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.

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