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Message From President Brodhead Regarding Duke Kunshan University

Message From President Brodhead Regarding Duke Kunshan University

Duke has received preliminary approval from China's Ministry of Education for the creation of DKU

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Editor's Note: The following email from President Richard H. Brodhead was sent Thursday to Duke faculty, staff, students and alumni:

Durham, NC - Dear Duke colleagues,

I am pleased to announce that we have received preliminary approval from China's Ministry of Education for the creation of Duke Kunshan University (DKU), a new and important step in extending Duke's global presence. A collaboration among Duke, Wuhan University and the city of Kunshan, DKU will be a center for innovative teaching and research, based on the principles and values that have made American research universities the model for the world. We expect DKU to begin operation during the 2013-2014 academic year.

DKU's home will be a 200-acre campus in the city of Kunshan, a highly prosperous and rapidly expanding city conveniently located between Shanghai and Suzhou, two large and vibrant metropolitan areas in China. Kunshan has established itself as a thriving economic center, with one of the highest per capita incomes in China and one of the largest concentrations of technology companies from around the world. Kunshan will provide the land and buildings, while Duke will take the lead in creating academic programs. DKU's academic sponsor and partner is Wuhan University, one of China's oldest and most prestigious research universities.

The benefits of this venture for Duke are many. Through DKU, Duke will play a leadership role in creating new models of world-class higher education in China, introducing students and faculty to Duke's signature strengths of liberal arts education and the interdisciplinary study of contemporary problems. DKU will supply a base for the growing number of research projects by Duke faculty that require a Chinese presence and will create a platform for international collaborations. As we have learned from the successful Duke-National University of Singapore Graduate Medical School, which graduated its first class of physician-scientists in 2011, a global partnership also provides a valuable laboratory for educational innovation that can be transferred back to the Durham campus and to other settings.

Most important, through a deepened presence in China, we will be better able to equip Duke students for the world of their time. Duke has long recognized the need to prepare students for lives as globally aware, globally connected citizens. Already, more than half of our undergraduates spend part of their Duke experience studying abroad. Given China's growing role on the international stage and the key part it plays in issues ranging from finance and economics to health, environment, population, and international security, we owe it to our students to make them aware of a world of which China is a part. DKU will provide a place for Asian and American faculty and students to meet, work together, and learn each other's worlds, creating a bidirectional flow of knowledge with benefits to both sides.

While it is an ambitious venture, DKU will develop gradually and in phases, with the chance to test possibilities and learn from experience before we proceed. In this first phase, DKU will offer graduate and professional degree programs from the Fuqua School of Business and the Duke Global Health Institute. Semester-long non-degree programs for undergraduates in global health and other disciplines will provide the opportunity for students from Duke and other institutions around the world to study at DKU.  In addition, DKU will house several research centers, beginning with a Global Health Research Center. It is anticipated that DKU will add programs over time, including comprehensive undergraduate offerings, and will eventually offer its own degrees.  Duke looks forward to working with other universities in China and elsewhere to offer programs at DKU.

The DKU campus will be a state-of-the-art, architecturally striking academic village, with 750,000 square feet of classrooms, residence halls, faculty housing, research facilities, and an executive conference center that will serve as convening space for executive education and other training programs.  A board of trustees that includes representatives from Duke, Wuhan, and Kunshan will govern the school, and we are recruiting experienced academic leaders from China and the U.S. to work with Duke faculty and administrators on the launch of the campus. Academic programs to be offered at DKU have been reviewed and approved by Duke's faculty and Board of Trustees to ensure that they meet the highest standards of quality.

DKU represents a significant commitment to global education by Duke University. While there are risks inherent in any new project of this scale, we have carefully evaluated them over the past several years in order to mitigate their impact. Duke has made an initial investment in phase one of the campus's development to assure that DKU meets the highest standards, but in the long run we aim for DKU to be largely self-sustaining, and we will monitor financial operations to protect against unwarranted exposures. Built into our agreement is a commitment that free inquiry and free expression, the cornerstones of our model of education, will be observed at DKU. As Chinese norms and practices differ from American ones, this, too, will be a matter for careful and ongoing attention.

We look forward to celebrating the opening of the DKU campus next year. Beyond that, we look forward to the educational benefits DKU will bring, both in China and in Durham. For more information about DKU, please visit our website.

Richard H. Brodhead

President