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Welcome, President Price

This Thursday, Oct. 5, Duke University will officially inaugurate its tenth president, Vincent E. Price. Signs of preparation, both for the inauguration as well as for the extravagant celebration titled “Price Palooza,” have been springing up all over campus. However, as excited as we should be about Ferris wheels and DefMo performances, we should also be aware that this historic event represents a time of reflection on ourselves as a university forging into the future. While we celebrate the inauguration, we as a community of students should also be reflecting on the goals that we have for our university under the brand-new Price administration. 

Price’s inauguration represents a historical moment for Duke, especially at a time when both our university and the nation face numerous social challenges in the Trump era. The last time Duke inaugurated a new president—Richard H. Brodhead in 2004 —the university was in a much more different place than it currently occupies. When Brodhead succeeded Keohane nearly thirteen years ago, the country was in the midst of the Iraqi conflict, George W. Bush was in the White House and flip-phones were the hottest commodity among status-conscious Duke students. This year, Price inherits a university that is much more global and diverse than it was in 2004. It is important that as we welcome President Price with celebrations and libations that we also acknowledge the huge amount of change that has taken place within our university since 2004. 

The inauguration represents a time for us to specifically reflect on ourselves as an institution. Who are we as Duke University and who do we want to be? These are questions that we need to ask ourselves as a student community in order to ascertain the changes we want to see implemented by President Price. This is also a time for us as a community to review the past Brodhead administration and to consider what we want our new administration to contribute towards. It is our responsibility to reorient campus priorities and to focus on communicating our values to President Price. However, this is not only a moment to be critical and reproachful, but also to be optimistic as we look ahead to what the Price administration can bring to our campus. 

After his official inauguration, President Price shoulders many responsibilities besides serving on panels and enjoying the festivities. First, Price has to be receptive to student values and voices. He should prioritize open student communication in order to get to know us as individuals and as a community. His goals and agenda should be shaped by the personality of the students and institution that he serves. Secondly, Price should evaluate the failures of the last administration. In the past, the creation of various task forces has in some regards failed to adequately address the pressing issues of labor rights, racism and sexual assault on campus. By recognizing student voices on these issues and the failure of the last administration to properly address them, President Price will be better equipped to serve our university. 

As Duke students, we are both extremely loyal to and proud of our university. Consequently, we wholeheartedly welcome and support President Price as he officially becomes inaugurated tomorrow. However, the admiration that accompanies leadership must be earned. We can equip him with our voices and ideas but he must be responsible for actively listening and acting upon them. As a community of diverse and multi-faceted students, we welcome President Price and look forward to the many positive changes he can bring to campus life over the next few years. 

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