Yaolin Liu, the new chancellor of Duke Kunshan University, is busy familiarizing himself with the DKU community and campus as quickly as possible after his inauguration on Sept. 1.
Sharing his vision for the future of DKU, Liu wrote, “In a world that can at times be polarized, DKU as a Sino-U.S. joint-venture university has an even more important role to play in preparing students for global leadership roles, bridging cultures and nations and bringing people from all over the world together to address the most pressing issues.”
Liu has “a strong belief in international education” and “witnessed firsthand how an international education can change people's perspectives and broaden their horizons,” due to his academic background in China, Europe and the United States.
Liu earned his bachelor's and master's degrees from the China University of Geoscience in 1982 and 1988, respectively. He became a senior visiting scholar at Wageningen University in the Netherlands in 1996 and received a Ph.D. there in 2002. He returned to the Netherlands in 2007 as a visiting scholar at the University of Twente, and in 2008, served as a visiting scholar at Texas State University in San Marcos in the U.S.
Liu expressed confidence in relating to both Chinese and foreign students who are "embracing new educational pedagogies or new cultures."
“When you have to adjust to a new educational model, various ways of thinking, languages and cultures that are very different from your own, it can be overwhelming. But once you learn to adjust and accept those new things, you'll find that you have the power to change your lives in ways you could never imagine," he wrote.
Prior to his new position at DKU, Liu served for 17 years as the dean of the School of Resources and Environmental Sciences at Wuhan University, where he worked to expand the curriculum, faculty, research areas, student involvement in research and service learning.
His domestic and international experiences on the boards and committees of several organizations have given him “the opportunity to observe the most recent trends and pedagogies in China and around the world,” he wrote.
Liu commended DKU as “an example of how higher education can bring together people from across the globe … to address many of the most pressing needs of our time,” crediting students, faculty and staff.
He also applauded contributions from the board of trustees, parents, donors and “many other partners and friends” at Duke University, Wuhan University and the city of Kunshan.
“It would not have been possible without this incredible group of change-makers,” he wrote.
Junior DongKun Lyu, a DKU student currently at Duke, expressed his appreciation for the previous chancellor, Feng Youmei. He stated that she always spoke with students on campus and listened to their needs. He hopes that the new chancellor will make the same efforts to communicate with students and provide "more free and respectful spaces for discussion."
Junior Flora Xu also expressed her affection towards the previous chancellor’s dedication to listening to student opinions. However, she expressed her concern about the inefficiency and hierarchy of some non-academic departments in DKU. “I’m really expecting the [new] chancellor to change this,” she said.
“It’s difficult to run a university, and it is even more difficult to develop a university jointly run by China and the United States. So I think it's a big challenge," Lyu said.
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