Durkee to step down from public affairs role, remain as VP and secretary

Robert K. Durkee, Princeton University’s vice president for public affairs since 1978, will step down from that role next fall while remaining in the position of vice president and secretary that he has held since 2004.

“Under Princeton’s bylaws, the vice president for public affairs is empowered to speak for the University, and it has been a great privilege to be able to do that for these past 39 years,” Durkee said. “But when I took on the role of vice president and secretary 13 years ago, it was with the understanding that at some point I would be able to step down from the public affairs position and scale back to holding only one job.”

As vice president for public affairs, Durkee has overseen the offices of Communications, Government Affairs (headquartered in Washington, D.C.), Community and Regional Affairs, and Public Affairs, which focuses primarily on state-related issues. He also had responsibility for the Office of Alumni Affairs until the fall of 2016 when oversight of that office was transferred to the newly created position of vice president for advancement.

“I am proud of the work of all of these offices, and I am pleased to have been able to work closely with each of them over these past four decades,” Durkee said. “One of the many virtues of Princeton’s relatively small size and centralized administrative structure is that even the most senior officers are able to work directly with the offices they oversee.”

The position of secretary of the University is one of only four positions specifically required by the University’s charter, with the other three being president, treasurer, and clerk of the board of trustees. As vice president and secretary, Durkee serves as a senior advisor to the president; has administrative responsibility for the work of the board; oversees the official convocations of the University; and has “custody of the charter of the University and of the minute books and papers relating to the records of the University.”

President Christopher L. Eisgruber will lead a national search for a vice president of communications and public affairs who will oversee the same offices that Durkee has supervised in his public affairs role.