✓ Suppose we opened a school. And no one wanted to attend?

1 crisis dkuImmediately after the joyous announcement last summer that DKU had received “final approval,” Team Brodhead set its marketing plan into motion. Festoons of balloons appeared on the Durham campus, hoping to draw the attention of Dukies desiring to go to grad school, and Nora Bynum, vice provost for DKU and China, told the Chronicle “we were well-organized and ready to go as soon as we got… approval.”

Within weeks, information sessions were held on leading campuses in China — Wuhan, Fudan and Nanjing Universities. And the Fuqua School of Business, in particular, with the most seats to fill at DKU,  announced plans for presentations in the US, China, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Mexico, South Korea and Japan.

Allen Building gushed: DKU immediately drew 136 likes on Facebook, 158 Twitter followers and 45 Instagram followers at the time of publication.

On Tuesday of this week,  the DKU Chancellor apparently mis-stepped and revealed that there are only 80 applications for three grad programs scheduled to enroll 100 or more students at this summer’s grand opening. Moreover, as the Allen Building Mole noted, the good Chancellor should have more accurately said he had 80 expressions of interest — almost none from within China — for there are fewer than 20 completed applications. No one has checked for English proficiency yet, as all classes are in English, and that’s a real problem in graduate-level rapid-fire teaching where complicated concepts need to be exploed.d

And beyond proficiency in English, we have no idea if these 20 or so students are worthy of studying for a Duke graduate-level degree.

Compare the numbers, please, with the 300 applications for 15 seats that the Durham English Department receives each year for its graduate programs. Or the 6,099 applications the Law School considered to find 211 members of the Class of 2017.

That’s Duke. Hard as hell to get into.

Team Brodhead has already started with the excuses for its latest foundering in Kunshan.  Uncle Dick flew half way around the world this week to stand silently with the DKU Chancellor as he announced the start of recruitment.

Huh? The start. How can these people pretend they haven’t been going full steam?

Team Brodhead is blaming the failure of the Chinese government to set tuition levels. Excuse me, but this is the same Team that said this little detail did not matter and everything would work out in the end. (There’s a new smoking gun on tuition; read our post next Monday!)

We should be questioning anew the location in a backwater; the nebulous academic mission of the place; the way a faculty is still being slapped together (much less a curriculum assembled) in repeated ads in professional publications; and the strong desire, which we knew about from day one from marketing studies that Duke University paid for out of Boston and Hong Kong, for Chinese grad students to leave their homeland for grad degrees.

With the first students promised that they will be told by February 1 whether they will be admitted to the Fuqua Master in Management Studies program in Kunshan, it seems to us that the Durham faculty has an urgent need to speak and enforce our integrity and standards at the front door.

Remember, please, that the hair-brained idea of DKU includes awarding to students who study there, precisely the same Duke degree as they would get in Durham.  It should be no easier to enroll or earn.

1 speechDuring the course of his three days in China, Brodhead addressed about 100 faciulty at Tsinghua University. We asked the Duke Mouthpiece Michael Schoenfeld what the occasion was, for his news release gave us the text without any explanation, and of course Schoenfeld did not respond. Brodhead at Tsing.Why Brodhead lets this clown get away with his discourtesy and his bedeveling of his image, is beyond us

Perhaps it was the ardor of travel, but there was no spark in the remarks. Yes, there were 4,104 words. But just words, nothing crafted into a powerful message. In fact we started to wonder if the message was the sales job about Duke that we could all recite: the interdisciplinary outlook, the Bass Connections, and speakers like Fahreed Zakaria.

Boy, was Zakaria out of the blue. And an odd person to bring up, given his confession of plagiarism right after his Duke Commencement address.

At one point, Brodhead did seem to brush against academic freedom — without ever using the words or expressing our deep concern for its well-being at DKU. He said he had been at a panel discussion in Chicago, where “the issue of university autonomy” came up.

And taking time from his Duke stories to spin one about Yale, Brodhead talked about a Chinese graduate who had gone on to great distinction and service. For a moment, we thought these lines in his speech were going to at last identify the Chinese leader who told him that China is ready to open up for a liberal Western education. But alas, that identity secure.

Welcome back to Durham, Dick. Let’s see… you’ve had news conferences in three cities in China, in Washington DC, in London and in India. Isn’t it about time you schedule in advance a real dialogue with reporters in Durham?

1 1A To reach longer version

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✓ Chinese students shun DKU

1 1 A  BREAKING NEWS1 dudWith President Brodhead silent at his side, the Chancellor of Duke Kunshan University dropped a bombshell at a news conference in China:

The new backwater university is drawing very few applications — and almost none from within China.

According to China Daily, the largest English language newspaper in China,  Chancellor Liu Jingnan combined three degree-granting programs for his tally: the master in management studies, the masters in global health, and the masters in medical physics (radiology and the like). Liu did not address the semester abroad program for undergraduates, which is not expected to blossom into a degree-granting effort for five years.

The Chancellor said that DKU hoped to enroll 80 to 100 in the three graduate programs when the school opens next summer.  That total is consistent with — but on the low side — of enrollment projections that have been in place for two years that are used to estimate DKU’s deficit. The projections show a very rapid ascent afterward.

But Liu conceded that so far, there have been only 80 applications from around the world. Moreover, the Allen Building Mole, refining the statement so far, challenged what Liu considered “an application,” and said that fewer than 20 have been completed. In November, the Mole told us about a “disappointing if not disheartening” response, but the numbers have been a tightly held secret until now.

The first students are due to be admitted February 1stst for the management degree.

The lack of interest within China comes as no surprise. Two initial market research surveys paid for by Duke challenged whether Chinese students would want to study for grad degrees in their homeland — or if they viewed the prospect of a degree as a ticket out of there.

In its initial incarnation, DKU was supposed to be 100 percent for Chinese students.

Moreover, DKU has been unable to tell prospective students anything about costs — awaiting decisions by the government pricing bureau. Team Brodhead has been saying these decisions would come soon — for at least two years.

It was not clear why Brodhead traveled half-way around the world to join Liu for the news conference that brought this headline in the China Daily: “Duke Kunshan University to start recruiting.”

In fact, that process began last September with great fanfare, immediately after the Chinese regime granted DKU “final” approval. We asked Michael Schoenfeld, VP for public relations in Durham, if the news conference merely represented an attempt to start over. The Mouthpiece did not reply.

Official photo shows the Chancellor and Executive Vice Chancellor Mary  Bullock and Uncle Dick touring the new campus on Monday.kunshan visit 2014

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The blog is on vacation for a few days.

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Huerta – developing

Durham DA to announce Tuesday afternoon whether any criminal charges will be brought in the death of Jesus Huerta.

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✓ Women’s basketball loses Chelsea Gray for season

The same kneecap, again.

The women’s basketball team has lost point guard Chelsea Gray for the rest of the season, because she broke her right kneecap during the first half of the BC game on Sunday. The injury was initially thought to be a bruised thigh.

Gray dislocated the same kneecap last season and that injury kept her out of the ACC and NCAA tournaments. Gray womens bbGray: the reigning ACC co-player of the year averages 10.8 points and leads the league in assists and steals for Duke (16-1, 3-0).

Latest polls. Oh my God!

Men – AP  Duke #23   USA Today #20

Women – AP Duke # 3


The jersey that Christian Laettner wore, apparently, when he fired the SHOT against Kentucky in 1992 has been sold at auction for $119,500.

We say apparently. So does the auction house. Laettner gave the jersey to an undisclosed friend, who apparently is now willing to part with it with one condition being he or she remain anonymous.

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✓ Rick Wagoner. He’s back!!!

1 corporate boardDuke PR, in both Durham and Kunshan, announced this morning the creation of a 19-member international advisory board that will, according to the official announcement, counsel the top leadership of Duke Kunshan University “on a wide variety of issues.”

If it’s counseling they’re after, then  DKU Chancellor Liu Jingnan and Executive Vice Chancellor Mary Brown Bullock will hear from corporate chieftans rather than educators or people in public policy roles, for the board is top-heavy with corporate executives.

Moreover, they’ll hear from a board that seems to be made up only of males (although we’re still checking the gender of some of the first names involved.)

Most often, boards like this, often called the Board of Visitors, have little true function, and exist merely to sustain the interest of key members who will be tapped during fund-raising efforts. Often these boards are top heavy with alums, but this one seems to have only 3 out of 19.

The composition of the board is disappointing in that it is a redux for former Duke Trustee chair Rick Wagoner ’75 and also a home for old cronies. Wagoner sleeps

Wagoner will become chair of the advisory board. That in our opinion makes a mockery of the important term-limits provision of the university by-laws, which never intended that senior members like Wagoner would have to leave the Trustees — making room for new blood and leadership — but surface elsewhere at Duke with their same case of stenosis.  Wagoner also serves as a Trustee of the Duke Health System.

Here are examples of the old cronies, the old-boy network at work:

– Jesse Wu, chair of Johnson and Johnson China, is a member of the new advisory board. His probable entry was through Thomas Gorrie, Trustee of Duke, Trustee of DKU and chair of the Duke Health board, who is a former world-wide Johnson and Johnson vice chair himself.

– Thomas R. Nides is also a member. He is vice chair of Morgan Stanley — and guess who the chair was until his recent retirement. Duke Trustee and heavyweight John Mack ’68.

– Dennis Nally, chair of PricewaterhouseCoopers International Ltd.  This accounting firm, which does not have a space bar on its computer so it runs all its names together, hired Blair Sheppard, former Dean of Duke’s Fuqua Business School and originator of much of the grandiose planning for DKU.

– Yang Yuanqing, chair of Lenovo. This is IBM China. Former University President Nan Keohane was a director of IBM for 20 years and this may have provided his entry.

There are some familiar names on the list: David Rubenstein is listed as a member, not ex officio as chair of Duke’s Trustees. As founder of the Carlyle Group, the giant American private equity plunderer, he will undoubtedly want to find a seat near Jin Haitao, chair of the Shenzhen Capital Group, one of China’s largest.

Rubenstein has had a counseling role on DKU before. He did a bang-up job as chair of the Trustee’s China Committee — and was so successful because he never disclosed who sat on the committee with him.

Duke’s China  hand,  Trustee Gao Xiqing, will also be on the advisory board.  He is president of the China Investment Corporation, placing surplus government money (yes their government runs with a surplus!) in overseas investments.

There are names that are unfamiliar to Dukies — but they are powerhouses. The most notable is Dhanin Chearavanont, chair of his family’s Charoen Pokphand Group in Thailand. The company is responsible for ten percent of Thailand’s GNP — and he’s worth an estimated $18 billion.

The board is also surprising because it embraces a leading Taiwanese citizen — and while much of Kunshan was creeated by Twiwanese capitalists looking for cheaper labor (yes cheaper even than Taiwan, by 90 percent), there’s no love between mainland China and the island.  Thus: Andrew Huang of the Sun Yat-Sen Cancer Center.

Thank you for reading DukeCheck!



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ASK UNCLE DICK 233344 copyHi Uncle Dick!!!  Happy New Year!!!!  Let’s roll the clock back for a moment. 1972, when you received your third degree from Yale, a Ph.D.  In 1980, you were awarded tenure, which under the stodgy Yale system, meant  you were one of the youngest people ever.

I bet you were damn proud. And you and Cynthia celebrated. I was wondering if you would share for us why you sought tenure, what it has meant to you.

And who made the decision to refuse to grant any professor tenure at DKU?

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1 be a deputy

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✓ Obama to speak on Raleigh campus

President Obama will be delivering a speech on the nation’s economy at North Carolina State in Raleigh on Wednesday.

Previously, we only knew that the President was planning a trip to the Triangle area. On Saturday, NC State Chancellor Randy Wood confirmed his destination.

Other details have not been announced.

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✓ Another slap at academic freedom

1 1 A  BREAKING NEWS1 DKU tenurePeter the Provost has revealed that professors at Duke Kunshan University will not have tenure.

The disclosure — affecting a basic right of faculties that the American Association of University Professors codified back in 1940 — puts another crimp into the concept of academic freedom on the China campus. 

The disclosure was buried deep in a transcript of the December 5 meeting of the Academic Council that was made available this weekend.  Answering one in a series of increasingly pointed questions from Durham faculty, PTP gave a convoluted explanation of the hiring process for faculty in China and the governance of the institution. 

Lange explained there will be Duke professors visiting Kunshan, but increasingly over time, professors hired specifically for Kushan who may or may not have secondary appointments in Durham. The precise role, if any, of the Durham faculty in searching for and screening applicants, is still in the air.

Since DKU will award Duke degrees that are the same as those awarded to students studying in Durham, this raised the specter of a student earning a degree from Duke without ever having met a Duke professor.

Daniel Gauthier, the Robert C. Richardson Professor of Physics and Professor of Electrical & Computer Engineering, tried to unravel some additional details, inquiring whether faculty hired specifically for DKU would receive tenure from Durham or DKU.

Lange: “DKU will not have tenure.”

Gauthier: “So what’s protecting the faculty?:

Lange: “Contracts.” 

Peter Feaver, Professor of Political Science, Director of the Triangle Institute for Security Studies and Director of the Program in American Grand Strategy, seemed to be immediately concerned to find out who made the tenure decision.

Mindful that PTP is also chair of the DKU Trustees, and that the board operates in secret so the Provost would be unlikely to reveal details, Feaver asked if the board perhaps had split along Duke-China lines on major issues.  The Board needs four of seven votes to act; Duke has three members, the city of Kunshan two and our silent partner Wuhan University two as well.

The Provost did not take the bait:

Lange: “Now that’s an interesting question. (laughter). What did you say your field was (laughter).”

Feaver: “Political science.”

Lange: “Unanimous every time.”

Quite apart from the new venture in Kunshan, the Durham faculty — like that of every major school — has long been concerned with the lack of tenure for increasing numbers of adjuncts, many of whom are retained year after year, as well as proliferation of professors of the practice and research professors. Now the Provost was saying that professors at the core of the academy would not have tenure either.

Tenure is designed to insure a more vigorous interaction of ideas on campus,  and DKU’s decision against it must be understood in light of other restrictions it is placing on the doctrine of academic freedom. President Brodhead set off great alarm when he waffled and said it was unrealistic to expect China or any other foreign nation to allow academic freedom on the same terms as in the United States.

The most important difference is that professors in China will not have any academic freedom at all off campus, but must hue to the party line.

The Duke model, established more than a century ago in the case of Professor John Spencer Bassett, involved his freedom to write in a magazine circulated through-out the South. It had nothing to do with what he was teaching in his history classes.

Moreover, the appearance of the initial list of courses at DKU, which is scheduled to open this summer, particularly for undergraduate programs which will be non-degree for the next five years and akin to a semester abroad, also touched some raw nerves. The list seemed woven around any possible controversial topic. One course will examine the history of democracy in Greece but there is nothing comparable about struggles of the Chinese people for a role in their own government.

Other issues have also arisen:

Brodhead seemed incredulous when first asked if there would be full internet on the DKU campus. But his “yes” response — that this was guaranteed in documents that he will not show anyone in Durham — was shaken when the Executive Vice Chancellor Mary Bullock let slip that Duke was creating a back-door channel for the internet in case the Chinese tried to block some sites.

Some sites are blocked nation-wide, like that of the New York Times, which printed several stories about high level corruption and nepotism. What will happen if someone in the DKU library signs on to www.NYTimes.com?

Brodhead has never commented on other aspects:

– whether the government will allow the teaching of religion and worship on campus at all. DKU does not have a chapel.

– whether a list of seven other forbidden topics for academic inquiry, including official corruption, will be enforced at DKU.

– whether the government will require Chinese students who will make up about half of the total, to attend military lessons.

– whether everyone will be required to study Mandarin.

– whether the President of DKU, who by law must be Chinese, needed approval of the local Communist Party, or whether his selection was a purely educational decision.

A professor typically is granted tenure — giving him or her economic security as well as protection if he or she wishes to be bold — after a certain number of years.  The text of the AAUP 1940 statement is here:


We are preparing additional postings based upon the December minutes. Please check back late in the weekend.


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✓ A woman named Willingham. A man named Thorp. Duke should be so fortunate

Over at UNC,  the talk of the campus this Friday evening is not Saturday’s contest against Number 2 Syracuse, nor the irrational hope that Roy Williams and his team can repeat their victories from earlier this season, when they defeated #1 Michigan State, #3 Louisville and #11 Kentucky.

Nor is the talk of five pesky defeats in between, three of them at home. Nor the hard news to swallow, that the player who should be leading this season’s fight, PJ Hairston, barred from the collegiate game because of still undisclosed dealings with a Durham thug named Fats, submitted his paperwork for the NBA Development League on Friday.

No, suddenly those are not the statistics that matter for UNC basketball. And football.

Rather, the talk of the campus is Mary Willingham.

An academic counselor and former reading specialist at Chapel Hill, she had data collected between 2004 and 2012 that surfaced on Tuesday in a report on CNN: nearly 10 percent of 183 football and basketball players read below a third-grade level, and 60 percent were reading between a fourth and eighth grade level.

Willingham had sat on this data for a long time. She reached out to people but “no one would call me back.” No one wanted to hear.

In mid-December, she did get a hearing before the faculty athletics committee. And a phone call that fortified her.

The caller was the Chancellor during some of the years that Willingham had studied: Holden Thorp.

Holden Thorp, who had resigned from the maelstrom of UNC’s administration to return to the classroom, and seven months ago had moved on to Washington University in Saint Louis as Provost.

And his message: “Your story is compelling, and you really need to go around, and you need to let the administration know how you feel.”

How refreshing. To hear the leader of a University encourage a whistleblower. To hear the leader of a University who wants to reach the truth, no matter how much it hurts.

We have two wishes: that in the coming weeks, that we learn that we harbor people as principled and decent as Willingham and Thorp, on our campus too; perhaps they will step forward in a new book to be published about the false charges and setup of three Duke lacrosse players in 2006.

Our other hope is that the name of Thorp come alive on this campus in three short years, when, as Duke Forward wraps up, presumably Dick Brodhead will move on.

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✓ Huerta: Durham cops release their report

At 2 PM Durham Police released their internal report into the death of 17-year-old Jesus Huerta while in police custody. As Loyal Readers know, Huerta was located after his sister called 911 to report him missing and suicidal. He was picked up on a trespassing warrant, searched, handcuffed with his hands behind him, placed in the back of a patrol car — and wound up dead with a single shot in his head.

“All evidence strongly indicates that he died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in the back of our police car,” Deputy Chief Anthony Marsh concluded. The Police Chief, Jose Lopez, stood on the sidelines during the news conference. 

In the report:

–  The patrol car was searched twice before Huerta went in — apparently as part of routine change-of-shift procedures. One search was done by an officer who had driven the car on an earlier shift. When Officer Samuel Duncan was assigned the vehicle, he too searched it. Huerta was the first person to get into the car on Duncan’s shift.

– Huerta was patted down front and rear, and around the waist, to see if he had a weapon.  Duncan, a rookie cop who just completed training, says he searched the youth, “using his hands to sweep both sides” of his body “including the waist area.”

A sergeant saw Duncan frisk Huerta’s clothing “but did not see him search further.” A corporal also on the scene saw Duncan pat down Huerta.

– After putting Huerta in the back seat of his patrol car and apparently before starting to drive to headquarters, Duncan noticed Huerta had wiggled so that his hands were no longer in back of him, but under his knees. Duncan took Huerta out of the car, adjusted the handcuffs, admonished the teen to stop trying to get out of the cuffs, and started to drive to police headquarters. In the parking lot, a shot rang out, Duncan jumped from the moving car, which hit a parked car.

– The bullet entered Huerta from close range, at the left side of his mouth, and traveled upward at a sharp angle through his brain and exited the left side of his head. The bullet was found to have passed through a fold in the red and black jacket Huerta was wearing. Soot and gunpowder particles were on the front of it. Medical examiners believe the bullet passed through the jacket before striking Huerta.

– Investigators recovered the bullet from the headliner of Duncan’s patrol car, on right side.

– A gun was found in the backseat. It was traced to a Georgia pawn shop in 1991 and no further.  Amazingly, since November 19th, there have been no ballistic tests to see if this gun indeed fired the bullet.

– Huerta wore black and white baseball gloves that tested positive for gunshot residue. Similar tests on the officer indicated he had not fired a weapon.

– A camera inside Duncan’s patrol car did not record the shooting. The camera turned itself off when the officer left the vehicle to save power, and when he returned, he never logged into the system to turn the camera on again.

– Another teen was with Huerta when he was arrested. He is Jaime Perz. It is not clear if he was arrested. He told investigators that Duncan only gave the two teens a cursory pat-down.

– In the early morning hours, a family member called 911 and the conversation included the fact that Huerta may be suicidal. That information never got relayed from the police dispatcher to officer Duncan.  It did undergo a routine evaluation, with 911 operators concluding this was “in the past.” Beyond, the dispatcher stated that Huerta did not have any “medical or mental condition.”

The news conference included a police presentation of photos of someone handcuffed — with a  lot of flexibility to use his hands.

The State Bureau of Investigation is also considering Huerta’s death, awaiting an autopsy. (It was Nov 19th)

There was no immediate reaction from the Huerta family.

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✓ Look at what the cold snap did to the Roney Fountain in Duke Gardens

Roney fountain 22

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✓ Martoma: Harvard Law expelled Duke honors graduate after he faked his transcript

Prosecutors and defense lawyers are expected to deliver opening statements on Friday, in the trial of Mathew Martoma for the biggest insider trading scandal in Wall Streeet history, one that meant a whopping $276 million for his employer.

At Duke, the defendant was known as Ajai Mathew Mariamdani Thomas, summa cum laude ’95.  After a year in genome research, he went to Harvard Law School.

On Thursday, we learned that he was not satisfied with his first year grades, so he doctored his own Harvard transcript to show A’s where he had earned B’s.

Somehow the registrar found out — and when confronted — Martoma tried to explain it was all a joke, the fake transcript was for his parents, and it was by mistake that his brother later mailed the forgery to 83 federal appeals court judges who were looking for law clerks. Martoma created a dummy forensic company in an effort to cover his tracks. And he sent Harvard an e-mail explanation — changing the date on the communication.

Several of the judges invited Martoma in for an interview before Harvard expelled him. Not suspended, expelled.

Not long after, Martoma surfaced as an MBA candidate at Stanford; we don’t know what the folks in Palo Alto knew.

Defense lawyers wanted to keep the forgery away from the jury, and in fact, in sealed documents, fought until they lost before the 2nd circuit Court of Appeals.  Prosecutors will be allowed to tell the jury about the forgery only if Martoma’s defense team tries to make a claim about the lack of forensic evidence of the insider trading. The prosecutors will point out the Harvard incident showed Martoma understood the “importance of minimizing electronic evidence that could establish his guilt and his capacity to alter such evidence to fit his version of events.”

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✓ Advisories


The Durham Police Department will release its report on the death of Jesus Huerta while in police custody at 2 PM Friday.


President Obama will visit the Durham area next Wednesday, to highlight the nation’s economic progress. There are no further details available.

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✓ The admissions office is covered by a shroud

The lead story in the Chronicle today — about the growth of early admissions — simply does not answer some questions that have hovered over this program for a long time.

First, our best information is that Dean Guttentag includes in the early admit totals far more than brainy kids. So it’s not just a matter of cheering for all those bright applicants.

There are those who waltz in through his back doors.

— One door is for athletic coaches to usher in their future stars.

— One for the development office to usher in the rich and famous who are most pleased to plunk down a wad of cash in exchange for a seat.

The Allen Building Mole tells us that the Duke Forward campaign is having a profound affect upon admissions — so no wonder we’re filling up the freshmen classes more and more with early admits.

Terry Sanford ran the process openly: he sent you to see Croom Beatty or Joel Fleishman.  Nan Keohane had the decency to give us a full accounting of the number of candidates advanced by development officers and how many were ultimately let in. Admissions counselors like Mary Anne Schwalbe of New York’s tony and expensive Dalton School were able to say, “I would say to the parents Duke is a long shot. I would recommend a less competitive school… The parents would say, ‘I have been in touch with someone there. It’s looking good.’”

Dick Brodhead prefers to operate under a shroud, to the detriment of Duke. It’s time to open up so stakeholders know, for it impinges upon the integrity of the process.

Guttentag should present his statistics in this manner:

1) Number of applications for early admission. True applications upon which his staff voted yes, no, deferred. The good dean has a very murky definition of what is an application now — and by building the number, obviously we can admit a smaller percentage and look better.

2) Number admitted for early admissions by category:  brains. Athletics. Development. Legacy.

3) Percentage of students applying for early admission who are admitted.

4) And yield from this group, that is, what percentage will actually show up. (It’s very high since Duke requires, unlike other schools, that you commit  to attending if accepted.)

5) Then with respect to the regular pool: the number of true applications upon which there is a yes or no vote.

6) The percentage of people in the regular pool admitted.

7) The yield for the regular pool.  We must be clear that this is a statistic for the regular pool: the overall number obviously will look more favorable since the early admissions segment will have nearly a 100 percent yield.

7) The number of transfer students who applied and who were admitted.  We’re going to see more and more of this, as Trinity College seeks to increase its income.

That’s today’s lesson on truth in admissions statistics.

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✓ Team Brodhead flip flop

1 tucksWith a firestorm brewing, Allen Building sent out an e-mail on the eve of the reopening of dorms for the spring semester saying it wasn’t going to zap the commons rooms for independents living on Central Campus after all.

This was the second e-mail on the subject; the first arrived during the exam period and said a crunch of students returning from abroad needed accommodation and the commons rooms would be converted to apartments.

Poor Joe Gonzalez. The Dean of Residential Life had become the face man for this — while the people in charge — the Dean of Undergraduate Education Steve Nowicki and Vice President for Student Larry Moneta got to duck.

Gonzalez’s statement was typical administration BS: we don’t need the commons rooms because “after much work by our assignment team,” everyone was placed. Why wasn’t this work done before the reconstruction was planned? Why don’t they just admit they were wrong and facing a firestorm?

Wrong to make a decision like this unilaterally, with no student input. There is, after all, a vice president for residential life in student government who did not have a clue.

Wrong to make a decision that impacted independents, but left every fraternity and every sorority and every selective living group on Central with their commons rooms.

Wrong, philosophically, since Nowicki and L-Mo have set out to make the dorms more than just bedrooms — and wiping out commons rooms would eliminate the only place independent students can gather informally and on the spur of the moment, run into each other, kick back on a sofa, talk and even watch TV since there is no cable on Central.

Right after we broke the story about the changes, we wrote to Nowicki and Moneta. Neither saw fit to write back; they shamed themselves and thumbed their noses at every Loyal Reader. And we will remember this.

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✓ Huerta: more and more questions. Cops didn’t search dead teen’s backpack for six weeks

In the Jesus Huerta case. Loyal Readers will recall he is the 17-year-old high school student who was approached by police, arrested on a warrant, searched, handcuffed behind his back, put into a police car for a trip to headquarters — and was en route when, according to the official version, he shot himself dead, one bullet to his forehead.

That was on November 19th.

Today we learned that Huerta was carrying a backpack that the arresting officer put into the trunk of his patrol car.

Today we learned that Durham Police never looked into the backpack.  On December 31 an officer assigned to the State Bureau of Investigation finally did, signing it out of the police evidence room. Yes, six weeks later.

It’s not clear when the agent obtained a search warrant to look into the bag, presumably before he took it. But he asked that it be sealed for 90 days to protect the SBI investigation.

Today, Tuesday, an assistant DA said the seal request was wrong — and the warrant was made public.

The backpack is said to have contained jewelry and electronics — including some items stolen from a home in Huerta’s neighborhood a week earlier.

The warrant contains information about the 911 phone call from a relative that led police to Huerta. He is said to be taking drugs and suicidal.

An attorney for the Huerta family said that the up-front information that Huerta may have wanted to hurt himself and was using drugs should have caused the officer who approached him to use even greater care.

Durham Mayor Bill Bell has promised release of the entire police report by Friday. We have to wonder why these tidbits are coming out in advance.

There have been two demonstrations by relatives and people concerned about the death. A third is planned January 19th.

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✓ The story of a summa cum laude Dukie who became a one-trick pony on Wall Street

In 1995, he got a degree summa cum laude from Duke. On Tuesday, he went on trial in federal court in New York, on charges that could land him in jail for 45 years.

Life has indeed been a “broad sea,” as the song foresaw.

At Duke, he was Ajai Mathew Mariamdani Thomas, the son of immigrants from India who lived on Merritt Island, Florida. He studied biomedicine, ethics and public policy and got a job at the National Human Genome Institute in Washington. He apparently did not stay there long, going to Harvard Law School for a year and a half before dropping out. His next stop was Stanford Business School where he got an MBA. martoma

Somewhere along the line, around 2001, he changed his name to Mathew Martoma, the name on his indictment.

He dreamed of wealth and was attracted to Wall Street. First to a small hedge fund, then to the grand-daddy of them all, the highly lucrative Stephen A. Cohen empire.  SAC Capital Advisors to be precise.

By 2010, his knack for identifying stocks on their way up, and on their way down too, had gone sour, and the Cohen people were calling him “a one trick pony.” He was fired.

Here’s the trick he did perform:

Two of the stocks that Martoma was following when he was a star were Elan and Wyeth, corporations that together were developing an Alzheimer’s drug named bapineuzumab.

Martoma’s indictment says he got secret information about progress of the drug from Dr. Sidney Gilman, a 81-year-old University of Michigan professor who was running clinical trials. The doctor was paid little more than $100,000 in exchange for this very substantial violation of the law, and he is expected to be salvage his own skin with strong testimony against Martoma.

The secret information? This drug is not panning out. Martoma insider trading

Martoma immediately called Cohen, pictured at the let. What they said is a mystery.

What they did is not: they dumped SAC’s holdings in the two companies for $276 million more than they would have gotten if they were on a level playing field with other investors. The prosecutor says this is “the most lucrative insider trading scheme ever.” That’s right, just over a quarter billion dollars.

Cohen promptly awarded Martoma a bonus of $9.3 million.

Because of his out-sized returns, regulators have been circling Cohen for years. Indeed, he faces SEC charges that he failed to supervise his employee properly.

But the big prize is an insider trading charge against Cohen — and that’s where prosecutors had  hoped Martoma would rat him out.

Instead, Cohen is paying for the defense of his former employee, and Martoma has, if he indeed does have information that he could trade on, avoided a plea bargain.

The prosecutor in New York has never lost an insider trading case — tagging another Cohen employee recently. We’ll be watching as the trial progresses to see if we hear from the jury — or from a scampering Martoma — first.

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✓ Duke researcher planning World Cup ceremony. Read this; it will surprise you

CBS News is reporting that at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil this coming June, a paralyzed teenager will walk onto the field and kick the ceremonial ball.

Thanks to research at Duke.

The teen’s lower body will be supported by a high-tech exoskeleton. There will be electrodes placed on his or her scalp or within the brain.

When the teen thinks about walking, the electrodes will transmit the brain signals to a small computer, worn like a backpack. The computer turns those wireless commands into movement.

The pioneering work on all this is being led by Duke’s Dr. Miguel A.L. Nicolelis,  a neuroscientist who is at the helm of Walk Again, an international collaboration that aims to use technology to overcome paralysis.

Nicolelis Miguel A.L. NicolelisWhy the World Cup?

Before Duke, Nicolesis grew up in Sao Paulo with a passion for football ( or as it is known around here, soccer ).  And he proposed that instead of the usual opening ceremony, “we would surprise the world by doing a scientific demonstration instead.”

“Sports can be a huge avenue to reach out to people that would never actually pay attention to science news,” he said. “I always wanted to show kids in Brazil how important science can be for society.”

Starting next month, a group of patients in San Paulo will begin training with the technology. By May, the field will be down to three finalists. And one will win the honor of delivering that first kick; two will be named as alternates.

Now you know just one of the things that they’re doing in the Duke University Center for Neuroengineering.

WHITE HOUSE HONORS   permar, sallie md

You may have heard about the recent research of Duke’s Dr. Sallie Permar, who holds both a MD and PhD., and who is associate professor of pediatrics, assistant professor of immunology, and assistant professor of molecular genetics and microbiology.  A paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences told of a newly-isolated substance in breast milk that inhibits HIV replication and may protect infants from acquiring the virus from mothers who carry the infection.

Now… White House honors for early career achievement, part of a program established by President Clinton in 1996.

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