Index of Memorial Resolutions and Biographical Sketches

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Dr. James Paul Duncan died on June 9, 2009, after a brief illness. His passing marked the completion of a long and multi-faceted career with The University of Texas at Austin and The University of Texas System that spanned almost four decades.

Jim was born January 19, 1937, in St. Charles, Virginia, to Mable and Paul Duncan. His collegiate career resulted in the completion of three degrees awarded by Indiana University: bachelor of arts and masters of science degrees in sociology followed by a doctoral degree in higher education administration. After serving as an officer in the United States Army, Jim worked in teaching, counseling, and administrative positions at Indiana University and Oregon State University during the 1960s.

In 1970, Jim began his long, productive association with UT when he was appointed dean of students and associate professor in the Department of Educational Administration. He later served as vice president for student affairs from 1976 to 1979. His administrative career at UT System began in 1979 and was highlighted by his appointment as executive vice chancellor for academic affairs in 1983. Jim held that position until 1997 when he retired from administrative work. He continued as a faculty member and was designated the Ashbel Smith Professor of Educational Administration. He retired from the University in 2006.

A memorial tribute to Jim was held July 16, 2009, in the Connelly Room of the Ex Students Association. The gathering of colleagues, former students, associates, and friends was planned, thoughtfully and lovingly, by Nancy, his wife of almost fifty years, and their children: Kim, Mary, and Brad. As people arrived at the memorial, there was ample time for those assembling to greet each other, talk with family members, and engage in remembrances of things past. In some cases, the stories told were based on vivid memories, while others were impaired at least in part by the fog of time. The scene was one which Jim would have thoroughly enjoyed.

When the time came, Nancy asked the group to be seated and welcomed all to the celebration of Jim’s life. After brief and poignant remarks, she indicated that several individuals were present to talk about Jim as they knew him. Of the speakers, three clearly represented each of the key chapters of Jim’s professional career with The University of Texas: his years as a student affairs administrator (1970-79); a senior administrator at the UT System (1979-1997); and as a teacher and professor (1971-2009).

The early years were represented by Dr. Ira Iscoe, professor of psychology emeritus and founding director of The University of Texas Counseling and Psychological Center. Widely acknowledged as one of the most competent and colorful citizens of the University community, Ira harbors no reluctance to hold administrators to account. As fate would have it, he and Jim worked closely together to establish one of the nation’s first comprehensive counseling centers for students on the campus of a major university. And in this process, Jim succeeded in convincing Ira to become an administrator himself. In his remarks, Ira recounted that the relationship between the two of them, though not without its challenges, was productive and successful. Together they accomplished a monumental task and maintained a close friendship throughout their careers.

Jim’s years at the UT System were addressed by Dr. Hans Mark who served as the system chancellor from 1984 to 1992. In his reflections, Dr. Mark recounted various episodes in which he and Jim confronted the turbulent environment of state-wide higher education governance and challenging dilemmas involving both the legislative and executive branches of the State of Texas. Chancellor Mark stated unequivocally that after his arrival in Austin he learned very quickly to seek Jim’s counsel and depend on his advice.

Jim’s academic career at UT Austin began in 1970 when he joined the faculty of the Department of Educational Administration. Appointed initially as an associate professor, he progressed to full professor, Ashbel Smith Professor of Educational Administration, and professor emeritus. To represent this aspect of Jim’s career, the Duncan family selected Dr. Charlotte Sullivan. Charlotte, who received her Ph.D. in higher education administration, worked closely with Jim who was chair of her dissertation committee. She recounted his gift as a mentor and teacher. According to students, Jim had an uncanny ability to touch their lives, often going out of his way to help them succeed and complete their degrees. Particularly when he returned to full time teaching in 1997, he provided an invaluable benefit to students as he shared his knowledge with the next generation of university administrators.

Jim will be missed by his beloved family, former students, colleagues, and friends. He will also be long-remembered and appreciated for his compassion, understanding, and desire to help others achieve their goals.


William Powers Jr., President
The University of Texas at Austin


Sue Alexander Greninger, Secretary
The General Faculty

This memorial resolution was prepared by a special committee consisting of Professors Edwin R. Sharpe, V.R. Cardozier, and William F. Lasher.