Duquesne’s newly created position of university coordinator for academic programs in Africa reflects the University’s strategic plan focus on Africa and the African diaspora.
“It’s a recognition that the future of the Spiritan community—in terms of leadership, in terms of the community itself and in terms of students being guided by the Spiritans— lies in Africa,” said Provost Dr. Ralph L. Pearson. “This fits very well with the mission of Duquesne as a Spiritan University.
“Our hope is that we will develop academic relationships through a wide range of departments at Duquesne,” Pearson continued. “We want to develop collaborative relationships with other institutions in Africa. While the initial focus may be on Spiritan institutions, I think we should look for initiatives beyond that.”
Dr. George Worgul, longtime chair of the theology department, has been tapped to serve in the role. Worgul, who will officially begin the position on July 1, has been involved in African programs and the growing Spiritan community there for more than two decades.
“We selected George because of his considerable experience in working with universities, specifically the Spiritan universities, in Africa,” Pearson said. “He’s gotten to know the people and the government leaders. He brings a unique preparation, as chair of the theology department, about programs initiated while he was in the department and chair of the department.”
The creation of this position means the institutional commitment takes on a University-wide perspective, according to Worgul.
“No longer are individual programs and departments involved; it’s how, as a whole, Duquesne University can become engaged with advancing enterprises across Africa,” Worgul said.
The process will involve the African Spiritans’ assessments about their views and visions, and what Duquesne resources might help them realize their goals. Collaborations could be possible across disciplines such as nursing, health sciences, pharmacy and education. Options could include fully establishing a program in Africa, offering programs taught by visiting faculty members who travel to Africa or presenting programs via satellite/online.
The creation of this position aligns with Duquesne’s long history in Africa, starting after World War I and focusing on the graduate education of Catholic and other Christian women and men religious from Africa who were assuming leadership roles in the community.
“This,” said Pearson, “is an idea whose time has come.”