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Republican National Committee Chair has Whitley County Connection

WILLIAMSBURG, Ky. — While Kentuckians, along with the rest of the country, have watched the activities at the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis, Minn., many have realized that the 60th Chairman of the National Republican Committee, Robert M. (Mike) Duncan, is also a Kentuckian. However many area residents may not be aware that he is also a 1971 graduate of University of the Cumberlands. After receiving his bachelor’s degree at UC (then Cumberland College), Duncan graduated from the University of Kentucky School of Law in 1974, along with his wife, Joanne. The Duncans are the principal owners of two Southeastern Ky. banks, with five branches. Duncan serves as president of Inez Deposit Bank in Inez, Ky., and he has served as president of the Kentucky Bankers Association and as the director of the Cincinnati branch of Cleveland Federal Reserve Bank.

As an advisor and worker for numerous Republican candidates at the local, state, and national levels, Duncan has had an impact on America’s political landscape throughout his life. He served as a delegate to six national conventions and as a member of four standing convention committees. He has served on the campaigns of five Presidents: Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush. Prior to being elected chairman in 2007, Duncan had also served as treasurer and general counsel to the RNC.

In 1989-91, Duncan took a sabbatical from his banking career and worked as the assistant director of Public Liaison in the George H. W. Bush White House Not only serving at the national level but also at the state level, Duncan has supported and worked as a fundraiser for Senator Mitch McConnell, and in 1998, he again took a leave of absence and served as campaign chairman of Senator Jim Bunning’s successful U.S. Senate race.

Duncan has been and continues to be active in a number of nonprofit and professional organizations, including his serving on the boards of several educational institutions and the Christian Appalachian Project, which is one of the largest private social services agencies in the country, and he has chaired Somerset’s Center for Rural Development. Because of his love of education, Duncan is former chairman and current director of the Kentucky Governor’s Scholars Program and has been involved for more than 26 years in a student mentoring program that has been featured in the Los Angeles Times and on CBS’s news program, Sunday Morning. In 2001, President George W. Bush appointed him to the President’s Commission on White House Fellows. Nominated by Bush for a position on the Tennessee Valley Authority Board, he was confirmed unanimously by the U.S. Senate in March 2006. Because of his outstanding accomplishments, the College of the Ozarks and University of the Cumberlands, both of which are noted for their emphasis on service learning, have presented Duncan with honorary doctorate degrees.

When asked about his thoughts concerning Duncan’s reaching such national distinction, Dr. Jim Taylor, president of University of the Cumberlands, responded, “We certainly are proud of alumnus Mike Duncan because of his vast political accomplishments as well as his leadership and service in so many areas. At Cumberlands, our goal is to educate individuals for lives of responsible service and leadership. Mike is one of many alumni who exemplify such a life. Mike, a 1971 graduate, recently has been in the political spotlight as he leads the National Republican Party. We are proud of Mike’s accomplishments on the Republican front just as we are proud of the many accomplishments of the late Governor Bert T. Combs, a member of the Democratic Party, who served Kentucky so admirably. In fact, Cumberlands counts among its graduates two governors (one Democrat and one Republican) of Kentucky, several admirals, generals, legislators and judges, not to mention hundreds of doctors, lawyers, pharmacists, therapists, educators, administrators, business executives, and the list goes on. At UC, we are the “Patriots,” and that name is attributed not only to our sports teams but also to the attitude and mind-set of our alumni. Whether Republican or Democrat, UC alumni believe in America and are willing to use their God-given talents do their part to promote, defend and serve this great nation.”