Duke Kunshan University has appointed Scott MacEachern, chair of the Division of Social Sciences, as interim vice chancellor for academic affairs (VCAA).
MacEachern, a world-leading professor of archaeology and anthropology, assumed his new role on July 1, succeeding Haiyan Gao. After a highly productive four and a half years at the joint-venture university, Dr. Gao returned as planned to Duke University, where she is the Henry Newson Professor of Physics, to focus on research and teaching.
“I’m very honored to have been asked to serve as interim VCAA, although I know that it’s a great challenge following in Haiyan Gao’s footsteps,” MacEachern said.
“Duke Kunshan is going to transform itself over the next two years, expanding in size and complexity, and the entire DKU community has a role to play in dealing with those challenges. I’m looking forward to working on these issues with our fantastic staff, faculty and students.”
As interim vice chancellor, MacEachern will work closely with Chancellor Youmei Feng and Executive Vice Chancellor Denis Simon to provide strategic academic leadership and ensure all educational programs are of the highest quality.
He will lead Duke Kunshan’s ongoing efforts to recruit and retain high-quality faculty, oversee academic policies and procedures, and supervise academic and related units that support the university’s teaching and research mission.
Working alongside Marcia France, dean of undergraduate studies; Noah Pickus, dean of undergraduate curricular affairs and faculty development; and Shuyi Wang, director of graduate programs and recruitment, Dr. MacEachern will ensure the university continues to offer an innovative, interdisciplinary education to students from around the world.
“Scott’s appointment represents an important inflection point in the academic development of Duke Kunshan,” Simon said. “As one of our senior faculty who was recruited among our first faculty cohort, Scott is someone who truly understands the unique educational challenges and core liberal arts mission of our university.”
Chancellor Feng added: “After seeing the way Scott has engaged and inspired his students and colleagues over the past academic year, I am confident he will make an extremely valuable contribution to the further development of Duke Kunshan’s innovative programs and curriculum.”
A native of Canada, MacEachern joined Duke Kunshan in 2018 from Bowdoin College in Maine, the United States, where he was chair of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology. He previously held posts at the University of Calgary, Universite Laval in Quebec, Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris, and the Royal Museum of Central Africa in Tervuren, Belgium.
He has worked on many major archaeological and ethnohistorical research projects, particularly in Canada and across Africa, including Kenya, Cameroon and Nigeria, and is an adviser to the British Museum’s Endangered Material Knowledge program. He served as president of the Society of Africanist Archaeologists from 2014 to 2016.
MacEachern has also won acclaim for his 2018 book “Searching for Boko Haram: A History of Violence in Central Africa,” which analyzes the African terrorist group from a local historical perspective.