Several senior members of the faculty -- including at least three with endowed chairs -- have begun to draft a petition demanding a full investigation of the Kunshan Initiative. On Tuesday night, there was a flurry of e-mails being circulated in a direct challenge to the leadership of President Brodhead, if not tacitly a vote of no confidence. One source told a Deputy Fact Checker the petition could also be seen as a rebuke of Provost Peter Lange.
The senior professors say that they anticipate that in the next few days, hundreds of additional faculty will sign on. Their desire is to get the Academic Council or perhaps the Arts and Sciences Council to undertake the mission. One e-mail included this line: "Let me emphasize: the faculty could establish such a committee, regardless of whether the senior administration welcomes it or not. We are not their puppets."
Fact Checker could not reach the chair nor chair-elect of the Academic Council Tuesday evening. Deputies assigned for Wednesday.
The professors have multiple concerns, including a drain of resources and focus away from the mother campus in Durham while Duke pursues international adventures in Kunshan as well as nine other world cities. They note there is a crimp on the Arts and Sciences budget already, and it is likely to get worse when the Trustees vote in May on the budget starting July 1.
The administration has been most vague in stating whether Kunshan is consuming Durham resources. One of the most definitive denials came in a press release ten days ago reporting on statements by President Brodhead -- but within hours the assurance that Duke-Durham's budget was secure was dropped and the news release re-posted.
The professors are also angered by the failure of the Brodhead Administration to involve the faculty with planning, as required by courtesy and established principles of governance.
One of the e-mails circulated Tuesday night was a copy of correspondence with President Brodhead, who dismissed concerns of one key faculty member by saying he was entitled to his views, but "I don't share them."
"Are faculty to understand, then, that you "don't share" the view that they ought to be involved in a decision-making process of such magnitude as the Kunshan initiative? If so, considerations of honesty and clarity would dictate that you tell them expressly that they are no longer enfranchised in conceiving, deliberating, and deciding on matter of strategic planning in a timely fashion."
Fact Checker has an incomplete list of the professors involved; we have permission to use only one name so far, and Deputy Fact Checkers are following up on a dozen more. We did not want to use the one name, lest undue focus be put on this one professor.
Significantly, the senior faculty involved are not within the Fuqua School of Business, where for weeks, there has been rumbling over the grandiose sweep of ambition by Dean Blair Sheppard. One source in Fuqua -- given a copy of a key document late Tuesday evening-- responded "wow." A source on the other said of campus said the same thing. "Wow."
Mr. Brodhead was in New York last night at a routine alumni gathering. His remarks were brief, and there was no opportunity for questions before the Alumni Department shifted the focus to a "conversation" between the President and a behavioral scientist. The Department has used this format for more than a year to isolate Brodhead.
Fact Checker does not yet have a complete report on last week's Alumni Reunions; but it appears Brodhead skipped the traditional, annual "State of the University" address for the first time. Certainly the routine press release was not issued.
Check back for updates.