Supporting the International Student Community at Duke
Senior Associate Dean for International Students Kevin D’Arco is keen to start in his new role
-By Chuck Givens
March 29, 2022
In the 2021-2022 academic year, international students make up roughly 22% of the overall student population at Duke. Kevin D’Arco was recently hired as the new Senior Associate Dean for International Students to help directly address the needs and concerns of the diverse Duke community.
Before landing at Duke, D’Arco spent nine years with Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar, working in several leadership roles including Director of First Year Programs and Coordinator of Community Standards. In 2019, D’Arco moved to South Korea and took the position of Assistant Dean of Students at the University of Utah’s Asia Campus.
Having spent over 11 years abroad, D’Arco, a New Jersey native, found the time was right to move back to the United States, and had his attention drawn to the newly created Senior Associate Dean role. “International experience is an incredibly important part of my life and kind of who I am professionally,” said D’Arco. “When I saw the opportunity for the role, I thought that I had something unique that I could bring, and I really felt compelled to apply.”
D’Arco feels that he can shape this new role by tapping into his previous experiences working as an expatriate in Qatar and South Korea. He can empathize with international students who are undergoing the visa process, moving to a new country or navigating the academic landscape, as he’s personally experienced those challenges. And he understands that these issues will be significant part of what he is tasked to do at Duke.
“WE CAN BE MINDFUL OF HOW WE CREATE COMMUNITY”
Even though his primary focus will be international students, D’Arco sees opportunities for outreach to Duke’s domestic student population. “There’s a lot of value that American students can gain from interacting or joining in cultural celebrations and being a part of intercultural dialogues,” he said. “I think my role is going to help bridge both of those spaces and that’s something that I’m keen on doing.”
Having worked in higher education for most of his career, D’Arco is aware that policy is hard to change overnight. He wants to amplify the voices of international students across the campus Duke. Based on conversations with students, D’Arco says that his top priorities are student-focused initiatives and building up the community of international students. “We can be mindful of how we create community. We just need to figure out what that recipe is that brings everybody together so that we can continue to have those conversations and create more opportunities for exposure.”
“INTERNATIONAL HOUSE IS NOT JUST FOR INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS”
One option for D’Arco to create those opportunities for exposure is through Duke’s stressing that despite the name, “International House is not just for international students.” He firmly believes it is a space meant for all students, regardless of what their passport may say. “We think that there’s value in those interactions and those experiences.” D’Arco also sees value in the IHouse staff he works alongside, saying “I’m just really fortunate to have an incredible staff that I can continue to build with. They’re fantastic, and I’m so thrilled to be working with them.”
One option for D’Arco to create those opportunities for exposure is through Duke’s International House. D’Arco stressed that despite the name, “International House is not just for international students.” He firmly believes it is a space meant for all students, regardless of what their passport may say. “We think that there’s value in those interactions and those experiences.” D’Arco also values the IHouse staff he works alongside. He said, “I’m just really fortunate to have an incredible staff that I can continue to build with. They’re fantastic, and I’m so thrilled to be working with them.”
Working at a university, in whatever capacity, means staying nimble and adjusting to the ever-changing academic landscape. As a result, no one is ever truly finished with their work, and Kevin D’Arco thinks that suits him perfectly. “I’m somebody who wants to keep on evolving, keep on building, keep on thinking about how we support students and where we’re heading as a campus,” said D’Arco. “I’m always trying to think about how we can continue to improve.”