Duquesne University President Charles J. Dougherty, who took the lead in bringing to Duquesne and the Pittsburgh Jewish community the moving exhibit, A Blessing to One Another: Pope John Paul II and the Jewish People, will receive the prestigious Tree of Life Award for the Western Pennsylvania region from the Jewish National Fund (JNF) on Thursday, Sept. 17.
Dougherty was chosen by the organization’s past awardees for the JNF’s highest corporate honor in recognition of his outstanding professional and humanitarian leadership, dedication to American-Israeli friendship and devotion to world peace.
During his eight-year tenure at Duquesne, Dougherty has led the University through remarkable growth and improvement while being mindful of environmental concerns. Additionally, he enhanced the University’s historically strong ties to the regional and international Jewish communities.
He was instrumental in bringing the Blessing exhibit to campus in 2006. More than 7,000 visitors delved into the relationship between Pope John Paul II and the Jewish community. In July, prayers that were left in the exhibit’s replica of the Western Wall at Duquesne were delivered to the actual wall in the Holy Land.
“President Dougherty embodies the qualities important to the JNF: environmentalism as he has worked to green an urban campus, the love of Israel and a deep commitment to interfaith dialogue,” said Adrienne Indianer, Western Pennsylvania Regional Director of the JNF, which encompasses the area from the State College to the state’s western border and all of West Virginia. “He obviously has a love of education and is making sure our next generation is ready to lead the world.”
Past honoree Howard “Hoddy” Hanna, who nominated Dougherty for the award, said, “The recipient of the annual Jewish National Fund Tree of Life Award is a person who has distinguished him/herself through his/her career in life and providing a spirit of working together with all segments of the community. Dr. Charles Dougherty certainly exemplifies that worth, not just one time, but throughout his years as president of Duquesne University in developing one of the finest, most diversified universities in the country.”
Hanna noted that, in addition to his role at Duquesne, Dougherty exhibits guidance on the board of trustees for the Catholic Health Association and the board of editors at both Creighton University Press and Health Progress. He served as Commissioner for the State of Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission and is nationally known as an expert in ethics and healthcare.
Dougherty also serves on the boards of UPMC Mercy, the Sen. John Heinz History Center, the Allegheny Conference on Community and the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh.
“In his position as the president of Duquesne University, he has shown great guidance as a member of the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Pennsylvania, as well as the President’s Committee of the Pittsburgh Council on Higher Education,” Hanna said.
Members and friends of the Jewish Faculty Forum (JFF) at Duquesne extended congratulations to Dougherty, noting his leadership in sustainability and his role in making Duquesne an exemplary “green” campus. “While we are very grateful to him on this score, of course, we also take this opportunity to acknowledge the fact that, over the years, he has been quite responsive to the needs and concerns of Jewish students and faculty here at Duquesne,” said Dr. Daniel Burston, chair of the psychology department and JFF president, on behalf of the organization. “His kindness and consistency on this score have not gone unnoticed!”
Each year, the honoree has the option of selecting one of the JNF partner programs to benefit from proceeds of the testimonial dinner. Dougherty chose the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies, a graduate program teaching many aspects of environmentalism and, as a program of co-existence, fostering Israeli-Arab cooperation.
“Duquesne was formed on the premise that education serves as a gateway to a better life, and we share that core value with the Arava Institute, which brings together Israelis and Arabs in environmental stewardship and collaboration,” Dougherty said. “I am honored to be chosen for this award, which is known for recognizing civic engagement in our local community and around the world.”
The JNF, which considers itself the keeper of the land of Israel, has planted 240 million trees to reforest the desert, built more than 1,000 parks and recreational areas and developed innovative irrigation systems.