Dr. Judith R. Griggs
Robert and Patricia Gussin Spiritan Division and Michael P. Weber Learning Skills Center
Over 40 years of service to Duquesne students
Since 1972 Dr. Griggs has been serving students by using a well-developed counseling and retention model along with a caring heart to help improve their opportunities for success at Duquesne. Her team is "supportive of each other. They're proud of what they do. We're about students here."
The Pittsburgh native attended Taylor Allderdice High School in Squirrel Hill and went on to study English at Cheyney University of Pennsylvania, the oldest African-American institution of higher learning. She also earned a Master's degree from Carnegie Mellon University and a Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh. "My parents were people who always believed in education. Especially relative to women and that you should always position yourself that you're not relying on anyone."
Before coming to Duquesne Dr. Griggs worked as a teacher and was responsible for helping the school, which was a part of the Urban League of Pittsburgh, go through its accreditation process. "You learn a lot and you learn fast," she remarked of that experience.
At Duquesne she began working in the counseling and learning department to help address the high attrition rate among African American students. "We reduced it from 50 percent to less than one percent in three years." That dramatic decrease prompted the development of the Learning Skills Center in 1975, which still exists today,
with Dr. Griggs at the helm.
In the Gussin Spiritan Division, Dr. Griggs and a team of faculty, advisors, tutors, program managers, retention and evaluation staff and support staff work to ensure that first and second year students get the academic and social support they need to transfer into their Duquesne college or school of choice. "There are any number of students out there who have a lot of potential, a lot of innate ability, but it's not always showing up on paper. So there are other things to look for," when evaluating them for admission to the university, she remarked.
In addition to assisting her students in performing community engagement work like tutoring local school children, Dr. Griggs also helps coordinate Duquesne's Summer Institute for High School Students. The program offers high school juniors and seniors in the area an opportunity to see what college life, and Duquesne, are like. They live on campus, are enrolled in classes taught by university faculty, earn college credit and participate in extra-curricular activities.
"When I think of Duquesne's campus and Duquesne's community I think that the wonderful thread that binds is the Spiritan Congregation. Those are men who have given of their lives to make the lives of others better."
Her personal connection to the university has also been strengthened by her daughters. "One of the things I think of with endearment is the fact that two of my daughters graduated from Duquesne. They loved it here. They have valued (the education they got here) in different ways," she says.