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Uni. searching for DKU academic leader

By the end of the Spring, administrators expect to appoint Duke Kunshan University’s first chief academic administrator.

Throughout the semester, a committee of seven faculty members appointed by Provost Peter Lange from across the University will lead an international search for DKU’s vice chancellor. Modeled after the British system, the vice chancellor will act as a mixture between a university president and a provost—both the executive and academic leader of the new China campus. The committee will select a nominee for vice chancellor by the end of the Spring, pending approval by Lange, President Richard Brodhead and the Board of Trustees.

The vice chancellor will be instrumental in preparing for the campus’ opening, expected Spring 2013, said Nora Bynum, associate vice provost for the Office of Global Strategy and Programs and managing director for DKU and China initiatives.

“Earlier, there were too many uncertainties about timing,” Bynum said. “At this point in our development, there’s a strong role this [vice chancellor] can play from here on out.”

Although the candidates are not required to have background knowledge in Chinese education specifically, she said they should have a working knowledge of American research universities and experience with international initiatives in higher education. The committee is looking for candidates with qualities of academic leadership, and although Chinese language would not hurt a candidate, it is not a requisite for the position.

Although the vice chancellor will be the executive leader of the university, he or she will report to the board of DKU and the schools’s chancellor—Liu Jingnan, former president of DKU’s academic partner, Wuhan University.

The search committee aims to make a selection by the end of the semester, Bynum said. The committee will be chaired by Jeffrey Vincent, Clarence F. Korstian Professor of forest economics and management. Additional members include Gary Bennett, associate professor of psychology and neuroscience; Rey Chow, Anne Firor Scott professor of literature; Haiyan Gao, chair of the physics department; Dr. Wei Jiang, professor of biological psychiatry; Giovanna Merli, associate professor of public policy studies; and Devavrat Debu Purohit, Bob J. White professor of business administration at the Fuqua School of Business.

Vincent, who could not be reached for comment, is also chair of the Academic Council’s global priorities committee. In this role, he sits alongside Bennett, Chow, Gao and Merli on the China Faculty Council.

“They’re people whose opinions I have a respect for and the faculty have a high respect for,” Lange said.

Gao, who spent part of her childhood in the Kunshan area, said the search committee will actively consult numerous administrators and faculty members at Duke and abroad throughout the search process. William Kirby, T. M. Chang professor of China studies at Harvard University and Duke’s senior adviser on China, will act as a nonvoting ex officio member of the committee. James Roberts, executive vice provost for finance and administration and DKU board member, will also be an ex officio member.

At the end of the search for the vice chancellor, the committee will present several nominees to Lange, who will make a decision alongside Brodhead, Gao added. The decision will then be presented to the Board of Trustees for final approval.

The exact title and role of DKU’s vice chancellor are still in flux, Bynum said.

At Chinese universities, the chancellor—who must be a Chinese citizen per Ministry of Education policy—acts as the external face of the university in a largely ceremonial position. Lange noted that the vice chancellor will share these formal roles but also lead administrative initiatives, such as working with faculty to develop academic programs and establishing a model for faculty governance.

“It’s a role that’s evolving,” he said.

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