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Duke Kunshan board has routine first meeting

The Duke Kunshan University Board of Trustees met in China for their inaugural meeting this week.

The independent seven-member board—comprised of three Duke representatives, two from the city of Kunshan and two from Wuhan University—came together to hear updates on construction, pricing, academics, enrollment and other ongoing matters, said Peter Lange, DKU board chair and Duke provost. He said that because it was the group’s first official meeting, the discussion was routine, and no major decisions were made.

“We [the Duke representatives] were primarily updating the board on all of the issues that are similar to what we have provided our colleagues at Duke,” Lange said, adding that the board communicates frequently through email.

Although Kunshan and Wuhan University trustees both gave updates, DKU staff made most of the presentations, Lange added.

The board signed off on the Articles of Association, a document previously approved by the Chinese Ministry of Education as part of the university establishment process. The trustees also approved a set of fundamental operating principles for the board. The bylaws call for three meetings each year, as well as the creation of an audit committee and a finance and administration committee.

Lange said some “technical questions” arose about construction. He declined to elaborate on specifics, but said the issues would not force the campus to open later than expected. The opening is slated for late summer 2014, with classes beginning that Fall.

DKU board member Jim Roberts, executive vice provost for finance and administration at Duke, last visited the campus in July. This time around, much of the scaffolding has come down, and walkways are now in place, he wrote in an email from China Wednesday. The meeting took place Monday and Tuesday at Wuhan. Lange and Roberts traveled to visit the campus site in Kunshan afterward.

DKU administrators are working with the Chinese pricing bureau to solidify tuition costs even as registration deadlines at the end of the year get nearer and nearer. Lange said the board members agreed on DKU’s proposed tuitions, but the board does not need to make a formal decision as the pricing bureau makes the final call.

“I’m very upbeat,” Lange said. “We seem to be on-target and on-plan, but obviously we would like to get this pricing question settled.”

The members of the board include Lange; Roberts; Duke Board of Trustees member Thomas Gorrie; Shen Jun, who runs the Kunshan Science, Technology and Education Park; Kunshan Vice Mayor Jin Ming; Wuhan Vice Chancellor Feng Youmei; Hong-Bing Shu, vice president for research and graduate studies at Wuhan and ex-officio members DKU Chancellor Liu Jingnan and DKU Executive Vice Chancellor Mary Bullock.

Although the majority of representatives on the DKU board are not from Duke, at least one Duke vote is required to make a decision.

The meeting took place Monday and Tuesday at Wuhan. Lange and Roberts traveled to visit the campus site in Kunshan afterward.

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