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Strategically Enhancing Community Connections Goal of New Duquesne Role

Civic leader William Generett, Jr. tapped to lead efforts

William GenerettAs part of his ambitious vision to dramatically bolster Duquesne University’s relationships with community partners, President Ken Gormley has named William Generett, Jr., the University’s first Vice President for Community Engagement. Generett, who will start on September 1, will provide leadership in support of the University's mission of service and its commitment to the city of Pittsburgh, Western Pennsylvania and the surrounding region.

“When I became President in July 2016 I began my tenure by making a firm commitment to building upon Duquesne University’s storied history, which is deeply intertwined with the region that it helped to build,” said Gormley.  “An essential part of the University’s new strategic plan, that will be finalized soon, is a vision for expanding and enhancing the University’s community engagement efforts.  Bill Generett is a highly recognized civic leader with a distinguished career in community and economic development. His expertise, community connections and passion for improving our region will help to make this vision a reality.” 

The University’s new draft strategic plan heavily emphasizes community engagement, aligning it with the Spiritan founders’ principles of positively impacting the local community, the region, and the world around it.   

“Duquesne University and I both have community service as a part of our DNA. I have witnessed first-hand both the power and promise of Duquesne’s commitment. I am humbled and honored to build upon this great anchor institution’s legacy of service to community,” said Generett.

Generett will facilitate and develop relationships with community organizations, local governments, and civic organizations, strengthening the University's partnerships with its neighbors. He will also work to advance community engaged research, teaching, and scholarship, in conjunction with the Center for Community-Engaged Teaching and Research, and coordinate and support co-curricular engagement.

Generett currently serves as president and chief executive officer of Urban Innovation21, a unique public-private partnership started in 2007 by Duquesne, the Hill House Economic Development Corporation and UPMC Health Plan. Under his leadership, Urban Innovation21 was recognized nationally for connecting underserved communities to Western Pennsylvania’s most successful economies and launched new entities to spur interest in economic development, including the Citizen Science Lab, Pittsburgh’s first and only life sciences community laboratory. 

He is also a fellow of the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE), which is designed for leaders who are advancing the development of healthy and equitable economies.

Generett has held numerous leadership positions in community-based, corporate, and legal sectors. From 2007 to 2009, he served as executive director of the Hill House Economic Development Corporation, where he led efforts to engage in successful entrepreneurial ventures and real estate development in Pittsburgh’s Hill District. 

In 2014, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker appointed Generett to serve on the National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship, which advises the Department of Commerce on issues related to accelerating innovation, expanding entrepreneurship, and developing a globally competitive workforce.

Generett is a very active member of the community, and has served as a member of many regional nonprofit boards and advisory committees including Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, Pittsburgh Mercy Health System, the Heinz Endowments African American Male Advisory Committee, Neighborhood Allies, the Business Advisory Council of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, Dick Thornburgh Forum for Law and Public Policy, Innovation Works and Sustainable Pittsburgh, among others.

A native of Pittsburgh, Generett earned his J.D. from Emory University School of Law and is a Phi Beta Kappa, magna cum laude graduate of Morehouse College. In 2016, he was awarded an honorary doctorate by Carlow University.

He is married to Gretchen Givens Generett, Ph.D., an associate professor in Duquesne’s School of Education. They are the proud parents of two children, William III and Gabrielle.

Duquesne University

Founded in 1878, Duquesne is consistently ranked among the nation's top Catholic universities for its award-winning faculty and tradition of academic excellence. Duquesne, a campus of nearly 10,000 graduate and undergraduate students, has been nationally recognized for its academic programs, community service and commitment to sustainability. Follow Duquesne University on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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