Leadership and Team


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James T. Dobbins, III, Ph.D., FAAPM

Associate Vice Provost and Director
Professor of Radiology, Biomedical Engineering, and Physics

James Dobbins, Ph.D., is Associate Vice Provost and Director of the Office of DKU Programs at Duke University, and also serves as Secretary of the Duke Kunshan University Board of Trustees. He is an internationally recognized scholar in the field of advanced diagnostic imaging science, having developed several techniques that have been put into clinical practice worldwide. Jim joined the Department of Radiology at Duke in 1985 and has faculty appointments in the School of Medicine, the Pratt School of Engineering, the Trinity College of Arts and Sciences, and the Graduate School. He has over 350 publications and presentations and twice won awards for best manuscript of the year in a scientific journal, including the Sylvia Sorkin Greenfield award from the American Association of Physicists in Medicine. In addition, Jim has extensive experience in education and leadership, including 10 years as founding Director of the Medical Physics Graduate Program at Duke University. Under his leadership, the Graduate Program became the second largest in the U.S. and among the top programs in quality. Jim is also co-founder, past-President, and former Chair of the Board of Directors of the Society of Directors of Academic Medical Physics Programs, Inc., which provided the opportunity to contribute to the national dialogue on many issues of importance to the future of medical physics educational programs. He has held numerous leadership roles within Duke University and in national scientific and professional organizations, and currently serves as President - Elect of the American Association of Physicists in Medicine, the largest scientific and professional society of medical physics in the world, and one of the leading organizations in translational medicine of the future.

As Associate Vice Provost, Jim is the principal coordinator of the academic and programmatic elements of the Duke component of graduate and undergraduate educational programs at DKU, including implementation work on the new four-year undergraduate liberal arts college at DKU that opened in Fall 2018. 

Jim received his Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and his undergraduate degree with highest honors in Physics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is a Fellow of the American Association of Physicists in Medicine.



Valerie Hausman

Associate Vice Provost for Duke Kunshan and Duke University Programming and Strategy

Valerie Hausman is Associate Vice Provost for Duke Kunshan and Duke University Programming and Strategy.  Valerie works closely with DKU and Duke leadership, faculty and staff to coordinate the student experience for DKU undergraduate students coming to Duke.  Her role includes coordination of academic, co-curricular, advising, infrastructure and student life related components, to ensure an exceptional student experience.  In her previous role (2012-2018), Valerie served as the Associate Dean for Global Executive Education at Duke’s Fuqua School of Business, where she managed Fuqua’s portfolio of Executive Education programs and a long-term strategic partnership with Nazarbayev University in Kazakhstan.  From 2008-2011, Valerie coordinated Fuqua’s global strategy, working closely with teams in Europe, Russia, India, China and the Middle East to enable Fuqua to develop a meaningful presence in each of these regions.    From 2005-2008, she served as Associate Director, Health Sector Management (HSM) at Fuqua, where she oversaw all aspects of the HSM Executive MBA programs.

Valerie’s experience prior to joining Duke University includes positions at the University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School, Deloitte Consulting, Goldman Sachs and the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.  Valerie is a member of the International Advisory Board of the Porto Business School in Portugal.   She earned a BA in Economics with a concentration in International Relations from Cornell University and an MBA from Harvard Business School. 


Our Team


Irina Adams

Director, DKU Student Engagement​

Irina Adams is Director of DKU Student Engagement, working on academic, co-curricular and student life facets of study at Duke for DKU students, and managing other projects to advance the mission of the office. Irina coordinates across Duke and DKU to develop and implement a wide range of student services and programs, and is the primary advisor to DKU students while at Duke. Irina also serves as advisor to the student group KSAC (Kunshan Student Ambassador Council), which fosters dialogue and serves as peer network for Duke-DKU students, as well as a college advisor to Duke students prior to major declaration. As Program Manager in the office between 2016-2019, Irina oversaw planning and execution of student and faculty programs and events, supported the work of the China Faculty Council, and managed communications.

Previously, Irina served for six years as an Assistant Director for Programs at DukeEngage, where she worked on planning and administration of civic engagement opportunities for Duke students in the U.S. and abroad. She managed a portfolio of 20 faculty and provider-led programs and directed independent projects, advising students on project design, managing admissions, and supporting students in the field. Irina has also worked in the administration of global health programs, high school exchange, as well as in marketing and communications. Irina holds a Master's in International Education from the School for International Training and undergraduate degrees in Chinese and Romanian from the University of Bucharest. She studied at Zhongshan University in Guangzhou, China, for two years as an undergraduate student. Irina is interested in student development and identity, in particular in relation to study abroad.


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Karen Kennea

Executive Assistant

Karen Kennea joined Duke in 2009 and serves as Executive Assistant to Associate Vice Provost Jim Dobbins.  She previously served as Executive Assistant for R. Sanders Williams, MD, (former Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, Dean of the School of Medicine and Senior Advisor on International Strategy to the President, Provost and Chancellor) and L. Gregory Jones, PhD (former Vice President and Vice Provost for Global Strategy and Programs). Prior to coming to Duke, Karen lived and worked in England for 21 years as a U.S. expat where she gained experience and a broad skill-set in corporate event coordination that included conferences, travel and special events. Karen also serves as Executive Assistant to Denis Simon, PhD, Executive Vice Chancellor at DKU, during his visits to the Durham campus.


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Liguo Zhang, PhD

Academic Dean, DKU Undergraduate Students

Liguo Zhang joined the Office of Duke Kunshan University Program Office in January 2017 as the Director of Global Academic Programs Development. In his current role, he coordinates development of DKU courses and the DKU assessment plan. He is also involved in the DKU undergraduate curriculum development and faculty planning. Previously, Liguo was the Special Assistant to the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs at DKU. In that role, he worked along with the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs on matters related to undergraduate and graduate programs, faculty affairs, and research administration. Liguo had worked at Duke for about six years before joining DKU in 2015, first as a Senior Research Associate in the Department of Pharmacology and Cancer Biology and later as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicine. Liguo earned his Ph.D. in molecular biology and chemistry from Nankai University in China. He has published over 20 peer-reviewed papers in cancer-related fields.


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Yanan Zi

Student Services Coordinator

In her role as Student Services Coordinator, Yanan Zi is responsible for helping DKU students create meaningful experiences during their time at Duke and beyond.

At a young age, Yanan was fortunate enough to have many immersive experiences with people from diverse backgrounds through a local dance group from her hometown. Her cross-cultural interactions as a child inspired her to pursue a bachelor’s degree abroad where she majored in linguistics and was heavily involved in the international community at Ohio University. Yanan has previously worked in administrative roles for various Duke programs both in Durham and abroad. One of her recent career highlights was directing programs for a leading social enterprise in her home province of Yunnan, where she worked with US, European, Australian and Chinese collaborators in the field of creative film and biodiversity education. The most recent iterations of the film program resulted in selections and awards at serval international youth festivals, and, more importantly, gave local minority youth the opportunity to share their perspectives on a global platform.

Yanan joined the student engagement team in 2020.