Dobbins to Lead Duke’s DKU Program Office

Bynum leaving office to take position at Chicago's Field Museum

James Dobbins will take a key DKU leadership role previously held by Nora Bynum.
James Dobbins will take a key DKU leadership role previously held by Nora Bynum.

James Dobbins, a professor of radiology, biomedical engineering and physics, and director of Duke’s graduate program in medical physics, has been named associate vice provost and director of what will now be known as the Duke Kunshan University (DKU) Program Office at Duke, Provost Sally Kornbluth announced today.  

Nora Bynum, who has directed the office for two years, will leave Duke in February to serve as the Rowe Family Director of the Science Action Center at the Field Museum in Chicago, where she will oversee programs translating museum knowledge into results for conservation and cultural understanding.

As associate vice provost, Dobbins will partner with Duke leaders and faculty to coordinate groups working on curriculum and faculty development for DKU and serve as a liaison between academic and co-curricular programs at Duke and DKU. 

A graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill who received a Ph.D. in physics from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, Dobbins came to Duke in 1985 and has become an internationally recognized scholar in the field of advanced imaging applications in medicine.  He founded Duke’s graduate program in medical physics, now the second-largest program of its type in the country, and holds national leadership roles in education in his field.  Most recently, he oversaw the planning, development and delivery of Duke’s medical physics master’s degree offered at DKU, one of the charter programs at DKU.

“Jim is an accomplished leader and very skilled at bringing ideas to reality within a complex environment like Duke,” Kornbluth said. “Nora’s achievements in enabling the launch of DKU have been considerable, and I am confident that Jim will carry forward Duke’s work related to DKU with great success.”

In his new role, Dobbins will work with Duke Executive Vice Provost Jim Roberts, who oversees Duke’s role in the DKU budget, finance and operations, and Haiyan Gao, who was recently named DKU’s vice chancellor for academic affairs.

“This is an exciting time to be involved with DKU,” Dobbins said. “I’m very enthusiastic about the opportunity to work with colleagues from so many areas of Duke who are engaged with DKU in one way or another.”

Bynum, a conservation biologist and 1985 graduate of Duke, worked extensively in international settings before returning to campus in 2010 to manage the launch of DKU, which, after years of planning and development, welcomed its first students in 2014.

“Starting a new university in another country has been tremendously rewarding and challenging,” said Bynum.  “I look forward to taking on a new challenge in Chicago, and I know Jim will do an excellent job moving forward.”