Construction delays in China mean students and faculty will be housed in a conference center—the only standing building on campus—when they arrive at Duke Kunshan University in August.
After a number of setbacks, DKU is scheduled to officially open next month—three years after its initial launch date. The last of the plans for the August opening are being finalized by a team of administrators, who say that the campus is ready to welcome its first students this Fall. Initially, DKU will offer semester-long undergraduate programs and several graduate programs including a Master's in Global Health and Master's of Management Studies.
The idea of a Kunshan campus was first pursued by the Fuqua School of Business, and by the winter of 2009, the school had secured a partnership with Shanghai Jiao Tong University and was scheduled to open by Fall 2011. The partnership with SJTU fell through, however, and the opening was pushed back to Fall 2012 while the University looked for a new partner—finalizing a deal with Wuhan University in February 2011.
In September 2011, then-Provost Peter Lange announced that the opening would be delayed to Spring 2013 because of construction challenges related to poor weather. Issues with construction and funding persisted, and work came nearly to a stop in 2012, causing the opening to be pushed back to the current schedule. In Fall 2013, administrators maintained that five of the campus' six buildings would be completed by this summer—but construction will continue on all but one of the buildings throughout the Fall semester.
“The other facilities will be ready for occupancy as soon as possible during the Fall semester,” Nora Bynum, vice provost for DKU and China Initiatives, previously told The Chronicle. “Incoming students and faculty are aware of this schedule and we expect it will not impact their experience.”
The DKU conference center—where students and faculty members will initially be housed—will serve as the sole site for classrooms until the Academic Center is completed, Bynum said.
Approximately thirty full-time DKU employees are currently on staff as the DKU leadership team continues to hire program and campus operations personnel. Chaired by Professor Edna Andrews, a nominating committee of Duke faculty members have led several international searches in order to complete a successful year of faculty recruitment. In addition, more than a dozen Duke faculty members will attend Kunshan in 2014.
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 DGHI has recruited five faculty members to teach in the program, several of whom 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 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 July in Durham.