✔ 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!
LOTS OF READER REACTION TODAY:
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 ....