Pioneers have ‘made this campus a real community’ | Duke Kunshan University

Pioneers have ‘made this campus a real community’

May 10, 2019

Duke University President Vincent Price speaks at a gala for prospective Duke Kunshan students and their parents on April 25

In a year of firsts, Duke Kunshan’s inaugural undergraduate class has pioneered to create an “impressively rich ecosystem” of clubs and activities, bringing this brand-new campus to life, said Vincent Price, president of Duke University.

Price met with members of the Class of 2022 during a visit to the campus in late April. He praised them for seizing every opportunity to help build a vibrant residential learning community in Kunshan.

“They have made this campus their home, their own, a real community, which is no small feat,” he said. “Coming from across China and the world, they are united with faculty and university staff as pioneers on a wondrous new educational journey.”

While in Kunshan, Price attended a meeting of the Advisory Board and a gala dinner for prospective students and parents in town for the International Admitted Student Experience.

Earlier in the week, he also met with Education Minister Chen Baosheng in Beijing to discuss educational cooperation and exchanges between China and the United States, as well as Wu Zhenglong, the governor of Jiangsu province, in Nanjing, and Wuhan University President Dou Xiankang.

“Duke’s aspiration is to be a truly global university. We recognize we are living in an increasingly interconnected world, and if we are to train leaders for the future and make the discoveries that will improve lives, our perspective will have to be broader than our own backyard,” Price said.

“Above all, Duke came to Kunshan because of our core commitments to identifying and developing human talent for discovery, in the service of human progress. We seek to empower the brightest minds to find solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges.”

He said world-class people are what make a world-class university, and that is the kind of people Duke Kunshan is attracting by promoting innovation and integration of knowledge.

Price chats with Mozhu Zhang and Spencer Reeves from the undergraduate Class of 2022

“The success of our pioneering graduate students, and the exciting progress of our first class of undergraduates, have demonstrated that we had good reason to be confident,” he said. “China has a broad and deep pool of bright, young talent. At the same time, we’ve put an emphasis on recruiting the very best from around the world – more than 30 percent of Duke Kunshan students come from outside China.”

Price became president of Duke in 2017, succeeding Richard Brodhead, who led the creation of Duke Kunshan and other global programs. Before joining the university, Price was provost at the University of Pennsylvania, where he advanced initiatives to expand interdisciplinary research, and guided the development of new forms of teaching and learning.

Educational innovation has been a key feature of Price’s career, and he said he is excited to see Duke Kunshan’s undergraduate students taking full advantage of its truly cutting-edge curriculum, one informed by the latest technology and taught by leading experts in globalization, STEM (science technology, engineering and math) and the liberal arts.

Each undergraduate student will also have an opportunity to spend a semester living and studying at Duke’s campus in Durham, North Carolina. Preparations are underway to welcome the first class in 2020.

“During that time, they’ll be fully immersed in Duke’s undergraduate experience – living with Duke students in our dorms, attending our classes, eating in our dining halls and exploring the city of Durham,” Price said. “We’re so very excited by this opportunity, because it will enrich our campus life and broaden the diversity of perspectives in our community.”

And it’s not just students who are breaking the mold at Duke Kunshan. Experienced faculty, attracted from around the world by the opportunity to forge a completely new type of higher education experience, are making great innovations in how its courses are designed and delivered.

For example, the master of electrical and computer engineering program, launched in 2018, was informed by the experience of Duke’s Pratt School of Engineering, “but it was constructed anew, from the ground up, to take full advantage of the latest opportunities in the field,” Price said.

“Like painters before a blank canvas, our faculty have the opportunity to re-imagine, re-draw and re-shape their courses of study,” he added. “And we have proof that this approach is working. We are successfully delivering Duke-quality education through our graduate program, global learning program and our new four-year undergraduate program.

“Our hope now – in truth our firm expectation – is that the innovations made in the classroom at Duke Kunshan can help inform the future of our curricular programs back at Duke.”

Price meets with Wu Zhenglong, the Jiangsu governor, along with Duke Kunshan Chancellor Youmei Feng (fourth from left) and Executive Vice Chancellor Denis Simon (third from left)