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.