Duke is looking to continue expanding Duke Kunshan University through the leadership of its next president, Vincent Price. 

A collaboration with Wuhan University in China, DKU currently offers master’s degrees as well as study abroad opportunities for undergraduates. DKU's undergraduate degree program will soon be unveiled as well, having been recently approved by the Board of Trustees and Academic Council. 

“[DKU’s goal is] to expand Duke’s global position. To allow us a wonderful platform in China to innovate pedagogically and to have many new and interesting research endeavors,” said Provost Sally Kornbluth. “It also allows us to bring a new model of liberal arts education to China and to experiment with that model.”

But how will Price fit into DKU's plans?

DKU vs. Penn Wharton China Center

As the former provost of the University of Pennsylvania, Price will bring along expertise in global initiatives—including with the Penn Wharton China Center, which he helped start in addition to hiring a vice provost for global initiatives. 

Centered in Beijing, PWCC officially opened in March 2015 as a joint venture between Penn and its business school, the Wharton School. Much like DKU, PWCC hopes to offer students "an increasingly interconnected global environment" by addressing real-world Chinese problems, PWCC's website states. 

However, PWCC focuses more on interdisciplinary research. Jeffrey Bernstein, managing director of PWCC, emphasized PWCC's focus on interdisciplinary work to the Daily Pennsylvanian.

“What we found out from our local stakeholders was that none of our other peer schools, when they opened their China centers, had so many of their schools’ top leaders come at one time,” Bernstein said at the time. “And so we thought it was a great way to show how focused we are in interdisciplinary work.”

The Daily Pennsylvanian described PWCC as “a hub in China for Penn students, faculty, staff and alumni.” PWCC aims to host events, provide a research facility and serve as an outlet in China for Penn to market itself.

Although there are opportunities for students to conduct research with faculty, research is not the highlight of DKU, explained Denis Simon, DKU's executive vice chancellor. Because DKU is smaller and concentrates on being a strong teaching university, its research is not as comprehensive as the research on Duke's main campus.

Also unlike DKU, PWCC currently does not offer degree programs and is not a "campus or campus extension," instead focusing on being a workspace for visiting faculty and staff.

“This interesting way in which a venture that’s away from the home campus is almost like a summer camp experience," Price told The Chronicle. "So when faculty and students from different parts of the university are there, they bond in powerful ways that may not happen on the home campus.”

He added that DKU has the potential to develop its own human capital through its Duke connections, and that he is committed to the project. 

“DKU, I think has perhaps one of the most compelling propositions in the sense of being a freestanding institution tied closely to Duke that will build its own human resources that will draw upon human resources at Duke,” Price said. “I think ultimately the global challenge for universities is a human resource challenge. It’s not a material resource challenge.”

Looking to the future

Kornbluth and Simon both expressed optimism for future DKU expansion. 

“I think the big move forward here is the establishment of the undergraduate degree program,” Kornbluth said. “We’re shooting for 175 students in first year of undergraduate program.”

With around 2,000 undergraduates and a pool of graduate students, the campus population would be around 2,500 students, Simon explained. The next steps for DKU will be to build the infrastructure and finding strategic marketing channels.

Both Kornbluth and Simon said they remain hopeful for a smooth transition between current President Richard Brodhead and Price, whom Simon called a "globally-oriented" president.

“[Price] is well aware of the DKU endeavor and supportive,” Kornbluth said.