Ken Gormley inaugurated as 13th Duquesne president

Brandon Addeo|News Editor Ken Gormley greets the crowd before his inauguration address on Thursday, Sept. 22. Gormley became the thirteenth president in Duquesne University history.

Brandon Addeo | News Editor

Ken Gormley greets the crowd before his inauguration address on Thursday, Sept. 22. Gormley became the thirteenth president in Duquesne University history.

Brandon Addeo | News Editor

On Sept. 22, Duquesne inaugurated former law school dean and professor Ken Gormley as the 13th president of the university in front of a crowd of roughly 2,000 students, faculty and other notables from the region in the A.J. Palumbo Center.

Before the ceremony, a procession of about 400 faculty members from Duquesne and other universities made its way down Academic Walk, where “walls of students,” as Gormley put it, cheered on from both sides.

At the ceremony, which featured speeches by people like Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, Pittsburgh Bishop David Zubik, Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Christine Donahue and U.S. Senator Mark Warner, Gormley announced a salary pool increase for faculty and staff, which will be launched on Oct. 15.

Each of Duquesne’s departments will have their salary pool increase by 2 percent, and department directors can choose to award “performance-based” salary increases on an individual basis, according to Duquesne spokeswoman Rose Ravasio.

Gormley said in an interview with The Duke that while it can be difficult to balance university expenditures, the university is in a position to afford the pay increase.

“Our enrollments are healthy, everyone … has been working so hard, both faculty and staff, to make this the best educational environment imaginable for our students,” Gormley said. “I just thought it was really important to show how much we appreciate that and I felt we were able to do it and I really wanted to do that.”

Born next to Mercy Hospital in Uptown, Gormley is the firstborn in a family that raised five children in the Steel City. Peduto called Gormley a “true Pittsburgher” while addressing the inauguration crowd.

Bishop Zubik attested to Gormley’s dedication to the university where he spent most of his career.

“He knows Duquesne, he loves Duquesne,” he said.

Duquesne students and faculty spoke at the inauguration as well.

James Daher, president of the Student Government Association, told a story of Gormley handed out ice cream on A-Walk for an event in July.

Faculty Senate President Anne Burrows praised Gormley as a colleague.

“You know firsthand what it means to be a faculty member at Duquesne University and to live the mission,” Burrows said.

Gormley has been teaching in the Duquesne law school since 1994. He previously engaged in a private law practice and taught at the University of Pittsburgh after he earned a Juris Doctor, or doctorate in law degree, from Harvard Law School.

At the halfway point of the inauguration, a video narrated by Gormley describing a brief history of Duquesne played on big screens.

The event also featured musical performances by Joe “Handyman” Negri of “Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood” fame, the Duquesne University Wind Ensemble, the Voices of Spirit choral group and the Duquesne Jazz Ensemble.

Duquesne music student Michael Warren also performed a rendition of Pharrell’s “Happy,” which Gormley said he enjoyed.

“I saw students doing the wave and the bishop clapping and the lieutenant governor getting up and starting to dance,” Gormley said. “I knew we had a successful event.”

Students filled up most of the upper levels of the A.J. Palumbo Center for Gormley’s inauguration.

Justin Hyrb, a sophomore supply chain management major, said he wanted to experience the rare event.

“I wanted to be there for my school,” Hyrb said. “It seems like a great gathering.”

Anthony Riccelli, a freshman business major, wanted to see what the hype was about.

“Everyone seems excited,” Riccelli said at the inauguration. “I want to be part of university history … I’m excited to see what Gormley can add.”

Gormley is only the 13th president in Duquesne’s nearly 140 years of operation.

“It is both humbling and awe-inspiring to think that there have been 13 presidents in 138 years in this building, in this office, and to have the opportunity to be the person who gets to carry on that legacy is just amazing to me,” he said.

Gormley did not know how the ceremony was going to pan out — he said the lead up for the inauguration had been exhausting.

“I woke up on Thursday morning feeling very tired … and thought ‘I’m gonna run out of gas in the middle of my speech,’” Gormley said. “But then once we started processing down Academic Walk, and there were just literally walls of students on both sides waving signs and cheering and everything

“I got pumped up,” he said with a laugh.

Gormley said Duquesne has been an “anchor of the region,” and he wants to increase Duquesne’s engagement in the Pittsburgh community.

“We want our faculty more involved, we want our students more involved,” he said. “By getting involved, not only are we carrying out the historic role of Duquesne and our Spiritan identity, but we are helping the region grow and we’re helping to advance our students.”

Gormley was appointed to the presidency, formerly held by Charles Dougherty, in the fall of 2015 after the latter announced he would step down during the summer of 2016.

Raymond Arke and Kaye Burnet contributed reporting.

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