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Fuqua faces challenges in going global

The Fuqua School of Business is working to push the limits of global education and in doing so, sets itself apart in its pursuit of establishing full degree programs abroad.

Fuqua offers a cross-continental MBA and a global executive MBA that provide business education throughout the world, but efforts to establish satellite degree-granting programs in Dubai and Kunshan, China, have hit roadblocks. Since his appointment in February to a five-year term as dean of the business school, Bill Boulding hopes to continue the focus on global expansion, adopting the catchphrase “embedded and connected” to describe the school’s aim to understand a region’s economic needs and unite international perspectives.

“If you want to be a great business school, you have to be global,” Boulding said. “And if you’re going to be global, you need to be in all parts of the world that really matter in our future.”

The cross-continental MBA and the global executive MBA are established degree programs born out of partnerships with multiple international universities. Both require students to spend about a week in each of various international locations and augment their experience with online- and Durham-based learning. In the last three years, Fuqua has proposed two degree-granting programs in single locations abroad: Kunshan, China and Dubai. These attempts to establish international degree programs are risky but unique—none of the country’s other top 15 business schools currently operate a degree-granting program in a single location abroad.

“Business schools were built on a model that said it’s going to be at its core capitalism and efficient markets and the only question about what it meant to be global was how quickly would everyone else converge to the same model of doing business,” Boulding said. “When we look around the world today, we know that world doesn’t exist.”

Despite Fuqua’s ambitions to establish single-location degree programs, both the Dubai and Kunshan proposals have struggled.

In June 2010, Fuqua obtained a two-year license from the United Arab Emirates to establish a degree program in the country, and at the September 2011 meeting of the Academic Council, Fuqua submitted a proposal to establish a Master of Management Studies degree program in finance in Dubai. The program was intended for working professionals in the Middle East and, according to the proposal, the project would be partially funded by the Securities and Commodities Authority of the United Arab Emirates. The facilities for the program were to be provided by the UAE Authority as well as up to $1.48 million of financial support.

Applications for the program opened in Spring 2012. But that May—just six months after the program had been officially introduced—Fuqua announced that its license from the UAE had expired, and the program would not launch in Fall 2012. At that time, Fuqua administrators maintained that the program was on hold and said that they remained optimistic.

But Fuqua has not been able to reconcile with its UAE partners, and there are presently no plans to re-establish the program.

“That’s a program where we have to have support from our partners to make that program work,” Boulding said. “There have been some changes where it’s not clear that we’re going to be able to engage in that partnership in a way that satisfies our partners that can satisfy us.”

The school is, however, still working on its presence in the Middle East.

“Our current activities in the Middle East are focused on non-degree executive education and our MBA program residencies,” wrote Jennifer Francis, senior dean for academic programs, in an April 5 response to an email inquiring as to whether the degree program in Dubai was still being pursued.

Fuqua is currently working to establish a second international degree-granting program—a Master of Management Studies degree earned at Duke and Duke Kunshan University.

Duke’s presence in Kunshan was originally spearheaded by former Fuqua Dean Blair Sheppard, who introduced plans to operate several Kunshan-based Fuqua degree programs in 2009. But work on the Kunshan campus was consistently delayed, and Sheppard stepped down from his position in August 2011. After Sheppard’s departure, Fuqua involvement in DKU was scaled back significantly, as the school reduced the number of programs it planned to offer at the China campus from several to a single semester-long experience. DKU has since increased its academic focus on undergraduates and other parts of the University. A previous attempt to establish an international Fuqua campus was the Fuqua School of Business Europe, based in Frankfurt. The project was another initiative of Sheppard’s, who at the time was senior associate dean for academic programs. The campus, announced in 1999, opened a year later in 2000. Because of difficulty in recruiting European students and low enrollment rates, Fuqua started to cut funding to the school in 2002 and closed the campus in 2003.

Still, Fuqua has seen success with its multilocation global degree programs. The global executive MBA—launched in 1996—and the cross-continental MBA—launched in 2000— involve students spending one-week periods in St. Petersburg, London, Shanghai, New Delhi and Dubai.

“Durham’s a wonderful place, but realistically, it’s not the center of the business universe,” Boulding said. “When we developed an aspiration many, many years ago to develop a great global business school, we realized that the world was not going to come to Durham. We would have to go out into the world.”

As he enters his first full-length term, Boulding said he hopes to continue developing Fuqua’s presence in areas of the world where it already has programs. Two areas for Fuqua’s expansion are Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa, though there are no current plans to start degree programs in those regions.

Students, who are largely excited about Boulding’s reappointment, said these international opportunities as well as the perspectives of international students, generally enhance the educational experience.

“It’s a necessary thing to be out in the world because the world is changing,” said Konstantinos Vasilakakis, a first-year master’s student.

Other students were more skeptical.

“One concern is whether its diluting the brand or not,” said first-year MBA student Julia Bethune of Fuqua’s global expansion.

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