Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Responding to Brodhead Comments – 5-16-07

The number of reader comments at JinC keeps growing. I’m very glad of that, but it means, while I read all comments, I can’t respond to them individually.

In this post I'll respond to recent comments regarding Duke’s President, Richard H. Brodhead, in “group fashion.”

I’ve picked three issues concerning Brodhead that keep coming up in reader comments. If your issue isn’t one of them, please comment. I want to hear what you have to say.

1) “It’s not all Brodhead’s fault.”

The “not all Brodhead’s fault” commenters typically say such things as one or more of the following sentences:

Brodhead isn’t responsible for what Nifong did or for the Group of 88’s “social disaster” statement and so much else.

There's only so much a university president can do. Brodhead’s faced with an A&S faculty that’s dominated by loud, ideologically driven, tenured leftists.

Some trustees want only “sunny news;” they don’t want the president locked in battle with the faculty.

University faculties are so entrenched in their “rights,” that a president would be foolish to challenge a faculty, even one such as Duke’s A&S faculty which has so manifestly failed its university in a time of great crisis.

I agree with those who say “it’s not all Brodhead’s fault” when they talk about things he can’t control.

But there’s so much he could have done and didn’t do. And there’s so much he did do that he shouldn’t have done. A few of the “didn’t do” are below under 2.

2) “Brodhead ought to be fired.”

People saying that cite things such as:

a) Brodhead’s refusal last March to meet with the lacrosse parents when they were on campus and his failure since to offer any explanation for refusing to meet with them.

b) Brodhead’s silence when white lacrosse players were targeted by “activists,” including adults employed by DU, with a “CASTRATE” banner and by others distributing “Vigilante” posters within sight of his office windows on March 29, 2006.

c) Brodhead’s decision to say nothing critical of those who shouted threats of physical violence, including death threats at Reade Seligmann both outside the Durham County Courthouse and within the courtroom on May 18, 2006.

What current university president has refused to meet with parents in the circumstances the lacrosse parents were in on March 25; or remained silent as a group of his students came under attack from hate-filled activists whose actions really endangered not just the students they were targeting, but all other Duke students as well?

Among current university Presidents, Duke’s Dick Brodhead is unique in his refusals and his silences.

He shouldn’t be in the president’s office.

But I don’t know if the trustees can fire Brodhead outright. There are very likely contractual arrangements between Brodhead and the board that prevent that except in the most extreme circumstances.

But I believe the trustees can force Brodhead’s resignation if board chair Steel tells him there is a strong feeling among many trustees that he needs to promptly replace a number of members of what’s known as “Dick’s senior team.”

Brodhead couldn’t miss that signal from the trustees. He’d know they want him to go, too; and that they believe his last, best service to Duke should be to start the house cleaning at the Allen Building and elsewhere that needs to be done.

If Brodhead will start that job, he’ll make the very difficult situation facing his successor somewhat less difficult.

As he begins developing “arrangements” and/or “separation packages” with some of his senior staffers, Brodhead can also begin to make his own arrangements and develop his separation package with the trustees:

”Board chair Robert Steel also announced today that outgoing President Richard H. Brodhead has agreed to serve as the first Director of Duke’s new Center for the Advanced Study of Changing Facts. The center, to be located in a group of 88 condos in downtown Durham …”

3) “The trustees pretty much got the kind of man they wanted. That’s why they’re supporting him.”

In one way, I can understand readers saying that. After all, during the last thirteen months not one trustee has, as far as I know, said one public word suggesting the slightest disapproval of any of the actions and inactions of Brodhead and “Dick’s senior team.”

The trustees have been silent even as Brodhead and his team's actions and inactions have concerned, shocked, angered and embarrassed many tens of thousands of Duke students, parents and alumni.

But I just can’t believe the trustees, if they could have “a do over,” would say: “Dick Brodhead’s just the man to lead Duke University. But can we can convince him to leave Yale?”

I’ll be saying more about Brodhead and Duke’s current crisis very soon.

In the meantime, your comments are always welcome.


Anonymous said...

With all your brodhead comments I now believe that what I said previously is correct. Brodhead is just an english teacher. And there are many teaching assistants surrounding him. He surely isnt the leader anyone hope he would be when hired and IMO will never reach that plateau of competence. Was it all his fault? of course not. But he sure made a lot of the hoax look better than it would have, if he just stood up for fairness, justice and the rights of defendants. Brodhead didnt and Duke lost.

Ex-prosecutor said...

Is there any reason to believe that the Duke trustees would even consider canning Brodhead? University trustees, in my experience, generally come from positions and backgrounds where they've honed their back-scratching skills to a rare degree.

To be completely cynical, which I am, I think Duke has to be hit in the pocketbook by unhappy alumni before the board will take action. Vanderbilt was spurred to curtain excessive spending by certain administrators by a critical lead lead article in Wall Street Journal.

Anonymous said...

My reply to:
“It’s not all Brodhead’s fault.”

Even if it's not all his fault, what he did was bad enough.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Ex-Prosecutor. Don't look to the Board of Trustees to remove Broadhead unless he becomes a financial liability to Duke or a total embarassement among the constituencies to which they play. After all this is a Board that was not troubled by Board-member Steel's conflict of interst. My guess is that many of them share his outlook and much of the outlook of the Group of 88. It's going to take a lot of action on the part of Alumni/ae, students and the parents of students to make the Board see that Broadhead is a big part of the problem, along with much of the administration and faculty.

kbp said...

Thanks John!

Not a topic I have great concern for, but I feel Spineless knuckled under to the crowd that looked for a conviction. Just an over opinion I have of him as a leader is that he is not one that takes control.

On the replying to Comments, never feel obligated to reply to mine. If they raise aan issue you would like to address, it would make no difference to me whether or not I was identified as the source. Apply your time to the case topics!

Anonymous said...

Well, as the University and Trustees and donating Alumni will find when they finally go to clear out Brodhead's office:

The buck stops here.

My prediction is that it will cost the university at least a few million dollars to clean those guys out.

Which, of course, will be a drop in the bucket next to legal fees and settlementes.

kbp said...

Chafe is simply looking to focus the discussion on the topics of his choice and avoiding responsibility for his signature. His signing on with the "ad" puts him in the position of being an author of that "ad". If the meaning of the "ad" as constructed is ambiguous, the result of the interpretations by readers is the responsibility of those that signed it. If there's a question of which interpretation would prevail in a court, the rule of thumb as to how it would prevail in society, he should review that topic (or actually should have before signing it).

Each of us has a different interpretation of what the document was intended to say... Many ask that I/we apologize for the statement. But to apologize for something that others interpret differently than yourself is not an act of principle, but rather one of expediency and hypocrisy.

We could argue intent forever, but that is not the "principle" to address. If those that signed the "ad" "intended" for it to mean something other than what so many that read it interpret it to mean, they should have proof read it and edited out all the portions which would create any misinterpretations. If they lacked the ability to do such, they should not have went to all the trouble they did to persuade so many to sign it and then pay to publish it so the world could read it. If it was an oversight on their part, then an apology is due to all that were unintentionally condemned by that "ad".

The problem is not the number of reported sexual assaults on campus, but the large number of unreported assaults. When my students – typical Duke students – tell me that a very small percentage of sexual assaults get reported, I believe them.

Now we have the students teaching the professors. The last letter left me with the understanding the source for this claim was the unavailable records kept by the administrators of student affairs. If their "listening" to and thanking those that were "protesting" was directed at general complaints of the sex crimes on campus, it was accomplished by identifying the Lax case as one of those crimes.

I am very sorry that the advertisement has become THE MAJOR point of contention rather than what I believe to be the more critical issue, how we treat each other on campus.

Avoiding topics by addressing a "more critical issue" will never resolve the problem that initiated a discussion. It is a shame he does not hold himself to be responsible for his own signature.

Anonymous said...

I agree with kpb that Brodhead "knuckled under to the crowd looking for a conviction," that being the agenda-driven Group of 88 leaders and their ilk.

Brodhead's April 25, 2006, speech reeks with sex-class-gender buzz words that would especially appeal to the 88, quoted in part below:

"we can’t be surprised at the outpouring of outrage. Rape is the substitution of raw power for love, brutality for tenderness, and dehumanization for intimacy. It is also the crudest assertion of inequality, a way to show that the strong are superior to the weak and can rightfully use them as the objects of their pleasure. When reports of racial abuse are added to the mix, the evil is compounded, reviving memories of the systematic racial oppression we had hoped to have left behind us . . . Compounding and intensifying these issues of race and gender, they include concerns about the deep structures of inequality in our society—inequalities of wealth, privilege, and opportunity (including educational opportunity), and the attitudes of superiority those inequalities breed. And they include concerns that, whether they intend to or not, universities like Duke participate in this inequality and supply a home for a culture of privilege. The objection of our East Campus neighbors was a reaction to an attitude of arrogant inconsiderateness that reached its peak in the alleged event but that had long preceded it."

been there said...

I would really like to know how much is in the brodhead package...salary, housing, personal staff (like maintenance of house), non-contributory pension expense, use of "research funds", travel and entertainment allowance (I suspect he goes first class). Pulling all this information is not easy.-, I looked at the financial statements. And some will be "confidential," but it can be done. Particularly interesting compared to the salaries of workers. During brodhead years at Yale "workers" there were eligible for Habitat for Humanity houses!

It would also be instructive to look at the salaries and "hours worked" (classes per term) of faculty.

Both brodhed and faculty can be beneficiaries of my very favorite only available to higher education elites' benefit: the tax exempt "tuition reimbursement" payment.

This is tuition paid to any university by Duke on behalf of children/dependents of faculty and senior staff. So, for instance, Duke will send to UPenn or Oberlin, as examples, the tuition for enrolled kids of Duke faculty/staff. Not an insignificant number. Where are the investigative journalists out there?

Not easy to get the tuition reimbursement number, the benefit itself is not discussed very widely.