Sunday, March 04, 2007

Paula McClain: No Means No

To give a sense of the continued power of the Group of 88, even if the case to which they attached their crusade has collapsed, one Group member, Paula McClain, will succeed Paul Haagen as chair of Duke’s Academic Council.

In today’s N&O, McClain strongly endorses the findings of the Campus Culture Initiative:

The reality is the world is changing, the country is changing, and we have to change. If Duke wants to remain competitive and remain a top-notch institution, it’s got to change with the times. Change is very difficult, especially for people who came through Duke years ago.

Here’s McClain, in her own words, from last summer, responding to an e-mail that was forwarded to me from a blog reader.

From: Paula D. McClain < >
Date: Jul 12, 2006 9:07 PM
Subject: Re: Duke Chronicle ad
To: Melanie Wilson <>


Melanie Wilson wrote:

Professor McClain:

In blogs like History News Network, John in Carolina, and Betsy's Page, I've noticed the very strong criticism of the "listening" ad that appeared in the Duke Chronicle and is now posted on the AAAS website. Given the many new facts that have come out since that ad first appeared, it seems as if it's stood the test of time poorly. It's troubling that you criticized your own school's students before all facts were in.

Have you reconsidered your decision to sign the ad? If not, are you planning on making any public statements on behalf of the Duke students accused by Mr. Nifong?

Melanie Wilson

Apparently “changing with the time” means that professors are supposed to remain silent rather than defend the due process rights of their institution’s students.


Anonymous said...

I posted this a few days back, at the end of a dead thread -- perhaps I was wrong...

I just read the CCI report.

One recommendation on admissions standards is specific to athletes:

Reduce the number of athletes admitted near the low end and reduce the number of teams afforded the prerogative to recruit athletes near the low end

Also on admissions, there's this line:

As an indication of this intuitional priority, the Committee suggests evaluating applicants’ response to a required application essay question on engagement and experiences with difference.

I do think the report is being handled reasonably. It is clearly written with an agenda -- that diversity is necessary (for excellence) and that there are a number of things that tend to be hostile to diversity and therefore must be lessened: insensitive/unaware/hostile admits, socially powerful fraternities, alcohol, (self-)segregated housing, athletics, etc. At the same time, it is well written and does present one viewpoint. If this is balanced by other viewpoints and any decisions carefully made, there is some good here.

The report states:

Black students as a group have lower GPAs than white students, even when adjusted for pre-college differences in test scores and background.

Here's where it gets dicey. What attribution does one make here? Is this a consequence of racism, or is acting as though this is either untrue, or can only be a result of racism something that actually contributes to racism? How does one discern angst caused by feelings of inadequacy from that caused by perceived racism? Is it possible that difference in terms of performance might be one dimension along which students naturally sort themselves? Is diversity of aptitude or achievement desirable in a top-tier school?

If you are going to not make any allowance in admissions for athletic excellence and recognize the things that athletics adds to the undergraduate experience at Duke, how can you abide making the same sort of allowance just to meet some sort of diversity target? After all, it is the case that Duke has high standards for athletes – they just make an allowance. There are a great many players who qualify athletically but who do not make the grade academically. In this same report, there is praise for making just such allowances to get more artists admitted.

It occurs to me that Duke athletics is resented for being excellent. Watching basketball (both teams) in particular, it is clear that Duke athletes are not one-dimensional. On some level, I think it really irritates many to see a team that is racially mixed or even predominantly white, with a white coach, defeat an all-black team or even lose a close contest with grace and dignity that at times far outshines the class shown by the opposing team. I think this is yet another reason why there was so much pent-up rage that was loosed on the Lacrosse team last Spring.

If anything, I would guess that the words and acts of the G88 have lessened the weight of the recommendations in the report. To his credit, Broadhead does seem to devote considerable time and energy to Duke and perhaps now, with Central Campus planning underway and the events of the past year in mind, is a good time to explicitly discuss some of these issues. I just can’t understand how it is that with all that Duke does in the name of diversity today, that there are such vocal demands for more. Maybe it is na├»ve of me, but perhaps it is possible to have a frank an open discussion that results in greater understanding, justice, and results that truly will help Duke to move forward.

Anonymous said...

In this instance, the one word reply "no" is the e-mail equivalent of a dumb look.

Anonymous said...

"In today’s N&O, McClain strongly endorses the findings of the Campus Culture Initiative: The reality is the world is changing, the country is changing, and we have to change. If Duke wants to remain competitive and remain a top-notch institution, it’s got to change with the times."

Duke may need to change, but the suggestions put forth by th CCI are not going to help Duke remain a top-notch institution. They will, in fact, reduce attendance by the types of students that have made it competitive in the past.

The country is changing, but it is not changing with the speed the G88 want it to. The G88 are still wackos by the majority of Americans' standards.

Unless another change happens in the future (and I pray that it will), given time, and the direction with which the country is going as it relates to "diversity", the day will come when the CCI's way of thinking will become the norm. I also pray that I am not around to witness it.

Anonymous said...

9:35 wrote:

"perhaps it is possible to have a frank an open discussion that results in greater understanding, justice, and results that truly will help Duke to move forward."

Unfortunately, I think the Group of 88 have made it abundantly clear that they will resist any discussion that is genuinely frank and open. They would like to tightly control discussion, and would surely be happy to label the result as "frank and open".

Is there anything in their behavior of the past year that indicates tolerance for views that differ from theirs? Willingness to process facts that don't align with their preconceived notions? Tendency to compromise?

Their idea of "diversity" is a university where everyone is afraid to dissent from the G88 orthodoxy.

It's a remarkable thing that a substantial group inbued with (and indeed proud of) this level of bigotry can be entrenched at a respected institution like Duke. Even more astonishing is that this is the rule, not the exception, at US universities.

Anonymous said...

Do you think one goal of the leftist Duke professors is to turn Duke athletics into Yale athletics? The athletic teams are simply too good; how can academics be that good if the sports teams are excellent? Jealousy? Posturing? Ideology?

Anonymous said...

Enforcing diversity is in and of itself racist. While there's a plethora of books and studies that highlight the mis-education of our children, here's a more timely one:

Six Degrees of Liberal Racism

Terry Michaels sums it up:
"...if you want to end race consciousness in America, stop enforcing race consciousness!

Anonymous said...

Not only is "diversity" a deliberately squishy term, but there are no demonstrated benefits deriving from "it" - beyond, of course, the meaningless jobs it provides for "diversity professionals." Consequently, the search for logic in the actions of diversity advocates is, to put it charitably, an abject waste of time and effort.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

I can not imagine reducing the number of low end athletes will effect any sport but basketball and football. I see no reason for Duke or any other school not to have a few places for these folk.

Anonymous said...

Does Bob Steel know about this?

MTU'76 said...

CCI, Listening Statement, g88, Angry Studies, Sob Sisters, AAs, XX not XY Studies, Durham NAACP: petitio principii* causing the problems they are studying. Unfortunately there is a grain of truth, in that somewhere on the planet women and blacks are being treated badly, but that does not appear to be the case at Duke.

For the low-self esteem, emotionally immature, 'Angry' professors with fragile egos, consider Munchausen syndrome by proxy.** But instead of harming their own children they harm their students, sit back and enjoy the attention and insist their classes must be required for graduation.

*Begging the Question.

**Munchausen syndrome by proxy

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know what the role of the Duke Academic Council is?

Anonymous said...

I suspect that they have their tiger by the tail. They cannot back down at this point, and I don't expect them to. They have lied on record (claiming that their first letter did not endorse students not waiting to protest even though signatories of both letters were intimiately involved in the protest). They have engaged in discriminatory and harassing behavior (the general conduct of the 88 and potbangers pass the reasonable person test for "hostile environment," charges of grade retaliation and undue calumny don't even need to come into play). And most importantly they have leveraged their own misconduct into concessions, however symbolic, from the university.

To recant would invalidate the poison-fruit CCI, and any admission of misconduct would simply be handing future lawyers more rope.

They crossed the Rubicon long ago and burned their bridges. All that would be left is a civil suit, which doesn't sit well with me, but the defendants (and plaintif in the Curtis case, if it favors him) are entitled to a tort aciton here.

And all *that* will due is make them martyrs to misconceived visions academic freedom (which covers none of their formal misconduct, especially harassment, libel and grade retaliation) just as it did for Ward Churchil.

Anonymous said...

I'm an active reader of this blog and someone who has been extremely critical of the Group of 88. That being said, I think its worth mentioning that Paula McClain really is an excellent professor who, absent this controversy, I would consider very deserving of this and any position at the school. I am critical of her stance as a Group member and don't support the CCI at all, but I think its worth knowing that she is definitely no Karla, Wahneema, Houston, or the like before the rip parade following this post begins.

Anonymous said...

"No" to "reconsidering"

.....hmmmm although the word does imply a bias to changing one's prior opinion, it does not sound too open minded - or one might also say, not very academic.

-Guess this is what a left-wing 'knuckledragger' sounds like.

Anonymous said...

The delusional quality of the G88 shows in mcClain's view.

Her style of leftist cant is exactly what the country is leaving behind.

The G88 worldview is predicated upon a bipolar liberal arts culture, rich white liberal, guilt-tripping demagogues (Chafe, Tyson, Starn), and black professional race men and women in the old style (Holloway, McClain, Neal, etc)

That looks nothing like the new America.

That is racist paternalism and race-baiting from another century.

Nothing progessive about that.

Joe said...

Hehe... "discover their inner Jerry Falwells."


Anonymous said...

To me the most objectionable part of McClain's statement is the swipe at Duke alumns: "Change is very difficult, especially for people who came through Duke years ago."

Anonymous said...

McClain's eloquent "no" echoes that potbanger's "nope" when asked a similar question about rushing to judgment.

No, nope, nein, nyet. What else can these folks say - "Yes: I was an ass. I guess my whole world view is off"?

At random, some other guaranteed-to-get-a-no questions:

is there any action by Nifong that Joyner would not defend?

Are Nancy Grace, Cash Michaels, ThugNiggerIntellectual, et al. going to give up their meal-ticket victimolatry because of a little thing like the embarrassment of this case?

Is the NC Dem party going to alienate black voters by declaring this complete crock of a case a complete crock of a case?

Does Brodhead deserve our understanding for the "difficult situation" in which he was placed?Would Brodhead be sounding so level-headed now if he thought he could get away with simply pandering to his PC allies? Should he be president of Duke?

Is there any point in reading the H-S?

Anonymous said...

Wow. What a well thought out and well explained answer from McClain to a very important question.

Try this: Will I be giving any money to Duke in the near future?


Anonymous said...

Recently elected Chairwoman of the Duke Faculty Council, Paula McClain, will begin her term in July 2007.

On her web site, Ms. McClain notes that she is Co-Director of the Center for Studies of Race, Ethnicity, and Gender, is a member of the Provost's Diversity Task Force, and has served as chair of the Appointments, Promotions, and Tenure Committee. Perhaps here we may find an explanation for why some Duke faculty did not respond to the "Group of 88." Perhaps here we may find an explanation for the meager academic credentials of some of the 88.

In the N&O article, Ms. McClain is quoted as saying: "The reality is the world is changing, the country is changing, and we have to change. If Duke wants to remain competitive and remain a top-notch institution, it’s got to change with the times. Change is very difficult, especially for people who came through Duke years ago."

Ms. McClain is guilty of AGEISM, a serious form of discrimination that is more prevalent than ethnic and racial discrimination. Duke and other universities need to address ageism on their campuses. Old coot professors, especially white males, with lots of important ongoing research under their belts are being discriminated against as they seek employment and promotions and salary raises.

Former graduates of Duke are being told by Ms. McClain that they find difficulty changing with the times. Tell that to people like Ginny Lilly, Peter Nichols, and Ed Pratt. Ms. McClaine, they have been quite successful in keeping up with the times, but then some agenda-driven faculty may consider them to be nothing but corporate fat cats, the bane of the country.

Are you, Ms. McClain, given your research interests, capable of removing from your eyes and brain the filters of race, ethnicity, and gender? I'm curious as to what kind of change you are talking about? Please be more specific. And tell me what makes an institution "top-notch"?

Are other alums as offended as I am by Ms. McClain's ageism?

Anonymous said...

Campus Culture Initiative?
Why dont' they call it what it really is; Social Engineering Initiative with a Concentration in Athletics and Alcohol Prohibition!

The CCI is just a way to address Duke Athletes without looking like they are just addressing Duke Athletes.
How else can one explain the overlooked fact that in 2006 the DUKE STUDENT ATHLETE GRADUATION RATE WAS 91%. DUKE LED ALL SCHOOLS!

The CCI says: "Students who spend more time partying & binge drinking tend to devote significantly less time to studying and have significantly less academic performance in comparison to other students."
91% doesn't sound like a problem with drinking, partying, studying or playing a sport!

Duke's "black" graduation rate (for those who feel the need to segregate one graduation rate from another)was 87%!
Of the 687 black students at Duke,89 did not graduate.

Perhaps the issue the CCI should be investigating is that with a 2.45 student/teacher ratio, why isn't the graduation rate 100%?
(Duke undergrads:6,244 Duke Faculty: 2,518)

Anonymous said...

"The reality is the world is changing, the country is changing, and we have to change. If Duke wants to remain competitive and remain a top-notch institution, it’s got to change with the times"

This makes more sense once you realize these professors think the times we're moving out of are the 1950's.

M. Jones

Anonymous said...

Who said the following?

"This kind of thing is frightening to me, because it often gives me the feeling that the very concept of objective truth is fading out of the world. After all, the chances are that those lies, or at any rate similar lies, will pass into history. . . . The implied objective of this line of thought is a nightmare world in which the Leader, or some ruling clique, controls not only the future but the past. If the Leader says of such and such an event, “It never happened”–well, it never happened. If he says that two and two are five–well, two and two are five."

1. Richard Brodhead
2. Jozef Stalin
3. Paula McClain
4. Ronald Reagan
5. Peter Wood
6. Ward Churchill
7. Amanda Marcotte
8. George Orwell
9. Were it ever said, it was misinterpreted and the clarifying statement was: NO.

Anonymous said...

It is unfortunate that Professor McClain begins her term with what can be understood as an attack on alumni. She insults people she has never met whose thoughts she does not know, yet many of these same alumni are people who have helped Duke greatly, and continue to do so, with little or no recognition in return. One wonders if Professor McClain has any idea what she is doing. She most certainly is not representing the whole Duke faculty.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know what the role of the Duke Academic Council is?

Mar 4, 2007 12:59:00 PM

The Academic Council at Duke is roughly equivalent to what is called the Faculty Senate at other institutions. The academic council is supposed to represent the views of the faculty on all matters of importance to the University. In some past years it has functioned effectively to bring forward academic interests, often by appointing well qualified faculty to specific university committees. The Chair of the Academic Council (Professor McClain will become chair in a few months) speaks for the faculty on many occasions, such as at some trustee meetings.

Anonymous said...

Are other alums as offended as I am by Ms. McClain's ageism?

Mar 4, 2007 2:48:00 PM

Yes, deeply so.

Duke '86 said...

Can anyone think of a reason Duke students shouldn't boycott McClain and other members of the Group of 88's classes?


It would be the best way to .............See Ya!

Anonymous said...

Brodhead is from Yale. If he comes up against Coach K in an effort to remake Duke sports into Yale sports he may find out that he is no longer in New Haven. I would like to see Brodhead try to gut the Blue Devils basketball program - he will be the one who is heading for disembowelment. The Iron Dukes are rich and powerful, do not mess with Duke basketball.

But that is not likely to play out an any way that is helpful to the current situation. Brodhead is in nominal charge, the case against the Lacrosse team drags on, Nifong still goes to work, and not much changes around here...

Gary Packwood said...

Accreditation for Duke University

Duke is in the middle of preparing for their next accreditation visit schedule sometime in 2009 - Which is, in university time, right around the corner.

The Southern Association of Colleges and School will make the accreditation visit.

Information about the process that is well underway at Duke can be found at the URL below

Duke University - Office of the Provost

There are faculty committees working on the Quality Enhancement Plan [QEP] (self-study on a topic dealing with student learning) component of the accreditation process... Now.

Another component of the accreditation process is community input and I would imagine obviously, that Duke Alumni are an obvious 'community' that can comment.

The timing here is wonderful.

And Paula McClain is the Chair of Duke's Academic Council (Faculty Senate). Just Amazing.


Anonymous said...

Maybe Duke should launch a faculty intramural sports league, with mandatory participation. Failure to participate will result in termination.

After all, if students need to be indoctrinated on the benefits of a narrow-minded "diversity", I think it's fair that faculty should learn of the positive benefits of athletic competition.

Anonymous said...

Duke must be a great university to overcome the intellectual drivel of the leftist professors, the weak leadership of Brodhead, the remote oversight of the trustees, the utter corruption of Durham, the framing of lacrosse players by Nifong and his enablers, et al.

Anonymous said...

University types live in a different world and often look down on those of us that are outside that world. The town/gown conflict continues. The problem with the professors is that they do not respect those of us that have achieved success in life. Alums that have had fulfilling and rewarding lives certainly have a right to comment on the courses of study proposed by these goof balls. Most successful people have to change with the times, keep open minds and adapt. Why I have even learned how to use a computer

Anonymous said...

Very thoughtful post, 9:35 a.m.

Anonymous said...

I think Paula McClain underestimates how easy change can be for the people who came through Duke years ago (alums)and how capable they are of making changes. Clearly for an employee like McClain, who would probably leave Duke for a bigger paycheck, tradition has no importance and alumni are perceived as anachronisms. The Trustees need to be aware of her patronizing attitude toward alumni.

Anonymous said...

Don’t know who said that - but the nightmare has already been in existence for a while, thanks to PC, multiculturalism, etc.
“The Textbook League” has been around for a while and parents who prefer their children learn fact rather than PC fiction may want to browse their site for reviews of the textbooks being used in schools (and don’t think private schools are immune).
When I toured East Germany years ago (while in college), we were warned in advance to not roll our eyes or gasp at the historical inaccuracies stated by our tour guides. It was not easy, but the price of touring was to accept the propaganda. I never imagined that one day I would see the same thing to such a degree in my own country - perversion of fact in order to serve an agenda.

Anonymous said...

Duke '86 said>
"Can anyone think of a reason Duke students shouldn't boycott McClain and other members of the Group of 88's classes?"

If someone is a good professor and has a class that is interesting and pertinent to my interests and area of study, I would take still that professor's class.

One of 88 was a classmate of mine and she was bright, kind, energetic and immensely humorous. Unless she has changed drastically, I think she probably is a fine professor. A former professor of mine signed the follow-up statement and she was a knowledgeable and engaging professor who noticed when I was absent from a class or two.

I'm disappointed they signed those statements and it does make me question their judgment and thought processes. If I am paying for a Duke education, though, I am going to take classes by the best, with little regard for their signing statements. Admittedly, it seems like a higher percentage of the best most rigorous thinkers/teachers are probably those who did not sign the statements.

And I do not like McClain's rip on alumni.

Anonymous said...

Looks like McClain is the one who can't adjust to change.

After the "listening" ad, as the facts came out and it became evident that the case she based her position on was nothing but a false accusation, she refused to change her position.

Is she too old? Or maybe just too racist.

Anonymous said...

rod allison, Detroit said...

Looks like McClain is the one who can't adjust to change.

After the "listening" ad, as the facts came out and it became evident that the case she based her position on was nothing but a false accusation, she refused to change her position.

Is she too old? Or maybe just too racist.

Mar 5, 2007 6:03:00 AM

She is too inexperienced to understand how dumb her comments make her sound, and too insecure to change her earlier mistaken stance. It is the price paid by the Duke faculty for electing someone for symbolism rather than for the candidate's qualifications. Now Professor McClain has to go and address people whose goodwill she needs, after initially insulting them. Not a good beginning.

Anonymous said...

I invite you to compare McClain's publishing record, especially in terms of peer reviewed journal articles, with any other Full Professor in a top 10 Department in the country (Duke PS is usually ranked top 10 in said rankings).

You will see her record is fairly weak. Lots of publications in second or third tier journals, barely anything in top journals (and the few things she has in top journals are either co-authored or review pieces).

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't mind the recommendation to limit athletic admits at the "low end" so long as the same rigorous policy were applied to the qualifications of all faculty hiring -- and promotion -- across the spectrum of departments and programs. What are the chances of this ever happening? Nil.