President Richard H. Brodhead and Provost Peter Lange sent a
message at Thursday's meeting of the Academic Council that progress is being
made on the new Duke Kunshan University (DKU) and faculty will be full partners
in important decisions this year affecting academic programs and governance at
"We are making progress by 100 steps, but we have 1,000
to go," Lange said.
"Generally, we have been making steady progress on all
fronts, while encountering the kinds of glitches and issues one would expect in
a project of this kind working in a distant and culturally unfamiliar setting,
working with new partners, on complex issues."
DKU is in a joint venture with the City of Kunshan and Wuhan
University to create a Western-model liberal arts institution in China. Lange
said the university will serve both as an educational center to offer degree programs
and as a base of operations to support Duke research and scholarship throughout
The first phase of DKU is expected to begin with a masters
of management studies science program from Fuqua and a masters of science
program from the Duke Global Health Institute. Other schools including Law and
Nicholas are also interested in developing DKU programs, and a small
undergraduate program will eventually follow.
Brodhead and Lange faced questions from faculty members who
filled the seats of the Westbrook lecture room, leaving some two dozen faculty
members to stand in the back. At
the start of the meeting, new Council Chair Susan Lozier, professor of Earth
and Ocean Sciences, expressed concern about a "communications gap"
between administrators and faculty on the issue that left a "contingent of
the faculty feeling as though a rocket is being assembled before we know
whether there is rocket fuel available or whether the rocket fuel is affordable."
Yet Lozier also said she found the administration open to her
concerns about academic programs and governance, academic freedom and human
rights, as well as about the project's financial viability. And she said she expects the faculty to
be engaged in important discussions about China planned for this year.
"Being brought late to the game does not mean sitting
out the game," Lozier said. "We
have a responsibility to engage.
It does not mean we have the obligation to approve programs that do not
meet our standards, but it also does not mean that we should withhold approval
of programs simply because we thought we should have been at the table earlier."
Against these concerns, Brodhead and Lange told faculty that
the DKU project is on track to begin a small number of classes in spring 2013
and that Chinese officials have agreed to Duke's fundamental principles of
academic freedom and quality. They
also announced new leadership structures to promote faculty engagement and to
aid Duke officials in negotiating with the Chinese bureaucracy.
Lange announced the formation of a China Faculty Council
chaired by Law Professor Paul Haagen, a former Academic Council chair and the
leader of Duke Law's China initiatives. This council of about 20 faculty members who specialize in
Chinese scholarship will advise the administration on academic programs at DKU
and elsewhere in China.
The council will join other faculty governing bodies, such
as the new Global Priorities Committee and the Academic Council, in reviewing degree
and non-degree academic programs and faculty hiring at DKU.
Brodhead also said William Kirby, a former dean of arts and
sciences at Harvard University and a leading scholar of Chinese higher
education, will serve as a senior adviser to the project.
"Quite simply, you're not going to find anybody [better
than Kirby] who knows both sides of the equation or the
possibilities and perils of this project," Brodhead said. "He will be immensely valuable to
* Lange showed photos of the new buildings rising on the Kunshan campus, noting that weather and quality oversight-related delays will push back completion of the construction to the end of 2012. Manageable construction cost overruns to cover quality oversight have occurred, said Lange, who noted that while the City of Kunshan is paying for most of the construction, "we wanted to ensure the quality of the construction met the standards we have for this campus, so we have invested in quality assurance to give us greater oversight." Lange added the overruns will be paid for from a maintenance fund and will not impact any departmental budgets.
The first phase of the DKU campus will include more than
700,000 square feet of classroom, space, which is twice the size of the Levine
Science Research Center on the Durham campus.
Tasks for 2011-12 include getting final approval from the
Chinese Ministry of Education, completing plans for the degree programs,
setting tuition rates, recruiting students and continuing fund-raising, under
the charge of former Fuqua Dean Blair Sheppard. The target is $10 million, with $6 million already pledged,
Brodhead referred to the coming year as "The Year of
the Beaver," as Duke officials get intensely focused "to define the
project and perfect the financial models" so that DKU may open in
2012. The bottom line, Brodhead
said, is that for all of the uncertainty Duke has faced in moving forward on
the project, the strongest evidence of its likely success is repeated
assurances from Chinese educators that they need and want the kind of education
The financial risk is minimal, requiring a smaller
investment than other recent strategic priorities such as global health, and
the possibilities are exciting, he said.
"Our only motive is educational," Brodhead
said. "We are trying to find
a place to participate in new models of education in China."