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

The Public

Although the Third Alternative was a student-led movement, their collaboration with the public was a large part of the movement's success. The students worked with the local government and Pittsburgh organizations to expand the group’s reach, which gave them more publicity and increased donations. County Commissioner Chairman Leonard Staisey served as the honorary co-chairman of the Third Alternative and helped secure permits to canvass local neighborhoods. He also hosted a variety of benefits for the movement, including one at his fiftieth birthday party. Local foundations also chipped in, contributing hundreds of thousands of dollars to the campaign. The Richard King Mellon Foundation offered a matching grant of up to a million dollars and gave $300,000 in matching funds, making up a large part of the total money raised. ALCOA went beyond monetary donations and lit up their Mt. Washington sign to read, “Help Duquesne U.”
The Third Alternative also initiated an intense media campaign to get the word out about their fundraising efforts and received help from local marketing agencies and radio and news stations. The Third Alternative worked closely with local media to spread awareness of their campaign and received free coverage on local television and radio stations. President McAnulty appeared on local television shows to talk about the Third Alternative, and the movement’s progress was tracked in local papers. The Third Alternative even gained national coverage with highlights in publications such as The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.

Students reported that the public reacted positively to their fundraising efforts and were willing to help through donating money and giving their resources and time to help the movement. Local residents donated anywhere from fifty cents to thousands of dollars to the cause and were vocal about their support for Duquesne through writing dozens of letters to the movement.
At that time there was a large and active Catholic community in Pittsburgh, with which Duquesne had a strong connection. Students gave talks at local churches, and parishes collected money at their weekly services for the movement. The university also had a large group of local alumni to solicit for donations and help, which strengthened its movement. Duquesne had a good reputation in the city and the Pittsburgh community was appreciative of the students’ efforts to support their school. The Third Alternative was likewise thankful for the public’s cooperation and monetary support as the movement may not have been as successful without the city’s help.

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