Kaye Burnet | Staff Writer
The document is just five pages long, with fewer than 1,800 words, but it was three years in the making.
Duquesne University’s new Strategic Plan, which is in its final draft stage but has yet to be formally approved by the university Board of Directors, will be the guiding document used to make decisions at Duquesne for the next five years, according to Duquesne President Ken Gormley.
“It takes this long to shrink it down to four-and-a-half pages,” Gormley explained with a laugh. “The goal was to get it down to a framework, more like a constitution.”
According to Gormley, key decision makers at the university, as well as representatives of faculty, students and staff, worked together to distill their goals for the future of Duquesne into five pillars, reproduced here:
1. Duquesne will identify bold pathways to offer students the knowledge and skills they will need for productive and fulfilling lives and careers in the 21st century.
2. Duquesne will become the region’s flagship institution for community engagement through mutually beneficial partnerships that advance the city, the region and the world.
3. Duquesne’s academic programs will transcend traditional boundaries, positioning it as a leader in interdisciplinary and interprofessional programs.
4. Duquesne will create a vibrant campus community that fosters the achievements of its talented faculty, students and staff.
5. Duquesne will encourage an entrepreneurial spirit that will allow it to creatively steward University assets, adapt to changing environments and enhance its financial vitality to fulfill its mission for a new era.
One thing that might appear to be missing from these five pillars is any mention of Duquesne’s Catholic Spiritan heritage — but Gormley pointed out that the document’s preamble begins with the story of Duquesne’s founding by Spiritan priests more than 100 years ago.
“[The Catholic Spiritan heart of Duquesne] is supposed to be running throughout the plan,” Gormley said. “It is really meant to just infuse itself into every aspect of this University’s life, which, frankly, it does.”
Gormley said this is one area that everyone involved in drafting the plan agreed on.
“The understanding that the fact that we’re a Catholic, Spiritan university and really the only one of its kind in the world — people understood and agreed that that is one of the key things that makes us distinct, even though we may look similar to other institutions on paper,” Gormley said.
He also explained that it’s no accident that the first pillar of the plan is about “student-centeredness.”
“[This pillar] used to be in the middle of the plan somewhere, and I physically moved it to number one on purpose,” Gormley said. “I want the students to be the polestar of all decision-making.”
Gormley said one example of student-centered decision-making was the choice to replace the faculty-only dining hall on the 6th floor of the Student Union with Career Services, which is currently in the basement of Rockwell Hall.
“The faculty dining hall was regularly losing money, which meant that, in essence, the students, through their tuition dollars, were subsidizing the faculty dining hall,” Gormley explained.
Former Student Government Association President and senior economics major James Daher was chosen to be the representative for the undergraduate student body in the planning process.
According to Daher, he met with his committee of about five people several times over the last year to discuss the first pillar. One suggestion he made was for Duquesne to place a stronger emphasis on career development for all students, regardless of school or major.
“Career Services does a good job with certain majors — it’s easy to get an internship in the business school and some of the healthcare professions are the same way — but there are a lot of other students at this school,” Daher said.
For the full text of the plan, visit www.duq.edu/strategicplan.