Joseph Duffey


Joseph Duffey
Joseph Duffey, State Magazine 1997-06- Iss 406 (IA sim state-magazine 1997-06 406) (page 6 crop).jpg
Duffey c. 1997
14th Director of the United States Information Agency
In office
PresidentBill Clinton
Succeeded byPosition abolished
12th President of American University
In office
Preceded byRichard E. Berendzen
Succeeded byBenjamin Ladner
President of the University of Massachusetts
In office
Preceded byLoren Baritz (interim)
Succeeded byRichard D. O'Brien
Chancellor of the University of Massachusetts Amherst
In office
Chair of the National Endowment for the Humanities
In office
PresidentJimmy Carter
Ronald Reagan
Preceded byRobert Kingston (acting)
Succeeded byWilliam Bennett
Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs
In office
PresidentJimmy Carter
Preceded byJohn Richardson Jr.
Succeeded byAlice Stone Ilchman
Personal details
Joseph Daniel Duffey

(1932-07-01)July 1, 1932
Huntington, West Virginia, U.S.
DiedFebruary 25, 2021(2021-02-25) (aged 88)
Washington, D.C., U.S.
Patricia Fortney
(m. 1952, divorced)

(m. 1974; died 2009)
EducationMarshall University (BA)
Andover Theological School (BDiv)
Yale University (MTh)
Hartford Seminary (PhD)

Joseph Daniel Duffey (July 1, 1932 – February 25, 2021) was an American academic, educator, anti-war activist and political appointee. He was the Democratic Party's candidate in the 1970 U.S. Senate election in Connecticut, losing to Republican Lowell Weicker. He later served as the Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs; the chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities; the director of the U.S. Information Agency; and the president or chancellor of the University of Massachusetts Amherst, the University of Massachusetts system and American University.

Early life and education

Duffey was born in Huntington, West Virginia, on July 1, 1932.[1] His father initially worked as a coal miner, but became a barber after losing a leg in an accident. His mother died when he was thirteen.[2] Duffey was the first person in his family to study past grade four.[3] He obtained a bachelor's degree from Marshall University in 1954. He went on to earn a B.D. from Andover Theological School (now part of Yale Divinity School) in 1957, an S.T.M. from Yale University in 1963 and a Ph.D. from Hartford Seminary Foundation in 1969.[2]


From 1960 to 1970, Duffey was an assistant professor and then acting dean and associate professor at Hartford Seminary. He was also founder and director of the Center for Urban Studies there.[4]

1970 election

Duffey ran for the U.S. Senate in 1970 as a prominent anti-Vietnam War candidate; he had just turned 35 years old. The campaign became notable because several of Duffey's young supporters went on to prominent careers in Democratic politics, including future president Bill Clinton, a Yale Law School student at the time.[5]

The incumbent in that race, Thomas J. Dodd, was the father of future Connecticut Senator Christopher Dodd. Dodd, who had been censured by the Senate for corruption, was not re-nominated by the Democratic Party. Instead, Duffey joined Stamford businessman Alphonsus J. (Al) Donahue, State Senate President Edward Marcus, and former congressman Donald J. Irwin[6] in a race to win the party endorsement. Donahue won the Democratic convention, but Duffey went on to win the primary. He finished second in a three-way general election race to Lowell Weicker, with Senator Dodd running as an independent. Some of these events were captured in a documentary, Dissent of the Governed.[7]

Anne Wexler ran Duffey's 1970 campaign. They subsequently married in September 1974, after they had both divorced their respective spouses.[8]


Duffey was a fellow at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government in 1971. He went on to serve as an adjunct professor at Yale University and a fellow at Calhoun College from 1971 to 1973. During this time, he worked for the George McGovern 1972 presidential campaign.[4] From 1974 to 1976, he acted as the chief administrative officer and spokesman for the American Association of University Professors.[9][10] He worked on the Carter–Mondale transition team between 1976 and 1977, and was Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs in 1977 and 1978.[2][3] Duffey was unsatisfied in the latter role, and was reportedly unenthusiastic about being nominated to the National Endowment for the Humanities.[4]

Duffey was appointed chairman of the NEH in August 1977, after an impasse that lasted for half a year.[3] He served in that capacity until 1982, when he became chancellor of the University of Massachusetts Amherst.[11] The position of president of the entire University of Massachusetts system was added to his responsibilities in 1990.[12] One year later, he acted as joint head of the American delegation of election observers in Ethiopia.[13] He was named as president of American University in 1991 and served for two years.[11]

Duffey became the final director of the United States Information Agency in 1993.[2] He held the position until June 30, 1999, shortly before USIA was incorporated into the State Department on October 1 of that year.[14] He subsequently joined Laureate Education as senior vice president in 1999. There, he was responsible for education and academic quality and coordinated the development of Laureate International Universities network programs and partnerships worldwide.[15]


Duffey was conferred 14 honorary degrees from American colleges and universities. He was named Commander of the Order of the Crown by the King of Belgium in 1980. Thirteen years later, he was granted an honorary Doctor of Letters by Ritsumeikan University in Japan. He was a member of the Council on Foreign Relations from 1979 until his death.[13]

Personal life

Duffey married his first wife, Patricia Fortney, in 1952, when he was 19 years old. They had met at a Baptist church youth convention. Together, they had two children: David (who predeceased him in 2019) and Michael. They divorced after the Senate election in 1970.[2] His second wife, Anne Wexler (1930–2009), was a political advisor and lobbyist. She also had two sons from her previous marriage. She died of cancer on August 7, 2009 at age 79.[8]

Duffey died on February 25, 2021, at a retirement community in Washington, D.C.[2] He was 88, and was ill in the time leading up to his death.[11]

Selected works

  • Remarks on the Humanities (1977)[16]
  • "The American Century and Its Discontents, Chapter Four of "At the End of the American Century (1998) ISBN 9780801859168
  • Foreword, The Pakistan Cauldron by James P. Farwell (2011) ISBN 9781597979832


  1. ^ "Educator, activist Joseph Duffey dies". Retrieved March 3, 2021.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Smith, Harrison (February 27, 2021). "Joseph Duffey, educator and antiwar activist behind influential Senate campaign, dies at 88". The Washington Post. Retrieved March 2, 2021.
  3. ^ a b c Tuck, Lon (August 2, 1977). "Carter's Man Takes on Humanities". The Washington Post. Retrieved March 2, 2021.
  4. ^ a b c Hoover, Dwight W. (1992). Middletown: The Making of a Documentary Film Series. Taylor & Francis. p. 37. ISBN 9783718605439.
  5. ^ "Rekindling Memories Of Clinton, 1970 Senate Campaign", The Hartford Courant, January 18, 1993.
  6. ^ "Democrats Meet in Connecticut". The New York Times. June 27, 1970. Retrieved March 1, 2021.
  7. ^ "Dissent Of The Governed". Retrieved March 3, 2021 – via Internet Archive.
  8. ^ a b Martin, Douglas. "Anne Wexler, an Influential Political Operative and Lobbyist, Is Dead at 79", The New York Times, August 8, 2009. Accessed August 8, 2009.
  9. ^ "General Secretaries of the Association". American Association of University Professors. Retrieved March 1, 2021.
  10. ^ "Death of Joseph Duffey". American Association of University Professors. March 1, 2021. Retrieved March 1, 2021.
  11. ^ a b c Altimari, Daniela (February 26, 2021). "Joe Duffey, who inspired liberals during his 1970 anti-war campaign for U.S. Senate in Connecticut, dies at 88". Hartford Courant. Retrieved March 2, 2021.
  12. ^ [1] University of Massachusetts Amherst website
  13. ^ a b Departments of Commerce, Justice, and State, the Judiciary, and Related Agencies Appropriations for 1996: Hearings Before a Subcommittee of the Committee on Appropriations, House of Representatives, One Hundred Fourth Congress, First Session. Vol. 8. United States Government Publishing Office. 1995.
  14. ^ "Directors of the U.S. Information Agency" Office of The Historian website
  15. ^ Honan, William H. (January 20, 1999). "Sylvan Plans Overseas College Network". The New York Times. Retrieved March 1, 2021.
  16. ^ Occasional Paper, Issues 1–5. National Endowment for the Humanities. 1969.

External links

Party political offices
Preceded by Democratic Party nominee for United States Senator from Connecticut
(Class 1)

Succeeded by
Government offices
Preceded by Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs
April 8, 1977 – March 21, 1978
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Ronald Berman
Chairperson of the National Endowment for the Humanities
Succeeded by
Academic offices
Preceded by President, American University
Succeeded by