The independent news organization of Duke University

Kunshan campus opening delayed

The opening of Duke Kunshan University has been delayed by a semester.

Duke’s campus in China will now open to students Spring 2013, Provost Peter Lange said at a meeting of the Academic Council Thursday. The delay is due to weather-related construction challenges. DKU had previously been scheduled to open in Fall 2012.

“[DKU will open] in time for us to start with very small amounts of programs in 2013 and more fully in the summer and the Fall of 2013,” Lange said.

Financial projections for the project have changed very little despite construction delays, Lange added. DKU will cost the University approximately $42.5 million during its first six years. University infrastructure funds will cover new construction oversight costs, which will be minimal, Lange said, noting that the University does not have an estimate of these additional costs.

DKU also received a $1 million gift from an anonymous donor this summer, bringing total donations to $6 million. Administrators expect to exceed the project’s $10 million philanthropic goal.

Additionally, the University is still waiting for the Chinese government to officially approve the project—a process that is preventing Duke from recruiting students for DKU academic programs, Lange said. The University’s proposal for DKU was submitted to the Jiangsu Province Education Bureau and the Chinese Ministry of Education in June. The proposal must get the Education Bureau and the MOE’s approval before the campus can open.

Duke has already received a positive review from the Education Bureau, Lange said, adding that he expects the MOE will allow DKU to begin recruitment before the proposal is passed.

The development of DKU’s academic programs is also taking longer than expected.

Duke faculty and administrators are still designing various initiatives, Lange said, noting a potential undergraduate program through the Duke Global Health Institute. The first degree program to be implemented at DKU will be a Master’s of Management Studies in Finance through the Fuqua School of Business, pending Fuqua faculty approval. Fuqua faculty members were supposed to vote on this program in June, but the vote has been postponed to October.

‘Late in the game’

Faculty members are not prepared to proceed with upcoming DKU proposals because they feel they have had limited involvement in DKU’s development since its Fall 2009 approval, said Academic Council Chair Susan Lozier, a professor of physical oceanography.

“Many faculty believe they have been brought in late in the game,” Lozier said before Lange’s presentation. “And yet there’s a campus rising in Kunshan, ready to open [next] year.... It’s like a rocket is being assembled before we know if there is rocket fuel available.”

She noted, though, that faculty members have a responsibility to be involved from this point forward even if they were left out of DKU discussions in its early stages.

In response, President Richard Brodhead said it is natural for faculty members to have concerns but added that it is time for faculty to get involved as this is the year in which DKU will make the most progress.

“It was really through no intention to deceive,” Brodhead said. “Until we had laid the foundation, we could not talk about the specifics [openly].”

New leadership

Despite delays, Lange noted that DKU has seen significant progress, particularly in faculty and administrative leadership.

A new China Faculty Council­­ is expected to meet for the first time later this month. The Council’s charge is to oversee and advise Duke leaders about all Chinese ventures—not just DKU, but initiatives such the Global Leader Scholarship and study abroad programs. Paul Haagen, professor of law and senior associate dean for academic affairs at the School of Law, serves as chair of the council, leading volunteer faculty members from across the University.

Nora Bynum—who previously served as director of global strategy in the Office of Global Strategy and Programs— is now the associate vice provost and managing director for DKU and other initiatives in China. Mingzheng Shi, who currently serves as the director of New York University-Shanghai, will become the executive director of the DKU initiative in China this Spring.

“These [new administrators] will relieve us from having to do so much work in Durham and relieve us of some of the opportunity cost,” Lange said.

Brodhead announced that William Kirby, T. M. Chang professor of China studies at Harvard University, has become Duke’s senior adviser on China. Kirby is currently writing a book on Chinese higher education and has been interested in DKU since it was introduced.

“[Kirby] is almost universally recognized as one of the best U.S. specialists on China,” Brodhead said. “He has immense connections in China. Everywhere I go [in China], everyone knows him.”

Lange also noted two key administrative changes that took place earlier this year. In June, Dr. Michael Merson became the vice provost for the Office of Global Strategy and Programs, in addition to his role as the director of the DGHI. Blair Sheppard resigned from his post as Fuqua dean this summer to refocus his efforts on fundraising and development for DKU.

In other business:

Fuqua Dean William Boulding proposed another MMS-Finance program—this one to be conducted in the United Arab Emirates.

The program, which would mainly cater to students in the UAE and the surrounding area, was designed to bridge a gap between Islamic and Western finance, Boulding said.

“We think we can create value within the region by bringing a degree to the region which is of Duke quality,” Boulding said. “We aren’t just doing this for altruism. We think there is real value we can generate for the business school.”

He added that an unnamed person has agreed to cover any unanticipated financial losses to Fuqua.

“What makes this attractive is the financial risk is taken out of the picture,” he said.

The program will be conducted by Fuqua faculty members already in Dubai with no new hires in the near future, he added.

Several faculty members raised questions about social differences between the U.S. and the UAE—such as gender roles—that could potentially affect the program.

Boulding said, however, that Fuqua administrators chose the city of Dubai because it is more Western than other parts of the Middle East.

The council is expected to vote on the proposal for the UAE program at its October meeting.

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