President Vincent Price Envisions a University Deeply Engaged with the Community

The following is an excerpt from President Vincent E. Price’s inauguration speech on October 5, 2017. The full text can be found here.

“We are, finally, called upon today to renew our commitment to healing and to serving our surrounding communities.  At each key moment of institutional regeneration, our predecessors understood and reconfirmed their obligation to marshal Duke’s teaching, learning, and discovery to positive social ends, and so we do today.  We heal human injuries and illnesses; we work to heal division within our own community; and we use our skills and knowledge to aid healing and reconciliation elsewhere.  We serve our fellow students and colleagues, our local community, and the world beyond to improve life and well-being for others.

This work begins here on campus.  Our new century demands that we prepare ourselves for a diverse and often chaotic world, whose challenges, controversies, and crises do not stop at Duke’s gates. We need to work together to defend — even seek out – voices that are different from our own. This is hard work, but if we are to heal the divisions in the world we have to open ourselves, honestly and deeply, to a diversity of perspectives.

One great advantage Duke has in this work is that we are part of a vibrantly global community. But we must be careful not to overlook the challenges and opportunities in our own backyard. James B. Duke called on us, in his words, to “develop our resources, increase our wisdom, and promote human happiness.” The truest tests of our commitment to healing and serving, the most accurate gauges of our resolve, are right here in North Carolina.  

We have done much over the past decade to strengthen our service to this city and region. And yet, much good work remains.

Are we bold enough to consciously work to break down the division between what we do regionally and what we do globally? Are we humble enough to understand that we need not travel to the other side of the world to find communities in need, both rural and urban, or willing partners with whom we can work to propel human welfare, creativity, and fulfillment? 

Our new century calls for a university that grounds its ambition to heal and serve the world in humility; that confronts its own problems as readily as it does others’, and that shows its most generous and supportive self to its own neighborhood.

I believe Duke can and will be that university.”