Andres Duarte sought to join the Beta Theta Pi fraternity as an Ohio Wesleyan University freshman, his soon-to-be brothers jokingly dubbed him the “most outstanding goof-off.”
Nearly six decades later, Duarte has proved them wrong over and over again — most recently in 2016 when Queen Elizabeth the Second proclaimed him an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.
Duarte, managing director of the Caracas, Venezuela-based Duarte Vivas & Associates, C.A., will share his story with Ohio Wesleyan’s Class of 2017 on Saturday, May 13, when he delivers the keynote address at the university’s 173rd commencement ceremony.
Class President Lee LeBoeuf said she looks forward to hearing more about Duarte’s inspiring journey, including his roles as an international businessman, leader in the Venezuelan community, supporter of higher education, and, of course, Most Excellent British Empire officer.
“Since graduating in 1965, Andres has helped bring over 100 Venezuelan students to Ohio Wesleyan,” said LeBoeuf, a psychology major and biology minor from Dayton, Ohio. “I am very excited to hear what he will share with the Class of 2017 at commencement because of his diverse background in business and international affairs. I think his ongoing dedication to his country and the university will be inspiring to our class as we leave OWU to impact other communities.”
After graduation, LeBoeuf plans to teach elementary school in Cleveland for two years through the Teach for America program and then attend graduate school.
During his time at Ohio Wesleyan, Duarte majored in geology and economics. He went on to earn his Master of Science degree in geology from University of Oklahoma and his Master of Arts degree in international affairs from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.
He created Duarte Vivas & Associates (DVA) in 1977, with the company’s initial offerings in the areas of commodity brokerage and trading, representation of foreign companies, and consulting services.
More than 30 years later, DVA has become a reference point for entrepreneurial activity in the region. According to its mission, the company’s diverse activities all are linked by production of the same commodity: ideas.
“The DVA Group likes to think of itself as an idea incubator,” the company states. “Additionally, the firm prides itself in providing the creative problem-solving and diligent execution necessary to bring these ideas to fruition. Through the combination of these two business pillars and sound local intelligence, the DVA Group seeks to be an engine of regional growth, providing a bridge between South America and the global marketplace.”
In addition to his business ties, Duarte’s ties to his community run strong and deep. He is a member of the board of directors for Banco Venezolano de Credito subsidiaries (Vencred, S.A.) and The Venezuelan Petroleum Chamber; past president of the British Chamber of Commerce, Venezuela; and director of the British School in Caracas.
Duarte’s ties to Ohio Wesleyan run equally strong and deep. He served as an at-large member of the OWU Board of Trustees from 1996 to 2005 and became a life trustee in 2006. As a trustee, he currently serves on the board’s marketing committee and facilities subcommittee. He also is a member of the Alumni Advisory Board for the university’s Woltemade Center for Economics, Business and Entrepreneurship, and he was awarded an OWU Distinguished Achievement Citation in 2015.
The citation recognizes Duarte’s professional achievements and dedication to the field of business including his role as “an adventurous, skillful, and adaptable business developer.”
Ohio Wesleyan’s 2017 commencement ceremony will begin at 1 p.m. May 13. Weather permitting, the event will be held outdoors on the lawn in front of Merrick Hall, 65 S. Sandusky St., Delaware.
The complete ceremony, including remarks from Duarte and LeBoeuf, will be streamed live and archived online at www.owu.edu/stream. Learn more about Ohio Wesleyan’s 2017 commencement at www.owu.edu/commencement.