By his own account, Duane Litfin ’66 never tried to develop a career path or climb a career ladder. Yet he is a member of a very select group of individuals. Dr. Litfin was the seventh president of Wheaton College, the 146- year-old Christian liberal arts college located in Wheaton, Illinois. That he was invited to be the President of this esteemed institution is a testimony to his faithfulness to God’s plan for his life.
Dr. Litfin was raised in Michigan and enrolled at PBU (then PCB) because his pastor, David Allen, and his sons had attended here. Within a few days of his arrival, Dr. Litfin met Sharon Feiser and fell in love. They were married in the summer between Dr. Litfin’s junior and senior years. Dr. Litfin knew that attending seminary was his next step, so he enrolled at Dallas Theological Seminary after earning a B.S. in Bible from PBU. During his four years of study at DTS, Litfin focused on academics—not thinking he would ever step into a pastorate. (Dr. Litfin had studied introductory Greek with a very tough teacher, Miss Mae Stewart, and was pleased to discover that he was well prepared for seminary.) He earned a Th.M. degree in 1970 and went straight into a doctoral program at Purdue University, earning a Ph.D. in Communication in 1974. Quite to his surprise, while finishing these studies, he was called to serve a small rural church in Indiana and discovered that he enjoyed the pastorate.
Litfin later spent a decade as an Associate Professor at Dallas Theological Seminary. During that period, using sabbatical and study-leave years, he went on to earn a D.Phil. in New Testament from Oxford University. He then served as Senior Pastor of the First Evangelical Church in Memphis, Tennessee. In that role, Dr. Litfin had direct oversight of a large budget and staff, learned how to shepherd a major suburban church, and work with a board. His strong academic credentials, coupled with his administrative, pastoral, and communicational experience, led Wheaton’s Board of Trustees to call him to the presidency of one of the nation’s premier institutions of Christian higher education. His roles as teacher, writer, pastor, and adminis¬trator had served as preparation for this opportunity.