Duke Kunshan gets final approval

November 12, 2013

More than 800 students from China enrolled at Duke last year, a clear indication of the university’s popularity in the nation. Now, after gaining the approval of the Ministry of Education, Duke will have a formal home in the country.

After a process that began in 2010, Duke Kunshan University (DKU), a partnership between Duke and China’s Wuhan University, is set to open a campus in east China’s Jiangsu Province in the fall of 2014. Nora Bynum ’85, vice provost for DKU and China initiatives, says the goal for the student population is half from China and half from outside China. The programs that will result in a Duke degree are master’s in global health, management studies, and medical physics, she says. For undergraduates, there will be a global-health module of four courses.

Getting the go-ahead: Duke president Richard H. Brodhead talks with Kunshan and Wuhan officials about the progress of Duke Kunshan. Chris Hildreth

The approval comes after several setbacks, from weather and construction delays to communication issues, delayed the campus’ originally planned opening date. Some Duke professors have opposed DKU’s opening, expressing concerns about academic freedom in China and the cost of the project.

Leading DKU will be Liu Jingnan, a former president of Wuhan University; Mary Bullock, a scholar of U.S.-China relations, will serve as executive vice president. So far, more than fifty faculty members from Duke are set to teach in Kunshan for one semester. Permanent faculty spots will be filled by candidates recruited from around the world.