Brodhead in China ||| Duke's lax lawyers pile it on with 732 more pages of paperwork ||| Peter the Provost zips up on faculty retirement incentives

✔ Fact Checker here. Welcome Fellow Dukies, to the blog that is read every morning -- first thing -- on the 2nd floor of Allen Building.

✔✔ A group of three senior professors in the Arts and Sciences is putting final touches on a petition demanding a formal faculty investigation into the Kunshan Initiative. The timeline is to get faculty to sign on, and present the petition at the next meeting of the faculty senate -- Academic Council -- on April 21.

The first paragraph in the current draft sets the tone quite well, quoting from the minutes of the December, 2009 Council meeting:

“... the Academic Council is not prepared to endorse future plans... until the faculty have had more time to understand fully what it means in terms of cost and other commitments to establish high-quality educational programs in China..."

The petition organizers say the Brodhead Administration has just steam-rollered over faculty and other stakeholders with no strategic plan or participation.

There is particular fear that Kunshan -- and other international initiatives -- are eating into the Arts and Sciences budget on the Durham campus. The generalized statements by interim A and S Dean Alvin Crumbliss on Thursday about a balanced budget did not address these concerns at all.

The petition will pose again a question that has been kicked around since the word Kunshan became part of our vocabulary: is this the best that we can do? Why?

There apparently is a second, similar petition in Fuqua, addressed to Dean Blair Sheppard, and we are urgently trying to pin down information. We are indebted to our Loyal Readers for their continued confidence in giving us so much vital information. Duke.Fact.Checker@gmail.com

✔✔✔ A Duke news release -- personally from the Brodhead Administration's mouthpiece, Michael Schoenfeld, and not
from the news bureau which is the usual formula -- reveals Brodhead is in China for two days of the annual Boao Forum.

Huh? That's what we said, until we used that research tool which Dean Sheppard introduced us to, Wikipedia, to check out Boao. Sometimes Bo'ao. This Forum, apparently put together by bankers and others seeking to do business though-out Asia, likes to identify itself (in the second sentence of the Duke news release) with Davos, the annual Swiss gathering that draws economic heavyweights. This is akin to talking about the Super Bowl and an intramural football game in the same breath.

We checked this news release very carefully, recalling that in 2008 Schoenfeld touted Brodhead's "address" to a "plenary session" of a New York "summit" of leaders concerned with volunteerism. Turns out, this was a Time Magazine publicity stunt, and Brodhead was one of seven speakers plus a five member panel crammed into lunch hour. He spoke for two minutes, 23 seconds. Back in Durham, the Dean of the Arts and Sciences breathlessly told the A and S Council that at that very moment, Brodhead was briefing candidates Barack Obama and John McCain, together, about DukeEngage. No briefing. No together. By about 2,000 miles.

From the Duke PR handout on Boao: Brodhead was invited as a panelist for a Friday session entitled “Rethinking Education: University Presidents vs. Corporate CEOS,” featuring "leaders from business and educational organizations in a discussion of the challenges of educating the next generation of the world’s workforce."

Well, that's what it's about in Schoenfeld-speak. Here's what the official program says: "millions of university graduates cannot find jobs each year." And the panel will explore "should the education system be changed" to address this.

More context: this is one of four conflicting events at the same time, including a reception for the forum heavyweight, former Goldman Sachs honcho and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, rabbi for Duke's own erstwhile board chair Robert King Steel. See, all these people reinforce each other and invite each other around.

The conference is on an island in the South China Sea, southwest of Hong Kong, east of Hanoi, nowhere near Kunshan and we do not know if Brodhead will swoop on by his pet project.

✔✔✔ As it does every year, Duke is milking the loopholes in federal income tax law that allow it to file its returns late. (Yes, non-profits have to file even if they pay no tax.) We are talking about returns for the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2010, and we want to see Form 990. That's the portion that must be made public.

Fellow Dukies, make sure you understand this. The numbers we are waiting for are almost a year old. Duke's auditors (KPMG) signed off on them last October 6th. Executive Vice President Trask used them later that month in his annual report, which leaves out all the good stuff.

We cannot help but believe Duke delays the Form 990's hoping they will go un-noticed. Or perhaps that they will be "stale news" that no one will cover.

Loyal Readers, you must be chuckling by now. You know me too well!!

While limited in scope, Form 990 does yield additional, useful information. It was the source of discovery that Duke paid one lacrosse defense lawyer -- Jamie Gorelik -- $2 million in one year! It also was the source of our expose last year that some administrators were getting h-u-g-e bonuses even though the rest of the campus was experiencing cutbacks and layoffs.

The Academic Council grilled President Brodhead on this, and in a convoluted explanation, he claimed the payments are not bonuses at all. Rather, he said they were "at risk," to be awarded for good performance and withheld if goals are not achieved. If that's not a bonus, then I'm not Fact Checker.

Oh yes, the Form 990's themselves use the word "bonus."

Fellow Dukies, FC has you covered.

✔✔ Buried on Duke PR's website, a hint that Duke may yet cut its gold-plated fringe benefits -- although they are safe in the year ahead. There's only so much money in the pot, explained Kyle Cavanaugh, vp for human resources, and the need to increase salaries may require trimming fringes in the future. "We are pleased that this year, we can once again offer the option for performance-based merit increases, but this is a balancing act that we will continue to face in future years."

Our question is how administrators determined to put the beans in fringe benefits rather than base salary. Was this based on input from employees? Were there surveys? Were there focus groups? Or was there just the Imperial Administration?

A student working in Perkins Library has wondered how the end of the two year wage freeze will affect work-study. Answer: good question. The starting wage in the library system has been $8.25 per hour at the circulation desk, $8.75 in the stacks. There is no word on whether this will change.

President Brodhead -- in the preliminary announcement of the end of the freeze, effective July 1 -- stated "It is appropriate that the whole Duke community should benefit from our improving financial circumstances."

No no no. Not the whole community at all. It will be interesting to see how many people do get raises, as it is based upon evaluation of job performance.

Brodhead will appear for one hour before 200 of Duke's 35,000 employees who manage to get a seat in Reynolds Theatre. Noon on April 27. The royal staff is collecting questions in advance so they can be very carefully screened. FC working on a list of questions to be submitted, even though we are not Duke employees.

Hey Dick, is the new system for awarding pay hikes any different from the one in place three years ago?

You are reading Fact Checker Too. Shorter articles in addition to our traditional in-depth essays. Duke.Fact.Checker@gmail.com

✔✔ The Algernon Sidney Sullivan Award flies under the radar for the most part. It was started generations ago by a New York lawyer (founder of the esteemed Sullivan and Crowell) throughout the south with the original intent of honoring people who work toward racial harmony. Over the years this has broadened to a new definition: "when one goes outside the narrow circle of self-interest and begins to spend oneself for the interests of humankind."

This year's winners at Duke: Sarah Woodard from the office of the chief human rights officer at Duke Medicine, and Barbara Lau, director of the Pauli Murray Project in the office of the Duke Human Rights Center. Both are involved in much more.

✔✔ In the last edition of Fact Checker Too, we told you about eight-month-old Seth Petreikis, coming to Duke from Indiana for life and death thymus transplant surgery. Duke... because it's the only place in the country where this is attempted.

Seth was not able to travel on Monday because of a fever. Doctors are not sure what's causing this because there are not the usual signs of infection. He has no immune system, and the transplant is designed to correct this.

This is big news in the Midwest. We have you covered here too.

✔ The Wall Street Journal headline was "Doctors May Heal Themselves Differently." A report on a study by professors at Duke and the University of Michigan. OK here goes.

The first hypothetical involves colon cancer. 100 people. One treatment option cures 80, 16 are not helped and will die in two years, and four percent will go through hell with a chronic diarrhea and other unpleasantries.

The other option cures 80 people without any complications, but 20 percent will die in two years.

A second hypothetical involves avian flu, with similar choices: a lower risk of death, a higher risk of complications.

The study shows that doctors pick the option of the higher death risk for themselves, but recommend just the opposite treatment for patients. Duke's Peter Ubel: "When you put on the doctor hat," it changes how you decide.

✔ The latest version of the federal budget -- which will guide us through six months until the next fiscal year -- shows substantial cuts in areas that would seem to impact Duke.

We stress this is only one version -- the $40 billion or so compromise -- likely to get worked over a bit more by that wonderful institution we call democracy.

National Institutes of Health, cut $260 million.

National Science Foundation, cut $53 million.

Americorp (Teach for America) cut $23 million, narrowly escaping extinction.

Pell Grants saved at $5,550 max, but students who have managed to double-dip are out of luck.

✔ We've heard plenty about the federal debt, something like $14.26 trillion and growing since you started to read this sentence. Well the New York Times reports that for the first time, student debt for college loans has hit $1 trillion. In the article, a husband and wife who both borrowed, and their monthly payments exceed their mortgage.

Here's the problem, not necessarily at Duke: the more loans that are available and the higher Pell grants go, colleges and universities feel they can continue to suck up all the new cash with tuition increases far in excess of inflation. It amounts to a giant transfer of wealth -- from poor students to middle class and upper middle class faculty.

✔✔✔ From a Deputy Fact Checker: We had high hopes for Peter the Provost when we first heard him pledge "transparency" during the fiscal crisis. In fact Duke's TV cameras captured his words, transmitted them via the internet, and they are on file in the FC database.

Couple, please, this pledge with the incentive program for senior faculty to retire, to make possible hiring of new blood that would not otherwise occur with tight budgets.

The Chronicle tried several times (as did FC) to get details. Each time Peter ducked, saying the full program was not yet in place.

This seemed odd, since professors were getting offers simultaneously with the Provost's assertion he did not know the dimensions of the program.

Move forward. This semester Fact Checker again has asked Peter for details. We have one report -- we are not able to confirm -- that some professors walked off with $1 million and more.

Peter the Provost has zipped up, becoming Peter the Silent. Members of the Brodhead Administration ignore e-mails that they think will result in essays that are not favorable to them. Notice I said to them, not to Duke.

We do not think Peter, the PR department, the Dean of Fuqua and the others should try to censor people who speak with differing conclusions, by refusing to provide information.

Peter, we had expected better from you. Shame.

✔✔✔ Defense lawyers representing Duke in the continuing lax litigation apparently didn't hear the judge two weeks ago when he said keep it simple from now on.

On Thursday, Duke's lawyers filed 732 more pages of legalese in two of the lacrosse lawsuits. Hell, when I'm being paid by the hour, I write long stories too.

For the first time, Duke is contending that its leadership did not know a Duke police sergeant gave Durham cops key-card data showing team members movements around campus after the party with stripper Crystal Gail Mangum.

Just so happens, disgusting disgraced dishonest disbarred D-A Michael Nifong issued subpoenas for the same information months later. The lawyers for the players say Duke cooked up this strategy (conspired is the word) with Nifong to hide the original disclosure.

Duke told the judge it wanted a court order before releasing medical records of Miss Mangum (now resident of the Durham jail, floor four, awaiting murder charges). These are relevant to the conduct of Rape Nurse Trainee Tara Levicy. She concocted her own medical scenario to support Mangum's false claim of rape.

732 pages. We told you Duke's tactic is to wiggle, delay, obfuscate and try to wear out the plaintiffs. It is spending H U G E sums of money on these lawsuits.

Bottom line: we want Brodhead and former Trustee chair Bob Steel under oath, under subpoena, bringing records, testifying in depositions about their roles.

✔ Promotion from within. Tim Walsh has been named Vice President for Finance, replacing Hof Milam who departed for a senior position at his alma mater, Wake Forest. Walsh has been an assistant VP and university controller for six years. Graduate of Notre Dame, MBA Virginia. Staff: 375 people.

✔✔ There's no end to the turbulence abroad. In Cairo -- which Duke says is OK for students and teachers again -- extreme violence rocked the main Tahir Square. That's very close to the Egyptian Museum with its King Tut treasures and the best tourist hotels along the Nile.

In China, the repression grows, though we all know Kunshan will be an island of illumination. The latest: violent arrests of hundreds of people who tried to pray in public after their unauthorized Christian church was seized.