Duke Basketball Report has a superb analysis of the 60 Minutes piece, but also a thoughtful—and, in my opinion, unanswerable—set of recommendations for Richard Brodhead.
DBR notes, correctly, that Brodhead is currently in a difficult position, because “no matter what he does, he’s going to offend various constituencies.” An example of this problem, of course, came after Brodhead lifted the suspensions of Reade Seligmann and Collin Finnerty—only to see Karla Holloway ostentatiously resign her position as chair of the “race subgroup” of the CCI. DBR also notes, correctly, that for good reasons, the power of any University president to control the faculty is limited.
That said, Duke needs to be able to recruit new students. What prospective parent could have watched 60 Minutes and not have been troubled by the current situation? So what can Brodhead do?
DBR: “One thing which Brodhead could do, it seems to us, which everyone should agree with, is to make it clear to the city of Durham that Duke students must be treated the same as any other citizens and that Duke will not tolerate any further mistreatment of its students. Certainly parents of students (present and prospective) would wish this to be so.”
This problem has ranged from the “extraordinary” (the treatment of the lacrosse players) to the more ordinary, where “
Moreover, “as Professor James Coleman has made clear, if you can do what Nifong did to rich people, it’s ten times easier to do it to poor ones. Brodhead has an opportunity to let Duke serve
(This is one of the best suggestions I’ve seen in the entire case.)
Brodhead could also, DBR suggests, use his moral authority as Duke president to, “when the time is right, even advocate for major reform in the state system of justice,” creating an opportunity for “an impressive legacy for any university president.”
I agree 100% with the editorial in general and the point about the necessary limits on a president’s control of his or her faculty. There are, however, three things that I think Brodhead can, and should do, that even adherents of the most limited possible presidential role could support.
1.) Take concrete steps to ensure that all Duke professors adhere to Chapter Six of the Duke Faculty Handbook, which opens with the following passage:
Members of the faculty expect Duke students to meet high standards of performance and behavior. It is only appropriate, therefore, that the faculty adheres to comparably high standards in dealing with students . . . Students are fellow members of the university community, deserving of respect and consideration in their dealings with the faculty.
2.) Work behind the scenes—while an administration’s formal powers over faculty is limited, good presidents have considerable informal influence—to obtain more faculty signatures for the Economics Department’s letter, with a goal of getting a majority of arts and sciences professors to go on the record that they welcome all students, including student-athletes, into their classes.
3.) Consider a faculty version of the CCI, to explore such issues as whether the structure of Duke’s arts and sciences hiring patterns created a situation in which such a sizable—and vocal—segment of the arts and sciences faculty could have taken such a dubious position in this case, and, more important, demonstrated no apparent willingness to reconsider the merits of its actions.