12/18/2009 Duke Health dreams of being international. Will Kunshan, China be included.

Fact Checker here.

I note that only six members of the new advisory board are alumni, all out of Trinity College.

And I note that the controversial Bob Steel wedged his way in just months after being forced out as chair of the Trustees by term limits. Steel is one of four current or former Trustees who already are in a position to give advice. It's a shame that we don't look for more fresh people and involve them.

It will be interesting to see the Global Health strategy fall together, particularly in light of Duke's landing in the Chinese backwater of Kunshan.

Keep in mind President Brodhead's astute observation to the faculty two years ago that Duke has been "opportunistic" in its international moves -- in other words we followed the money. He called for overview and focus, a call that will echo hollow if Duke Health does not participate in Kunshan.

Fact Checker will have a full report about this as soon as more research is done. But this Chinese city looks pretty grim. No university, no airport. It has only one hotel with any stars within its boundaries.

It does have factories turning out computers and other electronics 24 hours a day -- and the laborers sleep eight to a room behind the walls surrounding their factories, to be secure in a city that's had crime problems and to be close at hand for seven day a week scheduling. The city fathers (you can still use that term in China since women don't play much of a role in local government) do have ambitions, and thus land which is exactly double the size of East Campus will house Duke-China.

It's going to be lonely on those 200 acres (I do not know where in the teeming city they are). The Fuqua Intercontinental MBA program -- the only specific so far -- will have students in this place called Kunshan only nine days a year.

To think, just seven weeks ago the Dean was talking of Shanghai. It makes you wonder how Kunshan bubbled up and snapped the other plans.

Fact Checker notes too that President Brodhead did not get anywhere near Kunshan on his much publicized trip to China and three other Asian countries in 2006; and Fact Checker observes that Brodhead has not kept his pledge to return to China every year or every other year, with India being his latest international trip.

Now a Fact Checker plan: while the law school has doubled in size in two decades, and Fuqua has come out of nowhere to embrace about 1100 students, the Medical School has continued to have classes of 99 or 100.

Tie this, please to the substantial surpluses at Duke Health for 9 consecutive years. Last year alone, $220,300,000. Almost a quarter BILLION dollars extra in the 2008-2009 fiscal year ending June 30, 2009! That's better than ten percent profit on the amount of money Duke Health took in from patients for their care. (About $2.1 billion gross).

Wouldn't it be wonderful if we used that pile of cash to expand our output of doctors. The centerpiece of our global strategy could be a requirement that each newly minted doctor make some contribution in these far-away places and help people for a defined period of time, in exchange for their Duke education paid for out of the stash.

✔Just a thought from Fact Checker.

12/18/2009 Duke early admissions

As loyal readers know, Fact Checker is often written in response to an article in the Chronicle. It may be necessary for you from time to time to go to the Chronicle archive and retrieve that article for full understanding.
Fact Checker here. Interrupting your holidays with some analysis.

The biggest surprise is the number of early admissions candidates who got a flat NO in response to their desire to come to Duke: 609.

That's 609 out of 1924 candidates who completed early admissions applications. You may see a higher total in boasts by Guttentag and Company about the explosion in our early admissions pool, but you should say "Whoa Whoa. You can't fool me. I read Fact Checker!"

If we add the number of people admitted, and the number deferred, and the number who got outright rejections, we come up with 1924. That's significantly less than the 2012 Duke has been touting. The official total includes candidates who did not finish their applications and others who were just masturbating over their dream to come here.

Duke did not reveal last year the number of outright NO's that it sent out. But for the Class of 2012, only 280 were denied admission outright, out of 1247 Duke-count applications and 1171 in the Fact Checker total of people who actually submitted completed forms.

In other words, fully one third of all current early admissions applicants merited a NO, while two years ago, only 23 percent were duds.

As the so-called journalists at Fox say, "I report, you decide." Does this mean the quality of the pool is diminishing before our very eyes?

Guttentag also revealed that of the 713 people who have just been sent to compete in the regular application pool (deferred as they say) only about ten percent will win admission.

Fellow Dukies, we have 609 NO's and 630 people who ain't going to hear YES. I am scratching and asking how come so many turkeys are applying for early admission.

Next point. A glaring omission in Guttentag's comments as reported in the Chronicle and in a PR handout is: he makes no mention of financial aid. A year ago he was all over himself cooing that the Financial Aid Initiative was luring early admissions candidates and it was the best thing for Duke since butter was added to morning grits. What's it's effect now???????

As for this year's boast that 25 percent of early applicants -- a record percentage -- are "people of color," Fact Checker points out that official fall semester statistics show 22 percent Asian, 10 percent African American, 7 percent Hispanic/Latino and 8 percent "other than
Caucasian." Leaving out the "others," we see 39 percent of the student body as a whole is comprised of "people of color," while only 25 percent of those who got in thru early admissions for the next freshman class are.

Let us remember the highly secret study in the Provosts office that I have written about, showing that fully 70 percent of Caucasian undergraduates are from families with incomes above $100,000 (while more than 40 percent of all undergraduates merit aid).

Readers, you can see why early admissions has a reputation as an affirmative action program for whites to jump the line -- which is a prime reason some schools have eliminated it.

Lastly, one of the nice things about official Duke statistics is how they are not parallel year to year. For example, after being told for two years in a row how many early applications were going to Trinity and how many to Pratt, that statistic has disappeared. So has the split between men and women. As for geography, two years ago Connecticut was the #2 state for early candidates, while California burrowed in this year; those rankings do not factor in the greater number of candidates from a large state such as Cal versus a small state such as Connecticut.

Well Dukies, it's time for some well earned rest. Oh two final comments that I cannot resist:

Official statistics just posted on the web show 3,031 regular rank faculty in the semester just completed. That's up from 2877 a year earlier, 2477 when Mr Brodhead arrived and 2,159 a decade ago. I have only one word: unsustainable.

Speaking of President Brodhead, he's in New York worrying about the financial meltdown at Duke ("dire financial strait" is how the chair of our Trustees put it). On Friday he rings the bell to close out trading on the NASDAQ; this is small time since the bell you hear on newscasts and so forth is at the NY Stock Exchange. He'll be flanked by Duke students and alums working in finance, and Fact Checker will be watching to see if he invited David Evans. On Saturday, he's got good seats in Madison Square Garden for the basketball game.

✔Fact Checker is off for the holidays, but rest ye merry, I will watch for any important development.


12/7/2009 Duke and Kunshan, China. Also Trustees tamper with 5 pct endowment rule

Fact Checker here.

On October 18, 2007 President Brodhead delivered his "annual" address to the faculty focusing on Duke's international aspirations. He made a very astute observation:

"Duke’s international efforts to date have been somewhat opportunistic in character..."

In other words, Duke followed the money, and it lead to a splattering of international programs that lacked all focus. As Brodhead put it, "we are nearing a time when the university’s internationalization will need to become more concerted and more strategic."

Which brings us to this weekend's Trustee meeting and the sudden emergence of a city in China named Kunshan. I looked it up: the city makes all of the iPod Touches for the world, and the same local corporation turns out computers under the Toshiba, Dell, Fujitsu, and Hewlett-Packard labels. Other industries also thrive.

Yes, the city has set aside a parcel of land. And yes they are willing to put up a building, no cost to us, and even pay for electricity. This will be used first by Fuqua's international MBA program.

I hope the people in Kunshan got it straight: Duke will have MBA students there precisely nine days a year. Because that is what this five city circus requires.

And if Mr Brodhead ever gets around to delivering his "annual" address to the Faculty this academic year, I will be interested to see if he tags this venture as "opportunistic" or if he can define what strategy he pursues.

Time after time the Fuqua people talked Shanghai. Suddenly, that's not needed.

In other words, once again we are following the money, rather than sitting down and thinking through what all this means. And once again it looks as though Fuqua is just flailing with its dream for an MBA program located around the world.

Second, Fact Checker also wants to comment on a paragraph that is just slipped into the Chronicle story that demands a lot of focus:

We will be "....reassessing the University’s endowment spending rates, which are set at between 5.5 and 5.75 percent for the financial aid endowment and at 5 percent for the University’s general endowment."

In other words, using a complicated formula, each year Duke spends "five percent" of the value of its general endowment. That rule held for years

The 5 percent rule is fair enough -- this generation is entitled to use some of Duke's wealth, with the understanding that we will use only so much as to insure the perpetuity of this source of revenue.

The 5 percent rate was arrived at very carefully. It assumed we'd earn 8.5 percent on average, and we'd salt away 3.5 percent a year to protect the long term purchasing power of the endowment.

This division between the current generation and future generations must not be tinkered with behind closed doors, with only an oblique reference.

Already we have seen some of that occur. In the area of financial aid, Duke found its commitment to need-blind admissions needed far more than was at hand. So a year ago, we increased our spending from endowment sources by 28 percent! The formula for endowment related to financial aid was silently shifted to 5.75 percent.

Folks, that's huge. It means we're eating far more of the pie than we are morally entitled to, at the expense of future generations of Dukies.

As Fact Checker stated, Trustees should tamper with this only in full light. It is far more than what Trustee Chair Blue is quoted as saying, "to juggle things"
during a budget crisis.

The words, once again, are transparency and accountability. Dan Blue, let's do this in the sunlight.

One final point. And of course it is complicated too. In the world of endowments designed to last in perpetuity, you are not supposed to dip, ever, into the original gift, the principal. Ever. In some states, this is provided for by law.

And Blue is technically right that Duke has not dipped, as it spends 5 percent or 5.75 percent.

Loyal readers should understand, however, that in addition to its "permanently restricted endowment," Duke appears to have lodged some extra earnings from the endowment over the years in a separate categories called "temporarily restricted" and "funds functioning as endowment."

My reading of the rather occluded reports indicates we have indeed dipped into these two latter pools, which allows us to technically say we have not tampered with endowment. But only technically.

✔Another Fact Checker report is complete! Enjoy the holidays.

12/7/2009 Budget cuts

Fact Checker here.

First, I was interested to see that the biology department has had to cut ten percent, more than $200,000. This would suggest to me the entire department operates on a budget somewhere over $2 million.

Just last week, in an excellent series, the Chronicle pointed out the athletic department had so far cut five percent. And we also learned about the $3.7 million annual salary for the basketball coach.

Fact Checker gives you the facts. You tell me if they are out of whack.

Now, let's look at the main thrust of the article.

Thank you, Chronicle, for digging up this information about the weekend Trustee meeting. It affects us all -- and is far more important than the only official news release about the meeting. So much for transparency.

That release covered a new masters program, which will initially embrace only 25 students. The news release, needless to say, pointed to this as an academic highlight, neglecting Provost Lange's frank admission to the Academic Council on May 7th that we'll see a proliferation of these new masters programs as "a way to enhance revenue."

Fact Checker does want to comment on one of The Chronicle numbers, which stated the budget was $2.12 billion last year.

I believe that you will find -- and believe me this stuff is hard to ferret out of The Allen Building and if I am ever wrong, I acknowledge errors immediately -- that subsequent to the announcement of that figure, Duke adopted a new accounting standard that trimmed the original number to $1.91 billion. The change involved the treatment of student financial aid, it doesn't make any difference, and it is only confusing to discuss it any more here.

The current year is "flat," which is to say we are spending just as much as last year.

Loyal readers will recall that the budget we are discussing -- like the fiscal crisis itself -- only involves the educational mission of Duke. Our separately budgeted Health System -- with revenue from patients seeking treatment -- had a PROFIT (oh they called it a surplus) of $220,300,000 last academic year!

Loyal readers, I want to remind everyone of President Brodhead's clear declaration of what must occur with the education budget. In a March 1, 2009 letter to all stakeholders, he stated:

"....over the next several years we will have to adjust to the reality that Duke’s budget, instead of growing steadily, will have to be approximately $125 million smaller than it is today."

This pledge was subsequently refined to embrace three full years of phasing in cuts: the current 2009-2010, 2010-2011 and 2011-2012. By the 2012-2013 academic year, we'd have hit target.

The impact can only be understand if you remember that Duke's education budget has been growing at compounded rate of 9 percent a year (another statistic from Mr Brodhead, quoted in the current issue of Duke magazine and generally not heard).

So if the good times had continued to roll, and all of us were assuming they would, Duke's budget starting July 1, 2013, would have hit approximately $2.69 billion. In fact, the cut Mr Brodhead envisioned gives us only $1.79 billion to spend.

How is that for perspective!

We are also seeing that the expectation that we will have to cut $125 million is too optimistic. We'll hear more about that after we get the half year financial results, as discussed in the Chronicle article. That would be a first: in the past Duke has steadfastly refused to disclose anything but annual figures.

✔Good luck on exams.

12/7/2009 I cannot reach same totals as Trask on budget cuts

Fact Checker here. Thank you, Chronicle, for this informative article. I hope that when you resume publication in January, you delve into the faculty retirement incentive program, because big big bucks are involved.

Now.... about Staff Retirement Incentive #2

It would be useful for Dr Trask to share with us his calculations on "savings." You know, Tallman, visibility and accountability. How about updating the website that you yourself created to keep us informed of the financial meltdown, and maybe a thermometer that shows the savings as they occur.

Let's look at Retirement Incentive #2. He and his staff had predicted 10, 20 or 50 retirements. You have to wonder how they could be so far off, assuming the final count is 60.

And you have to wonder how he sees savings "north" of $5 million. That's $83,000 per head, and not the $100,000 he boasted about to The Chronicle. It's little discrepancies like this that do not add up that make you wonder.

Put simply, Fact Checker is unable to duplicate Trask's calculation of "savings." He apparently does not include:

A) the cost of severance payments that do not count in Tallman's annual budget. (For retirement incentive plan #1, Fact Checker is told by a mole the cost was $11 million, although I cannot confirm that).

B) the cost of monthly pensions. While these people are no longer on the annual budget, they will be getting Duke money from another source, the pension plan, all of which depletes our net assets.

C) the cost of one of the most lavish medical plans in the nation for our retirees. The cost of this is now predicted by Trask himself to go up more than 40 percent in the next four years.

D) the cost of lavish gifts from Duke for their children to go to college. This is the Children's Tuition Grant Program. Lavish? In the case of Trask, who continues on the payroll frozen at $478,000 a year, it means an extra $28,113 a year for each of his two children while they are undergraduates. By comparison, Duke's highly touted need-based financial aid packages for undergraduates average only $26,685 per year in the last available calculation.

(Footnote: no wonder at a briefing for employees, when someone asked about the children's tuition plan, Trask shot back immediately that it was safe from cutbacks).

So what's the headcount. Trask had said "the university" must shed 1,000 people. The Fact Checker estimate is we still have 570 to go. OUCH.

Mr. Trask will not answer inquiries from a researcher working for Fact Checker on the 1,000, leading you to wonder if Mr Brodhead indeed is in charge and what became of his pledge of accountability.

About the 1,000:

Do they come from the academic operations of Duke alone, the so-called "campus" employees who total 9,173.

Or do some of them also come from people listed as employees of the Medical and Nursing Schools. The total here is 10,232, which seems out of whack until you realize this is where we lodge our researchers, most of them paid for by dedicated revenue streams from contracts and grants.

Or do we include any of the 6,897 people working at Duke Hospital, and smaller numbers in our other patient care areas? These people too also outside "the university budget", being paid by patients getting medical care.

Here is the importance of this: if only the 9,173 "campus" employees must absorb this hit , the pain will be very narrowly focused and very deep, not spread across the spectrum of Duke fairly.

✔Thank you for reading Fact Checker this semester.

12/4/2009 Fuqua dreams of China

Fact Checker here.

Can someone please tell me precisely what facilities Fuqua needs for its International MBA program in each of its 5 cities.

The program involves only 60 days of classroom work total in all the cities. Plus "distance learning" over 14 months; my father used to call this homework.

Tuition: $120,000 this year, more next, not including travel. We drew only 2/3rds the number of students expected for September's inaugural class, and we had to pad the class with student from the US when far fewer from around the world applied, thus diluting the internationalization that is the heart of this.

The city in China will see Duke people for 9 days a year. Nine. A week plus another weekend.

That's how much time MBA candidates will spend in each city, a few more in London plus some in Durham.

What is this China building all about? To be used 9 days a year.

It's about the current Shibboleth in academia, that we are "international." Every school from Bob Jones University to Harvard is scrambling.

It's about the ego of administrators who think big buildings, who want to divert us from our crumbling ability to handle our campus at home.

Readers, did you see what this week's meeting of the Academic Council learned?

Professor Steven Grill at the podium:

“The grounds (on West, East and Central campuses) will not be kept in the splendor that we are used to,” Grill said, adding that faculty offices will be cleaned less frequently, trash cans will not be emptied daily and litter will not be picked up as quickly across the University.

Groundskeeping has to be maintained at its current level in the Sarah P. Duke Gardens, at the Hospital and in athletic facilities, he noted."

Another Grill quote: “Our aspirations in the last year or two certainly have not declined... but the capability to fund all those aspirations has.”

Fact Checker endorses that thought. It's nice to have ambitions in China. It's even better to temper your dreams with fiscal reality at home.

12/4/2009 where was the consultation on new dorm?

act Checker here.

I am rather surprised that Mr Trask has now told the Chronicle that the basic inside design work for the new Keohane Quad dorm is complete.

Reconcile this, please, with Dean Nowicki's October 8 briefing for the Campus Council. The Chronicle coverage included the following paragraphs.
“The idea (of a new dorm) has a whole lot of potential,” said Campus Council President Stephen Temple, a junior. “Campus Council will be acting as the student voice throughout the process.”

Campus Council may send student representatives to the planning committee as well, Temple said......

Members of Campus Council and Nowicki said they believed student input would be invaluable to the process.

“I hope to see Campus Council and a wide variety of students involved in discussions about which living style are most amenable,” said Campus Council Vice President Alex Reese, a junior.

--- End of Chronicle story

Fact Checker would like to know, now that Trask says things are all but wrapped up, what the status of things was on October 8, and how the architects in New Haven (read Yale) moved so quickly in the two months until today.

How much input did students really have? How many meetings and briefings were held, and what specifically was the response of the administration to student ideas?

Mr Temple and Mr Reese owe all stakeholders in Duke a complete accounting. Not to mention that we need to hear from Dean Steve.

Loyal readers, I fear we have another Brodhead administration charade. I fear I have another addition to my list of Duke decisions bearing directly on students, that went forward without students even sitting at the table, much less having true impact.

In this regard, it is interesting to see the agenda outlined for the Trustee meeting Friday and Saturday -- with no reference at all to the very legitimate concerns that students have been expressing in a very responsible way about such decisions as the merger of International House and the Multiculture Center.

Trustees, enjoy your free meals in the Washington Duke Inn. You know, that place that students can no longer use for Duke Conversations.

If you want to experience what it's really like here, the line at Marketplace continues until 9 PM

Final notes: Chair Blue, a good lawyer, chose his words closely for the Chronicle's story today. He said there would be no "mass" university wide layoffs, that everything would be decentralized school by school and so forth. Chair Blue did not say anything about the total number of people involved -- which could well add up to the same number as a "mass" layoff.

Faculty, employees and retirees: the Trustees will be discussing your health plan.

Here is just one dimension: Fact Checker calls your attention to page 23 of Trask's annual report (page 21 in the PDF version), footnote 10, paragraph 9. Therein lies the story.

Duke gives its retirees medical coverage. That's a very unique benefit these days. The cost this year is projected at $10,375,000. Four years from now, that will leap to $14,895,000. These are the same years that Mr Brodhead says we must cut our budget by $125 million -- $125 million less than it was in the 2008-09 year.

Such an increase is not in the wind, so something has to give.

Fact Checker further calls the attention of all stakeholders to page 34 of Trask's report, PDF version 32 (just to confuse you the page numbers are not consistent). We see that fringe benefits leaped from 17.6 percent of payroll costs in the 2007-2008 year, to 18.2 percent in 2008-09. Not sustainable.

As Trask and his subordinates said at briefings for employees being offered buyouts, the medical plan was safe for this year. They emphasized this year.

Expect higher premiums, greater co-payments and even a recasting of what is covered and what is not.

Duke will be able to save millions by painless adjustments, such as requiring that prescriptions for chronic conditions by filled via mail order (just about every corporate health plan requires this now). But such painless tinkering is not going to be the end of the story.

And then there is the real bull in the china shop: when will faculty and staff know if the wage freeze now in effect will continue for another year. Oh my god, why did Fact Checker have to spoil my Friday!


Chronicle series on athletics in time of budget crisis.

Fact Checker here.

Thank you for the illuminating series on the athletics budget. A damn good job!

I would like to augment with a comment on Coach K's salary and perks.

First the perks. Two years ago the university was forced to reveal (because of a federal law that provides for at least minimum transparency and accountability) that K has access to a private jet.

The VP for public affairs at the time, Burness, would answer no questions: what size jet for this is typically specified in employment contracts, if Duke owned it or leased it or what, who else has access to such a perk.

This was Duke to the core: no transparency, no accountability with plenty of lard for the royalty. And a response from Burness that could only be considered abusive in tone.

(Faculty members flying in the back of commercial jetliners, told now to cut their travel expenses because of the budget crisis, may appreciate knowing about that perk particularly)

Coach Cut by the way was offered a ride in a university jet when he came to interview, but declined, driving overnight instead.

Coach K enjoyed a substantial salary prior to his flirtation with the Lakers: in the 2002-2003 school year, $800,000 in base and an expense account, unexplained in documents that Fact Checker has reviewed for you, of $617,028.

After he decided to remain at Duke he received a 50 percent hike. In fairness, and Fact Checker is fair, I note the expense account got trimmed at this time, but apparently the corporate jet got added. One can only surmise.

In the next year, K received an additional hike -- of $1 million a year. And in the year after that he received yet another increase -- of $1 million a year.

This brings us to the $3.7 million that the Chronicle cites for 2007-08, the latest available. Numbers like these are found in Form 990 of the university's tax return, on page 37 for Brodhead, page 60 of 88 for Coach K, in case you want to do some research of your own.

It is assumed but not known if Coach K's salary was governed by the current wage freeze or if his contract prevailed. We'll find some of that out next April, along with confirmation of Coach Cut's initial salary.

This of course is not Coach K's entire financial package: Duke and he get intertwined in endorsements (Nike for example). Plus all of his other activites that build on the Duke brand.

We do not know if, for example, the Nike deal in outfitting our teams and in gaining endorsement, is included in K's university salary, or if Nike may cut a check directly to him. The same applies to the Fuqua motivational program that coach K conducts annually ($1600 a guest) which Fact Checker believes is handled by a subsidiary corporation.

✔Fact Checker presents numbers, you tell me if you like them!


Chronicle editorial pointed out neglect of women's issues by President Brodhead.
My post contained an error about political parties, specifically with regard to Tallman Trask. That portion is eliminated.

Fact Checker here

Thank you Chronicle for this important editorial.

I have counted heads in the senior leadership of the university --executive officers, the university-wide vice presidents, the deans of the schools. Separately I have counted the Trustees who meet in plenary session starting Friday.

Here are official Fact Checker numbers:


Male 23, female 5

Of those five, four were appointed by Brodhead. They include Dr Nancy Andrews, the first female at the helm of a major medical school. The others: the university counsel, Dean of the Graduate School and Dean of the Nursing School. Brodhead inherited the vice president for information technology.

While Mr Brodhead did appoint those four in his five and a half years since migrating from Yale, he is also responsible for 15 male appointments, including Chancellor Dzau whom he signed off on prior to his actual arrival at Duke.

Fact Checker presents the numbers. You tell me if you are satisfied.

There are of course many ways to cut statistics beyond male-female:

Of 19 major appointments, Brodhead promoted from within only five times, bringing in "outsiders" on 14 occasions.

So far as Fact Checker can determine, and there are ever any errors in my meticulous research I acknowledge them publicly, Brodhead has appointed only one alum.

That's Michael Schoenfeld, whose responsibilities do not embrace academics, research or medicine, but revolve on promoting our brand and protecting our image. (Detour: the careful reader of the Chronicle will note he was quoted in 13 stories in September, 7 in October and only 3 in November. The Chronicle is properly going to the actual newsmakers, not the filter and manipulator of news)

The racial profile of our top leadership is also revealing. Here again I caution that getting this information about Duke is most difficult but here goes.

Brodhead appointed two blacks, and as previously noted with respect to Chancellor Dzau, an Asian, he signed off on him. Brodhead inherited one black.


12 are female, with one vacancy on the board that includes 36 members plus the president ex officio.

Seven of the current women joined the self-perpetuating board during the Brodhead years. These include the president of the alumni, ex officio, over whom the Self Perpetuators (as I call the Trustees) had no influence.

During the Brodhead years, there were at least 13 males named to the Board. Young Trustees are included in the totals if they currently vote.

Final note: I raised my eyebrows when the Chronicle noted that Mr Brodhead has not made a public statement on the women's council since 2008. What's news about that?

✔Fact Checker wishes you a good day. And may every student be lucky enough to have final exams that center on the reading that she or he did do.


Wow. A Trustee who will be actually elected!

Chronicle reports a new by-law adopted by student government, allowing a direct vote by undergraduates for the Student Trustee.


Fact checker here.

Cherish the right to vote for the young Trustee. It's the last ballot you will ever cast for a member of the Board.

And cherish too the right to hear where the candidates stand. And to be able to pick from more than one choice.

Behind closed doors this coming weekend, our regular (adult) Trustees will receive from their Executive Committee two names, one for a current vacancy and one for an anticipated opening, both bubbling up behind closed doors.

These will be rubber stamped. Just like you can count on Fact Checker, you can count on the plenary meeting of the Trustees to do this. I call them "The Self-Perpetuators."

Depending on whether an alumni or church seat is involved, each nominee will be "elected" by the non-elected alumni leadership or by the leaders of the North Carolina Methodist Church.

Why the church of all people puts up with this charade. No, let me use a stronger word. Why the church puts up with this falsehood is beyond me.

12-1-2009 Where was Brodhead?

Fact Checker here.

Question: what did our President do specifically to encourage Congress to improve the student loan program.

I would like to hear from the University PR people -- or Mr Brodhead himself if he ever emerges.

When Mr Brodhead went to Washington in Feb 2008 with other university presidents to lobby for federal research funds, the PR office turned out reams of material. Nationally his presence was washed out by the new (first female) president of Harvard.

And I know Mr Brodhead was in Washington in March 2009, where he had a "whirlwind 28-hour trip" to talk to a "long list" of government officials. Quoting the Chronicle.

Among them was the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, where the discussion focused on a very narrow segment of the student body, veterans needing help to obtain an undergraduate education.

The PR man who hovered over Brodhead said the trip included discussion of the stimulus bill, which does have tangential relationship to the larger issue of student aid.

Is that it? Is that all he did?

What did he do as Congress in the last three years -- even before the financial meltdown -- faced many crucial questions on student aid that are so critical to Dukies?

Fact Checker is also Fact Learner, so some details would be in order.


11/29/09 Duke Conversations budget slashed; were students consulted?

Fact Checker here.

So funds for Duke Conversations were slashed 33 percent. Did any student participate in that decision?

Or shall Fact Checker add it to the list, like the International House and Center for Multicultural Affairs merger, the curtailing of weekend housekeeping in the dorms, the closing of the pharmacy in student health, and the level of police patrols while Durham hoodlums have target practice with Duke students.

Consequences of the 33 percent budget cut: half the number of Conversations this year versus last. Half. And no more Washington Duke Inn, although you can bet your Duke blue bloomers that our Trustees will feast there during their meeting later this week.

And the Chronicle archives reveal some real abuses of this program, so I am glad it's been cleaned up. See story of April 21, 2008:

Money from Duke Conversations "was used last year to bring former fraternity member Eric Weinberg, Trinity '06, to speak about continuing brotherhood in Sigma Nu fraternity after graduation."

And "senior Ankit Shrivastava was denied funding to bring Maneesh Goyal, Trinity '97, a former pre-medical student who is now a professional celebrity party planner."

"...Theoharris Christou, who spoke about "the art of curly hair;" Heather Heath, a former member of Alpha Phi Omega who discussed the future of the service fraternity; and Jim Fleming, Wake Technical Community College student body president, who spoke about campus activism."

And how about the comments from this buffoon: "I don't think that the purpose of Duke Conversations is to bring high-profile people," said sophomore Prashant Swaminathan, who hosted Inside Joke alumnus Dave Schmidt, Trinity '07, to speak on the weekend of the sketch comedy group's "College Musical."

"[Duke University Union's] Major Speakers [committee] brought in Tucker Max, which is questionable. It's not necessarily the most important people that have the most important things to say."

Duke Conversations paid for Schmidt to fly in from Germany to discuss his experiences studying English on the Schondorf-Duke Exchange Fellowship.

√Thanks for reading Fact Checker.

(( The people who sponsored Tucker Max have contacted Fact Checker about some details of his appearance. It probably is not a good idea to mention Tucker in the same breathe as Duke Conversations, since he was part of it. Anyone citing Fact Checker is notified to check out Tucker Max's appearance before quoting me ))

11/30/2009 In praise of Coach Cut and Pres Brodhead

Fact Checker here.

I'm serious about this comment: let's not forget that President Brodhead recruited Coach Cut (and athletic director White) to Duke, two of his best moves. He also had a role in keeping Coach K.

And yes, from top to bottom, lots of coaches and administrators should emulate Cokes with Coach Cut.

Shout it: GO DUKE

So far as the football budget is concerned, the editorial says it should not be increased. I am not so sure about that: when the sport finds new revenue with a better record, and big dollars will come through, football is entitled to a substantial slice.

The greater danger is that football's budget will be cut, for already Duke's annual contribution to all athletics is down 3.3 percent, with another hit to come next year. The athletic department has a six stage plan to meet this shortfall and others it anticipates; it is my understanding we are seeing stage one and I would hope the Chronicle would outline what the other options are so all of Duke's stakeholders can fulfill their responsibility to speak up -- for more money or less -- as we go forward.


11/20/09 Athletics budget in trouble

Fact Checker here. This is an excellent report, a service to all who care about Duke and Duke Athletics.

The details that are presented bring to life the words of the new Trustee chair, that we are in "dire financial strait." They make me wonder why our President and others have not communicated all this more clearly, why not one of the financial reports that they have issued even mentions the word "athletics."

The news story includes numbers that I have not seen before -- the exponential growth of Duke athletics. Whether you agree or disagree with the appropriations, you are entitled to know information like this. Knowledge is power.

It is my understanding that the athletics department has developed a six-stage plan to trim back -- with some pretty dire news possibly coming through the pipeline. We are fortunate that Kevin White is at the helm, and yes I will give credit to President Brodhead for bringing him here from Notre Dame.

Oh boy, I read a sports column the other day that griped that there have been cutbacks in the free food for media covering basketball. It ain't going to be pretty, folks. Not at all.

11/20/09 List of e-mail addresses of Trustees

In response to a Chronicle editorial discussing the merger of International House and Multicultural Center -- and equally important, the way that this decision was made.

Good editorial.

The battle should be carried to the Board of Trustees -- not only on the issue of International House and Multicultural Center, but on the concept of student involvement in all decisions affecting them. The faculty tried for decades to get precisely this, and anyone interested in the successful outcome should seek out the Christie Principles, named for the law professor who developed them. Sorry but Fact Finder is traveling and cannot offer a link.

With the Trustees meeting December 4 and 5, stakeholders in Duke may wish to make their opinions heard. Here is the Fact Finder List of Trustee E-mail addresses for your convenience:

Hon. Daniel T. Blue Jr. L'73
Raleigh NC
Member, State Senate and lawyer

G. Richard (Rick) Wagoner T'75
Birmingham MI
Former CEO, GM Corporation

Benjamin S. Abram E 07
San Francisco CA
Venture Capitalist, The Westly Group
Student trustee
BS@abr.am (odd email, but it is correct)

Anne T Bass (Mrs. Robert T Bass)
Fort Worth TX
Private investments
No email yet.
201 Main St Fort Worth TX 76102

Jack O. Bovender Jr. T67, G'69
Nashville TN
Executive Chair, Hospital Corp of America

Richard Brodhead, ex officio
Durham, NC

Paula Phillips Burger WC'67, G'74
Vice Provost, Johns Hopkins University
Baltimore MD

Paula Hannaway Crown T '80
Chicago, IL
Private investor

Ralph Eads III T '81
Vice Chair, Jeffries and Co investment bankers
Jeffreys Randall and Dewey

Frank E. Emory Jr. T'79
Charlotte NC

Paul Farmer T 82
Cambridge, Ma
Founder, Partners in Health

Robin A. Ferracone T75
San Marino, CA

Xiging Gao L'86
Beijing, China
High ranking official, Chinese government

David Gergen Honorary Degree '01
Cambridge, MA
Director Center for Public Leadership, Kennedy School, Harvard

Thomas M. Gorrie
Retired Executive, Johnson and Johnson
Pennington, NJ
No e-mail yet. (609) 924-3354

V. Janet Hill
Washington DC
Principal, Alexander and Associates, consultants
(Mother of Grant Hill, basketball legend)
(202) 546-0111

Kenneth W. Hubbard T'65
Executive Vice President, Hines
New York City

Kimberly J. Jenkins T;76, G'77, G'80
Chapel Hill NC
Entrepreneur in resident, Pratt

Peter Kahn T'76
Washington DC
Partner, Williams and Connolly

Bruce A. Karsh T'77
Beverly Hills CA
President and Founder, OakTree Capital Mgmt

James J, Kiser III T'65
Pawleys Island SC
Founder, American Fiber and Finishing

Elizabeth Kiss
President, Agnes Scott College
Decatur GA

Marguerite W. Kondracke WC'68
Alexandra, VA
President, Americas Promise Alliance

John J Mack '68
Rye, NY
Chair, Morgan Stanley

Michael Marsicano T'78, G'82
Charlotte NC
President, Foundation of the Carolinas

Bishop J. Lawrence McCleskey T'62, D'66
Lake Junaluska, NC
Retired Methodist Bishop

Martha Monserrate E 81, G 82
Rye, NY
Founder, Environmental Excellence Engineering, consultants
her husband was president of Lehman Brothers.

Nancy A. Nasher L'79
Dallas TX
President, North Park Development
Yes, her father donated the museum. NAN@NORTHPARKCNTR.COM

Rev Clarence G. Newsome T'72, D'75, G'82
Raleigh NC
Former President, Shaw University

Ann Pelham T74
Chevy Chase, Md
Former publisher, The Legal Times
Ex officio President of the Duke Alumni Association. Amazingly her e-mail is not in the alumni directory.

David M. Rubenstein T'70
Washington DC
Founder, The Carlyle Group

Alan D. Schwartz T'72
Greenwich CT
Former CEO, Bear, Stearns

Rev. Dr. Charles M. Smith T'62, D'65
Raleigh NC
Pastor in Residence, Duke Divinity School

Susan M. Stalnecker T'73
Wilmington DE
Vice President and Treasurer, DuPont

Ryan Todd '08
Tallahassee, FL
Student Trustee

Xing Zong G09
Durham, NC
Graduate student Trustee



11/19/2009 Duke opens new lemur center, getting divorce from sordid past.

This is in response to a Chronicle story about the opening of a new lemur center.

Good day from Fact Checker...

We need some background here. This facility was once known as the Duke Primate Center, and it got its name change as part of a PR attempt to whitewash its history, which is quite chilling.

The horror reached its zenith in the winter of 1996, particularly cold in Durham, when three lemurs froze to death and 27 others were injured, many critically. These injuries occurred when the lemurs gathered in a circle around heating lamps -- and the circle of animals trying desperately to escape the cold tightened to push those on the inside into the hot bulbs. Others suffered frostbite and needed amputations of toes and tail tips.

In addition, Duke failed to provide veterinarian care as specified in the federal Animal Welfare Act, which protects the subjects of research from abuse.

Moreover, Duke failed to make corrections that winter despite a series of three inspections by federal authorities. Even though Duke paid substantial fines, Inspector David Kelly said that the fines are not stiff enough to force real change. "I don't have much faith in Duke administrators," Kelly told The Herald-Sun. "The general attitude that they can do no wrong needs to be looked at.... We all make mistakes; they don't like to admit it." (Some stories never change!!)

(The fines -- and criminal charges -- should have been imposed against university administrators personally in the judgment of Fact Checker)

Well the good news is that this seared the conscience of the community, and an uproar finally caused the administration to act. (Does that sound familiar, current Dukies?)

Duke found money to construct a better facility. We hired a new compassionate director away from Yale (she has a UNC and Duke background though) and changed the name to Lemur Center so if you Google it or search it in Chronicle archives, you do not find out the historical truth.

That's why you need Fact Checker.

Final notes: this facility was supposed to be finished in October of last year. I have heard no explanation why construction was delayed and some of the animals will spend part of the winter without accommodations deemed essential to them, until the 2nd building is opened. The Chronicle should have picked up on this, at least.

The Durham Herald-Sun reported some weeks ago that two employees of the lemur center were laid off -- the first such casualties in the university's budget crisis.

Two years ago, an unknown animal rights group in Ohio (of all places) asserted abuse at the Lemur Center. People who Fact Checker relies on checked this out and failed to find justification for the allegations.

These animals are believed to be the closest to humans in the chain of evolution. They are endangered in the wild, and we have the largest colony in captivity. They have provided us with much knowledge about ourselves, and they deserve the care that Duke is finally according them, 13 years after the horrible events in the winter of 1996.

√ Thank you for reading Fact Checker.

Fact Checker, you seem to have a big ego, you didn't really check any of the facts in the article (instead you wrote your own), and your check marks are really the mathematical radical symbol.

In any case, what troubles me most about this is, most obviously, the amount of money being spent. I'm willing to give them the fact that the center is useful for primate research (research being a core mission of the university), but is $8.2 million really the kind of emphasis we want to give to lemurs when we cant even spend a fraction of that to keep the staff from the MCC. I know I "don't get" or have access to the inner workings and logistics of Duke financing, but whatever the bizarre rationale for this is, I think I'm going to remain fairly skeptical. To a certain extent, it doesn't matter what the means are if the ends you're accomplishing aren't worth it in the first place.

Main question: why is "Duke" so blatantly prioritizing "happiness in another species" over the happiness of its own student body?

Sure, you can say this is an overstatement, that Duke cares much more about student happiness than the lemurs. This is undoubtedly true, but the main point is that, from this, we can see that the balance of priority is not stilted towards the students nearly enough.

Fact Checker has in the past and will continue to acknowledge all errors and correct them. Please detail what you think I made up, rather than just shouting. If I knew your e-mail I would send you pictures of the lemurs who were scorched to death.

The Duke community knows what the research and integrity that is symbolized by √.

And thank you for the evaluation of my character. I would venture to guess we have never met and it is nice to know you can divine so much from comments posted on this website.

As for the rest of your diarrhea about how research animals should get nothing and students everything, your heart is so gracious.

Fact Checker, your fact checking of my post is off in itself. Your first point claims that I stated that your post was "made up". I did not say this. I said that your claims did not "correct" the facts that were discussed in the article. While your post might be--and I would even venture to say probably is--true, you are not "fixing" the facts from the article but rather creating content of your own. In a way the appropriate thing would not be for me to say what I think you made up but for you to first state the claim from the article you wish to check and then show how it is incorrect. That is, don't send me pictures of scorched lemurs but, instead, first show where the original article says "no lemurs were ever scorched." This in itself is perfectly legitimate, but to create new contents under the pretense of fact checking is deceptive. Further, while omissions from the article could be considered to give only a partial story, addressing these topics is not strictly checking the ones that were brought up originally.

Second, I should cite the line from your original post that states "That's why you need Fact Checker." As the word ego can be defined as "a person distinguishing itself from the selves of others," I believe your assertion fits to this quite nicely. Self-image is another part of a developed ego, and your personal branding radical sign seems to do that for you as well. While I did not say that you, in fact, had a big ego, I did say that it seems like you do from these indicators, which culminate well in the phrase "The Duke community knows what the research and integrity that is symbolized by √." (note: as I believe myself to be a member of the Duke community and am refuting this claim--if only on a small scale--then it seems like either I am mistaken that I am a member of the community, your claim is false, or you are talking about a limited, personally defined sense of the "Duke community".)

Finally, your fact checking has gone amiss again (or your hyperbole has gone ill-received) when you say I claimed that "research animals should get nothing and students everything." I did not state this, rather addressing a "balance of priority". In this, I do stand by my claim that $8.2 million for lemurs at a time of economic distress does seem like a bit much.

How the hell did you clear the admissions office?

I final question, concerning my apparently unnatural lack of graciousness--while not strictly equivalent--would be to ask if you, Fact Checker, occasionally enjoy hamburgers, chicken nuggets, pork chops, or the (meaty) like.

No I do just fine stuffing myself with fetuses and other body parts.

This will be my last comment on this article; it has been nice discussing with you. In any case, I do find a contradiction in saying that it is perfectly legitimate to slaughter millions of livestock to eat but that it would be a mistake not to spend $8.3 million in order to protect a few lemurs. While I understand that there is more than protection going on, this is irrelevant to the claim against graciousness and the research aspect is another debate altogether.

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11/18/2009 Brodhed fiddles while 2 more students are robbed at gunpoint

Fact Checker here.

Dean Sue's statement that the number of patrols in the area has been increased is unclear.

On September 24th, the Chronicle also reported patrols have been increased in response to a robbery. Is this what she was referring to, or has there been a second increase?

I ask again questions from September 24:

-- where are the cops for more patrols coming from? Overtime? New hires? Or are we stripping them from other beats, taking risks there?

-- what was the frequency of patrol in the high crime areas before, and what is it now? Is there a maximum, substantial, visible police presence?

-- Is there a decoy operation? If not, why not.

-- is the department overall up to its full strength?

-- have the three police Majors who took early retirement under the first incentive plan been replaced with fully qualified leaders who are already on the job? Readers, you can see the giant flaw that our administrators negligently allowed to creep into that incentive plan, where people vital to Duke left with extra money, and then they had to be replaced. In the 2nd plan, the administrators limited incentives to employees identified as non-vital, but not one resident of Allen Building has had the integrity to stand and say they made a mistake.

-- has anyone with higher rank than Dean Sue been heard from?

Mr. Brodhead, I bet you'd have plenty to say if Duke students were robbing citizens of Durham regularly. Have you requested more Durham Police patrols? If so, what response did you get?

Mr. Trask, you have direct responsibility for Duke police. You are on record as wanting to reduce the number of armed police officers, asking how often do we need a cop with a gun, replacing officers with cheaper security guards from an outside contractor. Is that still your view? Will fiscal cutbacks in any way affect the Duke Police department. You can use the space below to type your answer.

Fact Checker, the first question you need to ask is which police department has jurisdiction at the intersection of Lancaster and Markham. The robbery appears to have taken place outside the walls of East Campus, which at first glance appears to place the robbery in the Durham PD's beat. I'm hopeful that the Duke and Durham PDs work together when they patrol the area around East Campus, but ultimately when it comes to questions of responsibility and politics these questions are the first ones that need to be asked--I'm not exactly convinced that Mr. Brodhead is the first person you need to be investigating.

It's too bad that 1:15 am is too late to be safely driving home in that side of town.

Flatlander.... you will find that both Duke and Durham police have jurisdiction. In fact Duke Police do patrol areas outside of the campus walls. We were assured those very patrols were "increased."

Mr Brodhead does not have responsibility to patrol himself. However:

-- He does have Tallman Trask reporting to him directly, and questions have swirled around Trask's leadership of our police department for some time. A good place to start research is the work of columnist Elliot Wolf in the Chronicle archive approximately three years ago -- the kind of work, frankly, that this newspaper does not do anymore.

Wolf: substantiation of low morale and churning of personnel, documentation of incompetence, in-breeding and favoritism. All at the cost of our safety.

Not to mention later developments like the arrest of a cop apparently deeply involved in S and M, whips and floggers and butt plugs, charged with rape and forced sodomy, not to mention allegations that he drugged his victim, all giving rise to most disturbing questions about why this officer was hired to start with. What does Mr. Brodhead think of Trask's performance in this area?

-- Mr. Brodhead is also in direct charge of the vice president whom he added to the already-bloated administrative ranks, specifically concerned with Durham relations. I would hope Durham-on-Duke crime is at the top of his assignments, though I hear nothing. Hello. Hello. Hello. You doing more than smiling at Chamber of Commerce meetings?

-- So far as I can determine, and Fact Checker tries to keep up with all the news releases, Duke Today, the President's posted speeches and other sources, Mr. Brodhead has minimal comment on anything.

In recent months, a student was shot, others approached with knives and guns, not to mention the lesser serial crimes involving our cars and property. Comment? I hear Dean Sue, but Dick, where are you?

Last year the annual budget for student services was cut, suffering a hit like no other area at Duke (see Fact Checker archive, which is http://DukeFactChecker.blogsspot.com, entry of 11-17-2009). Housekeeping services in the dorms have been cut back, the student health pharmacy shuttered, and we've seen the blotched merger of the International and Multicultural facilities with Duke's first two layoffs. (Actually the Herald-Sun reported two others some time back, both in the lemur center. Chronicle never picked up on that though it was flagged for editors).

In other words, students have absorbed the brunt of all cuts. Tell me what's been taken from the administration or the faculty?

I am starting to hear rumbles out of athletics about the future of a couple of our teams, and who knows what else is coming through the pipeline. Anyone, please tell me if Brodhead has commented specifically on any of this.

When is the last time Mr Brodhead spoke out in general on Duke's fiscal crisis? You know, stood before us to answer questions and follow ups? What alumni meetings has he appeared at this year? Student meetings? Fact Checker knows Brodhead once assured us our money was "safe and secure" as other universities swirled, but I have not heard anything of substance for quite some time. He listed five Duke trustees who are watching over our money -- three of them subsequently canned at their jobs and one pushed into early retirement. With leaders like that, why does Fact Checker worry?

Hello, hello? You still there?

Oh yes, there was comment as a faculty member, Gary Hull, released a book featuring depictions of the Prophet Muhammad, the founder of Islam. But Brodhead did not even come forth personally to underline our uncompromising historical position on academic freedom. He sent out his mouthpiece, a weak substitute.

In a larger time frame and on a larger scale, Mr Brodhead went to Washington to lobby for research funds for the faculty; I have seen nothing indicating substantial involvement as Congress wrestled with crucial questions on student financial aid in the past 18 months.

For decades the stakeholders in Duke were mailed the annual report of the President. Fellow Dukies, this guy doesn't even write one anymore. Even his annual address to the faculty has not taken place on schedule this fall, but to be fair, and Fact Checker is fair, I heard that a few weeks ago he was trying to find a space bigger than last year's, which was a sub-sub basement room in the Divinity School (check it out) that seats 107.

Hello, hello? Knock, knock!

Fact Checker!!!


11/17/09 Administrators trample on International House and Multicultural Center

Fact Checker note: Like most of my posts, this is in direct response to a Chronicle article. The serious reader or researcher should fish out that article for complete understanding.

Fact Checker here. Thanks for tossing the T-Day recipes and addressing a vital issue on this campus.

Yes, all students and every stakeholder in Duke should care about International House and Multicultural Center, whether they use these resources or just pass them without knowing the difference between them. And you are right, one reason to care about others is selfish: your own favorite may be cut next with no consultation or sense of compassion.

But you lose me on the rest of your analysis.

You write "Duke is in a tough spot right now, and dealing with a financial struggle can be overwhelming."

Your statement does not mesh with what the Chronicle reported about assistant vice president Zoila Airall's Monday night meeting with students:

"Airall said the decision had been in the works for several months and was not prompted solely by budgetary concerns."

Several months, no consultation. Not prompted by solely by budgetary concerns, but no outline either of the factors that led to swinging of the ax. Abby Tinsley was right on: “ I feel patronized and I feel silenced.... I still have not heard a satisfactory answer to any of our questions.”

Information is power; that is the consistent theme of Fact Checker. It will be interesting to learn all the factors that Allen Building weighed.

As for the budget, the students who are involved with this are entitled to make a top to bottom analysis: how does Duke determine how much of its total money to devote to Student Affairs, and how does Student Affairs in turn allocate among competing elements. Without such fundamental information, there can be no real, responsible input.

Allow, please, Fact Checker to present some numbers, comparing the last two years available, that is, the 2007-08 academic year with 2008-09, ending June 30, 2009.

In one year, Duke's budget grew by $300,000,000. (page 29 printed version Tallman Trask's annual report.) But the slice devoted to Student Affairs was cut from $49,357,000 to $46,248,000. Yes, you paid more tuition, more fees, and wound up with less of the cake!

There was only one other category of expenses, General Administration, that saw its appropriation go down, and in this case, it was an insignificant wiggle from $628,244,000 million to $625,996,000.

Counting Duke Health, this is a $4 billion a year university. Who determines the slices, and how is the determination made that Student Affairs gets only $46 million?

Kousha, for a long time I have seen how the administration has operated across a spectrum of issues, and I categorically reject your conclusion that "they will listen if we speak up."

I challenge you to list examples.

Alas, you have far more faith in these people than Fact Checker.

Finally, I like this paragraph in your column:

"To be fair, half of the responsibility falls on us. If we do not let the University know that we have a problem, it is less likely that the administration will ask."

Fact Checker notes that the Trustees will have a plenary session December 4 and 5. And I believe reaching out to them on this vital issue is fully appropriate. Everyone should contact Student Trustees as a starter.

And as for the regular Trustees, Fact Checker is assembling the e-mail addresses for all of them, and will provide the list tomorrow or as soon as Chronicle policy, which unfortunately restricts postings to responses to its articles, allows.

√Thank you for reading Fact Checker. Let me sneak in my email Duke.Fact.Checker@gmail.com

11/16/2009 Selecting Trustees

Fact Checker here.

No matter how rocky the procedure, students should cherish the opportunity to vote for a Young Trustee.

It's the last chance you will get to be heard.

Regular Trustees are selected in a secret process. Indeed, Fact Checker was lucky to find out that the Executive Committee of the Trustees -- at its November 6th meeting -- discussed putting forth to the full, self-perpetuating board two candidates, one for a current and one for an anticipated vacancy. Names are not available.

After "nomination" by the full board, one candidate for each vacancy will be submitted either to the alumni leadership, which "votes" to "elect" 12 seats, or to the Methodist Church, which participates in this charade to the tune of 24 seats.

Trustees never report back to their electors, not even when they seek a 2nd term. There is never any information on where they stand on any university issue. I assume some issues may be voted upon at board meetings, but who knows.

The last time stakeholders in Duke got a written communication directly from the Trustees was when our three lacrosse players were declared "innocent," and the main purpose seemed to be to bail Brodhead out, rather than support the victims of a prostitute and prosecutor. Since then, the endowment has melted away and the new chair has given a brief interview where he employed the words "dire financial strait."

There are many universities that have competitive elections for the board; in fact in his book "God and Man at Yale," William Buckley discusses a by-law requiring more than one nomination for each vacancy.

Some day Fact Checker will make time to investigate whether there is a correlation between between alumni giving and the opportunity to participate. There has got to be a reason three times as many Princeton grads give to their Annual Fund.

√Fellow Dukies, have a good Monday.


11/13 Duke stops paying cop charged with rape

Fact Checker here.

Duke may not want to comment on Officer Simmons, which is a fair personnel practice.

But Chief Dailey should explain without hesitation the standards Duke uses to determine if an employee is suspended with pay or without it. We are all entitled to know university policy.

I hope the Chronicle uses its whip and flog to obtain details about this cop and Duke Police (sorry, couldn't resist) because several of my sources expect this case to explode.

And now I address Chief Dailey: Sir, you have repeatedly refused to answer substantive questions by saying the investigation is underway.

What happens when it is over? Will you commit to submitting the entire report to experts in our Law School -- the great Professor Coleman comes to mind -- who could strike out matters that might influence a fair trial for Simmons but make everything else public?

Be assured, chief, that Fact Finder will not tolerate in any way Duke's hiding its own actions -- its employment decision, its policies -- behind due process for Simmons. That is the great danger in this investigation.

Meantime, Chief, there are plenty of details that you could make immediately available.

-- What was Simmons salary as a Master Officer (I love that title, he apparently took it literally) in Raleigh. Did his leaving affect his pension rights? These numbers are a matter of public record.

-- What was his salary when he came to Duke? Even if Duke will not say, protecting its personnel records, tell us about the original job posting and the pay scale for similar positions. Nothing related to Simmons.

-- Where did this guy patrol? This should not be a big secret because it does not impact in any way upon Simmons' guilt or innocence. Was he in the Nasher all alone at night, or was he in the emergency room with rape victims?

-- What interaction did he have with students? Did his assignments give him access to any sensitive records, perhaps medical records of sex crime victims? Did he patrol alone or with a partner?

Not one of those questions bears upon his guilt or innocence in Alabama.

-- Explain, please, the hiring procedures. Is there a psychological test? Did Simmons get it?

-- Duke gave him a gun. He had it in his car in Alabama. Who does it give guns to and who doesn't get them? What instructions on its use? What practice in its use? These are Duke Police policies, nothing that bears upon the guilt or innocence of Simmons.

Last note: the Chronicle should interview Tallman Trask, for Duke Police is in his portfolio as Executive Vice President.

I repeat: Fact Checker expects this to explode. And Fact Finder indeed wants Duke to protect the rights of Simmons prior to trial, but √ will not allow administrators to hide their own failures behind the concept of due process.

Let's get Georgia Tech. GO DUKE!

11/12 Duke's financial crisis

Fact Checker here.

Congratulations to the editorial board. This is strong and direct and right.

When the administration held forums about its retirement incentives for low-level and then mid-level employees, I heard Provost Lange loud and clear:

He said Duke would handle its budget crisis, particularly as it effected employees whom he was addressing, with "transparency." Check the tapes of those meetings. A promise of "transparency."

Peter, is that right or not? You did use the word.

The Provost is disappointing us by failing to live up to the standard he himself set, just as the entire Brodhead administration is dismaying us with policies and actions that send ripples of fear and discontent throughout our community.

First, Richard Brodhead should get out of his shell and speak to us directly -- not through a mouthpiece from the PR department but in person. We should be able to ask questions and follow ups.

Leave your watch home, Dick, you should respond to everyone who wants to talk to you.

That's what Faust at Harvard and Tilghman of Princeton -- the two schools I am most familiar with -- have done.

Duke should disseminate all information from this community meeting, particularly to alumni. While "Duke Magazine" is an interesting, sometimes compelling publication, it hardly brushes on governance or controversy.

Second, every member of the administration should be instructed to provide information that stakeholders in Duke request. Brodhead told freshman at this year's opening Convocation that they should not only study at Duke, but participate in the creation of its future; this can only proceed responsibly from knowledge.

Brodhead's idea is wise, and it could lead to greater understanding, appreciation, respect and support for decisions.

Readers, you may have the idea that I am lumping all administrators together, so I should note that some are wonderful in their approach, knowing how to involve others and to build support: the university librarian comes to mind for promptness, sensitivity and candor in answering some tough questions about the re-sale of the Hart Reading Room to new contributors.

On the other hand, the former university secretary would not reveal to a student the names of new trustees -- already nominated and confirmed -- or new officers of the board -- already elected -- officiously replying that the student would just have to wait until after they took office on July 1.

Others in Allen Building are curtailed. There is no valid reason the current vice president and university secretary, who is most gracious and prompt, should be prevented by policy from disclosing the term of a trustee, that is, when he was first elected and when he would fall into term limits. No valid reason, but the PR vice president wouldn't let his fellow vice president talk.

Here's another example. The University Counsel was assigned -- after nine silent months -- by President Brodhead to handle an inquiry growing out of Duke's despicable sale of parcels of land in Faculty Homesites, for decades requiring covenants that the land would never be-resold to someone with "Negro blood" and when a house was built, that no one with "Negro blood" would sleep overnight except if he or she was household help.

Six months later, the Counsel was asked about progress of her work and there was no reply. No reply for more than three months, when she finally allowed that a PR man would have to answer questions.

And too many administrators are just plain arrogant. Mr. Trask and members of the financial staff, you also deserve the adjective rude for totally ignoring inquiries. Not just from Fact Checker, who admittedly is persistent, but from students, and from the parent of a student who had never asked anyone at Duke a question before. Fact Checker has the names and dates.

Mr. Trask, why wasn't your Annual Report on the budget available on line until three months after your counterpart at Princeton presented his, and until one month after you gave it to our Trustees.

Mr. Trask, you have asked for suggestions on how to cut the budget. Can I have a copy of the current budget so I know what I am talking about?

Mr. Trask, where is the annual report on development, gifts, fund-raising, usually sent to alumni and other contributors in late summer?

And to return to and complete the categorization of administrators: some are just plain lax. Six weeks for a reply from Lange. And six weeks from Nowicki, though I concede it was summertime and he was away some, but he does have a staff of seven including his own PR person.

Brodhead himself sets this pace. The subject: Duke's first black basketball player -- a walk-on, you see, for even after Duke desegregated the athletic director would not allow recruiting of minorities. This player could not bring himself to return to Duke for decades, finally overcoming his scars to come to accept recognition with several others.

This player was taunted all during his initial season, not by opponents while on the road in racist hotbeds but by his teammates on our own court. And when the season ended, this player was not even invited to the team banquet.

Mr. Brodhead, you did not answer three requests for information on your plans for the night of recognition of this player, nor a suggestion that the player receive an apology. Finally you rejected this.

The withholding of information pervades this university. Secrecy.

Today's Chronicle quotes students who were slammed with the merger of International House -- which has existed at Duke for more than half century, from the arrival of the first trickle of students from abroad, from the days when Campus Drive was still called Myrtle -- and the Multicultural Center -- which was part of this university's response to its history of discrimination and exclusion.

Not to mention the replacement facility will be located in Siberia.

Earlier issues of the newspaper revealed how students learned of the cutback in housekeeping this fall, not by participating in the decision when it was made last spring, but by finding Friday night's vomit in a water fountain ripening until Monday morning.

The excellent editorial today discusses the third retirement incentive -- money for faculty not covered by guaranteed university pension plans. Professors rely on individual accounts to which they and Duke have made contributions over the years, and those accounts have dwindled.

If, as we are told, there are no details to be had on the incentives, then the administration is proceeding in a totally irresponsible way, shooting into the dark to see if it perhaps hits its target.

We also get conflicting information about what the target is: the plan born out of concern for faculty who lost their investments during the fiscal meltdown is not "fundamentally" one that deals with the university budget, even though there is less faculty turnover, we have trimmed searches and want to hire new blood.

Who is bullshitting whom here!!! Yes bullshit. You can quote Fact Finder.

Someone in Allen Building: tell me how a department or school receiving a loan from the Provost to pass on as a grant (presumably) to a professor to encourage retirement, will pay this back over five years.

These departments and schools already are being hit by mandatory cuts because our budget in 2011 must be $125 milion less than it was in 2008-09. You cannot squeeze more blood, more life out of them.

Someone in Allen Building tell me how Fuqua is making ends meet this year, with only 2/3rds of the expected students signing on for the international MBA with its tuition of more than $120,000 for 60 days of classroom work. Not to mention the continuing high overhead despite the loss of one-third of the people who normally come to corporate education meetings.

Lastly, loyal readers, I will be sending a copy of this essay to the new chair of the Trustees, Dan Blue. He alone has recognized the depth of the fiscal crisis, by declaring that we are in a "dire financial strait."

I regret to say that our response to this crisis is turning out to be as bad as the crisis itself -- sapping our spirit and confidence, raising new questions about the competence of our leaders.

√Thank you for reading Fact Finder on this sad day.


11/11/2009 Brodhead fails to observe Veterans Day

Fact Checker here.

Thank you, Elad, for this thoughtful column.

I note that there are 39 events listed on the official Duke University calendar today, none in the least related to our veterans.

Yes, the Brodhead administration, after being hammered for two years, and I mean hammered, recently did re-dedicate the wall in Memorial Quad, updating the display of names after 50 years of neglect. This was a long, long overdue tribute to Dukies who died for freedom's cause, very much appreciated by the family and friends of the fallen.

Today, Brodhead and other administrators should be leading another ceremony: to honor all Dukies who wore the uniform of their nation. It baffles me how the Alumni Director can annually present a wreath at the monument to the six civilians who died in the World Trade Center, but ignore all other displays of patriotism.

And despite criticism of my view, I do not mind repeating that those six just happened to be in the Trade Center, an immense distinction from our veterans who deliberately and courageously stepped into harms way.

We have so many veterans to honor beyond those who sacrificed their lives. Men and women whose commitment and bravery often rose into the realm of valor. The first who comes to mind is a member of the President's Cabinet, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Shinseki, who spoke at the re-dedication, an alumnus who rose to be Chief of Staff of the Army despite a major injury in the Vietnam War. In recent times we have also provided the nation with a commandant of the Marine Corps, the general who led our entire effort in Kuwait and the admiral who led the entire Naval Reserve. To merely begin the list.

President Brodhead and others in Allen Building: It is a disgrace that their service is not recognized today. You bring shame to yourselves.

√Fact Checker.

11/10/2009 Fiscal crisis, incentive for faculty to retire

Fact Checker here.

OK so a professor has an IRA that has shrunk.

Is Duke GIVING the professor money, in effect becoming the insurer of the success of his investments?

No matter how risky an investment strategy the professor elected?

Or is this incentive to retire a LOAN to the professor? If a loan, at what rate? When does it have to be paid back?

What's the maximum any one professor can get?

How is the maximum determined? Is it tied to the highest value ever in the professor's IRA? How do we determine the amount of the shrinkage?

Suppose we give the professor money, but then the value of his IRA bounces back. Now what?

Will professors who properly channeled their late-in-life investments into conservative choices that have not lost their value just have to stand by while their colleagues enjoy this program?

As I understand other details, the provost is taking money held for the university as a whole and giving it temporarily to individual budget units to distribute -- that is, to the Law School, Fuqua, Trinity College and so forth.

I assume this money will come out of "funds functioning as endowment," which is to say reserves that have built up that the Trustees could have designated as permanent, untouchable endowment but have not yet done so. We include "funds functioning as" in Duke's overall dwindled total of $4.4 billion endowment. I assume therefore, that we will lose annual earnings on the amount devoted to this incentive program.

Each of these units must pay any money it gets back within five years. This means two and possibly crimps on the operating budget of each unit in the years ahead:

A) their annual operating budget must be shrunk by a percentage determined by the Provost to meet President Brodhead's goal of a budget in 2011 that is $125 million per year less in the 2008-09 school year.

B) they must pay this incentive money back, meaning they have to take it out of their annual operating budget over a five year span.

C) will the budget units also have to pay interest on their loans?

Loyal readers, I do not see how the individual schools are going to pull this off. It will be difficult enough to achieve the cutbacks in A) much less adding B) which is amortization of the loan and possibly C) which is interest on the loan.

Loyal readers, have you ever heard of anything like this? I try to keep abreast, but I have heard of no other college or university with such a scheme. I am aware of no corporation with such a scheme -- nor local, county, state or federal government with their overly generous pensions.

We are owed far more details than we've heard from the Provost. And far more than appear in today's Chronicle.

As for the statement from Financial Guru Trask that the turnover of faculty has dropped from 15 percent to 8 percent annually, Fact Checker must tell you this is most misleading. A principal reason there is no one leaving is that there are no jobs elsewhere -- the entire process is frozen. This has nothing to do with a professor's delaying retirement because his IRA has gone to hell.

I would like to hear from Trask his estimate of the number of professors who might conceivably be eligible for this scheme; come to think of it, Tallman, you can ignore this request too because your estimates on everything else have been so far off.

Some readers may be saying, "Fact Checker, c'mon, what do you mean his estimates have been off?" Readers, fish out his annual report for the 2007-08 fiscal year and read his introduction. I'd tell you more, but then my shallow readers would say that I am drifting and also being tedious.

In sum, Fact Checker is just shaking his head. Early on, I wrote that Duke's response to the fiscal crisis -- what the new Trustee chair Dan Blue has properly called Duke's "dire financial strait" -- must spread the pain.

The burden cannot be borne alone by employees on the lowest rungs, 600 of whom are now staring at the prospect for lay-offs. Unfortunately this scheme to help professors retire seems like it will lard the coffers of Duke's highest paid people, further tilting the scales against the low paid. Is immoral too strong a word?

OK people, that's today's essay. Now today's challenge:

We have

-- 14 academic deans of Trinity College (plus non-academic deans)

-- 10 deans in the Arts and Sciences

-- at least 10 Vice Provosts (so many it's hard to keep updated, which is why we need an Executive Vice Provost to keep count).

By December 1, how many of these people will Mr Brodhead shed? Seems to me that so far, with the single exception to an executive assistant to the VP for PR, I have heard of no one from the administration affected.

Oh yes, I used the word shed. It's popular now in the academic world when someone loses the extra stipend that the title of Dean or Department Chair brings, to continue the extra stipend for several years and then phase it out.

Look, if you are no longer doing the extra job and extra work, you aren't entitled to extra pay. Enough is enough!

√Thanks for reading.