Transcending Boundaries: Achieving Distinctive Excellence

Our distinctive academic programs, world-class facilities, impactful faculty scholarship, alumni engagement, and community partnerships are transcending boundaries, positioning the School as a global leader in business education.

On Our Way to Achieving Distinctive Excellence

A few years ago, the School created a holistic strategic plan—Palumbo-Donahue 2024: Achieving Distinctive Excellence. The process solicited input from a wide range of internal and external constituencies. Those constituencies included the School’s then brand-new Business Advisory Council and Investment Center Advisory Council, both of which launched in early 2015. As business leaders, advisory council members help the School stay current and help guide its strategic and tactical efforts as well as provide vital philanthropic support.

Engaging Advisory Council Members

The School’s engagement and innovation efforts over the past three years have been guided by our strategic goals, with many “means to achieve” vetted, reviewed and supported by advisory council members. In that span of time, a remarkable amount of change has occurred in the School of Business, from redesigning curricula to launching new programs to major facilities renovations and more.

Marking Our Progress

Strategic plans must continue to evolve and the School of Business is now in the process of doing just that. Once again, the School’s advisory councils are playing an important role. For example, in 2017, a subcommittee of the Business Advisory Council called the Strategic Review Working Group (SRWG) wrote a white paper articulating the implications of the Allegheny Conference’s Inflection Point report and AACSB’s Collective Vision for Business Education report for the School’s strategic directions.

Moving Forward

In 2018, the School’s Leadership Team held a series of retreats to consider the SRWG report, the University’s new strategic plan and other factors as a first step toward revising the School’s strategic plan. From there, the Leadership Team drafted revised strategic goals and learning themes. Once again, the Business Advisory Council provided valuable input into those efforts. Over the next several months, the revised plan will be shared with faculty, staff and students for input.

The Best is Yet to Come

In 2019, renovations to the School’s 6th floor and pedestrian bridge to the bluff will commence, arguably the single most impactful renovation project since Rockwell Hall was built in 1958. Once complete, the 6th floor will house new institutes in business ethics, investment management and sustainable business innovation, plus a small café.


We asked members of our Business Advisory Council (BAC) and Investment Center Advisory Council (ICAC) to share their most proud School accomplishment. Here’s what our council members had to say about the last three years…

Stephan Schenk, MBA’99
President & CEO of TD Group US Holdings (TDGUS)

I am most proud about the implementation and execution of some of the key elements in the strategic plan and Inflection Point report. Particularly, the shift towards preparing students to better deal with digital ubiquity and how businesses will need to adapt their strategies to artificial intelligence, emerging technologies and data. In addition, I would highlight the increased focus on educating students about how to manage a global enterprise that makes a difference in a highly volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world. Lastly, I would emphasize the School’s success in embracing the “co-creation of knowledge” concept by instilling a mindset of continuous learning, authentic leadership and unwavering focus about being a catalyst for innovation.

Lisa Kwasnoski Lucas, B’85
Consultant/Owner, LKL Solutions

It’s a source of pride that, once again, the Palumbo-Donahue School of Business earned international recognition as an AACSB-accredited institution for another five years. Dean McFarlin and his team should be commended for their commitment to the development, implementation and continuous improvement of the School’s comprehensive strategic plan.

The BAC members remain committed to sharing their individual and collective knowledge, experiences and insights. Council members are ensuring the School’s strategic plan remains rich in the key elements that are relevant in today’s dynamic business environment.

John P. Surma
Former Executive Chairman & CEO, U.S. Steel Corporation

I have been very pleased to observe the support that the School provides for scholarly research and publication. For example, the Business & Society 360 book series is an annual publication targeting cutting-edge developments in the broad business and society field, such as stakeholder management, corporate social responsibility and citizenship, business ethics, sustainability, corporate governance and others.

Their second volume, “Corporate Social Responsibility,” is particularly important and timely as corporate leaders struggle to find the place of business in our dynamic broader society.

Co-editors for the series are Dr. David Wasieleski, former chair of the management and marketing department and professor of business ethics, and Dr. James Weber, professor of business ethics and management and Executive Director, Institute for Ethics in Business.

Marvin J. Balliet, B’79
Managing Director, Citibank

As one of the original members of the BAC, I have seen a great deal of refreshing changes and new additions of programs, faculty and alumni involvement over the last three years. The most exciting for me has been the transformation of Rockwell Hall. The creation of modern Centers of Excellence in Professional Selling, Entrepreneurship and Supply Chain Management, along with facilities that are inviting to our students, are creating an identity for the School within the business community. Congratulations to the leadership team on this tremendous transformation.

William Lyons, B’70, MS’78
Former Executive Vice President & CFO, CONSOL Energy Inc.

The School accomplishment I am most proud of as a BAC member is the achievement of the AACSB Reaccreditation. The list of accomplishments of the School of Business is lengthy, but I cannot think of one accomplishment more critical than maintaining this premier global accreditation.

AACSB Accreditation signals to the world that an institution has met the most rigorous standards of excellence in business education. Institutions that bear the AACSB-accredited mark demonstrate a commitment to upholding—and advancing—the quality of undergraduate and graduate programs.

The accreditation process is comprehensive. It includes self-evaluations, peer reviews, committee reviews, and the development of in-depth strategic plans. I participated in two meetings with the AACSB Accreditation team during their visits. I discussed alumni engagement and the work of the BAC. It was a privilege to be part of the process.

Harry W. Witt, B’62
Former Senior Managing Partner, Deloitte & Touche

I have been exposed to a lot of the Business School’s initiatives. I am impressed with all of them—very impressed. However, the one I have really been taken with is the redesign of the Entrepreneurship Major. What has been accomplished with the physical facilities in Rockwell really impresses me for an educational organization. Yet, the real “proof in the pudding” is meeting and having lunch with student majors in entrepreneurship—smart, intelligent, imaginative and surprisingly mature.

Robert I. Fragasso, B’67
Chairman & CEO, Fragasso Financial Advisors

There have been multiple enhancements, innovations and improvements in three primary areas—facilities, programs and faculty. These are clearly not a random collection of initiatives but rather a comprehensive set of improvements meant to elevate the School’s quality, the University’s stature and, most importantly, the student’s experience and job marketability.

It is this comprehensive and needs-based evaluative approach, resulting in the totality and synchronization of all of the initiatives, which is so praise worthy. The executive strategic perspective that envisioned the needs and their solutions coupled with the managerial skill to gain University, faculty and funder agreement and participation is the most notable achievement both in scope and in accomplishment.

Kelly M. Pasterick, B’92
Vice President, Internal Audit, Allegheny Technologies Inc. (ATI)

The Duquesne Micro-Cap Fund (DMCF) is an accomplishment that resonates most with me. The vision and strategic goals of the Business School are what drew me to the ICAC.

During my first ICAC meeting, I had the opportunity to meet some of the students that are actively involved in the fund. I was impressed by their engagement with the Council and their enthusiasm and participation in the fund. The DMCF follows the “theory to practice model” which I feel gives students a real-world experience. This model lays the foundation for students to experience what it is like to manage investments and analyze results, both successes and failures. When I look at the program through their eyes, it’s clear to me the DMCF offers a distinctive, transformational education. This type of education not only prepares students to enter the workforce but also gives them a competitive advantage with prospective employers.

Randall C. King, MBA’87
Treasurer & EVP, PNC Financial Services Group

In addition to the major facilities improvements at Rockwell Hall, I am particularly encouraged by the University’s continued commitment to providing students with hands-on investment management opportunities, such as the Duquesne Micro-Cap Fund and Duquesne Angels, run by students. Not only is Duquesne preparing students for potential careers in the investment management world, we are also bolstering collaboration, decision-making, communication and leadership skills needed to be successful across a broad range of career opportunities.

David J. Kantes, B’65
Former Senior Vice President and Chief Risk Officer, Siemens Financial Services, Inc.

I believe the entire ICAC team accomplished the core reason for its constitution—establishment of a suitable, well-structured environment of hardware and powerful financial analytical tools for the Investment Center.

Coupled with outstanding Investment Center leadership and management, a wide cross-section of Duquesne students and faculty now have the “horsepower“ to solve and analyze complex problems and fact sets as well as the capacity to conduct scholarly research.

In a “building block” manner, the Investment Center has the potential to differentiate Duquesne’s finance program, faculty scholarship and campus community.

Brian Sullivan, B’82
Regional Director, Putnam Investments

The School of Business has had many accomplishments in the last five years. I am most proud of the commitment to having students take class experiences and transfer them into real business world situations. Duquesne has transformed the learning process from classrooms and textbooks to the corporate world and beyond. Having students invest in public and private investments through the Student Managed Investment Funds is a real time experience that cannot be learned from a textbook! The skills students learn from this program are immediately transferable to an entry-level position in finance and investing.

Andrew J. Rebholz, B’87
CEO, TravelCenters of America LLC

Of the many accomplishments we have seen in the School, what makes me most proud as a member of the BAC, and as an alumnus generally, are the renovations of Rockwell Hall and the creation of Centers of Excellence. These accomplishments provide both physical evidence of the School’s continued progress and an observably improved capability to educate students in a way that they can be most valuable to their future employers.


Rockwell Hall Renovations:

  • Renovated the 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 9th floors of Rockwell Hall
  • Established three Centers of Excellence in Professional Selling, Entrepreneurship and Supply Chain Management

Program changes/launches:

  • Redesigned Professional MBA Curriculum
  • Revamped MBA Sustainable Business Practices Curriculum
  • New MS in Management – 100% Online
  • Launched a BSBA-to-MAcc Program
  • New MS and Certificate in Supply Chain Management
  • Redesigned Undergraduate Business Core – First Year Innovation Experience
  • Launched a BSBA-to-MBA Program
  • Redesigned Entrepreneurship Major
  • Created a Student-run, Duquesne Micro-Cap Fund
  • Established Steel City Sales Challenge
  • Acquired Wharton Research Data Services (WRDS)
  • Earned AACSB Reaccreditation

Faculty-related accomplishments:

  • Hired 18 Full-time Faculty in the Last 5 Years
  • Established the Merle E. Gilliand Endowed Professorship in Entrepreneurial Finance
  • Created a New Executive-in-Residence Program
  • Established the KPMG Faculty Fellowship in Accounting
  • New Annual Book Series on Business Ethics Launched – Business and Society 360
  • Established the Harry W. Witt Faculty Fellowship (Open to any discipline)