Class of 2027 welcomed in milestone year for DKU

Maximize the opportunities of Duke Kunshan University’s diverse and international community to become “messengers of communication and exchange between different nations and cultures”.

That was one of the inspiring messages delivered by Chancellor Youmei Feng at opening convocation to the hundreds of students from China and across the world joining the Class of 2027, the sixth undergraduate cohort at Duke Kunshan.

Duke Kunshan Chancellor Youmei Feng
Duke President Vincent Price

The Aug. 14 ceremony welcoming new undergraduates was a showpiece event of a special gathering on campus of all three founding partners of Duke Kunshan to celebrate its 10th anniversary.

Leaders from Duke University, Wuhan University and the Kunshan government were there in person to greet the Class of 2027, which is formed of about 400 undergraduates from more than 30 countries.

About 300 of those are Chinese, with the rest coming from countries all over the globe, including the United States, Canada, Denmark, India, Italy, Morocco, Peru and Singapore. For the first time, Chile, Jamaica, Jordan, Sweden and Uruguay are represented among the Duke Kunshan student body.

“As you join the DKU family on the occasion of its 10th anniversary, you become the new generation of pioneers and visionaries for the next decade,” Feng told the new students.

“Over the past 10 years, we have nurtured a large number of outstanding talents who have gone on to pursue further studies or enter the workforce, continuously growing and progressing in the wider world.

“I believe that four years from now, you will also leave with a glittering array of achievements, joining your older peers in dedicating yourselves to technological development and human progress, and becoming the magnificent force that drives society forward.”

In her convocation speech, Mary Frances Luce, interim executive vice chancellor of Duke Kunshan, welcomed the Class of 2027 to an “extraordinary community of learners”.

“As we embark on our second decade, we are eager to discover what lies ahead for this institution and its people as we strive to make the world a better place,” she said.

“We have tremendous confidence that your contributions will continue to push Duke Kunshan to greater heights.”

DKU Executive Vice Chancellor (interim) Mary Frances Luce

Also addressing the students were: Duke University President Vincent E. Price; Wuhan University President Pingwen Zhang; Mayor of Kunshan Liyan Chen; Duke Provost and DKU Board of Trustees Chair Alec D. Gallimore; and faculty representative Kwang Leong Choy, professor of materials science at DKU.

The student speakers were Yueqi Dou from the Class of 2026 and Marcus Santoro from the Class of 2027.

Santoro from the United States congratulated his new classmates on getting this far but urged them to make the most of the opportunities that lie ahead.

Marcus Santoro
Yueqi Dou

“The world around us is constantly evolving and we are here at DKU to evolve ourselves to be able to go out and leave our mark,” Santoro said.

“This is the meaning of a liberal arts education. To grow holistically as citizens of this planet.”

Dou, a sophomore from China, reassured the first-year students that they are equipped to overcome the challenges likely to come their way on this new journey in life.

“I know that you will figure everything out in time,” she said. “If you are still feeling unsure, it is also fine.

“We are here for you. Reach out to your peers, DKU faculty, staff and upper-class students. DKU is such a tightly knit community; we are here to help each other out and grow together.”

The ceremony — presided over by Marcia B. France, associate vice chancellor for undergraduate studies & the Language and Culture Center — was held in the Sports Complex, one of 22 new buildings on the Phase 2 site of the recently expanded campus.

As the first set of students to start their studies on the full-sized campus, the Class of 2027 will be immersed in an innovative and interdisciplinary learning environment that prepares them for professional, intellectual and societal leadership roles across the globe.

On graduating from the four-year bachelor’s degree program — during which they will have the opportunity to study at the Duke University campus in the United States — the students will receive degrees from both DKU and Duke, at which point they join the Duke/DKU global alumni network.

The cohort will follow in the footsteps of DKU’s first two undergraduate classes.

Graduates from the Class of 2022 and Class of 2023 received offers to continue their studies at top universities — such as Cambridge, Duke, Harvard and Peking — or join leading employers, including AstraZeneca, Deloitte, Huawei, Tencent and the World Health Organization.

Members of those classes have also embarked on world-renowned scholarships: Rhodes at Oxford University, Schwarzman at Tsinghua University, McCall MacBain at McGill University, among others.

Meet some of the Class of 2027 international cohort here.

Words of encouragement, support and advice for the Class of 2027:

“I urge you to explore new subjects, concepts and ideas; to always be curious; and ask questions, even if you fear you are the only person who doesn’t already know the answer. And let me assure you, I have worked at universities long enough to say with some certainty … that is almost never the case.”

Vincent Price, president of Duke University

“I hope you will firmly grasp the baton handed to you, standing side by side with Duke Kunshan University at a new historical starting point, making the most of your prime years, achieving academic success, inheriting wisdom and responsibility, and together writing the next glorious chapter for DKU’s coming decade.”

Pingwen Zhang, president of Wuhan University

“As the first class of students in the new decade, your arrival has infused the university with new vitality and the city with fresh vigor. On behalf of the CPC Kunshan Municipal Committee and the Government of Kunshan, as well as the 3.3 million residents of this city, I extend a heartfelt welcome to all the new students from around the world.”

Liyan Chen, mayor of Kunshan

“You are all here because you intentionally sought out Duke Kunshan’s unique learning environment and global community. And, you are here because the admissions team saw in you tremendous potential to thrive in this environment. You will soon have opportunities that have the potential to change your lives in ways you cannot even imagine.”

Alec Gallimore, provost of Duke University

“I wish I could promise that your journey through DKU will always be easy, but I cannot. You will have tough times, both personally and academically. You will get grades you won’t be happy with. You will be pushed out of your comfort zone – but that is a good thing. It is how you grow.”

Marcia France, DKU’s associate vice chancellor for undergraduate studies and the Language and Culture Center

“Embrace equal opportunities, inclusivity and diversity, as these will shape you into the leaders of tomorrow. Cultivate honesty and integrity, for these qualities will serve as your moral compass throughout your journey. Take full advantage of our brilliant, amazing and compassionate faculty and support system.”

Kwang Leong Choy, professor of materials science

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