Vincent Price, the provost of the University of Pennsylvania, will become the 10th president of Duke University.
The Board of Trustees elected Price Friday morning, wrote David Rubenstein, chair of the Board of Trustees, in an email to the Duke community. Price, who has served as provost at Penn since 2009, is also the Steven H. Chaffee professor of communication in the Annenberg School for Communication and a professor of political science at Penn.
Price will replace current President Richard Brodhead starting July 1, 2017.
“I’m thrilled to be part of Duke at a moment in time when this nation and world need universities more than ever,” Price said in one of a series of YouTube videos that Duke published with the announcement. “We need educated and thoughtful, inclusive communities of people who are dedicated to identifying and solving our most challenging problems.”
Price noted that Brodhead’s leadership has brought Duke “to the pinnacle of global universities,” but that the University’s collective challenge is to develop “ever more” effective models of openness, diversity and engagement with societal problems.
Price was the presidential search committee’s unanimous choice after an extensive international search, said committee chair Jack Bovender, Trinity ’67, Graduate School ’69 and vice chair of the Board of Trustees. The 19-member committee consisted of Trustees, faculty, students, administrators and alumni.
Legacy in Philadelphia
As provost at Penn, Price is in charge of overseeing the university’s 12 schools and colleges as well as student affairs, athletics and the arts.
Price has been influential in giving Penn a global presence—helping launch the 2015 Penn Wharton China Center in Beijing and hiring a vice provost for global initiatives.
Brodhead has also taken an international view during his tenure, helping start both the DukeEngage program and the Duke Global Health Institute. Duke Kunshan University—a joint venture between Duke and Wuhan University in China—began operations in 2014, and a new four-year undergraduate degree program is awaiting final approval by the Board of Trustees this month.
“The world is shrinking. We cannot just be a great national university—we need to be a great global university,” Price said in a video. “And globalism means diversity, it means inclusiveness, it means bringing the community of the world together here today—and to be honest bringing Durham to the world, bringing Duke to the world, extending our community as broadly as we can.”
Price named the “digital revolution” as one of the major challenges facing higher education today. He emphasized that it was important “to seize these new technologies and redefine the way we teach, redefine the way we organize ourselves as a community and expand our global reach.”
To that end, Price helped Penn become one of the first universities to partner with online-learning community Coursera, and he also served as founding chair of Coursera’s University Advisory Board.
Protecting free expression at Penn has also been one of Price’s priorities. He served on the 2014-15 Committee on Open Expression, which according to The Daily Pennsylvanian aimed to reverse the trend of dis-inviting controversial speakers. Price emphasized the protection of free expression, even if it could lead to controversy. Brodhead has emphasized similar principles in several community forums dealing with issues of hate and bias at Duke.
One of the tasks of Duke’s president is also to foster the growth of the University’s medical system, which the selection committee considered. Price serves on the executive planning group for the University of Pennsylvania Health System and is a trustee of the Wistar Institute, a nonprofit focusing on biomedical research.
“Duke has made an absolutely superb choice,” said Amy Gutmann, president of the University of Pennsylvania, in the release. “No one is better prepared or more deserving than Vince to lead a distinguished university such as Duke. We at Penn are both proud and extremely happy for him, Annette and their family, even if our happiness is tinged with the sadness of our cherished colleague and friend departing from Penn come July 1.”
Addressing issues at Penn
In recent weeks, Price has taken steps to address sexual violence and racial tension at Penn.
Last month, several Penn students expressed their skepticism and concern that a new task force to target sexual harassment and sexual violence did not go far enough to address rape culture. Similar task forces dealing with bias and hate issues have been created at Duke, as well as an ongoing sexual misconduct task force.
“Because of the performance of past task forces, we fear that this one will not prove effective in enacting comprehensive, concrete policies,” an editorial in The Daily Pennsylvanian read.
After the Nov. 8 election, several Penn first-year students of color found themselves added to racist GroupMe group messages, which featured violent descriptions of lynchings.
In joint emails with Gutmann, Price condemned the messages and updated students that an investigation had revealed the source was believed to be from Oklahoma and not Penn. They also noted that the University would work to support students victimized by the messages. In an October letter to the black student community, Gutmann and Price expressed support and proclaimed that “black lives matter.”
Marcus Benning—Trinity '14, president of the Graduate and Professional Student Council and a search committee member—said he believes Price will be a strong advocate for students due to his experience handling student issues.
“Vince has encountered curricular, social and cultural issues that impact students across all degree programs, and he has demonstrated a willingness to build relationships with students and to consult students for advice and guidance on the issues that affect their lives,” Benning said in the release. “We are confident that he will leverage these past experiences, seek out diverse perspectives and build on Duke's culture of student engagement.”
Price’s engagement could also take on a lighter side. When "Hamilton"-creator Lin-Manuel Miranda addressed the University of Pennsylvania’s class of 2016, Price rapped his introduction.
“That show is still on the rise, let me emphasize, and allow me to publicize, hello Mr. Pulitzer Prize. You know the rest, and you know our guest. He is truly blessed with what educators try to do best. They open our eyes, they catalyze, they help us realize, make us truly come alive,” he said, according to The Daily Pennsylvanian.
Price received both his Ph.D. and master's degrees from Stanford University in 1987 and 1985 respectively, after completing his undergraduate studies at Santa Clara University in 1979. Price’s scholarly work has focused on public opinion in politics. He served as editor-in-chief of a journal dedicated to the subject—”Public Opinion Quarterly”—and has authored a globally-known book on the subject.
His wife, Annette Price, is also a graduate of Santa Clara University and has worked in event planning at the Annenberg Public Policy Center at Penn. The couple has two children—Sarah Price, 27, who is a graduate student at the University of Arizona as well as Alexander Price, 25, who lives in Devon, Pennsylvania.
The Price family also has two dogs—Scout, an 8-year-old golden doodle, and Cricket, a 6-year-old labradoodle—that they plan to bring with them when they move to Durham this summer.
Price, along with his wife, will be introduced to the Duke community Friday afternoon at 2:00 p.m. in Penn Pavilion.
Look out for Price’s exclusive interview with The Chronicle later today, and check back for updates to this developing story.
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