Friday, February 06, 2009

The Chronicle Deserves a Congeniality Award

A recent Chronicle (TC) story concerning Duke’s growing budget deficit began:

Executive Vice President Tallman Trask spoke at Duke Student Government's weekly meeting Wednesday about the University's strategy to cope with the economic downturn.

The University's spending budget has been reduced by more than $100 million, Trask told The Chronicle Wednesday, and he estimates that the deficit is close to $130 million.

"How to adjust to this without destroying the momentum of the institution and causing more damage than necessary is really important," Trask told senators at the meeting. . . .

It is difficult to adjust to the loss as the entire economy is looking down, Trask said. He added that administrators are considering various models for a smart and effective way to deal with a $100 million deficit over several years, rather than reducing spending all in the next year. …

The entire Chronicle story’s here.

My comments:

Folks, you probably noticed in the second paragraph TC reports VP Trask “estimates that the deficit is close to $130 million,” while a few paragraphs further into the story TC reports Trask is looking at “models for a smart and effective way to deal with a $100 million deficit[.]”

I suppose it’s possible that between the time he addressed the Student Government and the time TC put the story to bed, Trask was able to reduce Duke’s deficit by $30 million.

But it’s more likely TC made an inadvertent error of the type everyone makes.

We can all understand such an error.

But people who care about Duke more than Brodhead & Co. will find something else very hard to understand.

That's TC’s failure to ask Trask anything about the impact on the deficit of the costs of settling some suits and defending itself and many of its leaders, including Trask, against other suits; all the suits having been brought against Duke and those leaders as a result of the university’s disgraceful actions and inactions in response to the lies of Mangum and Nifong, the attempted frame-up of innocent Duke students, and the cover-up which began with the frame-up attempt and continues to this day.

After reading TC’s budget deficit story, a friend who’s quite knowledgeable about Duke’s finances emailed, saying in part:

The deficit would be much lower if Duke had not had to pay tens of millions of dollars in settlements and legal fees in connection with its mishandling of the lacrosse incident -- and these costs will continue as the civil suits move forward.
TC makes no mention of anything my friend pointed out.

If the trustees ever decide to give a Congeniality Award, Trask should "really, really" nominate The Chronicle. TC's earned it.

And don't you agree Trask should have no trouble finding eager seconders in the Allen Building and other places where Duke defendants have offices?