UIU inaugurates William R. Duffy II as 21st president

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UIU inaugurates William R. Duffy II as 21st president


Some 900 students, alumni, faculty, staff, community members and guests filled the stands at Upper Iowa University’s Harms-Eischeid Stadium Friday morning for the formal inauguration and investiture of William R. Duffy II, Ed.D., Ed.S., as the university’s 21st president.

Duffy was selected in April by the UIU Board of Trustees following a nationwide search to replace Alan G. Walker, who decided not to return to UIU following a sabbatical. 

Duffy, who had a 20-year career in the U.S. Army, retiring as a lieutenant colonel, came to UIU four years ago as the senior vice president for Academic Extension (AE). AE is the network of 19 off-campus education centers in the United States and the Center for Distance Education, which includes online and self-paced education programs. Previously he had been with the University of Tennessee at Martin for 12 years.

With a backdrop of 28 international flags whipping in the wind – one for each nation with students at Upper Iowa University, Duffy received his symbols of office from UIU Board Chair Bob Firth and Faculty Chair Angie Leete and heard from representatives of students, alumni, the community, and faculty about the work that needs to be continued by the UIU president. He was introduced by his former “boss,” Chancellor Emerita Margaret Perry of UT-Martin.

During his inauguration, Duffy and others frequently referenced the inauguration theme he had selected: “Changing Lives One Student at a Time…UIU First — People Always.” 

“We must look closely at the culture of our university.  We must invest in our people, their development and their future success,” Duffy said. “Likewise, our team members, who have been entrusted to educate, provide services, care for, and develop our students, must be fiercely passionate about the success of our students and the success of Upper Iowa University. As we begin this journey together, my focus, first and foremost, will be on our people.

“We are very fortunate and extremely privileged to be in a profession that provides an essential service to better our society,” Duffy added. “When we are successful, we enhance the lives of individuals and, ultimately, positively impact the economic development and vitality of the communities we serve.  Each one of us at UIU has opportunities every day to impact the success and welfare of students and alumni that we serve.”

Citing the founding of UIU in 1857 by Elizabeth Alexander, Duffy said that a commitment to changing lives is how Upper Iowa University began, although Alexander probably did not envision the impact her college would have on tens of thousands of lives. 

“I have no doubt that Elizabeth Alexander never intended nor even dreamt to have a global impact; she simply wanted to change the lives of her granddaughters,” he added.

Telling stories of alumni over the years, Duffy said that those stories of individuals who had their lives changed by UIU contribute to his vision for UIU “and that vision is for us to become the institution of choice, not just because of our academic quality and our outstanding student services, but also because of the way we care about people.

“I have always found it honorable, and at the end of the day, most fruitful to be part of the solution, place the institution first, and remember that, first and foremost, we need to value our Peacock family while changing lives one student at a time.  And as president, I understand that this begins with me,” Duffy stated. “My commitment to all of you is that I will stay the course; I will always do what is in the best interest of our university. I will do everything in my power to ensure obstacles are removed to enable you to achieve your goals, both professionally and personally.”

Duffy concluded, “I encourage each and every one of you to turn the page and join with me as we write a new chapter in our UIU story.  Let us act in unison for everything that ensures the best interests of our beloved university.”

Brigadier General Jennifer Walter, chief of staff for the Iowa Air National Guard and a 1989 graduate of UIU, was scheduled to be the keynote speaker at the event. However, she was unable to attend due to the government shutdown.


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