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March 2, 2017

Obituary: Deborah L. Walker

Deborah Walker

Deborah L. Walker, who ended her multi-faceted three-decade career at the University in 2014 to become manager of the city’s Office of Municipal Investigation, died Feb. 24, 2017. She was 62.

Visitation is 3-8 p.m. today, March 2, at Mt. Ararat Baptist Church, 271 Paulson Ave., Larimer; the funeral is at 11 a.m. March 3 at the church.

Walker earned both her degrees from Pitt: a bachelor of arts degree in administration of justice and legal studies from the College of General Studies and a master of public policy management from the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs.

She began her career here as a campus security guard, moving to campus police officer and serving for a time as the department’s community relations officer. She was part of the development of such campus crime prevention programs as Operation Campus Watch and the residence officer program, for which she was awarded the Chancellor’s Distinguished Service Award for Staff in 2002.

Walker then served as assistant director of community standards in the Office of Residence Life and director of the RISE mentoring program. She joined the Division of Student Affairs as a student conduct officer in 2007, where she oversaw the office and recruited and trained about 35 volunteer administrative hearing officers.

She was a member of the Pitt Alumni Association board and the Pitt Community Research Advisory Board. She joined the Staff Association Council (SAC) in 2010, becoming its president the next year and serving through 2013. SAC’s current officers credit Walker with formalizing the group’s relationship with University officials: “Her organizational focus was to have SAC strengthen the University community not only through shared governance, but also service and enrichment,” said the officers in a joint statement, “which was demonstrated when she resumed Pitt Kennywood Day and established the SAC Oakland Campus Beautification Fund to encourage small facility improvements. Internally, she served as an academic and professional mentor to many members.”

SAC honored Walker’s service in 2015 with the installation of a campus bench bearing her name.

In addition to her service at Pitt, Walker taught criminal justice and intelligence studies as an adjunct faculty member at Point Park University, was a member of the Pittsburgh Commission on Human Relations and the Pittsburgh Citizen Police Review Board, and helped establish an FBI program to teach crime prevention in schools. She received community service awards from the Urban League of Pittsburgh, the New Pittsburgh Courier, Renaissance Publications and the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Kathy Humphrey, senior vice chancellor for engagement, secretary of the board of trustees and chief of staff for Chancellor Patrick Gallagher, knew Walker during the last decade of her Pitt career.

“Deborah was really known all over the city because of the community engagement she was involved with,” Humphrey said. Walker also was passionate about aiding students, Humphrey recalled: “She would help them any kind of way she could.”

Once, when a fire in a privately owned apartment complex near campus put students out on the street in the winter, Humphrey accompanied Walker to the scene. Finding a female student barefoot, Walker went to her car and returned with her own extra shoes to give to the student.

“It’s really symbolic of her life,” Humphrey said. “Whatever work she took on, she was committed to that work. She was just a giver.

“She could be intense, but she could be a lot of fun as well,” Humphrey added.

Walker’s commitment to community service finally drew her to work for the City of Pittsburgh. “She struggled with it,” Humphrey said of the decision to leave the University, “but it was the right thing to do. She wanted to do that work. She always wanted to work in the community, so I’m glad she got the chance.”

Even when no longer at Pitt, Walker attended many campus events — even away Pitt women’s basketball games, Humphrey said. “She was here for all major events that were open to the public. She loved her University. I feel privileged to have known her and for her being a part of my life.”

Walker is survived by her brother, Ronald Walker, and nieces and nephews Tonya Jones, Deanna (Coral) Smith, Charles Jones and Ronald Walker Jr.

Contributions are suggested to the University of Pittsburgh Panther Club Athletic Scholarship Fund at P.O. Box 7436, Pittsburgh 15213 ( or Mt. Ararat Baptist Church (

—Marty Levine

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