Executive Vice Chancellor John Quelch at Commencement 2024

Dr. John Quelch
Executive Vice Chancellor, Duke Kunshan University

Distinguished guests, colleagues, alumni, parents, family members and friends, a very warm welcome to you all! And, most importantly, to our guests of honor, the graduating students of the Class of 2024, congratulations!

Let me first thank everyone who is here to celebrate with the graduating class. To the parents and families, your love and support have sustained these young leaders. To our dedicated international faculty and staff, your wisdom has extended well beyond the classroom. To our founding partners, board members, and generous donors and friends, your unswerving commitment to our mission has been the wind in our sails.

Class of 2024, what a journey it has been! You entered DKU as pioneers willing to step out of your comfort zones amid a global pandemic. Your resilience in the face of adversity should now give you confidence to deal with whatever challenges and opportunities come your way.

All of us at DKU are privileged to be part of something special – we come here as students, faculty, and staff from around the globe and make magic happen. Every day, we mix it all – diverse cultures, perspectives, languages, ideas, 2 am study sessions, Zoom meetings, signature work projects, arts, sports, and Friday field trips. But you, our students, are at the core of all we do. As teachers, we may provide the sheet music, but you are the instruments that bring it to life.

Your academic achievements, community involvement, and the inter-cultural dialogues you’ve passionately participated in, often across campuses and continents, have honed your intellect and strengthened your character. You have demonstrated that education is not measured by the answers it provides, but by the questions and actions it inspires.

Take a moment to look to your left, then to your right. Your fellow graduates have been your allies – now your lifelong friends – in your learning and personal development, both inside and outside the classroom. Thank them and nurture those friendships.

You, our graduates, are standing at a crossroads, as today marks both an end and a beginning. Hence the term Commencement. Please continue your journey with the same courage and determination that have brought you this far. Be bold and embrace life’s challenges and opportunities, as you have at DKU.

Please also be relentless in your quest to improve the world. You have developed unique and essential skills to collaborate across disciplines, across cultures and across borders in an increasingly complex and interconnected world. Please cherish the power of these skills, use them wisely, ground your words and deeds in evidence, and persuade others to do the same.

Today you graduate as global citizens and become our alumni. You are DKU’s most important ambassadors. You will carry the name, Duke Kunshan University, on your CV for life. Please carry DKU with pride wherever you may go. For you, more than anyone, are the owners of this precious brand name. We need your work, your words, and deeds to model our core values: Service to humanity based on knowledge and empathy; Professionalism without bureaucracy; Integration with openness to all cultures; Resilience with the ability to bounce back and stay the course; Innovation with a social purpose; and Transformation that stretches aspirations. Carry the DKU SPIRIT with you, and remember: Once a DKUer, forever a force for good.

Do important things. Make a difference in the lives of others. Make the world better and make it yours. Congratulations again, Class of 2024!

Thank you!

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