Climbing ranks to lead N.Y.
Former Rochester mayor, police chief ignited career at RIT
March 25, 2011
by Will Dube
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After several years with the Rochester Police Department, then-Sgt. Robert Duffy decided to return to school to get a bachelor’s degree. Duffy, who had a full-time job and a young family, learned quickly the value of time management and flexibility.
“I had to make sure I set aside enough time for my school work even if that meant taking exams online at 3 a.m.,” Duffy says. “I wanted to expand my managerial and organizational skills and RIT was really the perfect program, allowing me to take courses in communication, criminal justice and business.”
Duffy ’93 (multidisciplinary studies) has continued to use his experiences at RIT in his professional career, ultimately serving as Rochester police chief before being elected mayor of Rochester in 2005 and lieutenant governor of New York in 2010.
This makes Duffy one of the highest-ranking RIT graduates in government and one of the first graduates to serve as a statewide elected official.
As a key member of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s leadership team, he is currently serving as an adviser on economic development and criminal justice issues and directing the state’s 10 regional councils, boards of experts designed to advise the governor on specific issues affecting local communities. In addition, he chaired the Cuomo transition team, helping to set up the new organizational structure and recommending individuals for key governmental appointments.
“I am incredibly honored to be serving with Gov. Cuomo and to be a part of his effort to create a better New York for all of its citizens,” Duffy says. “Through my past experiences as mayor and police chief I have first-hand knowledge of the economic, social and cultural challenges impacting our state and hope to use those experiences to make our government an agent for positive change.”
Duffy was selected by Cuomo to serve as his running mate and was officially nominated by the state Democratic Party in May 2010. “In making this decision I had two criteria: First, could the person serve as governor of the state of New York? Second, has the person demonstrated competence, performance and integrity throughout their career? Robert Duffy meets both of those standards resoundingly,” Cuomo says.
Through the years, Duffy has remained dedicated to RIT, serving as an adjunct professor in the Department of Criminal Justice and as a co-founder of the university’s Center for Public Safety Initiatives, a research collaboration with the Rochester Police Department, the Monroe County District Attorney’s Office and the U.S. Department of Justice.
“Bob Duffy’s understanding of real-world issues and life experience has been invaluable to our students and faculty,” says John Klofas, professor and former chairman of the Department of Criminal Justice and co-director of the Center for Public Safety Initiatives. “His commitment to giving of his time and resources is truly inspiring.”
Duffy says he originally decided to go back to school to become a better police officer. Today, his portfolio has expanded and he has the opportunity to impact the lives of millions of people. The education he received at RIT continues to impact his decisions.
“At RIT I did not get a degree, I got an education and continue to use what I learned every day in both my personal and professional life,” he says. “Higher education really is a central component of creating well-rounded citizens and communities, and in my current role I am committed to assisting everyone in getting the same opportunity I had.”