Robert Duncan, new research vice chancellor, welcomed to MU

A reception was held Wednesday to welcome Robert Duncan.
Robert Duncan, newly appointed vice chancellor for research, gives an introductory speech on Wednesday in the Jesse Hall rotunda. Appearing at a reception with Chancellor Brady Deaton and Provost Brian Foster, Duncan outlined his goals for expanding the research program at MU.

The new vice chancellor for research was welcomed to campus Wednesday with a reception in Jesse Hall.

A crowd of about 100 people, consisting mostly of faculty and staff members, turned out to greet Robert Duncan and listen to short speeches from Provost Brian Foster, Columbia Chamber of Commerce Chairman Larry Moore, Chancellor Brady Deaton and Duncan himself.

"There's an ongoing change going on here at the university and Rob (Duncan) is a part of that," Deaton said.

Duncan, who grew up in St. Joseph, said his appointment has been a homecoming of sorts.

"There are two reasons I came here to Missouri," Duncan said. "The first is personal because I have family throughout the state. The second is professional. The University of Missouri is in a position to advance very rapidly over the course of the next few years."

As vice chancellor for research, Duncan will take the reigns of a nearly $200 million program, with $110 million of that money coming from federal grants. Duncan said the program has an overall economic impact of $440 million on the university.

"Research strengthens our primary education programs," Duncan said. "I have one very strong goal for my first semester here and that is to keep the university's research program in the position it enjoys today."

Four months ago, Duncan was balancing his roles at the University of New Mexico as the director of its Consortium Institute for Advanced Students at Los Alamos labs and as a professor of physics and astronomy when he received a call from Foster about an open position at MU.

"We worked together for a little at the University of New Mexico. He has an IQ of about 4,000 I think," Foster said during his speech on Wednesday. "Dr. Duncan has the ability to work with a variety of different academic disciplines. There's hardly a major decision made in this university that Rob (Duncan) will not have a voice in."

Columbia's Chamber of Commerce, which sponsored Duncan's reception, also helped to hire Duncan.

"We're really excited about the chamber's relationship with the University of Misosuri and we think adding Rob is a big step," Moore said. "We are very impressed with his knowledge of economics and many other things."

At the reception, Duncan also introduced his wife, Annie Duncan, who is a physician, doctor of aerospace medicine and retired major general in the National Guard.

Duncan said he also has an active life outside of the university.

"I'm an ultra-marathon runner," Duncan said. "It's a 100-mile race, but at a very slow and steady pace."

Duncan's first day was Aug. 17, and though he's still getting acquainted with the campus and staff, he also said he's ready to get to work.

"This is really a dream come true to come here and connect with family," Duncan said. "I'm excited to serve this community and to begin to create opportunity and value here."

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