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Fr. William P. Power, C.S.Sp.
William Patrick Power CSSp.JPG
1st Rector of the
Pittsburgh Catholic College
Term 1878 – 1885
Successor Rev. John Willms
Born 1843
Died 1919 (aged 75–76)

Father William Patrick Power, C.S.Sp. (1843-1919) was the first head of Duquesne University, founded as the "Pittsburgh Catholic College of the Holy Ghost".[1] Power was born in 1843 and ordained in 1866; he had spent many years teaching in Spiritan missions in India, Mauritius and Trinidad before coming to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.[2]

Father Joseph Strub, the founder of the College, was not happy with the Spiritan Superior General's choice of Father Power as the first rector, since he believed Pittsburgh's immigrant Catholics would perceive a German rector as more industrious and disciplined than an Irish one.[1] In fact, he specifically requested that the rector not be Fr. Power, but he was selected nonetheless.[1]

While the German Holy Ghost Father John Bernard Graff served in Power's capacity as he traveled from Ireland, the Irish-born bishop of Pittsburgh, John Tuigg, showed his animosity for the interim rector's nationality and offered little support for the newly-established institution, even refusing the Holy Ghost Fathers the right to exercise priestly functions at the College, such as saying Mass or hearing confessions.[3] Father Strub left two weeks after the College was opened on 1 October 1878 for Arkansas, eager to avoid further provoking Bishop Tuigg.[3]

Power was rector during an essentially formative stage of what is now Duquesne University's history: he was in office when the College received its state charter on 7 July 1882, and as the Old Main administration building was built on Boyd's Hill overlooking the Monongahela River.[4] The "Victorian Medievalistic" structure was at that time the highest point on Pittsburgh's skyline.[5]

Father Power's tenure was brief: only two months after the administration building was dedicated in April 1884, Power was assigned to St. Mary College in Trinidad.[6]

Power Center

On 14 March 2006 Duquesne University began construction on a 130,000-square-foot (12,000 m2) facility named in honor of Father Power.[7] The building dedicates 80,000 square feet (7,400 m2) to fitness facilities, and also includes a Barnes & Noble branch and a casual dining restaurant.[7] The Power Center officially opened at the beginning of the Spring 2008 semester.


  1. ^ a b c Rishel 1997, 2.
  2. ^ "Spiritan Campus Ministry bulletin" (PDF). Duquesne University. 2008-01-28. Retrieved 2008-01-30.  
  3. ^ a b Rishel 1997, 3.
  4. ^ Rishel 1997, 3-4.
  5. ^ Rishel 1997, 4.
  6. ^ Rishel 1997, 5.
  7. ^ a b "Power Center". Duquesne University. Retrieved 2008-01-28.  


Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
New position
Rector of the Pittsburgh Catholic College
Succeeded by
Rev. John Willms


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