A humble history
Foundation built on 134 years of Spiritan education
Published: Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, August 22, 2012 21:08
On Monday morning, Duquesne University will open its doors to students for the 134th year, although the school has changed drastically from its humble beginnings in 1878.
What started as a small school for immigrants housed in a downtown bakery has grown into Duquesne University which encompasses the Bluff and has an enrollment of over 10,000 graduate and undergraduate students.
Seven years after being founded by the Rev. Joseph Strub and the Congregation of the Holy Ghost, the school known as The Pittsburgh Catholic College of the Holy Ghost moved to Pittsburgh’s Bluff neighborhood and was housed in Old Main, Duquesne’s current administrative building.
The school officially changed its name to Duquesne University of the Holy Ghost on May 11, 1911, to connect itself with Pittsburgh’s history. The name was derived from French war general Marquis Duquesne, who brought Catholicism to the area during the French and Indian War.
Duquesne continued to grow over the next 60 years. Its expansion began when the University started to acquire properties along Vickroy Street, which is now Duquesne’s Academic Walk. Assumption Hall and Rockwell Hall were built in the 1950s to expand the University to Stevenson Street and add business classrooms.
The 1960s and 1970s saw the construction of Mellon Hall, the Student Union and four dormitories as well as the redevelopments of College Hall, the Pappert School of Music and the Gumberg Library.
The University’s most recent additions include the construction of the 80,000 square foot Power Center in January 2008, the purchase of Libermann Hall, formerly the Robert Morris University building, in October 2010 and the construction of Des Places Living Learning Centerfrom 2010 to 2012.
Duquesne has been known for opening its doors to returning World War II-veterans who wanted to pursue a higher education and for leading collegiate athletics in breaking the color barrier. Former Duquesne men’s basketball shooting guard/small forward Chuck Cooper was the first African American to be drafted into the NBA, which is still celebrated by the University annually.
With an estimated enrollment of 10,011 current students, including 1,500 incoming freshmen, and 86,326 alumni, Duquesne has established itself as one of the city’s prominent Universities. It offers 78 undergraduate and 65 graduate programs in 10 schools of study, as well as six men’s and 10 women’s Division I varsity sports teams who compete in the Atlantic 10 and Northeast Conferences.
Source: The Spirit that Gives Life: The History Of Duquesne University 1878-1996 by Joseph F. Rishel.