July 11, 2013 | 3:26 p.m.
By Suzanne McInroy, Director of Communications
Robert G. Duffett '76, S'80 began his new role as the ninth president of Eastern University on July 1. (Photo courtesy of Eastern University)
Bethel University alumnus Robert G. Duffett ’76, S’80 became president of Eastern University, a Christian university in Philadelphia, on July 1. He was appointed president-elect in December.
For the past 27 years, Duffett has served in a variety of leadership roles in Christian higher education, most recently as the president of Dakota Wesleyan University in Mitchell, S.D. He also served as provost and academic dean at Ottawa University, an American Baptist comprehensive university of 7,000 students with locations in four states and Asia. He was also the director of doctoral studies at Northern Baptist Theological Seminary in Lombard, Ill. Duffett started his career in higher education as campus pastor and dean of Christian faith and life at Bethel. While here, he developed a youth ministry leadership degree program, directed international service learning programs, and secured grants to support student ministry initiatives.
Ralph Gustafson, vice president for constituent relations at Bethel, first met Duffett when they were in high school and played football with him during their Bethel days. Gustafson later knew Duffett as campus pastor and is not at all surprised to learn that he was named president of Eastern. “My sense of Bob was he had leadership aspirations and skills. It is a great fit for him and great for Eastern,” says Gustafson. “It is exciting to have one of our alums and one I’ve known for so many years in that position.”
A native of Youngstown, Ohio, Duffett received a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology and Greek from Bethel in 1976. He then continued at Bethel Seminary, earning a Master of Divinity degree in 1980. He has a Master of Theological Studies degree in theology and communication from Princeton Theological Seminary and a Ph.D. in organizational theory/management and historical theology from the University of Iowa. He and his wife, Connie, have a son and a daughter, both in college.