserve our help.) These are just two places we can start. I believe that we can help invent the future of this region, and do so in a way that reflects the rich tradition of the Spiritans.
We also need to push Duquesne out onto the national and international stage. Duquesne already has cooperative arrangements and programs in over 15 countries -- in Africa; Europe; Latin America; Asia; and around the globe. Incidentally, our students from Dublin and Rome campuses just sent me a fabulous congrats video this morning - hello to all of you watching on live-stream, you're the best! These programs and experiences can provide our students and faculty with an opportunity to make BIG contributions, on the world-stage, while advancing their own research and scholarly initiatives and gaining great exposure for Duquesne.
We're sometimes much too shy when it comes to bragging about our talent and opening up doors for folks in this University. I plan to be out there, promoting our fabulous faculty to attain even higher levels of excellence -- getting them engaged on prominent boards, in scholarly initiatives abroad, and in myriad activities that shine a positive light on Duquesne.
And there's plenty to brag about, as you saw in the opening video. Our faculty is the engine of this institution. We have extraordinary talent -- the world needs to know about it.
Incidentally, our staff is equally incredible. It would be impossible to produce and excel without their extraordinary support. We really appreciate the work of both the faculty and staff. For that reason, I'd like to announce today that I've asked our Management and Budget team to move forward with a 2% pay raise pool for faculty and staff that will take effect in mid-October. Our enrollments are healthy; everyone in this University is working hard, collaboratively, to better serve our students every day. So I believe it's important to reward that excellence.
Next ... on the topic of student-centeredness, let me say that I believe that advancing the interests of our students should be the polestar of everything we do. I've been teaching and working with students for over 30 years. In my view, it's the most important thing we do as educators. It's why we're here.
We flourish when we treat our students as partners in this academic enterprise. We need to respect their ideas, and allow them to help the campus community to come alive - - they're great at that. [And it makes me really proud to see all of you students out there with those blue t-shirts - let's hear you make some noise!]
Our students, today, will be our leaders of tomorrow. So when senior administrators are making decisions, the polestar should be: "How do we make sure this is positive for our students?" That includes making sure we prepare them for careers - - because that's important to our students and their parents -- and for the emerging 21st century world they'll enter. So that's what it means when we talk about "serving God by serving our students."
Our star really is on the rise - I can envision a path by which we become THE University of choice in the region, and one of the LEADING Catholic Universities of choice in the world, driven by our unique Spiritan identity....
That's what's so exciting about this position for me. I love Pittsburgh; I love Duquesne; and I love everything it stands for. I get fired up at the prospect being the person who can help harness all of this phenomenal energy, and create a pathway to something bigger than each of us, that the Spiritan Founders would look down upon with pride.
And I don't want to end, without saying a word about our incredible alumni, who rival the graduates of any top University in the world. We have many of them in this hall today. And if you want proof that Duquesne alums built this city and shaped this magnificent campus around us -- just look in this room. I'm honored to introduce a very special guest in the front row: Ambassador Dan Rooney, Business School Class of '55, the former U.S. Ambassador to Ireland and Chairman of a little sports franchise called the Pittsburgh Steelers. His family built Rooney Field on campus; they've also created numerous scholarships for our students. Ambassador Rooney is here today with his wife, Pat; their son Art Rooney II, who's President of the Steelers and a 1982 graduate of our Law School. Ambassador Rooney and family, can you stand and be recognized?
We also have in the front row an honorary Duquesne degree-recipient - John Rangos, Sr., who conceived of and built the beautiful Rangos School of Health Sciences on campus, one of the most impressive schools of its kind in the world. John's career has been truly inspirational - in fact, it's the subject of a major national magazine article this month. Mr. Rangos is here today with his son, John Jr. and his daughter-in-law, Judge Jill Rangos. Mr. Rangos, can you and your family stand and be recognized?
I'm not going to make everyone stand, it would take all afternoon. In this hall, we also have David Pappert, who named the Mary Pappert School of Music in memory of his mother; Jack McGinley and the McGinley family who've established multiple scholarships and fellowships for our students; Pat and Ron Yoder, who created the game-changing "Yoder Endowed Chair in Communication Ethics;" Tom and Fran Donahue whose family named the Palumbo-Donahue Business School; Tony and Carol Carfang, who built the beautiful Carfang Commons in the Business School and just established a new Healthcare Ethics Conference in the School of Nursing (they're both proud Duquesne alums, they met here). And Bob Mallet - who's here with his wife Toni -- just made a $1 million gift to the Business School this month in memory of his dad - a 1940 graduate of Arts and Sciences who became a scientist, inventor and entrepreneur -- Bob just created the new "Louis D. Mallet Entrepreneurial Suite" and the "Robert I. Mallet Innovation Hall" in Rockwell Hall. How impressive is that?
There are hundreds of talented alums like this, whose names I could single out. Our graduates have been models of the selfless Duquesne tradition of giving back. As part of Homecoming week, we've set up a display in the Student Union that tells the story of several dozen of our prominent alums, past and present. They are the perfect role models for future generations of Duquesne students. Our alums are our secret weapon - they're the driving force behind the University's success, and I guaranty you - - they will to be a dynamic force behind the incredible transformations ahead of us.
Finally ... I'd like to end by saying that a major piece of my success in everything I've done, in my career, has been my family. Laura doesn't like it when I single her out, because she's a very modest, behind-the-scenes person. But we've done everything as a team. We come from two wonderful families built on love and faith -- Laura's mom was a grade school teacher in Catholic and public schools, like my own mom.
And our greatest accomplishment, by far, is our children. So I'd like to embarrass all of them by making them come up on stage, so you can meet them:
My oldest daughter, Carolyn, attended Pitt and is now the head of HR at the Targette in South Hills Village, and a wonderfully poised professional... (By the way, she's engaged to her fiancée Brian Wehrle (who we like a lot, too).
My son Luke, who graduated from Duquesne Pharmacy School last year, now lives in Boston where he just finished a residency at Tufts Medical Center and is continuing there for another year (he's getting paid!) (and a shout-out to his girlfriend Ann Marie Hall, who also went to Duquesne!).
Third in line, my daughter Rebecca, who was born just two weeks after Laura and I carried in boxes and moved me into the Law School as a new professor in 1994 - Becca just graduated from the McAnulty College (she literally grew up here); and she's now started the Sustainable MBA program in the Palumbo-Donahue School of Business, we're very proud of my "Pal..."
And finally, our youngest daughter, Maddy, is now a Junior at Woodland Hills High School right up the street from our house in Forest Hills, and is the apple of her dad's eye- so far, I've failed to get any of my kids to go to law school, so Maddy may be my last hope! Doesn't she look beautiful tonight, ladies and gentlemen?
And speaking of beautiful, everything I've been able to accomplish has been as a result of my wife Laura, who has truly been my partner in every undertaking in my career. A couple of months ago, Laura and I celebrated our 30th anniversary - and I can only say that marrying Laura was the BEST move I ever made, back in 1986 -- So tonight, thirty years later, I'd like to dedicate this Inauguration ceremony to her....[Laura - can you come up and take a bow?]
Of course ... if I could make a silent wish, it would be that my mom and dad, Elena and Bill Gormley, could have been here today -- they would have loved to see their son becoming President of this special Catholic University - it would have meant the world to them. The same is true of Laura's mom, Noreen, who passed away too young in 2002. Faith and education meant everything to both sets of our parents. But fortunately, Laura's dad, Joe Kozler, is here today from New Jersey with a large group of family and friends. Can we have my other dad -- Joe Kozler -- stand and be recognized?
It's the greatest honor imaginable, not just to be the president of a University; but to be President of this particular University - Duquesne University of the Holy Spirit.
Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for bestowing this important mantle of trust on me. I will do everything within my power to live up to your high expectations; and to carry forward Duquesne's precious tradition and legacy.
I ask for your prayers as I begin this new journey as President of Duquesne University. And I pray that we all are imbued with wisdom, humility, and an unabiding commitment to serving others, guided by the Spirit who gives life ...