When Duke University opened its campus in Kunshan, China, almost a decade ago, it was following on the heels of a movement of institutions eager to establish beachheads in the country during the political and economic détente of the mid-2010s.
But at a meeting with faculty and staff in November, Duke president Vincent Price said the institution’s leaders would “have to be clear-eyed” when considering whether to continue their contract with local partner institution Wuhan University when it comes up for renewal in 2027.
Price said he was proud of Duke Kunshan and happy that Duke could be a “lifeboat” for students who wanted to come to America. But between rising geopolitical tensions and the gauntlet of managing a Chinese presence through the pandemic, operating the campus had become an undeniably tall order.
“The world is conspiring to make that kind of a project really hard these days,” he said.