In Memoriam: Joseph Duffey

Joseph Duffey
Joseph Duffey

Joseph Duffey, chancellor of the University of Massachusetts Amherst from 1982 to 1991, died on Thursday, Feb. 25 in Washington D.C.

In his time as chancellor, Duffey was known for brining international guests to campus, the implementation of a general education curriculum and his compassionate leadership during tumultuous political times. He spent over a year working simultaneously as UMass Amherst chancellor and as president of the University of Massachusetts system.

After leaving UMass, Duffey served as chancellor of American University in Washington D.C. and was then tapped in 1993 by President Bill Clinton to serve as director of the United States Information Agency, which promoted American policy abroad.

A civil rights and anti-Vietnam War activist, he was heavily involved in politics in the 1970s, including running for Senate in Connecticut and leading Jimmy Carter’s Washington campaign office.  After that, he was named to a State Department position as assistant secretary for educational and cultural affairs. He went on to become chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities in 1977.

Duffey was born on July 1, 1932 in Huntington, W. Va. and was raised in the Baptist church, where he later became on ordained Congregational minister. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Marshall University in Huntington; a bachelor of divinity degree from the Andover Newton Seminary at Yale Divinity School; a master’s from Yale Divinity School; and a doctorate from the Hartford Seminary in Connecticut in 1969.

His wife, Anne Wexler, died in 2009, and a son from his first marriage, David Duffey, died in 2019.

He is survived by partner, Marian Burros; a son from his first marriage, Michael Duffey; two stepsons, Daniel and David Wexler; two sisters; and four grandchildren.

Read more on Joseph Duffey on The New York Times, The Washington Post and Hampshire Gazette websites.