Skip to content

2023 - Journey of Service

Tags: Board of Trustees
Published 06/26/2023
John Duffy, retired ECC Board of Trustees member

John Duffy, retired ECC Board of Trustees member

John Duffy, of Elgin, retired from the ECC Board of Trustees in April with 48 years of service, making him the longest-serving trustee in both District 509 and Illinois community college history. A retired Larkin High School (Elgin) educator and administrator, Duffy first won his trustee election race in 1975. Since then, he served alongside 45 conventional and 54 student trustees elected to the board.

During his tenure, the college evolved from a single building with a nursing annex to a complex of seven buildings on the Spartan Drive campus, the Center for Emergency Services in Burlington, and the Education and Work Center in Hanover Park. But to Duffy, the college's accomplishments are less about the expansion of buildings and more about the growth of the people. "I learned a long time ago from Frieda Simon, a founding member of the ECC board, that it's what happens inside the buildings that matter," he said. 

Duffy received numerous awards and accolades over the years, but watching students succeed mattered most to him. "The thing I am most proud of is the fact that I was part of a movement that allowed thousands upon thousands of people to achieve their dreams and lead better lives because ECC was here for them when they needed it," said Duffy.

It might seem impossible to pick a favorite memory from such a long tenure, but for Duffy, it was easy — commencement. "Every year, as I sat on that stage and watched our students get their diplomas or certificates, I tried to imagine the trials they endured and the sacrifices they made to arrive at that moment. Students from every walk of life, age, and socio-economic condition were like a cross-section of America walking across our stage. It made even the most tedious of board meetings eminently worthwhile." 

A resolution adopted by the board in April made Duffy ECC's first Trustee Emeritus. In his parting words, Duffy acknowledged the significance for him and his wife as an honored service journey spanning more than half of their lives. "For me, it has been a wonderful adventure."