FC now estimates cost of Brodhead spree in Europe, Asia and Africa at $250,000

✔ FC here. Good day!

Duke's public relations apparatus has refused to give FC a list of Duke officials along for the ride, accompanying President Brodhead and his wife on their unprecedented three-week summer-time spree to Europe, Asia and Africa. But at least a news release now concedes other "officials" are on board too, a step beyond what the ultra-secretive administration has taken before.

Duke PR has also refused to give FC information about the cost of the trip -- which we -- using actual figures provided to us by a mole in the middle of Allen Building and estimates -- now put at more than $250,000. It is interesting to note that when the fiscal crisis began at Duke, the initial University response was to say travel would be limited.

So who'se tagging along on this adventure, in whole or in part:

✔ Cynthia Brodhead, who is paid $132,500 a year for spousal duties and has the title "senior adviser for external affairs."

✔ Vice President for public relations and obfuscation Michael Schoenfeld. One report has Mrs. Schoenfeld aboard too, but we cannot confirm this yet.

✔ Alyssa Zamora, a Duke PR person and speech-writer specializing in international news. She is technically assigned to Duke Global Health Institute.

✔ Sterly Wilder, executive director of alumni. We also have information two other Alumni Department staffers are on the trip.

✔ Dr. Michael Merson, and perhaps Mrs. Merson. He is the founding head of Global Health, and is filling in for one year as VP, Global Adventures, given the resignation of Rev. Greg Jones for health reasons.

✔ Kimerly Rorschach, director of the Nasher Museum. We have reports that as many as three curators are with her.

✔ Dean Blair Sheppard of the Fuqua Business School. We have no information yet about his wife, Dr. Martha Putallaz, who wears several hats, including director of the Duke TIP program (Talent Identification Program for kids).

We believe there are others.

✔ The trip began last Friday, and some of the hangers-on have filed "stories" onto a blog. The URL is one of the best kept secrets at Duke -- and a Deputy Fact Checker trying to find out the URL was treated with great suspicion on several phone calls.

Alas, we found out:


Don't bother to look. This is pathetic. Schoenfeld, for example, wrote 167 relevant words, including, gee whiz, from London, leading with the news that Artists Thomas Gainsborough, Sir Anthony Van Dyck and Joseph Wright of Derby were not on hand at the Tate Museum to greet the Brodheads.

Gainsborough, deceased 1788. VanDyck, deceased 1641. And Joseph Wright of Derby, deceased 1797.

Stirly Wilder's blog is no better. Not specific to London, jumping from paragraph to paragraph looking for justification.

✔ The entourage has now flown from London to Shanghai, upper class on Virgin Atlantic, which is about as good as it gets in the air. The jet featured all leather seats that, with the touch of a button, go completely flat and then turn over to reveal a seven foot plus long bed made up with fresh sheets. And in case you ever noticed on a plane that someone getting up disturbs you, or someone walking by in the aisle brushes you, well there is none of that; everyone is surrounded by a three foot high partition.

Luxurious, yes, but for $14,315.80, which we have previously reported as the price of Brodhead's airfare alone, charged to a Duke credit card, you'd expect it!

Shanghai. Loyal Readers, notice FC said Shanghai and not "the city next door," the backwater of Kunshan where the Duke administration hopes to open the first international campus. We hope Brodhead takes careful notes as he travels to Kunshan, and then tries to find something to do in the town.

The hotel in Shanghai merits mention: the spectacular 60-story, JW Marriott in the sector of the teeming city of 22 or more million people known as Tomorrow City. Cheapest room we can find: $647 a night. That of course is only an ordinary room, not a suite.

✔ In Shanghai and Singapore, as in London earlier, Brodhead will hold alumni club meetings. These feature "The Duke Idea," a device dreamed up by consultants several years ago after the President encountered persistent questioning about the lacrosse crisis. Solution: after brief remarks, Brodhead moves immediately to sit in a replica of his Allen Building office, plush Queen Anne chairs, Oriental rug with a fake multi-pane bay window looking out onto trees and Gothic buildings, and has a conversation with a guest, meant to bring the intellectual excitement of Durham to Dukies world-wide.

Alas, one full hour and no pesky questions.

Thank you for reading FC and caring about DUKE!



It seems that Brodhead and Company haven't heard of the phrase "lead by example".

Perhaps he would like to spend a day in my department, practically begging to get a box of paperclips or rummaging around for something to dry his hands in the washroom because the paper towels aren't being replaced on a regular basis by the reduced number of housekeeping staff.

When's the last time Mr. Brodhead filled out a mountain of paperwork and went through three levels of management to get approval just to get a day off to drive to a conference in Charlotte that he's paying for out of his own pocket? Or maybe he would like to face the decision of actually buying a basic piece of equipment, essential to do his job, with his own salary because his department can't spare $400.

Or perhaps he'd like to try living a month or two on my salary, which has been flat during Duke's pesky little financial crunch. Pumped your own gas or shopped for groceries lately, Mr. Brodhead? How did the financial crunch impact your retirement portfolio?

There's been a general trend in higher ed towards managing institutions more like a business. Well, Duke seems to be well ahead of the curve here, with top-down, unresponsive executive management, outrageous salaries and perks for those at the top, and a healthy dose of nepotism. The "good ol' boy network" is obviously alive and well at Duke.

Next thing you know, we'll be cranking out low-quality cheap goods outsourced to China. Oh, wait ....



Guest FC: A must read. The best ideas we've seen for Duke's going global

We are working on improvements to FC, including an open forum for Loyal Readers. Please bear with us while this is created, and send us e-mail (Duke.Fact.Checker@gmail.com) with your thoughts. Here is a wonderful contribution we received Monday, spawned by our post about academic freedom and its absence from the Kunshan campus.

One wonders why Duke doesn't seriously consider an alternative argument? Yes, Duke (and all institutions of higher learning that want to be taken seriously on the international stage for the next many decades) need to have a coherent policy and approach to a presence like China. And, yes, in my opinion, they should have given more play initially to explore how this could be accomplished by expanding and changing programs in Durham, rather than (or at least before) launching a major salvo into Kunshan. But there seems to be a third option now.

Why wouldn't Duke take the lead in articulating a strong (and uncompromising) position on academic and internet freedom? Take the stage and lay out a series of very public principles that *have* to be met before Duke will consider international partnerships.

Freedom of thought is the cornerstone of higher education; if you compromise that, you've compromised everything. Invite China (or any other country) to consider ways to partner with us, but only once they have demonstrated that they can meet this standard of freedom of thought. Stating this principle loudly and clearly would set Duke apart from our peers and provide much of the hoped for PR benefit for Duke that is probably behind much of the administration's (including the Board's) fondness for (the Kunshan) project.

Absent such a commitment from China, we should expand our curricular options here in Durham to teach about and learn about freedom of thought -- over history and around the globe -- and expand opportunities to invite international students at all levels to come to Duke to learn about freedom of thought.

It could build up an awareness of international opportunities and challenges, but one built on an educational foundation that Duke believes in as a founding principle, rather than on the inadequately articulated principles that we are hearing now (that is, apparently, business opportunities and competition with other universities), none of which seems terribly lofty or foundational...

There is much talk about the wonderful university system we have in the U.S. and throughout the west being our strongest 'export'. Perhaps. But that argument would be much stronger if it were built on a foundation that we can all believe in. Freedom of thought should be the defining principle of that 'export', so that our international partners recognize exactly what it is they are getting. Education is not just a series of classes, books, and lecture notes.

It is the 'way' of learning that is foundational, not the 'what' of learning. We should be happy to work with potential partners to explore ways to have them adopt and benefit from our 'way' of learning. That -- not buildings and campuses festooned with the Duke logo -- is the 'export' we should be debating.



I'm not sure openess and freedom of information is something the administration actually stands for....if we've learned anything over the past several years, it's that the administration is actually quite fond of censorship. I completely understand why they have no problem going to China where the government censors information when they at home censor information daily about the Duke campus. The fear is likely there among professors to speak out about it also (for fear of their jobs). So in essence, Kunshan CAN be exactly like the duke campus.

2nd comment
An excellent suggestion that, like all thoughtful input tendered in this regard, is destined to fall on deaf ears. Until the current leadership of the university has been removed, there is no prospect of improvement. Those currently in charge have no principles other than to immortalize themselves and to feed their professional ego and vanity at any cost. They have become so thoroughly detached from actual teaching, research, and meaningful intellectual work that compromising intellectual freedom (or indeed the very notion of it) means nothing more than a bit more of reality to 'spin' in ways favorable to their agenda.


FC Special Report: Chinese likely to trample academic freedom on Kunshan campus

Search words Duke University academic freedom

✔✔ Good day, Fellow Dukies!!

In refusing to approve the Master of Management Studies and Executive MBA degrees proposed by the Administration for Kunshan -- and proposed by the Administration alone, acting without either a strategic plan developed through broad consensus or consultation with the faculty about specific academic programs -- the Fuqua faculty had two incisive reports from study committees. Both of these reports focused on market conditions and finance, just as you would expect from people in a business school.

For all of their strengths, the committee reports did not raise other fundamental issues.

✔ -- When Duke grew from a regional to a national university, it did not need new campuses in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and other major cities. Why does a leap in international stature require a bricks and mortar presence elsewhere? Would it be better if we used our resources to enhance the international experience in Durham?

✔ -- Does Duke University have any business starting a new university in China, educating Chinese, the forerunner of many such Duke campuses around the globe, without any showing whatsoever that substantial benefit will accrue to the mother campus?

✔ -- Has anyone ever created in one grandiose swoop a major research university, or does it take years for a college to mature, for its endowment to grow, for its prestige to be enhanced step-by-step.

✔ -- And if we do decide -- after introspection this time -- that we do need to found a new, full-fledged research university, is the best place in the long run the backwater of Kunshan?

✔ -- Beyond these fundamental, threshold questions, there has been scant focus so far on religious freedom on the Kunshan campus. One Trustee in touch with a Deputy Fact Checker is livid now that there is a realization there is not even a room for people to meditate and pray in Kunshan. How will the motto that has served Duke so well for so long -- "Eruditio and Religio" -- be perverted in Kushan? Will the seal of the new Duke Kunshan University shed the cross that we have used on diplomas since the founding of Trinity College? And does the new Duke Kunshan University have aims consistent with those emblazened in brass and stone in the middle of the main West quadrangle: "to assert a faith in the eternal union of knowledge and religion set forth in the teachings and character of Jesus Christ,"

✔ -- And finally, the Fuqua committee reports did not mention academic freedom. Fair enough, you would expect a business school faculty to focus on nuts and bolts. Not unexpectedly, when FC talks to professors in the Arts and Sciences and other divisions of the university, academic freedom frequently is the start of their analysis.

And that's our topic today, a peek into what may well prove to be a decisive factor in sinking Kunshan, if the Administration rallies from its thrashing at the hands of the Fuqua faculty and proposes any additional degrees. As Loyal Readers know, the by-laws of the university specifically give the faculty jurisdiction over degrees, and there is an approval process with two principal steps: an affirmative vote by the faculty in the school or department making the proposal, and then an affirmative vote by the Academic Council, the university-wide elected faculty senate.

Here is what concerns FC about the academic freedom question:

Duke has discussed this issue with the Chinese. There is the outline of an agreement. Yet we have been told nothing by our administration - raising the spectre that there is not much to reveal. Or even worse, if the details were revealed, it would be a negative factor, adding to the pervasive feeling that Kunshan is a folly.

Without bothering to explain why, Peter the Provost told the Chronicle on March 29th that he was not at liberty to discuss what the Chinese regime had committed to, which is not reassuring at all. Surely the Chinese know, so what's the big secret?

Doubly troubling, because no matter what the agreement states, the Chinese are notorious for violating contracts, not understanding the Western concept of sanctity of contract.

Presumably Duke applied pressure, for a document from the Office of the Provost and the Office of Global Strategy and Programs, obtained earlier in March, states: “Duke will need to take the lead in ensuring that these principles (of academic freedom) are woven into the fabric of daily life at Duke Kunshan University.”

President Brodhead has been as wishy-washy as could be. Also in March, pressed at a meeting of the Academic Council, Brodhead went so far as to say he was "fairly certain" there would be full internet access. Even less reassuring, he went on, “We need to insist on [these values], but we can’t be naive to think they will be practiced the same way [as in the United States].”

So our President has flirted with one small corner of the issue, just the internet, and so far has been silent on the many dimensions of academic freedom.

In 2007, in his annual address to the faculty, Brodhead chose to speak on the internationalization of Duke, using the word "trade-offs" without any explanation. That address did not even hint at a project like Kunshan, and fellow Dukies, we see not trade-offs but sell-outs.

Come on, Uncle Dick. If we had unfettered internet, we'd be the first campus in all of China with it. And you know that is not going to happen.

As FC revealed last week, Brodhead grew impatient and rude, and then ridiculed a senior professor who approached him at a recent faculty reception with questions about academic freedom. The professor outlined how his students routinely went on-line to research subjects that the Chinese government blocks, and he wanted to know how this would play out.

Mr. Brodhead labelled this professor a "worrier," and concluded the conversation by saying next time he needed a worrier on a committee, he knew whom to appoint.

A Deputy Fact Checker has learned that so far, all discussions with the Chinese have focused with what is said and done on-campus. There is no suggestion a student or a professor who tried to speak off campus would stand any differently than a resident vassal.

Even if fully guaranteed within the seven foot high steel walls around the Kunshan campus, separating it from rice paddies and an industrial park under development, this is not enough.

One of the true strengths and hallmarks of Duke's existence, stemming from the case of John Spencer Bassett more than a century ago, is the academic freedom of faculty and students off-campus. In their grandest moment, the Trustees of Duke's forerunner, Trinity College, backed the history professor Bassett against a storm of criticism from racists for comments he wrote in a magazine that circulated throughout the South.

How big is the risk of speaking up off campus? Suppose students and faculty on the Kunshan campus wanted to study and express themselves on currents in China.

Perhaps to discuss Wei Jingsheng, one of China’s most ardent pro-democracy dissidents, who spent over a decade in jail for demanding multiparty elections. Perhaps to discuss the writer Liu Xiaobo, who last year was given an 11-year sentence after he wrote a manifesto calling for an end to the Chinese Communist Party’s hold on power.

Perhaps to discuss, finally, the release this weekend of Hu Jia, whose activism on behalf of the environment and AIDS landed him in jail for three and a half years.

And not to mention the Nobel Prize winner who sits in a gulag.

Small wonder that the Duke Kunshan Planning Guide stated Duke needed a strategy to bail out in case we got embroiled in a "substantial public controversy." The few words in the Guide surely were accompanied by discussions and development, but stakeholders are left in the dark.

✔✔ Peter Herford worked for more than a quarter century at CBS News, and to say he worked there is to minimize what he did. He was the conscience and soul, a guiding force, a producer for 60 Minutes, a producer for the CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite and a corporate vice president. When he left the newsroom he taught for six years at the nation's premier journalism school at Columbia, and then was director of the University of Chicago's prestigious William Benton Fellowships in Broadcast Journalism. Now he is in China, professor of journalism at Shantou University. From that location, he joined the recent debate over the Fuqua faculty's considering two proposed degrees in Kunshan.

Quoting Herford:

"Would you vote for your university to open a branch in China under the following conditions:

1. No access to foreign social media

2. Most video sites including YouTube blocked

3. Library acquisitions need government approval

4. Government licenses needed before publishing

5. A new "foreign" Internet access policy that sets a quota on how many non-Chinese websites a university (and some corporations) may access. Once the quota is exceeded, all access is blocked. Foreign databases unavailable once you exceed your quota.

6. Plagiarized research and administrative corruption that are common practices.

Those Chinese committed to reforming their education system fight a daily battle that is not helped when foreign universities lend their prestige and reputations in partnership with Chinese institutions that do not respect minimal ethical standards.

Duke has better reasons than finance and home grown squabbles to wait before opening a China campus."


We conclude our essay today by including a long article from University World News, a very good international internet news service focusing on campus developments. It's lengthy, but well worth a read.

The recent tensions in Inner Mongolia, between the indigenous ethnic minority [which wants independence] and the authoritarian Chinese state, have highlighted how the Chinese behave towards their students.

This is not the first time that the authoritarian regime has ordered university administrators to restrict the comings and goings of students and professors, and to stop them going out at weekends. Indeed Chinese universities are structured in such a way as to make such restrictions possible. Surveillance is carried out by professors, security personnel and by students themselves, thanks to the members of the Communist Youth League.

In Beijing, too, scene of the recent 'Jasmine' events in Wangfujing, a permanent order was given to close the universities and 'keep order' on campuses/detention centres. Professors were called on to preach about patriotic values, with the support of sayings by Confucius, Mao, Deng, Zhang, Hu and "5,000 years of history" to "bring everyone together". International students are also caught in the net.

The authoritarian regime is afraid of Chinese students, since the events of Tiananmen Square in June 1989. Today's events in Inner Mongolia took place almost exactly on the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, where the name 'Liu Si' [4 June**] is only whispered on campus and where fear, the law of silence and nausea reign. The ghosts of the past continue to haunt the corridors and consciences; lies are not enough.

The authoritarian Chinese regime prefers that these whispers are kept under tight control inside universities where other coercive means exist to keep all the 'resistant' students and professors silent. A ruthless regime exists in Chinese universities. They are temples of indoctrination, where freedom of expression is severely restricted, where a system of carrot and stick - or 'gentle' repression - exists; where the most conformist people are the most rewarded and the rebels expelled.

Foreign professors are kept out of the system, controlled in a different way. I have seen two foreign professors, one English and one American, be accompanied on successive days to the airport and put on a plane for having criticised the Communist Party. There is no tolerance, except in some 'shop window' universities, such as Tsinghua and Peking, which is designed to make people believe that the regime wants world-class universities. I say the regime because the Chinese public are the main victims of the system.

Most universities in China are surrounded by fences and walls, often with the exits located in the four corners of the campus which are guarded by at least two people and security agents in civvies. You have to show your ID card on entering and leaving. The exits are rarely left wide open, creating a funnel which students pass through, sometimes in single file. This is even more the case when there are risks of tension in Inner Mongolia, Tibet, Xinjiang, Beijing or Shanghai.

This is what I have seen in most of the universities that I have visited in Beijing and what other professors - all of them foreigners, of course - have told me about universities in other towns. I think many Chinese professors who are not pro-regime are ashamed and above all scared to speak out. One day a professor told me: "Don't foreigners who come here know that by their presence they are helping the regime by giving credence to a completely perverse system. It's absurd. It's all smoke and mirrors here." I never saw that professor, whom I met at a buffet during a conference, again.

But the walls are not just around the campus. They are inside it too where people are controlled by a 'velvet glove' system through the Communist Youth League. They are Party stalwarts, ideologically sound and therefore 'correct'. The League is more than a 'Student Union' - these are men and women who take part in leadership-cum-military activities outside campus, far from the view of foreign students. They are the patriotic elite who guide a patriotic education system.

Chinese President Hu Jintao, a former leader of the League, has used it to put a system of thought control inside universities. In this system the campus has become totally regimented, with a tight control kept on students and professors. It extends even into the dormitories, which are presided over by a member of the League/Communist Party.

The Party recruits the best players this way, the most faithful, the most patriotic. This system is very little known outside China. International students are kept one step removed from this system of carrot and stick, their dormitories and classrooms are kept apart...there is no possibility of collusion or getting together.

International students are careful. The feeling of being 'controlled' definitely makes them feel uneasy. The students talk to me about it, knowing I am discreet, or seeing me as a mediator who can bring some solutions. It doesn't take long before they let their true feelings show when we talk:

o We don't have any rights on campus, we pay, never criticise, accept our (dull) professors, learn the language and leave.

o You learn practically nothing here. We are preached at and indoctrinated. It is nothing to do with the brochure that I read before coming here.
o My double diploma in economics was in reality just two years spent learning Chinese.

o The best professors are reserved for the Chinese students. We are given patriotic Chinese professors who speak English badly, hardly ever respond to questions or reply in an oblique way.

o This system doesn't make any sense.

I could continue. The list of their complaints is as extensive as the lack of effort made by foreign universities to check up on what is happening. They are happy to sign agreements, pocket the money and make out that they are offering their students an exchange programme with responsible partners. I have noticed that international students in several Beijing universities are suffering from a curious psychological phenomenon, a type of depression, call it oppression, a lack of the happiness and confidence which western students experience and which you can also see in Japan.

Once, when I was talking to an African student from a francophone African country, he turned to his Chinese friend who was beside him and said to me: "You see my friend here, he is in fact a member of the Communist Youth League and he reports every criticism of the system people make in the international building to a professor who is in charge of these things. After class, we are given a lecture on the subject of the criticism. It's like a game. He pretends to be my friend, but he is in fact a spy." At this, the 'friend' got up and left. "Everything is like this, no-one has any true Chinese friends. The Communist League is everywhere."

Another time, a Chinese assistant told me, in confidence and whispering: "In fact, the members of the League use the foreign students. They study them. Their professors push them to learn how to control foreigners." Others come to see me, most of them foreign students. I do what I can to help them, but the problem is ideological, political, strategic, racist. You mustn't forget that China is not a free country, even if it is protected by a 'constitution', which in effect allows the regime to expel any rebels who immediately 'disappear'; and education is strictly controlled. Students, particularly Chinese ones, have to conform or they will have problems when they come to finding a job.

International students have not come to China to get a taste of authoritarianism, but to learn, to get to know and understand a country which accounts for 22% of the world's population and has the second biggest GDP in the world, a country which is a massive player on the 21st century global stage. Students who come to China have made a brave, strategic, risky and responsible choice. But they don't want to lose their dignity, to feel abandoned and forced to accept "living in an indoctrination camp", as one foreign student called it.

Foreign university administrations involved with China have turned a deaf ear to what is happening because it is easier to do so, to take the money and deny categorically all the criticism, to internationalise without conscience or ethics.

Don't international students have rights? Does no-one want to take up their cause? Is it easier to say that they are all wrong and to believe the lies of a regime known for its 'soft power' methods? Does the repression in Inner Mongolia not exist? Nor that in Tibet, Xinjiang and Beijing and anywhere else in China? It is in the silence and hidden looks that the freedom and happiness of students is held up to ridicule.

* Francis Ernouf is the pseudonym of an anonymous blogger on higher education in China. His full blog postings can be found on Educpros.fr and this article is translated from the French.

**In the original French text the author inadvertently translated "Liu Si" as 6 June instead of 4 June.


Duke's #1 cancer doc recommends quack Anil Potti for SC medical license: "impressive research program" and "honesty, integrity"

Search words: Anil Potti, Duke University

Fact Checker here. Good day.

Using official stationery, Duke's #1 cancer doctor has highly praised the disgraced cancer quack Anil Potti, citing an "impressive research program" and asserting the words "honesty, integrity" characterize Potti's years at Duke.

The context was Potti's application for a license to practice in South Carolina, which has now been granted.

Potti -- once a rising star of Duke Medicine -- is best known for inventing a Rhodes Scholarship for himself, for faking research, for having the American Cancer Society demand its research money back, and for having his colleagues retract four of their joint medical journal publications so far. Under investigation, Potti resigned voluntarily last November after Duke suspended him with pay.

In all, four Duke doctors wrote letters of recommendation. They were successful.

Potti is now the only cancer doctor in Loris, South Carolina, affiliated with a group practice called Coastal Cancer Center in Myrtle Beach. Loris is a hamlet of 2,079 people, nestled near the North Carolina border and Atlantic Ocean.

Coastal Cancer states on its website that it not only treats patients, but has research contracts and does drug testing for pharmaceutical companies.

FC was tipped by a Loyal Reader whose sister was in one of Potti's fake cancer research trials at Duke. The trials -- human experiments -- allegedly tested a break-thru theory to use genome science to target cancers with specific drugs. The University now says that permitting the trials was an error -- not only allowing them to start, but allowing them to restart after being temporarily suspended after a challenge.

Other scientists say the theory had no validity whatsoever.

A Deputy FC invoked the South Carolina Freedom of Information Act to obtain a copy of the lengthy application Potti filled out by hand, in order to practice medicine in a new state.

In addition to the letters of recommendation, the application includes form after form filled out in Potti's handwriting, a very comprehensive look into the applicant, in FC's opinion.

Asked "Are you currently under investigation or the subject of pending disciplinary action by any Medical Licensing Board, health care facility or other entity," Potti initially checked NO. But then crossed that out and checked YES.

Duke does have a faculty misconduct investigation underway, but like so much else around this campus, this is under a shroud of secrecy. FC does not even know if any of Potti's collaborators are also facing charges, or if Duke has ever determined how Potti pulled off the grand scheme of research fraud without complicity.

Potti answered this question "Have you ever had any hospital privileges denied, revoked, suspended or restricted in any way?" but checking NO. While FC is not certain of the dimensions of Duke's suspension of him last year, we believe it included withholding of his privileges at Duke Hospital.

Potti, who went into exile at his home in Chapel Hill for several months, also said no to a question asking "Have you ever discontinued the practice of medicine for any reason for one month or more?"

The strongest letter of recommendation was signed by a Duke heavy-weight: Dr. Jeffrey Crawford, Geller Professor for Research in Cancer and Chief of the Division of Medical Oncology. He covered Potti's work with patients as well as his research, while the other three letters seemed to take pains to speak only about his work with patients.

Crawford wrote "During his tenure at Duke, Anil developed an impressive research program..." He earned "great admiration and respect," and was "honest." To drive that point home, Crawford later uses the words "honesty, integrity" to describe Potti's career at Duke. Please scroll down for the full texts.

✔✔ Among documents submitted by Dr. Potti, who went to medical school in India, FC noted that Potti failed the United States Medical Licensing Exam, step 2, the first time he took the test in September 1994. He retook the test in June 1995, and passed. He completed step 3 while at the University of North Dakota.

Potti lists only two states where he has medical licenses in his application -- Minnesota and North Carolina. He omits North Dakota, where apparently he was never licensed despite his service in the universitiy hospital, and Missouri, a medical license revealed in on-line documentation from the South Carolina medical board.


FACT CHECKER FLASHBACK -- our post of Nov 22, 2010


We do not find that Uncle Dick has taken any profile at all, that is to say exhibited any leadership. In particular, he has not expressed appropriate concern for the patients.

Brodhead's only important comment came just after The Cancer Letter reported Potti's fake claim of a Rhodes Scholarship and the Rhodes Trust confirmed there was no award. With other credential issues looming at the time, Brodhead cautioned the editorial board of the Herald-Sun not to reach rapid conclusions of truth or lie, for there could also be "intermediate explanation."

(( Brodhead also stated,, when asked why no one checked on Potti's fake Rhodes Scholarship, "The university will in general continue to accept credentials on their face as presented by the people who present them... We're not going to start running background checks and police checks on everybody... You can't reasonably do that, nor is there a need to." ))

Pathetic. Dick, just pathetic.


While different numbers have surfaced, we believe 1,518 people came to Duke in desperation, people with life-threatening cancers, people grasping for hope who were channeled to Potti's office for review for possible inclusion in his clinical trials -- which is to say human experiments employing his theories that DNA and RNA -- the human genome -- contained information on how to fight specific cancers.

We do not know how many patients were accepted. We do know 109 people were in the trials at the point last winter when Duke, questioning Potti's science, suspended new enrollments for several months, a decision that did not affect the 109.

As Loyal Readers know, Duke subsequently re-opened enrollment after an internal review turned out glowing. We do not know how many more joined at that point.

All of these people signed "informed consent" forms -- meaning they were fully briefed on the experiments and the chances. What they expected, however, was a good faith experiment, not bunk. Not bunk within the walls of a university medical center that had plenty of warning Potti's science held no water.

Even the people who were merely screened were deeply affected. It is our understanding that many underwent painful, sometimes dangerous procedures to get tissue from lung and ovarian cancers for analysis.

At least 109 were given specific chemotherapy based upon Potti's "discovery" of what would work; they gave up other possible treatments.

Duke maintains they were not harmed. We believe this is a very cynical approach derived from the following: before Potti claimed otherwise, no one knew what therapy would work best against an individual's cancer -- or if it would work at all. It was hit or miss. So Duke figures that everyone in the Potti trials could have been given the precise chemotherapy Potti gave them, and thus the patients are not any worse off for his phony science.

Worse off physically that is; no one is speaking of the stress and mental turmoil that would occur when you learn your cancer doc is a quack.

That's our interpretation; we await confirmation.

We have heard no one outside the boundaries of this campus who is speaking up to say the patients were not harmed.

The Cancer Letter -- which has broken most of the news in the Potti scandal -- turned to Dr. George Sledge, the President of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, a professor at Indiana University, for interpretation. "It is safe to assume that patients might have been assigned to treatments that were unlikely to benefit them and possibly even to harm them."

And Dr. David Carbone, chair of cancer research at Vanderbilt: because of errors in Potti's research, "you may be withholding an effective treatment from some people or giving an ineffective targeted drug" suggested by the research. And "there is the possibility of patient harm."

From Dr.John Ruckdeschel, director and CEO of the Nevada Cancer Institute: "The potential for patients to have been treated differently than they might have otherwise been is present."

My fellow Dukies, one person who writes FC all the time, often with funny flippant information, says he has chartered a bus to bring plaintiffs' lawyers to Duke.



FLASH BACK # 2 - November 29, 2010

The Chronicle has never told its readers how Dr Nevins -- who endorsed Potti's research as one of many co-authors -- finally "dug down" to the first level of research in one study and looked at 59 initial samples of ovarian cancer Potti was analyzing.

16 of those samples are not this kind of cancer at all. Nevins: "At this point, I cannot trace the origin or nature of these samples."

Of the remaining 43 samples, the news is not much better. "The tumor ID labels for these samples are incorrect. In a large number of these cases, the mis-identification results in reversal of the clinical annotation of response vs. non-response." In other words, chemotherapy that helped a patient was recorded as not helping, and chemotherapy that did no good was recorded as helping.

This is not just sloppiness. Particularly when the results of your "science" are going to lead to clinical trials, which translated into English means experiments on human beings.

Nevins co-authored at least eight medical journal articles with Potti. So far he's reviewed two ( update four ) and found validity in none. Fellow Dukies, Fasten your seat belts!


Thank you for reading and supporting FC.

Texts of letters of recommendation for Dr. Anil Potti

Search words Dr Anil Potti, Duke Fact Checker, Duke.Fact.Checker, Duke University


The following was sent to the chair of the cancer practice in South Carolina that Dr Potti wished to join, and submitted as part of Potti's application for a South Carolina medical license.

Stationery of Duke University Medical Center
January 7, 2011

...We were extremely fortunate to be able to recruit Dr. Potti to Duke for his fellowship from North Dakota where he had been an outstanding house officer and subsequently joined the faculty as a hospitalist.

It was clear to all of us when Anil joined our program that he was outstanding in all categories.

His clinical skills are excellent. He is bright, honest, hard working, and very thoughtful of others. With these qualities, it is not surprising that his patients had great admiration and respect for him both during his fellowship and subsequently as a faculty member. I personally have assumed the care of many of Anil's patents, all of whom speak of him in the highest regard.

During his tenure at Duke, Anil developed an impressive research program and helped the careers of a number of our other fellows and junior faculty. He was always willing to help others around him and was an ideal model as a "team player." Despite a very active research program, Anil maintained his dedication to patient care and this always came first for him.

The last several months have been difficult for him and for us as his colleagues. Throughout this time, Anil has conducted himself as he has throughout his time at Duke with honesty, integrity and humility. I was hopeful that he would remain at Duke on our faculty in a clinical position, but his decision to resign his position at Duke in the end was probably best for him and his family. During this time period there was a review of his clinical practice and no issues were raised. I personally would be delighted to have Dr. Potti as a faculty member in our physician practice, or as an oncologist taking care of one of my family members. I am certain that he will be an incredible asset to whatever practice he joins.

Please let me know if there is anything else I can do in support of his application.

Jeffrey Crawford, MD
George Barth Geller Professor for Research in Cancer
Chief, Division of Medical Oncology
Department of Medicine
Duke University Medical Center



The following was sent to the South Carolina Board of Medical Examiners.

Stationery of Duke Medicine, Division of Cellular Therapy

January 21, 2011

It is my pleasure to provide this letter of reference for Dr. Anil Potti for a license to practice medicine in South Carolina. I have known Anil for over five years in his capacity as a clinician at our institution. He is well known by the trainees in our program and an outstanding teacher, having won prior teaching awards for his time and efforts spent in this regard. In addition, his clinical acumen is highly valued by staff and patients and is well known as a smart dedicated physician. I would be pleased, if my own family had unfortunately contracted a cancer, if Dr. Potti was their treating physician feeling comfortable in his knowledge base approach to the care of sick patients and the ability to optimize care.

David Rizzieri
Associate Professor of Medicine



Sent to the Medical Board

Stationery of Duke Medicine

January 25, 2011

It is my pleasure to write a letter of reference for Dr. Potti for his application of a medical license in South Carolina.

I have known Dr. Potti for seven years initially as medical oncology fellows at Duke University for two years and the last five as colleagues in the Division of Medical Oncology at Duke University.

Throughout his career here at Duke University Medical Center, Dr. Pott (sic) has demonstrated superior commitment and compassion towards his patients. While working in clinic, he has demonstrated superior knowledge of current oncologic practices and applies evidence-based medicine in the treatment of his patients. He effective communications with the patients, their families, and other members of the health care team for the optimal care of patient. He has also illustrated an understanding and sensitivity to diversity and consistently participates in activities to promote his continuous professional development.

Overall, he has demonstrated competency in oncology inpatient and outpatient duties. There are no known health barriers to him (sic) performing the duties of medical staff and I feel he is fully qualified for a medical license in South Carolina.

Shiaowen David Hsu, MD, PhD
Assistant Professor of Medicine
Institute of Genome Science and Policy



Stationery Duke Medicine, Division of Cellular Therapy

January 21, 2011

I am writing this letter of recommendation in support of Dr. Potti's application for a SC Medical License. I have known Dr. Potti since 2003, when he first came to Duke as a hematology-oncology fellow, and later as a colleague when he joined Duke as a faculty member.

From a clinical standpoint, I know of only few physicians who are as bright, dedicated, conscientious and caring as Dr. Potti. His patients absolutely love him and he is well respected by his colleagues. He is well read, keeps up with the medical literature and constantly seeks to improve himself as a clinician. I think he will provide excellent clinical care to his patients under his care in South Carolina.

Arati V. Rao, MD
Assistant Professor of Medicine
Division of Geriatrics


Brodhead ridicules senior faculty member who questioned academic freedom in Kunshan

Search words: Duke University Duke Fact Checker Richard Brodhead Duke.Fact.Checker

✔✔✔✔✔ What follows is a revealing look at how people who dare to speak up and to question, who dare to express their own honest opinions, are treated.

President Brodhead takes off Friday evening for Europe, Asia and Africa, an unprecedented three-week summer-time spree on Duke's credit cards.

FC has reported on the extravagance as revealed by a mole in the middle of Allen Building: for airfare, for Brodhead alone, $14,315.80.

His wife -- always identified as Cynthia Brodhead and not Mrs. Brodhead, who receives $132,500 a year for her spousal position as "senior adviser for external affairs" -- has a similar airfare bill, slightly less because she is staying in Shanghai while Uncle Dick, as he calls himself, or Tricky Dick as some others call him, takes a first class day trip to Wuhan University, our second choice for silent partner (as required by Chinese law) in China.

Loyal Readers, you can also add in support personnel, like the director of the Nasher and curators, plural, who already are in London to greet the Brodheads at the Tate Museum.

FC is still working on tallying the supporting cast's cost. Plus hotels, plus limos, plus, plus, plus. Given that one of the early goals in the financial crisis was to hold down travel costs, and the Arts and Sciences has seen its budget that includes travel sliced from $500,000 to $100,000 per year for 645 faculty, this is obscene.

In case you are mathematically inclined, that works out to $155 per faculty member, which, according to the Greyhound website, is just about enough to get a professor to New York and back. But we digress.

✔✔✔✔✔ As Brodhead departs, FC has learned that an encounter that he had with a senior professor at a reception is roiling the faculty. As well it should, for it was discourteous, unprofessional and un-Presidential.

Fact Checker will not identify the professor involved for a number of sensitive reasons; obviously the professor's identity is known to the president. This faculty member has taken no public role in the debate over Kunshan.

We ascertained the following facts from several sources, and presented them to Michael Schoenfeld, vice president for PR, for the President's confirmation or denial. We also told Schoenfeld we would like Brodhead's version and his help in understanding the situation. No response.

The scene is a meeting of the Bass Society of Fellows held in the richly appointed University Club (a private enterprise with no Duke connection) atop one of Durham's premier buildings, the 17th floor of 3100 Tower Boulevard. The semi-formal evening was just starting, with chatter, cocktails and wine, when the professor who always attends meetings, and the president who does not, struck up a conversation.

The little-known society -- which meets several times a year -- derives its name from a member of the Board of Trustees with no previous connection to Duke, who was brought aboard in 2003 by former President Nan Keohane because of a family interest in higher education. More specifically, because the Basses of Fort Worth, Texas, had given significantly to Yale and Stanford, his alma maters. And with a fortune estimated (Forbes, 2010) at $5.5 billion, which started with an oil inheritance and grew in many directions, Nan figured correctly there was plenty more to spread around.

Anne Bass, the Trustee, and her husband Robert (please be careful, for Robert's brother Sid is divorced from someone also named Anne Bass, but you are more likely to read about them in the National Enquirer) have quietly given Duke millions. Unlike some donors who insist that their name be trumpeted on a building, the Basses received only brief mention in a press release for what is believed to be their biggest gift: they quietly pledged to match contributions from others who created endowed chairs in their own names. Unlike customary endowments which only involve full professorships, these allowed for endowment at the assistant professor and associate professor levels as well. At a million or two or three per clip, this gets expensive. We believe 37 endowed chairs were created by this program.

The Fellows -- as the men and women holding these chairs are known -- are "selected for their extreme dedication to teaching undergraduates and for their success in motivating students to excel." They are also picked for offering "students exposure to cutting edge research" and for their fresh approaches and classroom innovation.

✔✔ At the gala Bass Society evening marking the end of the academic year, the professor who fell into conversation with our President chose to raise with Brodhead the issue of academic freedom on the Kunshan campus. As Loyal Readers know, this issue received no attention as the Fuqua Business School faculty dissected and decimated the finances of proposals for two degrees in Kunshan -- but it is sure to loom large if any proposal ever gets to the next step, to the elected faculty senate, the Academic Council.

The professor noted that in his teaching, he routinely assigns reading and internet queries on subjects the Chinese regime gets quite upset about. The Dalai Lama for example.

This development of a conversation over cocktails seems quite legitimate to Fact Checker, for our president's strongest assurance to date on academic freedom has been that he is "fairly certain" there will be full internet access from the campus; as FC has pointed out, there will be no academic freedom guarantees for anyone beyond the walls of the university.

All this means that the Chinese students who will populate Kunshan, if it ever gets going, may be able to Google for the Tibetan religious leader while behind the seven foot high steel walls of Duke Kunshan University, but certainly not at home on a break from school.

Brodhead said he doubted anyone would get into trouble, but the professor -- with wide experience and travel in Asia, with an understanding of a paranoid dictatorship -- persisted, saying there remained a chance someone could wind up in a Chinese prison. Including the professor!

✔✔✔✔✔ With that, Brodhead labelled the professor a "worrier," and in a nasty rejoinder that our president used to end the conversation, Brodhead snapped that if he ever needed a "worrier" on a committee, he would know whom to appoint.

The professor, who speaks quite eloquently and is not prone to earthy, street words, has described himself as "pretty pissed."

We believe the professor correctly evaluates the threat to academic freedom as more than a worry. And he correctly assesses Brodhead, whom he says has an overly optimistic view based upon "blissful ignorance."

Bon Voyage, Mr. President. Fact Checker will have a Special Report on academic freedom on the proposed Kunshan campus on Monday. Have a good trip.


Musical chairs in Allen Building as Trask shuffles staff and adds another vice president

You got to hand it to Tallman Trask, executive vice president. Not only did he announce some changes in his staff on Monday, but his web page is already updated. Very efficient, and very different from so many Duke web pages, including the President's, which are sorry specimens.

The winner in the shuffle seems to be Kyle Cavanaugh, hired from the University of Florida in 2009 to be VP for human relations. In 2010 he added to his portfolio, picking up Duke Police and responsibilities as the university's emergency coordinator. And now he adds the parking and transportation mess to his responsibilities. Trask formerly handled this personally. New title: VP for administration.

John Noonan, who was a vice president at Brown before coming to Duke with lesser title, gets promoted to VP for facilities with new responsibilities for housekeeping. His portfolio thus includes building maintenance, grounds, energy, environment, maps, stuff like that.

Noonan's new job sounds suspiciously like an old one. Duke VP Kemel Dawkins, one of three high ranking blacks in Allen Building, was pushed out in April, 2010, with the explanation there was no need for a VP of campus services.

Dawkins, by the way, became executive vice chancellor of administration at the Newark campus of Rutgers University. That sounds impressive, until you read of his work in the local New Jersey news. The campus bed bug problem landed in his lap after Chancellor Steven Diner announced, “The chancellor can’t deal with every situation on campus.”

Fuqua Dean may be trying end run around faculty to get academic programs started in Kunshan

Scroll down for our report on the resignation of global vice president Jones.

For the following story on academic programs in Kunshan, Fact Checker tried to obtain additional input and reaction from Dean Blair Sheppard. But rudely, we once again did not even get acknowledgment of our e-mail inquiry. We write what we know.

✔✔✔ Sources inside the Fuqua Business School say Dean Blair Sheppard -- scrambling to save face and come up with academic programs for Duke's new campus in Kunshan, China after the faculty rejected two proposed degrees on June 1 -- may try an end run.

One plan under consideration would presumably not require faculty approval at all. But it would also not award a full fledged Duke degree as was originally planned for the new Duke Kunshan University, the same degree as if the students had studied on the mother campus in Durham. Duke's by-laws require faculty consent for any degree program. .

A key provision of the plan is one or more deals with state owned enterprises in China, which are referred to as SOE. Some of Sheppard's correspondence on this has also referred to SASAC, a consortium of SOE's.

The enterprises would foot the entire bill to send their employees to the program. This guarantees a steady stream of income not present under earlier proposals that the faculty viewed as too chancy because no one knew how many students would enroll or what tuition they might pay.

While initially solving the financial viability issue that vexed the faculty, It does leave Duke vulnerable to the whims of the SOE's, notorious for their lack of respect of contracts. One source said he would not be surprised if the SOE's got the program going, and then demanded discount after discount.

Moreover, while Duke presumably gives up control over admissions, taking whomever the SOE sends.

Mindful that the faculty is simply not going to go along with that sure risk to quality, Sheppard may develop this entire scheme under the umbrella of Duke Corporate Education, a separately incorporated subsidiary of Fuqua just far enough removed so as to get away with the twisting.

One problem is that Corporate Education, which offers high priced trdaining programs for executives, does not grant degrees, and the Chinese SOE's may demand this.

A tie to Corporate Education would also get around the Fuqua faculty, who have shown little if any interest in going to Kunshan to teach, while at the same time insisting that a large percentage of the teaching be done by tenure and tenure track people from Durham. Corporate Education could hire whomever it wants -- presumably the influx of adjuncts that Sheppard proposed for the degrees that were shelved on June 1.

Shaking his head, one source told a Deputy Fact Checker that the entire scheme puts Duke Kunshan University more under the thumb of the Chinese government, devoid of any notion of academic freedom. The source also saw new risks, not the least of which is to the balance sheet of Duke Corporate Education which has been foundering. As FC revealed last week, the most recent financial reports show CE taking in about one-third as much money as it did three years ago, and losing more than $7 million in one year.

A source also reminded FC that Shepard has a pattern of promising big, and then not delivering. Witness the Cross Continent MBA program, which in the academic year just ending had only a fraction of the students that Shepard "promised."


Our mole in the center of Allen Building says there are some nascent rumbles that Duke will never get the Kunshan Initiative off the ground. At least one high ranking official, after reading the reports of the faculty committees in Fuqua that examined two proposed degrees, said the objections would follow whatever was proposed.

Stay tuned! Plenty of reason to check back and read FC often!


Global Vice President Greg Jones stepping down for health reasons

✔✔✔✔ Fact Checker here. Breaking news.

Scroll down for another major story: construction problems in Kunshan may lead to delay in opening.

Duke University has announced that after less than a year on the job, Greg Jones is leaving his post as vice president for global strategy and programs because of unspecified health reasons.

Dr. Michael Merson, who was recruited from Yale to found the Duke Global Health Institute in 2006, will serve as interim vice president.

The departure of Jones is another major jolt to Duke's international ambitions, coming just after the refusal of the Fuqua Business School faculty to approve two degree granting programs in Kunshan, China. That rebuke of the leadership of President Brodhead, Provost Lange and Fuqua Dean Blair Sheppard cast a pall over the most ambitious of Duke's international initiatives.

Jones functioned on several levels: from conceiving places for Duke to land in its world-wide thrust, to developing relationships that might make it happen. All that is now lost.

✔ His departure also removes one of the few alumni in a top leadership position in the Brodhead Administration. Jones holds a Master of Divinity and Ph.D. from Duke. He was an undergraduate at the University of Denver.

FC believes the only remaining member of President Brodhead's cabinet with a Duke degree is the principal spokesman Michael Schoenfeld '84. (Any Loyal Reader with additional information, please write us)

The announcement from the university is curious for two reasons:

First, because the press release came from Schoenfeld, vice president for PR, personally and not from the news bureau. It begins by talking about Merson's interim appointment, not mentioning Jones until the second paragraph. The news release is also imbalanced, stressing Merson's achievements in six long paragraphs while relegating Jones to perfunctory mention. Schoenfeld does not make mistakes of that nature.

Second, an international search for Jones' full time successor won't start until September. There is no explanation for the delay

✔ Jones has maintained a heavy world-wide travel schedule since moving into the vice presidency after 13 years as Dean of the Divinity School. In his initial months, he went to Kunshan, to Singapore where Duke runs a medical school with the National University, to India, to South Africa, to Brazil, and that's just the list FC was able to compile with the help of a mole in the center of Allen Building.

Jones seemed to relish both the hard work and the spotlight. He will go on research leave for a year, and then return to the Divinity School faculty.

In addition to being the point guard as Duke reached around the globe, Jones also took much of the heat on campus from people skeptical of grandiose ambitions. He briefed the faculty's elected senate, for example, telling the Academic Council what was taking place. Later Brodhead tried to portray these sessions as consultation with the faculty.

In one briefing after Shanghai Jiao Tong University withdrew as our partner in Kunshan -- a relationship required by Chinese law -- Jones, pressed to act quickly and find a substitute, listed three potential partners. By process of elimination, he seemed to identify Yuhan University -- which became our new partner -- as "weak." He has never confirmed nor denied this.

In commenting about his appointment, with specific reference to Kunshan, Jones told Duke Magazine, "... anytime that something like this doesn’t work, you take a reputational hit. Once we establish a commitment that we’re going to be engaged somewhere, it becomes incumbent on us to do everything possible to make sure that it will work effectively—that it will work at a level that not only meets Duke’s current standards of quality but enhances Duke’s reputation for the long term.”

That's a good goal, and to be sure, Jones ends his work on Kunshan far short, surrounded by question marks and doubts not of his making.

In a brief interview with the Durham Morning Herald, Merson made a mistake in his first day on the job, which was Monday. "We are certainly committed to (Kunshan)," he said. "It's definitely part of Duke's global research initiative, an important part of our global strategy." The good doctor turned vice president should have said we will take a new look at the folly of Kunshan, top to bottom, and not be afraid to cancel the deal.



Brodhead Administration silent on reports that construction flaw will prevent Kunshan campus from opening on schedule in August, 2012

The Brodhead Administration -- via Michael Schoenfeld, vice president for public relations and obfuscation -- has refused to confirm or deny that there is a major problem with construction in Kunshan, one that will delay the grand opening of the controversial campus now scheduled for August, 2012.

Such a delay -- at least the third by FC count -- would be a highly embarrassing development, on top of the rebuke President Brodhead, Provost Lange and Fuqua Dean Blair Sheppard received June 1 when the Fuqua faculty turned thumbs down on both degree programs proposed for the China city.

✔✔ Indeed, the construction situation is already causing officials to react nervously. A Deputy Fact Checker -- assigned to find out precisely what is going on -- reached Timothy Martin, identified by one source as the point man in Kunshan as well as other international campus planning, including India.

The Deputy told Martin that he was interested in Kunshan, asked if there would be classes there this year, and pleasantly moved into asking about the fall of 2012. Sensing a rat, Martin shot back, "Who is this?" in a very demanding voice. The Deputy told Martin his name, and Martin blurted out that he had no involvement, identifying himself as vice president, contracting and facilities, of Duke Corporate Education, the faltering profit-making subsidiary of Fuqua that designs non-degree executive training problems.

The deputy then said, yes, but your web page also identifies you as the Fuqua "global director of facilities." With that, Martin hung up. Saying nothing, just a hang up.

In fact, the website is even more specific, as a Loyal Reader pointed out early Monday morning: "Currently Tim is involved actively in the design and construction of the Duke Kunshan University campus scheduled to open in 2012." The Loyal Reader posed an interesting question: why is everyone at Duke suddenly distancing themselves from Kunshan?

✔Fact Checker got tipped to the construction problem last week. Our source, who has been consistently reliable, said there were "snags," which we subsequently found understated the situation. A second source, in a different division of the university, just as consistently reliable, confirmed there was a "snafu."

More ominously, we were also told the problem meant "the facility cannot be used."

We asked a third source. We were told there were unconfirmed rumors jumping through the Fuqua Business School.

We are unable to pinpoint -- yet -- what is wrong.

✔Loyal Readers, recall, please, last December, when the Board of Trustees was forced to appropriate $5.5 million -- an unexpected expenditure. At that time, Trustees Chair Dan Blue, Law ’73, said the money will be used to hire external consultants to help ensure that “the building adheres to some certain standards” and “give advice where it might be useful.”

Fact Checker reported at that time that the Trustees made the unexpected expenditure because the glass walls of one building were not strong enough to hold the roof. In one architect's sketch, a principal building had an elaborate bowl on top, presumably a cover over a rotunda or auditorium. That has disappeared in later renderings.

The Brodhead Administration -- through mouthpiece Schoenfeld -- also refused at that time to confirm the roof problem.

✔ Fuqua of course is hoping to offer the first degree-granting problems in Kunshan, a strategic move that ran head on into faculty reservations and opposition on June 1. Dean Blair Sheppard has been busy trying to retool the proposed degrees -- and one of this options for a Master of Management Studies degree is relevant to this discussion.

Marketing studies show no need for this degree in China, no interest among employers in paying for it, and little interest among Chinese in attending an English language program in their own homeland, the decided preference being to travel abroad.

Sheppard is desperately trying to save the MMS, considering a proposal for the initial courses to be taught in Durham -- with the Chinese students then completing their work in Kunshan. This configuration is replete with problems, but one source pointed out it is face-saving, because the degree program -- still to be approved by the Fuqua faculty and Academic Council -- could presumably start on time in Durham in August, 2012.

✔President Brodhead will leave on Wednesday evening for a three week summer-time splash into Europe, Asia and Africa. FC has reported on this -- along with the excessive cost of the trip, nearly $30,000 in airfare alone for the President and his wife, who is on Duke's payroll for $132,500 a year to be the spouse. But no Duke press release or other information has ever been made available.

Brodhead is staying several nights in Shanghai, presumably also going into Kunshan. One day he is taking a morning flight to Wuhan University, coming back that night. Wuhan is our silent partner in Kunshan, necessary under Chinese law.

Mr President, here are your assignments:

1) Tell us if there is a snafu

2) Tell us when you are at Wuhan, if this is the partner that your global vice president Greg Jones described as "weak."

3) Update us on the applications to the local officials and the national Education Ministry to operate in Kunshan, including the Duke proposal for tuition.

Thank you for reading FC!!! Have a good day.

Guest Fact Checker: In response to our post "Bloodbath in Fuqua"

FC is expanding. By the start of the fall semester, we hope to have in place a format that will allow readers to comment -- with their comments profiled and headlined along with our own. We are posting this as a good example of what we think FC will be like soon.

From a member of the faculty:

Thanks for posting this startling and disconcerting news (about the shrinkage of the division of Fuqua called Duke Corporate Education and its $7 million dollar loss in the latest year with numbers).

Not that there was need for further evidence about the hubris and irrational exuberance of our administrators. Still, this troubling financial picture once again illustrates our so called leaders' brazen denial of basic reality and common sense.

At the same time, the conversation about Duke's inflated aspirations to becoming a "globally networked university" (to invoke the official hollow slogan) ought not to be about means alone but, first and foremost, about ends. What needs to retrieved as a focal point of a campus-wide conversation is this university's core mission: is it corporate? Is it about selling a "brand" to gullible buyers or totalitarian regimes without any regard whatsoever for the integrity of the product or the buyer?

Or is it about making a long-term contribution to the intellectual and scientific culture of our society, educating young people in specific fields of advanced
inquiry and impressing on them the habits, forms, and values of a life of

Clearly, our benighted and arrogant leadership has made its choice. Will the rest of the Duke community -- alumni, trustees, faculty, students -- allow a small clique of deluded and grandiose individuals to ruin this institution?


Bloodbath in Fuqua: Duke Corporate Education sales of training programs were one third what they were two years earlier. Red ink flowing.

✔✔✔ In reporting to the Fuqua faculty on two masters degree programs proposed for Kunshan, the investigating committees noted that the business school has operated in the red for the past four years.

That surprised us, because after all, these people are supposed to know how to run a business and turn a profit (or more accurately, a surplus).

We were intrigued, of course, as we wanted to know why a school that could not get its act together in Durham was being allowed to go hell-fire into nine international cities all at once. The biggest of these, right now, is Kunshan, China, but there are others -- which the Brodhead Administration has suddenly become very silent about -- that are grandiose as well.

As we snooped, we were fortunate enough to obtain a document prepared for the Board of Directors of Duke Corporate Education. That's just one segment of Fuqua, but an important one.

Duke Corporate Education is a separate corporation formed by Duke and Fuqua to sell training programs to major corporations, and in the end pump its surpluses into Fuqua. There are plans for Duke Corporate Education to make use of Kunshan for its non-degree programs, as the business school itself hopes to offer degree programs.

The effects of the recession have been startling. A year ago we reported DCE -- as Duke corporate education is known -- had revenues in 2007-08 of $81 million.

In the following year -- with the world wide recession -- this tumbled to $47 million.

✔✔✔✔✔ Fellow Dukies, you haven't heard anything yet. The new document we received covers the 2009-10 year. Revenues tumbled again, to $29,626,844.

✔✔✔✔✔ The bottom line was a bloodbath. While losses in 2008-09 were $1.4 million, in 2009-10 there was deep red ink -- $7,093,310.

Small wonder that the Fuqua school started to hawk a $99 a night bed and breakfast deal to tourists -- to make up for corporate executives who normally would fill the rooms in the Thomas center.

✔✔ The $7,093,310 with a giant MINUS SIGN in front of it is all the more disconcerting because we believe that the Brodhead Administration -- in looking to Fuqua to make up (and disguise) massive operating losses anticipated in Kunshan -- was going to reach into DCE to the tune of $1.8 million a year, a sum obviously not reflected in numbers two years ago. Careful Readers will note we said "we believe," because no one in the administration is ever willing to sit down and go over these complicated matters.

With this contribution of $1.8 million annually shaky, the amount of subsidy from other Duke sources -- including $1.5 to $2 million a year from the strategic initiative fund -- is likely to increase substantially.

We believe Mr. Brodhead and his team owe us a full explanation, as this is highly relevant to evaluation of whether the entire Kunshan Initiative is sustainable or folly.

Thank you for reading this report from a Deputy FC.


Duke's quack doc Anil Potti gets MD license in South Carolina and treats cancer patients again

Search words Duke University Anil Potti

✔✔✔ Good day fellow Dukies

Dr. Anil Potti -- the once promising star of Duke Medicine who faked a Rhodes Scholarship and his cancer research -- has ended his self-imposed exile.

Potti -- who resigned from Duke last November amid a fast growing scandal and at least two investigations -- had secluded himself at his Chapel Hill home.

Now, a Loyal Reader who is the brother of one of the people Potti enrolled in a worthless genome science clinical trial of chemotherapy for breast cancer at Duke, has discovered Potti has applied for and been granted an MD license by the South Carolina Board of Medical Examiners.

Potti promptly got a job, with a group practice called Coastal Cancer Center, based in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
The center has several other satellite locations in the state as well. It was founded by Dr. Lawrence B. Holt Jr., who graduated from Duke Medical School in 1977. That was long before Potti's arrival in 2000. Holt did not respond to e-mail sent by Fact Checker.

The Coastal Cancer Center treats patients, and also does research and conducts clinical trials. That information, from their website, prompted the brother of Potti's patient at Duke to declare, "I hope that he does not cause further injury to those patients."

✔ After Potti was exposed, he was suspended without pay, then a vice dean of the medical school admitted Duke screwed up and should have picked up on warning signals and never allowed him to perform clinical trials, which is a nice way of saying experiments on human beings. Potti resigned voluntarily (and it was voluntarily according to an unimpeachable source) as the heat grew.

One of Potti's key collaborators in many published articles has taken the lead in having several of them withdrawn; we do not know the status of an even larger number of articles that were not withdrawn.

There are at least two investigations: one that Duke sought out by the Institute of Medicine, which, quite frankly, FC is disappointed in. It turns out that all the key people at Duke Medicine are members of the Institute, and that overall, we represent about 95 of 2,000 members. Hardly an outside investigation, independent and unimpeded as it has been touted. Moreover, the Institute has veered from an examination of Potti's conduct into larger questions in the field of genome science; there is validity to this, but not if it obfuscates the Potti probe.

Duke has also launched an internal faculty misconduct investigation. This is behind closed doors, so tight that we cannot even report who is under investigation. In one e-mail to the medical community, Chancellor Victor Dzau mentioned Potti's mentor, Dr. Joseph Nevins. And the Dean of the Medical School, Dr. Nancy Andrews, recused herself from Potti Mess matters (FC confirmed this) because her husband, Bernard Mathey-Prevot, Ph.D, did research with and published with Potti; whether he's the subject of an investigation is anyone's guess.

Potti enjoyed huge research grants. The American Cancer Society demanded its money back -- and Duke complied. Other funds were also in doubt.

We do not know the responsibility of a medical institution such as Duke to report chaos as in the Potti Mess. We do know that all of this left Potti's medical license in North Carolina unblemished.

✔✔✔ To acquire a medical license in South Carolina, Potti had to fill out a 19 page form that seems quite tight. The licensing board makes clear its responsibility is to enforce the state's Medical Practice Act, noting "This includes illegal, unethical or incompetent conduct."

In addition to letters of recommendation from three doctors who know the applicant, there is a personal interview, a formal criminal background check through the FBI, and the requirement that the applicant disclose any malpractice claim, suit or settlement.

There is also a requirement that all other medical licenses must be disclosed, and here FC has discovered a new Potti Mess mystery. Not the first, probably not the last. Potti told South Carolina authorities he not only holds a license in North Carolina, but one in Minnesota and Missouri as well.

We knew about Minnesota before, acquired for unknown reasons while he was a resident at the University of North Dakota, raising questions of why Minnesota. That license was cancelled, Potti in good standing, because of the passage of time.

But we did not know anything about the Missouri license before, nor does his resume allow any time for him to be anywhere near the state. And if that weren't enough, the Missouri licensing board's website fails to turn up the name Potti, active or inactive.

✔The South Carolina board specifically notes it will not license a doctor "whose license is currently revoked, suspended, restricted in any way, or on probationary status in that state; or ... who currently has disciplinary action pending in any state."

Another question: "Have you ever had any hospital privileges denied, revoked, suspended or restricted in any way?"

Another: 'Have you ever resigned from any hospital, institution or health care facility in lieu of disciplinary action?"

And this: "Are you currently under investigation or the subject of pending disciplinary action by any Medical Licensing Board, health care facility or other entity?"

And this too: "Have you ever discontinued the practice of medicine for any reason for one month or more?"

✔✔As for what may lie ahead, South Carolina provides "A licensee shall notify the board within thirty (30) days of any adverse disciplinary action by another United States or foreign licensing jurisdiction, a peer review group, a health care institution, a professional or medical society or association, a governmental agency, a law enforcement agency, including arrest, or a court, including indictment."

Thank you for reading FC.

Upcoming: Is the Fuqua dean trying an end run around the faculty decision to shoot down the proposed MMS degree in Kunshan

Please scroll down for Tuesday's essay on the new chair of the Trustees.. Thank you for reading FC.

Developing. End run around the faculty. Two sources. Waiting for response from Dean Sheppard to gain his perspective.

Upcoming soon: Fact Checker's first fiction: We promise you academic freedom in Kunshan.

The new chair of the Trustees, Rick Wagoner, refused to give us an interview. So Fact Checker will give you our questions without his answers.

✔ ✔ ✔ Rick Wagoner '75, newly elected chair of Duke University's Board of Trustees, doesn't take office until July 1, but he has already made his first big mistake: he refused Fact Checker's request for an interview. We even proposed flying FC and a Deputy to the Detroit area if it were convenient for him, or as an alternative to meet during one of his monthly visits to campus as a member of the Executive Committee.

We pointed out to Wagoner that FC will be writing more about the governance of Duke than any other journalistic organization, and that includes the Chronicle.

No dice. No explanation. We got word from the Brodhead Administration's spokesman Michael Schoenfeld. We figure Wagoner may have been hesitant because of the scorching he got from the media when he was canned as chair at GM. But unlike other media, we were not going to point out that a share of GM stock, $92 when he took over as chair, became essentially worthless in his last days. Nor would we say, as other media have, that Wagoner should be blamed for the loss of $85 billion during his eight years at the helm, the biggest loss ever for any CEO in any corporation. We would tell you, however, that GM builds boring cars, is insensitive to its customers, and it screwed tens of thousands of its rank and file workers.

Loyal Readers, we think you are entitled to know questions we have for Wagoner, even if he offers no answers.
So here goes:

✔ A) Mr. Wagoner, oh we can call you Rick. OK, our questions today are not in any order, it's just a conversation. RIck, we'd like to start with the secrecy of the board. Back when Terry Sanford was president, the student government president, along with the editor and managing editor of the Chronicle, went to the room where the Trustees were going to meet later in the day and they sat in. They refused to leave when the meeting was about to begin. Terry Sanford brokered a compromise -- and for a quarter century meetings were open, except for occasions when deep personnel matters were discussed.

Bob Steel and Uncle Dick Brodhead changed that, restoring secrecy about three years ago. They claimed Trustees would be reticent to speak their mind if the meetings were open. You have been a Trustee since 2001; were you ever afraid to speak out, or can you cite a specific incidence when one of your fellow Trustees was afraid? With the first part of your tenure as a Trustee occurring with open meetings, and now with secret meetings, did you discern any difference? Can you explain for us how secrecy benefits Duke University?

✔✔ B) So long as we are seeking your personal opinion based on your own experiences, let's talk about your activities after you "resigned" from General Motors.

✔ You joined the board of Aleris, a bankrupt world-wide aluminum company with headquarters near Cleveland. The company was once traded on the stock exchange, but was private when you joined the board of directors, owned in part by Oak Tree Management, run by your fellow Duke Trustee Bruce Karsh. And now there's an SEC filing to sell stock to the public again. What's notable about this corporation -- aside from the fancy financial footwork -- is its top management who have been pictured in its annual reports. 13 people. All male. All white. What message does that send?

✔ You are also on the board of the Washington Post. In addition to the well known newspaper, this company owns Kaplan Inc., the test preparation company and profit-making college operator. As you may know, three of its former academic officers have filed a whistle-blower suit saying the entire enterprise is a fraud, and among the victims is the US Government which has provided student loans to the tune of $4 billion. There are other charges as well. Even so, last February Kaplan and Duke joined to offer on-line training for people involved in clinical research overseas. This was a real plum for Kaplan, being linked to a legitimate, well respected enterprise. Did you have any role in this? Is this the best partner Duke can find?

✔ C) Rick, you're a financial man, coming up through the GM ranks starting as a financial analyst after getting your degree at Duke and an MBA at Harvard. Let's talk Duke's budget adopted by the Trustees at their May meeting, which will be the framework for your first year as chair.

-- There's been no public word whatsoever about the fate of the Arts and Sciences, which have suffered cut after cut, and faced the loss of some professors. Tell us?

-- You are a former walk-on Duke basketball player so we assume you follow athletics closely. Can you tell us what the subsidy is in the new budget?

-- Since the financial meltdown began, Duke has had to trim its budget, but it's done so slowly in order to avoid a thud. In the new budget, is there another special withdrawal from the endowment to cushion the transition? In the year just ending, that was $72 million.

-- We discovered in a report from Dr. Trask that Duke -- which has budgeted for a sustained return of 8.5 percent on its endowment -- has only achieved a ten year average of 6.5 percent. As it turns out, the state of New Jersey had precisely the same predicament, and its governor has lowered the expected returns -- and thus the amount that can be spent year to year . Did our Trustees do anything like this?

-- Despite the whoop-la of the Financial Aid Initiative (which raised precisely half of the money that Dr. Trask said was needed for undergraduate assistance before he was told to shut up), the Trustees have been able to sustain need-blind admissions only by extra dips into the endowment. Meaning we are eating up more of the money today, and leaving significantly less for future generations. That's obviously not sustainable. In the new budget, does Duke continue its extra distributions for undergraduate financial aid?

✔D) Let's talk China. At GM you were a champion of entering China, even though the prices you could sell cars for were so low that there was hardly any profit. Here at Duke, where do you stand on the Kunshan folly?

You are a financial man. The Fuqua faculty's analysis of two degrees proposed for Kunshan -- which it shot down -- was based almost entirely on the numbers not adding up. What's your take?

Can you explain to us how the faculty in Fuqua could have taken numbers from the Brodhead Administration and eviscerated all its conclusions? And what about the special Board of Trustees committee on China headed by David Rubenstein? They had the same inputs, so how come the committee apparently endorsed the financial viability of Kunshan?

If it could be demonstrated that Kunshan is not the best strategic move for Duke, would you vote to terminate our involvement with this folly, a possibility the Chinese have been aware of since day one?

Lastly on China, there are 37 Trustees, including the President ex-officio. 24 are elected by the Methodist Church. The new Duke Kunshan campus does not include a chapel, and so far as we can penetrate the secrecy, does not even include a room where people can go for meditation and prayer. Is this true?

Will Duke Kunshan University have a cross on its seal and shield, like Duke in Durham? Will Bibles be distributed -- as in Durham -- to gradates? Do you view this is one of our great traditions or not?

And will Duke Kunshan have a statement of aims, like Duke Durham does, professing faith in Jesus Christ?

✔ E) Let's throw out some general topics, Rick, and you can respond. Give us your take on the role of the faculty in the governance of Duke. The role of alumni.

Give us your take please, on academic freedom. Its importance, particularly in Kunshan. Will you insist on freedom not only on campus but off, which is the Duke tradition since the Bassett case? Is there anything less than full unfettered internet access that would be acceptable to you?

✔✔✔ Mr. Wagoner, we consider our questions appropriate for stakeholders who have an abiding love in this university. In light of your failure to grant us an interview, FC is impelled to join with many on this campus who can only hope and pray that you do not do for Duke, what you did for GM.


Hardly any bounce in men's basketball trip to China and Dubai

There are two posts this Monday. Be sure to scroll down!
✔✔ The men's basketball team's August public relations trip to China and Dubai is in danger of being an air ball. And a very costly one at that.

FC has details from a reliable source. We tried to reach athletic director Kevin White for confirmation, but he keeps his e-mail a secret, the only official we have ever encountered who is not in the campus directory, and that even includes President Brodhead and Coaches K and Cutcliffe.

A Deputy FC wrote Senior Associate Associate Athletic Director Christophe Kennedy seeking information, and were impressed by his prompt response. But all he did was to refer us to someone else, who gave us another name, and then a new person gave us yet another. After two weeks of bouncing around like a loose basketball, we went back to Kennedy, laid it on the line, and this time he apparently had sniffed out our questions and we were ignored.

We wanted to know the budget.

We wanted to know where the money was coming from.

And we wanted to check on reports that the charter plane for team and fans was still half empty, with players and hangers-on taking all of the first and business class seats, pissing off supporters who are being asked to pay an outlandish price while being relegated to crowded coach seats for long flights.

✔ This trip was conceived back in the heady days this past season when there was talk of our men's basketball team's repeating its National Championship, with Fuqua's Dean Blair Sheppard and Global Vice President Greg Jones, among others, conjuring up a fantasy tour that somehow was to profile Duke as an international university: "to showcase not only Duke basketball, but also the university's pioneering business education, health, arts, civic engagement and policy-oriented programs around the world."

"The team" would go to China to play -- right into Kunshan which was to be the heart of Duke's new presence -- and to boot would go on to play in Dubai, one of the cities used as a stage by the showy Cross Continent MBA program.

Fast forward to the third week of June.

We put the words "the team" in quotes because when conceived, there was the distinct impression that superstars like Nolan Smith and Kyle Singler would be along for a reprise of their Duke careers. Nope.

"The team" includes the incoming recruits, and while they are impressive freshmen on paper, they are unproven. Individually and as a unit working together.

✔✔ And who is "the team" playing against. We're ten phone calls deep in asking that question. We reached an official at the Iron Dukes, the fund raising agency for athletics, who very graciously stumbled through an explanation that while he did not know the names of the teams, we'd be playing hot basketball.

No one we reached at Anthony Travel in Dallas, which handles sports travel for many universities, knew.

✔ Anthony Travel -- touting this as a trip to "circle the globe" even though there are two nations included -- did tell us everyone will fly on an outdated chartered plane from an outfit we never heard of. The plane cannot carry enough fuel for long legs, and there will be stop-overs. The plane is not a wide-body, so there is one aisle in coach, with three seats on either side. Which is another way of saying you have a one in three chance of landing a middle seat.

The 40 first and business class seats are all taken by coaches, the team, support people and official hangers-on. So there are 160 seats for fans -- only half are sold right now. Small wonder, since the package of airfare, hotels, some meals and tickets to four games costs $11,995 per person double occupancy or $13,465 for a single room.

That price is absurd.

The website ITASoftware.com (the best place to plan for flights) reveals a coach seat out of Raleigh Durham, to Shanghai, to Beijing, to Dubai and finally back home costs $2,644 if purchased now for the days "the team" will travel.

As for hotels, the chartered jet will depart Raleigh Durham Sunday, August 14th. Because of time changes, it will arrive in Shanghai just before midnight local time on Monday, August 15th. The hour be damned, everyone will make a bus ride (FC estimate: 3 hours) to the Fairmont Hotel in lake country the other side of Kunshan. Luckily the hotel is out of the city, because Kunshan only has one hotel with stars and it was recently sold, its future in doubt.

Pooped from the trip? No problem. The only event on Tuesday, August 16th is a group tour of the Duke Kunshan University campus. FC notes that this is the only sightseeing organized for Kunshan, which fact adds to the backwater classification we have given the city. Hey Dean Sheppard, if this place is so alive as you have stated, how come no one will see any of it?

The first game is on Wednesday, August 17th.

Total time in Kunshan: 3 nights.

On Thursday, the tour moves on to the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Shanghai with game #2 that same night. Curious move, since Sheppard has been telling us how close Shanghai is to Kunshan and about the nine minute train trips.

Total time in Shanghai: 2 nights.

On Saturday, August 21, the tour moves into Beijing, checking into the Peninsula Hotel.

Game #3 is on Monday, and everyone flies to Dubai on Wednesday. Time in Beijing: 4 nights.

This time it is the Madinat Jumeirah Resort, Mina A'Salam Hotel, translation "Harbor of Peace," and game #4 on Thursday.

The party is over late Friday, when everyone departs for home. (No hotel for Friday) Time in Dubai: 2 nights.

So in sum, you get these hotels:

3 nights in a Marriott outside Kunshan
2 nights in Shanghai
4 nights in Beijing
2 nighs in Dubai

While hotels have more rates than rooms, FC was able to test bookings, and they came in at $2300 total per person for a double room. Corporate rates, which we did not use, are significantly discounted.

To summarize, for $11,995 each you get

-- coach airfare worth $2,644.

-- your share of a a double room with each person for 11 nights, worth $2300.

-- tickets to four mystery basketball games

-- several days of escorted sightseeing and some meals, including Peking duck in Beijing!

You also get ripped-off.

Anthony Travel is also offering segments of the grand tour, and you can even provide your own transportation (frequent flyer miles anyone?). So let's price just joining up with the team at its hotel, seeing a basketball game against who knows who in Dubai and doing some sightseeing.

Dubai? $2,189 each for double occupany, $2,545 for a single. Two nights.

FC checked with the hotel, which boasts it is on the ocean. Well not quite, the Arabian Gulf on our map. The cost for a double works out to $1,095 each, including a 10 percent service charge and 10 percent local tax. That's the "rack rate" booked directly with the hotel; many corporations and other groups enjoy substantial discounts.

Hotel.com quoted us $389 each for a double for two nights. Total 779.

✔ Again, we do not know if the fans are supposed to pay the entire cost, or if there is some other source of money for this trip, which developed after the budget for athletics was framed. We do know that throughout the university -- with the exception of President Brodhead's lavish summer-time spree on Duke's credit cards to Europe, Asia and Africa -- there is a hold-down in travel costs.

✔✔A footnote on basketball: Coach K's salary

We have finally gotten some data from the University (Form 990) for the 2009-10 academic year (almost a year ago) shedding some light on Coach K's salary, the highest on campus.

His base, after several years of healthy leaps, seems to have leveled off at $1,978,031. His bonus -- including the National Championship -- was $2,222,543, approximately $500,000 more than the year before.

In addition, Duke was forced to reveal that Coach K is entitled to transportation by private jet, that he has used this for personal as well as business purposes, and that other people have been his guests on board. His salary was "grossed up" to cover the tax effects of this; in other words, Duke paid the taxes via a gimmick, increasing his pay to cover the taxes.

Thank you for reading and supporting FC.

READER COMMENTS - Because of the irresponsibility of one individual, FC must review all comments. But in the near future, we'll have a system so we can identify any violators by IP address and other means, and block them. Sorry for the inconvenience.

✔✔ Whatever the facts and figures of this tour may finally turn out to be (assuming we shall ever learn them), this entire venture inevitably reinforces the by now widespread impression of Duke's senior administrators egregiously misinterpreting their roles and unable to grasp their core responsibilities. Rather than focusing on improving the academic mission, intellectual stature, and the campus infrastructure of Duke Univ. in Durham, they dilute our focus by organizing some tawdry athletic dog-and-pony show at great expense, with little resonance, and utterly devoid of meaning.

Our so called leadership would do well to recall Talleyrand's remark about Napoleon: "from the sublime to the ridiculous is but a small step."

This is what happens when individuals who have lost touch with what intellectual passion they once had are repeatedly entrusted with the stewardship of an institution devoted to advanced teaching and research; like a corporate update on Barnum & Bailey, they turn everything into a show, a spectacle, a promotional venture ... and, ultimately, into a farce.

The trustees of this university should start to take their custodial responsibility more seriously, and alumni donors should pressure them to restore competence, trustworthiness, and intellectual vision to the leadership of Duke Univ.