Checking In With Dr. Duffett

After nearly an entire year since his inauguration, President Robert Duffett reflected on how it is adjusting to life here at Eastern. With a soft smile, he remarked that he finds the adjustments largely enjoyable. He had known about Eastern long before he had ever thought he’d be president here, so our name and our mission was not unfamiliar to him. Deeply involved with the American Baptist tradition, Duffett also found Eastern to be a good place to be, especially, he added, with its fantastic students and faculty.

When asked about the challenges associated with the adjustments he had to make when he got here, Duffett remarked that finding out “where we’re going to go intellectually and institutionally” has particularly been a challenge, which, of course, is not to say that he dreads doing it. Tied up with the challenges of intellectual and institutional visions, Duffett also mentioned that this process has involved the hiring of new administrators and painstaking fundraising. Fundraising, Duffett reflected, “is a really humble game.” One cannot just ask and expect others to give money; it involves learning to take “no” for an answer sometimes. Regarding financial difficulties, Duffett pointed out that Eastern is no different a place than other universities throughout the United States. Many universities face financial troubles in today’s economy, says Duffett.

President Duffett insisted that he is “committed to making [the Master Plan] happen.” What makes Eastern unique from other universities, according to Duffett, is that we “claim a vision higher than most other colleges.” When a community holds God as their guide, Duffett opined, our goals will understandably be lofty, and many times we may fail to reach those goals, simply because we are human. Duffett plans on being at Eastern for a long time, sticking in there when the road gets tough.

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