Duane Loynes describes himself first and foremost as a family man—husband to Ericka and father to 12-year-old Duane, Jr.—but he is also a scholar at heart.

Growing up with a mother who made sure he got the best education possible, Duane pursued a degree in engineering from Stevens Institute of Technology in his home state of New Jersey. He quickly realized he hated it.

“One day I looked at my bookshelf and saw that all the books I was reading for fun dealt with theology, philosophy, and religion,” he says.

He left Stevens, packed his bags and headed to Chicago. There he worked in the IT department of Wheaton College while finishing a BA in Communication and Organizational Leadership at Trinity International University.

Eleven days after graduation he began taking graduate courses at Wheaton, earning his MA in theology in 2005. Two years later, he earned an MA in philosophy from Northern Illinois University.

Duane is now in a doctoral program at Marquette University, working on his dissertation. He is examining the way Christian theology makes space for racism—for instance, the KKK uses the Christian cross as its symbol, yet for some reason people are not scandalized by that. He is delving into the philosophical foundations for the way Christians engage the world, including issues of apologetics, atheism, gender, and race.

Yet, at the end of the day, the most important thing to Duane is his family.

“I wasn’t raised by a father, so when I get to heaven I don’t want God to say, ‘You were a great scholar, great pastor, great student…but you weren’t there for your son.’ Being a father is very important to me.”

As a faculty fellow at Western, Duane will teach a class in the spring as well as serve on the Master of Theology committee and work on diversity initiatives.

“I love teaching. I try to drum up interest in the subject and get everyone to see why it’s important,” he shares. “I’d love to teach a course on apologetics to make sure that when our students encounter people who challenge the Christian faith, they will have up-to-date defenses for why they believe what they believe.”

In his work with Dr. Theresa Latini, Associate Dean of Diversity and Cultural Competency, Duane hopes to see WTS take leaps and bounds in cultural competency.

“I would love to see a change in the way we view diversity and cultural competence,” he says. “I’d like it to be addressed not just in terms of ‘being nice’ to different people, but penetrating to the core of who we are. We’re looking to change not just people’s behaviors, but the DNA or genetic code of the institution.”