Dear MMS:DKU students,
Our thoughts have been with you over the past few weeks as we have monitored the coronavirus outbreak in China. First and foremost, we hope all of you are healthy and remain so. We can imagine that the uncertainty around the implications to health, travel, and disruption to your program have created anxiety, if not frustration, over the lack of control you face in the short term as the outbreak is monitored.
We know you all looked forward to the Lunar New Year holiday, and the virus threat has dramatically changed your holiday and how you think about the next few weeks and months. Looking ahead, we are working to find ways to help you and to help manage the uncertainty you face in completing your studies.
The nature of the virus and health risk makes it difficult for us to make a definitive plan, but we are moving forward with a plan for your studies over the next two months. In making that plan we had a number of objectives including maintaining the quality of your learning and education, continuing to support a collaborative team environment, allowing you to remain on a schedule to graduate in May 2020, and retaining the optionality to continue immersion in China at the Kunshan campus if the health risk permits. The MMS:DKU schedule and the ability of Fuqua to readily provide online/synchronous courses provides us flexibility in scheduling for the next two months (until the end of March), even though Duke Kunshan is scheduled to re-open on Feb. 17.
With that in mind, we spell out that plan below.
Hybrid synchronous and asynchronous online connected classes
The Market Research class, taught by professor Julie Edell, is scheduled for Feb. 3 to 15, 2020. We plan to deliver that course to you through online sessions that will be, at times, live sessions with your ability to participate and ask questions (synchronous), and at other times, recorded sessions (asynchronous). Prof. Edell will also be available for live office hours to have zoom conversations with you as well. As you are aware, the time difference between Durham, N.C., and Kunshan will mean anything live will need to be either early or late and we are working on a schedule.
Spreadsheet Modelling, taught by professor Patrick Noonan, is scheduled for Feb. 18 to March 3, 2020. We also plan to deliver the course through online sessions in a manner similar to the Market Research class.
Managerial Accounting, taught by professor Hao Xue, is scheduled March 7 to March 21, 2020. Again, we also plan to deliver the course through online sessions in a manner similar to the Market Research class.
Return to DKU campus for reconnection and engagement
Our current expectation is that you could return to the Kunshan campus after spring break for the start of the Business Communication class on March 30 and remain there through the Financial Valuation class and graduation. We will monitor the situation, and we recognize that we may have to deliver the Business Communications and Financial Valuation classes in an alternative format if the risk continues.
We feel this allows you to move forward with more concrete plans for the next two months without being beholden to a potentially moving date of when the restrictions related to the health risk will be lifted. While we cannot control when the risk will abate, we can take some measures that allow you to plan more deliberately. Importantly, it also retains the options to allow your re-immersion at the Kunshan campus for the last six weeks of the program, which we hope will be possible.
Flexibility and moving forward
This has been a shock to us all and requires a great deal of flexibility from faculty, staff, and all of you as we move forward. If any of you desire to take a Leave of Absence (LOA), we will support that with the option to return to the program in January 2021 in Kunshan.
While you can expect that the online delivery of courses will feel different than face-to-face delivery, one is not necessarily better than the other. We have a great deal of experience with delivery of courses in a synchronous and asynchronous environment, as we have outlined, and we are fortunate to have the staff and equipment that allows this as an option. Our Weekend MBA students and our Global Executive MBA students have online delivery as a regular component of their classes and our Daytime MBAs, MMS and MQM students have all experienced online classes as a substitute for face-to-face classes when faced with weather events that have limited access to campus in Durham.
For the Chinese students, you may remain at home or where comfortable for the online classes. Non-Chinese students may desire to return to their home country during this period, and we support that. I understand the non-Chinese students just received their passports and that travel will be an option.
Implied next steps are to expect a syllabus from us for the Market Research class and expect that it will begin in an online format on Monday, Feb. 3. Outside of the travel restrictions and passport access, you are in control of where you participate in the classes over the next two months. That includes being responsible for having internet access that hopefully can be in real time for the synchronous classes but at a minimum at regular intervals to interact with your team and review the class recordings.
We have covered a lot and will pause here. We hope this provides some clarity around the program for the next two months. Beyond that, we have some time to monitor and adjust but are hopeful you will be back on campus at the end of March for your last two classes.
Senior associate dean of full-time programs
Professor of the practice of marketing
Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business