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Blair Sheppard, one of most innovative business school deans in the business, is to spearhead Duke University’s push into China by taking up a new role in fund-raising and development for Duke Kunshan University, which is being established near Shanghai. In doing so he will step down as dean of Duke’s Fuqua school of business, an appointment he has held since 2007.

In an unusually worded statement, the university says that Prof Sheppard “has declined reappointment” as dean of Fuqua. Instead, William Boulding, professor of management and leadership and deputy dean of Fuqua, will be appointed to the top job for a two-year term, starting August 1. During the second year of his term, the university will conduct an international search for a new dean.

As for Prof Sheppard, as well as working on fund-raising and business development for Duke Kunshan University, he will continue to teach in Fuqua’s Global Executive MBA programme and to serve as chairman of Duke CE, the corporate education venture he created and led as chief executive for seven years before his appointment as dean at Fuqua.

Prof Sheppard, a Canadian, has a reputation for being one of the most creative thinkers in management education. More than 15 years ago he developed the first global EMBA programme - an MBA for working managers - which enabled Fuqua to attract high level managers from outside the Raleigh-Durham triangle to study on an MBA at Duke. It was the model that set the trend for EMBA programmes for the next decade.

He then established a new style of customised executive education through Duke CE, which focused on teaching corporations what they needed to know, as opposed to what the business school wanted to teach. The model - again widely aped throughout the industry - relied on high numbers of adjunct faculty, drawn from different business schools, consultancies and industry.

Prof Sheppard also recently launched a Master of Management Studies, a one-year pre-experience degree for students who have recently graduated from undergraduate programmes. Although these kind of degrees are popular in Europe, Fuqua is one of the few business schools in the US to launch such a programme.

“Much of what I set out to do has been accomplished,” Prof Sheppard said in the official release. “Now we need to consolidate the gains the school has made in all these areas, even as we move forward with our international plans and other goals.”

Construction of the five buildings that comprise the Duke Kunshan campus, designed by the architectural firm Gensler, is expected to be complete by the end of the year.


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