Ken Gormley was officially inaugurated Thursday in the A.J. Palumbo Center as the 13th president of Duquesne University, in front of a crowd of about 2,000.
The former law school dean and professor was appointed to the fill the position of former Duquesne president Charles Dougherty in the fall of 2015.
Before the ceremony, a procession including Gormley made its way down A-Walk, flanked on both sides by throngs of Duquesne students and student athletes.
View a video of the inauguration ceremony here.
Many notable attendees spoke at the inauguration ceremony, including Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and Pittsburgh Bishop David Zubik.
Peduto called Gormley a “true Pittsburgher.” Gormley, who was born next to Mercy hospital, was the firstborn in a family of five children raised in Pittsburgh.
“I accept this appointment with awe and a deep sense of gratitude,” Gormley said.
As president, Gormley said he would like to “push Duquesne out onto a bigger stage.”
“This is a new moment for Pittsburgh history,” Gormley said. “If we harness and put Duquesne at the epicenter of this change…we can allow this change to reflect Spiritan traditions.
“I’d like to see Duquesne become the dominant university in community engagement in Western Pennsylvania,” he added.
Fitzgerald said the office of the county executive was “ready to assist and support” Gormley as he begins his presidency.
Many Duquesne students attended the ceremony as well.
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. “I want to be part of university history … I’m excited to see what Gormley can add.”
A.J. Vogt, a 2016 graduate and first-year law school student, said he wanted to support his former law school teacher.
“I had the president for class,” Vogt said. “He’s such a nice guy. He encouraged me to go to law school here.”
Mary Wattick, a 2016 graduate, said she thought the ceremony added to a “beautiful day.”
“[It’s] exciting because there’s only been 12 of these before,” Wattick said.
April Ngo. Jr., a music, business, and liberal arts student at Duquesne, said she met Gormley for the first time recently.
“Last week I tripped on A-Walk and he came over and asked if I was ok,” Ngo Jr. said.
Mike Scerbo, Duquesne’s assistant athletic director, said the inaguration was something he “wasn’t going to miss.”
“I’m excited from the energy I’ve seen on campus from students, faculty, and staff,” Scerbo said. “[Gormley’s] leadership seems vibrant, he brings a new exuberance we haven’t seen in a while. I’ve been here 11 years and the energy is palpable.”
Gormley laid out his ambitions for Duquesne University.
“It seems like a unique fit for me in this moment in Duquesne’s history,” Gormley said. “I truly believe that we’re poised for the next important stage in this university’s future, especially if we’re prepared to think big.”
The event was punctuated by musical performances from music school professor Joe “Handyman” Negri — known for his “Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood” fame — as well as the Duquesne University Wind Ensemble and Voices of Spirit and the Duquesne Jazz Ensemble, who performed a rendition of Pharrell’s “Happy” — with music school student Michael Warren behind the mic.