Duquesne’s VP for student life transfers to focus on fundraising
In his office in Duquesne University’s Old Main, the Rev. Sean Hogan was surrounded Thursday with photos of his grand-nieces and -nephews in Ireland, a box filled with Christmas cards from friends and alumni, and his newest memento: a tiny bobblehead in his likeness.
Identical bobbleheads will go to the first 1,000 spectators at Saturday’s 1 p.m. men’s basketball game against Rhode Island at the Palumbo Center, where Hogan will be recognized for his nearly 30 years as executive vice president for student life. He plans to transfer at the end of the school year to a job coordinating alumni fundraising.
“I’m not too happy about it, but if it raises money for scholarships, I’m OK,” Hogan said as he considered the bobblehead. “It’s going to be sweet and sour, leaving this chair.”
As the head of student life, Hogan, 73, has overseen more than a dozen departments and meets often with leaders from student groups. He keeps an “open-door policy, as long as you have an appointment,” and he walks around campus greeting everyone.
Hogan came to Duquesne in 1975 from Kenya, where he worked in the Diocese of Nairobi since 1968. He intended to stay just a year, for a sabbatical, but stayed to earn a master’s degree and raise money for churches in Kenya. He became executive vice president for student life in 1986.
He administers a “legacy fund” in his name, started with donations from alumni, that helps students who need assistance with expenses.
As a result, he has many friends among Duquesne’s alumni, who frequently call on him to celebrate milestones in their personal and spiritual lives, or just to visit their families.
“I do about 25 weddings a year, and between 30 and 40 baptisms,” Hogan said. “I wasn’t in my community house once for six weeks; I was out every night.”
“He’s just adopted all these students who have gone through Duquesne as family. Even though he’s never been married, he has a bigger family than anybody,” said Brian Sullivan, a member of Duquesne’s board of directors, an alumnus and a friend of Hogan.
Sullivan, who met Hogan when the priest was an adviser to the business fraternity, said he was badly injured in a car accident his senior year at Duquesne.
“Father was one of the first people by my bedside,” Sullivan said. “He made the call to my parents in New Jersey, and he took care of them while I was in the hospital and they were in Pittsburgh.”
Peter Samson, president of Duquesne’s Student Government Association, said he meets with Hogan at least once a week about the SGA, and they have informal meetings over lunch.
“You notice he’s dedicated not only to the university but to people on an individual basis. He cares not only for the advancement of the university but for the advancement of each person,” said Samson, 21, of Port Washington, N.Y.
This fall, Hogan will become the first president of the newly formed Duquesne University Scholarship Association, working with alumni volunteers to raise money for need-based scholarships.
“The future of private, Catholic education is scholarships. It’s getting more expensive,” Hogan said. “… It’s amazing to me at times how generous people are.”
Matthew Santoni is a Trib Total Media staff writer.