Thirty-nine Duke Kunshan students received Duke diplomas in an afternoon ceremony at Karsh Alumni and Visitors Center. Most spent the last semester at Duke, while some were studying remotely and unable to get to China for commencement in Kunshan, where commencement was held Thursday night for the other 237 graduates from Duke Kunshan’s second undergraduate class.
“Many of you have made the most of this challenging situation by fully immersing yourselves in academic and campus life here at Duke,” Duke President Vincent Price told the graduates in Durham. “Through it all, you have built a strong community of support, fostered lifelong relationships, and remained committed to the ideals and purposes of higher education.”
Duke professor and physicist Haiyan Gao, who spent part of her childhood in Kunshan and later helped launch Duke Kunshan University, was commencement speaker for the event at Karsh.
“Be a wise leader with a moral compass to navigate and to lead; make an impact on the communities that you are a part of whether that is your local community, your future professional community, and through connecting to broader communities,” Gao said. “You selected Duke Kunshan University, a budding new university for perhaps the most important part of your life, the transition from a high-school graduate to a college graduate, so you are a leader already.”
Duke Kunshan will celebrate its 10th anniversary in the coming year. Jennifer Francis, currently interim vice provost at Duke, was one of the first Duke faculty to teach in Kunshan, where she served as interim executive vice chancellor and as chair of the Board of Trustees during the time this year’s class was enrolled.
“So I am able to stand before you and say with great certainty,” Francis said at the Durham event, “your time as Duke Kunshan students has been truly extraordinary, and your class has left a lasting imprint on both Duke and DKU.”