With the opening of Duke Kunshan University a few months away, administrators are focusing on logistics—including the fact that only one of the six buildings will be ready when the campus welcomes its first students.
Set to open in August, DKU will initially offer semester-long undergraduate programs and several graduate programs. Work on many of the final details of student life—including housing assignments, dining arrangements, shuttle schedules and planning for co-curricular activities—are underway now, said Nora Bynum, vice provost for DKU and China Initiatives. Contrary to earlier plans, however, DKU's conference center will be the only building open when the campus launches.
“It will be a busy summer at DKU as the team prepares to welcome our students and faculty, but we have already done a tremendous amount of planning and preparation,” Bynum said.
Students are registering for courses, and the administration is working on classroom and faculty assignments as campus construction continues. Students and faculty members will initially be housed in the conference center and classes will be held there as well as in temporary classroom space. Bynum added that DKU's academic center is expected to be completed this Fall and that classes will be transitioned there upon completion.
“We look forward to moving in to the conference center in August and the other buildings soon thereafter,” she said.
In Fall 2013, administrators said that the conference center and academic building would be completed July 4, 2014, and three other buildings would be finished by late summer.
"The general contractor anticipates the overall building construction will be completed before students arrive, but Duke must complete system testing and final touch ups before allowing classes to begin," Bynum wrote in an email Tuesday.
The delay comes as one in a string of construction setbacks for DKU. With an initial target opening of Fall 2011, the project has faced issues with management and communication and been pushed back several times—notably 2012, when almost a year passed with no construction.
The timetable for the opening of the Academic Center and other buildings is not yet certain, though it should be sometime in the Fall, Bynum said.
"The other facilities will be ready for occupancy as soon as possible during the Fall semester," Bynum wrote. "Incoming students and faculty are aware of this schedule and we expect it will not impact their experience."
Along with construction, administrators are also working to secure faculty and staff. There are approximately thirty full-time DKU employees currently on staff and the DKU leadership team continues to hire program and campus operations personnel—with more than 20 positions currently open on DKU's website. Chaired by Professor Edna Andrews, a nominating committee of Duke faculty members leads the international searches, chaired by Edna Andrews, professor of linguistics and cultural anthropology and Nancy and Jeffrey Marcus professor of Slavic and Eurasian studies.
“We are completing a very successful year of faculty recruitment and hiring for DKU,” Bynum said. “More than a dozen Duke faculty members will be in Kunshan in Fall semester 2014.”
Graduate faculty are presently finalizing their syllabi and teaching plans as the administration organizes pre-arrival information and orientation planning, said Sarah Martin, assistant director of graduate programs at the Duke Global Health Institute.
Martin added that the Duke Global Health Institute has recruited five faculty members to teach in the Kunshan program, several of which are already in Kunshan and actively involved in the campus.
“We look forward to launching this program on the new DKU campus,” said Martin.
Erin Medlyn, public relations director for the Fuqua School of Business, said the MMS administration is pleased with the interest seen in the satellite program as well as the quality of the applicants.
“We are particularly excited because the MMS students will be the first from DKU to begin a Duke program,” said Medlyn, adding that the class will begin in Durham in July.