Duke Kunshan University will open for students later than recently anticipated.

Administrators expect that academic programming at DKU will begin Fall 2013—a several month-long delay. Five of the six buildings at the campus will not be completed until late summer 2013, said Nora Bynum, associate vice provost for the Office of Global Strategy and Programs and managing director for DKU and China initiatives.

Bynum announced the delay with other recent developments in a presentation at this weekend’s Duke-UNC China Leadership Summit. At the second annual conference, students from Duke and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill gathered for three days to discuss technological developments in China as well as Duke’s burgeoning presence there.

As of September 2011, DKU was slated to open for students Spring 2013, though administrators originally expected that it would be ready Fall 2012. Bynum said more detailed information about construction caused administrators to push the predicted completion date back. The opening date for the sixth building, which will be used for research and development, is still unclear because details regarding necessary laboratory space have yet to be finalized.

She added that the delay is unrelated to the current status of DKU’s proposal to the Chinese Ministry of Education, whose approval is required to open an American university in China.

“It seems that summer 2013 is better, safer,” she said in an interview.

The first academic program for DKU—a Master of Management Studies program through the Fuqua School of Business in which students will spend two semesters in Durham and one in Kunshan—was expected to launch summer 2012, with students going to DKU Spring 2013.

Fuqua now expects that students will spend summer and Fall 2013 in Durham and Spring 2014 in Kunshan. Other academic programming at DKU might begin Fall 2013, Bynum wrote in an email Sunday.

Bynum is traveling to China Monday to take part in the next step in Ministry of Education approval. An expert panel from the Ministry of Education is expected to visit the DKU campus sometime within the next two weeks, though the precise date has not been confirmed, she said. Following its review of the campus and the proposal, the expert panel will deliberate and then inform Duke on the status of its application—either approval or a request for revision.

In addition to Bynum’s presentation at the conference, there was also a discussion with two student representatives from Wuhan University—DKU’s academic partner. One student, Wuhan senior Bolong Song, said he wishes that he was able to study at DKU, and he would choose a business program there instead of other top-tier universities in China.

“If it is going to have Duke faculty, then definitely I choose [DKU],” Song said.

Sophomore Helen Cai, executive director of the Duke portion of the conference, and other students involved with the China Leadership Summit have been working with the Office of Global Strategy and Programs during the past few weeks to build Duke’s relationship with Wuhan. The summit unites students in the region who are interested in China and familiarizes them with the resources these universities have to offer­­­. The opportunity to connect Duke and Wuhan students is a prime example, she added.

“We hope that in the future we can create more dialogue and discussion and opportunity to do exchange with Wuhan,” Cai said. “Wuhan is a great university in China and having this continuous relationship with Wuhan would be great for Duke in terms of DKU and [the China Leadership Summit].”

Hosting these panels at the China Leadership Summit aligns with the Office of Global Strategy and Programs’ ongoing goal of increasing student involvement in DKU discussions, said Junyang Wang, Trinity ’11 and student liaison to the office.

In addition to participating in this weekend’s conference, Wang noted that the office is building a DKU student interest group and hosting a series of public discussions—the next of which will take place March 20.