Fuqua committees pissed over document leaks

✔✔✔ Fellow Dukies, FC here. Good day!!

Search words: Duke University, Richard Brodhead

Six professors in the Fuqua Business School -- who served on two committees responsible for in-depth investigations of the degrees proposed for Kushan -- have written their colleagues to express their dismay that documents they call "confidential" found their way onto Fact Checker.

Loyal Readers should know that we had a copy of this sniveling e-mail before most of the intended recipients even knew it had hit their in-boxes. This occurred at the same moment we were posting a demand that President Brodhead release two more key reports, these from the Boston Consulting Group. The reports, written in 2008, include finding after finding, recommendation after recommendation, that the small coterie of administrators who put together the Kunshan Folly ignored in their hell-bent drive to start a campus in China to teach Chinese.

With Brodhead not responding, Fact Checker will make the secret reports available at midnight Sunday, as promised.

The six professors make some assumptions, including one that is sheer guesswork on their part: that the source or sources for the series of documents we have liberated is/are within the Business School.

As Loyal Readers know, we are extremely well sourced. We can tell you, for instance, that when we broke the news that one of Dr. Anil Potti's collaborators, Dr. Joseph Nevins, was asking for retraction of their published work, that our source was not within the Medical School.

Most recently, a Deputy Fact Checker obtained in the heart of Allen Building itself, the specific cost of Brodhead's airfare -- $14,315.80 -- for a lavish three week summer-time spree through Europe, Asia and Africa. That's for Uncle Dick alone, not counting his wife Cynthia, whom FC has revealed is paid $132,500 for her spousal duties. Nor does it include supporting personnel for the trip, the director of the Nasher Museum, for example, who is going to London to be with the Brodheads at the Tate for an alumni gathering.

Mind you, this is occurring at a time of austerity in Durham, when the budget for research and travel for the Arts and Sciences has been slashed from $500,000 annually to $100,000.

✔✔ Another assumption by the six professors is that the documents -- including the committee reports -- were "confidential." The six profs reach this conclusion after scolding colleagues that "You were explicitly asked by (Deputy Dean) Bill Boulding to keep these materials confidential."

This raises the rather interesting question of whether someone who has never agreed to confidentiality, but who receives documents, is bound by the wishes of the sender.

✔✔✔ The six professors assert "the release of these documents undermines our ability to have open and frank discussions."

First of all the professors neglect to note that the liberation of the documents the profs are most concerned about -- their committees' own reports -- came only after the discussions were held.

Second, they offer no proof whatsoever that their ability to have open and frank discussions was compromised in any way. In fact FC challenges the six professors to cite any specific example. Certainly a mole at the faculty meeting on June 1 reports not one member of the faculty expressed any misgiving in other stakeholders having full information. And certainly the conclusion does not indicate any wimpering: a rebuke, a show of no confidence in the Dean, the Provost and the President.

Third, the six professors set up a caste system for the availability of information, with some stakeholders having a divine right of access that others do not enjoy. Fact Checker rejects this totally. In fact, one of most curious aspects of the Brodhead Administration is trying to figure out who gets what snippet of information.

And fourth, the six professors do not give their colleagues very much credit, suggesting that other stakeholders might be able to unduly influence their colleagues' thinking. Or that the colleagues would wilt because someone outside of Fuqua would hear their words.

Fact Checker does not believe any of that for a moment. The Fuqua faculty we have met all have backbones, all welcome the opportunity to hone their ideas against others.

Fifth and lastly, the committee proved its fortitude, and the strength of their colleagues, by standing up against their Dean, the Provost and the President, all of whom would be able to find out all details, including who said what. That would seem infinitely harder than any challenge from other stakeholders.

We believe in full disclosure, transparency and accountability. Except, of course, we will not tell you our sources.

The six professors who wrote their colleagues are Jennifer Francis, David Robinson, Jim Smith, Jeannette Song, Rick Staelin and Vish Viswanathan. We would like to know the genesis of their e-mail, whether an administrator suggested it. >

We note their criticism was only of their colleagues whom they say leaked, with no comment on Fact Checker for posting the documents.


  1. Is there any way to know whether these 6 persons support kunshan or not?

  2. I am told the committee that studied the Masters in Management Studies degree was unanimous in recommending the faculty not accept it. I cannot confirm that.

    The only hard evidence FC has is in the report on the Executive MBA program, where it states the committee was 3-1 to recommend to the faculty the proposal be rejected. I do not know who the one was.

    Deputy Dean Boulding was ex officio on each committee; I assume he did not vote on the EMBA program, giving the tally.


  3. What is your policy on deleting comments? I have attempted to post comments. They appear and then seem to disappear. Do you only accept comments you like? And delete the rest?

  4. Loyal Readers are free to post their own opinions of course.

    Opinions on the subject matter. We are not going to turn this into a forum on Fact Checker. If you would like to discuss FC, create your own blog.

    I did not knowingly take down any comments that were posted; we did have difficulty two weeks or so ago in starting the comments section. Please try again.

  5. Check your facts:

    ✔ No votes were taken at the Fuqua faculty meeting on June 1. The MMS design committee asked for more time to evaluate options. The EMBA design committee proposed waiting to see the MMS program design before designing an EMBA program. There was a healthy discussion but nothing was "shot down" and there was no "vote of no confidence."

  6. Ed Rickards, check your facts again:

    ✔ Fuqua faculty members were asked to keep the documents confidential for reasons that were explained to them at the time the documents were made available. Fuqua faculty had to download documents from a shared file folder that was available only to Fuqua faculty. The materials were made available to the Fuqua faculty but not sent to Fuqua faculty, as you claim.

    Ed Rickards, are you denying that it was a faculty member who sent you the documents? Or do you have one of your deputies going through trash cans at Duke looking for files?

    To the faculty member(s) in question: If you can't abide by the confidentiality rules, you shouldn't go get the documents. Or if you feel the rules are inappropriate, you should speak up and challenge them openly. Or if you defy them, you should do so "openly, lovingly, and with a willingness to accept the penalty" (as Martin Luther King has said).

    Anonymous leaking of documents is a cowardly act and a violation of the trust put in a faculty (or staff) member by the university and their colleagues.

  7. Anonymous sources are quite common in investigative reporting. Ever heard of a guy named deep throat? Guess the two guys who shed that story should have kept their mouths shut and not released the 'confidential' information they received.

    Thanks FC for your service

  8. Duke Faculty MemberJune 4, 2011 at 10:56 PM

    As regards those hyper-ventilating about "breach of confidentiality," here is something to keep in mind: confidentiality can be abused in TWO ways. 1) by breaching it where it had been stipulated in good faith and for sound reasons. OR 2) by instituting it so as to prevent a larger community of individuals from having at their disposal information on issues of material concern to them. In the case of the Duke-Kunshan initiative (among many other issues), the upper administration has availed itself of "confidentiality" merely in order to evade scrutiny and to forestall an informed and timely debate of its priorities and reasoning. Its habitual practice of unilateral and secretive decision-making verges on a case of professional malfeasance and, as such, is by no means deserving of confidentiality.

  9. I never reported there was a vote. In fact my opening line is that the faculty did not even wait for the scheduled June 20th vote. I think it appropriate to say -- as I did -- that the proposal for the MMS degree as it has existed was shot down. The faculty committee that studied this noted some alternatives -- all of which the committee then proceeded to chop apart.

    I see no reason why any of these documents should be confidential, and in fact, the leaker or leakers, whether male or female, in Fuqua or not, has/have done great service to this University. If the original planning document had not been leaked, the questions that came to a head last Wednesday never would have been asked.

    Trash cans are OK to look in. You should see what I got that hasn't yet been posted!

  10. Wait, Ed Rickards you deleted my comment!

    It was on the subject matter: you claimed that you and your dumpster-diving deputies and the esteemed esteemed Benedict Arnold Professor of Business Administration have "have done great service to this University" and I disagreed.

    What's up with that?

  11. I have been following this thread with interest and I haven't seen mention of the staff support (or lack of support if that's the case) for DKU. This will reveal my ignorance about academia, but is there a staff vote on the future of the Kunshan campus, or just a faculty vote? Are the staff part of the "administration"? I don't mean to derail the discussion, but it would seem to me that their voice is important as resources are reallocated to pursue this global strategy.


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