Charles Dougherty Featured

8:00pm EDT September 25, 2008

Charles Dougherty had a vision for Duquesne University when he took over as president in 2001. It involved getting everyone — students, faculty, staff, alumni, board members and community leaders — in on the conversation about the school’s place in the Pittsburgh community.

Seven years later, freshman applications have increased 71 percent, faculty salaries have increased nearly 30 percent, and Duquesne’s presence in the community has never been stronger.

Dougherty got things moving on this revitalization by engaging everyone in his effort to bring about change. The plan was developed with broad input from across the campus, allowing individuals to share in the ownership.

Detailed implementation documents were developed for each objective along with timelines and budgets. Deans and department heads were held responsible for working across divisional and disciplinary lines to achieve stated objectives.

Dougherty encouraged and participated in discussions through means both formal and informal, including simply walking across campus to converse with students, faculty and staff.

All the while, Dougherty emphasized that whatever new and creative ideas were hatched, they needed to advance the school’s historic Spiritan mission: “To serve God by serving students.”

Last spring, Dougherty reported that all but one of 29 specific objectives on the university’s five-year strategic plan had been achieved. The remaining item, increasing diversity, was taking time but was seeing some progress.

Dougherty has employed a method used by another Pittsburgh institution, the NFL’s Steelers, to make it happen. By adopting a variation of the Rooney Rule, academic and administrative units now have a means to ensure that minorities are being represented in the search for all employment positions.

Prior to Dougherty’s administration, the regional financial impact of Duquesne had never been measured. The first report, covering fiscal years 2002 and 2003, calculated a total of $316 million. By 2007, that figure had increased 30 percent to $411.4 million.

By continuing to gather individuals under a common goal and demonstrating how each individual and each task relates to the goals that are set, Dougherty continues to set the bar of expectations high, both for himself and those around him.

HOW TO REACH: Duquesne University, (412) 396-6000 or