Convocation Ceremony Marks Official Opening of Duke Kunshan University

Duke Kunshan University held its opening convocation to welcome the university’s first students and faculty members and celebrate the beginning of academic operations on Wed, August 20. The convocation program featured Chinese and American cultural and academic traditions including a formal academic procession and a Kun Opera performance.  DKU students publicly signed the university’s Community Standard, pledging to uphold principles of honesty, fairness, respect and responsibility. DKU Chancellor Liu Jingnan and Executive Vice Chancellor Mary Brown Bullock emphasized the importance of seeking truth, ethical standards, and “knowledge in service to society” during their remarks.

A moment of silence was observed at the beginning of the convocation to honor victims of an August 2 factory explosion in Kunshan and an August 3 earthquake in Yunnan Province.

The convocation marks the first day of orientation for students in the DKU Undergraduate Global Learning Semester, Master of Science in Global Health, and Master of Science in Medical Physics programs. Students in the Master of Management Studies: DKU program began their studies on Duke’s campus in Durham, USA, in July, and will arrive in Kunshan in January.

 The orientation week is filled with sessions on campus policies, safety and health, faculty advising meetings, library resources, academic integrity, intercultural competence, and more. Group activities and social events including an ice cream social, movie night, community service work, a barbeque dinner and an excursion to a local water town, also provide students opportunities to get to know each other and prepare for campus life at DKU.

29 DKU faculty members, including 22 from Duke University, also participated in the convocation. Faculty chair and speaker William Johnson, professor of classics at Duke University, noted that DKU’s “potential for working out shared visions and mutual understandings” would bring an “increasingly cosmopolitan outlook” to Duke and its faculty. 

Ye Yongling, an undergraduate student from China, and Ginny De La Cruz, an American student in the Master of Science in Global Health program, shared greetings on behalf of the undergraduate and graduate student communities. Ye, who attends the School of Public Health at Wuhan University, shared his personal story of realizing the importance of being open-minded in the era of globalization and his expectation to “grow a further understanding of global citizenship” through DKU’s undergraduate semester program.

“Let’s be a source of support for each other and help each other make the most of our experience here,” De La Cruz proposed to her fellow students. “Let’s help DKU become a place that supports growth and development.”

DKU students and faculty members will begin classes August 25. The DKU Undergraduate Global Learning Semester program welcomed 62 undergraduate students from 22 different universities, including 16 from Duke University and Wuhan University, the two partners for the creation of DKU. DKU’s undergraduate students are pursuing majors in 29 different disciplines at their home universities. The DKU Undergraduate Global Learning Semester facilitates learning across disciplines and the exploration of a broad range of areas of study. Courses in the first session of the fall semester include topics in the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, and language studies, and grant course credit from Duke University for transfer to the students’ home institutions.

DKU’s three masters programs in global health, medical physics and management studies have enrolled 42 graduate students from 11 countries, including the United States, China, Russia, Argentina, Kenya and Singapore. Those students will receive master’s degrees from Duke University upon the completion of their studies.

“We are delighted to welcome this inaugural class of outstanding students, ” said Liu, “they are going to have a world-class educational experience that I hope will help them become future leaders in their respective fields.” Bullock added, “Today’s convocation is a great example of how we are working together with our students and faculty to shape the traditions and culture of a global learning community. Together, we look forward to pioneering a new model for the future of global higher education.”


Kun Opera performance welcomes DKU students


DKU students at the convocation


Chancellor Liu addresses to students and faculty


Executive Vice Chancellor Bullock delivers her speech


Faculty chair and speaker makes his remarks


Ginny De La Cruz speaks on behalf of graduate students


Yongling Ye speaks on behalf of undergraduate students


A student signs DKU community standard


A student with Chancellor Liu and EVC Bullock after signing community standard


Faculty group photo with Chancellor Liu and EVC Bullock


Students group photo with Chancellor Liu and EVC Bullock