Duke and Duke Kunshan University Continue To Strengthen Ties

Duke Kunshan EVC John Quelch highlights DKU’s role in Duke's global strategy

John Quelch makes his first visit to Duke since becoming executive vice chancellor of DKU in January, 2024. He meets for lunch with some DKU students the Commons meeting room, Brodhead Center

Although just a decade old, DKU has drawn students from around the globe including the U.S., Canada, Denmark, India, Italy, Morocco, Peru and Singapore, and has produced recipients of prestigious fellowships such as the Schwarzman, Yenching and Rhodes scholarships.

“We are admitting 500 freshmen from a pool of 10,000 applicants this year. So, for a 10-year startup in higher education, to be admitting 500 out of 10,000 in the face of COVID, in the face of geopolitical challenges, I think that's an enormous credit,” he said at the Shanghai panel. “No one has come as a student to DKU who did not turn down an offer from an equally, if not more, esteemed institution in the U.S. or Europe.”

“That is our ambition, to contribute to the betterment of Duke, not just to be a taker, but to be a giver, as well.”

Duke Kunshan University Executive Vice Chancellor John Quelch

Quelch’s comments preceded the DKU community celebrating the graduation of 259 undergraduate students and 155 master’s students. Eighty-five percent of DKU graduates go on to post-graduation education. More than 150 DKU graduates have enrolled in graduate programs at Duke.

Quelch was joined on the panel by Duke Provost Alec Gallimore and Bill Boulding, dean of Duke’s Fuqua School of Business, which launched one of the first Duke graduate programs at DKU. Frank Tramble, vice president for communications, marketing, and public affairs at Duke, served as moderator. The panel addressed the importance of DKU in Duke’s plans for global expansion and the university’s ongoing commitment to China.

“The thing that blew me away the most wasn't the buildings, the layout, the campus, it was the spirit of the students and the faculty and the staff at DKU. (Duke President) Vince Price and I looked at each other and said, ‘Wow, what an amazing asset we have … and one we're committed to continuing in its development,’” said Gallimore, who has been charged with Duke’s global strategy.

Frank Tramble, Bill Boulding, John Quelch and Alec Gallimore speak at the panel on global education in Shanghai.
Frank Tramble, Bill Boulding, John Quelch and Alec Gallimore speak at the panel on global education in Shanghai.

He said that expansion has three important parts – all of which involve Duke and DKU’s boards of trustees and faculty strengthening ties between what he called “sibling” universities.

First, he said the Board of Trustees of Duke University would be engaged in a year-long “education and thought process” to help position the university globally, beyond China. Second, the university would resuscitate the Global Priorities Committee, a faculty committee at Duke University that he said has been “shepherding Duke’s global priorities.” Third, a committee of Duke University faculty would be formed to find ways to better work with DKU faculty members on joint research projects beyond what is already being done.

“Increasing that cross-pollination between the two campuses is going to elevate both institutions,” Gallimore said.

Some of that already is taking place. The two universities are finding ways to address “gnarly global problems,” such as climate change, he added. “It's really how do we create pilot programs that can be replicated by others in China, the U.S and even beyond.”

Boulding said DKU is a “concrete symbol” of Duke’s commitment to expanding globally.

“We are all in on being global,” he said. “And despite the counteracting forces against globalization, it's just too important to our futures to back away from that idea.”

Boulding, who will soon step down from his role as dean at Fuqua, said he is proud to have helped create of a community between the two universities.

“What really makes me proud is that we have created this global community that values one another so deeply and has worked so hard to learn and grow and hopefully, to make this world a better place,” Boulding said. “So it's been an incredible journey.”

During his visit to Durham, Quelch expressed optimism about the future of Duke-DKU cooperation. And he noted at least one area in which Duke has benefitted greatly, too.

“The Duke brand has never been stronger in China,” he said, “and that’s due to DKU.”