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Taking the Helm: Meet Pittsburgh's Newest College Leaders

Over the past two years, the leadership of the region’s universities has undergone an overhaul. We reached out to college and university presidents who are new on the job to ask why they came here and what they hope to accomplish during their tenure.



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David Finegold
Chatham University
July 1, 2016


David Finegold, Chatham’s 19th president, is a renowned scholar and educational innovator. He graduated from Harvard and was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University, where he earned his doctorate in politics. He and his wife, Susan, have two children: Sam, 25, and Charlotte, 23.

What was it about Chatham that made you take the job?
I loved Chatham’s mission, size and complexity; it combines the best elements of a liberal arts education with professional training at a scale where I could get to know the faculty, staff and students individually. While Chatham offers this close-knit community, it also has three campuses, 26 graduate degrees and a range of online and applied research offerings that open up a far more exciting range of opportunities than most colleges our size.  

What is the most pressing challenge for Chatham?
To realize the full potential of our Eden Hall Campus, home to our Falk School of Sustainability and Environment. We invested $50 million to turn this nearly 400-acre farm on the outskirts of Pittsburgh into the greenest campus in the U.S. Falk has been growing steadily since its founding, and we are exploring what additional programs and activities could augment it to make Eden Hall a thriving, living-learning community.  

What would you like your legacy to be?
That Chatham is recognized as the place where talented individuals are prepared to be the leaders who will address two of the most pressing issues facing our world today: creating healthier people and a healthier planet.
 

Ken Gormley
Duquesne University
July 1, 2016


Pittsburgh native Ken Gormley, Duquesne’s 13th president, earned his B.A. from the University of Pittsburgh and his J.D. from Harvard Law School.  He has  been at Duquesne for 24 years now — first as a law school professor, then as dean, now as president.

What was it about Duquesne that made you take the job?
I grew up in Pittsburgh. When I left for Harvard, my goal was to come back and do something meaningful for my hometown. My four kids grew up here. For me, this is the greatest honor imaginable. Duquesne’s Catholic, Spiritan heritage of service to others has helped to build Pittsburgh for the past 140 years.  A job doesn’t get any better than this.

What is the most pressing challenge for Duquesne?
We constantly work to make Duquesne affordable, recognizing the financial sacrifice parents and students must make. Nearly every student receives some financial aid. We’re ranked as a “best value” university by Forbes, U.S. News and others. Our graduates command among the highest average salaries in the region. These must remain top priorities, along with producing ethical, highly qualified graduates.

What would you like your legacy to be?
I’d like people to say: “This president made every important decision based upon the best interests of the students entrusted to his care.” If I accomplish that, I’ve lived up to Duquesne’s historic legacy.
 

Geraldine M. Jones
California University of Pennsylvania
April 7, 2016


Geraldine M. Jones was appointed president of California University of Pennsylvania, her alma mater, in April 2016. Previously, she served the university as a faculty member, dean and provost before being named acting (and then interim) president in 2012.

What was it about Cal U that made you take the job?
Cal U has been a big part of my life since I arrived as a student almost 50 years ago. I’ve seen firsthand how Cal U can change lives, including my own, and I am honored to help shape the future of my alma mater.

What is the most pressing challenge for Cal U?
Our most pressing task is to continue developing top quality academic programs that will attract and empower students, so they can graduate from Cal U as career-ready professionals with excellent job prospects. We also are creating education options to address the needs of working professionals and other adult learners.

What would you like your legacy to be?
I want to build on Cal U’s proud tradition of academic excellence by positioning the university for success in a rapidly changing world. This requires us to combine data-driven decision-making with an unwavering commitment to putting our students first. I seek to build a culture in which we listen carefully to our students and their future employers, and then respond with academic programs that prepare graduates to enter the workforce career-ready, confident and equipped for lifelong learning.
 

Kathy Brittain Richardson
Westminster College
July 1, 2016


Kathy Richardson, Westminster’s 15th president, came to the school from Berry College in Georgia, where she was provost and professor of communication. She has a doctorate in mass communication from the University of Georgia.

What was it about Westminster that made you take the job?
The founding vision of Westminster in 1852 set it among the first colleges in the country to be open to men, women and persons of color regardless of creed — an aspiration that continues to resonate some 166 years later. Westminster’s mission inspires students to acquire the competencies, commitments and characteristics of humankind at its best. Through its long history, Westminster has continued to offer access to outstanding education from committed faculty, staff and alumni.

What is the most pressing challenge for Westminster?
Growing undergraduate enrollment through expanded recruitment and retention is a critical challenge and opportunity. We must continue to deepen the value of the collaborative, highly experiential education students find here and to demonstrate the real outcomes such an education delivers — from outstanding admission rates to graduate and professional schools to strong job placement. 

What would you like your legacy to be?
The theme of my presidency thus far has been to celebrate and foster the “We in Westminster.” Sustaining the strong and vibrant “We” for our students, alumni, faculty and staff would be a great legacy. I hope to facilitate such success as we work together to provide a holistic education for our students through academics, student life, athletics and spiritual life.
 

Calvin L. Troup
Geneva College
July 1, 2016


Calvin L. Troup, the 20th president of Geneva College, is also a graduate of the school. He earned a master’s degree and Ph.D. in speech communication from Penn State University.

What was it about Geneva that made you take the job?
The college’s mission. At Geneva, we have received a strong heritage of service to Christ and country through many moments of history in this region. The heritage includes deep commitments to biblical truth as the starting point for serious, broad-spectrum intellectual engagement to equip students for their life’s work in the real world. I wanted to join and serve on this project.

What is the most pressing challenge for Geneva?
Educating students today for the uncertainties of tomorrow. The world of the next generation never turns out to be what prognosticators are saying today. Good majors prepare people for good jobs upon graduation; good degrees educate people to navigate what has not yet appeared on the horizon. Great education takes mutual commitments and sustained hard work by students with teachers. We need the will to engage hard questions together that do not have easy answers in a moment that believes good education can and should be fast, convenient and inexpensive.

What would you like your legacy to be?
That I extended the heritage of the college to the next generation better than it was when I came. And to that Geneva students educated on my watch would become people who long to hear the words, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”
 

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