Professor recognized in New Pittsburgh Courier

Photo Courtesy of Phillip Palmer | Professor Phillip Palmer recently received a "Men of Excellence" honor for the New Pittsburgh Courier. This honor is bestowed upon Black men in Pittsburgh with impressive leadership qualities.

Isabella Abbott | Features Editor

Every year, the New Pittsburgh Courier recognizes local Black men who inspire and motivate others through their leadership qualities and impressive achievements. Those who are nominated become “Men of Excellence” in the weekly newspaper.

Joining this year’s “Class of 2023” is the School of Science and Engineering’s Assistant Dean, Phillip Palmer.

On Aug. 10, Palmer joined 48 other men in this year’s honoree class. More than 400 men have received this title in years past.

Palmer was elated to find out he had received this prestigious honor.

“I think anytime you’re recognized by anybody anywhere anytime for something that you do, it’s rewarding,” Palmer said.

“It says a lot about how you conduct yourself and the impact you’re having but also that being recognized by other people, so somebody had to recognize me and nominate me. I think that says I am doing things in the right way that are valuable and that’s respectful.”

Someone who believes Palmer is making the right impact is associate professor of biological sciences Sarah Woodley.

“He’s always happy to help, he puts students first, and he has a great rapport with the undergraduates,” Woodley said. “You can tell they know that they are a priority with him and that he strives to help any student, whoever they are, be successful.”

At Duquesne, Palmer teaches two sections of a course titled “Science in Service of Society,” where he teaches students about cultural competency, leadership and tough issues happening in our world today.

He thinks it’s important information for any college student to know.

“I challenge my students in my class to think beyond traditional boundaries, science is certainly moving into other boundaries…and scientists are taking the things that they learned in the classroom and applying them in a way where they can make a difference, ” Palmer said. “At the end of the day, students come here to be prepared to go out into the world and make a difference. You can’t make a difference in the world if you don’t know what’s going on.”

Dean and professor at the School of Science and Engineering, Ellen Gawalt, said many students “seek him out for advice.”

“Students are often hesitant going into this course but enjoy the Monday evening discussions about how to work with the community to help them reach their goals, social justice and being aware of the perspective that you bring to each situation,” Gawalt said.

Palmer hopes this honor will show his students how to be a leader in their community and hopes his young son learns this as well.

“As a father, that’s great because these are the things that I want to leave as a legacy for my son, but also teach them while I’m here,” Palmer said.

“As a son, it is more of a reflection of what my parents and community taught me, and so for that, I’m proud that I can represent those folks who poured into me, and I think that’s what I’m seeing myself.”

According to the publication, for more than 110 years, the Courier has been the true voice of Pittsburgh’s Black community.

Other people who received this honor are businesspersons, entrepreneurs, philanthropists and community leaders.

“I’m not trying to portray that I’m a perfect person by any stretch, but I do try to conduct myself in a way that is upholding to the values that were taught to me,” Palmer said.

“To be recognized by the Pittsburgh Courier, by this community, I’m very proud of this moment.”