Pitt Bradford: $40,000 gift supports Duke Engineering and Information Technologies Building

Although her father, Paul C. Duke III, died when she was a little girl, Sarah Duke knows she takes after him in many ways.

She loves animals the way he did and owns four “bully breed” dogs. And she loves cars the way he did, too. And she loves to share what has been given to her.   

As a girl, she collected funds for animals at the McKean County SPCA, and as she grew older, she quietly helped classmates at Bradford Area High School who could not afford to purchase yearbooks. She purchased a bench in memory of 2019 BAHS grad Peyton Kirk who had just finished his freshman year at the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford when he died in 2020.

Now she is following in her father’s footsteps by promoting technology education at Pitt-Bradford with a $40,000 gift toward the George B. Duke Engineering and Information Technologies Building named in honor of her uncle. Paul Duke worked with engineering at Zippo and was an early contributor to Pitt-Bradford’s technology endowment fund. In honor of that gift, Pitt-Bradford named its aquatic center in his honor, and young Sarah cut the ribbon.      

In recognition of the gift, the office of the engineering technology director will be named in her honor.

She is the latest generation of the Blaisdell-Duke family to take up a philanthropic tradition that has supported everyone from individuals to Bradford institutions such as Pitt-Bradford since its founding in 1963, and evidence of that can be seen in the names of the Miriam Barcroft Blaisdell Endowed Scholarships, Blaisdell Hall, Harriett B. Wick Chapel, Sarah B. Dorn Residence Hall as well as the aquatic center and new engineering building.   

Like her father, grandmother Sarah B. Duke and great-grandfather George G. Blaisdell, she believes in sharing what she has.   

The new Duke Building is making it possible for Pitt-Bradford to offer new majors in energy engineering technology and mechanical engineering technology as well as providing a new home for existing programs in energy science and technology, computer information systems and technology, and information systems.   

For more information about the building and programs, visit upb.pitt.edu/engineeringbuilding.