By Seth Culp-Ressler | Features Editor
After four months of dormancy, Duquesne’s home on the Bluff is out of hibernation, yawning and stretching itself awake this week. New students are getting their first taste of college life while returning ones are back for another year of the daily grind. The Duke extends a warm welcome, be it for the first time or not, to all.
While the summer months mean a mostly empty campus, that’s not to say Duquesne and the greater Pittsburgh community stopped to wait for the school year to recommence. Here is a recap of just a few of the many stories of interest that happened in the offseason, as well as a preview of some to keep in mind for the coming year.
WHILE YOU WERE OUT…
American Ninja Warrior
Yes, the popular game show of physical feats and endurance made a stop in the Steel City at the end of May, shortly after the Spring 2015 semester wrapped up. One of many regional courses the show holds around the country, Pittsburgh’s venue was the abandoned industrial landmark that is that Carrie Furnace in Swissvale.
As the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported, contestants ranged from University of Pittsburgh professors to seasoned veterans of the obstacle course. The episode itself aired at the end of June, showcasing the dramatic Pittsburgh-esque backdrop of Carrie Furnace to the millions of weekly “Ninja Warrior” viewers.
Genesius Black Box Theater
Students new to Duquesne’s campus may not notice the difference, but those who have attended for the past one or two years should observe a distinct transformation in scenery around College Hall and the Mary Pappert School of Music building. After just under a year and a half of construction, the brand new black box theater has finally been completed.
Campus will be a bit quieter without the cacophony of construction, and the reopening of Seitz Street should alleviate some of the foot and car traffic woes students had to deal with during the past three semesters. Of course, the project’s completion also means that performances and shows will shortly be gracing its stage. Make sure to check out the brand new structure, and maybe stay for a show while you’re at it.
At around 10 p.m. on Tuesday, July 21, Brottier Hall, the apartment-style building on campus, experienced a small kitchen fire, forcing the building’s residents to evacuate. Fortunately, during the summer months, Brottier is mostly empty, and none of the remaining students were harmed.
The fire was extinguished before Pittsburgh City firefighters reached the scene. Approximately 30 apartments were harmed, mostly due to water damage from the sprinkler system. Nevertheless, affected students were housed elsewhere and the rooms were repaired. This is certainly a prime example of why a fire extinguisher should be at the top of any kitchen supplies list.
…AND NOW THAT YOU’RE HERE
Duquesne Presidential Search
While the approaching 2016 U.S. Presidential race is firmly capturing the attention of the American public, Duquesne has its own presidential turnover coming in the next year. This school year will be the last for Duquesne President Charles Dougherty as he plans to step down when his contract expires on June 30, 2016. He began his presidency in 2001.
Upon his announcement of retirement last February, a presidential search committee was formed to find a replacement, a task that is continuing into the school year. As detailed on the university’s website, the committee is currently working on the initial review of candidates, and should soon being culling the group of applicants into a smaller collection of possible options. That reduced group will then be reviewed further.
This presidential “race” may not be one Duquesne students can actively vote in, but it’s still important to pay attention to how the search is going. The committee does welcome comments, so feel free to explore that route as well. In the end, however, this is a decision that will affect every single Duquesne student. Keep that in mind.
Pope to Pennsylvania
At the end of September, Pope Francis will make a stop in Philadelphia. The pontiff’s visit to the Keystone State is part of a nine-day trip to both the U.S. and Cuba. While in the city, the Pope will attend various Masses, stopping in at the World Meeting of Families and paying a visit to the inmates of the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility. The Pope will also make stops in Washington D.C. and New York City on his tour of the eastern seaboard.
While Francis will not be making it any farther west across the state than Philadelphia, his visit to the City of Brotherly Love does provide a unique experience to, with relative ease, see the Pope in person. A train ticket across the mountains of Pennsylvania will run less than a plane to the Vatican, that’s for sure.
Another Semester of Opportunity
Last, but certainly not least, no welcome back article would be complete without at least one nice cliché to bring up the rear. For this piece’s purposes, that means a call to action. Plenty of interesting things happened while campus was quiet, and many more events will crop up in the coming semesters. But now that you’re back, how about being part of the story yourself?
New student or not, a fresh year means new opportunities for interaction on campus. Maybe that means exploring the world of Greek Life. Maybe getting out in the Allegheny hills with Duquesne’s bike club sounds like fun. Or maybe even writing for The Duke is something you have been considering. Whatever it may be, the time to make that jump is now.
And if you’re still not sure about your interests? Make a point to get out on Academic Walk to peruse Duquesne’s extra-curricular options on Sept. 2. Talk to people. Get your name out there. Now that you’ve arrived, or for some returned, it’s time to make this year one to remember.