Saturday, February 24, 2007

Admissions and the Trustees' Dilemma

A few days ago in the Q+A post, I included a couple of questions from people suggesting that the case would negatively affect admissions. In response, I noted that the Trustees should have become more involved in ensuring a fair education environment for all students.

A correspondent, properly, took me to ask, noting that I also should have stated that this year’s application figures for Duke were strong. For 2007, Duke had 18,495 applicants, down about 4 percent compared from 2006, but up 10.4 percent from 2004.

It’s unclear from these statistics whether any internal demographic shifts occurred within this pool—i.e., did applications from Northeastern whites, especially white males, decline? Was the average SAT score of the applicant pool higher, lower, or about the same as in previous years? But despite such uncertainties, it is clear that the lacrosse case did not cause a significant drop in admissions applications for 2007. (Applications for early admission did drop sharply, for reasons that are uncertain.)

If, then, overall application figures are fairly healthy, why should Trustees concern themselves with this issue at all?

For most of last year, it seemed (appropriately) that Duke officials worried that the negative images from the scandal itself and from students’ behavior more generally could affect the application pool—items such as the Rolling Stone article, or the caricatured image of the lacrosse players in the national press, or the fact that Duke could have a campus culture that might tolerate or even encourage the kind of horrific act that the accuser alleged.

Yet by the fall, these concerns no longer seemed warranted. The lacrosse program was restored and has received generally good publicity; most people seem (correctly) to believe that the Rolling Stone article was more an example of bad journalism than an accurate portrayal of campus life; and it appears about the only people who continue to accept the “campus culture tolerates rape” argument are a (dwindling?) faction of the Group of 88 and their allies on the Campus Culture Initiative.

Moreover, in the weeks before the 2007 application deadline, President Brodhead forcefully demanded due process for Duke students by advocating Mike Nifong’s recusal, and by lifting the suspensions of Reade Seligmann and Collin Finnerty. Such actions, no doubt, left the impression to parents of potential applicants that Duke, as a whole, had approached the case in a fair-minded fashion.

For many who have followed the University’s response (and especially the response of the arts and sciences faculty) to the case more closely, however, a different attitude exists. For instance, some segment of the alumni community is clearly distressed with the University’s conduct. To take one example, earlier this week, Howard Mora (Engineering ’92) wrote to the Alumni Admissions Advisory Committee to say that he no longer could conduct alumni interviews of applicants. He wrote as someone “proud to be a representative of Duke,” someone who could “speak with pride when describing how the Duke faculty and administration support their students.”

Based on the rush to judgment by many in the arts and sciences, however, and their subsequently refusal to acknowledge their actions, Mora stated that he could “no longer look prospective students in the face and tell them that Duke is a place of opportunity and fairness. However, I do not wish to tell them that Duke may be a place where they will meet prejudice based on the color of their skin or their family’s economic status.”

In the end, as Mora’s letter suggested, no elite university, including Duke, can prosper if impressions develop that its faculty dislikes a sizable portion of the school’s student body. Three types of faculty misconduct appear to have occurred last spring.

The first and most blatant (but also rarest) was outright grade retaliation—the sort of issue that has appeared in the Kim Curtis scandal.

The second was a belief among some arts and sciences faculty—figures such as Karla Holloway, Anne Allison, Grant Farred, Peter Wood, Houston Baker, Wahneema Lubiano, and Alex Rosenberg, for example—that while all other Duke professors were required to adhere to the Faculty Handbook’s requirement that faculty treat Duke students with respect, the Handbook’s provisions did not apply to them.

The third was an issue raised by Physics Professor Emeritus Lawrence Evans in a letter to the Chronicle earlier this week. He wrote,

The real Duke issue is not being addressed, at least not publicly. It is not the ad from the Gang of 88, which mainly represents a missed opportunity to keep one's mouth shut-hardly unusual for academics. What matters is what went on in the classrooms during the weeks after the story broke.

I know for a fact that some faculty immediately wanted the whole lacrosse team expelled; if that opinion was kept privately it did little harm. However one hears stories, many with the ring of truth, about classroom discussions and even instructor’s lectures on the subject that clearly assumed the worst and suggested retribution against the players. There is even a case in which retribution may have been taken in terms of grades. It is these things that ought to be brought into the open and discussed, because if true they outweigh in importance to Duke anything that seems to have happened at the Party From Hell.

To my knowledge, Duke has never investigated this issue.

The question of overall faculty bias has received some national attention, chiefly through the work of David Horowitz. But many of Horowitz’s allegations are overblown, and his proposed solution is unworkable. (I should note I co-sponsored an American Historical Association amendment condemning both Horowitz’s idea and campus speech codes.)

The Duke faculty’s response to this incident, however, is much different than the sort of complaints that Horowitz has offered. The issue at Duke centers on attitudes and behavior toward the students, flowing from a “groupthink” atmosphere but focused very much on the campus, not broader political questions. This question, obviously, has received a good deal of attention in the blog. But until the group of articles that appeared after the ‘clarifying’ letter (Abrams, Podhoretz, Allen, Laney) it hadn’t really seeped into the mainstream. And all those articles came after the application deadline.

The administration’s response appears to be to ignore this issue and hope it goes away. I think most college administrations probably would respond in this fashion—now that the immediate crisis is passed, attempting to discipline professors who misbehaved risks a faculty revolt. This policy, however, is risky, because it assumes the issue of faculty misconduct won’t get much subsequent attention. The administration could very well be correct on this point—but if a public image subsequently emerges surfaces that the administration did nothing to address the problem, this almost certainly will have an impact on admissions.

It seems to me this is where the Trustees should have stepped in. With institutional leverage that Brodhead does not possess, they could have made clear that all who engaged in misconduct will be held accountable—even if only through a letter in the file or some form of professional wrist-slapping—to a standard that Duke, as an institution, will not tolerate faculty who disrespect the school's own students.

By not acting, the Trustees have essentially allowed a long-term problem to fester, and are gambling that it’s not going to come to light. Their gamble might pay off. But if it doesn’t, the result could be very costly.

[Slight delay in posting today; internet problems.]

81 comments:

Anonymous said...

Got worried at 12:05! Good to see you here.

Anonymous said...

JLS says.....

It really is hard for me to believe this faculty behavior will not impact applications in some manner. It will be interesting to track down the road what happens to average admission qualifications.

dhd said...

This Feb. 24 blog wins the Duff Wilson award for journalism. Conclusions are based on very little information, an extended quotation from an alumni interviewer and a single letter from a professor. By saying that certain things give the impression that the faculty dislikes a sizeable portion of its students, you are giving the impression that the faculty dislikes a sizeable portion of its students. There are a very limited number of faculty that can be included in such a group through their actions and statements. As for your three categories of faculty misconduct, grade retaliation is indeed the rarest as there is only one known instance but in giving your example, you do not indicate that it is the only example you have. You make many assumptions and innuendos here. You speak too broadly in this particular blog, and imply too much. "Sizeable portion of students"--can you be more specific, are you referring to a particular category of student? This is not one of your better blogs. You're too full of vague advice and dire predictions tonight. You must be tiring from having to monitor the blog. This is not one of your finer products, and you have had many excellent ones. From an alum among legions of alums who have not yet made their opinions on this issue public for journalists, historians, and bloggers.

dhd said...

This Feb. 24 blog wins the Duff Wilson award for journalism. Conclusions are based on very little information, an extended quotation from an alumni interviewer and a single letter from a professor. By saying that certain things give the impression that the faculty dislikes a sizeable portion of its students, you are giving the impression that the faculty dislikes a sizeable portion of its students. There are a very limited number of faculty that can be included in such a group through their actions and statements. As for your three categories of faculty misconduct, grade retaliation is indeed the rarest as there is only one known instance but in giving your example, you do not indicate that it is the only example you have. You make many assumptions and innuendos here. You speak too broadly in this particular blog, and imply too much. "Sizeable portion of students"--can you be more specific, are you referring to a particular category of student? This is not one of your better blogs. You're too full of vague advice and dire predictions tonight. You must be tiring from having to monitor this blog. This is not one of your finer products, and you have had many excellent ones. From an alum among legions of alums who have not yet made their opinions on this issue public for journalists, historians, and bloggers.

dhd said...

This Feb. 24 blog wins the Duff Wilson award for journalism. Conclusions are based on very little information, an extended quotation from an alumni interviewer and a single letter from a professor. By saying that certain things give the impression that the faculty dislikes a sizeable portion of its students, you are giving the impression that the faculty dislikes a sizeable portion of its students. There are a very limited number of faculty that can be included in such a group through their actions and statements. As for your three categories of faculty misconduct, grade retaliation is indeed the rarest as there is only one known instance but in giving your example, you do not indicate that it is the only example you have. You make many assumptions and innuendos here. You speak too broadly in this particular blog, and imply too much. "Sizeable portion of students"--can you be more specific, are you referring to a particular category of student? This is not one of your better blogs. You're too full of vague advice and dire predictions tonight. You must be tiring from having to monitor the blog. This is not one of your finer products, and you have had many excellent ones. From an alum among legions of alums who have not yet made their opinions on this issue public for journalists, historians, and bloggers.

Anonymous said...

Dont know whether folks have seen this. Dennis Miller on Nifong on the Leno show...

http://youtube.com/watch?v=iMzCj9Pr66k

hman said...

Internet based debates are quite interesting to me because they typically combine the free-form spontaniety of a verbal dispute and a clean hard copy of what was expressed.
I have noticed that in such debates the losers (and sometimes it is nakedly obvious who won and who lost) never admit the superiority of anothers views. They simply start to act as if the better idea was their way of thinking all along. (When they can)
With this lesson in human nature in mind, I am not optimistic that the crowd at Duke that rushed to judgment in this matter will climb down from their first positions.
But they should, dammit, because the future of this saga will be that every single new revelation will be embarassing to the pot-bangers and the long term view of history regarding this episode will be critically influenced by the fact that NOTHING HAPPENED to CGM.
That is not going to change. Smart academic folk should have figured this out. But they are also human so the damage to Dukes credibility seems likely to continue.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for the Duke trustees to act against the rogue professors. Their silence over the past year has spoken volumes. Anything they said or did now would be too little, too late.

hyde park said...

The fitst line in Para 2 reads "A correspondent, properly, took me to ask, noting that I also". Did you mean task rather than ask?

No need to approve this post.

Anonymous said...

KC, thank you for moderating the forum - much appreciated.

I wonder whether the four percent drop in applications is evenly distributed, or comes from the "high" end of the applicant pool (i.e. high marks, high SATs, etc.). If the early admission applications are largely from those who have very high academic credentials (and are therefore likely to be admitted even before the whole applicant pool is known), then that four percent drop may represent a more substantial drop in the "quality" (at least as can be measured by grades, SATs, etc.) of the applicant pool. It would be very interesting to see those detailed numbers.

Anonymous said...

"For 2007, Duke had 18,495 applicants, down about 4 percent compared from 2006, but up 10.4 percent from 2004."

The '06 to '07 comparison gives the before & after with respect to Duke's handling of the LAX case. What is known demographically is that there will be more about 1.5% more high school graduates nationally this year than a year ago and about 3.5% than in '04. The trustees should be concerned that applications to Duke are down 4% this year in spite of an increasing number of high school grads, a trend that brought a healthy increase in application the previous two years. While it may be too early to tell for sure, it's not too early for Duke to be concerned.

westernblot said...

The law of unintended (or unanticipated)consequences. Some persons who previously felt Duke unattainable may be applying. Others may be unaware of situation (other than cable this has almost dropped from view in MSM).

I do know of a number of persons, though, who have awareness of the situation and are NOT applying because of it.

Anonymous said...

Is it also possible that the numbers are rigged. If a downward flow was detected school would go into free fall. Is the source audited or just reported.

Truth, being in short supply at Duke, suggests the question is appropriate.

Anonymous said...

K.C. you are spot on regarding the delay in response and action. Clearly the trustees and administration want everything to blow over. If one studies any scandal; political, business, or otherwise, they will learn that delaying action is absolutely the wrong thing to do. When a plane goes down, the company doesn't wait a year to respond to their customers – I mean a sincere, forceful and public response. We've seen the opposite.

The lack of transparency, leadership, and governance is appalling. It appears the governance is worse. They fail to see that other events can only prove the point.

This has already happened with the "Shut up and Teach" love-fest and the second rape case. Maybe the trustees underestimate the cast of characters that are abetting the fiasco and their ability to continue to demonstrate their level of incompetence.

If they studied markets instead of Marx, they would know that when a tipping point arrives, it arrives unannounced, is difficult to predict, and can’t be slowed once hit.

Just ask: Enron, Worldcom, HP, Clinton, Nixon, etc. The people behind those noteworthy scandals never thought it would happen to them. Had they been forthright, contrite, apologetic, and honest, the outcomes would likely have been different.

The trustess and administration are getting good advice, good advice and ignoring it, bad advice and taking it, or not getting advice at all. Most disconcerting is if their actions end up being perceived as correct; then the academy is in real trouble.

They act much like an addict who doesn’t refuses to acknowledge a problem exists. Wrecking the car every now and again isn't a problem. It's only a problem when you run over three young men. I'm afraid they think if the young men survive, that they won't think they have a problem.

Anonymous said...

Far, far more important than Duke's overall application pool (though it remains probative) is Duke's actual yield rate (that is, its ability to convert letters of admit into applicants that accept Duke's admission offer and enroll). The yield rate will influence enrolled students' SAT and GPA distributions, standard deviations, etc. My gut sense is that the truly competitive applicant--with admit letters from Duke as well as places like, say, Stanford, Chicago, Northwestern, the Ivies, etc., will be far more inclined to go to schools other than Duke. To be sure, Duke will likely still enroll students without comparable options. Also, for comparatively weaker credentialed students, this is a great year to apply to Duke.

Anonymous said...

A glaring omission - you failed to mention the trustees just voted the AAAs to departmental status. They really do not see any of this as a problem.

One wonders if the Gang of 88 executed a shakedown to receive this status, in lieu of more, not less activism. It certainly appears so.

That begs the question of whether or not the Departments should even exist in a University system. More appropriate may be to create a Speaker's Park in Hyde Park, such as the one in London, where everyone stands on boxes and shouts over each other as tourists stroll by and take photos.

In marketing and PR perception tends to be everything and can be unforgiving.

If parents understood the influence the Gang of 88, the nonsense of the CCI, the details of what these people "teach", the lack of leadership, etc. then Duke and other schools would be forced to change - Truth in Advertising. This will become especially so, if student are required to take these classes and go through mandatory sensitivity training.

Admissions, or as you pointed out, the quality of those admitted, will certainly decline if the Gang of 88 led the campus tours for prospective students.

This becomes a moral issue of not only what is said, but what is left un-said.

You have to disclose known faults when you sell your home - it's even biblical. Forgetting to tell a prospective buyer that your house burned, was flooded, of that Jimmy Hoffa is buried underneath, will get you in trouble every time.

Anonymous said...

Truth in Advertising:

Truth in Advertising

"...must be truthful and non-deceptive...

...have evidence to back up their claims...

...cannot be unfair

...is likely to mislead consumers acting reasonably under the circumstances..."

"...is "material" - that is, important to a consumer's decision to buy or use the product...

...it causes or is likely to cause substantial consumer injury which a consumer could not reasonably avoid..."

We need University Truth in Advertising...

Anonymous said...

The impact application for admission will become clearer after this year.
Parents and prospective students capable of meeting the academic standards and financial burden will look harder at alternative institutions.

After all has been said and done, the facts remain –
1] Duke University threw the lacrosse students under the bus.
2] Enable, if not tolerated the psychobabble of professors with ulterior motives and indefensible agendas.
3] Rarely challenged the ranting of external organizations such as the media, the New Black Panther Party, and the “homegrown pot bangers”.
4] Demonstrated poor organizational leadership, fracturing and deemphasizing the
Mission of Duke University.
5] Hiring professors with questionable credentials under the guise of diversity.

In my opinion, I find it painful that the reputation of Duke University has been tainted by the actions and inaction of a few. I am deeply saddened for those professors who are leaders in their fields, who call themselves “teachers” first and who truly care about their students.
This entire situation is a travesty. The conduct of so many, associated with the university and those who are not, has been shameful.

dave s. said...

I will discourage my sweet, smart, sports-mad now-ten-year-old from applying to Duke in six years, if this kind of poisonous professorial culture seems to be still in place. I don't have any idea how many parents are forming their look-ahead ideas of colleges on a five to ten year time horizon, but Duke has moved from generally positive to why go there for me.

Anonymous said...

It's quite clear that the administration will take no disciplinary action with respect to the conduct of irresponsible faculty members who advance their shameful political agenda at the expense of their own students and the university, regardless of the principles outlined in the faculty handbook; in fact there is good evidence that the administration supports the outrageous activity of the Gang of 88. Another discouraging possible outcome is that the Trustees may well do nothing. But perhaps most depressing, is the fact that it appears (at least up until now) that parents of bright, hard working, motivated students will simply shrug their shoulders and reach for their wallets, sending their money, their children and their uncritical support to a group of lazy, ignorant loudmouths who have rather successfully over the past thirty years managed to hijack what most of us have respectfully referred to as "higher education." I, for one, am the parent of a very bright high school junior, with very high test scores and grades. She won't be applying to Duke.

Tuco

Anonymous said...

At the end of the day, after all the dust settles, things will eventually return to complete normalcy:

- The Gang of 88 will scurry off to their utterly insignificant miserable universe (where no really takes them seriously, just as we did before).

- The University, ever wanting to remain politically correct, will pat them on the head like a toddler, privately bite their tongues in disgust and continue to placate them.

- Nifong's career will end is disgrace.

- Crystal Mangum's place in history will be along side Tawana Bradley and Susan Smith.

and finally...

- Duke will continue to be a highly sought after pretigious university. Yes, even by white males from northeastern America.

Anonymous said...

Not addressing the issues, quite simply emboldens the offenders.

Note the CCI.

Imagine the reaction if there was a recommendation that all students must participate in an intramural helmeted team sport.

Darby

Anonymous said...

The story about Duke admissions for the Fall of 2007 is far from over. The overall quality of the applications and the yield are yet to be ascertained. I am aware that my children's school, which until the Fall of 2006 typically sent 2-4 kids per year to Duke, sent no kids to Duke for the Fall of 2006, and so far none are planning to enroll for the Fall of 2007. I am aware of only one student who applied for admission for next fall at Duke (a legacy), and I know of one family who after sending three children to Duke is sending the fourth, equally able child, elsewhere.

I also do not know a single Duke parent who is defending the behavior of the administration or the GRUMPS in this case. All have expressed considerable disappointment and concern. I should add that none of these families have any connection with the LAX team.

Observer

Stephen Thomas said...

The solution is to shut down the black studies, women's studies and queer studies departments.

These are non-academic units. The only purposes of these units are political propaganda and agitation. Each of these units continued existence depends on manufacturing phony allegations of racism, sexim and homophobia.

These units, at Duke and at every college, must be disbanded and their faculty must be dismissed.

Won't happen, will it? That this won't happen raises real questions of whether humanities departments at universities deserve to continue to exist.

P. Rich said...

"...now that the immediate crisis is passed, attempting to discipline professors who misbehaved risks a faculty revolt. This policy, however, is risky, because it assumes the issue of faculty misconduct won’t get much subsequent attention."

The much more "certain" risk, it seems to me, is that the behavior will recur at every convenient opportunity; and it might not be so easily detected or justifiably punished. Targeted white students, the modern PC campus element most vulnerable and least able to defend itself, will continue bear the brunt of entrenched race/gender faculty rage.

Failure to take action will, as usual, be interpreted as a sign of administrative weakness and license to repeat the offense. In some quarters, this inaction is called "establishing precedent" and will carry weight in the inevitable subsequent episodes.

Anonymous said...

I think the absolute number of applications tells us little. In fact, there may a pool of less qualified applicants who typically would not apply to Duke, but might figure they'd take a chance this year, hoping that Duke is down and desperate. That would increase the number.
The real answer will come with the students who get accepted by both Duke and Yale, or Duke and Princeton, or Duke and WIlliams. Whereas typically Duke might get a fair percentage of those choices, I expect a greater percentage of those elite students might decide to go elsewhere this year.
That's why the decrease in early decisions might be more telling for Duke than the stable number of total applications.

Jamie said...

"Duke [cannot] prosper if impressions develop that its faculty dislikes a sizable portion of the school’s student body."?

Oh, if it were only dislike, and only directed against "rich" white athletes! The unmistakable animus of some Duke faculty goes much deeper than that.

Take Farred's charge of "secret racism" as the true catalyst for the Duke students' voter-registration push during the Nifong election. In Farred's mind those students wanted to vote against Nifong not because he was being unjust, guilty of misconduct, but because they wanted to hurt the black accuser, and through her the black community.

Incredibly, Farred was so sure of this reading he announced it publicly. Farred wasn't bothered even to pay lip service to the students' right to vote, and he seemingly had no conception at all of the grim irony of his charge that they were voting based on their racial prejudices.

Any teacher who believes that he or she teaches a bunch of racists on a campus full of racists, is probably not feeling dislike but smoldering hatred of a lifelong enemy.

That is Duke's real problem; what to do about people like Farred is the Trustees' central dilemma.

Anonymous said...

Dear Professor Johnson:

Down four percent from 2006 does not sound good. You also need to compare this figure to that of other comparable institutions, whose applications might have been rising, as has been the trend. I don't have the data, but your statistical analysis needs some refinement before any conclusions can be drawn.

Bill in Virginia

Jamie said...

"Duke [cannot] prosper if impressions develop that its faculty dislikes a sizable portion of the school’s student body."?

Oh, if it were only dislike, and only directed against "rich" white athletes! The unmistakable animus of some Duke faculty goes much deeper than that.

Take Farred's charge of "secret racism" as the true catalyst for the Duke students' voter-registration push during the Nifong election. In Farred's mind those students wanted to vote against Nifong not because he was being unjust, guilty of misconduct, but because they wanted to hurt the black accuser, and through her the black community.

Incredibly, Farred was so sure of this reading he announced it publicly. Farred wasn't bothered even to pay lip service to the students' right to vote, and he seemingly had no conception at all of the grim irony of his charge that they were voting based on their racial prejudices.

Any teacher who believes that he or she teaches a bunch of racists on a campus full of racists, is probably not feeling dislike, but smoldering hatred for a lifelong enemy. That is Duke's real problem; what to do about people like Farred is the Trustees' central dilemma.

Anonymous said...

I think the Duke admin purposely held back on releasing the CCI report until after the admissions deadline passed...

Brad Davis said...

8:28 is correct. The proof will be in the ACCEPTANCE rate, not necessarily in the APPLICATION rate.

Anonymous said...

The Duke Trustees have every reason to worry about the decline in admissions. While Duke's applicant pool has shrunken by 4% and is up only 10% since 2004, the schools to which Duke would like to be compared have nearly all had substantial rises in both early admission and regular admission applications. Regular applications set records at Princeton (up 8%, and 38% since 2004), Brown (up 3.8%), and Penn (up 10%). There
were substantial gains at Harvard (7%), Columbia (8%), and Cornell (7.5%, and
45% since 2004.)

As long as large donors, like Bill & Melinda Gates, continue to give money, the university can say that total donations are on track. But if I were a trustee, I'd want to know why the number of donors is down, because in the long run the loss of alumni loyalty is going to hurt the university.

Over the last year, it's become a lot harder to be proud of my Duke degree. The events of the last year make it clear that the university has changed substantially, and not in a favorable way, since my time as an undergraduate there. I never thought I would be among those who say “not one dollar, not one child,” but now I am.

AngierBDuke78

Anonymous said...

Non-Lawyer; non-professor; just Regular Ole Joe......

What really gets me agitated bout these here professors is the obvious hypocrisy. It really is OK and perfectly legal to not like rich-privileged-white boys from the north. But why would you then spend your life depending on such for the majority of your customer base, i.e livelihood? Actively preaching against the very class of people that pay your salary and provide you your job!

Why that would be like the circuit preacher railing against the evils of drinking then getting a job at the local pub to help make ends meet. Both are legal and acceptable - you just have to question the personal interigity of someone doing both at the same time.

Or it just might be like a professor over at NCCU speaking out against financially poor black dudes from the hood and how they were destroying NCCU. Just ain't that smart.

ROJ

Anonymous said...

It's much too early to say how the trustees will respond. If alumni donations fall noticeably these next few years, then the Brodhead administration will likely be eased out. Professors under fire (Houston Baker?) are far more likely to take positions elsewhere than to be sent packing by Duke. The wild card could well be the quantity and quality of civil suits filed against Duke and its employees. If the financial hit proves severe or the notoriety unrelenting, the trustees will shift the burden down the food chain.

Anonymous said...

Is the admin's ban on signs at the Lacrosse game today an attempt to reign in the type of signs and protesters that shut down last years Georgetown game an hour before game time?

Gary Packwood said...

This Too Shall Pass vs. Universal Human Values

A good economist should be advising the Board about the consequences of the 'This Too Shall Pass' response.

Do nothing and you trigger the Hollywood crowd to invest in a movie titled ...Doing it at DOOK.

Or, respond by making a strong positive statement about the need to embrace universal human values at Duke and you enable Duke to rise above the competition and become the benchmark for excellence in higher education.

It is decision time ...and time is not on your side ...ladies and gentlemen of the board.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't be surprised to see Duke applications for admission go up a bit. Lots of high school seniors who previously wouldn't have thought they stood much of a chance of making it into a first tier school might now think that the scandal is driving away better qualified students, so hey, what the heck, they'll give it a shot.

The crucial point for Duke is whether it still attracts the best kids, not how many kids are applying.

This of course brings up a more interesting point about the whole matter of what constitutes prestige and status, and whether an institution is truly providing a better education than its less prestigious rivals, or simply attracting better qualified students in the first place, who in turn have the motivational level to take advantage of the materials and personell provided for education, and more or less educate themselves.

The proposition in turn ties into Russell Kirk's concept of natural aristocracies, those hierarchies that form wherever human endeavor is found. Genuine accomplishment, and its constant corollary, prestige and status, are essential ingredients of such aristocracies, but which came first, the prestige or the accomplishment, has been debated. Marx and his epigones attempted to divorce prestige from accomplishment, with disastrous results.

The American framers, on the other hand, accepted the inevitability of natural aristocracies, but eschewed titled aristocracy, thereby making a crucial and world changing distinction: equal before the law, equal at the start of the game, and let each person find his or her own level in the natural quest for prestige.

The gramscian strategies of the Group of 88 and many of their cohorts throughout higher education and on the political left seek to undermine the framers with "outcome based" propositions for public policy. To they extent they succeed the light of liberty dims and the rewards of accomplishment diminish. The irony is they form these propositions ensconced in the comfortable lairs of prestige and status, and even, for some of them, after having achieved a level of quite considerable personal accomplishment.

beckett

John Bruce said...

8:28 is correct on the meaning (or lack) of the application numbers -- for Duke, the spring applications are a crap shoot, since Duke has always been the Ivy League backup. It may be that those who feel their applications to Cornell or Penn are on shaky ground may be calculating that Duke will look more favorably on them than in other years.

But I'm not sure if trustees are the ones to get involved in the lacrosse episode. The lacrosse business is happening at the administrative and faculty level, not at the level of long-term overall policy that the trustees typically deal with. As a Dartmouth alum who's donated money to our trustee petition campaigns, I would say we have a pretty good idea of what we want from our insurgent trustees, and it's not to micromanage who gets suspended, what Prof. Throckmorton says about fraternities, etc. etc. There are long term policy issues, such as will Dartmouth stay a college or turn into a university; will it continue to have high-quality athletic programs in the Ivy League tradition; will it continue to stress teaching; will the adults in charge promote free discourse; that are what trustees should be managing. The only thing trustees can do if they feel something like lacrosse is a major problem is fire the president. Period. As a practical matter, I'm not sure if the lacrosse circus is quite enough for that.

It does, though, make me glad that Dartmouth alums have had better experience electing "their" trustees, but also that the overall quality of the Dartmouth trustees and administration has been high enough to make the overall policy shifts that the alums have expected. Maybe this has kept Dartmouth from having a lacrosse type circus, though there have been smaller skirmishes.

Anonymous said...

Pure suppostion on my part but I believe yield will be adversely affected, and strikingly so.

Contributions from alumni will continue to decline as well-- at least from Trinity graduates. There is momentum in the system, in both applications and development work, but the numbers should turn downward this year and into the next couple of admissions and development cycles.

This is one of many reasons it is irresponsible for Trustees to ignore systemic problems leading to troublesome public perceptions leading to a less prestigous image.

It has taken Duke many years to build its reputation, and will take much longer to regain it once the extent of the damage becomes apparent.

I have a son at a well known boarding school and two more sons coming behind him. Excellent students, fine athletes, great social skills. We are also the kind of people who pay full tuition.

That Dr. Chafe would gut shoot his own student in public is indicative of serious problems I cannot wish away or ignore.

My sons will not even consider applying to Duke unless and until some serious cultural problems are meaningfully addressed, and I cannot imagine that I am alone in this regard. sic semper tyrannis

Anonymous said...

KC

I think you overrate the effective power of boards. This is not surprising because the legal theory of boards is utterly mythical.

I know something about boards: I have sat on five different ones and been chairman of three of those. The critical thing to remember about boards is that they spend 40 or 50 hours a year doing their job, whereas management spends 40 to 50 hours a week doing theirs. Management always has far more information than a board. The legal fiction that boards can and should run something is simply absurd. (HP is the latest fiasco where a board tried to manage.)

The primary role of a board in practice is to hire and fire the head manager. An important secondary role is to provide a sounding board for that head manager, who has many things that he or she cannot easily discuss with subordinates.

Now it is perfectly possible that Brodhead did a bad enough job last spring that the Trustees should fire him. But it is also possible that he did a mediocre but satisfactory job under very complex circumstances. The quality of Brodhead's work is what the Trustees should be worrying about, not getting involved in personnel decisions of faculty.

JeffM

Anonymous said...

I went to the City University of New York’s Queens College when it was as tough to get into as Harvard. Following my graduation New York decided to have “open admissions” without any thought to its long term consequences. I needed a 92% average to get in. With open admissions you now only needed a 75% average to the same college. When I started my career my CUNY education was highly regarded as it would be from any elite school. As the years went on it has only been thought of as average at best.

Actions college administrators take may not have short term affects as much as longer term affects. Not only do we not know the quality of this new class of students, I would be more concerned about the quality of future classes and the overall reputation of Duke. It was not always an elite school. It worked very hard to get that status and what creates brands like Duke can also ruin them.

Right now Duke University may be facing a long term decline in prestige because of its own actions and how they are being perceived and interpreted by its’ future – parents of future students and their college admission advisors.

The two actions by Duke that can have detrimental longer term consequences are:

1. The University chose to suspend the three lacrosse players before any evidence had been presented in a court trial and all there were at the time were suspicions and innuendos.

2. A significant number of the University faculty (the Group of 88) chose early on to defame these students and in one case that has been exposed chose to use grades to punish a student.

Regarding the second issue the university is a business and like any other business there is a limit to its democracy.

Teachers are employees of an institution – they are not the institution. Their obligation is to fulfill their job which is to teach in a classroom and offer advice to students in their subject area. Their job does not include defaming students for any reason much the same way an employee of a company cannot defame a customer or even a peer. In any other company, such an employee would be terminated immediately with no severance. These teachers do not have rights others do not have. Tenure does not include misconduct and placing their employer at risk to be sued which is exactly what this Group of 88 teachers has done.

The people who decide to send their children to a college like this are not left wing ideologs. They are generally more conservative successful people who are very deliberate in their decisions and are not impressed by radical thought and behavior.

I do not think that the parents of a prospective Duke student in the future will be impressed with any conciliation with these 88 teachers and will also be unimpressed with the ability of these 88 teachers to continue to conduct themselves in any way they want and treat students however they want.

My son is a Duke graduate and I do not wish to see happen to his resume what happened to mine because of administration errors in judgment.

Jamil Hussein said...

So Duke CCI has proposed mandatory diversity indoctrination course for all students. Didn't Mao use this in China in 1970s?
To Gang88, marxism is the answer.

How about this: All Duke professors, especially gang88, must go through mandatory "fairness and equality" class. It teaches them Duke Faculty HandBook and that people have equal rights and people cannot be discriminated based on their race/gender/class.
Teachers who fail the course will not be allwed to continue at Duke.

Maybe KJ can post more detailed proposal about this?

Anonymous said...

I think only the early admission #'s are in for the class of 2011 and they DO NOT look good. Early admission applicantion are down 20.0%. Am I missing something?

2011

Class of 2011: 469/1198

2010 Profile Data:
2010 Admission Profile


2010

Class of 2010: 470/1499

Anonymous said...

I agree with the posters who suggest that yield will tell more than applications received. 8:28 may be right that many applicants who have Ivy or similar options may choose those other options this year. But for students at that high level, there can be a lot of factors in play--the size of offered financial aid packages, the strength of particular departments or the ability to work with specific programs/professors, etc. (And some may just really like basketball.) So ultimately some of these students may have reasons still to choose Duke.

As for the theory that Duke may have falsified their statistics, that seems a bit paranoid to me--if they were willing to do so, why report the big drop in early decision applications?

Finally, to the commenter who speculated that the early decision applicants may generally be the statistically best-qualified applicants, I doubt that is the case. Though I don't know the specific data, based on what I know about college admissions generally from going through my kids' application processes and reading on the subject, many binding early decision applicants at selective schools are students for whom the school is a "target" school--i.e., one for which they are in the range of typical accepted students, but by no means guaranteed admission--or a little bit of "reach" school--one for which their chances are smaller, but not non-existent. These applicants try to game the system a little bit and make themselves more attractive by committing to attend a school if accepted, thus improving the school's yield figures. The very best qualified candidates may instead choose to wait or to apply to one of the Ivy or other top schools that offer non-binding early action programs, thus maximizing their options.

Anonymous said...

We do not yet know the quality of the students who applied or who will accept admission. It will be interesting to see if the admissions office follows its usual procedure and puts a press release showing the average SAT scores, numbers of valedictorians, etc., who accept.

But point of information: the admissions office recently put out the final numbers of applicants, who numbers more than 19,000 -- much closer to last year's number but still a drop-off from what might have been expected. Not a great dropoff as far as numbers go. Also the dropoff seemed to have been in the engineering area rather than arts and sciences.

MTU'76 said...

To Darby 8:10 AM

Brilliant idea! Faculty participation should be mandatory. Would love to see the 88 on ice for the faculty/student hockey game. They would be hopeless as a team of course because they would all be playing left wing.

Anonymous said...

Carolyn asks:

"the Trustees have essentially allowed a long-term problem to fester, and are gambling that it’s not going to come to light."

Someone should tell Brodhead and the Trustees their gamble is actually strip poker with cards chosen by the Gang of 88 - and when Duke loses against the cards held by the lacrosse players, all the pot banging in Durham isn't going to drown out the screams from the naked endowment fund.

Anonymous said...

We are a double Duke alum household. In the last few months, I stopped counting at 25 the number of co-workers, neighbors, clients, etc. with outstanding high school students who told me in regretful tones that they had crossed Duke off the list of prospective schools. Most of the time, the student remains interested in applying but Mom and/or Dad put their foot down and refuse to send their kids (1) to Durham where they could be targets of the local community and police and (2) to Duke where they could be targets of radical faculty. The impression right now is of chaos -- no one is in charge, and no one at Duke seems to show an interest in righting the ship.

Personally, I think it will take Duke at least 5 years to recover from this, and then only if Duke sheds its image as an unfriendly and unwelcoming place.

The fact that applications went down "only" 4% does not mean very much for reasons already explained. Early admission dropped 20%, and those applicants are generally of very high quality and motivated to come to Duke. As someone else pointed out, we are probably missing students who have a range of options at least comparable to Duke. Time will tell how bad the damage is, but there is no evidence that Brodhead can fix this.

Anonymous said...

I have frequently posted on this board and am in agreement with KC on all but the idea that this incident will have a long term, or even short term, impact on Duke and admissions. I am an alum and, like every other alum I know, am upset and angry with Nifong, adminsitration and so forth. Nevertheless, it is a great university and this is just one incident. As for short term, I have more than anecdotal evidence. Alumni interviews in my well off area are up up up with the top kids again uniformly applying and seeking interviews.

Anonymous said...

I will definitely discourage my two mixed-race daughters from applying to Duke. One is already in College and doing pre-med, the other in in the top 5% of her class as a junior and both are technology oriented and so on.

Anonymous said...

K.C., with this comment you are addressing a question that has haunted me for the past several months. As a parent of a recent Duke graduate and as someone who was involved in fundraising for the college during our daughter's four years at Duke, I have been aghast at the faculty catatonia over the Gang of 88 statements. Frankly, I would be really scared to have our daughter starting at the college next fall, as the lack of faculty support for the students is frightening. As for admissions performance this year, my strong bet is that Duke will experience real tankage in the acceptance statistics when they come out. 12th graders will still apply, but it will be far fewer people's first choice. I could even see Duke being considered a safety school this year. No one will want to go there unless he/she has no alternative or unless it represents a real trade up for someone who would have been turned down in prior years but now is given a gift, sort of comparable to one of those wacky football first round draft picks, whom everyone expected to go in a later round.

Cedarford said...

Agree with a few posters that mention a glaring omission in relying on the Trustees is their decision to elevate AAS to Departmental status. Obviously Wahneema & Co. have been rewarded by the Trustees.

So, I think that Horowitz is right and KC Johnson is wrong. Academic reform must come from outside the University, because left to their own devices, the Faculties and internal Trustees and "committes of faculty peers" bow to the Ward Churchill backers/Summers denouncers/Critical of White Males Studies groups win every time.

(And it is such a shame that a schlock group of academics that does not better society in any way but instead divides it gets Departmental status while people absolutely critical to society - cutting edge nurses - are shunned at places like Duke as detracting from the prestige of the institutions)

*********************
Part of the problem Duke has is their attractiveness does not rest simply with Faculty abiding a code, but the overall experience students and their parents expect. Right now, prospective white students have to be thinking not only is a portion of the Faculty out to get them, but they would have their "experience" in what appears to be a dangerous black-dominated cesspool of a city. Where they would be disliked, cops are told to single out & harass them by Duke Administration and black leadership, law enforcement & prosecution craves making examples of white privilege, and "escape" to more attractive areas of recreation and cultural experience is more difficult than other urban-based prestige colleges. Yale is in a similar mid-sized city rat-hole in New Haven, but great neighborhoods are minutes away, New York and Boston, less than 1 hour away. Same with Brown.

And other prestige colleges do not now have a reputation for betraying part of their student body and throwing them to the wolves. Certainly part of their faculty would like to...but only Duke let them blunder there.

Jacqueline said...

I really need to speak up re: Feb. 24 blog. My son graduated from Duke in 2004. His Duke experience was top-notch. His advisor was a brilliant person-leader in his field- who wasn't even obligated to take on an undergrad and not only did- but was a conscientious supporter of my son's interests. My son helped edit a book, did research on another book and generally was able to communicate with his professors in a way that I didn't get to do until I was in graduate school. My son's chaplain is still in our lives. She was smart, challenging and capable. She got my son through many tough moments. She slipped out and bought him a birthday cake during a meeting when he had been on campus less than a week. At our request, she went to find him when we couldn't locate him during a serious illness. He had GREAT challenging professors who pushed him to think more deeply about course content and stretched him- wrote him long emails about his work, and were incredibly understanding when he needed surgery. He had dinner at professors' homes and indeed a retired professor and his wife offered their home as a second home to him. He still has regular contact with at least 5 professors. He is now a few months away from graduating with his masters' in GA and has stood out from day 1 in his current program because he was so "over" prepared by his undergrad experience. By the way, we are not rich and he received a full academic scholarship. In addition, faculty stood behind him, nominated, wrote letters and supported him receiving a Lilly Foundation grant whilch allowed him to live rent-free with other students one summer who were discerning how they would use religion in their various majors while also supplying great internship experiences- which the faculty also arranged for him. (That experience stretched him far and above any other living experience he had but would probably be condemned by the CCI.) I am appalled by the Group of 88 and was a true skeptic from day 2 of the Nifong fiasco. I just can't allow stereotyping of professors given my son's fabulous experience at Duke. KC, you are doing a great service, but I am with dhd on this one.

Anonymous said...

Good comments by 7:08 and 8:28.

Number of applications is only a part of the "selectivity" picture.

Selectivity as measured by those who do college and university rankings, such as US NEWS,create an selectivity index which includes the folling official numbers: applications,yield{ie percent of thse admitted who matriculate},percent accepted of total applicants,SAT median ,percent in top 10% of class.

it is very important to keep in mind that this index is calculated on a relative basis,ie in comparison to all other schools.The selectivity index is a crucial number in the overall ranking and is given significat weight by high school placement personnel and others interested in a particular school.

The US News rankings come out in august.Duke's relative selectivey will be showen to the world at that time and will affect '08 early and regular applications

If Duke's selectivy ranking goes down it will significantly adversely affect Duke's reputation and could result in a downwaed spiral in applications etc

It is important to keep in mind that the selectivity ranking is totaly obvjective and it is not possible to "spin' in the way schools try to do when the ranking goes down.

The sectivity ranking in August {as well as '09,10,etc} will be an important objective measure of how much damage has been done to Duke's reputation and prestige.

Anonymous said...

Is this possible:

Duke's applications among higher level students are down. Good students who are not neccessarily up to Duke's standards may have applied because they know many less people who are better than they are academically were applying.

Just an idea. Cant really make any assumptions until statistics are in.

KC Johnson said...

To the 1.50:

Your comment is very much welcome, and it raises a mystifying question for me. There are probably 25-30 professors, at most, who fall into one of the three categories raised in this post. The vast majority of professors at Duke seem to fall into the category you describe.

The problem: by not acting in any way against those Duke professors who have engaged in unprofessional behavior, the administration has effectively created the impression that this behavior is acceptable.

Brian said...

I believe the real damage to Duke's reputation is still to come. Once the civil suits are commenced, and the Federal rules of discovery reveal memorandum, e-mail messages and phone logs, the real extent of the activities of the Duke administration and the Group of 88 will be open for all to see. At that point, the Board of Trustees will have no option other than sacking Brodhead and cleaning out the nest in the liberal arts faculty. In

Nifong's hat trick said...

A recommendation for "diversity" courses?
Diversity courses are nothing more than vehicles for bashing white people,and mainly white males. Why are white males the only people who are not allowed to love who they are?
Diversity training is really a smoke screen for sanctioned discrimination against whites.

Steven Horwitz said...

It's also interesting to ask why so many good Duke faculty have been publicly silent it the face of the G88. Extrapolating from my own campus, I would guess that many would prefer to devote their time and energy to working with students in the way 1:50 describes (or doing their own research) than to insert themselves into issues such as this one. As much as I respect that position, I think it's ultimately self-defeating, as it allows the worst to speak for the best.

There is probably another reasons as well: people fear that speaking out against faculty known for being vocal critics of racism etc will cause them to be seen as racist etc in the eyes of others. If so, this makes my disciplinary colleagues in Economics all the more brave for their letter. This position too is self-defeating as it tenure protects critics of the G88 just as it protects the G88. If you have that protection, use it.

To stand by and do nothing in the face of the worst of the lot speaking in your name means it's going to be hard to complain when the admissions numbers drop, or you get a curriculum you don't want, or the blogosphere keeps nipping at your heels.

huesofblue said...

I don't think duke is going to see a big impact on admissions or student quality. Demand for top ten schools is incredibly high, and the supply is (almost by definition) very low.

When I was looking at colleges 10 years ago, my number one consideration was the school's ranking, followed only by the vibe when I visited and the caliber of sports. The ideaoligy of the faculty wasn't even on my radar screen. I don't suspect that's too unusual.

I'd still pick Duke over Cornell, Wash U or Brown (and certainly over vandy, emory and wake) if the group of 88 was the group of 300.

The only way I could really see it impacting my decision would be if I wanted to major in Angry Studies, and that would be to avoid duke for all the criticism the G88 have gotten and continue to get.

MTU'76 said...

To Jamil Hussein, Duke alum & Parents, Possible Duke Parents, Never again Duke Parents, Duke-no-way Parents,

Don't you find the proposed mandatory diversity course offensive to your role as The Parents? Having raised a bright, successful child, sent him off to college, with all your love and support, including your morality bundled up in his back pack would you allow a "knowledge worker" to sort through said back pack and decide what is worth keeping and what should be thrown away? Would you teach your child to maintain the morality taught at home and possibly respectfully disagree in class discussion with the "knowledge worker" or encourage your child to lay low, and just regurgitate the 'lesson' (not onto anyone's shoes, of course.) (or her)

Bill said...

What amazes me is how many of the worse behaving faculty are totally clueless as to anti-harassment policies. They've pretty much checked off most of the list of things we are frequently preached NOT to do EVER. Academic Freedom doesn't cover this type of misbehavior, yet they do it as if it's their right.

The trustees SHOULD have intervened long ago on that point alone.

Anonymous said...

Just spoke with someone at the Duke LAX season opener about a half an hour ago. Gorgeous day, all is well, Duke was leading Dartmouth 8-5. Thought you would like to know.

Observer

Len D'Amico said...

KC posted:

"The question of overall faculty bias has received some national attention, chiefly through the work of David Horowitz. But many of Horowitz’s allegations are overblown, and his proposed solution is unworkable. (I should note I co-sponsored an American Historical Association amendment condemning both Horowitz’s idea and campus speech codes.)

The Duke faculty’s response to this incident, however, is much different than the sort of complaints that Horowitz has offered. The issue at Duke centers on attitudes and behavior toward the students, flowing from a “groupthink” atmosphere but focused very much on the campus, not broader political questions. This question, obviously, has received a good deal of attention in the blog. But until the group of articles that appeared after the ‘clarifying’ letter (Abrams, Podhoretz, Allen, Laney) it hadn’t really seeped into the mainstream. And all those articles came after the application deadline."

I disagree that Mr. Horowitz's "allegations" are overblown. There is plenty of anecdotal evidence that those applying for a faculty position or tenure are forced to hide their politics due to the overwhelming majority of liberal faculty in the arts. Where is the evidence that these faculty are actively recruiting conservative scholars?

Maybe Horowitz's solution is unworkable, but the problem does exist and does require attention.

KC, I have a three word response to your statement that the attitudes and behaviors toward the students were focused on the campus and not broader political questions: race, gender, class.

Gary Packwood said...

To the 1.50 and 2:01

25-35 professors holding that much influence does not surprise me as I have actually been in a similar situation and watched the way they work and their control over large numbers of staff level employees for a period of about 7 years.

First, the Medical, Law, and Business Schools are post graduate schools and the faculty of those schools believe that they don't have a dog in this fight...yet.

A second issue concerns the allocation of limited resources. For those disciplines who should have a dog in this fight, the risk of loosing resources if they get on the 'hit list' of these professors as happened with the students ... is just extreme.

And finally, the risk associated with retaliations against your advisees and student assistants is a real fear for many faculty.

The overall fear across the entire faculty is the knowledge that only an outright campus wide revolt will stop a group of faculty whose world as they know it, is not fenced around with facts or proofs or conventions of objective truth.

These 25-35 faculty tell what they feel or what they have seen...as we have seen over and over and over.

Once they are enabled...they are hard to manage and ...they know it.

The only way to win this game is not to play at all.

Duke 17, Dartmouth 10 with 2:00 minutes remaining at 4:27 PM

Anonymous said...

@ Brian

I am not a lawyer, but I suspect that Duke is far less liable to civil suit than most people are assuming. First, what damages have been caused by Duke? The legal fees, emotional pain and suffering, etc. was caused by Nifong. If you think about what Duke did as a university, it fired a coach, which even if wrongful is not going to be a big-money case; it terminated a lacrosse season, which probably is not a tort under any theory of law; and it suspended three students who had been indicted for serious and violent felonies against the person.

I am not trying to defend Duke's abnegation of its moral duties, but the law is too crude an instrument to vindicate those.

Second, people quite rightly are incensed about the Gang of 88. It is not clear to me that they have committed slander or libel in their public statements. They have been very cagey in not getting too specific. They are, to any thinking person, disgusting in their careless haste to make political points at the expense of the kids they are paid to teach, but that does not necessarily constitute a tort. But even if it is true that some or all of the Gang of 88 are liable for slander or libel, it does not follow that Duke is liable. The whole point of academic freedom is that Duke has little or no control over what its faculty members say; consequently, it is unreasonable to hold it responsible for their utterances. To state it a different way, faculty are not authorized to speak for Duke, but only for themselves.

Now obviously the grade retaliation case is based on breach of contract, but it involves only a single student.

Perhaps KC could invite a lawyer to give a thorough analysis of what claims might be brought against Duke with a good chance of success. (I doubt anyone is going to sue the Gang of 88 as individuals; they are probably proof against any judgment that would even begin to cover the cost of litigation.) The suits that have promise and will almost surely come will be against Durham, Nifong, etc.

JeffM

Anonymous said...

I'd like to know where those numbers for applicants came from. At this point I wouldn't put it past Duke to lie about the numbers for admissions....after all the Duke Administration has lied before, telling the students they will represent them and not to contact their parents. They fed those boys to the sharks and sat back and watched. Then they they sat back and did nothing while the Duke 88 (employees of Duke University) threw chum into the water for a feeding frenzy. They refused to talk to the parents of the indicted. Duke has damage and the numbers given are fake. Admissions are down way more than they have let on. This is damage control and PR putting out incorrect numbers. Duke is toast as long as the Duke 89 exist. Didn't Brodhead sign on.....

Anonymous said...

Who says that the trustees have a dilemma at this point?

Why should they feel compelled to act?

The problems they face (or fail to face) have been developing for years yet fresh crops of 18 year olds arrive at the door of Duke, the Ivies, etc. every fall. In a year or two, parents can expect to pay $200K for their child to be put under the guidance of people who might well detest their child on sight. And many will pay that $200K and another crop of kids will show up.

There will be no action to correct course just because it is the decent thing to do or even because it is what "outsiders" would demand. Over the past two decades, there have been hundreds of opportunities across the US for adults to step in and do the right thing when crazed faculty and administrators attacked their own students, academic freedom, and due process. I have not seen a lot of courage. Fortunately, the courts step in from time to time and squash the more eggregious attacks on freedom.

There won't be action until there is some pain -- lower acceptance rates, lower national ratings, lower mean/median SAT scores for matriculating students, lower alumni donations.

It will take years of pressure to bring reform. Pressure from lawsuits, alumni withholding of money, and perhaps a really well-researched book or two that exposes the dual assault on education and justice.

The trends over the past couple of decades have been pretty clear for academic freedom. But, until families stop lining up to feed the beast (as well as feed their children to the beast) higher education will march in lockstep in the same direction.

All I can say is, I will be reading more than the US New and World Report college rankings to determine how I will part with $500K for my two kids. And, although I had a great experience at the University of Chicago over 20 years ago, I will start asking hard questions about current campus culture before sending them any more money.

And, I will buy the book (even in hardcover!!).

SAVANT

Anonymous said...

The admissions discussion is missing the essential details. Some alumni have been told that applications from NY, NJ, Conn, PA, and MD are off. The all out admissions recruitment effort in the Carolinas served to maintain total numbers roughly the same. Applicant numbers of those with SATs at the very top end, and those below the median, are stable. Those applicants with SATs in the previous Duke upper 65-85% from that mid-Atlantic area are numerically down. The local suspicion is that the NYTimes catchment area is a problem, and likely to remain so for several years at least.

The statistics various commentators here say they would expect to see released in a number of months, like yields reported to USNews etc., do not and will not, because they cannot, show these features of the admissions results. For example, application numbers in various specific admissions categories, and yield rates in those particular categories, from NY say, have never been and never will be public information.

This is the kind of report that the Trustees are hearing this weekend.

Anonymous said...

This what will happen if you're caught reading DiW...

"Each morning at 6:30, he is jolted awake by a soldier in fatigues shouting, "This is for your own good!"

CCI fineprint

Anonymous said...

To Jeff 4:33: Don't forget Duke Administration specifically advised the players not to contact their parents, hence they were advised to talk to the police without representation. Duke cared more about their image than the students welfare. Duke 88 and students, faculty used Duke computers and copy machines to copy wanted posters and the Listening Statment. Duke employees slandered to many times to count the indicted students and the entire team..

GregK said...

This article on admissions and the trustee's dilemma is missing something that nobody has looked ahead to. In his comment, david s. at 7:51 am said he is looking down the road for his 10 year old and where he may be going to college. If this thing becomes a worst case sceniro for Duke and Durham, there will be very public legal proceedings that will remind him for years to come why he chose to send his kid to another school. They will also be attention getters for those who haven't been keeping up with this case and the law suites it, in all probability, will give way to. These law suites will have an effect on everything and they will be slow to come and will come for a very long time. Anonymous at 6:57 said:

"If they studied markets instead of Marx, they would know that when a tipping point arrives, it arrives unannounced, is difficult to predict, and can’t be slowed once hit."

I think the tipping point may have been reached and because of paperwork lag time and all, it just isn't there on the books yet. Something else to consider is that the true numbers may never be known. As a private institution, Duke may be able to hide this from the public and most alumni, faculty and staff. This point I freely admit is unclear to me at this moment.

The filp side of this coin is that knowing my personal experiences with the NC justice system and having read the statements of others from other blogs, Nifong will get a slap on the wrist, given a judgeship, and the rest will be "investigated" and swept under the rug.

Anonymous said...

momtothree said

While Duke 2007 applications may be down *only* 4%, the decline is considerably greater when you take into account the average rise in total applications for comparable schools.

I did some checking this afternoon, and for top schools (all those for which I could find numbers) applications on average are UP 6%.
So if Duke is down 4% and others are up on average 6%, practically speaking, Duke is really down 10%.
I don't see how that level of decline can be treated as not significant. And, as others have pointed out, there are civil suits and much additional negative publicity still to come.

Also, IIRC, this year was the first time Duke allowed the Common Application, which should have boosted application numbers by itself - suggesting that even 10% understates the true drop.

For the record,
Princeton, + 8.0%
Harvard, +.05%
Yale, -9.7%
Stanford, +7.0%
MIT, +9.0%
Penn, +10.0%
Dartmouth, +2.0%
Columbia, +7.3%
Chicago, +8.0%
Cornell, +7.5%
Northwestern, +19%
Brown, +3.8%
Johns Hopkins, 5.0%
Emory, +7.8%

The significant drop at Yale was surprising, and was attributed by some to Yale's extremely low acceptance rate for the prior year based on a big jump in applications. It was assumed that last year's very low acceptance rate discouraged some applicants this year.

Many of the above numbers came from this site:
http://www.admissionsconsultants.com/college/blog.aspx
The rest came from the websites of individual schools.

Anonymous said...

momtothree at 10:04--
Your numbers are interesting. But Duke has been accepting the Common Application for a while--at least since 1999-2000, when my older daughter applied. Duke still had its own application, but applicants could use either one. By 2003-2004, when my younger daughter applied, I'm not sure Duke continued to offer its own form; she definitely submitted the Common Application.

Anonymous said...

The decline in Duke applications is quite serious. momtothree correctly pointed out relative to competitive school about 10% in a single year.


I agree with those who point out the worse is yet to come and the raw numbers do not examine the quality of applicants.

To me, once the public realizes the administration ordered Coach Pressler to tell the players NOT to call their parent, the real pain will begin.

Why? Because it is a very definable act, nothing subjective about it... nothing there for examination, analysis or perspective. Just the fact, that during an extremely dangerous time the school told the players not to contact their families. What mother or father wants to heat that?

I think that single fact will put everything else in perspective and parents will go crazy. Duke needs to deal with serious issues now or it faces a problem far beyond what they imagine.

Mom of 4 said...

mtu'76 said:

"Don't you find the proposed mandatory diversity course offensive to your role as The Parents?"

I am beginning to research colleges and universities on behalf of my teenagers. I am particularly focusing on "Core Requirements" My children will not be applying to *any* school that includes any sort of multi-cultural or diversity course as a requirement for graduation. Period.

Anonymous said...

Today's kids aren't stupid. Most of them realize that a college diploma is mostly a fraud these days. It's just gives them the right to put a name school on their resume. They get their parents to pay a fortune so they can buy a name degree and get a jump start into the better paying jobs or grad schools. So they just nod their heads and repeat whatever garbage their professors want to get through to graduation.

Anonymous said...

The US News selectivity ranking comes out in august.Unlike the overall ranking it is very meaningful because it is based on hard numbers not subjective opiniouns.

There may not be many lawsuites against Duke because the university will have a huge incentive to settle before suites are actualy filed.This is good news for the plaintifs but bad news for those who want a bright light shed on what actualy went on behind the scenes.

Anonymous said...

Actually, the number of applications has been revised as Duke extended its due date. Here's the quote from the Duke admissions site:

"Our admissions officers are busy reading applications from the record-setting 17,958 students who applied to Duke through our Regular Decision process. The total number of applications we received this year through Early Decision and Regular Decision is 19,148."

So the percentage change is only about -1.3%. I am a strong KC supporter, but I think the numbers should be noted correctly.

Jacqueline said...
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Anonymous said...

Actually, I made a mistake in my calculations. The drop was only .7%. Last year Duke had 19,282 total applicants and this year 19,148. KC's point is well-taken though in terms of possible demographic change.