Duke University's China campus to open in 2014

jstancill@newsobserver.comSeptember 16, 2013 

— After three years of planning, Duke University has received the green light from the Chinese government to open its new campus in China.

The first students will start in the fall of 2014 at Duke Kunshan University, the university in Durham announced Monday. The venture has received formal approval from China’s Ministry of Education.

The five-building campus, under construction near Shanghai, has been plagued with controversy and delays for a few years. Some Duke faculty had raised concerns about academic freedom and fears that the Chinese campus would suck resources from the campus in Durham. Others have said Duke is making a smart strategic move to plant a flag in China.

A partnership between Duke and Wuhan University in China, the campus will offer master’s degree programs in global health and management studies, as well as undergraduate courses in global health, the humanities, physical and natural sciences and social sciences. Other graduate programs are being planned, including a medical physics degree that awaits approval from Duke.

The programs are aimed at Chinese and international students from around the world. Duke will award the graduate degrees. Instruction will be in English, and the university expects more than 50 Duke faculty members to teach in China during DKU’s first two years of operation.

Duke President Richard Brodhead said in a news release Monday that DKU “will be a vibrant place of inquiry where Duke faculty and students can have a deeper level of engagement with China, a part of the world that is rapidly increasing in significance.”

Approval from the Chinese Ministry of Education took longer than expected, but Provost Peter Lange said in the Duke announcement that “the thorough process helped strengthen our academic programs, deepen our faculty support and broadened our engagement in China.”

Duke said the campus will operate under a set of guiding principles that include academic freedom and open access to information.

DKU will be governed by a separate board of trustees with representatives from both universities. The chancellor of DKU will be Liu Jingnan, a former president of Wuhan University and scientist who is a member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering. The executive vice chancellor is Mary Brown Bullock, a scholar of U.S.-China relations and former president of Agnes Scott College in Atlanta.

Stancill: 919-829-4559

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