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✔✔ The following appeared as a letter to the editor of the News and Observer:
The sudden resignation of Dean Blair Sheppard shows the deep and indeed worsening trouble in Duke's effort to build a campus in Kunshan, China, in collaboration with the University of Wuhan. While underlining the Fuqua School of Business faculty's early June vote of no-confidence regarding the business degree programs proposed for Duke-Kunshan University (DKU), Sheppard's resignation also exposes deepening rifts and confusion within the upper ranks of Duke's administration in light of intensifying faculty resistance to an ill-conceived project.
Moreover, with this latest development the timetable for opening DKU's degree programs has effectively collapsed. We note that at this point no single administrator is in charge of the program, with 1) Greg Jones having resigned and been replaced by an "acting" placeholder who is also in charge of a different program and now 2) Sheppard having abruptly abdicated his position as Fuqua dean and having been sidelined to a transitional (not to say cosmetic) position of fundraising for non-existent and yet-to-be-defined programs at DKU.
Let us also note that the regulatory approval the university expected to receive from the Chinese educational bureaucracy still has not been obtained four months after the target date of March 2011.
More than ever, what the DKU effort calls for is a moratorium to allow time for a thorough faculty review and reconsideration of Duke's risk-laden and potentially unsustainable global strategy. Following such a review of the entire Duke-Kunshan venture, Duke's administration should then have a mandate to reevaluate and, as the case may be, renegotiate the content and purpose of DKU with its prospective Chinese partners.
Eads Professor of English and Professor of German
George V. Allen Professor of International Relations