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Founders converge on Kunshan for DKU’s 10th anniversary

Duke Kunshan University welcomed a Duke University delegation led by President Vincent E. Price to China as part of its 10th anniversary celebrations.

Price and Provost Alec D. Gallimore were among the 14-strong Duke contingent joining leaders from Duke Kunshan, Wuhan University and local government to bear witness to the stunning transformation of the DKU project from the seed of an idea to a thriving hub of learning and innovation.

Duke University President Vincent Price and Duke Kunshan Chancellor Youmei Feng on the DKU campus
The Duke delegation tours the newly expanded campus

Duke Kunshan was founded in September 2013 as a partnership between Duke University, Wuhan University and the city of Kunshan, with the aim of developing a world-class, research-oriented institution rooted in the liberal arts and sciences tradition.

Leaders of the founding partners gathered alongside the DKU community for the Aug. 13-14 events, which included the “Forum on Higher Education International Cooperation and Duke Kunshan 10th Anniversary Celebration” and “Duke Kunshan University Undergraduate Opening Convocation” for the Class of 2027.

Price meets students at DKU
Duke Provost Alec Gallimore lends a hand on student orientation week

Price paid tribute at the Aug. 13 forum to the founding partners and their many supporters for creating “something truly special and truly worthy of celebration” in the form of DKU.

“In a relatively short period of time, this university has grown from a bold idea into a vibrant intellectual community that attracts students and scholars from around the world,” said Price, who is the 10th president of Duke University.

“It has also become a global model for innovation in higher education — pioneering new formats for teaching, learning, and preparing students for lives of purpose.”

Price also highlighted how DKU’s founders had “bridged distance, time and language” to establish the university.

“In the early days the partners sometimes referred to DKU as being like a child who had three parents,” he said.

“Though that child has now grown — each partner remains deeply committed to the university’s continued growth, development and success.”

Price shares a moment with DKU’s first chancellor, Jingnan Liu
Senior figures from Duke Kunshan, Duke and Wuhan pictured with members of DKU’s advisory board

Welcoming the visitors, Duke Kunshan Chancellor Youmei Feng described the university as an international community that serves as a bridge between China and the world.

“We will strengthen cooperation with Duke University and Wuhan University as we continually enhance our innovative approaches to education and university management to make DKU a model example of a joint-venture university,” she told the forum.

Feng said that DKU had much to contribute to the field of international cooperation in higher education, adding: “Through innovation, we will play a leading role in responding to the opportunities and challenges that technological advances have brought to education.”

Wuhan University President Pingwen Zhang was also upbeat about the important role that DKU would have going forward, saying “infinite horizons beckon”.

“Duke Kunshan radiates vitality and ambition, standing at the cusp of the future and basking in the unity and dedication of all stakeholders,” he said.

“We extend our best wishes and firmly believe that Duke Kunshan, a joint-venture university rooted in the fertile soil of China, will continue its journey of quality-driven development with greater determination and aspirations at this new starting point, and contribute ‘Duke Kunshan Wisdom’ to the realm of Sino-foreign educational cooperation.”

Kunshan’s Party Secretary Wei Zhou said DKU had registered remarkable achievements and provided a “strong impetus” for the city’s “modernization and high-quality development”.

“DKU will continue its glorious journey and reach new heights,” Zhou said.

“The 10th anniversary of DKU marks a critical milestone in its development, as it sets out to achieve new accomplishments and embark on a new journey towards greater success.”

Kunshan’s Mayor Liyan Chen and Party Secretary Wei Zhou with DKU’s Chancellor Feng and Executive Vice Chancellor (interim) Mary Frances Luce.

The forum was held in the 320-seat theater in the Community Center, a shining example of the new facilities provided by a major campus upgrade.

A short ceremony during the forum marked the official opening of the Phase 2 construction project, which doubled the campus footprint to add state-of-the-art research and classroom space, arts and music facilities, and leisure and sports areas.

As well as celebrating the university’s achievements, a series of talks and presentations analyzed good practice, student experiences and global trends on the theme of international collaboration in higher education.

Selfies with students in the new Community Center
Pictures with the Duke president were in high demand

Following the forum, Price and other VIP guests were given a tour of the campus to see the new facilities for themselves. Throughout the visit, the Duke president and provost met many students, parents, staff and faculty, hearing about their individual DKU experiences and posing for selfies.

On Aug. 14, the focus turned to a new generation of students as the undergraduate Class of 2027 and their families were welcomed to the university at opening convocation, held in the brand-new Sports Complex.

Hailing from more than 30 countries, the 404 new students are embarking on a highly interdisciplinary four-year program from which they will graduate with bachelor’s degrees from both Duke and Duke Kunshan universities.

For the full story on the convocation ceremony click here.

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