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.

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