On July 1, 2017, Richard Brodhead will formally step down as the 9th president of Duke University after over 13 years at the helm. In his place, current University of Pennsylvania provost Vincent Prince will begin his tenure as the 10th president of Duke University. Price will inherit from Brodhead a dynamic university that consists of 15,000 students, 3500 faculty members, 36,000 employees and over 150,000 active alumni. When he begins his service to the university, he will inherit a task of gargantuan proportion equal to those numbers: successfully administrating Duke’s colossal multifaceted campus community.
A key component of a successful presidency will hinge on Price’s ability to communicate effectively with Duke’s diverse student body. Besides attending hackneyed town hall style events, President Price will need to utilize other approaches to acclimate himself to the Duke student body, such as setting up meetings directly with affinity groups and campus organizations. He should not just use DSG as a blanket voice for the campus community, but rather work with individual student organizations and activist groups in order to carry out his goals and serve their interests. In the process, students and faculty will come to know and respect the man who runs our university in ways beyond biweekly emails sent from the Allen Building.
Besides getting to know students and faculty, President Price will also need to familiarize himself with Duke’s unique character as a young, rising research university. Duke proudly differentiates itself from Northern peers on multiple levels—from our Division I basketball program to our signature service-learning programs like DukeEngage. Moreover, Duke possesses its own distinct history as a relatively new university in the American South. Unsavory events like the university’s long standing segregationist policy or the lacrosse scandal that plagued the early part of Brodhead’s presidency feature prominently in our institutional history. A two-decade long Quaker, President-elect Price will need to learn the history and character of Duke in order to effectively serve in the Allen Building next year.
Of course, a significant part of President Price’s administration will be devoted to the financial stewardship of the university. As well as keeping an eye on the university endowment, President Price should expand upon Brodhead and Keohane’s successful multi-billion-dollar capital campaigns. Although raising money is hardly sexy, doing so allows our institution to keep providing sufficient financial aid to students, fund new research ventures and maintain a first-class faculty.
In leading the Duke community for the foreseeable future, President Price will also have room to spearhead personal projects to improve the university. Past leaders of the university have all defined their presidencies through their own initiatives to improve the Duke experience. President Keohane spearheaded a successful campaign to transform East Campus into a freshmen learning community, while institutions like DukeEngage and Duke Kunshan remain hallmark accomplishments of the Brodhead era. In addition to taking on his own concrete projects, we hope President Price will keep in mind the intangible improvements he can make on campus—from solidifying administration-student relations to holding our campus to Duke’s honor code.
With the Brodhead presidency ending this year, we hope to see a successor up to the task of building upon the legacies of Brodhead, Keohane, Brodie and Sanford. We look forward to seeing an administration that will perhaps even expand upon the president’s role, becoming a visible figure within the campus community whether it be through direct conversations with students or simply dining in West Union.
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