Monday, October 22, 2007

Update: Burness Retirement

This announcement has just arrived, from John Burness:

It's been a long time in the making, but I wanted you to know that we are announcing today that I will be retiring at the end of this academic year. I told President Brodhead when I was renewed a few years ago that I'd give him two more years. Little did I realize that lacrosse would emerge with a half-life that extends seemingly forever.

Since I've been at Duke, I've had perhaps the best and most interesting job in higher education and truly outstanding colleagues to work with. This place has been on a roll and it's been a joy to be in the middle of it. But I'm coming up on my 63rd birthday, and after 17 years of 70+-hour work weeks at Duke-accentuated by the intensity of the saga of the past year-and-a-half-it's surely time for me to slow down and get a new life. I plan to lose weight and do some writing on issues on issues in higher education-not necessarily in that order. Anne and I plan to stay in Durham, and I'm looking forward to continuing to be active in issues that matter to me.

I had a massage this morning, and my masseuse told me she had never seen me so relaxed. Must be a sign.

Over the past 18 months, there were, obviously, some University-related issues on which I disagreed with Burness. That said, he always treated me professionally. He was courteous in answering any and all questions that I had, on or off the record. And his deep knowledge of both Duke's institutional history and the Duke-Durham relationship was helpful to me in trying to understand some of the cross-currents in this case.

Lacrosse issues aside, Burness enjoys a very favorable reputation among people who write about higher education issues. His understanding of how the academy operates and his general preference for transparency are qualities not all that common in University publicity chiefs.

In writing about the case, one valuable Duke initiative that bore the Burness trademark was the on-line archive of presidential statements and articles/editorials. I'd like to say that any university involved in a case like the lacrosse affair would have maintained such a website. But, as anyone who follows higher education knows, in fact few universities would have done so--the normal (and erroneous) reaction is to do everything possible to shield the institution from any outside scrutiny.

Burness' retirement presents an opportunity for Duke to have a new public face--ideally, someone with a background in issues related to due process or students' rights. I'd like to think that the administration will take advantage.

132 comments:

Anonymous said...

Your post was well done, KC.

Now let's see Brodhead show some common sense, a bit of class and follow Burness out the door.
It's time Duke was under New Management.

Anonymous said...

I think Burness's career was doomed after the "for what" remark. Gives Duke an opportunity to move ahead. It is time for New Management.

Anonymous said...

Yes, it was nice to see KC be gracious. I wish he'd do it a little more often.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if he is really retiring, or instead, is being forced to resing for his consistent slanderous attacks on the innocent members of the Duke Lacrosse team. Considering, based on his Newsday article on April 9, 2007, which caused former coach Mike Pressler, one of the true victims of the vicious hoax, to back out of his settlement, did the administration at Duke finally realize enough is enough? Burness' big fat mouth was costing the university millions of dollars in lawsuits due to his hateful, untrue comments regarding the hoax.

Anonymous said...

I don't like to kick anyone when there down, but I agree that Brodhead should follow Bruness with an early retirement. Brodhead has shown himself to be and ineffectively leader at best and a harmful one at worst.

becket03 said...

He decided to be light and jocular in his final remarks, a bon vivant who winks at the world.

How completely inappropriate, not to mention undignified. But that pretty much typifies his performance over the last year and a half. Lots of foot in mouth disease, lots of blustering, lots of inappropriate utterances. The "What, me apologize?" of several months ago isn't far from the "What, me worry?" tone of today's remarks. Neither pose is in the same zipcode as the truth, but, then again, the truth has never been a big concern for Mr. Burness.

beckett

Anonymous said...

Chronological coincidence? I doubt it.

Burness shoved those boys under the bus harder than anyone. It is my suspicion that Burness understood the power of PC, and he acted accordingly. I also believe, at some point during the hoax, his job became more secure the closer the boys came to a real trial. I think he knew that. That might explain his divulgence of fifth-hand defamatory gossip to Cash Michaels. MOO! Gregory

Teach1975 said...

KC
Do think this has anything to do with Pressler's lawsuit (not saying he is being forced out, but he knows he messed up making additional negative remarks about Pressler realizes this is best for him and Duke to create distance from each other?

Gary Packwood said...

KC said...This announcement has just arrived, from John Burness:
...
And there is the problem.

Burgess is a senior staff manager who sees himself as a senior line manager.
::
GP

Anonymous said...

KC
You can be gracious, very well. But my parents, aunts, uncles, cousins who live in the Newsday readership area had to read his ruthless comments about this case.
So he retires at 63. Tough.
The relatives of the LAX players who are devout churchgoers and worked hard to raise their children and grandchildren were slandered by Brodhead, Burness, and yes I know, Newsday and NYT's editors and reporters. They will never meet most of our families and have no idea how many people they hurt. How do you get that back? Tell me.
We have to look to the future for the young men, and they have to live their lives. But the older generations who scrimped and saved to educate their sons, daughters, and grandsons, only wanted them to do well and to be proud of them. Brodhead, Burness, and their press allies ruthlessly torched those people in their twilight years.
You don't know what it's like to be afraid to pick up the paper, to not know what your neighbors are thinking. I saw the toll it took on the older relatives.
You can be gracious.

Anonymous said...

Thanks teach1975,

I am blown away it took seven posts (plus the parent) to make this connection. It was the first thing I thought of.

To my knowledge, the last two utterances from Dook on LAX are:

1) "It is unfortunate that Coach Pressler is wrong, Burness didn't blow the settlement agreement."
2) "Burness has decided to step down."

Anonymous said...

Um, KC, the only thing missing from your post was the fact that Burness was one of the most inept PR hacks in recorded history.

At every turn, with his propensity for idle gossip, his loony leftism, his loose tongue and his complete inability to manage the crisis, Burness made things worse rather than better.

If Moby Dick Brodhead deserves a "C-", Burness clearly deserves something that hasn't been seen at Duke in decades, an F.

W. R. Chambers said...

Nice to know something about Mr. Burness. Good post, KC.

Anonymous said...

Burness' willingness to claim that there were "three or four really bad actors" on the Duke lacrosse team, was, and still is, unforgivable. He deserves to have been fired.

It was said that shortly after Burness' made his foolish "Apologize... for what?" comment, two days before Cooper declared the players INNOCENT, that Steel was heard to say, "If Burness creates problems for Duke, we'll throw him under the bus.

Apparently, the Pressler lawsuit was enough to convince Steel that it was time for Burness to go.

Anonymous said...

KC:

Ah yes....time to lose weight and spend more time with the family. No more 70+ hour weeks. No more resisting the urge to plant a garden and sniff the roses.


Our man Burness just found out that the old adage "loose lips sink ships" still applies.

Ken
Dallas

inman said...

teach1975 @ 5:21

interesting nexus -- perhaps he was counseled on the extent to which he had become a liability and not an asset.

With that said ... KC was cordial and correctly noted the positive nature of his communications.

I think if the '88 and others of their ilk are to be rehabilitated, some cordiality will be required. And I do, perhaps inadvisedly, believe that rehabilitation is possible.

Anonymous said...

Little did I realize that lacrosse would emerge with a half-life that extends seemingly forever.

None of the Duke enablers realized the pot they were stirring would explode in their faces. Now they just wish people would forget about their little "transgression". LOL

The recent "jena6" fiasco is a blatent attempt at redeeming some crediblity for the race-card holders. I like how its disappearing from the headlines. That's probably why so many nooses are showing up: A desperate attempt to keep the headlines rolling. And what they're really trying to do is excuse the violent behavior of the black students, because the victim is white!

Anonymous said...

Is Burness a Communist?

Anonymous said...

DukeBlue85 says:

Burness rarely has a kind word to say of anyone, and frankly he had WAY too much influence on how the university responded to the hoax. Many reporters confirmed that Burness was the go-to guy for negative quotes about the lacrosse players. Like any PR person, his job was to get through the next news cycle with as little damage as possible, not worry about things like honor, decency, or the technical accuracy of his statements. That's really not a knock since that is his job. Nevertheless, one of the legacies of the school's response to the hoax is what happens when an incident of this nature is treated solely as a public relations nightmare.

Hopefully, this is a start of a quiet but thorough housecleaning.

Anonymous said...

glad he's gone - he spread the false notion that the lax team were 'bad actors' - am assuming he was forced out, because his incomptence surely cost Duke legal expense

best news I've heard since the "innocent declaration"

Anonymous said...

I'm betting Duke will replace him with someone of lesser caliber.

Anonymous said...

Pressler's lawsuit is not going anywhere. NC is a right to work state. Moreover Pressler doesn't have a legal fiber to hold on to.

Debrah said...

I must concur with "beckett".

Burness is undignified 'til the end.

As if anyone needs to know about his private issues.

It's nice that he always tries to be upbeat and pleasant; however, that's why he's in PR.

I do applaud him for finally understanding that he needs to pay attention to his weight.

However, I think he's leaving because of his ill-advised comments. People like Burness hang onto a job like that forever if they can. He was most likely asked to leave.

Brodhead should follow.

Debrah said...

H-S:

Longtime Duke spokesman to retire

Ray Gronberg : The Herald-Sun

DURHAM -- Duke University officials announced Monday that longtime campus spokesman John Burness will retire effective June 30.

Burness, 62, is Duke's senior vice president for public affairs and governmental relations. He has held the job since 1991.



In a prepared statement released by the university, Duke President Richard Brodhead said Burness told him two years ago that "this current year" would be his last at the school.



Brodhead and other school officials credited Burness with founding the Duke- Durham Neighborhood partnership and doing other things to raise the university's visibility in the Triangle and the nation.



Duke officials in May announced that Burness' job would be restructured, with most of its community-affairs responsibility being assigned to a new hire, Phail Wynn. Wynn is now president of Durham Technical Community College but is stepping down on Dec. 31.



When they announced Wynn's hiring, Duke officials said Burness would focus on public affairs and federal and state programs after Wynn joined the payroll early in 2008.



Monday's announcement came 11 days after former Duke men's lacrosse coach Mike Pressler filed a wrong-termination suit against Duke that alleged the university violated the terms of an out-of-court settlement by allowing Burness and other officials to make derogatory comments about him.

Debrah said...

N&O:

Monday, October 22, 2007

Duke's Burness to retire

John F. Burness, who as Duke University’s senior vice president for public affairs and government relations has long been the institution's chief spokesperson, is retiring next year.
Burness, who has held the post since 1991, steps down June 30.
A 12-person search committee chaired by L. Gregory Jones, dean of Duke Divinity School, ill search for a successor.
A member of Duke’s senior leadership team under three Duke presidents (H. Keith H. Brodie, Nannerl O. Keohane and current leader Richard Brodhead), Burness, 62, has guided the university’s interactions with reporters, elected officials, community leaders and others beyond the campus.
He has been directly responsible for the university’s offices of news and communications, community affairs, photography and government relations in Washington, Raleigh and Durham, and has served broadly as an advisor to trustees, deans, faculty, student leaders and others across the university.
Burness and his wife Anne Williams live in Durham. Both of their children have Duke ties -– Evan is a 2005 graduate and Sam is a first-year student at Duke Law School.

bill anderson said...

Yes, it was nice to see KC be gracious. I wish he'd do it a little more often.

10/22/07 4:54 PM


While K.C. does not need me to defend him, I will do so, anyway. If anything, K.C. Johnson has been quite restrained during this whole sorry affair. It has not been K.C. who has made false accusations, but I suspect that the 4:54 poster is not in that category.

no justice, no peace said...

Ugh.

This, of course, gives Brodhead, instead of Brodhead's replacement, the opportunity to both flip off the alumni (again) and stiff arm any chance of a diverse appointment being made.

Anonymous said...

62 is pretty young to retire at. I think it likely he was shoved out the door. Anyone who has seen his recent photos in the Duke Chronicle wouldnt have guessed he was thinking of retirement. Maybe Duke thinks it will be easier to settle with Pressler again, with Burness gone?

Anonymous said...

4:54,

What do you think KC will say when YOU get the boot? Not much, I expect.

Anonymous said...

Off topic: Last Friday at a speaking engagement, J.K. Rowling pushed Professor Dumbledore out of the closet.

On July 20, 2007, it was written on this blog:

[Spoiler Alert: Harry Potter lives! Ginny and he elope and have triplets. Dumbledore comes out of the closet ... (ever heard of a "Mrs. Dumbledore"? wink, wink). K.C. Johnson becomes headmaster at Hogwarts AND Minister of Magic. Today Show, Interview of J.K. Rowling (7/19/07). MOO! Gregory
_____________

Get your news here first! By the way, K.C. Johnson should, instead, become the President of Duke University. It's karma, baby.

mb said...

Anybody want to bet against my wager that his replacement will be another race/gender/class ideologue of the Lisker/Lubiano/Piot mold?

Anonymous said...

Does anyone really expect that a replacement hired by Brodhead would be an improvement over Burness?

hman said...

There is decency and logic in praising or at least acknowledging the moment at which someone makes a turn from wrong behavior to right behavior. The real goal should be, imho, to make the world a better place and hammering folks while they are down is really just a low-rent sort of indulgence.
On the other hand, Burnesses statement is in the same zone of credibility as any other "I want to spend more time with my family" resignation bs. I mean, who believes that anyone who had previously done whatever it took to get such a job would give it up voluntarily? Like, 63 is so old for a desk job?
My guess is that the Pressler suit plus the vibes from UPI form the background.

Debrah said...

TO 5:04 PM--

MOO! Gregory, indeed.

Decided to drop by Wonderland to see if the Middle Eastern Midnight Rider might have gotten up early......and I just saw this post of yours.

I must have missed it earlier.

I had no idea that Burness was such a sneak. He always has an upbeat and jovial facade going on; however, he couldn't do that type of job if he were a straight-up guy.

Duke's administration is rotten to the core, but I had no idea Burness had been schmoozing with Cash Michaels and feeding him info---false or otherwise.

(Two heavyweights conferring)

In recent weeks all the players---from Brodhead to faculty to administrators---have been engaged in dithyrambic praise of one another....attempting to rewrite history.

However, as the civil suits begin to mount.....one by one.....layers of the myriad cover-ups will be peeled away.

Anonymous said...

JLS says...,

As with the PDP, spokes people should get little blame as they don't make policy. Of course similarly Burness get little credit with me for being open on other matters. He was bad when Duke policy makers were bad and he was good when Duke policy makers were good. That was his job as was being nice and professional to Professor Johnson OR ANYONE contacting Duke for information.

He also gets extra negative credit for speaking out of turn and violating one of the settlements Duke entered into. I suspect this is the reason he is being forced out. And this well could be the reason it is being announced now. This could be the price or part of the price for resettling the case of Pressler v. Duke. And even if not, venturing even close to violating a settlement shows it is time for him to go.

Anonymous said...

Can't help but wonder how much this cost Duke -- have to suppose there was a nice incentive package...

frosty said...

Edmund Burke said, "All it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing".

I state unequivocally that the G88 are evil, in this sense...imagine if their vision of race, class and gender ruled the land, not just Duke University. We would all be subject to the treatment dispensed to Seligmann, Finnerty, and Evans. Can you imagine a more despicable existence? What would the outcome have been for the lax players if good men (their lawyers) had done nothing? Would the G88, Nifong et al have come to their senses in the end? I think not.

And now that the lax case is over, an similar scenario goes on inside Duke University. Are good men willing to act and save this once great university from it's current spiral into academic nonsense and mediocrity? Is Brodhead the man that can turn this tide? That answer is easy, a resounding no. My read on Brodhead is that he lives by the creed "judge no one". He stuck with that creed to the bitter end in the lax case and a President who is unwilling or too cowardly to make judgements, cannot reverse the tide at Duke. He must be made to leave.

The G88 are self-proclaimed dissidents and fancy themselves as "radicals". They rule by fear and intimidation. These are not people who can be persuaded by logical, thought provoking arguments. They must be forced out if this university is to recover from their insidious philosophy before it is too late. And Brodhead has proven he is not a man who can peform such a difficult task. The person chosen to replace Burness will prove this.

Hopefullly, someone will stand and take on this difficult task (students? trustees? alumni?). I think it more likely that this is a lost cause and Duke will stand out as the example that proves the rule that "all it takes for evil to triumph, is for good men to do nothing".

Anonymous said...

When will Brohead announce his resignation?

We're waiting, Richard. The time is NOW.

LOL. Walk the plank, has-been.

Dukex4 said...

I was in Durham in August, and was told by someone who has spoken with Burness that he planned to retire before the end of the academic year. So while I don't think the actual filing of the suit precipitated his departure, I do wonder about the public disassociation from him Duke made after the Newsday article was published in April. They could not have been too happy about his remarks, and perhaps that led to a talk that it was time to go.

Two other tidbits were passed along -- Burness attributes (i.e. blames) much of the media firestorm to the bloggers. While there has been a lot of crap posted, and stupid emails sent, I have really marvelled at how the blog community contributed to the search for the truth. If there was a false assertion, or a false rendition of facts, the bloggers caught it. Bloggers were able to do so much research beyond the news stories -- I don't know how people did it, but original documents were produced and published,etc. The irony of all of it to me is that historians like Chafe - people who are trained to go to the primary source material - ignored such material. All one needs to do is read the police file to see the many, many versions of Mangum's story of "what happened that night". No one has to rely on KC or anyone else to conclude she is a liar.

Final tidbit -- evidently Duke has done lots of polling to assess how much this has hurt their constituencies. I was told that polling has told them that alums who are the most "connected" to Duke -- I think that means those who meet criteria such as giving regularly, coming to Duke events when Duke is on the road, coming to Duke reunions, etc -- that group of alumni is the angriest. For that I am glad, because they know this is a group they can't ignore. The friend who told me this seemed surprised -- my response was -- well of course the alumni who are the most connected are the angriest -- we are the ones who have cared enough about Duke to find out what was going on, and it doesn't take much research to be angry on many fronts about the lack of leadership, and the continued dissembling by some of the faculty. How can Duke possibly defend that Kim Curtis still teaches at Duke. Publically fixing that one thing would be a start towards repairing an honest dialogue with alums.

jim2 said...

If I had a nice retirement package, I'd be delighted to retire at 63 myself, or even earlier. So I do not see Burness' age as suggestive that he was forced or "encouraged" to retire. Anytime after 62, one has the option to trigger Social Security benefits.

At that age one can still do a lot - work or volunteer part-time, travel, hike, write - and have the expectation of having a decade or three of scope for one's efforts.

He can also look forward to many years of reflection and meditation.

Anonymous said...

Burness' retirement presents an opportunity for Duke to have a new public face--ideally, someone with a background in issues related to due process or students' rights.

That would only be ideal from your perspective, because you view this as the biggest public affairs/relations issue facing the University. I would agree that it was, albeit two years ago. It is unlikely to be what they need going forward, and so they are unlikely to hire someone with the qualifications you propose.

I don't think you're really going to be that disappointed by the result, however, because it will give you something else to blog about.

Anonymous said...

I look forward to some of the G88 also mis-stepping in the post settlement era so that they too can retire. Mr. Burness is a disgrace. I hope Mr. Pressler gets satisfaction with his new lawsuit as Duke has not ever been fair to him in this whole travesty.
TIme may heal those who need healing, but many will not allow a re-write of what happened. A news article yesterday quoted Victoria Peterson still accusing the students of having raped CGM, and saying the students should go to trial, pay Durham etc. It may all be lies, but shows the importance of continuing every law suit possibility until all are exhausted. Duke and Durham should not rest for a long time. And the silent majority in Durham who now say they supported the three innocent students and should not have to pay up> where were you when they needed most? Why did you not stand up and ask your officials what they were doing? You had 18 months to speak up and stop the train wreck, you didn't because a part of you enjoyed seeing the rich white boys in trouble. Shame on all of you

miramar said...

Anyone involved in public relations is supposed to know that when a PR disaster hits, you are supposed to stay out in front of the news. Since Duke had to face one surprise after another, we could assume that Burness never understood that concept and that he never explained it to Brodhead. This would be one explanation of why they were always caught with their pants down, but there is another.

It seems more likely that Burness and Brodhead concluded early on that the players were guilty as charged, and that throwing them to the wolves was their way of staying ahead of the PR mess.

By the way, according to MMI Associates, there are four rules any organization should follow when they have to handle a PR mess:

1. A leader must step forward and take ownership of the problem.
2. The spokesperson should tell the truth, tell it all and tell it fast.
3. The spokesperson should not take a defensive, defiant stand, but instead, offer the wronged party a sincere apology in as personal a manner as possible.
4. The organization must take steps to ensure the problem never occurs again and let everyone know what these steps are and that the organization is taking them.

http://www.mmimarketing.com/white-papers/the-art-of-crisis-management

Does anyone think Duke did that? On the contrary, Burness's admission that the lacrosse mess has "a half-life that extends seemingly forever" is proof positive that he didn't do his job properly.

Finally, the MMI Associates website has a perfect example of how NOT to handle a PR mess: when Duke University Hospital discovered that it had been cleaning instruments in hydraulic fluid rather than detergent. Something tells me they need to update their website with an even bigger Duke mess, but the university needs someone who will keep them from shooting themselves in the foot every time something bad happens.

http://www.mmimarketing.com/white-papers/when-the-worst-happens

miramar said...

Dukex4 at 6:59 has a lot of interesting information about Duke and Burness, including that "Burness attributes (i.e. blames) much of the media firestorm to the bloggers."

Well, according to the Duke Chronicle, "Brodhead said the search committee will look for a replacement who will be able to use new media technology as a part of his or her job." It seems that even Brodhead has realized that Burness was run over by an internet truck driven by KC, JinC, etc. It's about time the university abandoned the blame the bearer of bad news approach.

Ralph Phelan said...

"Burness attributes (i.e. blames) much of the media firestorm to the bloggers."

And rightly so.

"If there was a false assertion, or a false rendition of facts, the bloggers caught it."

Which is the part he really couldn't stand.

He learned his PR trade in the days of MSM domination of information flow and was unable to make the transition to a new media environment. Especially one in which lies are less effective than they once were.

duke09parent said...

I hope that the "connected" alumni are more angry than they were in November of '06. Then D.C. alums were overwhelmingly friendly to Brodhead in the P.R. tour, "A Duke Conversation". A lot has come to light about what Duke admnin and faculty did, so maybe there is more anger. I'm just 100 pages into UPI and I'm learning stuff I never knew.

Anonymous said...

Dukex4 - interesting comment about Duke polling. Can you say anything about the nature of your source?

Anonymous said...

KC Johnson is a class act, always a gentleman. I respect and appreciate that. However. I see little evidence to suggest that any of the Klan of 88 are worthy of rehabilitation, or that it is even possible. There have been how many apologies from these people? One very quiet one, and one quiet appology which was withdrawn? How many sincere apologies from the administration? President Broadhead's was graciously received by those inclined to be gracious, but it was really a very tepid, 'mistakes were made' sort of thing. It seems to me that it will be hard to get much healing without some sort of real recognition of the wrong that they have done by the people who led the charge to enable the wrongful prosecution. I have yet to see that from any of the big players on the Duke campus.

Realize that this is much bigger than Duke. The same kinds of people are promoting the same kind of racial and gender politics on many college and university campuses. It is only a matter o time until this same sort of politically motivated prosecution occurs again. KC is a gentleman, and we need that. But I don't think we can overlook the real need for housecleaning at Duke and elsewhere - many university administrations are rife with the sort of mindset that feels persons accused of racially or gender associated crimes are, indeed, guilty until proven innocent. That mindset has never been openly, clearly, publicly rejected by the Duke administration or the faculty supporting the "listening ad." Promoting people in the administration who support the agenda of the listening ad, or who have not clearly supported the presumption of innocence should be a huge concern to the public. What we are seeing at Duke is not evidence of change, but efforts to sweep the lacrosse affair under the rug. Duke needs new trustees, a new president, and new administration from top to bottom. A complete overhaul.

don t. said...

K.C., sometimes you disappoint me. Defending this cretin is the height of .....words fail me.

One down, about 90 to go.

trinity60

traveler said...

Apropos of nothing:

A friend advised me of some Google search engines of interest. He is a real NERD, and he thinks these search engines are works in progress, but will become priceless databases for inquiring minds.

Google scholar: “It provides a search of scholarly literature across many disciplines and sources, including theses, books, abstracts and articles.”
http://scholar.google.com/
Search: “Robert David Johnson”


Google Image search: The most comprehensive image search on the web
http://images.google.com/
Search : Duke protest, for a broad search. Zoom in on the Black Panthers picture, just to be reminded of the horror three young men faced. Remember: “Dead men walking.”

Google Blog seach: Find blogs on your favorite topics
http://blogsearch.google.com/
Search: Bull City in Wonderland
Two days ago, I hadn’t heard of the Bull City spoof, but there they are.


Google Video: Beta
Search Duke protest., The potbangers are there. There is view of related videos at the top. CNN Nancy Grace Blooper video (Rape stats) is as good as ever.

Anonymous said...

I don't know Burness and won't pretend to. But judging from his actions in the lacrosse case he's an uncaring undignified jerk.

He may be the nicest guy in the world and a real straight shooter, but his actions toward the students he and his University should have been protecting say otherwise.

Anonymous said...

"Pressler's lawsuit is not going anywhere. NC is a right to work state. Moreover Pressler doesn't have a legal fiber to hold on to."

What a foolish analysis, since Pressler's lawsuit is about violation of the settlement agreement and none of us, including our anonymous pundit, know the conditions of that agreement. Something tells me that AnonyPundit, when he/she heard the first sentence claiming that the lacrosse players had done something to Crystal Gail Mangum, said "Well, that's it, they're guilty and they'll go to jail for thirty years each. By the way, is there any physical evidence?"

Ralph Phelan said...

There's a comment by Mike Kell on the Liestoppers board about what Burness was good at:

"In his defense, I admire what Burness was able to do, and continues to do, to keep at least one positive "Duke discovered this" story in the local and national press every single week....

He has built a system whereby the national press knows it can contact him for an expert's opinion on almost any story and he'll find a credible, articulate person at Duke whose research is in that area and make them available for the requisite sound bite for national stories."

So he was good at dealing with the MSM, and he was good at running a planned campaign of fact-based positive promotion. His weak points seem to have been crisis management, particularly the "admitting error" part; dealing with non-MSM actors he didn't already have a cozy relationship with; and the "ethical challenges" that allowed him to bad-mouth innocent people for temporary gain.

Ralph Phelan said...

Oh yeah, forgot my daily recommended portion of cynicism -

KC said:
"I'd like to think that the administration will take advantage."

I'd like to think that when I get home from work today I'll find a brand-new Mercedes Benz in my driveway with a ribbon around it and a nice bow. Oh yeah, and a trunk full of diamonds.

Debrah said...

Another interesting read from Sowell today.

Debrah said...

"If I had a nice retirement package, I'd be delighted to retire at 63 myself, or even earlier. So I do not see Burness' age as suggestive that he was forced or "encouraged" to retire. Anytime after 62, one has the option to trigger Social Security benefits.

At that age one can still do a lot - work or volunteer part-time, travel, hike, write - and have the expectation of having a decade or three of scope for one's efforts.

He can also look forward to many years of reflection and meditation."


Nice little scenario; however, that one is an bygone look at how most people will live.

Gone are the days when everyone gets their gold watch and is able to settle into a cushy-'til-the-end retirement.

Gary Packwood said...

miramar 8:30 said...

...By the way, according to MMI Associates, there are four rules any organization should follow when they have to handle a PR mess:

1. A leader must step forward and take ownership of the problem.
2. The spokesperson should tell the truth, tell it all and tell it fast.
3. The spokesperson should not take a defensive, defiant stand, but instead, offer the wronged party a sincere apology in as personal a manner as possible.
4. The organization must take steps to ensure the problem never occurs again and let everyone know what these steps are and that the organization is taking them.

http://www.mmimarketing.com/white-papers/the-art-of-crisis-management
::
Good advice and most of this content came from lessons learned many years ago during the Johnson & Johnson response during the Tylenol EXTERNALLY driven disaster.

The 'unsaid' rule is that disasters should be prevented rather than managed and ...INTERNALLY driven disasters reflect poorly on management of the entire organization.

Also, there need to be 'one voice' responding to questions from the media and for the G88...Don't ever think that you can create a disaster and then manage the outcomes.

I would think that the professors of engineering and the sciences at Duke must be just horrified with the Duke response to this mess.
::
GP

joe sweet said...

That's one down and skeighty-eight to go!!!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

Is Burness a Communist?

10/22/07 7:33 PM
-------------------------------------
No. You're thinking of Guy Burgess.

Debrah said...

TO 9:59 AM--

Don't let your emotions get the best of you.

I understand how you feel.

I got really upset when KC defended Brodhead, in a sense, by praising his "apology". That was the weekend when he was in the Traingle for his last appearance for the book. I let my emotions get in the way because I couldn't bear the thought that KC's response to Brodhead was so different from mine.....and so many of us in Wonderland.

As a result, I missed seeing him before he left.

(Diva tears conquering)

Now that some time has past, I just think that KC wanted to find something positive in all of this....giving Brodhead the benefit of the doubt that he really wanted to improve himself and his administration.

As you can see, KC has noted that Brodhead's words might ring hollow given recent administrative actions.

You also have to keep in mind that KC has had to correspond with people like Burness to get information for Duke's side of the story.

Since Burness is such a bull-s*** artist, he comes across as always jovial and pleasant.

KC has said that he always responded to his queries respectfully, so naturally, KC would respond in a respectful way as well.

Debrah said...

I have to say that the information Burness relayed about his "massage" tells the story.

The lacrosse case and his part in it as Duke's spokesman should conjure up serious dialogue.

As Burness reflects on the past year and a half...as well as his many years at Duke....he takes the discussion into his personal issues.

Another point: How many women the age of Burness--out of shape or not--would be drawing attention to the fact that they undress for a massage.....and whether or not they are "relaxed"?

This is not only the result of a massive Burness matched by his massive ego, but it also illuminates how much more comfortable men are throughout their lives when they get old, out-of-shape, and fat.

If I were to pick one thing in society that really does victimize women, it would be the inabilty to take ownership of the aging process.

It's true that these days many men are just as vain and self-conscious as most women; however, this is one issue which really does make women its never-ending victims.

Anonymous said...

I AM a spokesman for a huge company, and if Burness had done what he did in my shop, I would have canned him. Absolutely no crisis communications skills. Also, the legal department should have flat out told him to keep his trap shut. I could go on and on about this guy's failings in PR and crisis communications. The mistakes he made in the Lacrosse case should only be made by a rookie out of college. And you wouldn't put a rookie on a case like this. You use a pro. He must have sucked up to someone to get the title of SVP.
cmf

Anonymous said...

Imagine the spewing from the Angry Studies types if Pressler had told a reporter that his masseuse had told him she had never seen him so relaxed after he "resigned" as lacrosse coach.

Debrah said...

(8:28 AM) opines:

"I don't think you're really going to be that disappointed by the result, however, because it will give you something else to blog about."

LOL!!!

Too bad that other people illuminate the squalor at Duke....and the refusal of those in charge to make real changes, right?

And yes, that will make excellent blogging material!

Anonymous said...

jim2@10/23 8:26 AM re Burness' retirement:

He could always take up slogging.

dave

jim2 said...

debrah (11:21 AM) -

I did say that would be if one had a nice retirement package. If you have looked at his bio, you might have concluded (as I admit I did) that the one I sketched was probably a viable option for him. He has been a consultant to many universities and other organizations, and remains a board member and/or trustee on many others.

traveler said...

Anonymous said...
....Our man Burness just found out that the old adage "loose lips sink ships" still applies.

Ken
Dallas
10/22/07 6:34 PM
-----------------------------------

I might add:
“Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding."
-- Proverbs 17:28 Bible

In case a pesky conservative is lurking.

Anonymous said...

"Pressler's lawsuit is not going anywhere. NC is a right to work state. Moreover Pressler doesn't have a legal fiber to hold on to."

***

Only part of that's true. NC is an "at will" state and anyone can be fired for any reason that's not illegal (such as discrimination based on race, etc). However, Pressler had a contract that would supersede the general employment rules of the State of NC.

Also, this new lawsuit isn't about his employment being terminated but about Duke not abiding by the terms of the original settlement.

So, even though you're right about the general employment laws there, you're not right about anything else.

One good fact does not make a good argument.

jim2 said...

dave (1:10 PM) -

In his sloggis?!

My EYES! My EYES!

;-))

Anonymous said...

Burness could resign because he's old enough to retire. How many of the 88 are old enough to retire? Cuz they sure can't get new jobs anywhere near what they have now. Baker and Farred scammed and scrammed while the getting (out) was good. Too late now.

Steven Horwitz said...

Debrah at 1105 points us to Tom Sowell's column today.

Let me just say that, IMO, Sowell is absolutely 100% correct in his argument there.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 9:26 said:

"Pressler's lawsuit is not going anywhere. NC is a right to work state. Moreover Pressler doesn't have a legal fiber to hold on to."

NC may be a right to work state, but Presler had a new, long term contract that must be honored. According to the lawsuit, Duke stipulated that it terminated the contract without cause. Legally, that means that Duke is responsible for all the salary and other monetary benefits due under that contract unless there is some settlement or forebearance by Pressler. As a commercial trial lawyer of 29 years, I can infer with a high confidence level that one of the terms of Coach Pressler's settlement agreement was that it was conditioned on future nondisparagement by Duke. This is a much lower standard than defamation. I can infer with only slightly less confidence that tis "nonmonetary consideration" was one of the most important provisions of the settlement. The lawsuit claims that Duke via Burness breached the nondisparagement provision which vitiates his conditional settlement and, if the court agrees that Burness' statements were disparaging, entitles him to seek full redress for Duke's admitted termination of his long term employment agreement without cause. That is a very sound legal basis.

To miramar at 8:30 a.m., I just realized that Duke DID follow the MMI Assocs' guidelines for dealing with a PR mess.
A leader stepped forward (Brodhead); the leader told what he decided was the truth and told it fast; based on his perception of the truth he "offer[ed] the wronged party [CGM] a sincere apology in as personal a manner as possible" (on March 29, iirc); the organization suspended the season and players and acquiesced in faculty condemnation, etc, etc.

This rezsponse is just another manifestation of "Until Proven Innocent."

ACC Esq

Gary Packwood said...

Great New York Times magazine article about a Duke University student who is an up and coming... Chef!

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/30/magazine/30food-t.html

and...about to get into trouble with the Durham Health Department Food Inspection Unit

http://www.newsobserver.com/215/story/746191.html

Young bloggers all over the world are offering their support for his work.

Suppose Durham folks are smart enough not to write him a ticket?

Also, suppose anyone over at Duke Public Affairs knows a good POSITIVE story when they see one?

Ralph Phelan said...

Gary Packwood said...

Good advice and most of this content came from lessons learned many years ago during the Johnson & Johnson response during the Tylenol EXTERNALLY driven disaster.

The 'unsaid' rule is that disasters should be prevented rather than managed and ...INTERNALLY driven disasters reflect poorly on management of the entire organization.


True ... but they do happen. What is the professional PR consensus on how to deal with an "internally driven disaster," i.e. a publicly visible screwup? Are there lessons from, say, the Exxon Valdez incident?

What about when you don't know yet which it is, like in the early days of the case before it became obvious the DPD & prosecutor were misbehaving?

Those rules require the discipline to endure short term pain for long term gain - the ability to accept that it's not going to "just go away" and that you need to deal with it.

Ralph Phelan said...

Inability to admit error even when self interest demands it is common to Nifong, Burness, Brodhead(*), the G88, and the Durham city government.

While i don't expect real remorse from these people, I find it interesting that they can't even lie and pretend to be sorry.

* Well, he did make a feeble attempt - "poor communication with the families" - yeah like that was his biggest screwup.

Anonymous said...

"Let me just say that, IMO, Sowell is absolutely 100% correct in his argument there," opines Professor Horwitz.

Have to disagree with you, Professor. I went to Harvard, and some of the most brilliant teachers there are young assistant professors who could be full professors anywhere else.

Sowell is wrong: people in the know know that unknowns at places like Harvard enhance the brand.

10/23/07 3:05 PM

Anonymous said...

Retirement is not just an age - it is a financial condition. Folk need to retire before they are to old to do anything. I think 70 is the start of the downward spirial. i am an aging hyperactive but it ain't like it use to be. The younger you can retire, the better.

Debrah said...

TO Ralph (4:18 PM)

I have to say that I actually despise people like John Burness and Richard Brodhead.

Debrah said...

TO 4:29 PM--

Wrong!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 4:29PM

"Sowell is wrong: people in the know know that unknowns at places like Harvard enhance the brand"

Quite right. Many times I have walked the grounds at Cambridge and observed the unknowns. They all seemed to have an aura that lite up the streets and sidewalks. Whether this was a natural occurance or a battery powered event I do not know.

I wonder if this phenomenon also occurs at Boston College?

Ken
Dallas

Anonymous said...

The 88 are done - even THuga - They know it - Duke knows it and we should know it. Huston got out before the 88 were shamed. I would love to know if the Vandy deal was struck before the signing of the statement - bet it was. Vandy appears to be happy with him - until the next "Water Buffalo" case brings them the same attention Penn and Duke got from being associated with him. I can not understand why Cornell wanted Grant - but they got him.

Anonymous said...

The only thing that Sowell's column tells me is that you cannot explain how great an elite private school education is to someone who has never had one. They just won't get it. And the jealousy goes on and on and on.

Anonymous said...

Just to remind everyone what we were fighting for in this case - Read Jeff Taylor's articles at reasonline.com - written in June and December of 2006. every thing else is from the noise machine.

Carolyn said...

"Burness' retirement presents an opportunity for Duke to have a new public face--ideally, someone with a background in issues related to due process or students' rights. I'd like to think that the administration will take advantage."

Yeah, right, KC! Just like Duke 'took advantage' of Coleman's background in due process - just like Duke 'took advantage' of the documents proving the players were innocent. Ahuh.

Face it - when the ship of Duke hit the Crystal iceberg in April 2006, Burness' only thought was to 'take advantage' of the lifeboats for him and his boss, leaving the passengers to drown. Except the passengers didn't - in fact, they survived to come after Burness and Duke. So Burness is now taking advantage of a stolen inner tube to abandon ship, leaving Brodhead behind in his stateroom whimpering Shakespeare to himself.

Hope Ishmael harpoons Burness before he swims 10 feet.

Anonymous said...

Why can't Burness leave earlier? What's keeping him?

Anonymous said...

Phelan at 4:13 wrote:

"What is the professional PR consensus on how to deal with an "internally driven disaster," i.e. a publicly visible screwup? Are there lessons from, say, the Exxon Valdez incident?"

I don't know what the "PR consensus" is. But based on 20 years teaching in MBA and Executive MBA programs, I can tell you what I think the right thing to do is in such situtations.

Institutions should emulate what the great Ken Iverson did: be honest; identify the fundamental causes of the disaster; create a rational plan to fix it; then execute, execute, execute.

Iverson and his team took control of a "penny stock" steel company (in the late sixties, I think) that came to be known as Nucor. The company was on the verge of bankruptcy. At the first shareholders meeting, a stockholder asked Iverson about the company's condition. He said quite frankly -- with no hand ringing, evasion, fear: the company stinks. And it is our job to fix it.

If you want to read a remarkable story about how to handle properly an "internally driven disaster," and about an inspiring story of wealth creation, I highly recommend Richard Preston's book _American Steel_.

Duke Prof

Anonymous said...

I hate to get involved in this, but then again...

To anonymous at 3:05 PM who said,
"Let me just say that, IMO, Sowell is absolutely 100% correct in his argument there," opines Professor Horwitz.

"Have to disagree with you, Professor. I went to Harvard, and some of the most brilliant teachers there are young assistant professors who could be full professors anywhere else."

"Sowell is wrong: people in the know know that unknowns at places like Harvard enhance the brand."

10/23/07 3:05 PM
10/23/07 4:29 PM

It's as Sowell said, it's the "getting in" that's difficult these days, thus HYPS increase their rankings by encouraging ALL to apply. Look at the numbers and the percentages of admits.

The USNWR rankings are a "crock" and everyone knows it, but all still "play the game." Harvard is, indeed, a BRAND, as is Duke. Once a kid gets in to Harvard, Yale, P'ton, Stanford, etc. it is NOT hard to stay in and get a decent GPA and graduate. It all depends on the classes a student takes- some majors are easier than others- and there are few, if any REAL required courses (now it's all choose one from Column A and one from Column B, etc.)

There are excellent young assistant professors everywhere and some amazing professors at smaller institutions who are still "in the kid business." Unfortunately, too many parents are using their kids' college admissions as either a) a report card on their parenting skills or b)as a status symbol.

The system is seriously skewed. And, yes, anonymous, I have adult children who went to some highly competitive schools. Each of my kids had some great professors, but I cannot say that they might not have had MORE amazing professors had they been at smaller schools. Two of the least intellectually able kids I know went to Harvard and graduated within the past six years- they happened to be serious legacies. So, no "brand name" is immune from "social promotions" and a "brand" does not guarantee that "a mind is not a terrible thing to waste."
Texas Mom

Dukex4 said...

Anonymous said...
Dukex4 - interesting comment about Duke polling. Can you say anything about the nature of your source?

10/23/07 9:47 AM

**********
someone who interacts with Burness professionally (not media)

Anonymous said...

Harvard anon@ 10/23 3:05 PM wrote:

Sowell is wrong: people in the know know that unknowns at places like Harvard enhance the brand.

Of course, they go to places like Harvard for the brand, as much as for the education.

I also went there. It's a great place to go for those in the know, or for those who want to know those in the know. I got a pretty good undergraduate education, made friends who Run Things Now, the cachet of having gone there is undeniable, and a lot of doors opened for me as a result. I'm grateful for all of that.

But I also watched it grind up a number of people– brighter, more talented, more sensitive souls than I– who would have benefitted, perhaps, from more personal attention and academic guidance at a smaller school.

I was fortunate enough to gain the sympathetic attention of several graduate students and assistant professors who went on to make names for themselves (others had no business teaching at all), but I would have enjoyed more contact with the powerhouse lecturers whose courses they TA'ed.

And, I wonder, did you ever miss taking an important, but oversubscribed course that required interviews or auditions or essays or portfolios in order to be accepted (like applying for admission to the university all over again), because you weren't one of the lucky few accepted? I did, and it re-routed my course of study several times.

Students at smaller schools don't face these situations and, paradoxically, may have more educational opportunities, and receive a better education, than at Harvard.

I think Dr. Sowell is right, here and here. Of course, if you are accepted to Harvard, it's worth it for Widener and the amazing people you meet (KC was there!), and you're probably going anyway.

One Spook said...

cmf @ 12:47 PM writes:

"I AM a spokesman for a huge company, and if Burness had done what he did in my shop, I would have canned him. Absolutely no crisis communications skills. Also, the legal department should have flat out told him to keep his trap shut. I could go on and on about this guy's failings in PR and crisis communications."

That is totally and completely right on the money! Like cmf, I was a public affairs spokesman for six years for an organization much larger then Duke and have experience in far more volatile situations than this Duke incident.

I could go on and on too, but let me suffice it to say that the genesis for the problems Duke faced began with lack of policy — policy that an effective director of public affairs would have had in place, already approved by the president.

No university can assume that its students will never be charged with a crime and thus policy is necessary to cover a myriad of contingencies. A standard policy needs to address such issues as at what point will an accused student be suspended. Most universities seem to suspend students once they are indicted for a felony. Scores of universities have had students and student-athletes charged with crimes, but how many schools have ever suspended an entire team’s season and fired the coach when an athlete was accused of a crime? That is "shoot from the hip" reaction, rather than effective policy.

A good crisis response depends on advance planning of both external and internal efforts in communication.

I've commented before about the value of a one-point external response (in this case the presumption of innocence). Duke’s response from the beginning was a disaster in itself. All employees should be aware in advance that, in a crisis situation, only ONE voice speaks for Duke, and that voice is NOT them.

Internally, there is no obligation on the part of any organization to make available its employees to opine on a crisis, and the entire staff should have been under an immediate gag order.

If Duke had such a policy and anyone violated that order (such as the actions of the 88, Lisker, et al), the university should have immediately announced that their comments were inappropriate and NOT the policy of Duke, and then sanctioned those employees in accordance with that policy.

But Duke obviously had no policy despite such events occurring every year on college campuses. It is incredible to me just how inept Duke is as an organization, and Burness is a prime example followed closely by Brodhead.

If anyone out there thinks that Burness is retiring as planned a "few years ago" rather than because of his numerous failures, the latest of which were his comments regarding Pressler, may I introduce you to the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny?

One Spook

Debrah said...

If only Burness and Brodhead had been as eager to distance themselves from individual faculty members as Burness eagerly conveys here in 2004. Wonder what made the difference a few years later?


Senior VP John Burness Responds to Claim that Duke Lacks Intellectual Diversity

The following e-mail by Duke's senior vice president for public affairs and government relations was in response to a query from a Duke alumnus

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

....one must always be careful in accepting as Gospel what one reads in the newspaper, but if in fact the quote attributed to Professor Brandon is accurate, and he was not making a joke, then I must disagree with him. No political group has a corner on intelligence. I disagree profoundly at times with Justice Scalia, for example, but have no questions regarding the brilliance of his mind if not the brilliance of his arguments. One of the best things about being at a university of the calibre of Duke, where free speech and academic freedom are highly valued and supported, is that people are free to say what they will with reasonable assurance that others of different views will challenge them. For my money, the argument oftentimes is more important than the original question in that, as the argument develops, the relative strength of competing positions becomes clear and smart people -- be they conservative or liberal or places in between -- can choose for themselves which positions make the most sense.

One other aspect of free speech and its partner, academic freedom, is worth remembering ..... several years ago I wrote an article on higher education and the media in which I noted that there is nothing inherent in academic freedom that protects anyone who wants to make a fool of himself from doing so .... I am a great believer in the principle of free speech, but I also recognize that at times it can come home to bite one in a most uncomfortable location. Of course, even if one might make a controversial or foolish comment, the university's commitment to the principles of free speech and academic freedom leads us to protect people's right to say what they think, knowing, as I noted above, that in all likelihood it will be challenged in the marketplace of ideas.

Finally, I learned long ago in a statistics course that one generalizes off a specific example at one's peril ....so I would caution you not to take Professor Brandon's paraphrase of John Stuart Mill's gibe at the Conservative Party in England a century and one half ago as reflective of anything but what it is, a reported comment from an individual faculty member.

Matthew said...

Like any PR person, his job was to get through the next news cycle with as little damage as possible, not worry about things like honor, decency, or the technical accuracy of his statements. That's really not a knock since that is his job.

I am sorry, this is a viscious attack on those in PR. There are renegade PR people who follow these principles; however, there are people like that in every field. The best PR people do not do this

Ralph Phelan said...

"If Duke had such a policy and anyone violated that order (such as the actions of the 88, Lisker, et al), the university should have immediately announced that their comments were inappropriate and NOT the policy of Duke, and then sanctioned those employees in accordance with that policy."

It's entirely possible that Duke has such a policy abut lacks the will to sanction those who violated it. After all, the "Listening Statment" violated policy in two unambiguous ways (departments listed as signing a petition without any vote being taken, misuse of university funds to pay for it) but nobody has ever been sanctioned for those violations.

"But Duke obviously had no policy despite such events occurring every year on college campuses. "

Or had a policy that was overridden for political reasons ... which I suppose amounts to the same thing.

Policies are futile when certain members of your organization are "above the law."

Anonymous said...

anonymous said...

The only thing that Sowell's column tells me is that you cannot explain how great an elite private school education is to someone who has never had one. They just won't get it. And the jealousy goes on and on and on.

10/23/07 5:32 PM


Can we get George W. Bush to explain hot great is an elite private school education? After all, he got two! Yale AND Harvard, does the education get any more elite than Bush's?

A Texan at Harvard, new student, spots a professor: "Hey, excuse me, but where's y'all's library at?"

The prof looks at the cowboy and sniffs, "At Harvard, we don't end sentences with prepositions."

The Texan: "Oh, I'm sorry ... Where's y'all's library at, asshole?"

mac said...

Ralph 2:51,

"It's entirely possible that Duke had such a policy..."

I doubt that the wobbly president of Duke ever had such a directive; if anything, it would have been a "stong suggestion."

But you and One Spook are right: consequences? For these folks? Consequences are when you let the Dee Pee Dee harrass and antagonize your students! Consequences are for others, especially lesser beings! No such thing as consequences for those who think academic freedom is the equivalent of James Bond's "license to kill."

I wish Burness could have really found the decency to really apologize. It shouldn't have been up to Brodhead to make him keep his mouth shut, and to keep him from making things worse. He's allegedly an adult, and his position was - presumably - supposed to be filled by a grown-up.

Maybe they'll find a grown-up to replace him; maybe not. For people who despise consequences, it might be too much to ask.

anon said...

I disagree that Duke did not have a policy in place to deal with students or employees charged with crimes. I suspect that there is indeed a policy in place but that in this case it was ignored. One sees this everywhere these days in dealing with P C issues. To proponents of this very corrupt philosophy all manner of established laws and rules are thrown out the window since the tenets of the leftist meta-narrative trump all things. After all, Durham police disregarded all established procedures in dealing with the arrest of the LAX suspects. The Group of 88 dispensed with adherence to the Faculty handbook when they signed the statement. The district attorney dispensed with the concept of innocent until proven guilty when they pursued the innocent suspects. I do have a question for Burness: Is your masseuse African American? If so, aren't you ashamed that she must seek employment in such a low level field? Maybe Duke employees should avoid hiring African Americans for such menial work since it implies the kind of power structure that violates the meta-narrative.

Anonymous said...

8:05
"Masseuse" is an antiquated term; the field, in part, is closer to Physical Therapy and Chiropractic. There are certainly lower-tiers to the practice of Massage Therapy, but please do not insult the entire profession: in most states, it requires training and certification or licensure.

There are lots of PC-types in the field, and I don't appreciate some of them, as their intent resembles Nurse Levity's, but there are lots of hard-working, intellingent people who don't deserve the kind of crap that you thow with one big shovel on the profession.

Maybe if Burness would have gotten more Massage Therapy, he would have been less inclined to shoot off at the mouth.

BTW (: I have been in the field for 20 years, and I know more musculoskeletal anatomy than most doctors and Physical Therapists. And I can tell you this, with some certainty: those people who use the term "masseuse" usually don't know their cranium from their ischium.

Ralph Phelan said...

"I suspect that there is indeed a policy in place but that in this case it was ignored. One sees this everywhere these days in dealing with P C issues."

Note that at Duke the protected classes seem to include, in addition to the usual "oppressed"-group members (AAAS faculty, women's studies faculty" anyone with a strong (leftist) political bent and all spousal hires.

This aamounts to the group that has the power to threaten Brodhead with public or private embarrassment.

Steven Horwitz said...

Texas mom at 837pm wrote:

There are excellent young assistant professors everywhere and some amazing professors at smaller institutions who are still "in the kid business." Unfortunately, too many parents are using their kids' college admissions as either a) a report card on their parenting skills or b)as a status symbol.

As the kids today say: WORD! Your last sentence is particularly right on the money. It's about finding the right fit for your kid and his/her needs, not what makes you the parent look good at the next cocktail party.

Anon at 453am repeats the oldest anti-Harvard joke in the world. We used to tell it at Michigan - of course we also used to call Harvard "the Michigan of the east." It's still funny though.

Having had my own undergraduate education at a highly-regarded and very large research-oriented public university and now having spent 18 years teaching at a small liberal arts college, I would echo the comment about those who have never experienced the world of SLACs often can't appreciate them. I know I didn't until I spent time teaching at one.

Even so, I would not change my undergraduate choice. Michigan was the right place for me for who I was at that time in my life. I had opportunities and experiences outside of the classroom there that I probably couldn't have had at a SLAC (100,000 people in a football stadium for one thing!).

The point is that parents and kids need not to be blinded by "brands" and seriously explore what sort of school works for the student.

anon said...

The post was not intended to insult any person who gives massage nor am I knowledgable about the field except for the fact that it covers a wide range of job descriptions. "Masseuse" is Burness' term, not mine. I believe most professions have dignity regardless of their position on whatever ranking system one adheres to. I draw the line of course on some professions. Stripping and prostitution come to mind. Massage therapy is trendy and usually associated with those who have expendable income for such things. The Duke administration and faculty have made it a habit of condemning those whom they perceive as being priveleged, thus my comment was mocking their professed belief in a way as to suggest they had no dedication to it.

Debrah said...

Read this offering by John Leo.

More campus double standards.

Chemerinsky needs to thank his lucky stars that not everyone behaves as he does.

And please, around a Lefty.....don't ever say anything positive about war!

It might disrupt their pleasure of enjoying the freedom made possible by others through history who were and are less indisposed.

Clarencedarrow said...

In my experience, PR competent PR people have never looked or acted like Burness. He doesn't deserve any civility. He deserves a multi-million dollar settlement against him. He's a politically correct sleaze. Good Riddance. One down - 89 to go.

Ralph Phelan said...

"The point is that parents and kids need not to be blinded by "brands" and seriously explore what sort of school works for the student."

If you want to make a choice based on better information and more detailed analysis of institutional fit to particular student needs than the US News "rankings," Thomas Sowell has a rather good book out on the subject. It's available online too.

Sowell is currently recommending a successor book, Choosing the Right College: 2008-2009 by John Zmirak.

traveler said...

Debrah said...
I have to say that the information Burness relayed about his "massage" tells the story.
-------------------------------
Diva, I posted a very innocent question about Burness and his masseuse, and it was banned. I had a sports accident that required Massage Therapy once, but meaningful dialog about my state of tenseness never occurred, if you get my drift?

"When you come to a road block, take a detour."
-- Mary Kay Ash

Debrah said...

My guess is that most--if any--of the so-called "threatening" e-mails received by the Gang of 88 were along the lines of the student mentioned in Leo's column.

On campuses now, allowing free speech among some is a threatening concept.

Frightening!

Debrah said...

H-S editorial.

Minister of truth.....LOL!!!

*************************************

Duke's 'Minister of Truth' is retiring

As the spokesman for Duke University since 1991, John Burness, who announced on Monday that he will retire in June, was often Duke's public voice. In the national and international media, Burness was frequently the go-to guy for quotes about Duke. And Burness and his public relations staff were usually pulling the levers behind the scenes to organize countless media requests for interviews and information.

But here in Durham, Burness was better known in another role. In 1996, under then-President Nan Keohane, Burness was instrumental in starting the Duke-Durham partnership, which has done great work in focusing Duke's considerable resources on the issues confronting Durham residents. Since it began, the partnership has raised more than $16 million to support public education, housing, health clinics and other in neighborhoods near campus and through partnerships with public schools.

At times, Duke was seen as a wealthy neighbor that did pretty much as it pleased. But the Duke-Durham Partnership has done more than any other factor we can think of to transform Duke's image to that of a caring neighbor. And Burness has been at the forefront of that change.

A longtime Durham resident, Burness did a good job in balancing his role as university advocate with being sensitive to neighbors and their concerns. In many areas where Duke and Durham interests converged -- and at times collided -- Burness tried to facilitate communication. Residents didn't always agree with Duke's actions, but they usually wound up feeling that they were involved in the process and that their views had been heard.

Burness, whose title is senior vice president for public affairs and government relations, was no ivory tower academician. While widely respected in academic circles, Burness was also active on many local boards and committees, including the Public Education Network, the United Way, the Museum of Life and Science, Downtown Durham, the Durham Chamber of Commerce and many others.

He was tested during one of the toughest situations imaginable for a PR person -- the Duke lacrosse case. He earned mixed reviews for his performance, but it is hard to imagine how, without the benefit of perfect omniscience, he could have done much better.

Overall, Burness conducted his job with professionalism, courtesy, and a laudable degree of openness and honesty. For that, and a sense of humor to boot, we appreciate the contributions of the man known around Duke as "The Minister of Truth."

Debrah said...

If Burness has been such a "minister of truth", why didn't he show up to counter such a rush to judgment in Duke's divinity school (of all places) when the Lacrosse Hoax was being cooked up?

Getting all revved up for god

Debrah said...

TO "traveler" (10:26 AM)--

KC probably wants to take the focus off the massage session that Burness highlighted.

It was obviousdly used as a BS tool just to have something to say about his so-called "retirement".

KC has always put through most everything we post. Sometimes I know that he is rolling his eyes....and on occasion, he has saved me from myself.

LOL!!!

He can't allow Wonderland to deviate too far from the kind of work that he does at university. I don't know what you posted, but I have posted digs at Burness and others in the past.

There are things that KC allows which are a 180 from his own ideology and opinons. Since this is his show, I love him for that because many bloggers wouldn't be as inclusive.

That's why this place has been such a draw.

Don't be upset if one of your comments didn't go through. I suppose that KC didn't want to get too personal about Burness on the blog.

(Go to Liestoppers for that! The place is never moderated.)

If you want to post something, go to The Diva World. That way you can vent and KC will be able to keep Wonderland "collegial".

I'm going to upgrade the place a bit....(nothing intricate like this one).....when I have more time for ideas. You might find it easier to use for such posts....even though there is very little traffic!

I love the way KC monitors us. I feel as though I have a teacher keeping me in line.

LIS!!!

Steven Horwitz said...

I don't think I've seen this posted yet, but it's a piece from today's Christian Science Monitor titled "Media Myths about the Jena 6" and is written by a local journalist. The comparison to the Lax case appears at the end.

Anonymous said...

Interesting stuff going on in New Orleans DA's office. More prosecutorial misconduct--but at least no one was threatened with 30 years in jail.

NOLA DA is on the hook for nearly $4MM because he fired almost 40 white workers and replaced them with black workers when he took office.

The wrongfully fired workers sued and prevailed at court two years ago and were awarded back pay, etc totaling $1.9--interest is accruing at almost $20k/month, so the total keeps going up.

DA's office has failed to pay the judgement and is now being threatened with asset seizure--including the payroll account to satisfy the judgement, and the DA is whining about he can't pay it, so he's going to ask Ray Nagin for help.

Read up: http://blog.nola.com/updates/2007/10/jordan_no_needs_to_bail_out_da.html

WHERE do they find these officers of the court?

Anonymous said...

Debrah--where *is* the "Diva World"? I might like to visit-- :))

Anonymous said...

More prosecutorial misconduct:

http://blog.nola.com/updates/2007/10/jordan_no_needs_to_bail_out_da.html

JUSTICE FOR THE NEW ORLEANS 36!!

--------

Pay up, Mr. DA.

Debrah said...

TO 5:32 PM--

I don't think you or anyone else will be able to teach Thomas Sowell anything about cachet and "brands".

He went to both Harvard and Columbia....and he's actually used his degrees for something!

Ralph Phelan said...

the man known around Duke as "The Minister of Truth."

Haaa hah ha haa haa ha ha haaaaa!

I'm sure whatever Dukie came up with that nickname had read "1984."

By including it in what was apparently supposed to be a complimentary piece, whoever wrote that ediorial made it obvious that they have not.

Oh, that's priceless!

Debrah said...

I'm posting this again for those who might have missed it.

KC on panel of Duke conference

This is my favorite. The entire panel discussion was very informative; however, KC is great in this one.

Also, I suggest when anyone might be working on a cute cut-and-splice photo in the future for Wonderland, devise an image of KC from this appearance.

KC is at his best.

FYI, if you don't want to listen to the entire panel, take your mouse and move the little procession dot on the bottom...until you get to the middle. KC's talk begins there.

Debrah said...

TO 1:58 PM--

It's a secret!

:>)

Anonymous said...

One Spook, you are absolutely correct in that one voice, and ONLY one voice should have been the official spokesperson for this event.
To Matthew, yes, as a PR guy, I have heard all about getting through the next news cycle, but I coach the senior execs who I support that they must be transparent in what they say. In other words, give the reporters the "bottom line," and don't make them fish for answers. You can CRAFT statements to not cause damage, yet still remain transparent.
Burness, IMO, was just plain stupid. OBVIOUSLY there were legal implications to everything he said. He should have been transparent, but stuck to the script. Broadhead should have been schooled BY Burness what he could and could not say. Burness lacked skills to do this. He was nothing more than a "glad hander" walking around the community smiling all the time and NOT a GOOD PR guy who has his company's best interests at heart. Those best interests INCLUDE being honest and transparent with the media.
cmf

inman said...

One thing you all are missing is that Duke hired an outside PR firm to help handle the matter. (I got that from a person who was with the firm that consulted Duke -- while having a cocktail at a Great Meadows (VA) polo match.)

Now, what I don't know is this: the timing of Duke's retaining the PR firm and the extent of the engagement -- and who they counseled or advised. But it surely had to have included the spokesman for the university.

Maybe Burness just couldn't follow instructions.

traveler said...

David Evans - PR
Flashback-Never Forget

A so-called expert discusses David Evans’ body language during his press conference.(CNN) This expert was yet another hoax if you ask me. Just think of an innocent young man being subjected to this press conference. Whatever monetary damages he received, it was not be enough.
“….he was dressed in khakis and a blue polo shirt—a slightly childlike outfit for a twenty three year old man being charged with rape and kidnapping.”
---------------------------------
Duke University Lacrosse–The Case that Will Not Close
May 18, 2006 at 1:50 pm by Liz Funk
Excerpts:

Patti Wood, a body language expert discussing David Evans’ body language during his press conference. She noted that it was especially difficult to analyze his body language, given that his statement was so rehearsed.

“The cues before Evans made his statement were especially telling because those are rich cues—he hadn’t rehearsed them.” She identified some of these cues as having his hands in his pockets, which hides one’s emotional state, in addition to rubbing his chin (which Wood explains as a “critical evaluation gesture”) while his lawyer spoke. Before Evans spoke himself, Wood noted that he also “pressed his lips together, which signifies withholding nervousness or withholding truth. Mouth cues are an indication of deceit.”

On his speech itself, Wood couldn’t tell whether Evans’ lack of ease on camera was guilt or extreme nervousness. “He was gulping a lot while he talked. He did it earlier, too, gulping while his lawyer was speaking. That generally indicates that something is not going down well, that his statement was not going down well.”

Wood also noted that this man’s vehement anger (if you saw the video or read the transcript, this guy was mad. Like, not “locked keys in car” mad, or even “shrunk designer cashmere sweater” mad, but mad) might be an indication of sincerity, given that wrongly accused defendants often express anger in their court dealings—however, she emphasized that given his temper swings during the press conference (“he started out very confident, after looking so nervous, and then became very angry”) Evans’ temperance might be more his lawyer’s encouragement.

What Ms. Wood also noted was that he was dressed in khakis and a blue polo shirt—a slightly childlike outfit for a twenty three year old man being charged with rape and kidnapping. Ms. Wood felt that this was perhaps a thoroughly planned effort to exonerate him through his “juvenility.

Posted in Feminist Ideas http://blogs.timesunion.com/lizfunk/?p=7

Anonymous said...

If Duke officials used a PR firm to quide them through this event, Steele should demand Duke's money back.
Evans should have a lot of quilt over this event, but the body language interpretations are stupid.

Anonymous said...

Can someone convert Debrah's KC @ Duke video file so I can watch it on my Mac?

Gary Packwood said...

traveler 5:28 said...

...A so-called expert discusses David Evans’ body language during his press conference.(CNN)

...Posted in Feminist Ideas http://blogs.timesunion.com/lizfunk/?p=7
::
There is no such thing as a body language expert. Feminists have been trying to sell that load of crap for two decades...especially with respect to men folding their arms over their chest.

Of course she could say that she is a expert about most anything if some native buyer is shelling out the cash.

Buyer beware.
::
GP

Anonymous said...

Does anyone else think the PR types have it all wrong here? The Duke situation should never have been handled like a business would handle it. It's more like a family situation. Think Hillary, Bill, and Monica. Hillary never threw him under the bus and they survived what should have been one of the greatest PR disasters ever. It should have been much easier (to stand by your ___) with the Duke students, they were innocent!

Anonymous said...

These "experts" are anything but funny, if you are the defendant. My personal favorite set of "experts" in the American criminal justice system were the "behavior changers" employed by former Miami Dade DA, Janet Reno, in her infamous "child molestation" cases, which were all fraudulent.

Ralph Phelan said...

anonymous 10/24/07 6:51 PM said...

"If Duke officials used a PR firm to quide them through this event, Steele should demand Duke's money back."
Not necessarily. PR experts, like lawyers, cannot be held responsible when their clients fail to follow good advice.

Debrah said...

TO 7:48 PM--

KC

Go to this page and scroll down until you see KC's name. Click on that webcast and perhaps it will convert to whatever your computer is using.

I have an IMAC with Realplayer which works quickly.

Anonymous said...

Let's see Ralph - "Duke hired a PR firm and did not take their advice." Any evidence they hired a PR firm and/or did not take their advice or just speculation on your part?

Ralph Phelan said...

" Any evidence they hired a PR firm and/or did not take their advice or just speculation on your part?"

Pure speculation.
The evidence they hired a PR firm is rumor. The possibility that they didn't take the advice they paid for is just that, as indicated by the phrase "not necessarily."

inman said...

2:29

I unequivocally heard -- from someone who said they knew (in fact, the individual indicated they were somehow involved) -- that Duke had hired a PR firm. There were three of us talking at the time, me, another Duke graduate and the person who was in the know. The context of the conversation gave me the impression that the advice had been followed. But, I did not probe deeply. It was a casual conversation.

Anonymous said...

If Duke wants to do some good PR, it needs to do what Randolph College is doing presently: shutting down 5 academic departments, including Anthropology. Budgetary reasons, for sure. Unfortunately, the Sociology dept. intends to add courses in gender studies and culture. Two steps forward...

Anonymous said...

Let's do put a positive spin on it!! Duke is filled with wonderful people and opportunities!! Where else could you get credit for studying "Hooking Up"? Total intellectual Viagra, dude. Or take a course on how rap rocks the bougeoisie?? It's like way more powerful than Nietzsche , man!!
And if you fail at hooking up, don't forget the steamy multicultural Durham escort scene. We can't say more on this site, but suffice it to say, we're talking a nights to remember here!!(Wasn't that a song by Pink Floyd?)
In addition, in the same way Vegas has its own Venetian canals, Egyptian pyramids and the Eiffel Tower, Duke sports its own exclusive Russian Revolutionary Theme Park, staffed with real Marxist-Leninist radicals who speak in the actual dogma of the original revolution. Cool, huh?
Last, but not least, we have Panther night, where uninvited Black Panthers invade the campus in sort of a war gaming exercise to keep the student body on its toes.
YOU WILL LOVE IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

traveller> wondering why you bring up body language expert article written so long ago now. Obviously, it was completely wrong and not noticed or influential in any way. I think some on the blog do not give the average person enough credit for figuring out what a joke this all was.Especially the media's role.
In my mind, most of what was written in the first year was either incredibly wrong, libelous,stupid or all of the above. Duke may think body language study is important, but it's not a serious line of academic study where it counts.
The problems and issues at Duke are theirs to fix or reward. I just hope other colleges learn from the mistakes made. I do think smaller colleges care more about their students and remember they are in the business of helping young adults mature and learn. Duke forgot their mission, lead by Mr.Broadhead. I hope those most affected> the three guys and coach Pressler are able to leave Duke in the dust and have happy productive lives.The pain and suffering they experienced won't be forgotten and could have been avoided if the grownups in charge did their jobs.