Surprise! FC thought this blog would be out of commission for ten days or so during a sailing and fishing vacation; but alas, the internet is accessible.
Full disclosure: FC believes the Fuqua faculty should withhold approval of academic courses to be offered in Kunshan, bringing about a moratorium of at least one year so the entire Initiative can be reviewed. As the June 20th vote in the Fuqua Business School approaches, we will post a detailed analysis.
✔✔✔ Loyal Readers, usually we report on events as they unfold. Today, the story is what has not occurred.
A) The Brodhead Administration has made no response whatsoever to the liberation of a secret consultant's report that impeaches its financial calculations for Kunshan. As Loyal Readers know, FC got this report from a mole and promptly offered copies to anyone who requested one. The consultant found Chinese would be willing to spend, on average, $15,000 a year for a masters degree. This is consistent with the $15,000 range that the Ministry of Education has specified for tuition in applications from other universities. But Duke's Planning Guide calls for tuition of $46,000 for one small academic program, and more than $41,000 for the biggest. The difference means huge increases in the already substantial subsidies Duke is ripping out of Durham to send to Kunshan. Silence, Uncle Dick, silence.
B) While the Deputy Dean in Fuqua has stated that "all" documentation on Kunshan has been surrendered to two committees studying two possible degrees, the committees themselves have refused to detail for FC what they have received. And the committees have shared no documents at all with the faculty, which meets June 1 to discuss the Initiative and June 20 to vote on it. It seems the discussion would be more useful if it were fully informed.
C) Dick Brodhead has done nothing to enable the current dialogue on campus, but has done much to disdain it.
✔✔ Fact Checker sought out two professors in the Fuqua Business School -- one in favor of starting two masters degree programs in the fall of 2012, the other in favor of a moratorium to delve into very substantial questions that surround the Initiative.
Questions? Academic freedom for one. One professor in the Arts and Sciences has noted he assigns reading about the Dali Lama every year, and there is no assurance someone on campus who tried to Google the name of the religious leader would not be arrested by the Chinese government.
The words of the two professors in the coming paragraphs are a preview of the lively discussion likely to occur on Wednesday, June 1 when the faculty gathers in extraordinary session to discuss Duke's entry into China. And on June 20th, the faculty -- about 95 people who are tenured, in tenure track positions or Professors of the Practice -- will vote in secret. If there is an affirmative vote, the elected university wide faculty senate, the Academic Council, will go through the same process in the fall.
After an e-mail against the Initiative circulated in Fuqua, according to our sources, only two professors spoke up in favor of the Initiative. They include Paul Zipkin, the R.J. Reynolds Professor in Business Administration:
"Right, I'm a supporter of the Kunshan initiative. Not wholehearted, not uncritical, not unreservedly optimistic, etc., but overall a supporter."
We wrote Professor Zipkin back, saying we thought that with reservations like that, he was a candidate to vote for the moratorium, rather than supporting the two degrees. He replied that he did not share that view:
"I've been saying for many years that Fuqua and Duke should do *something* in other countries, especially China. I have tried to push this or that program, but without much success. I see other major U.S. universities doing much more than Duke, with considerable success.
"So, my support of the Kunshan initiative comes mainly from the fact that it's *something* in approximately the right direction.
"As for how it's been done, here are my thoughts. Duke is a big organism with lots of moving parts. China is a much bigger organism with vastly more moving parts. To make anything happen between them is a huge undertaking. A lot of internal communication is necessary, but you can't communicate with everybody all the time. So, compared to the ways such things get done elsewhere, I think Brodhead & Co. have handled it in a satisfactory way. Not perfect, but satisfactory.
"I read somewhere the claim that Yale handled its undertaking in Singapore more openly. That's amusing. I can tell you that the Yale community is just as split and upset as we are. (Fact Checker is preparing a major analysis of this.)
"The people in Fuqua who are worried about it seem mainly worried about the money. We've seen various financial projections. Having seen (and made) many of these financial projections over the years, I think they are almost all ridiculous. None of us understands the market for our products, not even the domestic market. With Kunshan we're introducing a whole new product in a new country. We can't possibly know what will happen.
"So, the projections are wild guesses. The reason this doesn't bother me is, such things are *always* wild guesses.
"Plus, if we *don't* do Kunshan, the future is hardly more predictable. In sum, this is a highly entrepreneurial venture, and there's no way to avoid that.
"Plus, I like Chinese food.
"My main hesitation is, I wish we had more people on our side who understand the country, the culture, etc. We have some, but not enough. And, we have not always used the expertise we have in the wisest ways."
✔ The FC analysis: As the chair of the Academic Council, Associate Professor Craig Henriquez has noted, he cannot find a "champion" of Kunshan anywhere on the faculty. We certainly did not find such a supporter in Professor Zipkin. Assuming he is right in saying we must do *something*, that is a big leap away from supporting the Kunshan Initiative -- the creation of a new university to serve Chinese, the first in a Duke network around the globe.
And Zipkin's statement that other schools have met with great success is selective, neglecting schools like Johns Hopkins and Michigan State that have packed up and returned home.
There is also a list of Duke failures; one only has to look in President Brodhead's major address on international aspirations in 2007 to see him list with pride programs that have since all failed: partnerships with London School of Economics, the Goethe-University Frankfurt Faculty of Economics and Business, and the Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad. And budding programs with the Faculty of Economics and Management at Tsinghua and the new Skolkovo Business School in Moscow.
✔✔ Now, the opposite view. Professor Allan Lind is the James L. Vincent Professor of Leadership in Fuqua. He favors a moratorium, and he responded to our initial e-mail:
"I think Dean Sheppard thinks we have to be physically present in (Kunshan and eight or more other international cities) to be a great university; he misses the point that we are and will be a great university because of the quality of our research and teaching. If we invested the money we are thinking of spending on Kunshan and (the other global cities) in resources to improve our research and teaching here in Durham, we would be even more widely recognized as a great global university, in my opinion."
Professor Lind offered this analysis in an e-mail to all his Fuqua colleagues:
"The arguments in support of the initiative, advanced in documents like the Duke-Kunshan Planning Guide, (provide) benefit to the Fuqua School and the University only when one makes optimistic — in my view unrealistically optimistic — assumptions. Given the investment of money and time involved in the Duke-Kunshan initiative, as well as the substantial risk to Duke’s reputation, we need evidence, not just hopeful assumptions, to justify proceeding with the project.
"We faculty of the Fuqua School have not been given any real marketing data or any objective analysis of what the consequences might be if some or all of these very optimistic assumptions do not prove to be correct. What we have been given is, in my opinion, a “sales brochure” that highlights potential (but unproven) positive consequences of the initiative while ignoring or discounting most of the potential negative consequences."
✔✔ FC agrees. The version of the Duke Kunshan Planning Guide surrendered to the Academic Council in March -- after FC broke the secrecy in February -- omits some of the very strong language from earlier versions warning about financial uncertainty.
And Deputy Fact Checkers have learned that two consultants whose reports remain secret both threw up red flags too. The Boston Consulting Group said our "price point" is troublesome; ironically the Brodhead Administration shared its estimated tuition with the consultants, but won't tell us what it is. And the Huron Consulting Group warned Kunshan will not be self-supporting and will need subsidies.
✔✔ As for the often heard faculty complaint that President Brodhead, Peter the Provost and Fuqua's Dean Blair Sheppard rolled right over everyone, Zipkin wrote: "Right, we always say we want administrators to communicate more with us. (And, when they do, we complain about too many meetings.) But as I said above, my expectations are not very high, and I think they did an ok job of this."
While FC appreciates Professor Zipkin's interest and time, his arguments in favor of the Kunshan Initiative ring hollow. As President Brodhead has stated, this is the biggest strategic move for Duke since James B. Duke created the institution in 1924. This merits more than an "OK job" to be judged by "expectations (that) are not very high."
We add we are most disappointed in the tone this debate is taking on -- even among senior faculty. From Zipkin: "I think Prof. Pfau (Thomas Pfau, a leader of the faculty seeking a moratorium) and his colleagues would be more effective working quietly than making public spectacles."
For the record, Fact Checker believes Professor Pfau has provided great service to this university in leading the debate, and we thank him.
Thank you for reading FC. Have a good day!