Duke and China

(The Chronicle wrote an ecstatic feature article about Duke's international aspirations)

Good day, my fellow Dukies. Many of you are vacationing, Fact Checker is NOT.

Let's go to the Chronicle archives.

April 16, 2009
The Chronicle first mentioned the Chinese backwater of Kunshan on this date, learning in an interview with Dean Sheppard of Fuqua that -- in the newspaper's words -- "construction on the site will begin in August."

December 4, 2009
By the time the Trustee's winter meeting rolled around, the Chronicle said Duke was going to send a delegation to Kunshan in January 2010 to "break ground." Needless to say the Chronicle never asked about the slippage apparent in not breaking ground in August.

The paper further noted that a document that President Brodhead would sign in China formalizing the agreement states "the facilities would be ready for occupancy in 2011."

January 22, 2010
Duke PR flooded editors with pictures of Brodhead in China for the "ground-breaking." We saw our President and the Chinese rep -- surprisingly only an assistant dean from a Shanghai university that we are taking on as a partner -- listening to appropriate song and dance, and then moving to a table replete with red bunting and little flags of the USA and China crossed as if Obama and Wen Jiabao were on hand. Brodhead and partner used ceremonial pens to sign and swap bound copies of the documents.

Then Brodhead and the Chinese assistant dean donned white gloves, were given silver tipped shovels, and turned the earth. Duke's news release called it a groundbreaking. To Fact Checker, that means it's underway.

Behind them was a Hollywood set built for the occasion, declaring this to be the "cornerstone ceremony," which to Fact Checker implies there is a building into which the cornerstone would fit.

June 16, 2010
Yes six months later. The Chronicle -- without bothering to tell us about the other deadlines -- reports on a visit to Kunshan by a coterie of Deans trying to figure out what to do with the facility. Oh that's not what the official announcement said; but that's what it meant.

Steve Nowicki allowed that -- as the Chronicle put it -- "construction is set to begin soon." Huh? Soon?????

Nowicki is also quoted as explaining there won't be any undergraduate programs for a while. No one at the paper said, "hey Steve, wait a second. Here's what we learned from the Brodhead administration for our story on January 25th" :

"The University will use the (Kunshan) facilities for the Global Semester Abroad program beginning next semester," a reference to undergraduates and August, 2010.

And Jones, who has moved in six months time from being a Dean to being full time Adviser to Brodhead on international stuff to being a Vice Provost to being a Vice President, says without ever wincing at the 2011 timetable, that we can have occupancy in 2012. This man will go far as an administrator.

July 1, 2010
Which brings us to today's headline, "Chinese city prepares for opening of Duke campus" which is a rather inaccurate way to tell us construction has yet to begin.

✔The point is: there has now been enough slippage in the Kunshan timetable, that the Brodhead Administration must come clean and tell us what's happening and why.

So far as Fact Checker can determine, the only activity Duke has confirmed for the five buildings on 200 acres (twice the size of East Campus) occurs in August, 2012.

I wonder if the Chinese know that.

What's convening there? Our well hyped Cross Continent MBA program convenes in Kunshan -- for a total of two weeks. Yes 14 days of use for the campus. I wonder if the Chinese footing the bill know this.

✔As for the MBA candidates, In the 15 months after Kunshan -- having paid for airfare, paid $1500 for a special laptop and mailed in $120,100 to Duke -- the students move on to hotels in four other international cities plus Durham -- a total of 60 classroom days to earn their degrees.

$120,100. Hmmm.... That's $2,000 a day. (The tuition, by the way, when the program was first announced on September 15, 2008, was going to be $101,900.)

The situation with the Cross Continent program -- a linchpin in our international aspirations along with a home campus like Kunshan -- should also cause some concern. Back to the Chronicle archive.

In announcing the new MBA program, the good dean of Fuqua said he hoped for 180 students in the academic year just ending. He only rounded up 120 after admitting many more from the US than he intended, robbing the program of its international flavor.

As for the Cross-Continent MBA class starting in August, Dean Shepperd -- knowing full well the impact of the recession, so I do not want to hear the economy brought up as an excuse -- said he was "confident" there would be 280 students.

Fellow Dukies, my mole in Fuqua says we will be lucky to get half that number.

I hate to throw cold water on a hot topic, but let's remember Fuqua's other hastily conceived international voyages that ended in disaster. Frankfurt, for example, at a cost of many millions. Moscow. London.

Since it's founding in 1969 with fat checks from a man named Fuqua and his better known next door neighbor, the Wendy's hamburger man Dave Thomas, our business school has grown like topsy. Today it has more than twice as many professors as the Law School, including one whose take last year was a cool $1,031,673 and yes, Fact Checker is pursing this full steam. You can count on it!!

In the last year with complete statistics, Fuqua awarded 596 MBA's and 100 Master of Management Studies degrees. That compares with just 162 Ph.D's in the entire Arts and Sciences enterprise, and 191 masters. It also compares with only 103 Duke MD degrees.

The school has ambitions. It needs a Fact Checker to keep tabs.

Lastly, Loyal Readers, the labor situation in Kunshan.

Our Trustee chair and President Brodhead have both noted this city has people earning far more than others in China. They spoke with pride of an economic engine. I warn with haste.

The same sharks from Taiwan who outsourced their work to the mainland and built up Kunshan will move on at the drop of a dime if labor costs rise above what sharks would have to pay in other exploited parts of the world. The Philippines. India. You name it.

In recent months, there have been labor strikes in China. Including Kunshan, where one of the biggest employers is Foxconn, which makes motherboards for many brands of computers.

Not in its Kunshan factory, but in another, 11 employees of Foxconn committed suicide recently, apparently because they were driven crazy by intense work and poor conditions. Consider a woman whose only function is to stick rubber feet on the bottom of each mouse passing on a production line, thousands of mouses (or mice) racing by each day, 11 hours a day, six days a week, $280 a month. She lives in a walled compound at the factory, 9 to a room, sleeping in shifts, working when awake).

Dukies, if you find yourself in Kunshan, this is what you will find yourself in the middle of.

Vice President Jones noted that some of the unrest in Kunshan came during the Duke Deans visit, but they did not know about it and paid no attention. Suppose they had known? What would they have done?

No more than Dukies are able to ignore Durham -- or historically were they able to ignore the grave injustices of the South -- can we become an island of 200 acres, in a city with no university, no airport, and only one hotel with any stars within its boundaries, a city where the best restaurant is not Chinese but Korean, and where the principal night-time attraction is a gigantic bowling alley.

Ware not going to Kunshan to upset their way of life or their economy. Neither can we go without conscience. We shall engage.

Thank you for reading Fact Checker. Duke.Fact.Checker@gmail.com

Please don't write me that you found more hotels with stars. The others are all outside the city in lake resorts. .

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please send comments directly to Duke.Fact.Checker@gmail.com if you want a response. The on-line form is anonymous and we cannot get back to you.

We hope with transfer to a new website in the near future to have open discussion. FC also welcomes Guest FC columns, a complete essay that will be posted just like our own.