More documents that Brodhead won't let you read. FC liberates two reports written by a Kunshan consultant that pointed out fallacies 3 years ago.

✔✔ Good day, fellow Dukies. This morning Fact Checker is pleased to liberate two reports from the Boston Consulting Group, prepared in 2008 as the Brodhead Administration started to formulate plans for the Kunshan Initiative.

We find that we cannot paste the texts into our Google blog, as is our custom, so we offer .pdf versions to anyone who writes in.


We believe all stakeholders are entitled to have access to documentation like this -- in order to understand how our administrators, in secret, talking only to each other and gaining succor within their narrow fold, planned for the greatest expansion of Duke since 1924 when James B. Duke induced Trinity College to become a university. Simply put, the consultants properly foresaw three years ago, many of the pitfalls the Fuqua faculty cited in its meeting last Wednesday. A less hell-bent administration would have considered and fixed these issues.

We believe access to this kind of information -- including our postings about the Trustee briefing papers prior to their February meeting -- contributed substantially to the campus awareness of an impending train wreck, and informed the decision of the Fuqua faculty to withhold approval of academic courses currently proposed for Kunshan.

Our policy is summed up in two words: Transparency. Accountability.

We can think of no reason why these reports should not be in the public domain. The weak argument of six members of the Fuqua faculty study committee that their deliberations would suffer if these were public surely does not hold any continuing viability, as the deliberations are over. In fact, with no specific examples of how deliberations were affected, we do not believe the claim ever had any truth.

Fact Checker has never revealed a source and never will. The closest we have come was to tease the administration by saying our source for specific information about Brodhead's lavish summer-time spree in Europe, Asia and Africa -- on Duke's credit cards -- came from a source "in the middle of Allen Building." That's accurate. Mr. Brodhead and other administrators, look around you, over your shoulder, around your back, you never know!!!

The six committee members, with no information about any of our sources, assume we got documents from a Fuqua faculty member or members. FC can only hope that the teaching of these six -- who otherwise are rather distinguished -- has a better foundation. Yes some people in Fuqua have had recent access; far more people have held these documents over the past couple of y ears. These include Trustees, administrators, faculty outside of Fuqua and secretaries.

Even if our source were a Fuqua faculty member, we see no valid argument that the papers were confidential. Let's take a hypothetical professor, Biff Chucklehead, who has just come to Duke from the University of Southern California. Regarding Duke as the USC of the east, rather than the Harvard of the South, Chucklehead, who has tenure, is entitled to participate in discussions and to vote.

Yet Deputy Dean Bill Boulding tried to impose a new condition on him -- asking -- note asking not directing -- that the reports be kept confidential once faculty downloaded them from a website only they had access to.

We find this restriction -- imposed ad hoc -- to infringe upon Chucklehead's responsibility, including talking to others throughout the university, honing his own views. From Chucklehead's point of view, the more stakeholders know about the Kunshan Initiative, the more informed his participation in the debate will become.

✔ Loyal Readers, keep those e-mails coming. Fact Checker already has more documents for coming posts. We also have been allowed to read -- but not to copy -- a rather curious routine five-year evaluation of an administrator who somehow survived the review.

Thank you for reading and supporting FC. GO DUKE!!


  1. The BCG reports in question contain a frank assessment of the pros and cons of various strategies for how to enter China and various potential partners. This analysis was done before they proceeded with/in Kunshan. This is exactly the kind of analysis one would hope the administration would do.

    Although one might wish more people were involved in these decisions, it also illustrates why these documents are sensitive. Obviously Duke (or any company or university) may not what to share a frank assessment of their partners or potential partners, broadly, e.g., publicly on the internet, where – as you could appreciate -- it could harm ongoing relationships.

    As Ed writes, many people have seen these documents and have been involved in these discussions, but there is no good reason these documents should be made available to general public (or to Ed Rickards) at this point or ever. I agree that more faculty should have been involved early, but making them publicly available at this time seems simply spiteful on your part, Ed.

    Having moles and leakers and Ed publishing these things makes me not want to write down many sensitive things (e.g., problems with partners) that are very relevant to the discussions. This hurts our ability to have frank conversations.

    This is why I think you, Ed, and your moles are doing a disservice. Indeed your behavior seems driven by pure spite.

  2. It's a real shame that these conversations weren't happening sooner. Duke has secured an academic partner and begun construction of a new campus. Significant resources, both time and money, have been invested, and this dialogue with Duke faculty about the viability of key proposed programs has just starting. Despite overwhelming evidence that would suggest a more cautious approach, the administration has continued to push forward. I'm greatly relieved that the faculty at Fuqua have decided to take time to reflect on this endeavour before proceeding, and sincerely hope that the administration will take the time to listen.

  3. "Obviously Duke (or any company or university) may not what to share a frank assessment of their partners or potential partners, broadly, e.g., publicly on the internet, where – as you could appreciate -- it could harm ongoing relationships."

    Which is why other parts of the document - the assessment of the marketplace and potential students, possible logistical issues, etc - could have been broadly shared to the campus community for broad dialogue and input about the venture. Because the documents are so discouraging about the initiative, it would appear that the administration is trying to hide something and move forward no matter what the cost in order to "save face".

    This kind of leaking has been happening long before FC and even before the Internet and copy machines. Sometimes, these things can happen due to "spite", as the anonymous poster put it, but, quite often, employees leak documents because of a moral obligation they feel to open dialogue and truth.

  4. A moral obligation to open dialogue and truth?

    I am all for truth and open dialogue, but the questions are with whom and about what. For example, personnel evaluations (e.g., tenure letters, reappointment evaluations) should be held in confidence; otherwise you will not get candid evaluations. Presumably, even the esteemed Biff Chucklehead agrees that those confidentialities should be respected. And no, it is not Chucklehead's choice to respect these confidences any more so than it is a lawyer's or doctor's choice to respect patient or client confidentiality. Sure people have been leaking forever, but that doesn't make it right.

    "Deep throat" was entirely different -- he revealed evidence of a crime. Here the administration's "crime" was to not involve some faculty and Ed Rickards. Faculty can work through academic council and other bodies to have a voice and are/have, independently, of Eddy's efforts. I agree that this is happening much later than ideal, but I can't give Eddy credit for this happening eventually. Indeed, I view his efforts and those of his associates as counterproductive -- people have held some documents close (or not written things) because they don't want Eddy to make them public.

    But Eddy is not about truth or justice or Duke making good decisions. He is all about getting himself attention and embarrassing the Duke administration. Perhaps it is not spite; perhaps as Eddy has said, this is just his "hobby" ("his stamp collecting") and he relishes pissing people off.

  5. What about academic integrity?

    It seems the administration hired consultants who told them one thing about the effort, but the administration is offering a much more rosy picture publicly about the potential costs and issues involved.

    It's one thing to acknowledge the data from the consultants and offer up reasons why you think it's wrong. It's quite another to dismiss it completely and try to keep it hidden. Is it really different from discarding experimental data that doesn't support your theory, especially when it involves a large, university wide commitment of staffing, funds and other resources?

    A better analogy might be the Pentagon Papers in this case, rather than Watergate.

  6. I'm an alum and I'm just glad someone is finally challenging this administration and their arrogance and complete disdain for anyone with differing viewpoints. Academia should be about an exchange of ideas and let the best one "win." Not with these people--it's more "my way or the highway."

    If they were candid and open, there wouldn't be a need for Fact Checker.

  7. It seems that Ed has deleted the original reference to "deep throat" in this thread. (Why, Ed?)

    But speaking of integrity, let's go with your Pentagon papers analogy: Though the stakes here are nothing compared to the Vietnam War, it should be noted that Daniel Ellsberg, who released the Pentagon papers, stood up and admitted that he provided the documents. He said at the time:

    "I felt that as an American citizen, as a responsible citizen, I could no longer cooperate in concealing this information from the American public. I did this clearly at my own jeopardy and I am prepared to answer to all the consequences of this decision." [see Wikipedia]

    Ellsberg was charged with a crime, but the charges were eventually dropped when it was learned that there was gross misconduct and illegal gathering of evidence against him (they secretly recorded Ellsberg's conversations, broke into his psychologists' office, …).

    I view Ellsberg to be a man of great integrity -- Ed Rickards's anonymous moles and sources at Duke, not so much.

  8. As an outside observer, it appears Fuqua has a culture that discourages open disourse and debate. The fact that so much skepticism and resistance to this endeavour is only now coming to the surface speaks volumes. One should not be surprised that this would lead to mistrust and result in the leaking of documents, private or otherwise. I assume the debate is taking place here, because it cannot take place openly at Fuqua.


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