Good day fellow Dukies! Fact Checker here.
I was wondering where Dick Brodhead was. After all, the day that he arrived in China to expand Duke's international footprint had been designated by the chair of the Academic Council for our President to finally get around to delivering his annual address to the faculty, traditionally offered in October.
To explain the delay from the autumn: the chair and the President agreed the address would be so important this year given Duke's "dire financial strait" (a quote from the Trustee chair) that it should occur in a forum larger than usual, which is a sub-sub basement room (seriously) in the Divinity School seating 107. Fact Check: there are 3,031 regular members of the faculty this semester.
There was no reason given why Brodhead just did not immediately commandeer our largest venue outside of Cameron, which is Duke Chapel, or our largest auditorium, Page. The President's subject may be important, but that term in administration-speak apparently does not embrace the concept of urgency.
There is no new date that I can discover for the faculty address, unless it was revealed at last Thursday's Academic Council meeting. My mole has not yet checked in.
✔The China trip was Mr. Brodhead's second, fulfilling no doubt a promise he made after his first visit in June 2006 to return every year or every other year.
The Chronicle should be red-faced about its coverage of this trip last week. Or more accurately about its failure to cover it.
Fact Checker gave you the news first on Friday with a post on the Chronicle website. But the paper itself had no story. And as more information became available -- and this information was called specifically to the editor's attention -- the newspaper never updated its website either.
One of two things happened: the Chronicle editors may have concluded the President's trip was not worth any special effort, which would only prove they are bigger journalistic boobs than previously known.
Or the PR department could have left the Chronicle hanging, that is, it did not "protect" the campus newspaper with a tip.
Friday's DUKE TODAY, the house organ that manipulates news principally for employees, had a long story and dramatic architectural rendering of the proposed new campus. And the Durham Herald Sun weighed in on Saturday with a fuzzy picture plus a long quote from the ubiquitous mouthpiece Michael Schoenfeld, over-shadowing the much shorter comment from Brodhead.
The PR department has failed the Chronicle before -- even on stories that bear fully on the undergraduate experience. One outstanding example: the first word of the appointment of Steve Nowicki to be super-dean of undergraduate life came in a Wednesday edition of the Herald Sun, rather than the weekly Thursday edition of the summer-time Chronicle. The reason for overlooking the newspaper is simple: administrators at this university simply do not include many stakeholders -- students, alumni -- in their snapshot of who properly participates in governance and defining Duke's future.
The internalization of Duke is of course one of Brodhead's signature projects, the other being student aid, and to leave students out of the loop is unforgivable. But enough lessons from Fact Checker's course in PR 101. Let's refocus.
✔Kunshan, China. I will return to this backwater in a moment -- but first I am impelled to put this into context as just one part of our bubbling international aspirations.
Behind the closed doors of Allen Building, the new buzz word is "Incheon," as in Incheon, South Korea. Every time I hear this, I can only be jarred into thinking of the substantial questions for the environment posed by the development that Duke might be part of, and wondering if this be appropriate for a school that prides itself on being green.
Of course you have heard nothing of Incheon from Mr. Brodhead. Nothing either from the platoons of PR people filtering the news. Nothing from the Chronicle. It's a damn good thing you have Fact Checker on your side!
This tip comes courtesy of a distinguished professor emeritus at Berkley, Randolph Hester, a transplanted North Carolinian who cares very much about Duke, whose specialty was environmental planning and whose accomplishments include stopping the destruction of ecosystems by investors and developers looking for a quick buck.
With cooperation from the city of Incheon, developers are putting up the world's largest private real estate project. 30 of 50 proposed buildings are already under construction, ultimately to consist of 40 million square feet of office space and 22,500 apartments. (Every building at Duke combines to 15,622,000 square feet).
This development is at the expense of 10,000 acres of wetlands already filled in, and 2,000 acres that Professor Hester hopes to save. (All of Duke, including a forest so vast that most people cannot imagine it, totals 8,610 acres).
Cisco, 3M and United Technologies are among the companies planning big outposts (and moving operations from the USA). The developers and city of Incheon also want to partner with nine American universities. The deal sounds much like the one Duke is getting in the backwater of Kunshan, China (more about this fiasco coming up from Fact Checker) to pay for all facilities and to give us a contract to provide an instant academic enterprise. While a possible deal with Duke is said to be pending, according to the latest information from Professor Hester and other sources, and may or may not happen, Incheon has already locked up North Carolina State with a lure of $50 million in facilities that are due to open later this year with 3,000 students.
Hester has amassed proof that filling in the remaining wetlands will destroy the last of a natural treasure and affect the ecosystem from East Asia to Australia. The filling will shatter several species, quite likely leading to their extinction. And Hester asks how can an institution like Duke join in this.
Duke, you know, the university glowing green. The school whose president on November 12, 2007 sent out a long letter pledging to conserve the environment and lead us in saving every drop of water. The university with the Nicholas School of the Environment. With the Home Depot dorm. With its own wetlands and forest being protected. Not to mention the lemur center, saving from extinction the species that responds to stimuli and pharmaceuticals much as humans.
These are all vital questions, raising the specter of a university without principle, a university content with the rape of the natural resources of a different people for its own benefit.
✔And there is another vital question now that we have the name Incheon on the table joining Kunshan, China. On October 18, 2007, President Brodhead used his annual address to the faculty to speak about "The International Dimensions of Duke's Ambitions."
Bloviating much of the time, he did make a damn good point:
Duke's international ventures have been "opportunistic in character," in other words, we grabbed the buck, with more than 300 individual professors and schools scooping up what they could.
Brodhead said "....the university’s internationalization will need to become more concerted and more strategic. This raises deep questions: what is it Duke should be trying to accomplish in the international domain, and why? If we have a finite number of steps we could take, what steps would carry us toward the most important goals?"
The president was proving he does his homework, ripping off Duke's strategic plan, "Making a Difference," issued September 29, 2006 and never updated in the face of our "dire financial strait." 155 pages long, down on page 18 we are introduced to the word "international." Buzz word of academia, just like earlier generations saw the words "strong regional university", "national university" "research university."
Page 86: "To reach these internationalization goals will require that we rethink how best to organize our internationalization efforts. Much of our progress in the last decade has been accomplished by decentralized entrepreneurial activities by faculty and schools, sometimes encouraged by the infusion of central initiative and financial support from the Vice Provost for International Affairs. Future strategic initiatives, however, especially in the areas of international service and institutional building, will require greater coordination and targeted strategic and entrepreneurial effort. How best to organize ourselves to assure continued entrepreneurial initiatives on the part of our schools and institutes while increasing our capability for more centrally coordinated strategic undertakings is a major administrative challenge."
Mr. Brodhead, Fact Checker is unaware of any attempt to define strategy and set goals. Tell us, please, when you have had "deep" consultation and with whom -- faculty, staff, students, alumni, friends -- to coalesce ideas and execute them in places like Incheon, Kunshan, Dubai, Singapore. What is our strategy, as we leap from city to city?
Incheon surely seems opportunistic to me. So does Kunshan. Cities far away lure us with cash and we put it in our pockets.
✔Fact Checker now turns to Kunshan, China. I did a Chronicle search to ascertain when this first arrived in our news and this popped up: "do you mean unshaven."
Where does this fit strategically? We were all focused on Shanghai, and suddenly this backwater emerged.
Backwater, yes. Fact Checker has been at work, with a Deputy Fact Checker even going to the Chinese mission at the United Nations to talk to two people who have been there. What follows is the best information I can gather. I welcome others making contributions, even corrections about a far off place, including Mr Brodhead.
It is NOT a suburb of Shanghai as the business school dean has asserted. (His brochures still list Shanghai for the Cross-Continent MBA though the program is being relegated to Kunshan) In fact is is just about as far from Shanghai as Durham is from Winston Salem. Remember a Chronicle description too: "located just outside Shanghai."
Kunshan has no airport, and it is 82 miles to the international airport in Shanghai used by US travelers.
There is little transportation to the airport or downtown Shanghai: a four hour bus ride is the best bet. If anyone tells you about a high speed train, tell them you read Fact Checker and cannot be misled: that $23.5 billion train project is nearing completion, to wisk people on the 700 mile corridor between Beijing and Shanghai in five hours. No stopping in the smaller cities, a test run went through Kunshan recently at a record 214 miles an hour.
There is a freight railroad from the sea near Shanghai to Kunshan, for the city imports vast quantities of US cardboard. Cardboard to be turned into boxes for electronics made in Kunshan, and then shipped back to the US.
According to such websites like hotel.com and Travelocity, there is only one hotel in the city that merits three stars. No two stars. No one star. Most of the hotels advertise for $24 to $32 a night.
There is no university, just a branch of a radio and television school.
The city does not have 1.4 million people as the Duke Trustee chair said. The correct total is 640,000, which is insignificant by Chinese standards. Oh yes, there are another 108,000 workers who have come into the city, and they live eight to a room next to the 24 / 7 factories where they work, which are set behind high walls because of the local crime.
The walls do nothing to keep out the smog, and the Deputy Fact Checker was told to expect eye irritation on some days, just like in Beijing.
There is much industry, spawned by businessmen from Taiwan in search of cheap labor. Yes the same US manufacturers who once outsourced to Taiwan, now find their Taiwanese contractors outsourcing to the mainland. Apple makes all its I-Pod Touches in Kunshan. There's one huge factory turning out computers for many brands: Dell, Toshiba, Fujitsu and Hewlett-Packard. The city also makes a substantial share of the motherboards used around the world.
The total value of goods made in the city has been leapfrogging, up 15 percent in the last year with available statistics. The lure has been cheap labor -- but already the seeds of destruction are evident. Wages have risen to $17,000 US, compared to an average of $3,100 US across China. (There are varying statistics on wages, these seem the most reliable)
Fellow Dukies, how long will it take capitalists to dump Kunshan just like they dumped Michigan and Ohio, and then North Carolina and Georgia, and moved on to other backwaters where labor is cheaper and cheaper.
And this is where Duke has landed.
The first I ever heard of the city of Kunshan, China was in the April 17, 2009 Chronicle, when reporter Julia Love breathlessly described how the city will pay to construct and also to run a 200-acre campus (Love did not note that this is twice the size of East Campus) for Fuqua's Cross-Continent MBA program.
There was more in that article: euphoria over the number of applications for the Cross-Continent MBA class starting in September, 2009, never mind the article also noted the school found it necessary to extend the deadline. And never mind that ultimately there were only 120 and not the planned for 180 students -- a loss of $7 million in tuition -- and never mind that far fewer international students showed interest and more applicants from the US had to be accepted, robbing the program of its intended international flavor. Full steam ahead, Kunshan!
Do the good people of Kunshan understand Duke's primary commitment? The Cross-Continent MBA will have students there for precisely seven days per year. Yes seven days. And Kunshan is building housing for students and faculty, athletic facilities and a research library. Do they understand how vague all the other talk of programs in Kunshan is?
This MBA program -- as outlined by a Fuqua counselor whom I called, who never asked my name nor encouraged me to apply in any way -- is for people who will continue to work at their regular jobs. It involves just 37 days total in five international cities. It involves another 23 days in Durham. Viola MBA!!!!
At $120,100 for the degree in 14 months, that works out to $2,000 per classroom day -- not including travel, hotels or a "managed laptop" costing $2500.
The Provost was honest about the proliferation of masters programs, including some beyond the Cross-Continent MBA landing in Kunshan: they are cheap to start, they bring students who will pay their own way (as opposed to poor undergraduates and hungry PhD candidates) and they yield a big profit. Just last Friday, our School of Law announced another masters degree in the Law School. And at Thursday's Academic Council meeting, there was yet another proposal.
The careful Chronicle reader will remember the Kunshan story on April 17, 2009, saying "construction will begin in August." Well it didn't.
Then on December7, 2009, the Chronicle said trustees approved continuing discussions with university and municipal partners in Shanghai and Kunshan, with a city-funded Duke presence in Kunshan. In its first phase, the initiative would require 200 acres and newly constructed facilities—funded by the Kunshan government—to house programs for the Fuqua School of Business. Finalized plans will be announced in early 2010, said Trustees Chair and Democratic state Sen. Dan Blue, Law ’73
And then this in the Chronicle: "The University and the Board will analyze many concerns before committing to further plans in China, including the effect overseas programs could have on education quality in Durham, financial sustainability and cultural differences." My loyal readers, that sure sounds different from the quote from the chair in this morning's Chronicle: "There arguably could be some risks, they're not substantial..."
I am listening, Trustees. What did you analyze and what did you conclude. Most importantly, for such a massive question, when did you do all this thinking, between the December board meeting and the January announcement from Mr. Brodhead.
Fact Checker notes that after the last Trustee meeting, there was one news release, restricted to another master's program that may embrace 25 students. China was on the agenda; we heard nothing about it.
Let's remember Fuqua's international record: it tumbled reaching into Frankfurt, fumbled with the London School of Economics, bumbled in Moscow and crumbled with the Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad. And its profitable executive training programs have been slammed by the recession, off a reported 33 percent.
Fellow Dukies, we deserve a thorough look at the finances of Fuqua and far far more discussion of what is afoot in these cities far away.
Finally I turn to another international venture, Dubai.
Loyal readers will recall my essay on the ruler of Dubai, and how his name is on the school Duke is partnering with, a precursor of his name being on joint Duke diplomas following the Singapore model.
My essay focused on the ruler of Dubai who sends his fellow tribesmen into neighboring countries to kidnap little boys, for use as slave labor to tend to the ruler's vast camel racing empire and also to use as sex slaves for the humps in charge. I quoted from our State Department and from UN reports, telling of boys given hormones so their voices do not change, as camels respond better to high pitched screams. To say nothing of the boys lashed to saddles because they are too young to hold on, jockeys who on occasion find one of their lashes giving way and thus they fall under the camel to be trampled by its hooves.
Listen to the Duke representative for Dubai, quoted recently in the Chronicle:
Jonathan Barnett, Fuqua's regional director for the Middle East on the launch of Duke's MBA programs in Dubai: "To that launch will be coming His Highness Mohammed bin Rashid [Al Maktoum], who is the ruler of Dubai. We are immensely honored that he will be joining us at this event."
This is a lesson in how low you can bow to a scumbag.
That's Fact Checker for today!!