Joseph D. Duffey has the unique distinction of having served as both Chancellor of the Amherst campus and President of the University of Massachusetts system simultaneously. He held both positions from March, 1990 through July, 1991.
Duffey came to the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 1982 from the National Endowment for the Humanities, which he chaired from 1977-1981. Before chairing NEH, Duffey served briefly in the U.S. State Department as the assistant secretary of state for education and cultural affairs.
During his tenure as Chancellor, Duffey was credited with improving the image of the University. A new general education curriculum was implemented. He believed that the goal of education was benefitting global civilization and contributing to the formation of new values. In 1986, an effort known as "Mass Transformation" involved some 4,000 members of the campus community in renovating 23 floors of the University library. The Campus Chronicle began publication during his tenure.
Duffey earned his B.A. degree from Marshall University in West Virginia, and later became an ordained Congregationalist minister before earning his doctoral degree from Hartford Seminary Foundation in 1969. During his academic and professional career, he was awarded at least 13 honorary degrees from universities across the country.