The Third Alternative: The Oral History of Duquesne University's Third Alternative

The Effect

The Third Alternative’s fundraising efforts lasted for one year, culminating in a party in April of 1971. At the party, the students raffled off a four-year scholarship to Duquesne and celebrated raising over half a million dollars for their school. Although the Third Alternative did not reach its one million dollar goal, the students’ dedication and hard work helped Duquesne continue to offer a private education at a reasonable price. Duquesne was able to remain open and prepare thousands more students for their future careers. The Third Alternative inspired local organizations and citizens to donate to a university they might not have had any connection to, which is no easy task. The movement also inspired similar efforts at other private universities facing financial difficulties. Students at those schools reached out to Third Alternative leaders and even visited Duquesne in order to learn from their success.

The movement also greatly affected its members. Third Alternative volunteers were excited about being a part of a nationally- recognized movement and were grateful to have played a large part in saving their school. Interviewees discussed how volunteering with the movement influenced their involvement at Duquesne and encouraged them to branch out and try new activities. The skills they developed while canvassing and fundraising also had an impact on the students’ professional lives after graduation. Many members of the Third Alternative have stayed in the Pittsburgh area throughout their professional lives, further contributing their talents to the region. It is inarguable that the Third Alternative had a positive, lasting influence on Duquesne, the city of Pittsburgh, and its members. This oral history project serves to showcase this group’s accomplishments and remember an extraordinary period in Duquesne's history.

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