Cooperation the key for new vice chancellor of Duke Kushan

Yang Meiping
John Quelch believes US-China relations have reached a low point but will now improve as decoupling will be impossible because of the two countries' interwoven supply chains.
Yang Meiping
Cooperation the key for new vice chancellor of Duke Kushan

John Quelch, new executive vice-chancellor of Duke Kunshan University.

China and the United States of America have to cooperate in the interest of global peace and prosperity, John Quelch, new executive vice-chancellor of Duke Kunshan University (DKU), tells Shanghai Daily.

Quelch, an administrator and business school leader with more than 40 years' experience in higher education, says this is one of the key reasons for his participation in Duke Kunshan, a joint venture of Duke University in the US, Wuhan University in Hubei Province and Kunshan, a city in Jiangsu Province.

Quelch was most recently vice provost of the University of Miami, where he was also dean of the Patti and Alan Herbert Business School. His career also includes posts as senior associate dean at Harvard Business School, dean, vice president and distinguished professor of international management at the China Europe International Business School, and dean of the London Business School.

"We are at a very important stage of US-China relations. My belief is that we have reached the low point and now things are going to improve," Quelch says.

A portion of the American political class is aiming to decouple with China, he says, but that's impossible as the supply chains are interwoven.

"Overall the two economies still remain very intricately linked. Both governments and the business people of both countries need to be more confident that they can do business with each other and not hold back the world's economic growth by resisting the obvious cross-border investment opportunities and cross-border trade opportunities."

He says it's very important to have people with an international point of view who can understand and appreciate different cultures and be able to navigate those challenges so that business can be efficiently done.

DKU is "one of the important examples of people-to-people cooperation between the US and China" and he is confident of making a positive difference in the relationship with the university.

DKU, which celebrated its 10th anniversary last year, recently revealed that it had received a record-breaking 4,705 international applications from 123 countries to its 2024 undergraduate program, a 41 percent increase on the previous high set the year before. The 5,213 applications from Chinese students were a 34 percent increase on last year.

Five hundred students – 350 Chinese and 150 international – will be selected from the nearly 10,000 applicants. It will be the first year for the university to admit a full class of 500 as its admission plan increases year by year.

Quelch is proud that 85 percent of the university's graduating students in the first two classes have gone on to graduate programs all around the world, the highest percentage of any university.

As relationships improve around the world, more and more international students will come to China for their education, and at the same time Chinese students will continue to study overseas as well, he says.

"The power of higher education is really in the peak of one-on-one, people-to-people exchanges. And each individual student who goes to another country to study is another small contribution to world peace and prosperity.

"So at DKU, we are also committed to trying to help Jiangsu Province and Suzhou City with their initiatives around people-to-people exchanges following the invitation from President Xi Jinping for 50,000 American students to study and visit China in the next five years."

Dedicated to making the university a world-class elite institution, DKU will not over-expand the undergraduate program, but will build on graduate programs in areas "where international collaboration among scholars and among students is going to make the most difference" in the next five years, said Quelch.

"That would include areas such as environmental science and policy, global health and life science," he says.

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