Price Highlights Transitions in Annual Address to the Faculty

Price said faculty and administrators must today work together just as they had in 1963 to create a shared vision for the university that will enable it to “not only lead but to thrive in the century to come.”

“Today, Duke sits in a position of real leadership. We also sit at the confluence of strong societal and economic currents—of financial challenges and the disruptions of a post-pandemic labor market; of political tensions and questions of open inquiry and respectful discourse; of the continued promulgation of disinformation; of the opportunities and threats posed by technology; and of the fraught mental health and wellness landscape of our student population.

“Taken together, I believe this is a moment of transition just as profound as that of the 1960s. And we are rightfully asking ourselves again some challenging questions. What should change, and how quickly should we change it? What is our shared vision for the future, and how should we arrive there?” (Read the full text of the address on the president’s website.)

Price listed several areas where faculty and administration collaboration are already showing results in the five areas he has cited in the university’s strategic vision.

One of those planks is strengthening the campus community; one facet of that priority is QuadEx, where faculty are helping students to closely align their residential and academic experiences in ways that benefit both.

“Seven QuadEx faculty fellows are helping to lead the way—forming meaningful bonds with students outside of the classroom,” Price said. “Already this is bearing fruit: a survey of members of the Class of 2026 showed that 94 percent felt they belonged at Duke, an extraordinary number among our peer institutions.

“We’re also turning our attention to creating stronger community ties in the graduate and professional student population. Implementation of the Reimagining Doctoral Education initiative, which was launched under the Together Duke academic plan, is transforming the experience of PhD students, and there are significant opportunities for improvement and greater coordination across all our programs.”

Price also cited the faculty’s contributions to the Climate Commitment and the Racial Equity Advisory Committee (REAC), noting that later this year REAC will release the first “Duke Annual Report on Racial Equity,” which will help departments and other units track and measure their progress on fostering a more inclusive campus climate.

“Our faculty is also changing in meaningful ways,” Price said. “In the past few years, we’ve hired over two dozen faculty members whose scholarship focuses on racial and social equity. And from 2017 to 2022, we made significant gains in demographic diversity, including a 51 percent increase in our number of Black-identifying faculty, a 30 percent increase in our Hispanic faculty, and a 17 percent increase in our Asian and Asian American faculty. These hiring efforts will continue apace.”

Price also cited other scholarly initiatives that are positioning the university as a leader on major challenges both locally and around the world. He highlighted the Duke Science & Technology Initiative and ongoing efforts to strengthen research support.  He also hailed ongoing work on a new Trinity College curriculum now under discussion, “which I anticipate will include significant opportunities for collaboration and partnership with the other schools.”

During the university’s centennial beginning next year, Price said Duke will celebrate these transitions and others that made Duke a stronger institution. But he added that Duke’s strengths also are from its continuing traditions, and these too will be honored.

“We’ll also be celebrating the things that haven’t changed: our values of integrity, service, and shared governance, our ambitions, and—above all—our exceptional students, staff, alumni, and faculty.”

Following his address, Price answered questions from the faculty:

On concerns about the future of Duke Kunshan under deteriorating relations between the United States and China: “Duke Kunshan is an incredible institution where a lot of good things are happening. But it is a tricky time.  What we’ve been talking about is leaning into the original vision, thinking of DKU as a platform for research collaboration. On climate research, on public health work, DKU remains a great place to address global challenges.”

On supporting Durham: “Our approach is not to think about what Duke can do for Durham; it’s about what Durham can do and wants to do with assistance from Duke.  [Vice President for Durham and Community Affairs] Stelfanie Williams has focused on several core issues where Duke can provide valuable assistance: affordable housing, early child and family developing, supporting public health and upscaling the workforce for innovation and economic change.

There are concerns about reducing violence in Durham, but our approach is that all of those things I just mentioned are core to reducing violence. Only through work on these will youths be able to see a vision for a possible future.”

On concerns about college affordability: “The greatest pressure is on families who are just above the line for financial aid. We have to look very carefully at those students because they are probably feeling more pain. I’ll also mention that we also need more graduate aid. We talk about the loan burden of undergraduates; I’m just as concerned about the loan burden of graduate and professional students.  The bottom line is we need more financial aid funding, and that will be featured in the next capital campaign.”