✔✔✔✔✔ Fuqua Dean Blair Sheppard -- after weeks of refusing to answer Fact Checker questions about Kunshan -- has circulated a Q and A with several of the issues we raised. We are analyzing this and will have a full report soon.
DEVELOPING: At least two Dukies reportedly arrested at Penn State University, allegedly in possession of a $4,000 WalMart scanner and other items. FC working on tip; no confirmation.
✔✔✔✔ President Brodhead's raised two questions -- and answered none -- with his e-mail on the two-year-old wage freeze.
First, he said the financial meltdown "brought us a period of profound uncertainty."
That's a radically different assessment than he has offered stakeholders before, and you have to wonder why he did not level with us earlier:
✔ December 21, 2008 Press Release: ".... Duke continues to enjoy 'great strength and stability'...”
“Duke is fortunate to have responsible, prudent and creative leadership of both our investments and operations, which has shielded us from some of the worst aspects of this crisis and makes it possible to continue our forward momentum.”
“All of us have been through a mix of better times and leaner times,” Brodhead said.
✔ March 1, 2009 e-mail: "Duke faces financial challenges and constraints..."
"I am confident that Duke will be able to navigate through these difficulties..."
✔ April 21, 2010 message to alumni at their reunions: "... I am pleased to report that we have made significant progress in meeting our economic challenge. As the economy has strengthened, our endowment has returned to a positive performance and in the first nine months of the fiscal year has recovered a considerable portion of the previous year's decline, thus reducing the size of our anticipated deficit."
✔✔✔ The second question that Brodhead raised is one that every employee might ask himself or herself: "Hey, am I going to get a raise or not?"
Brodhead said there would be merit raises, the details announced in the coming months. Boy, what a hornet's nest, trying to evaluate a professor!
In speaking to the Chronicle, Peter the Provost was also vague, saying each school and department would get a three percent increase in its budget -- for salaries and other expenditures. It's unclear, for example, if only a few employees -- including faculty -- in the Law School, for example, qualified if individual raises could then be greater.
The President did not say if lower paid and higher paid employees who qualify will all get the same percentage increase, which is a key moral issue on this campus. The financial meltdown has squeezed some employees far more than others, some being in a position to be more flexible in their personal finances and tolerate the disruption.
We are also left guessing about university-wide benefit plans -- most notably the gold plated medical insurance -- which will be devouring most of the money available for employees. There was also no indication of reform in the most abusive of the fringe benefits, extra payments of tens of thousands of dollars -- regardless of income level -- if the employee has a kid in college. These payments should be indexed to Duke's need blind admissions policy, with a cut-off for people making more than $120,000.
✔✔✔✔✔ When Duke Law School's Class of 1961 gathers next week for its 50th reunion, there may be some eyebrows raised when the Dean's Alumni Achievement Award is presented.
The winner is Stanley Star, drop-out. Yes, not an attorney, not a judge, not a professor.
A drop-out, no degree, no law license. Star departed after only one year at Duke Law; while we have no idea why, it could not have been tuition which was then $800 a year. (That's correct, $800 a year.)
Star returned to his family's winery in upstate New York and grew the business into one of the largest producers of supermarket-brand fruit juices in the nation.
Over the years Duke Law has squeezed him for plenty.
There's the Star Professorship, the Star Scholarship, and the Star Commons, the stunning glass pavilion that appeared when Duke Law got a face job. Currently Star has silently pledged matching money to people who want to give professorships in their own names.
Under Duke's rules, Star is considered an alum and allowed to put his class year after his name. No telling what Stanley Star '61 might have contributed if he had graduated!
✔ Another big time Law School donor will also be honored -- David Noble '66 on his 45th anniversary. He is one of the few Duke Law alumni in the Lanty Smith Society, admission price $1 million. His family's wealth comes from Rubbermaid, which is bigger than we thought (30,000 employees, $7.2 billion in sales).
See, you thought the school was about the Rule of Law. It's the Rule of the Almighty Dollar!
✔✔ Speaking of the Law School, it is sponsoring a VERY expensive summer school in Geneva with Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia on the faculty. He will join in teaching two courses, "Separation of Powers" and "Copyright in International Law."
There is no word on precisely how much time Scalia will spend in Geneva before taking a steamship back to the US. (He does travel in the 19th century, you know, no jet planes)
Students have the option of two weeks (one course, tuition $2,250) or four weeks (two courses, tuition $4,500).
That's only the start. There's a $300 registration fee, an extra fee of $225 if you are not a resident of the US (we have no idea why this exists), and a mandatory college hotel bill of $3,500 for a single / $2,500 to share including breakfast. The hotel does not sound too swift, advertising that clean sheets and towels are included. Plus it's 20 minutes away from the classrooms.
A boat trip on Lake Geneva is thrown in (a boring trip out to the Jet d'Eau, and even though it spurts 459 feet into the air, it's not that scenic compared to the wonderful vistas in the rest of Switzerland.)
And you are on your own for airfare to and from Europe.
Loans are available.
There is a similar institute in Hong Kong on Asian-American Transnational Law. Bring $$$$.
You are reading Fact Checker Too, shorter items, many compiled by the Deputy Fact Checkers. FCToo will appear frequently, not every day though, and will be in addition to our in-depth analytical essays. Send contributions, comments to Duke.Fact.Checker@gmail.com
✔✔ From Forbes Magazine, the business side of Duke men's basketball. We took in more money ($26.7 million last year) than any other college basketball program in the country. #2 Louisville $25.9 million -- but that's with the 22,000-seat KFC Yum! Center, and Yum! Brands paying $13.5 million in naming rights.
RESEARCH -- Studying the Amazon and its surrounding forests and savannas, Duke's Jill Anderson has uncovered a new way that seeds migrate -- in rare cases 5.5 kilometers from the mother tree. (That's 3.4 miles for the non-scientific readers)
Anderson credits a fish called a tambaqui, also called a gamitana, for eating fruit, keeping it in its gut, and then delivering poop -- including the seed -- far away as it looks for more food.
Important stuff as forests are ripped apart by the advance of civilization (so to speak), with many patches left isolated from each other in danger of losing their bio-diversity.
Warning: the seeds are carried best by larger fish, which are being depleted. In fact 90 percent of the tambaqui are gone in some areas.
RESEARCH - From Duke Medicine, a low powered laser (actually two beams) that can spot melanomas (skin cancer) by uncovering pigmentation irregularities the human eye cannot spot. Initial tests on 42 slides showed 100 percent accuracy in finding 11 cancers.
BOTTLED WATER. Dean Bill Chameides, Nicholas School of the Environment, says 40 percent of bottled water is municipal water straight from the tap -- just jazzed up and marketed. Moreover, bottled water, regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, is tested less rigorously than tap water, under the Environmental Protection Agency.
In a survey last year, the student group Environmental Alliance found just over 70 percent of Duke students preferred the taste of good old Durham city water over bottled.
✔ When we discussed Dukies in Japan during the quake and tsunami, we mentioned that the closest reactor to our campus is at NC State. Used for training nuclear engineers, the power generated is used for heating.
A Loyal Reader tells us that this reactor is actually the fourth that NC State has had; the first had a significant, scary problem.
The first started up on September 5, 1953, but less than two years later, monitors picked up a radioactive leak. The reactor was quickly shut down, and its fuel removed to Oak Ridge National Lab for study. Turns out, the fuel had a high concentration of chloride, which corroded the pipes.
After a faculty shake-up, a new reactor was built, and replaced two times. NC State recently got permission to fire up its 4th reactor (fire up? Is that the correct term?) to produce twice as much power.
The closest commercial nuke power plant is the Harris generator in New Hill, Wake County, 20 miles southwest of Raleigh. It's been operative since 1987. In 2008, Progress Energy (soon to be taken over by Duke Energy) got permission to operate the plant through the year 2147.
✔✔ Duke PR is spinning this story, hillarious, as a big positive step forward: 24 hour machines will vend stamps and let you weigh mail, how convenient, at the Duke South post office in the medical center's Green Zone. (Near Medical Records.) What's really happening is the branch is closing effective June 30, to be replaced by a kiosk.
✔✔ Charles Reinhart, president of the American Dance Festival since 1968, will step down after this summer's season. In case you did not know, that's at Duke and, in recent years, also at Durham's Performing Arts Center. Interesting tidbit from his resume: he's an alumnus of Rutgers, the branch in grimy Newark NJ. See, you never know where genius is hatched.
✔ The following event is being held on April 1st, and it is not an April Fool's joke. It is the Edible Book Festival in the Perkins Gothic Reading Room, which as you might imagine involves something looking like a book that you can actually eat. There are prizes, including most edible, least edible, puniest. The festival is a fund-raiser, now in its 12th year.
Check out last year's entries. Some pretty cool, one very gross.
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