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Labin Duke will serve as Blake Center director Courtesy | Emily Davis

Labin Duke will serve as the first exec­utive director of the Blake Center for Faith and Freedom, a Hillsdale College property in Somers, Connecticut. 

Duke has more than 10 years of expe­rience working for Christian non-profits, according to a news release from the college. He most recently served as the exec­utive vice pres­ident for insti­tu­tional advancement at Nashotah House, an Anglican sem­inary in Nashotah, Wis­consin. Pre­vi­ously, he served as director of donor rela­tions at Baylor Uni­versity and the director of donor man­agement at Dallas The­o­logical Sem­inary. Duke studied bib­lical and the­o­logical studies at Oua­chita Baptist Uni­versity and earned his Master of The­ology degree in aca­demic min­istry at Dallas The­o­logical Seminary. 

“You could say my whole career I’ve been looking up to Hillsdale College,” Duke said. 

Duke said he first heard about Hillsdale while working at Dallas The­o­logical Sem­inary. He wanted his free online Bible courses to imitate Hillsdale’s Con­sti­tution 101 course. 

“I wanted to use the Con­sti­tution 101 as sort of the backdrop for how online courses are done well, and how they work and how they operate well,” he said. 

Duke said he wanted to be involved in the future of the United States beyond voting, so when he saw the job posting, he and his wife agreed working for Hillsdale would help them share their faith on a larger scale. 

“For my wife and I, Hillsdale College stood for a way to not only serve within our own faith tra­dition, and to spread the Gospel, as Matthew sug­gests that we ought to do, but to also be able to get back to and support a future for our country that’s sus­tainable,” Duke said. 

The Blake Center opened in 2020 from the donation of Prestley and Helen Blake. The property includes a replica of Mon­ti­cello and a stone barn, which the college plans to remodel into a chapel for reli­gious cer­e­monies or services. 

Duke said the Blake Center will allow Hillsdale sup­porters outside of Michigan to partner with the college. 

“There are a million and a half people reading Imprimis in between New York and Maine,” he said. “There are a lot of potential sup­porters in this area, many of whom will likely never see the actual campus in Hillsdale, Michigan. We’ve got an oppor­tunity to give them a slice of Hillsdale here at the Blake Center.” 

The Center will offer oppor­tu­nities for stu­dents, such as work study retreats, Duke said. 

“Having that tight inte­gration of a work, prayer, and study kind of balance could be an important part of the approach,” he said. “There’ll def­i­nitely be pro­gramming for college-age stu­dents, and poten­tially high school-age students.”

Duke said his sem­inary back­ground pre­pared him to create an “inte­grated learning for­ma­tional style expe­rience” at the Blake Center. 

“Labin has two degrees in the­ology and extensive expe­rience in Christian edu­cation,” Vice Pres­ident for Admin­is­tration Rich Péwé said in the press release. “He is an excellent fit for Hillsdale and its out­reach pro­grams at the Blake Center. We are excited to see the gifts from Pres and Helen Blake be well-used under his guidance.”

College Chaplain Adam Rick said Duke’s lead­ership and energy show he is well-suited for his new role. 

“In my con­ver­sa­tions with him, he has seemed like a guy who builds things, makes things from scratch, and can ini­tiate new things,” Rick said.