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DWU President

President Robert G. Duffett

Robert G. Duffett has been the president of Dakota Wesleyan University since July 2000.

Bob hit the ground running at DWU and, 12 years later, has many notable accomplishments. Among them:

  • Received the two largest gifts in the university’s history, two gifts of $5 million each. These gifts are responsible for creating the Glenda K. Corrigan Health Sciences Center, which broke ground in fall, 2011, and will be open in fall, 2013.
  • Led four major renovation projects on campus – the nursing department, Allen Hall and Dayton Hall dormitories and Wagner Chapel – and five major building projects: the Sherman Center, student apartments, McGovern Library, Jackson Plaza, and now the Glenda K. Corrigan Center for Health Sciences which will be complete in fall 2013.   
  • Initiated new academic centers of excellence: the Kelley Center for Entrepreneurship, the McGovern Center for Leadership and Public Service and the Center for Talent Development.
  • Established two new sites for nursing education, one in Huron and one in Sioux Falls.
  • Launched articulation agreements with Mitchell Technical Institute and Southeast Technical Institute.
  • Strengthened the university’s fiscal position.
  • Increased the academic profile of DWU students.
  • Led the campus community through a comprehensive strategic planning process which resulted in reorganizing the university into three colleges: the College of Arts and Humanities, the College of Leadership and Public Service, and the Donna Starr Christen College of Healthcare, Fitness and Sciences.

Bob is a prolific writer, and in his time at Wesleyan, he has written scholarly articles and opinion pieces that have run in newspapers throughout South Dakota. Topics include:

  • The G.I. Bill of Rights.
  • “The Faith of Our Founding Fathers” – a series of articles that examines the faith of our Founding Fathers of our nation and how it shaped the country and the constitution we now have.
  • The benefits of a university to a community’s economic and cultural success.
  • The importance of higher education.

About a month after arriving at DWU, Bob experienced his first catastrophe – a “microburst,” similar to a tornado, which caused much damage on campus, including blowing the roof off the Christen Family Recreation/Wellness Center and the physical plant office. In true Wesleyan spirit, the Mitchell community and the campus community banded together to clean up debris and fallen trees and rebuild the damaged buildings.

During his first few years at Wesleyan, Bob found himself taking a leadership role among the private colleges in South Dakota as they worked with the state legislature on funding for student scholarships. Bob maintained that Regents Scholarships for South Dakota students should be available to any student meeting the criteria, regardless of whether they chose a public or private institution.

Then-Gov. Bill Janklow argued that it was an issue of church/state separation; Bob argued that the scholarships were for the students, not the institutions. Ultimately, the legislature voted to include all students, regardless of their institutional choice in South Dakota, in the Regents Scholarship.

Bob also researched and spoke on behalf of S.D. private institutions regarding the Dakota Corp Scholarship, and he was instrumental in passing the LEAP legislation, a need-based scholarship for South Dakotans.

A member of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, Bob served on the Student Aid Committee. He has also served as chairman of the Great Plains Athletic Conference presidents’ organization.

In 2011, Bob returned to the classroom to teach REL 315 American Religions. Here is his column for the alumni magazine, Wesleyan Today, about his experience. He so enjoyed the experience, he also taught REL 314 World Religions during spring semester 2012.

When Bob and his family – wife, Connie, daughter, Allison, and son, David – came to Mitchell, Allison and David were in elementary school. Now, David is in college in Florida and Allie is attending college in Pennsylvania. Connie has taken an increasingly active role in the life of the university and is now employed part time in the office of institutional advancement.

A native of Youngstown, Ohio, Bob received his Master of Theology degree from Princeton Theological Seminary. His Ph.D. degree, from the University of Iowa, focused on organizational theory/management and historical theology.

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Last updated: 12/5/12