Duke University announced Friday its 10th president will be University of Pennsylvania Provost Vincent Edward Price, an academic who is widely known for embracing diversity while moving campuses into a global economy that brings new technology challenges.
The Duke trustees approved the decision at their Friday board meeting, setting off a series of introductions across campus that brought applause from faculty and staff at an afternoon reception for the 59-year-old native Californian and numerous questions from students curious about the next campus leader.
Price, whose academic background is in communications and political science, will succeed Richard Brodhead, 69, who will leave his post in the summer of 2017 after 13 years at the helm of Duke.
In the seven months since Brodhead announced his retirement plans, a 19-member search committee narrowed a field of candidates to seven people to be interviewed by a panel in New York. That group was narrowed to three people, who then came to Durham for more interviews.
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Price, who has been a Penn’s provost since 2009, rose to the top of that small group as the man who will lead Duke into its next era. Jack Bovender, vice chair of the Duke trustees, said Price was the unanimous choice after an intensive international search.
“Vince Price has demonstrated throughout his distinguished academic career the type of strong, effective and enlightened leadership which will ensure that Duke has a worthy successor to Dick Brodhead,” said David Rubenstein, the Duke trustees chairman, Friday.
Price, as Penn’s chief academic officer, has overseen the university’s 12 schools and colleges, its centers and institutes, student affairs, athletics and the arts.
While there, he has advocated for more faculty diversity and helped spearhead an effort that made Penn one of the first partners in Coursera, an online open-learning platform. Price hired Penn’s first vice provost for global initiatives and was involved with the creation of the Penn Wharton China Center in Beijing, which opened in 2015.
As Price and the Duke community celebrated the selection of the 10th president, they also mourned the news that Duke’s seventh president, Dr. H. Keith H. Brodie, had died Friday at the age of 77.
After Price addressed several hundred people who gathered at the Penn Pavilion on Duke’s West Campus Friday afternoon, he laid out several of the challenges he thought Duke would face during his tenure:
▪ Adapting to new technologies and making sure members of the Duke community are able to be lifelong learners;
▪ Managing the cost pressures in higher education as “efficiently as possible”; and
▪ Addressing a “globalized society, one that is becoming increasingly diverse.”
Brodhead’s tenure included a billion-dollar campus building boom and era of fundraising that capped off a rough beginning with the Duke lacrosse case. He told Price Friday that he looks forward to showing him the ropes at Duke the way his predecessor Nan Keohane had prepared him for the post.
Brodhead recalled a day, not unlike Friday, when he stepped out of the trustees meeting when he was selected as Duke’s ninth president.
“It’s a thrilling moment when it happens,” Brodhead recalled. “And you don’t know exactly what it means when it happens.”
He then looked at his successor and said: “I certainly know you by reputation in the highest possible terms.”
Under Brodhead’s leadership, Duke doubled its undergraduate applications, becoming ever more selective and admitting only 8.7 percent of applicants this year. He also expanded Duke’s global footprint, first with a new medical school in Singapore. Then, he led the creation of a new campus in China called Duke Kunshan University, a joint venture with Wuhan University in China and the city of Kunshan.
In Price’s speech to trustees Friday, he said he is honored to join a university “dedicated to improving our world through research, service and education.”
“Dick Brodhead’s extraordinary leadership magnified these core values and brought Duke to the pinnacle of global universities,” Price told the trustees.
“Now our collective challenge is to build upon and extend that work: to make Duke an ever more powerful voice for education and innovation, an ever more effective model for openness, diversity and inclusion, and an ever more engaged institution dedicated to identifying and solving the great challenges of society,” he said.
Price, who has been in an administrative role for the past decade, is known for his research on public opinion, social influence and political communication. His research has explored the role of online discussion in shaping public knowledge and opinion.
Price earned his doctorate and master’s degrees in communication from Stanford University and graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor of arts degree in English from Santa Clara University in 1979.
Before joining the faculty at Penn in 1998, he was chair and associate professor of communication studies and a faculty associate of the Center for Political Studies at the University of Michigan.
Amy Gutmann, president of Penn, and David L. Cohen, chairman of the Penn trustees, described Price’s appointment as a moment in which their happiness and pride for Price’s next step is “tinged with the sadness of our cherished colleague and friend departing.”
“To a person, every Penn trustee admires the leadership that Vince has brought in his role as provost at Penn,” Cohen said in a statement. “He has a passion for academic excellence, and a remarkable talent for building and leading highly effective teams in a large and complex environment. At Duke, he will be a president who will be accessible to deans, faculty, staff, students and alumni.”
Price has been a supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement and other efforts in higher education to promote inclusiveness. Price said he thinks it’s important for universities to take stands on important social issues.
“Diversity and inclusion have long been among the most critical elements of a great university, and of the good society,” Price said in his greeting to the Duke community. “They must be actively sought, promoted and nurtured, and rightly deserved to be celebrated. What’s often missing from the conversation are the values behind the concepts, the meaning behind the demographic data. We acknowledge that having a diverse community is important, but we don’t always say why.”
Price, who visited Durham on Friday with his wife, Annette, said he plans to be out and about on campus, and in Durham, as much as possible. He plans to be a regular at Duke games. “I look forward to being a Cameron Crazy tomorrow night,” he said at an afternoon reception.
He enjoys being around students and plans to eat with them as his time allows, he said.
“I also love to walk,” Price said, telling the student journalists in the room that they would see him frequently with his two dogs, Scout and Cricket.
West Coast beginnings
Price was born in Torrance, Calif., a suburb of Los Angeles, and grew up there with his five brothers and two sisters.
Price attended parochial Catholic schools and Bishop Montgomery High School, a Diocesan high school, where he ran cross country, did the pole vault in track and field and finished as the valedictorian.
He describes himself as a second-generation Californian. His mother was born in Los Angeles in 1924. His grandfather was a set decorator in motion pictures who worked on more than 50 films and was nominated for three Academy Awards in the category of Best Art Direction.
That Price has the same name as the actor, well known for his distinctive voice and performances in horror films, was not lost on social media users on Friday.
Twitter users had fun with the news, as one account that lists itself as being part of the Vincent Price Estate noted an unusual reincarnation for the actor – from horror films to president of Duke.
Duke University presidents
▪ William Preston Few, 1924-40
▪ Robert Lee Flowers, 1941-48
▪ Arthur Hollis Edens, 1949-60
▪ J. Deryl Hart, 1960-63
▪ Douglas Maitland Knight, 1963-69
▪ Terry Sanford, 1969-85
▪ H. Keith H. Brodie, 1985-93
▪ Nannerl Overholser Keohane, 1993-2004
▪ Richard H. Brodhead, 2004-17
▪ Vincent Edward Price, starting in 2017.
Vincent Edward Price
Education: Ph.D. and master’s degrees in communication from Stanford University; graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor of arts degree in English from the University Honors Program at Santa Clara University.
Academic career: Provost at University of Pennsylvania since 2009. Also the Steven H. Chaffee Professor of Communication in the Annenberg School for Communication and professor of political science in the School of Arts and Sciences. Before being named provost at Penn, he was associate provost for faculty affairs, chair of the Faculty Senate and associate dean of the Annenberg School. Previously was chair and associate professor of communication studies and a faculty associate of the Center for Political Studies at the University of Michigan.
Other roles: Former editor-in-chief of “Public Opinion Quarterly”; former guest editor of both “Communication Research” and “Political Communication”; taught as a visiting professor at the University of Paris-Sorbonne and the University of Amsterdam.
Family: Wife, Annette Price; two children, Sarah, 27, a graduate student at the University of Arizona, and Alexander, 25, who lives in Devon, Pa. Two dogs: Scout, an 8-year-old goldendoodle, and Cricket, a 6-year-old Labradoodle
What they’re saying
“I could not be more pleased with this decision, for Vince Price has demonstrated throughout his distinguished academic career the type of strong, effective and enlightened leadership which will ensure that Duke has a worthy successor to Dick Brodhead.”
David Rubenstein, chair of the Duke University Board of Trustees
“Congrats to Vincent Price. Known him a long time. Terrific successor to great leader, friend Richard Brodhead.”
UNC Chancellor Carol Folt, on Twitter
“Our goal was to identify a leader whose wisdom, vision and intelligence could sustain Duke’s remarkable progress over the last decade and help the university fulfill its great ambitions. Vince Price is that person.
Jack Bovender, vice chair of the Duke trustees