Rick Duke, an acknowledged proponent of knowledge-led economic development, is the University of Mississippi’s new director of economic development and executive director of Insight Park. Duke will be responsible for leading the university’s economic development strategies by leveraging university knowledge to improve the competitiveness of Mississippi businesses, partnering with state and federal agencies and developing the university’s research park and business incubator, Insight Park.
Duke, an Atlanta native, has worked in university-based economic development for more than 27 years. During his previous role as the director of the Trent Lott National Center for Excellence in Economic Development and Entrepreneurship at the University of Southern Mississippi, Duke developed strong relationships with regional economic development organizations, including the Mississippi Development Authority, Tennessee Valley Authority and the Mississippi Manufacturing Association. Duke’s other university experience included a 25-year tenure at the Georgia Institute of Technology, where he worked on the academic, applied research aspects of community economic development, including health care and eldercare around the state.
Duke received his undergraduate degree in management from Georgia Tech and an MBA from Florida Southern College. He also has experience in the private sector, having worked 10 years in manufacturing with Kraft Foods.
Duke and his wife, Lynne James, have two sons living near Atlanta.