Bill Durham, La Salle University’s Community Liaison, is constantly on –the go. A self-described people person, Durham loves meeting new people—neighbors, students, faculty, community leaders—and finding ways to forge relationships among them.
Therefore, it was no surprise when the De La Salle Chapel was crowded recently to witness Durham receive the La Salle University Brother Scubillion Rousseau Justice Award, which honors a faculty or staff member who understands his or her role in creating a more just world.
Since joining La Salle in 2008, Durham has worked to build better and new bridges between the University and its neighbors. Through his relationships with La Salle’s neighbors and community leaders, Durham has sought to connect the community needs with the University resources, while also addressing concerns and questions from community members. As a result of Durham’s hard work, the University has been able to build a stronger and more open relationship with its neighbors.
“Bill is a great asset to La Salle and to the community,” said Regina Gaus, La Salle’s community service coordinator, when presenting the award to Durham. “He helps people connect with one another. He is active in the community; you can often find Bill just walking around the neighborhood speaking with community members. He is the face of La Salle for many of those who live around the University.”
According to Durham, learning of the award was a “wow” moment for him. “Receiving this award has allowed me to reflect on my time with La Salle, and it is extremely rewarding to know that all your hard work is acknowledged,” said Durham. “However, I would not be here if it weren’t for many of our community leaders including 17th Ward Leader Mabel Windham, Reverend Todd Johnson, and other members of the Belfield Area Neighborhood Association. I am just a facilitator—they are the ones who really make things happen.”
A long-time Mount Airy resident, Durham is no stranger to the La Salle neighborhood, having been a community activist in Philadelphia for over 20 years. He has served as director of field operations for U.S. Congressman Bob Brady and former Congressman Joe Hoeffel, and as a community liaison officer for State Representative John Myers. In each of these positions, Durham has reached out to the community, meeting people, and encouraging them to vote.
In addition, Durham was elected to serve as a member of the 10th Ward 13th Division Democratic Philadelphia City Committee and is currently the Chairman of Pennsylvania’s 4th Senatorial District Pennsylvania Democratic State Committee. He also serves as the Sargent of Arms for the Pennsylvania Democratic Party. Prior to working for the local officials, Durham served as Community Relations Manager for New Courtland Elder Services in Philadelphia.
The Brother Scubillion Rousseau Justice Award was developed to honor La Salle faculty or staff who understands his or her roles in creating a more just world. Remembered as the “catechist of the slaves,” Brother Scubillion Rousseau dedicated the last 34 years of his life to educating the enslaved natives of the island Reunion in the Indian Ocean. In his later years, he assisted the local pastor in visiting the sick, winning over sinners, encouraging vocations, and even performing what seemed to be miraculous cures.