Duke is upping the amount of money it is spending on DKU construction oversight to a yet-to-be-determined amount.
Following several construction-related delays to the campus’ opening, Duke will spend more than the $8 million it previously committed to Duke Kunshan University for monitoring construction, but administrators have not settled on a specific number. The additional funding is needed to pay for the lengthened construction schedule and additional product testing and commissioning, said Executive Vice President Tallman Trask. The campus will open in Fall 2014.
The most recent increase in oversight funding was noted in a slideshow presented to the Arts and Sciences Council last Thursday. Provost Peter Lange did not elaborate on the increase in his remarks to the council.
All funding for DKU construction oversight comes from Duke’s general capital funds, Lange said. This source is used to pay for various University projects and cannot fund academic programs.
Construction oversight funding increased from $5.5 to $8 million in early 2012. The increase was noted in a slideshow presented to Academic Council in February 2012. There was no mention of this increase to $8 million in the transcript of the council meeting.
Academic planning is a significant part of DKU’s operating costs, which Duke began funding in fiscal year 2012. Duke will pay about $38 million in operating costs over seven years, from fiscal year 2012 through DKU’s first few years in operation.
In fiscal year 2011-2012, Duke budgeted $2.7 million in operating costs, but it spent only $275,000 due to slowed progress on the project, Lange said. Some of these costs included hiring of administrative staff and advisors for DKU’s academic programming. In fiscal year 2013, Duke expects to spend $2 million toward operations, though it budgeted $3.9 million. This money comes from a variety of sources, including the Office of Global Strategy and Programs’ strategic initiatives and programs fund.
Contributions are another source of funding for DKU’s operating costs. Jim Roberts, executive vice provost for finance and administration and member of the future DKU board of directors, declined to comment on how much Duke has raised in gifts and donations dedicated to DKU to date.
“There is some money in the bank, and foundations are being laid,” he said.
In the last year, faculty had been planning academic programs to debut Spring 2014, but when it became clear that only the conference center and a maintenance facility will be completed by then, the programs were pushed back. By the campus’ opening, administrators anticipate that the academic building as well as student and faculty residences will be ready for occupation. But it is unclear when the last building—the research center—will open.
Administrators and faculty leaders briefly considered hosting academic programs in the conference building in Spring 2014, said Global Priorities Committee Chair Jeff Vincent, Clarence F. Korstian professor of forest economics and management. Duke plans to host events in the conference center starting 2014.
Despite the construction delay, courses for DKU’s first semester will be approved by an Arts and Sciences Council committee on its original timeline. The committee will convene in March and make recommendations for programming approval soon after, said Council Chair Thomas Robisheaux, Fred W. Schaffer professor of history.
Robisheaux said he has encountered faculty with a wide array of responses to the latest delay and construction issues, but most faculty members are primarily concerned with transparency.
If the campus had opened in Spring 2014, the academic programming would have offered approximately six courses as part of a pilot program. DKU will offer a fuller course selection of about 12 courses in Fall 2014, Lange said.
Faculty can now choose whether to push back programming to Fall 2014 or Spring 2015, or they can rescind their projects. Academic Council Chair Susan Lozier and Robisheaux said they had not yet heard of faculty looking to step back from their projects due to the delay.
“To me, delays are inevitable,” Lozier said. “Lack of enthusiasm or lack of commitment is more worrisome.”
Duke still needs final establishment approval from the Chinese Ministry of Education in order for DKU to offer independent degree programs and recruit students. Duke received preliminary approval from the MOE in August 2012, after submitting its initial application in June 2011.
Administrators plan to submit the establishment approval packet by April, but there is no definitive timeline for a response from the MOE.
Without MOE approval, Duke will only be able to offer non-degree programs conducted in partnership with any Chinese university. Many of the programs that faculty were hoping to launch in Spring 2014 could be carried out in conjunction with another university, like undergraduate study abroad, meaning they do not require final MOE approval.
Lange will speak to Academic Council Thursday regarding DKU. Lozier said she hopes Thursday’s meeting will provide a forum for administrators to be transparent with faculty members, noting that she believes that they have been transparent so far.
“I want time for [faculty] to ask as many questions as they can,” said Lozier, Ronie-Richele Garcia-Johnson professor of physical oceanography. “For some people, it’s very abstract.”