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!