Monday, October 29, 2007

Brodhead Review Letter

On October 1 Duke’s Board of Trustee Chairman Robert Steel announced the formation of a Presidential Review Committee charged with assessing “the effectiveness of [President Brodhead] in leading this complex and ambitious University and in articulating a vision for its future among leading universities” during his first three years in office.

A similar review process occurred at the end of Brodhead’s predecessor Nan Keohane’s first three years in office.

Steel invited comments.

I’ve just sent the following electronic letter to Trustee Dan Blue, who heads the review committee.

Dear Chairman Blue:

I commend the trustees for undertaking a review of President Brodhead’s leadership and for inviting comments concerning it.

I'm sure thousands of other alumni have already commented, some in great detail.

I'll therefore keep my comments brief and limited to a few “main points.”

You and the other trustees must be asking yourselves:

Knowing what we've learned these past three years, would we have selected President Brodhead in the first place?

Is he the best person to lead the University now and in the foreseeable future?

It’s hard to see how either question can be answered with anything but “No.”

Why retain in office a president who refused to meet with the lacrosse parents last March and for months thereafter; and who to this day refuses to explain why he didn't?

President Brodhead said nothing when Reade Seligmann was threatened by racists.

He said nothing a few weeks later when the members of the Women’s lacrosse team were trashed by many in the national media for saying the three Duke students were innocent.

Duke students deserve a president who'll speak out when racists threaten them and when journalists trash them.

The Duke community deserves a president who’s willing to explain h/her actions fully and openly; and who welcomes questions concerning those actions.

President Brodhead’s proven he’s not that person.

He frequently urges us not to “look back,” but just “move on.”

His invocation of those mantras is a damning indictment of his failed leadership.

In 1970, at a time of extraordinary anger and division within the University, the trustees had the care and wisdom to give us a new president, Terry Sanford.

We need another such president now.

Thank you for your attention to this letter.


John in Carolina


Anonymous said...

Great letter,
Thank you for writing it and sharing with us. Brodhead must go. He is a divisive force at Duke, and that's not what Duke needs right now. This is a time for unity and healing and Brodhead does not even know what that means. He has to go, there is no other way.

Anonymous said...

As long as the BoT retains Steele, Brodhead is safe. He knows to much , therefore he remains!

Jim in San Diego said...

I am not an alumnus, so do not feel justified in contributing to the Brodhead review. However, some factors which the review committe may wish to consider:

The ongoing lawsuits - Lacrosse players/Durham, and Pressler/Duke -if not settled, will lead to very embarrassing discovery. Mr. Brodhead and other administration leaders, will be asked under oath what they did, and why. The embarrasment will be magnified if he is still leading the Duke administration.

It is difficult to imagine what Mr. Brodhead will say that will not be embarrassing and even shameful to Duke. Did he intentionally break the law in voluntarily passing confidential student information to Nifong without a subpoena - "Yes". "Why did you do it?". There can be no honorable answer.

Why did you refuse even to meet with the Lacrosse parents? Where did you learn that the purpose of a criminal trial was so that defendants could "prove their innocence?".

Why did your administration maintain a stony silence when 88 Duke professors teed off on Duke students? Why did your administration respond to the dangerous and irresponsible behavior of many members of the AAS program by promoting it to full Department status? What was your role in rewarding Mr. Nartney?

Why did you let the wanted poster to remain posted around campus? Did you leave your spine in your office when you appeared before the press to discuss the case?

Plaintiff's attorneys will have dozens of these unanswerable questions to answer.

Anonymous said...

Jim in San Diego:

Good post!

I think even the densest member of the board must understand by now the precarious position that Duke is in.

The question for them is what to do?

You could throw Brodhead overboard but what good will that do? He will still be deposed. It may even make him an unfriendly witness for Duke.

Its looks to me they have no choice but keep him in place, stonewall and hope to settle the lawsuits before discovery.



Anonymous said...

Alas, I think you are correct. So far they have bluffed their way through. As long as they have other people's money to spend to cover their errors, the trustees would rather live with Brodhead than face the wrath of the 88ers.--Buddy

Anonymous said...

I agree it's a great letter.

How can Duke keep Brodhead?

He's been a disgrace.

Jim in San Diego said...


You may well be right. Coupled with the administration's obvious terror of G88 and their minions, Duke may just decide to tough it out.

What a shame.