Some of Duke’s most accomplished professors will convene at a faculty symposium this Thursday to share their diverse perspectives with President Vincent Price.

The symposium at 1 p.m. in the Griffith Theater in the Bryan Center will precede Price's inauguration later Thursday and will include two panels of faculty members. The first panel will discuss how elite research universities can help individuals negotiate their differences in an age of division and controversy. The second will focus on Duke’s role extending the frontiers of human knowledge.

“These are some of the most world-renowned faculty we have, so they embody the best of values we hold dear here at Duke,” said Abbas Benmamoun, vice provost for faculty advancement and moderator of the second panel. 

Although the event is designed for faculty, students and other community members can also attend the discussions, said Peter Feaver, MC of the symposium and professor of political science and public policy.

As the chair of the four-member committee that planned the faculty symposium, Feaver said it was important to make the panel topics relevant to President Price’s past as a professor and  future as president of the University. The committee members drew on Price’s previous research on the role of public deliberation and differences of opinion as inspiration.

“It struck us that that research area was perfectly positioned for [Price’s] new role because his new role is leading a university that is itself contributing to public deliberation, where members of the public disagree,” he said.

Another objective in the planning was to develop panels that showcased faculty talent and expertise from many disciplines, Feaver said. 

Members on the first panel include D. Sunshine Hillygus, professor of political science and Robert Califf, former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration and Donald F. Fortin professor of cardiology. 

The second panel will feature Robert Lefkowitz—winner of the 2012 Nobel Prize for Chemistry and James B. Duke professor of medicine—along with Thavolia Glymph, associate professor of history in African and African American studies, among others.

“We wanted to pick people who we thought would have interesting things to say in the short amount of time they have to say it,” Feaver said. “Of course, there are lots more faculty that we could have picked, but there’s only so much time, so that’s a tough choice.”

Benmamoun added that such accomplished and diverse faculty members would give Price valuable advice to guide him during his tenure at Duke.

“What we want this panel to do is basically share with the President and the larger university community how being at Duke has helped them explore the frontiers of human knowledge and also how Duke is positioned to do that more broadly,” he said.

In addition to its panelists, each panel will also have a moderator to guide the conversation. The first panel will be moderated by Philip Bennett, Eugene C. Patterson professor of the practice of public policy studies and journalism. Benmamoun will moderate the second session.

Each panel will also feature a commentator who will provide concluding remarks to “put the discussion in a broader context of the University’s mission and the University’s strategic vision,” Benmamoun said. Provost Sally Kornbluth will be the commentator for the first panel, and Price will conclude the second panel.

Feaver stressed the importance of bringing a wide array of faculty members together—something that is “surprisingly rare.” He explained that the faculty gather for administrative tasks and graduation ceremonies, but neither of those types of events provides them with the opportunity to discuss the big-picture objectives for faculty at Duke.

“I hope my faculty colleagues will see that it’s a rare thing, and it’s worth taking a few moments out of their busy work week just to stop and reflect on what it means to be doing what we’re doing together in a larger community,” Feaver said.

Benmamoun added that although Price will formally assume the role of President Thursday, he is still technically a faculty member.

“It’s a good message to have his own colleagues and peers celebrate his inauguration,” he said.