Duquesne University

The Politics Of Pope Francis

Sep 24, 2015
Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP Images

Wading into bitter disputes, Pope Francis urged a divided Congress and America on Thursday to welcome immigrants, abolish the death penalty, share the nation's immense wealth and fight global warming. Lawmakers gave rousing ovations to the leader of the world's Catholics despite obvious disagreements over some of his pleas. It was the first time a pope has directly addressed Congress.

Unearthing An Ancient Mosaic

Jul 16, 2015
Philip Reeder

To call it a journey of discovery would be an understatement. Duquesne University’s Dr. Philip Reeder, dean of the Bayer School of Natural and Environmental Sciences, was co-investigator on a project making a major discovery in Nazareth, Israel. He discusses the importance of this archeological find.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Pennsylvania Secretary of Education Pedro Rivera was an engineering major in college – for one semester.

“Then I tutored at one of the local high schools, at Reading High School, and I fell in love with education,” Rivera told a group of high school students at Duquesne University on Monday. “I remember calling my mother and telling her, ‘Hey, I’m thinking about switching my major from engineering to education.’ There was a pause on the phone, and she said, ‘Oh no you’re not.’”

Duquesne University received one of seven new clean energy project grants awarded by the Department of Community and Economic Development throughout the state.

The university will use the $2 million to replace its current 50-year-old boilers with larger, higher-efficiency ones.

“We found out about this and we made a decision, why don’t we apply for it and see if we could get it,” said Rod Dobish, executive director of facilities management at Duquesne. “We made a conscious decision to do that.”

In a three-day hearing last week, the United Steelworkers made its case for adjunct professors who work at Duquesne University to collectively bargain with the school for better wages and working conditions. In 2012, a majority of adjunct professors at the university's McAnulty College of Liberal Arts voted to be represented by the Adjunct Faculty Association of the USW. But Duquesne has refused to recognize the AFA-USW, contending that its religious affiliation provides it with an exemption from federal law regarding collective bargaining. We'll talk with Dan Kovalik, the union's lead lawyer in the case and Clint Benjamin, an adjunct English instructor at Duquesne and CCAC.   

"The Catholic church is very clear that they respect the rights of working people to organize, and that is an unconditional right. Charles Douherty and Duquesne cannot answer that concern. They have no basis under their own Catholic faith that they claim to follow for objecting to unionization." - Dan Kovalik

Also on today's program, 2015 marks the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the RMS Lusitania, and Elaine Labalme has summer theater haunts. 

Erika Beras / 90.5 WESA

Godfrey B. Tangwa, founder and chairperson of the Cameroon Bioethics Initiative, spoke to a group of a few dozen people at Duquesne University on Thursday.

An ethicist, Tangwa spoke about the challenges of adopting Western medical research in non-Western areas. He started off by discussing how Western culture is different than non-Western cultures.

Adjunct professors at Robert Morris University (RMU) have voted overwhelmingly to form a collective bargaining unit to seek better wages, job security, and benefits.

Election results released Tuesday by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) show a faculty vote of 125-67 in favor of affiliating with the United Steel Workers (USW).

"I'm absolutely delighted by it," said Patricia Welsh Droz, who served on a six-member organizing committee of RMU instructors. "We're all delighted by it. But we're not surprised."

Powerfund / flickr

It could be a big year for energy decisions; state and federal policies could affect everything from conservation to energy costs:

  • The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission is set to unveil the next phase of its Energy Efficiency program, which requires electricity distribution companies to implement energy conservation plans, later this month.
  • Later this year, courts will decide whether conservation programs should be run by the utilities who sell energy or the owners of the grid who distribute it.
  • And, the Environmental Protection Agency will finalize new carbon emissions standards this summer.

The continuing effort of Duquesne University adjunct professors to form a union got another boost this week.

The National Labor Relations Board denied Duquesne’s appeal opposing the effort; the university had asked for a religious exemption. But a similar case at Pacific Lutheran University set new criteria for qualifying as a religious institution.

United Steelworkers Organizer and Adjunct Professor at Duquesne, Robin Sowards, said the school doesn’t qualify, in part, because many professors don’t teach religious content.

The effort to reduce the carbon footprint of older Pittsburgh buildings is expanding beyond downtown to the area called “the Bluff” which houses Duquesne University and UPMC Mercy.

The Pittsburgh 2030 District: Downtown has a goal of a 50 percent energy, water and transportation emissions reduction by 2030. This better connects downtown to Oakland – though there are no plans to expand into the area between.

The Pittsburgh Catholic, the oldest Catholic newspaper in the country, now has more than 150 years’ worth of archived issues available online to the public, thanks to Duquesne University’s Gumberg library.

From 1990 to 2012, the number of Hispanic entrepreneurs in America tripled from 577,000 to more than 2.0 million, and to address the growing population a new accelerator program at Duquesne University will focus on minority entrepreneurs.  

“Really what an accelerator means is that, you’re going to intervene and offer services that are really going to… accelerate the growth of that business, beyond what they might be able to do alone,” said SBDC Director Mary McKinney.

Before the fires were extinguished or the cleanups began, archivists from the Smithsonian museums had already started collecting artifacts from the sites of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Thirteen years later, Alima Bucciantini, an assistant professor of public history at Duquesne University, wants to know what kind of impact the immediate exhibition of these objects had on the telling of the story of 9/11.

Forty years ago tomorrow, President Gerald Ford appeared on national television declaring he had granted former President Richard Nixon a full pardon for his involvement in the Watergate scandal.

While the infamous investigation has been extensively publicized and analyzed, Ford’s reasoning behind the pardon mostly remains an untold story.

That’s according to Ken Gormley, Duquesne University’s Dean of Law, who is coordinating Monday’s event along with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, at which major players in Ford’s decision recount their involvement.

Before the implementation of the Clean Water Act, Pittsburgh’s rivers were so polluted, they barely even had fish, according to Brady Porter, Duquesne University associate professor of biology.

“Not any for commercial fishing or recreational fishing,” Porter said. “They were dead, they [the rivers] were basically sewers where our abandoned mine water would flow orange.”

Josh Raulerson / 90.5 WESA

  Like any English professor, Clint Benjamin spends a lot of his time grading papers.

“There’s a mountain – a teetering Matterhorn of papers at the end of the weekend, or during the week,” Benjamin said. “You’ve just gotta get through them.”

By his own estimate, Benjamin spends 30 to 40 hours a week on grading alone. He also has to attend meetings, answer emails, keep office hours, and commute between the Community College of Allegheny County and Duquesne University campuses, where in a typical week he prepares and teaches five sections’ of English and writing classes.

When the first graduates from the Duquesne University School of Law received their diplomas, Woodrow Wilson was president and baseball legend Babe Ruth was just making his major league debut.

That was 1914. Now, the 100th graduating class is preparing to take the stage.

Ken Gormley, dean of the Duquesne University School of Law, said there are a lot of similarities between the two graduating classes.

With the nicest baseball park in the country, the most Super Bowl wins in the NFL and two of the best players in the NHL, Pittsburgh is definitely a sports city.

That’s why it will be the host of the North American Society of Sports Management (NASSM) Conference - the largest sports business gathering in the world.

Duquesne University organized the conference that aims to show how important business is to sports.

Unless you're attending a university, most Pittsburghers do not have access to microscopes, pipettes, and other high-end scientific equipment — but a new lab opening this fall aims to change that.

Duquesne University and entrepreneurial group Urban Innovation 21 are constructing Pittsburgh’s first community biotechnology laboratory.

Duquesne University plans to offer a five-year undergraduate degree program combining biomedical engineering and nursing starting this fall.

Spokeswoman Karen Ferrick-Roman says the program is believed to be the first undergraduate program of its kind.

School officials say biomedical engineers typically lack clinical experience in dealing with patients, but that nursing training would remedy that.

Duquesne University will open an art exhibit by Andrew Hairstans called A Model for Asylum Tuesday at the Les Idees Gallery on Duquesne’s campus.

Hairstans said the exhibit focuses on a housing project in Glasgow, Scotland. He said the project has to do with modernist British housing and how it is used by asylum seekers.

“I became interested in the area because originally they were at one point the tallest housing complexes in Europe and they were also used to house at one point they were used to house asylum seekers from all over the world really."

“We should be outraged that not all of our young people are succeeding and learning to their potential,” says Olga Welch, dean of Duquesne University’s School of Education.

Welch and the university are leading a collaboration of community leaders to transform learning in the Pittsburgh region by pushing for public education as a social justice right “impacting all children, particularly those in under-represented populations.”

More than two dozen researchers meet Monday at Duquesne University as part of a symposium on the latest findings regarding Marcellus Shale drilling.

Foundation-funded researchers from universities including Carnegie Mellon, Cornell, Duke and Yale presented their independent research on topics such as air quality, human and animal health, effects on water treatment plants and local government response to shale gas development.

“If the people of Pittsburgh loved their children as much as they love the Steelers, the schools would be in great shape,”  said Professor Pedro Noguera from NYU’s School of Culture, Education and Human Development

He as a keynote speaker at Duquesne University Wednesday at a forum on  social justice in public education for poor minority students. 65 educational, community leaders, parents and students gathered  to determine how to seek fairness and equality in public education for children and youth in under-represented populations.

According Rob Nelson, guest lecturer at Duquesne University’s annual History Forum and director of the Digital Scholarship Lab at the University of Richmond, the last great historical atlas was published in 1932. It was called "The Atlas of the Historical Geography of the United States," and it included a series of maps that illustrated how the nation changed over time.

Earlham College / Flickr

The story of Margaret Mary Vojtko, an adjunct professor at Duquesne University has gone viral and it’s sparked a debate about fair compensation for adjuncts.

Dan Kovalick, senior associate general counsel of the United Steelworkers (the union currently seeking to organize adjunct instructors at Duquesne) who wrote the op-ed piece believes that the adjuncts should have an increase in pay and should be entitled to benefits. Kovalick argues that, with heads of Universities making six-figure salaries and in some cases millions of dollars, teachers should be able to get an increase in compensation.

He also points out that parents of students, are spending tens of thousands of dollars on their child’s tuition and seeing that their child’s teachers are not making a livable wage.

A pair of local universities will mark the 12th anniversary of the attacks of September 11th in very public but very different ways. 

Chatham University will gather Wednesday afternoon on the quad for a moment of silence, a short speech from the Dean of Student Affairs office, remarks from a representative of the Wounded Warrior Project and a performance of the National Anthem by the Chatham University Choir. 

The goal of the event is not only to remember the lives lost on Sept. 11, 2011, but also to salute the growing number of students on campus who are also veterans. 

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Duquesne University Professor Patrick Joula received an email from the London Sunday Times last week.  The Times was asking him to utilize an authorial identification technology he had been developing for years in order to determine if the new crime novel, The Cuckoo’s Calling was written by the famous J.K. Rowling. The paper had received an anonymous tweet indicating the author, Robert Galbraith, was actually Rowling. 

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas spoke at Duquesne University Tuesday afternoon on topics ranging from his childhood in segregated Georgia to his 22-year tenure on the nation's highest court.

Thomas is the only black justice to serve on the Supreme Court after Thurgood Marshall. Thomas filled Marshall's vacated position on the bench.

Born in Pin Point, Ga. in 1948, Thomas said he grew up in a poor black community, but he was pushed toward academic success by his grandfather and the nuns at his Catholic school.

A federal judge in Pittsburgh has dismissed lawsuits by three former Duquesne University basketball players who sued the school, claiming it was responsible when two men shot them after an on-campus dance in 2006.

But U.S. District Judge David Cercone's ruling, first reported by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Monday, says the school isn't responsible for the pain, damages and loss of income claimed by Shawn James, Stuard Baldonado and Kojo Mensah. They were three of five players wounded in the shooting on Sept. 17, 2006, following a dance sponsored by the Black Student Union.