Search words: Duke Fact Checker Duke University Kunshan Richard Brodhead.
✔✔ President Brodhead and his wife, Cynthia Brodhead (this is the official, preferred style, rather than President and Mrs. Brodhead), are planning a lavish three-week official trip to Europe, Asia and Africa starting in late June.
Mrs. Brodhead will be on business too. She is "senior adviser for external relations" in the President's Office, earning $132,500 a year. Fact Checker believes she is the first Presidential spouse at Duke with her own salary.
Details are scarce. In fact, there is a total blackout on news, with the principal mouthpiece for Brodhead, Michael Schoenfeld, declining to provide any information whatsoever. We had explained to Schoenfeld that we thought it important to hear from him or the President about the purpose of the trip and what might be accomplished. No dice. Of course, that only caused the Deputy Fact Checkers to work harder.
✔ The trip will begin just after a crucial June 20 vote in the Fuqua Business School, with its faculty deciding whether to go ahead with academic programs in Kunshan. Fact Checker is working intensively on this and will have frequent posts.
One stop for the Brodheads is Singapore, where we believe the President will attend graduation of the first class at the Duke - National University of Singapore Medical School. But information is so tight that when we e-mailed the school for the date of graduation, we were told it could not be disclosed. Yes, this is correct, the date of graduation is a secret. (Seeing our post, a loyal reader in Singapore promptly wrote in giving us three dates for various graduations involving the same candidates for MD degrees. As a Washington Post editor once stated, we can only write what people tell us and what we can find out. So maybe graduation is July 4.)
The trip is notable for its length: three weeks with stops in London, Shanghai, Wuhan, Singapore, Kilimanjaro and Entebbe. We have no specific information about Kunshan, but we assume that he'll take time from Shanghai to visit the boondocks.
It is also notable because Brodhead was in China in mid-April, a trip that took almost a full week from his schedule. It raises the substantial issue of whether his international aspirations are diluting the focus of his administration back home in Durham.
✔ Our mole in the middle of Allen Building says the trip is notable because of its cost. Brodhead's airfare is $14,315.80. His wife's is slightly less because she is skipping a side-trip to Wuhan, location of the university that is Duke's silent partner in Kunshan, and remaining in Shanghai. This huge expenditure for travel -- on a Duke credit card -- comes at a time when there is a crimp on faculty travel for scholarly conferences and research, with the Arts and Sciences budget for this being slashed from $500,000 per year to $100,000. Individual professors with personal contracts providing for travel have also had cutbacks.
The trip was booked through a travel agent who rents a desk in a prominent Raleigh travel agency. It qualifies as a minority business, so dealing with this agent sure beats going to the posh suburbs north of Chicago where Duke once made travel arrangements through an agency owned by a Trustee.
We have the specific flights and hotels but are withholding that voluntarily. That's our own contribution to security. Lavish, even for a President who has taken extensive foreign trips before on Duke's credit cards, including the Taj Mahal.
The Brodhead's will fly business class; we have been unsuccessful in getting a copy of the university first class travel policy, but that may be moot because almost all of their flights have only business and coach. (FC news alert: There is new information about the Athletic Department's use of private jets emerging.)
✔ We know Brodhead will be in London at the Tate Museum on June 26th, a date made public by the Alumni Department for another in the "The Duke Idea" series of meetings. In our view, the idea is to quickly move from Mr. Brodhead's making a few remarks at an alumni gathering, into a structured program that precludes any pesky questions.
In various cities, various topics have been explored. In Miami, for example, The Duke Idea wound up being the local art scene. The set includes two big chairs on an Oriental rug, set in front of a bay window with leaded panes. We assume this is to replicate the President's office, which is silly since only a sliver of the people at Duke ever get in the door and have any idea at all what it is like.
✔ From London, the Brodheads hop to Shanghai for five days, interrupted by a two day excursion to Wuhan. As noted above, Mrs. Brodhead will not make this side-trip. The Alumni Department publicly lists another "Duke Idea" in Shanghai at the JW Marriott Hotel on July 1.
✔ After Shanghai, the trip takes the Brodheads to Singapore, where there is another "Duke Idea" on July 5. It will be interesting to note if the trip embraces the medical school commencement, if the National University, our partner in the successful joint venture there, gives Brodhead an honorary degree. This would be tit for tat for the degree given to the NUS president a week ago in Durham, and only the fourth for Brodhead.
After Singapore, there is a very hard trip to Africa, necessitating a connection in Amsterdam. So there are two flights back to back, 13 hours and 11 hours, plus the layover. Fact Checker -- as someone who has flown extensively, with 1.6 million miles on American Airlines alone in the past 25 years -- can tell you this is a killer.
✔ In Africa, the Brodheads first go to Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania, where the Duke Global Health Institute has an outpost principally focused on AIDS research. Next, to Entebbe, Uganda, where the Global Health Institute, Duke Engage and Duke Engineers without Borders all have outposts.
Finally another killer day in the air, from Entebbe to London and back home. On these flights, the Brodheads can plan their vacation, away from the campus for some more weeks.
Fact Checker has conflicting information on whether any staff members will travel with the Brodheads. We also have conflicting information on staff members meeting Brodhead in various cities, particularly for the Duke Idea programs. On his India trip, the PR department tried to offer extensive coverage, including a blog. That was in a more favorable atmosphere, however, without the concern about over-extension internationally.
✔ Thank you for reading FC. All summer. No vacation. Check by frequently.