2-17-2010 Brodhead finally gets around to annual faculty address -- and Fact Checker likes it

Fact Checker here.

Hardly a week goes by that someone (usually the person writing with the handle Duke Parent) doesn't charge Fact Checker with being a lacrosse nut, still pissed at Dr. Brodhead because of the way his administration responded to the hoax by the prostitute and prosecutor in March 2006.

So it is with risk that I say that I thought of Dave Evans half-way into Dr. Brodhead's appearance before employees yesterday.

The day after his graduation, the co-captain of our lacrosse team was arrested and charged with a felony that could land him to prison for 30 years. Because of the bonding together of the families of the players, he -- like two others arrested earlier -- got out of jail immediately by posting the absurdly high, punitive bail of $400,000. Non-Dukies charged in other rape cases at the time had their bail set at $50,000.

Dave stepped to a bank of cameras and microphones assembled in front of the Durham court house and speaking extemporaneously hit a grand slam home run. I was in London and watched him speak live, and no one I was with -- not one of them a Dukie -- doubted at that moment that he was innocent.

And so to Dr. Brodhead. His back was to the wall, having come under withering criticism on the editorial page of the Chronicle in the past week, a newspaper that just weeks earlier seemed to endorse the way he was handling the fiscal crisis. And yes withering criticism from Fact Checker as well.

I am not prepared to call his performance a grand slam, but I have to tell you, it was a bases loaded triple in a key game in the World Series.

Or in basketball parlance, a triple double against Carolina back in the years when they were competed in the big leagues.

It was a Brodhead we have seen too little on this campus. In command. Engaging. Truly well spoken and erudite, not just reading but moving to the front of the Page Auditorium lectern and being himself. Well informed, able to relate statistics and examples as well as spin yarns, some of them with great warmth and compassion.

He was even sometimes funny. I got a real kick several times when his arms went into motion, and also when he maneuvered his lip and kicked up his eyebrows when, surprisingly, no more questions arose from the floor. When someone did rise, he said "just when I thought I was out of the woods...."


You have to wonder why -- why on earth -- has he been so out of public view on this campus, and why he has not had true communication with the stakeholders of Duke since March 1, 2009.

The big news of the afternoon was President Brodhead's moving the goalpost. (To jump to another sport, from lacrosse to basketball to football) Once set at approximately $125 million to be cut from the budget over three years, he revised that target to an estimated $100 million. Yet there was precious little explanation of this adjustment, and indeed some deep questions arose:

1) We know that Duke's trustees are considering tapping the endowment for more money than the current payout formula allows. This is folly that would see us eat more than our fair share and leave far less for future generations. I wondered if Dr. Brodhead was counting on this formula change -- to a consistent flat rate of spending that would provide more dollars -- in moving the goalposts. I hope not, for that would be deceptive.

2) Dr. Brodhead himself mentioned federal stimulus funds: $160 million snared in intense competition to be spent this year and next. He properly said none of us knows what the government will do to sustain this, but that begs the question of what number he put into his budget. Is this why he and his financial gurus could move the goalpost? Because our income from this source is higher? No answers.

3) I was hoping Dr. Brodhead would clarify what the $100 million was being cut from. When he talked of a "smaller Duke" last March, he said the cut would be from the 2008-09 budget, not some planned for scheme but from reality. Since our budget in 08-09 was $1.85 Billion, excluding Duke Health, is he now saying he is aiming for a budget of $1.75 million?

There was also the Brodhead who couldn't help himself. Again, as he has done before, he droned on about DukeEngage and Duke in China. And for his audience, there was 15:48 of this recitation before he got down to the reason they were assembled: will we get a raise next year? Will benefits be sustained? Will there be layoffs.

On these issues, the goalposts stayed in place. Any increase will be "modest," to be announced within six weeks, because galloping costs of fringe benefits are eating up most of the available money. But everyone who pays attention knew that conclusion already, for he had said this last week in a faculty gathering.

Dr. Brodhead reminded his audience that benefits "are truly excellent at this place, certainly far superior than many places." Fact Checker agrees, but views this as a minus, rather than something to express positively.

Taking a stab at Dell Computer, which got incentives paid for by taxpayers to build a plant in North Carolina and which has announced it will move the jobs elsewhere, Dr. Brodhead said employees could rest assured Duke will never close its plant. "We're here and we are staying here," he said.

Still the layoff question loomed over the few people in Page Auditorium, a sparse turnout of 75 after the event was moved from a 200-seat Pratt School auditorium into the cavern of Page. The president gave no new information nor assurance, only repeating there would be no "sizable" university wide layoffs. He did not venture to estimate whether school by school, department by department layoffs would add up to a sizable number.

He spoke wistfully of Yale from whence he came, noting its employees have seen layoffs, a cutback in vacation days, and elimination of any vacation days accumulated from prior years.

If there was one area that Dr. Brodhead seemed on the defensive, it was whether all stakeholders in Duke had been accorded the opportunity to input into decisions. He gave no specifics about any contributions. But at one point he said cutbacks were not formulated by a team of experts, but by everyone who works here (he was addressing employees on this day so he did not extend to students or other stakeholders.) And at another point he declared "you do not hear top-down orders from The Allen Building" dictating to Deans and Departments. He explained our management is decentralized.

Dr. Brodhead took questions from the floor, live, which surprised Fact Checker. Some were pointed: How about special sacrifice from administrators making more than $300,000 a year. His answer was weak, that this would be only a drop in the bucket, not resolving the budget crisis.

Fact Checker does challenge Dr. Brodhead on some of his figures. He declared "We have no choice but to live within our means.... we do not have credit cards."

Yes this is the same Brodhead who is planning to build Keohane dorm with not one cent of real money, all of it on a credit card. The same Brodhead that borrowed $500 million 18 months ago because the endowment wasn't earning enough to provide money for current operations.

And the same Brodhead who arrived five and a half years ago at a university whose debt totaled about $1 billion and whose last financial report showed we owed $2,447,000,000.

And I am going to nudge President Brodhead who boasted that over the past decade, our endowment was the 2nd best performer among universities with a 10.1 percent sustained return. Now, now Mr President, you know that is about to change radically.

With the meteoric rise of our endowment during the dot.com boom year of 1999-2000 about to fade from the ten year average, we face an average return in the six percent range during the past decade. Ugh.

You can win a lunch with Fact Checker, just like an employee won lunch with the President: do you think he will be boasting about six percent over the decade come July 1 and the start of the new fiscal year.

Some tidbits:
Dr. Brodhead said that Duke was North Carolina's second largest private employer. I understood the State Secretary of Commerce to rank us as third after Wal-Mart and Red Lion.

1500 people got hired at Duke last year, despite the cutbacks. In a normal year, 10 percent of our 33,000 employees depart.

Dr. Brodhead cited Duke's work on the environment, its Nichols school as well as everyday activities on campus. Then he drank from a bottle of water, repeatedly, when everyone knows that the effort and cost and carbons needed to shuffle water around the planet is one of the least friendly human activities.

The President dealt with a rumor that 2,000 to 3,000 people would be furloughed in mid-March. "Absolutely and categorically false," he said, pausing to ask "Is that rumor really going around?"

Dr. Brodhead said the cost of providing health insurance to Duke's 33,000 employees plus family members jumped 12 percent last year. This was surprising since Duke itself is a health care provider and books employee costs for services they get within Duke Health in a strange way.

The President said the wage freeze meant Duke saved $18 million this year. But he said the school is spending $25 million more on benefits. And to underscore that people would never make up for this freeze, Dr. Brodhead spoke of how the $18 million saved would repeat itself year after year after year.

He ducked a question about performance based raises, why superior employees are not rewarded, why everyone is in the same boat enduring a freeze no matter what their performance.

Dr. Brodhead was asked, since the budget shortfall makes up barely 1 percent of the shortfall, why he just doesn't put the entire university on a one percent diet. For someone so versed in other figures, he had none, merely dismissing the suggestion as a step backward with great a psychological impact.

And after last year's wage freeze, Dr. Brodhead indicated he expected an avalanche of reaction. He got one email.

Oh yes potholes. He said TowerView would be paved this coming summer after construction trucks finish their rumble.

One performance can break a career, but one does not make it. What a good day can do is restore a lot of enthusiasm and confidence and faith.

Dr. Brodhead still has a need for better communication with stakeholders. Students are out of the loop still, not to mention alumni. And of course, as the antithesis to all his openness yesterday, the winter Trustee meeting is just days away, when the doors slam shut and clandestine discussions and decisions begin.

✔✔Thank you for reading and supporting Fact Checker. I am pleased to report I get more email than Dr Brodhead.

2-16-2010 New Law School Chair less than it looks

Fact Checker here.

First, the Duke Endowment gift to match 30 donors who create new professorship dates from 2008, not January 9, 2010 as the article states.

The date is important because this is a good example of the kind of special gift from The Duke Endowment that Duke University has enjoyed, and come to rely on in fund-raising. The financial meltdown has eliminated these gifts, at least for the foreseeable future.

This is very significant because fully 17 percent of the Campaign for Duke and 25 percent of the Financial Aid Initiative came from The Duke Endowment. Any future fund-raising will start without these pads.

Fact Checker has previously made the case that our fund-raisers should not be including these great gifts from a captive source in their reports of success. These gifts derive from the original money that Mr. Duke set aside for the university in 1924 and 1925. When they are transferred to Duke University, as opposed to being held by the separate entity called The Duke Endowment, they do not represent any new strength at all.

✔Second point. And this in no means detracts from the Ichel gift, which is one of just 46 gifts the law school has received in its entire history of more than $1 million. The gift is also significant because it comes from a graduate of the Class of 1978; most of the largest gifts have come from graduates who were far older, and indeed, only one law school alum from a later class has contributed $1 million, which entitles one to membership in the Lanty Smith Society, named for the first donor of $1 million.

Getting back to the 2nd point. Duke is selling its professorships too cheap! By Duke standards, the $2.5 million for this chair is huge. In fact chairs have been established for far less, and in some cases have nothing backing them up at all. Duke University used to release this information, but now, it has clammed up.

To create a similar chair in the current Yale Tomorrow campaign requires $5 million. Harvard's campaign that ended in 2003 also required $5 million.

In the back of my mind, I think one reason we have the low threshold is so fund-raisers make themselves look good. I do know that it does not advance our cause if we fund professorships at far less than our competitors.

✔Final note: Got $5 million? The athletic department is currently selling the coach's positions for both football and men's basketball. I can see it now: Michael Krzyzewski, The Fact Checker Coach and Professor of Basketball.



2-15-2010 Chronicle editorial slams Brodhead anew

Chronicle, another editorial like this one, and I will be able to take the day off!!

After watching our basketball team demolish Maryland and cheering Coach K not only for his 1,000th game but also for his "nyet," I turned to watching on-line video of President Brodhead's annual address to the faculty. Yes from the exciting to the sedate.

Loyal readers, you will undoubtedly recall the exceptional Chronicle editorial last Wednesday begging our President to assert leadership in the fiscal crisis:

"Brodhead should speak openly and candidly to the Duke community as a whole. We need to know the specifics of how the administration is moving forward and how it plans to finally close the budget shortfall.

"But more than that, we need to know how the University’s strategic goals have been affected by the crisis, how the administration is adapting and how they will move Duke forward despite the difficult financial times."

Sounds good to me. I made that the hoop, waiting for him to score.

For 12:05 (12 minutes five seconds for those of you who are not fans), President Brodhead dribbled on about the history of financing higher education during the last 150 years. If I were taking a course in this, I might have been interested in the lecture. He was full of statistics, graphs, and then graphs blooming out of other graphs, all projected over his left shoulder. But it's not what I needed to hear at all.

I was not discouraged. I have sat worried watching many basketball stars have a dry first half, only to rally.

Second half. Unfortunately, there was much blovation over DukeEngage, Kunshan and other pet projects, but no new graphs. There was nothing for stakeholders to latch onto. His references repeatedly were to execution of a a strategic plan developed in the go-go years with little hint that aside from the construction of Central Campus, Duke has to rein itself in.

Where was the Brodhead who told us a year ago that we must brace for "a smaller Duke." How will we get there? What road to travel? Specifics.

After a first half filled with numbers, there was only one notable statistic on the second half: Dr. Brodhead said Duke has $50 million in cuts "already enacted or identified."

Notice those quoted words carefully.

This was a far lower total than we have been hearing. For example a Chronicle editorial in the fall said we were half-way toward the three-year $125 million goal, while a preview of the December trustee meeting said $70 million in savings were "in hand."

Dr. Brodhead's quoted words are ominous. It means that we experiencing perhaps $40 million in cuts in the current budget, only a third of the way. Already we have been bruised.

It means we are going to be tolerating a lot more pain coming up, particularly when you remember that Tallman Trask has said we have gotten the low fruit so far, meaning the harvest is going to become more difficult.

ON some of its assertions, Dr. Brodhead's speech needed substantiation. He mentioned participation of a "broad" segment of the community in decisions, offering no specifics and moving rapidly on with no pledge to stakeholders who feel excluded.

He revealed for the first time that a lot of people are protecting their turf during budget talks:

"The most damaging consequence I have observed came as budget cuts gave rise to a sullen protectionism: the wish, while reluctantly acceding to inevitable reductions, to lock in every surviving resource in its current form. The sentiment is understandable, but the cumulative results can be quite stultifying, since they freeze in place one moment’s status quo."

With respect to the current salary freeze, he said there is more money for employees in next year's budget -- but most will be eaten up by fringe benefits. He offered no hint at how this apportionment was decided and what inputs he may have had from affected people.

With respect to layoffs, he said there would be no "sizable" campus-wide reduction, leaving open the definition of sizable, and never reassuring that department by department cuts would not affect just as many loyal employees.

Dr. Brodhead's delivery does not invite interruption. There were two murmurs of laughter. And no applause, even when he coupled his strongest words with an often repeated pledge:

"...we must ensure that this time of economic downturn—a time when the needs of many families has increased—will see no downturn in educational opportunity at Duke. As we tighten our belts elsewhere, we are committed to meeting our undergraduates’ full need for financial aid."

Faculty members also sat silent as Dr. Brodhead told of a visit to University of California colleagues who were furloughed. Tacitly he pledged no layoffs at Duke, in fact talking expansion:

"Hiring new colleagues brings the university fresh energy and new thinking that stimulates us all. If new faculty were not to be hired for some period, the university would miss whole cohorts of talent and lose an ongoing invigoration."

He did not mesh this at all with the concept of sustainability -- and the inexorable growth of the regular faculty to 3,031 now, from 2,877 a year ago, and 2,477 when he arrived from Yale five and a half years ago.

Fact Checker has observed before: Dr. Brodhead's years at Yale color his view of the Duke financial crisis. He got his first faculty job during a hiring freeze and he recounted anew several Yale crimps in the decades after that. Most important: he seems to view the current situation at Duke -- which our Trustee chair has called "dire financial strait" -- as just another bounce, with some good years, some bad years, but all of it routine. He seems to deny the historical nature of the current economic crisis.

Loyal readers, remember that Duke has been accumulating its wealth for generations, though all the Trinity College years and since 1924 as a university. In the last academic year, fully 30 percent of our net worth went poof.

Dr. Brodhead closed by saying Duke has always forged ahead in hard times. He told of Union Institute's being founded the year after a financial crash, of the move to Durham after another, and the Great Depression arriving soon after James B. Duke forked over the big bucks.

I do not read the history of our school the same way. For example after 1924, construction was stalled, we had to postpone creating the Medical School, there was hardly enough money for the Chapel and two Trustees had to dig into their own pockets to fulfill the desire for a carillon. The Allen Building was not put in place to complete the main quadrangle until the 1950's. The giant fountain that Mr. Duke -- a running water freak -- envisioned for the West traffic circle never was built. Neither was the lesser display in front of the Chapel itself. And the lack of money meant we did nothing with the ravine along side the Admissions Office (once the President's home), planned for a lake, which ultimately and fortunately allowed for the Sarah P. Duke Gardens.

Despite Dr Brodhead's view, Duke was a school deeply affected by the financial times. Its vast dreams could not be fulfilled, its spending had to be tamed, its growth delayed. All something President Brodhead seems unable to adjust to.

Over his left shoulder, the new Power Point slide showed Doris Duke laying the cornerstone as he explained "One of its most striking lessons is that Duke did not better itself in good times alone."

Maybe Dr. Brodhead does not know that moments after the picture, a huge thunderclap scattered the crowd, followed by a downpour. And he neglected that when construction workers dried off and tried to put the cornerstone into the Union, it did not fit.

Thank you for reading and supporting Fact Checker.

2-12-2010 Donations to Duke tumble during fiscal crisis

Fact Checker here.

Loyal readers, I wish this were TV and you could see me shaking my head. Donations are UP!!!! Yippee. But admnistrators won't tell us how much money is involved.

Why in hell can't we find out? What is the reason?

These people make a secret out of EVERYTHING, treating stakeholders in Duke as if they were Al Qaeda trying to subvert the place.

Next point: The word donation is very very tricky. For example for many years, if a pharmaceutical company -- a private for-profit corporation -- paid Duke to test a new drug -- and our Health System is one of the largest testers in the world -- we counted that as a donation. I'd count it as a contract that we had to do work for.

We cleaned up that weird accounting, and thus the deception meter is at only 99 percent now.

The fund-raisers cite the all-time record high of $385.7 million in 2007-08. Last year this fell 22 percent. Those statistics are compiled using methodology favored by fund-raisers with a vested interest in looking good.

My next witness is Mr. Tallman Trask, good morning sir. Can we please see what you wrote in your annual financial report?

Yes sir, you are executive vice president for finance. Can we squint please at the small print where you talk about Generally Accepted Accounting Standards, GAAS, the way you compile everything in your annual financial report except fund-raising numbers.

On the basis of GAAS, "Duke recorded $136.9 million in contribution revenue, including pledges... representing a 61 percent decrease" from the prior year.

Mr. Trask, that is an accurate number, correct?

"Yes, Fact Checker, gifts off 61 percent."

The Chronicle has printed the $136.9 million statistic before, prompting an October 8, 2009 letter from Schoenfeld that is the damndest document in the history of Allen Building:

"The University's financial statement is not the best source for information about private donations."

Correct Mr. Schoenfeld. Fact Checker is!!!! ✔✔✔✔✔

Next we come to the statistic that Duke enjoys contributions from around 100,000 people. Aside from the heavy hit during the height of the lacrosse hoax, this is true.

But it's also true that since we first hit 100,000, we have graduated five classes with four thousand new alumni each, counting both undergrads and graduates. That's 20,000 new potential donors right there, not counting their parents whom we also chase, while the number of donors has not budged. There were an estimated 3500 alumni who we lost during this period, either because they moved or passed away.

That's as much concern to me, as the raw number 100,000 pleases me. I am sorry our professional fundraisers are so dismissive of this warning signal.

The pros have also swept under the rug other warning signals: for example the Annual Fund that barely budged, that failed to meet its low-balled targets, that failed to keep pace with inflation, much less keep pace with the university's budget that explodes at a greater rate than inflation. All this, my loyal readers, was well before the financial meltdown.

The Chronicle sources today are the PR man for fund-raising and the ubiquitous Schoenfeld, spinners. They -- above all other people -- should be able to count the number of news releases with major gifts year to year. Before the meltdown, the number was shrinking, shrinking. And the greatest shrinkage came among members of the Board of Trustees and members of the Duke family. Before the meltdown that is blamed for the fall-off.

Final observations: the Chronicle should not use PR people who filter and configure the news as sources. Why not our VP for fund-raising Shepard himself?

I also note that one source of today's article is the executive director for PR in the fund-raising area. It was my understanding that as part of the fiscal crisis, we were going to trim these separate empires and bring everything under one roof. Not only in PR, but in other staff functions. To date, I am not aware that administrators have taken any step at all toward this reorganization. Then again, all species protect their own.

2-11-2010 Brodhead and his Annual Report to the Faculty

act Checker here. Good morning Fellow Dukies!

I begin not with the substance of President Brodhead's remarks, but with faculty attendance.

There are 3,031 regular members of the faculty who were eligible to attend yesterday. Fact Check: official figure, Quick Facts About Duke, university website.

The Chronicle states "about 75" showed up. The Duke News Service -- ever filtering the news and painting a rosy picture -- stated "more than 150 people filled the Nasher auditorium" (well not quite, capacity 173) and brought "new energy" to the annual meeting of the faculty.

The purpose was not only to hear from the President at a critical juncture in Duke's history, but also, according to the official news release, to honor "faculty members who received distinguished and named professors and university teaching and service awards, as well as faculty members who died in 2009."

3,031 regular members. A handful show up. What a disgrace. Not only to hear our President, but to pay tribute to fellow academics.

The President usually speaks in conjunction with an Academic Council meeting, and this year -- while said to be independent -- was not, for the chair of the Academic Council spoke at length as well. You would think that at the very least, the elected professors on the council, charged by their colleagues with participation in the governance of this university, would show. There are precisely 91 regular members of the council, plus 10 alternates and the chair ex officio, as well as the President and Provost. That adds up to 104, far more than the total number of professors that the Chronicle says were present.

This is inexcusable. It is rude to the President. It is strong evidence of a lack of caring about Duke and its future, a failure to define one's professional status here as an obligation to participate not only for today, but for the future.

The faculty has disgraced itself.
We move to the substance of Dr. Brodhead's remarks. I am hindered because the link on the PR page that should lead to his text, which I was hoping for, instead goes to the rambling speech by the Academic Council president. I am relying on the Chronicle story and a long news release, also quoted above.
Generally speaking, he was upbeat which is good. He traced the history of ups and downs, which is OK so long as it doesn't occlude the reality of the moment.

And certainly his priorities I can agree with, starting with ample financial aid to students and extending to internationalization. I have reservations about our ability to sustain a bigger faculty, which has already exploded in size in the last decade and again this year, and am holding my breath about plans to hire.

Fact Checker has long felt that President Brodhead has a blind spot relating to hiring new faculty in down times; after all he got his first job in the English department at Yale when hiring was frozen. Yale kept the freeze in place for seven of the next nine years, and we all know how well that school did! So I must question the talk of "faculty renewal."

While I do not want to quibble, there is a need to Fact Check.

First, the President said, according to the official release, that "steps already enacted or identified have cut more than $50 million from Duke's budget." That's a different story than the calculation in a January 13 Chronicle editorial which stated "administrators have cut nearly half of the $125 million budget hole." And far different from the Chronicle's December 4 preview of a Trustee meeting, which talked about $70 million in savings in hand.

There's also a numbers game with respect to the number of employees who have been cut.

Duke should simply put all its raw information on the website designed to keep us informed about the fiscal meltdown, and all of us can add for ourselves.

Forget those numbers. The critical point is: Duke has already picked all the low hanging fruit. We've lowered thermostats. We've cut phone lines. We've asked for voluntary retirements. We coordinated the purchase of computers so we buy in bulk. The next steps on our way to $125 million are going to be more -- far more -- painful.

President Brodhead backed into any decision to lift or continue the wage freeze imposed on everyone except Duke Health this year. He said there is money for employees but it is going to be largely eaten up by increased costs of fringe benefits, so "any pay increase will be modest."

He called Duke's benefits "excellent." I have used the word lavish. And he did not explain any effort to control them.

I feel there is a need for the President to make clear anew what the $125 million is cut from.

It's cut from last year's budget -- exclusive of Duke Health. The cut is from $1.85 billion -- not from the budgets we had presumed would be viable when we planned for this year, next year and the following. In other words, by July 1, 2013, after phasing in cuts for three years, our budget will be $1.725 billion.

I am hearing confusion about that. I am hearing attrition and excuses about that. We might as well get straight today if there is a change in the goal that the President so clearly enunciated in his e-mail of March 1, 2009:

"Duke’s budget, instead of growing steadily, will have to be approximately $125 million smaller than it is today."

Lastly, the president was overly optimistic in some of the figures that he cited.

Take donations as our example. His statistics were based on donations of $301.6 million last year, which he said were off 22 percent from the year earlier.

Yes, this is true, according to the accounting method used by fund-raisers with a vested interest in looking good. As Tallman Trask properly noted in his annual report, the far more common method, Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, showed gifts of $136.9 million last year -- off an amazing 62 per cent.

✔Thank you for reading Fact Checker.

Oh... there was some comment the other day about the way in which the President is identified. Is it Mr Brodhead. Dr Brodhead? Sometimes I have used just his last name, which is copying journalistic style and not meant to be abrupt. Post or write me at Duke.Fact.Checker@gmail.com

2-10-2010 Chronicle editorial board slams Brodhead

Fact Checker here.
Congratulations, Chronicle, for your strongest editorial of the year. An insightful analysis.

Back when our endowment was $6.1 billion, and other universities were watching their money wither, President Richard Brodhead assured all Dukies that our hoard was "stable" and "secure."

Well not quite. Our nest-egg shriveled to $4.4 billion and Brodhead has had precious little to say since. Indeed, as the editorial points out, we have to reach back to March 1, 2009, almost a full year, to an e-mail he wrote to all stakeholders.

His silence has been in the face of many opportunities to speak out.

-- The FACULTY is just now getting his annual report on the 2008-2009 academic year, usually delivered in October. This delay -- at the annual meeting of the faculty -- is all the more surprising because of the way he started his report on an autumn afternoon two years ago: "Colleagues, I have come to value the custom of the President’s Address observed on this day."

If Brodhead's failure to deliver this report weren't so serious, we could all chuckle at the explanation: Brodhead and the chair of the faculty senate, the Academic Council, agreed this year's report would be so important that it deserved a venue larger than the usual, a 108 seat lecture hall in the sub-sub basement of the Divinity School. Fact Check: there are 3,031 regular members of the faculty eligible to attend, to be held at the Nasher, apparently in the 173 seat lecture hall, identified in the official announcement as the auditorium. Does that tell us something about faculty interest or not??? Faculty engage?

In administration-speak, the word important does not embrace either "urgent" nor "timely." There is no hint of why Brodhead just did not commandeer a larger space back in the fall.

✔ ALUMNI returning to campus have had one perfunctory meeting. His travel schedule to alumni clubs around the nation is not available, though in years past it was widely advertised.

✔ And now EMPLOYEES. The forum is called Primetime, a regular chance for high level administrators to come out, and this is Brodhead's second appearance. On June 19, 2007 he was bubbling about the giant construction project called Central Campus, a project of course postponed indefinitely by the financial meltdown.

In the March 1, 2009 e-mail referenced above, Brodhead announced a wage freeze -- affecting everyone except those lucky employees of the prosperous Duke Health system, whose fate we have never learned. The freeze was mitigated only by a one-time check of $1,000 to employees with satisfactory work records who were earning less than $50,000. Mind you this was an e-mail, not a personal encounter. The president remained at his desk in Allen Building to blast the news, never standing with shaken employees.

Brodhead also mentioned the L-word. Layoffs. Nothing specific, just a sword that would continue to dangle over people's heads to this day. The most definitive comment on layoffs came from the board chair, who said there would be no "centrally administered" layoffs -- only department by department cuts like the good people who ran International House. What the board chair did not say is also important, for it is possible department by department cuts will add up to the same number of bodies as a general cut. Or more.

Twice in the past year, rather than appearing personally, Brodhead has sent a team of five white middle-aged surrogates to talk to groups of employees -- many if not most of them people of color -- about offers of early retirement.

The second of these meetings involved people who were identified by the university as expendable -- in other words people who might face the first layoffs if they did not seize early retirement. The president did not even appear before these frightened people. (There is a third incentive program, urging senior faculty to retire, and for four months administrators have dodged and obfuscated, and we know no details to this day of a potentially costly strategic move.)

So Brodhead is scheduled for Schiciano Auditorium in the Fitzpatrick Center, the Ciemas building until Michael and Patty Fitzpatrick opened their pockets, with the announcement of his appearance noting that only 200 can get in. Fact Check: depending on whether you count medical or not, Duke has more than 40,000 employees. Others can watch on the internet, and good luck on this: even though the VP for PR for the past 20 months prides himself on new media, Duke's broadcast of many events have failed miserably, most often with intermittent sound.

Oh, Fact Checker has tried to trace Schiciano, but neither the Chronicle archives, official PR archives, alumni directory nor Google provided a definitive lead to the person whose name is stuck over the door. There are 28 bigger auditoriums on campus.

Following a format that he has used before (I would say that our President used it during the lacrosse hoax but frequent poster Duke Parent will yelp), all the questions in the scheduled employee forum are screened by PR people. Some sent in in advance, some while the program is underway. There is no interaction with the audience, and no chance to follow up.

Topic #1 may well be the wage freeze -- will Brodhead extend it or will he dodge an answer. I would hope he has a substantive answer -- it would emphasize he is in charge, and that once again his staff did not put him out to dangle with nothing to say. He was able, you will recall, to make a decision by March 1 a year ago for the current academic year, and you would think he would be able to move now on next year.

Topic #2 may well be a reduction of lavish fringe benefits, including one of the most generous medical insurance plans on the planet and abusive tuition payments for employee children. The tuition plan is unique to the ivory tower and very unique at Duke: a low paid employee can double or even triple his or her wages through the plan. Even Executive Vice President Tallman Trask, on the payroll at $478,000 a year according to the latest documents Fact Checker can obtain, will be provided an extra $28,113 a year for each of his two children while they are undergraduates at any school. The amount of that benefit is not frozen as salaries are, and it goes up every time Duke soaks its own students for more tuition.

The Chronicle properly points out contrasts with other presidents. Faust at Harvard has held open meetings and enabled extensive coverage in the Harvard Crimson newspaper. With Tilghman of Princeton, there have been community meetings and extensive access for the Princetonian. And compare please with the President of Cornell David Skorton, who has shown true leadership and imagination. As a stop-gap Skorton asks donors not for the principal they would have donated to endowment in better times, but merely for the interest it would have earned for Cornell to spend.

✔There is no indication from reading the STUDENT newspaper -- no news article, feature, editorial nor column -- that our President has given the Chronicle any particular access or insight. Yes Brodhead has been quoted in the Chronicle about fiscal affairs, but only superficially, twice in the current academic year by my count. The latest of these comments came after the Trustee meeting in December, the focus $125 million in red ink. The Chronicle saw fit to quote three Brodhead words: "made significant progress."

The last substantial interview with the Chronicle that Fact Checker can identify came during the summer, when he mused with a columnist about returning to teaching.

And Chronicle people, as I have pointed out in posts and in private correspondence, you do not have clean hands during this fiscal crisis. Not at all. You have not been comprehensive nor probative. You have not fulfilled your responsibility.

One more point on Skorton of Cornell. He has attacked the administrative bureaucracy at Cornell: “We know we have had too much of a proliferation of assistant deans and assistants to ... And this crisis has stiffened my spine about it. My office has gone down from seven to five, people I’m never going to replace, and that has to trickle down.” Here at Duke, the 14 academic deans of Trinity College, the 10 deans of the Arts and Sciences and the 10 vice provosts are still... well... shall we say functioning.

✔ The President has also been silent on the issue of student participation in governance. Take the new dorm in Keohane Quad: Administrators, including Dean Nowicki, rolled over students from the rush-rush planning stage to the final insult of scheduling construction from 7AM seven days a week. What's the big rush, that we must incur overtime and extra expense?

As cutbacks hit directly at students, we did not hear a peep from Brodhead. Take your pick. The merger of International House and MultiCultural Center. The elimination of the student pharmacy. The elimination of weekend housekeeping in the dorms, so puke deposited on Friday festers until Monday.

Oh yes, there's the drinking issue. The Allen Building team came down hard on Tailgating. It has skirted around Last Day of Classes celebration. And it has been totally silent on the most abusive situation of all, the week after week bacchanalia we call K-Ville. Mr Brodhead, why are you so pusillanimous that you cannot speak out at this total disruption of the atmosphere and purpose of Duke? Students sleeping in tents outside the basketball stadium, in order to get the best seats for the Carolina game. Have you ever visited the place at night? Heard the noise. Smelled the booze. Wallowed in the mud? How rested would you be if at 4 AM each day you had to stand outside Hart House to be counted to assure you are still in line.

Is there any reason why members of the Harvard Community got a financial update after the September 30th end of the first quarter of this fiscal year, while Dukies got nothing? Even after they asked for information?

At the end of the second quarter, after December 31, the Chronicle had a story and so did the Herald-Sun, and you would never know reading the two stories that they covered the same six months of Duke's financial life. Why doesn't the University post the facts, all of them. Why doesn't it update the website created specifically to inform us of the fiscal crisis.

If Brodhead were only missing while we weather the fiscal storm, that would be bad enough. But Fact Checker has carefully examined the academic and fiscal year that began last July 1. Fact Checker sees a pattern, the lack of leadership on the fiscal crisis just the tip of an iceberg.

Here are the troubling Facts. You are the jury.

✔ for precisely 100 years, since William Preston Few wrote in great detail about the 1909-1910 year, the President of the University has issued an annual report to all stakeholders. For generations this was mailed to all alumni. No more. No report. In fact Duke's homepage links to the 2006-2007 edition.

Brodhead did write an important essay about Duke's future for Duke Magazine, the alumni journal. This publication, which is very interesting and often compelling, very rarely covers issues of governance. After filling 13 pages with pictures from an alumnus who happens to be a New York Times photographer, the magazine had little choice but to relegate Brodhead's 617-word essay to its website, where it is buried along with 24 other essays from others. Dukies, try to find this!

✔In separate incidents, two students were shot. The Durham on Duke violence included several armed robberies, and a spectrum of lesser crimes. Car break-ins, petty thefts, missing laptops. Has anyone heard Brodhead speak out?

✔Two grad students were burned out of their apartment just as classes were about to start last fall, a fire that evoked substantial response from several parts of the campus. Except the President's office.

✔Since the founding of the internet, the President's Quarterly Reports to the Trustees were posted. No more. For a while the University mouthpiece posted a substitute. No more.

✔ Since the founding of the internet the President of Duke -- like all presidents -- greeted visitors to its website with a welcome. No more. In fact the President's own home page disappeared in October, and there is a link to a montage of Senior Leadership instead. His speeches, once linked, are in the website, if you can find them! Another challenge for you, Loyal Readers.

Curiously Brodhead has also disappeared from Duke's press releases. Consider:

✔The PR archive includes Dean Nowicki's text from this year's freshman Convocation, but only notes that "Brodhead also spoke at the event." In fairness, and Fact Checker is fair, Brodhead's text is buried elsewhere, not in the archive. Try to find it. There is no link. It is not in the A-Z.

✔The president personally selects the Commencement speaker, but the PR release -- unlike prior years -- wrote him out of the picture: "Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus, a Bangladeshi banker/economist and champion of the poor, will deliver the commencement address at Duke University on May 16, 2010, the school announced Friday." Fact Checker has corrected the date, which was wrong in the original release.

✔Most of the news releases that did mention Brodhead involved his ceremonial duties. For example Brodhead's very limited role at the re-dedication of the Veterans Wall, to introduce the main speaker. To be fair, and Fact Checker is Fair, his words on that occasion were truly moving. See link below.

But Brodhead followed this by being invisible on Veterans Day itself, as well as at the 9-11 observance when a wreath is placed at the memorial to the six Dukies who died at the World Trade Center.

Ceremonies aside, there was only one news release last semester dealing with substantial activity of our president. This compares with two releases on the new on-campus fish market offering fresh catch from the two Carolinas, and two releases on the activity of the faculty member who identifies himself as "thugniggaintellectual."

✔The one news release focused on Brodhead was an international news alert to tout his ringing of the closing bell at the NASDAQ stock exchange in New York on December 18. Duke regarded this as important enough to provide the personal Email and phone of the PR vice president, not just the general number of the news bureau. Keep this in perspective: this is not the closing bell you see and hear on many newscasts. That bell as at the New York Stock Exchange.

Fact Checker can put this into further perspective: in the days before Brodhead, the closing bell was rung by Jeff Bridges and Maggie Gyllenhaal, stars of "Crazy Heart" being released by Fox. In the days right after Brodhead, the NASDAQ bell was rung by Buddy Valastra, master baker at Carlo's Bakery in Hoboken, N. J. and on another day by the cast of the off-Broadway musical Grovaloo.

Brodhead thus goes down in history at the NASDAQ with other bell ringers: the clowns at the Ringling Brothers circus, Howard Stern, Miss Mississippi, Miss America and members of the New York City Sanitation Department, which is to say garbagemen.

In fact Brodhead has garnered very little publicity. We have to reach back three and a half years to a Washington Post op-ed. Check other major newspapers: aside from the lacrosse hoax, the New York Times has mentioned Brodhead only once since his arrival, in conjunction with a gift by Bill and Melinda Gates for DukeEngage. Clearly the Gates star-power created the article.

✔The PR department maintains a website with "major Presidential speeches." During the past semester, aside from the opening Convocation, there is no entry. None. And try to find this!! No link although there used to be! Not in the A-Z.

Brodhead's curriculum vitae reveals his last "major lecture" was in 2006 in Cleveland on "What Universities Are Good for."

Our president has failed to fulfill three major promises he made in public

✔ To convene a national conference of universities to study the way they treat students, faculty and employees charged with major crime, an outgrowth of the dismal handling of the lacrosse hoax. Duke's method is ad hoc and inconsistent. Apparently -- his spokesman would not say why when a Deputy Fact Checker asked -- Brodhead deferred to lawyers trying to wiggle Duke out of lacrosse litigation, lest the school's own investigation weigh against it.

In other words, students continue to be subject to a disciplinary system that our president has the greatest qualms about. And the lawyers' plan to defend Duke is more important than the truth.

During the past semester, sworn testimony came to light that a very high level member of the community, while allegedly drunk, allegedly sexually assaulted a female. This has been vehemently denied. It also came to light that a high level medical administrator was trying to pimp his little adopted boy to other perverts, a crime to which he pleaded guilty. And it came to light that a Duke Police officer allegedly drugged and raped a woman during an S and M scene, with his Duke Police badge and uniform, Duke gun, Duke handcuffs, whips, enema bag and butt plug among items seized. I heard nothing from Brodhead personally, and his administrator's responses defied consistency -- ranging from suspension with pay, to suspension without pay, to dismissa,l to nothing.

Nor has Brodhead made any comforting news available: Duke Police investigated the career of the officer? What did they find out? Where did he patrol? Did he have access to sensitive material? To files on sex asssaults? To sex crime victims in the hospital? How come this guy gave up a higher paid job in Raleigh and pension rights after almost ten years, to come to Duke. I cannot resist this: in Raleigh he held the rank of Master Patrolman, a designation that this alleged S and M devotee apparently took literally.

-- Brodhead called for a "national debate" on the legal drinking age, leaving us to guess his position. He has done nothing Fact Checker knows about to spark that debate. Nothing.

-- On women's issues, Nan Keohane built the momentum, and Brodhead let it fizzle. It is possible there will be a program on this later this semester.

✔n fact the President -- silent on campus -- has been equally silent on national issues. His highest profile action was a trip to Washington to lobby for faculty research funds in the basic sciences. Two years ago. He was eclipsed on that trip by the new president of Harvard, its first female.

But there was never a similar trip as Congress wrestled with similar questions involving student aid. Nor have we been assured in any way that Duke's lobby staff in Washington is pursuing this.

The PR department once said he had been selected as co-chair of a task force from the national association of college and university presidents to advise the incoming Obama administration on higher education issues. Fact Checker is unable to find anything, anything about this.

✔A Fact Finder survey established that Presidents of comparable universities typically receive one, two and three honorary degrees per year. Brodhead has three total, the last in 2007 courtesy of an alumnus and trustee who was then president of Fisk University.

Earlier it was tit for tat with honorary degrees: the president of a rather undistinguished urban branch of the University of Maryland in Baltimore was honored by Duke, and Brodhead was honored there.

He did receive a degree from his 2006 trip to China, from a major highly ranked university in Beijing.

There was a time when Brodhead's biography compiled by the PR staff listed his honorary degrees in the third paragraph. This reflects their status in the academic world. No more.

✔As for China, after his first trip in 2006, Brodhead told an interviewer he hoped to return every year or two. He wasn't seen there either -- until a few weeks ago -- just like he's been invisible on the Duke campus. The closest he got was Singapore last fall for the opening of Duke's medical school in Singapore. Chancellor Dzau did the honors, Brodhead in the wings of the official pictures.

As loyal readers know, Fact Checker has previously pointed out a very correct observation from Brodhead in his address at the annual faculty meeting, October 18, 2007, on Duke's international moves. Brodhead observed that Duke was being "opportunistic," that is following the money rather than a cohesive strategy.

Perhaps you can tell Fact Checker what plan has led us to scatter in Kunshan, China, Dubai, Singapore, somewhere in India, and probably soon in Inchon, South Korea. Mr. President, we deserve to know.

✔As I conclude, and I am not done yet, just as I conclude, I must note that nothing pisses me off more about Brodhead than his failure to answer e-mails. No acknowledgment. No response from the bloated staff.

Forget controversial issues. Deputy Fact Checkers have written him about no-brainers and he has not responded. Consider: the Memorial Wall for veterans. The neglect of 50 years bothered me a great deal, for I have a personal interest in this memorial.

Mr. President, you were discourteous in the best light in not answering e-mail after e-mail. More importantly you were disrespectful and disdainful of the appropriate role of stakeholders in this university. Not to mention the sacrifice of our classmates.

✔Mr. President, there have been times when you were truly brilliant. Today's Chronicle editorial cites Coach K. What happened to the Brodhead who joined hands with students under the coach's office to form the letter K, urging him to stay?

At the news conference announcing his decision to stay, Coach K said he would have told you earlier that morning, but he was not sure of your sleeping habits. You responded that whatever your waking hour, you were going to sleep better now. It was wonderful.

At this year's Convocation, you showed some real flashes. The avuncular uncle. Deep understanding and feeling. That was before you launched into a boring reading of your speech, some of it just copied from earlier years and much of it sounding as if you had not written it yourself.

Your conclusion in welcoming freshmen that they not only to study here, but to help create Duke's future was right on. And lifted from three years earlier.

Have you stopped to think how you enable student participation in the affairs of Duke. Or better, disable it with your secrecy on everything. Everything. Everything.

I have applauded your priorities. You gave a compelling explanation of the need for expanded undergraduate financial aid, saying that we overturned barriers based on race and ethnicity, and now we cannot erect a similar barrier based upon the economic circumstances of one's birth. Have you considered, however, that you yourself, with the never ending spiral of tuition increases beyond the inflation rate, create the very barrier that you complain about.

And you seemed dismissive of the idea that Duke could tighten its belt and avoid higher tuition hikes, explaining you did not think a generic version of a Duke education would fly.

And I have criticized you heavily, often for operating behind closed doors, for keeping everything a big secret like I was the Taliban.

Often I criticized you with a heavy heart, for I know one way for Duke to be great is for you to succeed.

I have pondered time and time again how you could be so beloved at Yale yet so beset at Duke. And discussed this with many others.

I hope that today's Chronicle editorial -- not to mention the Fact Checker essay -- awakens you to re-assessment, and to the emergence of the leader we know you can be.

I do have faith.

Thank you for reading Fact Checker. Some important links follow.

Duke's financial crisis website. Not kept up to date.
Duke Magazine essay, quite interesting.

Brodhead at the Veterans Memorial Wall. Quite moving and well worth reading.


Fact Checker again. There is one other curious thing about Brodhead that I wanted to point out.

He arrived at the same time as Chancellor Dzau (and had signed off on his appointment earlier). After four years, as is the custom, Duke renewed Dzau's contract and made public announcement.

There was only silence on Brodhead. And finally we learned as the end of 5 years approached, that he had signed a new deal. For how long? Why the delay? Is this idle speculation or tea-leaves?

correction: number of Duke employees 33,325

2/10/2010 Election of new Young Trustee

How wonderful it is to see a Trustee of the University elected by stakeholders from a truly competitive field of applicants. And how wonderful it is that we know immediately the outcome of the election.

Compare please with the Adult Board of Trustees. There is a secret process to screen people and the executive committee of the Trustees then proposes one candidate for each vacancy. The Board of Lemmings then approves that one candidate, so far as is known never saying no.

If the new trustee is filling a vacancy, no further action is needed.

If there is a new six year term, the "nomination" is sent to either the alumni or the Methodist Church.

Every other year the alumni leadership gets four names for four vacancies. And so far as is known has always elected that person.

Similarly the Methodist Church gets eight names every other year. So far as is known the Church also goes along with this scam, electing people who may be in the church, may be of different Christian denominations, may not be Christian in their faith at all, and people who do not believe.

The newest trustees were elected during the Lemmings December meeting to fill vacancies. Unlike the immediate announcement of John Harpham's victory, the Lemmings have decreed they won't tell us who got "elected" until they take their seat, presumably next July.

Undergraduates, I hope you cherished and used your right to vote. You will have no further chance as an alumnus

2-8-2010 Tom Clark, openly gay Trustee and alumni president

Just a sidebar on Tom Clark.

Aside from a reference in a Chronicle column on September 1, 2008, there was never any coverage in the campus newspaper of his trailblazing achievement.

Clark '69, a varsity swimmer, got through Duke even though the Dean of Undergraduate Men was carrying out a personal pogrom against gays at the time. How's this for a quote from the Dean: "There are two things we can't have around here: thieves and homosexuals."

Clark rose through the ranks of alumni to become President of the Alumni Association. Openly gay, he brought his partner of 30 years to official events.

He was a Trustee of the University, under provision of the by-laws making the alumni president an ex officio observing member and then voting member. Since trustees operate behind closed doors, there is no way of knowing what posture Clark took on any issue -- and it is reassuring to know from today's letter that he may have been watchful for gay interests.

In his professional life, Clark rose to be a division president in one of the world's largest financial institutions, US Trust. He is now retired.

I did not want the mention of his name in a Chronicle letter to go without impact. ✔That's what Fact Checker is all about.

2-8-2010 Congress debates student aid; where is Dick Brodhead

Fact Checker here.

It would be interesting to find out if Duke University is lobbying for this legislation, or if it lobbied for other bills within the past two years critical to the financial support of college students.

The Fact Checker Records show that President Brodhead has lobbied personally in Washington -- and held a news conference there -- to gain more federal research dollars for scientific faculty.

How about students?

More recently, he went a day and a half in Washington chasing diverse contacts. This did include a discussion of the GI bill that helps veterans go to college after military careers.

Was there any focus on the broader issue?
Was there leadership at all?

With respect to Pell grants, there is a new study suggesting that the education industry (like Duke University) is the real beneficiary, not students who need help. The tentative conclusion is that Pell grants are enabling round after round of tuition increases, leaving students no better off.

This possibility deserves more exploration.


2/4/2010 Student shot, others robbed

Thurs 2-4-2010 editorial / Fact Checker post
Sorry if this post is out of order in my archive.

✔This editorial leaves too many unanswered questions.

On Friday evening when Vice President Moneta sent out an e-mail to everyone about the weather, when did he discover that the e-mail was not transmitted. What did he do next?

Within 24 hours, there was a very serious crime: a student was shot twice while he and two others were robbed just off East Campus. Two thugs, the one who did not fire brandished a knife.

Again, Duke officials sent out an e-mail. And it failed.

Moreover, as the editorial notes ..."in recent weeks, multiple e-mails sent by Moneta have not been properly delivered to students."

So what did he do about it?

Chronicle, you should be hammering for answers and be able to give readers a precise report on what is being done to remedy this state of affairs. It did not develop this weekend; it is weeks old.

It does not suffice to soft pedal this as you did, saying "Whether the e-mail mix-ups have been caused by human error or the messages have mysteriously been lost in the tubes of the Internet, the University needs to find out what went wrong and fix it."

Mix-ups? Is that the strongest word you can find?

This newspaper is charged with a greater responsibility: to get off its ass, to get on their tails, to find out specifically what is being done and to assure us when this will be rectified.

2/5/2010 Financial meltdown; Faculty retirement incentive

Fellow Dukies, good day.
Fact Checker here.

Every time I have read a story on the faculty retirement incentive, administrators have had a new excuse why they cannot provide details. The latest is that while the deadline for applying is past, professors can still flip-flop and decide to stay after all.

Chronicle, thank you for staying atop this.

Administrators, we deserve more transparency and you will face accountability.

It is my understanding that professors are not part of the university retirement plan. I say understanding because Tallman Trask will not respond to inquiries from Deputy Fact Checkers.

Rather than augmenting university pensions as provided in earlier staff retirement incentives, Fact Checker believes Duke is giving professors money directly to add to their own shrunken IRA's. In effect our university is becoming the insurer and guarantor of investment decisions and screw ups.

Moreover, given the pay scale of senior faculty there could be big money involved. Here are statistics from the American Association of University Professors for nine month contracts in the 2008-2009 academic year.

Full professors excluding Medical School

Male $163,600
Female $152,400

Surely our provost knows the total amount of money involved across the university. Surely he can provide some examples, including the high and the low amounts, and average amounts, offered to each professor. He can leave out names; I am not interested in who is reaping the benefits, I want to know about the decision of the Trustees and Brodhead Administration.

Mr Brodhead has scheduled one of his rare appearances on campus in the coming weeks, to discuss with employees -- finally in person -- the fiscal crisis. Maybe someone can ask him -- in writing in advance of course -- for details about the faculty retirement incentive. And we can all hope that this question makes it through the screeners who are filtering out the hard hitting questions for this event.

One analysis that you can count on from Fact Checker: are higher paid employees being given a proportionately bigger incentive. Is the faculty incentive in line with that given to housekeepers and dining hall workers, campus cops and groundskeepers. In other words is our fiscal crisis being played out on the back of our poorest employees, individuals and families least able to take the brunt.

I fear so. I shall find out the truth.

If all this were not so serious, I would be laughing at Mr. Lange. He says the purpose is of incentives for senior faculty to retire is faculty renewal, because otherwise you get stale. That maxim apparently does not apply to our chief academic officer, the 2nd longest serving top administrator.

Have a nice weekend and GO DUKE!

2/5/2010 New dorm continued, Keohane Quad K4

7 AM to 7 PM Seven days a week.

While top administrators responsible for this fiasco duck, poor old Joe Gonzalez is sent out to explain. He does not even have authority to give the community newspaper the plans.

Fact Checker is just shaking his head.

What is the big rush on this. Why isn't this disruption being scheduled for this summer?

Who was consulted on this decision -- like all the others? How did Duke decide Dorm K4 is our #1 priority. How did we decide that the proportion of singles will be doubled? Was this the result of student input? If so, when, whom. What other ideas were expressed. What other options were heard.

7 AM seven days a week. Is this the result of input of students living in Keohane, Few and Edens who want to contribute to a greater Duke by having bulldozers and jackhammers jar them awake at 7 AM every day? Right on!!!!

The biggest joke is that this entire dorm is designed to create interaction among students. You bump by accident into someone at the front door and the intellectual waves start to roll. This idea, by the way, was conceived and honed by administrators who sit isolated in Allen Building, reached through a hall that students are barred from. No running into those people face to face by accident.

✔The more I learn of this project, the more I just shake my head.

2/3/2010 Young Trustee

✔You listed Adult Trustees Dan Blue, John J. Mack, Richard Wagoner, even Xiqing Gao.

I will tell you what they all have in common: we are totally in the dark of what they stand for, how they vote, even if they bother to attend meetings. I have never even read anything they wrote or heard them speak about Duke. They are products of a self-perpetuating board, either appointed to fill out a term or subjected to a phony "election" for a full term carried out by either the Alumni Association or Methodist Church. Some election -- one candidate for each seat is nominated.

On the other hand, Chelsea Goldstein, John Harpham or Zachary Perret are standing before us, letting us know their thoughts and going forth in a competitive election.

The key issue in my mind is this: opening up the Trustees. As candidate Adrienne Clough for Graduate Trustee has laudably done, each should pledge to work toward transparency. For me that is posting the agenda, reporting every vote and providing the complete minutes, preliminary in opening the Trustee meetings.

Fellow Dukies, this is your only opportunity to vote for a Trustee. Savor it.

✔ Good day from Fact Checker.

2/3/2010 More, new dorm for Keohane Quad K4

Here's Fact Checker's idea now that we have our first numbers on the cost of this. 150 beds. $20 million. Not counting the land of course which we already own.

That's $133,333 per bed. Why don't we forget the dorm and put up $500,000 houses for four students. We'd save bundle and the students would love it!!!!

OK Fellow Dukies, let's get serious. The numbers do not add up.

Let's start with a room in an old dorm. Duke just about breaks even -- using the numbers it provides for auxiliary services like housing in the annual financial report. Your housing fees must cover electric, heat, air conditioning, snow removal, painting, buying mattresses, housekeeping, routine maintenance, landscaping. There are a lot of expenses, and we are not even able to salt anything away for capital improvements, like those urgently needed in Crowell and Craven Quads.

Let's look at the new K4 dorm. In addition to all those expenses, we're being told that the housing fees will also pay the interest for this building.

Let's see. $20 million, borrowed at 4 percent, which is my estimate based upon the latest Duke bonds sold, divided by 150 people living there, works out to $5,333 Let's figure this out together. Let's assume we are able to borrow the money at 4 percent interest. Each bed will be responsible for $5,333 a year in interest.

Even assume we can get 2 percent money, a half priced loan! That's $2,666 in interest cost to be paid from housing fees for each bed.

There money is just not there! But as always, Fact Checker is open to listening. Explain for me how this is going to be financed.

The careful reader will notice that so far Fact Checker has only talked about paying the interest. Because Duke is not going to be paying back anything year by year on the principal. It's not like a mortgage on a private home or condo.

This means that in 50 years, we will have a tired old dorm in need of a total makeover -- and we will still owe the $20 million borrowed in 2010 to put it up. Crazy.

Associate Dean Gonzalez says K4 will pay for itself. Hey everybody, there's a free lunch in Keohane Quadrangle!!

As the student government president said in relation to another issue, "no way in hell."

If we can put up Keohane4 and it will pay for itself, why don't we put up all the dorms for Central Campus and celebrate!!!

And answer one other question. We're starting work on the site / foundation. Noise, dust, disruption. Hey everybody, it's 7 AM, time to get up.

Suppose the Trustees wake up at their meeting late in February and vote no. No, we are not going to proceed with this folly. We will leave the Quad a mess? C'mon fellow Dukies.

As they say in politics, "the fix is in," and the board will merely rubber stamp what the administration wants. After all, the trustees owe their seats to the administration, having been hand picked because they are lemmings. The Board of Lemmings.

✔Let us move on to the twin issues of consultation with stakeholders on planning for this dorm.

Today's Chronicle report provides no information on how K4 dorm became construction priority #1. Who had input, when, what ideas were considered from other than administrators, what other options were on the table?

And this article announces a meeting tonight at 9 PM to answer student concerns and questions. Thanks for the advance notice, fella.

And don't think tonight's meeting is a substitute for full transparency and accountability. There is still a need for Nowicki and Company to put forth complete documentation of all input from students and other stakeholders. When were meetings held? Who attended. What ideas were expressed. And most importantly what ideas were accepted.

The bulldozers may start to move the dirt around Keohane Quad very soon. But I am not going to be bulldozed into silence on these issues. Trust Fact Checker!

2/2/2010 New dorm in Keohane Quad K4 continued

Fact Checker here. You knew I'd be writing about that editorial, and indeed I want to comment on several aspects.

The editorial board assures us the revenue stream from housing fees will pay for this project. Fact Checker doesn't believe that for one minute.

Let's look at existing housing, where there is no outstanding debt. Just about all the housing payments are eaten up by current services, like housekeeping, current costs like heat, air conditioning and electric, and routine maintenance like painting and buying new mattresses. We do not salt money away to cover major renovations, like the one that Few went through, and Crowell and Craven need so urgently.

The editorial tells us that rents from the K4 dorm will not only pay for the above, but they will be enough to pay the interest on the loan we will take out to build this folly. Prove it. Give me the numbers.

Specifics. Numbers. Make the case with real facts.

We'll be able to pay the interest? Ain't going to happen.

I notice too that the editorial does not use the B-word. Borrow. We are going to add to our already burgeoning debt… right now it totals $2,547,000,000. Yes that's right. That's BILLION. Another B-word.

We are going to Burden the annual Budget with more interest payments, which in the last year alone jumped 20 percent. Imagine what will happen when the economy recovers and interest rates start to rise, because much of our borrowing has been with floating rates.

Moreover, I would like to point out that we will only be paying the current interest on K4. Unlike a mortgage on your house, where you reduce the principal every year, at the end of 40 years we'll have an outdated dorm PLUS we'll owe everything that it cost back in the year 2010. The only hope of future Dukies will be to refinance, at the mercy of whatever bankers are charging at the time.

Here is just one illustration of the debt that we are giving to future Dukies. It's called the Series B 2006 bonds. We got $128,435,000 and we are paying interest rates between 4.3 percent and 5 percent until the year 2042. In the year 2042, Duke needs $128,435,000 lump sum to pay back the loan -- and guess what -- we have no idea in hell and no plan at all on where to get that money.

Finally, let me ask if this new dorm will pay for itself, how come we don't put up new dorms all over campus, including Central. What folly!!

Yes, we are told, the administration did not deal with stakeholders specifically on this dorm, we had a place at the table for planning in the past couple of years. Planning that had to be put aside because of the financial meltdown.

When all construction was put on hold because of the financial meltdown, who then decided this project was priority #1. List for me the students that participated in that discussion. The faculty. The alumni. Who made this decision? Be specific. What meeting, what date, what input? What other options were considered?

And then there is the matter the actual plans for the dorm.

The bottom line is this: Dean Nowicki appeared before the Campus Council on October 8 to enthusiastically tell students their participation was welcome. Seven weeks later, Tallman Trask let it be known that the architect was almost done.

On October 9, the Chronicle quoted Alex Reese, vice president, Campus Council: “I hope to see Campus Council and a wide variety of students involved in discussions about which living style are most amenable.”

List for me the people who participated in those discussions. List for me the ideas that they presented that were incorporated. Loyal readers, Fact Checker is not happy today.

If all this were not so serious, I would be amused by the thought that Duke needs this dorm to test what living arrangements should be like for undergraduates. As if Duke and other universities did not already have a clue.

✔Finally, if the Brodhead administration made us aware of its plans, if it made those plans with proper participation by stakeholders, you might even find Fact Checker supporting the boys in Allen Building.

That day has not arrived, so enjoy this one. Thanks for reading Fact Checker. ✔

2/1/2010 Electing Young Trustee; Chair Dan Blue writes Chronicle

This is a very unusual and very welcome letter, a direct communication from the chair of our Trustees to stakeholders in Duke University.

When our previous chair, Bob Steel, used this device to try to explain his bungling of the lacrosse hoax, the head of our PR operation said it was the first instance he could remember of the chair's reaching out to everyone. And now a second broad message. Fact Checker can only hope that Dan Blue expands on the practice.

I must admit though that the substance of Mr. Blue's letter today troubles me.

Mr. Blue gives tacit approval to a public debate on the positions of the candidates on issues in Duke's governance, and for everyone's having a vote. Perhaps he could explain his endorsement of this process, while at the same time acquiring his own Trusteeship and then the board chair in secret.

As a matter of fact under Mr . Blue's leadership, the secrecy has reached its zenith: the Trustees recently selected two new members for partial terms, to fill out terms of people leaving the board, and no one will tell us who was picked. We have to wait until they actually take office July 1.

This is merely one instance of the board's operating as if the rest of us were Taliban. What reason in hell could support this policy?

There is an additional step in the selection of full term adult Trustees. Under the by-laws, rather than selection being finalized by the Trustees themselves, candidates are nominated clandestinely, to use a charitable term, with the current Trustees -- after careful vetting by the administration -- putting forth one name to fill each vacancy. Then the real charade: 12 of the candidates are "elected" by the leadership of the Alumni Association and 24 are "elected" by the North Carolina Methodist Church. I cannot fathom why the Church in particular tolerates this falsehood.

Does anyone know what Dan Blue stands for? What is his position on any issue confronting Duke University? Has he ever stood before us in competition with other candidates to tell us why he is better? Indeed, has anyone even heard him speak? In the coming weeks, the Trustees will decide whether to spend more of our endowment each year -- a decision that let us live beyond our current means at the expense of future generations. We learned this only by accident. If the Trustees go forward, it will have a great negative impact upon what we transmit to provide for the greatness of Duke in perpetuity. Where does Mr. Blue stand on this folly?

Mr. Blue also slips in the word "confidential" in describing the board, as if this were the norm. Sir, why is this necessary? Tell us about your counterparts at UNC, for example, who conduct their business in the sunlight. What would be lost if you were to do the same; I see a great deal to be gained. Please post the agenda, report on each vote taken and furnish us with the complete minutes, as steps toward fully open meetings.

In some respects, in my head, I compare the Trustees with the US Senate, both august bodies, deliberative, charged with advice and consent. This analysis collides with reality of course, because our democracy requires the US Senate to meet in public. This openness has helped build our nation and is a source of strength, rather than something to be feared.

I suggest current candidates for undergraduate Young Trustee be asked whether they will make a high priority to inform and persuade other board members of the need to come out of their closet. And that their answers be a key element in whether they gain your vote or not. I was pleased to see in this morning's Chronicle that one of the graduate and professional candidates for Young Trustee, Adrienne Clough, bases her campaign on transparency and accountability for all on the board.

Finally I call upon the leadership of the Alumni Association and the Methodist Church to "elect" as adult trustees only men and women committed to the principles I have outlined.

I am sorry that I find flaws with the substance of Mr. Blue's letter, as enthusiastic as I am about his very good judgment in writing.

✔Fact Checker thanks you for reading and wishes you a good day.

2/1/2010 Student shot, 2 others merely robbed

✔ Fact Checker here.

The late US Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, sociologist at Harvard, MIT and Wesleyan, had a thought that is appropriate this morning.

He spoke of "defining deviancy downward." One article he wrote was entitled "How We've Become Accustomed to Alarming Levels of Crime and Destructive Behavior." He often talked of how, with increasing levels of violence, some crimes seemed normal and only extraordinary crimes brought great revulsion.

Just a year ago, when Durham on Duke violence such as this weekend's shooting and robbery occurred, the Chronicle would immediately post a bulletin.

Now we wait until Monday morning for a story, featuring Larry Moneta weighing in with an excuse that the e-mail system may not have functioned right to inform everyone immediately of great danger in our community. An e-mail required by federal law, by the way.

Chronicle, did you think to ask El-Mo how he discovered this breakdown and what he is doing to fix it. El-Mo, the first e-mail did not get out, did you try a second? (I seem to recall, and do not have time to do research now, that on an earlier crime the e-mail system also failed)

This weekend, we saw a very very serious crime. A student was shot twice. Yes with a BB gun, but a weapon that could blind him if it hit him in the eye, kill him if it hit him in the heart. We can only be grateful the wounds are in his leg. This time.

A student shot. And that doesn't even make the Chronicle's headline or lead paragraph which speak only of a robbery.

And I shall make another point, even though I am sure I will be attacked by the usual suspects who say I blame everything on Brodhead.

Where has he been during this violence. Not only this episode, but others. Has anyone heard our President speak? At the very least, he might say while the thugs did not kill anyone this time, "what they did do was bad enough."

Chronicle, you bear a particular responsibility this morning, on a campus that has recent memories of a graduate student killed, an undergraduate shot with a bullet and now a third student shot twice with a BB gun. Where is your investigation into Duke Police? To the best of my knowledge -- and I can be corrected -- this latest crime occurred precisely in an area that we were assured was going to get increased Duke Police presence.

I ask again: Chronicle have you checked on these increased patrols to determine if they even exist. Have you checked to determine where these extra cops are coming from, promised to the 9th avenue area, to the Trinity Park and Trinity Heights area, and most recently to Central Campus.

Have you inquired why we do not have decoy cops at work? And if we do, why we do not publicize this to scare the bastards away.

This is the job of a newspaper, not to assemble its staff and party on the third floor of Flowers Building.

Get out there and confront Mr Trask, who has direct responsibility for Duke Police: does he still believe we should reduce the number of fully trained, armed professional officers, in favor of cheaper security guards hired by the day from a private company.

✔Fact Checker is not happy.