Professorship
Monday, December 15, 2014

Irene and William McCutchen Duke University alumni William McCutchen Jr. and his wife, Irene Lilly McCutchen, have committed $1.5 million to endow a professorship at Duke Divinity School, President Richard H. Brodhead announced Monday.

The gift will fund the Irene and William McCutchen Professorship, to be held by the director of the Center for Reconciliation (CFR). The professorship will provide financial stability and a foundation for future growth of the CFR, which was founded in 2005 to support faith leaders who work toward reconciliation in the United States and abroad.

“Over the past several decades, Bill and Renie McCutchen have generously given their time, expertise, and philanthropic support across the university,” Brodhead said. “We’re grateful for this thoughtful gift, which will enhance the ability of students and faculty in the Divinity School to carry out meaningful work in communities in need around the world.”

Richard B. Hays, dean of the Duke Divinity School, said he was “enthusiastic about the future that this gift will enable.”

“Renie and Bill’s gift to establish this professorship assures the long-term continuation of the work of the Center for Reconciliation,” Hays said. “For nearly 10 years the center has tied the academic and formational work of the Divinity School with the work of reconciling communities in the United States, Africa, and Asia.”

The CFR has worked with partners to create the Great Lakes Initiative in East Africa, a reconciliation resource for leaders in eight countries including Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, and Rwanda. A new initiative in northeast Asia is underway. The CFR also leads the Pilgrimages of Pain and Hope, a program that provides hands-on training for divinity students in U.S. and international communities working toward reconciliation.

The gift will help advance Duke Forward, the seven-year, university-wide fundraising campaign that aims to raise $3.25 billion by June 30, 2017. Every dollar donated to Duke's 10 schools and units, Duke Medicine or university programs and initiatives counts toward the campaign.

The McCutchens have a long history of giving to Duke, with commitments during Duke Forward that exceed $5 million. Their gifts established the Reconciliation Scholarship Fund and other financial aid for Divinity School students in 2012, and provided operational support for CFR. They have also designated Annual Fund gifts to the Divinity School, Pratt School of Engineering, Trinity College, and Duke Libraries.

“We have been blessed by our involvement with the center for the last decade, and we believe its work is vital in the United States and around the world,” Irene McCutchen said. “From our own personal experience we are convinced that, working with the exceptional theological education and ministerial training offered by Duke Divinity School, the CFR offers both superb preparation for ordained and other ministries and hope for people seeking reconciliation within a Christian framework. We are delighted to be able to ensure the long-term future of the Center for Reconciliation within the Divinity School.”

William McCutchen Jr. earned a bachelor's degree from Duke in engineering in 1962, an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School and a Ph.D. from Indiana University. He recently retired as a professor of management at the Zicklin School of Business, Baruch College, City University of New York, where he specialized in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries. Prior to his teaching career, he worked at Eli Lilly and Company for 16 years where he was director of corporate communications, managing director in Australia and New Zealand, and director of national sales with Elizabeth Arden (a subsidiary of Lilly).

Irene Lilly McCutchen earned a bachelor’s degree from the Woman’s College at Duke University in 1962 and has been active in a variety of nonprofit organizations. 

The couple was awarded the 2014 Charles A. Dukes Award for Outstanding Volunteer Service from the Duke Alumni Association. William currently co-chairs the Duke Forward campaign committee for the Divinity School, and Irene was a founding member of the CFR board, where she served from 2006 to 2014. They are former members of the Board of Visitors for the Divinity School. William served on the Board of Visitors for the Pratt School of Engineering and Irene served on the Board of Visitors for Duke Libraries.

The McCutchens currently reside in Westport, Connecticut. Their son, William W. McCutchen III, earned an undergraduate degree from Duke in 1986 and an M.B.A./J.D. in 1990.