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.

11/9/2009 Duke health finances, borrowing

Fact Checker here. Happy Monday.

This will be a wonderful new facility, and with the Chronicle's discussion of the cost of several medical center construction projects, it's a good time to peer at Duke Health's over-all financial picture.

Up until now, almost all discussions of finance have involved only the educational division of Duke. That's where President Brodhead says it's imperative to trim the annual budget so that it is $125 million less in 2011 than it was in 2008-09. That's where Executive Vice President Trask sees a need to eliminate 1,000 jobs.

Duke Health has its own budget and stream of revenue, almost all of it from patients. And quite a stream it is.

In fiscal 2009, it took in almost $2 billion, and had an operating surplus of $220.3 million. Yes surplus; any other place they'd call it profit, but Duke after all is non-profit so we conjure up another word. The cash flow -- for our accounting majors who understand this -- approached $300 million last year.

These numbers would be higher, but the biggest component of Duke Health, Duke Hospital, has been operating at capacity, limiting growth. Thus one reason to build new facilities.

The above numbers, for the last fiscal year, ending June 30, 2009, represent the 9th consecutive year of good financial news at Duke Health. During the past five years, it's been so rosy that Duke Health was able to transfer to its parent, Duke University, $443.4 million, still retaining more than $1 billion for itself.

Not to mention the annual contribution of $34 million that, generally speaking, flows to the medical school, which is organized under the education umbrella, not Duke Health.

Fact Checker notes Duke Health is about to borrow hundreds of millions, and this leads me to caution about debt.

Duke Health has added about $100 million in the past five years, and now owes $555 million. But that's a tame number given the profits and cash flow cited above.

On the educational side, there is real danger in the judgment of Fact Finder. When Mr Brodhead became president five years ago, our debt stood at $779.4 million. Last June 30 at the end of the fiscal year, it stood at $1,891.5 million.

Let us remember that the Wall Street meltdown had a substantial impact upon our assets during this time, so that combined debt of just over $2.4 billion has greater impact. Net assets totaled $10,524,300,000 at the end of the 2007-08 fiscal year. One year later, June 30, 2009, they had shrunk to $7,513,000,000.

Loyal readers, that's a loss of just about 30 percent. Yes 30 percent gone poof in one year. That's quite a different tune than the songbirds in Allen Building have been warbling: how lucky we were to limit "investment losses" in our endowment to "only" 24.5 per cent in the past year.

Remember this: we have never gotten the total, overall picture from our administration. Who among you has heard the figure 30 percent? You will only find it buried deep in the annual Financial Report, which they begrudgingly posted, two months after peer institutions presented similar reports to their stakeholders.

Higher and higher levels of borrowing have impacted greatly upon Duke's annual budgets -- with interest payments last year alone zooming up 20 percent, one of the largest increases on any line in the budget. We now spend 3 percent of all money Duke receives on interest alone. It's time to blow the whistle!

The careful reader will note that I said "interest payments." We do not pay down our debt. We pay only interest. When the principal becomes due, the plan is to borrow anew to cover it.

Chances are you have not read page 21 of the PDF version, page 23 of the printed, in the latest financial report. It lists the burden that we are passing down to future Dukies.

Details like this in fine print:

In the year 2041, Dukies must come up with $192,665,000 to pay back money borrowed in 2005.

In the year 2044, Dukies must come up with $220,560,000 to pay back money borrowed in 2006.

It goes on, year after year after year, the legacy of this generation to future Dukies.

There is a silver lining in those debt numbers. Duke was headed toward borrowing hundreds of millions more to finance the new Central Campus; that idea has been buried, I thought, or has it been? Dean Nowicki has been discussing a new dormitory, an element of Keohane Quadrangle, without revealing where the money is coming from. Translation: borrow, borrow and pay the carrying charges with room rent. No Steve, no.

Friends, when you hear they are going to borrow, shout NO.

Finally this morning, let me say that I take great solace from the arrival of the new chair of the Trustees, Dan Blue. I concede that I was not initially optimistic about him, but my opinion has quickly changed.

Immediately he repudiated the Steel Rule that blacked out coverage of Trustee news. He alone has spoken clearly about the extent of our financial misery, using the words "dire financial strait."

Compare that, please, with the assessment of the out-going chair Bob Steel, who as campuses all over the nation burned with cutbacks, announced "good news" that Duke was a sunny isle in the tempest. Yes, those two words were his latest on the fiscal crisis at Duke. He rode off into the sunset leaving us to believe the "good news" that Duke was not effected like other universities.

President Brodhead seems at times not to grasp the seriousness of it all. During the tempest, he assured us Duke had a "strong financial foundation," and its investments were "stable and secure." His latest words scare me, for he has just written an essay buried on the website of Duke Magazine that seems to suggest all this is just another normal up and down cycle, that will routinely pass:

"What will the next twenty-five years bring? In spring 2009, the economic crisis looks to be the main thing that will shape the future university. But Duke, which was created on the eve of the Great Depression, has outlasted many a business cycle, and other changes may prove far more enduring."

√Thank you again for reading Fact Checker!!

11/6/2009 Gay marriage

√ Fact Checker here.

Dukies from New York and New Jersey who support gay marriage -- as all people of good will should -- may want to contact their representatives in state government as critical votes are coming up.

In New York state, the Senate will take up gay marriage on Tuesday. The bill has repeatedly passed the heavily Democratic State Assembly by a huge margin, but the GOP majority in the State Senate was able to table it for many years. The Senate became 32-30 Democratic this year, and this first vote is going to be a squeeker.

Governor Paterson is a strong supporter. The regular session of the legislature ended in turmoil on budget issues and dirty politics, and the Senate never got to gay marriage. Paterson is using a parliamentary maneuver to include gay marriage in a special session he has just called for Tuesday to deal with budget matters.

In New Jersey, you may recall the State Supreme Court's unanimous declaration that the state Constitution guaranteed gays and lesbians all the rights and privileges of marriage. But then there was a 4-3 decision to leave the remedy to the legislature, which passed civil unions within the 120 day time frame allowed.

Now the legislature is going to revisit the issue, with full marriage on the front burner. It's critical in November and December, because in January a Republican governor comes into power, and this Neanderthal says he will not sign gay marriage into law.

Another front to watch: the NJ Supreme Court retained jurisdiction in this matter. That is, the Court said it too would revisit the issue if the plaintiffs did not find the legislature's remedy satisfactory. And the court promised to hear the case directly, without first having to go through lower courts.

Indeed the plaintiffs find the remedy of civil unions inadequate, but they apparently waited until after this year's elections to return to Court. They are likely to move immediately not only because of discontent, but because 4 of the 7 justices will be retiring in the next four years, with their replacements chosen by the aforementioned newly elected Cave Man, subject to confirmation by the comfortably Democratic Senate.

Many people are undoubtedly disheartened by the Maine vote on Tuesday, using a unique provision of the constitution to allow a public referendum that can overturn legislative action.

Fact Checker's view is not one of despair, but of celebration: just a decade ago, on December 20, 1999, the Vermont legislature approved civil unions and Governor Howard Dean signed it into law. That was a revolution then. Today even the people who want to "preserve" marriage for heteros accept civil unions.

Who would have thought the center of debate would have shifted so much in ten years. Just watch what happens in the decade ahead!

Thank you for reading Fact Checker.
To hell with Carolina!!

11/5/2009 600 layoffs loom in fiscal crisis

Fact Checker here. Good story, Chronicle.

√ From what the newspaper reported, there may be as many as 600 layoffs. That's massive! The impact will be felt by dedicated employees, their families and the entire Durham region. It's a terrible situation.

Point one - Fact Checker notes that on many occasions, Trask and his staff have assured us that they hoped to avoid lay-offs or to have only a minimal number. Today's statistics point to the need for massive layoffs, and indeed the execution is now being planned. You have to wonder how Trask and his staff could have been so far off in estimating where we'd be at this point. That's the hard question that must be put to him.

Point two - Today's news involves only "the university" -- which is to say the educational and research functions. It does not embrace Duke Health, the hospitals and so forth, which have a separate stream of income from patients and a separate budget.

From various, rather confusing and occluded reports, I gather that Duke in its entirety has about 43,000 employees but I cannot determine how many are on the "university" side and how many are at Duke Health. Thus, Fact Checker cannot state what percentage of people will be canned if 600 go.

Point 3 -- Trask says the goal is to shed 1,000 total. He claims 400 so far.

This 400 includes all the "low hanging fruit," in other words the easy harvest, with the rest being more difficult and painful.

The 400 includes all the vacant jobs that won't be filled and a phony addition of "equivalent workers" based on cutting overtime. This device is often conjured up by managers who fail to meet their actual head-count targets.

The 400 includes the people who took early retirement through the first incentive plan. The subtotal here is 295, but because of poor management, anyone who had attained a certain age and certain number of years service could seize the offer -- even if they were in a vital job. Trask has never shared with us the embarrassing, latest statistics on how many of the 295 had to be replaced. And at what cost.

There is a second incentive plan afoot, sent to 198 workers who have until early next month to decide if they will retire. This plan involves people whose jobs Duke has ranked as dispensable -- tacitly admitting the defect in the first incentive plan, and also letting the 198 know they have a gun to their head to either retire or be among the first selected for layoff. No one knows how many people will say yes by early December; Trask and his staff have said maybe 10, maybe 20 and maybe 50, which shows these managers would be better off posting some numbers on the wall and throwing a dart blindfolded.

Within Trask's department there is already an internal memo (subject of an earlier Fact Checker report) warning that Duke has so far enjoyed low rates in providing unemployment insurance, but that massive layoffs threaten to cost money in the form of higher premiums. Ouch ouch, on a hidden line in the annual budget.

The Chronicle does not mention in today's report a third incentive plan (subject of an earlier Chronicle report) that is underway -- a plan that has only been vaguely revealed to offer senior professors incentive to retire by replacing the money they lost in their personal pension plans. Wow -- someone to guarantee your IRA investments!

I am simply unable to take any wild guess on what this third incentive might cost. Let's say a professor has lost $250,000 from his retirement account -- which is entirely possible. How much is Duke going to replant? For how many people can you afford to do this?

This golden door plan for professors is not a scheme to trim faculty, but rather to open up slots for new hires. Meaning Dear Old Duke is one of the few universities in the nation with the Help Wanted sign at the door. We may get some great faculty, but we also have to worry about our ability to sustain these expenses for decades ahead.

Fact Checker notes that Duke lists 2,877 regular rank faculty as of June 30, 2009. Five years earlier, it was 2,477 and ten years earlier it was 2,159. At some future point, I shall explore what the hell they all do.

Readers who do not want to get drunk but who nonetheless want to send their heads spinning should try to decipher and reconcile some of Duke's financial reports.

For example today the Chronicle says that employees account for 2/3rds of Duke's expenses.

But in Trask's annual report "salaries and benefits totaled $1.2 billion, representing 57% of total operating expenses." These statistics are from page 5 of his printed report, page 3 of the PDF version, one more way to insure that it's difficult to find them or to cite them. There is a neat pie chart cut into pieces showing that 46 percent is salary and 11 percent fringe benefits.

If you do not like those figures, go to page 36 of the printed version, page 34 of the PDF, and you will find these: total salary and wages $1,772,762 with fringe benefits amounting to 18.2 percent.

These are not just numbers that I am trifling with. The difference between 2/3rds and 57 percent is huge. The difference between fringe benefits worth 11 percent and 18.2 percent is huge. At this point in time, these numbers are the life and future of Duke, and all of us should have access to clear understandable information about a crisis affecting the place we love. Students should particularly demand this; after all our President has admirably commissioned them not only to study here, but to help invent Duke's future, a process that can only proceed from information and transparency.

Finally, we should all also demand that the website http://www.duke.edu/economy/ set up to keep us informed be kept up to date. The Brodhead administration should be ashamed of itself for the state of this tool that it created only months ago.

This site should include information that would let each of us calculate how much has been saved -- for Fact Checker has difficulties with official figures as we aim toward a budget in 2011 that will be $125 million less than the 2007-08 budget. Well that was the goal, clearly stated, until some officials started to smudge it.

Thank you so much for reading Fact Finder today. √

11/4/2009 Duke cop arrested in S and M case

√Fact Checker here. Chronicle, stay on the story!! Many angles to explore.

It's no surprise that Chief Dailey dodged legitimate questions by saying an investigation is underway. No one should assume this means that when the investigation is complete, he or Duke will give full details to the community.

I have been thinking about four separate instances where someone studying or working at Duke has been charged with a serious crime. I will detail these below, because I find Duke's treatment of the individuals involved to be totally inconsistent.

Perhaps this is why President Brodhead promised after the three lacrosse players were declared "innocent" that he would convene a national conference to explore how Duke and other universities should deal with these matters.

Fact Checker has never been able to find out if Brodhead fulfilled this promise -- his PR man at the time of my inquiry blew up and send me an abusive reply.

I believe Brodhead did not hold such a conference because Duke's defense lawyers in the continuing lacrosse litigation felt that the conference might reveal matters that would compromise their position. Allow, please, Fact Checker to make clear: this position was NOT required by the plaintiffs. It's Duke's decision -- which is another way of saying Duke's highest priority is to wiggle out of the lawsuits, not to pursue the truth.

OK four instances:

A) the indictment of Duke Police Officer Webster Simmons for first degree rape and sodomy. (The careful reader will note, given yesterday's Letter to the Editor from Chapel Hill, that I am not in any way saying the rape did or did not occur). Trial pending. Duke decision: suspended with pay.

B) the indictment of Frank Lombard, a high level administrator and researcher in the medical center, for attempting to lure a john across state lines to have sex with his five-year-old adopted son. Trial pending. Duke decision: fired.

C) The indictment of three lacrosse players -- one just graduated and two sophomores -- for the rape of prostitute Crystal Gail Mangum. While the trial was pending, Duke decision: sophomores suspended. All three were later declared "innocent" with the state attorney general finding no evidence of rape or any other crime.

D) The indictment and conviction of William Lane during his term as a university trustee. He participated in a savings and loan scam that swindled U S taxpayers out of $404 million. Duke decision: that's fine by us. Fellow trustees rallied to his side, with Harold Yoh (donor of the football building) explaining he was "a super guy." The felon finished his term on our board. To present the complete picture, which Fact Checker always does even though some shallow readers find this tedious, I note that after Lane's term on the board expired, he was acquitted on a technicality.

Brodhead was right. We need a consistent policy to apply, rather than a seat-of-the-pants, emotion-of-the-moment response.

Thank you for reading this. √


11/3/2009 Endowment transparency

√ Fact Checker here. (Responding to letter in the Chronicle)

1) Will the letter writer please give me footnotes for his belief that revealing where our endowment is invested will mean lower returns. Is there a study? Are you quoting someone? What support is there for your tirade.

I know Michael Schoenfeld, Duke's PR Chief, has said the same thing. I have previously challenged him for the same information and gotten only silence.

2) I would like to inform the letter writer that Duke University traditionally made available precisely the information that is now being sought. Kindly visit the University Archives and view the reports before your next attempt at diatribe. Then cite for me the years that Duke did not maximize its returns because of this openness.

You may be shocked to learn, letter writer, that much Duke money is currently invested with full transparency. Please review the annual reports and tax return Form 990's of The Nanaline Duke (James B.'s widow) Fund for Duke University, the Mary Duke Biddle Foundation (niece) and a foundation established by Mrs. Mary Duke Biddle Trent Semans (grand niece). Have you heard the Trustees of any of these institutions say they lost money because of accountability?

And then there is Warren Buffet. He has been led so far astray as history's must successful investor, that he even lets people know what investments he is making through Berkshire Hathaway! Let Duke reveal the same information, and then tell me how it has been hurt.

3) No one is asking Duke Management to reveal its investment strategy day by day, or even month by month. Any information made public will have far outlived its usefulness to other investors. Perhaps the letter writer is so busy being a sophomore that he did not notice financial news expires every minute.

4) Would you also give me support for the idea that Duke must go to the financial trough and eat as much as possible, putting aside all concern for social responsibility and leadership so long as we slurp up the most. I know people who have given substantially to Duke -- and that was never their idea.

5) As for the letter writer's rather vulgar put-down of "activists" who would have Duke investing in "cow dung processing communes and free trade coffee distributors," I have two responses:

A) First, that may be occurring right now, behind closed doors. It's one reason people want transparency, so you too can see in. You know, there are an awful lot of fuzzy liberals running around Allen Building.

B) I liked the idea that Mr. Brodhead expressed at this year's Freshman Convocation. He welcomed everyone not only to study at Duke, but to participate in creating its future. I submit that to fulfill this assignment intelligently and responsibly requires that Duke Management and every other arm of the university make much information widely available.

Letter Writer, let Fact Checker give you a stock tip. Buy FES. Flat Earth Society. It's a good fit for your portfolio.

√ Vote today. Often.

11/2/2009 Cost of Medicine

√ Excellent work by these individuals.

Absurdity prevails through-out the world of pharmaceuticals.

An elderly friend of mine uses Pravastatin 40mg, a generic cholesterol drug. He is obliged to order this through the pharmacy selected by his health plan (a Medicare Advantage HMO) in order to access Medicare benefits. He pays $14 every three months, and Part C of Medicare (which is to say the US government and its taxpayers) adds another $146. Total cost $160.

Anyone, anyone, young or old, insured or not, can walk into any WalMart and get the precise same drug from the same manufacturer for a total of $10 every three months, with the government paying nothing. And that is what my friend was lucky enough to have discovered.

I confirmed this. Trust Fact Checker √.

Another friend has a cat with asthma, in need of daily puffs of a steroid. The cheapest cost in the USA, with no generic available, is $176 per puffer, 120 doses. Anyone can order simply on the internet via a mail order house in Canada, and get a generic version made in Israel and shipped thru Barbados, shipping cost included, for $36.

Multiply these stories over and over.

11/2/2009 Selecting Trustees

Fact Checker here. √ The Chronicle has had many constructive suggestions about the Young Trustee process. Great!! Whether you agree or not, it's healthy to see issues brought into sharp focus.

When the Young Trustee election is over, I'd like to see the newspaper address the process for selection of the (adult) Trustees:

-- Behind closed doors, the self-perpetuating board selects candidates who have not revealed to us where they stand on any university issue.

--One name for each vacancy is submitted to the alumni who "elect" 12 Trustees and to the Methodist Church which "elects" 24. (Why the church, of all people, puts up with this subterfuge is beyond me.)

--After a six year term, the same people inevitably stand for re-election, never having reported back to their electors nor to any constituency other than themselves.

--We do not know how many meetings they attended or how they voted, if ever. Hell, we do not even know the Trustee meeting agenda or if the cryptic Summaries of Action that diligent Dukies like Fact Checker can ferret out are complete.

--We do not know if they filed secret Conflict of Interest Statements on pending issues. (We do get a peek two years later through Form 990, but just a peek.) It's only by accident that we found out that Bob Steel had a massive conflict of interest so that he could not perform a principal function of the chair, handling our investments thru Duke Management Company. Bob even had the chutzpah to stand for re-election knowing that he could fulfill this duty, mandated by the by-laws.

--Perhaps the chair of the Trustees can be asked to tie his pledge of "transparency," which so far he has a good job keeping, with these "elections."

-- Perhaps Mr Brodhead can review for The Chronicle what's done at other schools, including Yale. Surely his decades in the Ivy League exposed him to concepts like having three candidates for every vacancy, and open elections with every alum voting.

Meantime, all students should treasure the opportunity to participate in the selection of Young Trustees on the undergraduate and graduate levels. It is, sadly, the last time they will have such a voice in the governance of this institution.

√ Have a great day and let's get consecutive victory 4.