Mole: Provost, ready to acknowledge Duke will miss another Kunshan deadline, to set new timetable that would allow 2 year Academic Council review

Be sure to scroll down for the shocking basketball pictures from Beijing: Georgetown and Chinese team riot on the same court where Duke will play Monday. We cannot confirm if we will face the same Chinese team.

✔✔✔✔✔ Good day, Fellow Dukies. Fact Checker here. Probative. Provocative. Pro-Duke.

Damn interesting too.

Two sources revealed on Thursday that Peter the Provost is planning to announce a major delay in opening the new Duke Kunshan University.

A mole in Allen Building told a Deputy Fact Checker that this will be highly embarrassing to the Brodhead Administration -- because the delay results from its own failure to consult the Duke faculty and from its gung-ho thrust that ignored clear early warning signs about finances and academic freedom. Already President Brodhead, Provost Lange and the mysteriously departed Dean Blair Sheppard of the Fuqua Business School have suffered rebuke; on June 1 the Fuqua faculty shot down two proposed degree programs that Sheppard designed on his own, tossing the entire Kunshan timetable into turmoil.

A second source -- consistently right on target -- told FC that the Provost has discussed in confidential meetings moving the current August, 2012 opening date to the following spring semester, that is, January, 2013. But the provost has apparently concluded that even that target may not be met, so the fall semester starting August, 2013 will be set.

This source says that Lange mumbled that he was unhappy -- but did not want to have to move the deadline yet again. Thus, August, 2013 was defined as "hard."

The mole says there is concern about how this will fly with the Trustees: how they will view the delay, and how it will reflect upon the Trustees themselves in general, and specifically on the special China committee headed by Vice Chair David Rubenstein (in the news yesterday for his mega-million gift to the Library).

It is impossible to get confirmation from the Administration, whose leaders have withdrawn into a tight circle. The Provost never answers FC inquiries, Vice President for PR Michael Schoenfeld only sporatically and never on mole reports like this.

✔✔ The Kunshan campus -- a radical concept with Duke's giving birth to a major research university in another nation, teaching indigenous students in English -- was originally scheduled for 2011.

August, 2013 will ironically provide two years for new debate about the venture -- the precise length of a moratorium that senior faculty -- led by Thomas Pfau, Eads Professor of English and Professor of German, and others -- have been proposing. The most important goal of the two years is to have the Academic Council -- with staff and a budget -- take an independent look at Kunshan. This would mark a dramatic turnaround in faculty involvement -- for up until now the Brodhead Administration has provided all the financial projections.

There have been general briefings when the faculty was told what had been decided, erroneously identified as consultation by President Brodhead.

Key unresolved issue: how much financing -- if anything -- the Administration is willing to give the Academic Council for its review. Even so, the principle of a top to bottom, independent review will be established.

✔✔ Don't count on the Provost to use the word "moratorium."

The Mole told the Deputy FC that framing the announcement of a delay is likely to involve as many meetings as making the decision itself. The PR must be postured so stakeholders and the public do not see this as a Brodhead failure -- but at the same time it must avoid the pitfalls of the announcement of Sheppard's voluntary departure which no one believes.

In fact, the administration has yet to inform the university-wide faculty itself, or alumni, or other constituencies of the June 1 Fuqua faculty meeting. The Chronicle did not bother to cover it either. So if you don't read FC, you are lost in the wilderness.

✔✔✔✔✔ There is no indication if, as part of the morator--- whoops, whoops -- part of the two year delay, Lange will release information that would allow stakeholders other than the faculty to conduct an intelligent examination and dialogue. When the Fuqua faculty considered two possible degree programs -- a step necessary to put the issue before the faculty's elected Academic Council to gain approval -- the Administration only begrudgingly gave up consultant's reports and other documents. The documents were intended only for limited Fuqua faculty eyes -- but FC got his hands on them, and after taunting Brodhead to release them generally or FC would do it, FC did post them.

We believe administrators are morally obligated to enable debate -- not only drive their own proposals to fruition. Enable debate, not try to stifle it, as is their pattern.

Here is some of the key information that is needed by stakeholders to consider the Kunshan Initiative anew. We call upon the Administration:

✔ To reveal the status of Duke's application to the local and national Ministries of Education to operate in China. And in particular, tell us what tuition the administration projected in the application. Has China answered? That nation's answer is past due.

As FC reported in May, there is a huge gulf, with Duke anticipating tuition of $41,000 for Fuqua programs and $46,000 for a masters offered by the Duke Global Health Institute. Duke's consultants have found Chinese families might pay up to $15,000 for degrees -- while the Chinese government has typically approved tuition of only $5,000.

✔ To be honest with us about likely operating losses. The numbers we have seen are a year old. Some numbers have changed; we know so.

As Brodhead emphasized last week in an interview with public radio in North Carolina, this is the first of a number of similar Duke start-ups around the world. Yes, Duke, the McDonalds of education; if only we can put golden arches over the main entrance to campus. Brodhead -- faced with losses that his team puts at $40 million in the next six years in Kunshan -- did not say how many of these sinkholes he thinks Duke can afford.

FC does not understand at all why we need bricks and mortar in these international cities. Certainly when Duke moved from being a regional school to a national powerhouse, Presidents Terry Sanford and Nan Keohane did not put up buildings in New York, Chicago or Los Angeles. Rather, we should enrich what we do in Durham.

Strangely, Duke fell silent about all these other international adventures as opposition to Kunshan grew; one of the concerns has been that we are going in too many directions, too fast.

✔ To permit Executive Vice President Trask -- Duke's chief financial offer -- to speak freely on Kunshan; the muzzling of his comments, amid indications he questions the financial viability, is no longer acceptable.

✔ To provide to all stakeholders copies of documents negotiated with the Chinese about academic freedom. Months ago, Peter the Provost told the Chronicle a final agreement was at hand.

FC is particularly concerned about Brodhead's wishy-washy response to questions relating to access to the internet.

✔ To assure us that people of faith will be able to practice their religion on campus. And that Duke is making space available: a chapel, a prayer room, a meditation room. And to insure that Duke's motto - Eruditio and Religio -- appears on diplomas, along with the traditional seal which includes a Christian cross.

✔ To provide precise information about how Kunshan and all these other places will benefit the home campus. Brodhead's latter-day thought that faculty going to Kunshan would bring home new context for their teaching in Durham is rather weak, particularly given the small numbers of faculty involved.

✔ Lastly fund-raising. Ever since Brodhead came home empty handed from his unprecedented spree this summer through Europe, Asia and Africa, Michael Schoenfeld, PR vice president, has been promising a major announcement about a donation. Contributions like this -- quite apart from the fundraising to be conducted by Duke Kunshan University itself -- are key to Duke's meeting its obligations to plug the on-going deficits.

Total received to date: zero.

Brodhead did announce a pledge of $1 million a year for five years to ramp up fund-raising at Duke/Durham, the money to be spent in Durham to raise money to ship to Kunshan. He was vague at best, as to whether this would rob Duke/Durham of donors. For sure, it dilutes the attention he is able to give to the mother campus.

✔✔ So what else are the new leaders of our international aspirations doing?

After the faculty rejected Dean Sheppard's proposals, he had little time to get back to the drawing board before his very very rapid departure. So what's two-year Dean Bill Boulding been doing? There is little apparent in Fuqua -- a source tells us -- though he may be having small meetings with one or two members of the faculty. This is surprising; we expected him to land running.

And the interim VP for global strategy, Michael Merson, also has a low profile. FC has tried repeatedly via e-mail and phone to reach him about Kunshan. Plus, we want to discuss very substantial and disturbing questions sent in by an Institute faculty member involving Duke Global Health Institute, which Merson also heads. Next week we will write what we know -- with or without his input. (Update: our latest e-mail got an auto-reply that Merson is out of town until late next week. We'll give him to the 30th, a courtesy he has not extended to us in repeatedly failing to answer e-mails or phone calls.)

Thank you for reading FC and loving Duke. And have a good final weekend before the freshmen arrive.

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