Lewis M. Duncan

14th President (2004-14)

Lewis M. Duncan

Lewis Duncan served as 14th president of Rollins College from 2004 to 2014.

About Lewis M. Duncan

A former dean of the Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth College and provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at the University of Tulsa, he holds a doctorate in space physics from Rice University. In addition to his duties as president, Duncan continued to teach and conduct research in space plasma physics and radiophysics. He is an inaugural member of the board of directors of the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), responsible for managing the U.S. National Laboratory of the International Space Station.


Lewis M. Duncan was elected 14th president of Rollins College in 2004. In his 10-year tenure in the presidency, he maintained the College’s status as the top-ranking university in the South, as recognized for nine consecutive years by U.S. News & World Report, and oversaw its rise as a top producer of Fulbright Scholars and U.S. Fulbright Students among master’s institutions in The Chronicle of Higher Education. Overall enrollment in the College’s residential undergraduate program grew, with expanded international student enrollment and new programs. Rollins fundraising also set new records, and the College’s endowment and capital assets rose to $450 million.

Milestones of his presidency included the College’s two largest building projects: complete renovation and expansion of the Archibald Granville Bush Science Center and construction of The Alfond Inn, whose net profits are designated for scholarship endowment. Under Duncan’s leadership, Rollins received national recognition for community engagement, including the highest federal recognition for its commitment to community service, and designation as one of 30 schools internationally to be designated an Ashoka U Changemaker Campus for social entrepreneurship. Introduction of the Winter Park Institute and its highly regarded distinguished-speaker series raised the level of intellectual discourse on campus and in the community.

Duncan received his bachelor's degree in physics and mathematics and his master's and doctorate in space physics from Rice University. He is an internationally recognized scholar in the fields of space plasma physics, radar studies of the upper atmosphere, and satellite-based studies of the geospace environment. More recently, he has become a national speaker on STEM educational reform and applied liberal education.

Previously, Duncan served as dean and professor of engineering sciences at the Thayer School of Engineering of Dartmouth College. He regularly taught a first-year seminar, “Technology and the Future of Human Society,” and was awarded an honorary Master of Arts degree and selected by the Dartmouth faculty for the honor of presenting the “Class of 2004” lecture to all entering Dartmouth first-year students. Administratively, he established the Institute for Security Technology Studies, the Institute for Information Infrastructure Protection, and the MacLean Engineering Sciences Center. He also is a founding director of “Angeli Parvi,” a highly successful early-stage technology venture capital nonprofit corporation supporting faculty and student innovation.

He formerly held a progression of administrative positions at academic and national laboratory research institutions. He served as provost and senior vice president, acting president, and dean of engineering and applied sciences at the University of Tulsa. Earlier, he served as professor of physics and associate dean for research at Clemson University’s College of Sciences, also chairing the University’s intellectual property rights committee and serving as founding director of the South Carolina Space Grant consortium. He was selected a Carnegie Science Fellow at Stanford University’s Center for International Security and Arms Control.

Duncan began his professional career working as a research scientist and then as section head at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in the divisions of atmospheric sciences, physics, and earth and space sciences. Among his accomplishments, he served as chief scientist for the design of a radiofrequency sensor for nuclear non-proliferation treaty verification now deployed on all GPS satellites, and was selected as a principal investigator in the DOE/NASA Solar Power Satellite program and the NASA Combined Release and Radiation Effects Satellite program. In 1977, he was awarded an NSF Postdoctoral Fellowship, and in 1987, he was selected a Carnegie Science Fellow at Stanford University’s Center for International Security and Arms Control. During his career, he has been principal investigator for more than $8.8 million of competitively awarded research grants from government, foundations and industry.

He is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Sigma Xi, Tau Beta Pi, and Phi Kappa Phi. Among his past honors is the Naval Research Laboratory’s Alan Berman Award. Duncan serves as interim chair of the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), responsible for managing the U.S. National Laboratory of the International Space Station. He also serves on the American Council on Education’s Commission for Internationalization and Global Engagement, the American Association of Colleges and Universities’ President’s Trust promoting “Liberal Education and America’s Promise,” and the editorial board of International Educator.


Look back at the accomplishments of Lewis Duncan's decade of service and commitment to Rollins College.


125th Anniversary Convocation Address, 2010

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“Liberal Education and Social Responsibility in a Global Community,” Opening Remarks, Rollins College Colloquy, 2007

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“The Song of My Soul,” Installation Address, 2005

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Convocation Address, 2004

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“Lost in Space”

Rollins360, Summer 2013
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“A President for the Cyborg Generation”

The Chronicle of Higher Education, October 29, 2012
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“The Next 125 Years”

Rollins magazine, Spring 2011
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“Illuminating a New Vision for Liberal Education“

Rollins Alumni Record, Fall 2006 
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“Lewis Duncan Launches New Era at Rollins”

Rollins Alumni Record, Fall 2004 
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Office of the President
Rollins College
1000 Holt Ave. – 2711