Zach Landau | A&E Editor
Over the summer, Duquesne welcomed a new face to a brand new position. On July 31, President Ken Gormley announced the appointment of William Generett to the position of vice president for community engagement.
In an interview with The Duke, Generett described part of the role of the position as featuring the work the university has done in the Pittsburgh region.
“Too often, people don’t know all of the great things that Duquesne is doing in the community,” Generett said. “And so part of this role is going to be making sure that a lot of the external stakeholders understand what Duquesne does.”
In a job description given to The Duke by the Office of the President, part of the duties of the vice president will be to, “facilitate and develop relationships with community organizations, local governments, and civic organizations, strengthening the University’s partnerships with its neighbors.”
In an interview with The Duke, Gormley emphasized the importance of these relationships and Generett’s ability to reach out to surrounding communities.
Generett further explained that he will work out of a new department and that he will “be reporting directly to the president.”
Gormley said that Generett will work closely with the Director of the Center for Community-Engaged Teaching and Research (CETR) to develop not only a name for the department but its internal structure as well.
The current CETR director is only an interim, and Gormley is seeking to fill the position soon.
Generett is set to begin September 1.
Prior to his appointment, Generett was the president and CEO of Urban Innovation21, a nonprofit that was cofounded in 2007 by Duquesne alongside the Hill House Economic Development Corporation and UPMC Health Plan.
Generett, who headed the group since its inception, explained that its work focused on fostering the region’s economy by helping tech companies to grow and connect disparate communities in order to make sure they are a part of these expanding industries.
“I grew up [in Pittsburgh],” Generett said. “I remember when steel mills and manufacturing were our main economic drivers, and I saw the decline of steel and manufacturing and the corresponding job loss. But I’ve also seen the rebirth of our economy, and that’s really exciting… We just have to make sure that we are pulling as many people up as possible.”
According to a press release on the University’s website, “Generett … will provide leadership in support of the University’s mission of service and its commitment to the city of Pittsburgh, Western Pennsylvania and the surrounding region.”
In the same release, Gormley touted Generett’s, “expertise, community connections and passion for improving our region” as qualities that will help Duquesne realize its “vision for expanding and enhancing the University’s community engagement efforts.”
Gormley stressed in the interview that the Uptown and surrounding area are of particular interest to the city of Pittsburgh and Mayor Bill Peduto for development. He expressed his desire to make sure Duquesne has a role in making sure residents in this area are not displaced because of this development.
This sentiment echoes Urban Innovation21’s mission to make sure any economic development in the region does not displace those who live here.
When asked to clarify, Generett said that part of Urban Innovation21’s and the university’s plan is to, “definitely [make] sure that residents are included in a positive way in our region’s economic transformation.”
Generett said he is “excited” to work more closely with the Duquesne community and to “help enhance what is already what I think is a wonderful experience.”