Provost Peter Lange steps down

After fifteen years, Peter Lange to step down as a university provost.
November 12, 2013

He’s a political scientist, yet when folks seek to describe Peter Lange in his role as provost, the word most often used is “architect.” And so, as he prepares to step down in June 2014 and design the next chapter of his life, Lange is being lauded for the relationships he helped forge, the global bridges he helped champion, and the campus growth he helped spur.

“Peter Lange has made his mark on Duke University as have few others,” said President Richard H. Brodhead in a statement.

When Lange departs at the culmination of a third term and fifteen years—making him the longest-sitting provost in Duke history—he’ll claim a legacy that includes overseeing two five-year strategic plans: “Making a Difference” in 2006 and “Building on Excellence” in 2001, which helped to establish interdisciplinary study and research as a university cornerstone. The collaborations that concept sparked include the Duke Global Health Institute, the Social Science Research Institute, the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, and the Institute for Brain Sciences.

Not walking away: Provost Peter Lange, center, will teach in the political science department. Les Todd

Lange also served as a leader in the university’s global expansion, including the DukeEngage program. And while his advocacy of Duke Kunshan University in China has been met with opposition from some faculty members, the campus is scheduled to launch in 2014. He also has supported Duke’s forays into online education.

Closer to campus, Lange was closely involved with the university’s expansion planning through the addition of a new library, and arts and other university facilities. And his influence is woven into the fabric of the university staff: He was involved in the appointment of all current university deans, and close to two-thirds of current faculty members joined the university during his tenure. 

“There’s a grind to the job sometimes that comes with the territory,” he told The News & Observer of Raleigh, “but there’s been so much excitement, so much innovation, so much openness to doing new things.”

To determine potential successors for Lange's position, Brodhead announced the appointment of a committee chaired by George Truskey, professor of biomedical engineering and senior associate dean for research in the Pratt School, along with six other faculty members, with the goal of finalizing candidates in late February. Meanwhile, Lange will remain the Thomas A. Langford University professor and, after some time off, will teach in the political science department.