Sheppard quits as Fuqua dean effective August 1. Prime driver of Kunshan effort who encountered heavy faculty fire.

Please scroll down. There are three stories today: Duke borrows too heavily, just like the federal government. And some messages that fellow Dukies have been sending incoming freshman Jay Ruckleshaus, seriously injured in a diving accident.

Dean Blair Sheppard of the Fuqua Busines School -- the prime architect of Duke's thrust into Kunshan and a dozen other cities around the world -- is stepping down effective August 1.

This is unexpected; this is on short notice. Just last week, when Sheppard returned from accompanying President Brodhead on the international spree, FC polled all sources in Fuqua about his reworking of proposed academic courses at the new Duke Kunshan University, and picked up no hint of his impending resignation. One source did note that the reworking seemed rather low key -- with Shep having limited meetings with few faculty.

The reworking is necessary because the faculty, in a June 1 meeting, turned thumbs down on two proposals he had come up with -- largely on his own. This rebuke of his leadership and that of President Brodhead and Provost Lange, stunned the administration.

The change in leadership at Fuqua is sure to affect the entire Kunshan timetable, which was growing increasingly tight. As it stands right now, Duke plans to start courses next August (August, 2012), but there is no approval from the Chinese government, no approval from the Duke faculty. FC believes there will surely be another delay; Kunshan originally was announced to open in 2011.

The announcement at 8 AM today rewrote some history: it noted Sheppard had been "offered" the "opportunity to serve a second term as Dean beginning in 2012." On April 19, Peter the Provost announced Sheppard had been reappointed to a second five year term -- with no hint Shep was going to decline! In some versions of the April 19 announcement, though, Peter hinted at trouble. He said that he and Sheppard had met to discuss short-comings in his performance, and that the Provost would continue to monitor Sheppard. That rather blunt assessment all but violated the administration's code of silence.

There were many who were surprised Sheppard had been offered another five year term after a routine review. The review of his initial term was rocky, far from the usual glowing conclusions that emerge in these reviews.

Sheppard made his mark building Fuqua's executive training programs, which are ranked #1 in the world. These are operated through a subsidiary that is free of the usual faculty control. But the recession has been rough: Duke Corporate Education (DCE)'s income plunged, its staff suffered immense salary cuts, and some were sent packing. DCE turned from a profit maker -- to a substantial drag on the entire Fuqua budget.

The faculty reports that led to turning down the degrees proposed for Kunshan contained another stunner: in four of the past five years, in other words in good economic times and bad, Fuqua had operated in the red. Moreover, the reports revealed that in the academic year just starting, Fuqua is hurting for students in its programs across the board. No specifics were ever released, nor did a Deputy FC assigned come up with specifics.

An announcement at 8 AM to the faculty -- just one hour ahead of public disclosure -- inclui;ded a statement from Brodhead that Sheppard would remain at Duke and assume some vague responsibilities for Kunshan. His wife is also a professor at Duke, and head of the Talent Identification Program.

This morning's announcement stated that "Sheppard will be succeeded by J.B. Fuqua Professor of Business Administration and Deputy Dean William Boulding, who will serve a two-year term. The university will conduct an international search in the second year of his term."

FC will have more later.

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