DKU appoints associate vice chancellors to advance undergraduate and graduate missions

Two Duke Kunshan University deans have been named associate vice chancellors to further enhance the university’s undergraduate and graduate educational experiences and support its diverse research endeavors.

As associate vice chancellor for Undergraduate Studies and the Language and Culture Center (LCC), Marcia France will work closely with the three undergraduate divisions — arts and humanities, social sciences, and natural and applied sciences — as well as the LCC to provide high-quality and innovative education to DKU’s global student body. France will continue to serve as dean of Undergraduate Studies.

In a parallel role as associate vice chancellor for Graduate Studies and Research, Xin Li will continue to work with the five graduate programs — global health, medical physics, environmental policy, electrical and computer engineering, and management studies — to ensure the highest quality of graduate education. Li, who will remain dean of Graduate Studies, will also work directly with the directors of DKU’s research centers to ensure that DKU continues to pursue cutting-edge research.

Scott MacEachern, vice chancellor for Academic Affairs, said France and Li were natural choices to lead these efforts.

“Marcia and Xin have both demonstrated a strong dedication to our mission, to the pursuit of educational excellence, and to providing an exciting vision for the future development of our undergraduate and graduate programs,” said MacEachern. “These promotions recognize their significant contributions to DKU over the last few years and are part of our strategic efforts to bring DKU to new academic heights.”

“It has been incredibly rewarding to work with DKU’s dedicated faculty, staff, and students to build our undergraduate degree program,” said France. “I look forward to working with the DKU community to continue enhancing DKU’s undergraduate program and creating additional opportunities that will help all of our students and faculty achieve their academic and professional goals.”

Li said he is “excited about taking on this role to further improve our graduate programs, provide high-quality, innovative teaching to our students, and extend our capacity to do cutting-edge and impactful research. I also look forward to working with colleagues to foster even more collaboration and synergy among graduate education, research, and the distinctive undergraduate program at DKU.”

Since coming to DKU as dean of undergraduate studies in 2018, France has overseen the implementation of a novel interdisciplinary curriculum and the development and review of academic policies governing the undergraduate degree program. Her accomplishments include developing graduate school and fellowship advising programs, co-creating the DKU first-year experience, launching DKU’s student signature work program, founding the performing arts program, and leading the undergraduate academic program’s response to the COVID-19 crisis.

France also played a critical role in establishing DKU’s undergraduate research program, which includes academic year research for credit, summer research grants to support student-faculty collaborative research, student experiential learning fellowships, signature work research grants, and an annual poster session. She oversees the Offices of Global Education, Advising, and Assessment, and under her leadership, these offices have developed both inbound and outbound study-abroad programs, supported student success through academic advising and the Academic Resources Center, and successfully applied for degree-granting authority from China’s Ministry of Education.

Prior to joining DKU, France served as associate provost and John T. Herwick, M.D. Professor of Chemistry at Washington and Lee University, where she held teaching, academic and administrative positions for more than 20 years. She earned her B.S. in chemistry at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she completed undergraduate research with 2001 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry K. Barry Sharpless, and her M.S. in chemistry at Yale University. She completed her Ph.D. in organic chemistry in 1995 as a National Science Foundation Pre-Doctoral Fellow at the California Institute of Technology. Her research mentor, Robert H. Grubbs, cited her work on the development of ruthenium catalysts for olefin metathesis in his Nobel Prize Address in 2005.

Li joined the Duke Kunshan and Duke University faculties as a full professor of electrical and computer engineering (ECE) in 2017, after serving as a faculty member at Carnegie Mellon University for 10 years. At DKU, Li has established the ECE Master of Engineering program, the Institute of Applied Physical Sciences and Engineering, and the Data Science Research Center, and has played an important role in bolstering the university’s graduate programs and developing its overall research capacity.

Li has overseen the university’s research portfolio since July 2019. With Li’s support, DKU faculty members doubled their external funding in 2021 compared to 2020. He has also helped DKU students and faculty members access a variety of critical research infrastructures and resources, including partnering with the East China Advanced Computing Sub-center, to provide free computing resources to DKU community members.

As dean of Graduate Studies, Li has worked closely with graduate program directors to lay a solid foundation for recruiting graduate students from around the world and increasing graduate student enrollment by 10% per year.

Li is an award-winning scientist specializing in integrated circuits, signal processing, and data analytics. He is a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and was the deputy editor-in-chief of the international journal IEEE Transactions on Computer-Aided Design of Integrated Circuits and Systems. Li holds bachelor’s and master’s of science degrees in electrical engineering from Fudan University and a Ph.D. in electrical and computer engineering from Carnegie Mellon. He co-founded Xigmix Inc. in 2005 and served as its chief technical officer until it was acquired by Extreme DA in 2007.

Jennifer Francis, DKU’s interim executive vice chancellor, described France and Li’s leadership styles as “extremely dedicated and collaborative,” noting that “everyone who comes in contact with Marcia and Xin benefits from their counsel and wisdom.”

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