Chronicle discovers Duke folly in Kunshan, does major story at last

✔ ✔ ✔ Fact Checker here. The following are comments on today's lead story in the Chronicle, but can also be read alone.

✔ Many of Professor Henriquez's comments are disappointing. He is chair of the Academic Council, the faculty senate, which waged a decades-long battle to gain a voice in university governance, culminating in the adoption of the Christie Principles.

How can he be satisfied with the crumb the administration tossed the Council at its last meeting: 23 pages of a 47 page "Planning Guide for Kunshan? Why isn't he demanding release of the full document?

Why doesn't Henriquez want to know why on Kunshan -- unlike every other major initiative this University has undertaken since Terry Sanford -- why there was no intense period of collaboration with all stakeholders involved.

He says faculty members are not as enthused as they should be at the moment. That's an understatement: there is a revolt against this folly.

✔ Dr. Trask is the smart one. He hedged and dodged when The Chronicle asked about the financial projections.

This is a new university dedicated to educating Chinese in their own homeland; almost all of the income will be from tuition. And as Trask knows full well, buried in the 23 pages, there's word that a consultant that Duke itself hired has stated the "price point" is too high -- that is, we are trying to charge too much tuition and the result will be the entire house of cards collapses. Dr. Trask, release that consultant's report in full. You do it, before Fact Checker does.

Dr Trask, FC calls upon you to put on a website ALL the changing financial promises from Kunshan. From the "free ride" that administrators dangled before us, to newer requirements that Duke put up 55 percent of operating deficits. From Zero cost to tens of millions.

And while you are at it, Dr Trask, tell us how you can possibly feel reassured that after six years of deficits and ten years of free rent, Kunshan will renew rather than leaving Duke holding the bag. Or for that matter, what guarantee do we have of ANY Kunshan contribution to expansion of the original campus, as is planned?

✔ Vice President Jones is missing from today's story. Head of all of our global aspirations, I am still waiting for him to confirm or deny that he called Wuhan University a "weak" partner. In briefing the Academic Council, Jones mentioned three possibilities, and by process of elimination, FC believes Wuhan is the "weak" one -- chosen in desperation by the Brodhead Administration after a year long agreement with another school to be our sponsor shriveled.

✔ Dean Sheppard is missing from today's story. He is the driving force behind all of this absurdity. Yet with respect to Kunshan, we now know he is having behind the scenes, secret, clandestine negotiations with Shanghai. The reason: his premiere Cross Continent MBA and MMS in finance will not "work" if located in the backwater.

And it is not only Kunshan. And Shanghai. Sheppard's list of places where he is planting Fuqua goes on and on -- 10 world cities all done in one swoop.

London, Dubai, New Delhi, St. Petersburg, Kunshan, Shanghai, Nanjing. The new university vice president for global affairs, Greg Jones, visited Brazil recently, we believe the city of Sao Paulo. Then there is Seoul, where an executive education program is underway. And Johannesburg, for Global Academic Travel Experience (GATE) elective courses, and Global Consulting Practicums which have flown under the radar.

Did someone say grandiose?

And lest we forget, when President Brodhead addressed the faculty on internationalization in 2007, he cited with pride Fuqua's programs with the London School of Economics, the Goethe-University Frankfurt Faculty of Economics and Business, Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad, as well as nascent deals with the Faculty of Economics and Management at Tsinghua, China and the new Skolkovo Business School in Moscow.

All of those have dropped off the radar. Failed. Cost millions. Though the dream behind them lives, described by Brodhead as "making Duke the hub in a wheel that connects the world’s main emerging economies."

Did someone say grandiose?

✔ Now, to address whether money being spent on Kunshan is torn from the budget for Duke/Durham, the answer is yes. There is no separate money tree for Kunshan.

Mr. Schoenfeld, here is a paragraph from a recent news release issued by your office on a Saturday morning -- and retracted Saturday afternoon. Why won't you tell FC the reason you edited out these words before re-posting on Sunday?

"Duke's financial commitment to the project is not expected to affect other areas of the university, (Brodhead) said, even in the middle of ongoing budget tightening."

✔ I have never heard of Virgil Adams. He seems to have no connection with Duke whatsoever. Only God knows how he bubbled up and got into the Chronicle this morning.

Adams compares Kunshan to the Silicon Valley, except he seems to forget one dimension. Silicon Valley was built on brains, innovation. Kunshan is merely a point of assembly for computers and other products, low-level repetitive work by un-educated people fleeing rural life, hoping for fulfillment in the cities, and finding vast disappointment and depression.

It was rather interesting to find out that there has been little publicity about the Duke venture in Kunshan itself; I thought this was the city's future.

In fact, as Kunshan's wages go up (and they have) sharks like Adams are being driven further into the vast center of China to exploit cheap labor. The much talk about success in Kunshan is the formula for its own death.

✔ ✔ Now President Brodhead, you are not going to escape this morning. Did you perhaps see the article in the Wall St Journal yesterday and other newspapers coast to coast, that China has swiped one of its leading artists off the streets. Not him alone, in the past few months "thousands" have simply disappeared. Can you explain, sir, how Duke Kunshan University will be an island of freedom left untouched by one of the most repressive governments on earth.

✔ And finally, Chronicle, with the buildings going up in Kunshan, finally, why don't you inquire about the working conditions and pay for the construction crews? And the locals who will be support staff for the new university when it is built.

✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ Thank you for reading Fact Checker. Go Duke. and Go to Hell DKU.