Yaolin Liu appointed chancellor of Duke Kunshan University

Yaolin Liu, a serial winner of teaching awards who holds the highest honorary professorship in China, has been appointed chancellor of Duke Kunshan University.

A land science academician and cartographer, Liu was dean of Wuhan University’s School of Resources and Environmental Science for 17 years. Most recently he directed two key laboratories there.

He takes up the post of Duke Kunshan chancellor on Sep. 1, succeeding Youmei Feng who steps down after five years of dedicated service.

Yaolin Liu addresses the chancellor handover ceremony
Vincent Price, president of Duke University

“I am grateful to Chancellor Feng for her outstanding leadership of Duke Kunshan University over the past five years, and I am pleased to welcome Yaolin Liu to this role as we look to the university’s future,” said Duke University President Vincent E. Price.

Liu, who assumes the chancellorship as DKU enters its second decade, said, “Duke Kunshan University has made significant strides over the past several years under the leadership of Chancellor Youmei Feng.

“I consider it both an honor and an important responsibility to be appointed chancellor on its 10th anniversary.

“DKU is committed to developing into a world-class university that advances its mission in studying, teaching and scholarship for the betterment of the world.

“I will collaborate with DKU faculty, staff and students, as well as partners from Duke University, Wuhan University and the city of Kunshan, to achieve that goal.”

The outgoing chancellor receives a plaque from her successor in honor of her service
Youmei Feng led DKU for five years

Feng became chancellor of Duke Kunshan in August 2018 at a key moment in the fledgling institution’s history, just as DKU welcomed its inaugural class of undergraduate students.

She oversaw the launch and development of DKU’s four-year undergraduate program as well as the university’s physical transformation into a world-class learning and innovation campus, while steering it through a period of growth in size and stature and navigating the unprecedented challenges of COVID-19.

Alec Gallimore, provost of Duke University

“Chancellor Liu brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to lead DKU into the next level of development,” remarked Alec D. Gallimore, DKU Board of Trustees chair and Duke University provost. “I look forward to working with him to maximize the university’s potential.”

Liu brings with him extensive academic and leadership experience in China and overseas, with stints as a visiting scholar in the United States and Europe.

He holds the title of Changjiang Distinguished Professor, the highest academic award issued to an individual scholar by China’s Ministry of Education.

Stanford University listed Liu in the authoritative World’s Top 2% of Scientists 2022 and he is a three-time winner of the Ministry of Education’s National Grade II Prize of Teaching Achievement Award.

At Wuhan University, Liu directed both the Ministry of Education Key Laboratory of Geographic Information System and the Ministry of Natural Resources Key Laboratory of Digital Mapping and Land Information Application.

A member of the International Eurasian Academy of Sciences, Liu is an expert in geographic information science, cartography and land resource management.

Chancellor Liu takes up the role in the year DKU opened its Phase 2 campus and welcomed its sixth undergraduate class

He was a visiting scholar at Texas State University San Marcos in the U.S. in 2008, the University of Twente’s ITC faculty in the Netherlands in 2007, and Wageningen University, also in the Netherlands, in 1996.

Liu was awarded a Ph.D. from Wageningen in 2002 and his master’s and bachelor’s degrees from the China University of Geoscience in 1988 and 1982 respectively.

“The Duke Kunshan community will always be grateful to Youmei Feng for her inspiring leadership during a crucial stage of the university’s development,” said Mary Frances Luce, interim executive vice chancellor of DKU.

“We look forward to welcoming and working with her successor Yaolin Liu, a proven leader and world-class academician who is held in high esteem in China and overseas.”

Mary Frances Luce, interim executive vice chancellor of DKU, addressed the ceremony via live link
Pingwen Zhang, Wuhan University president

Wuhan University President Pingwen Zhang praised Feng for her five years of exemplary service, adding: “I have every confidence that Yaolin Liu will guide Duke Kunshan towards a future of boundless progress and achievements.

“With the backing of faculty, students, staff and partners, the university is poised to scale even greater summits.”

Liu joins Duke Kunshan as the university celebrates its 10th anniversary and with the recent opening of an expanded campus bringing 47 acres of new teaching and learning space, leisure and recreation areas and other facilities.

A Sino-U.S. joint-venture university, DKU was founded in September 2013 by Duke University, Wuhan University and the city of Kunshan to prepare students for professional, intellectual and societal leadership roles across the globe.

If you are a journalist looking for information about the University or for an expert to interview for a story, our team can help.

Add our