Legendary Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski to Duke University President Richard H. Brodhead, September 18, 2004: "When you leave Duke, Dick, your book won't be called, 'The Good of This Place.' It'll be 'The Great of This Place.'"
I don't think so.
Mr. Brodhead did have a fan who posted the following review of The Good of This Place: Values and Challenges in College Education:
"If you wish to be inspired to learn, read Dean Richard Brodhead's book. With a wry wit and enviable eloquence, Yale College's longtime dean trumpets the importance of liberal arts education and motivates the stoutest of hearts to break-free from staid camps of mutual agreement and explore unknown worlds of intellectual, social, and cultural variation. In short, Brodhead inspires his readers (and listeners, to those who were fortunate enough to hear him speak) to seek education. His life's work are the thousands of college students he has shepherded through Yale (and soon Duke), but his lessons apply well to everyone.
"If you are a student or a parent of student about to head off to college, I highly suggest reading this book. Brodhead gives college life high meaning and grand purpose far beyond the parochial concerns of careerism. And for those over-achievers, he serves a special warning, enunciated most clearly in his speech, 'The Hazards of Success,' given to the Yale College Class of 2003. He warns that an addiction to academic achievement can lead to a larger failure. A student too used to the top spot will be unwilling to venture out of well-tread paths of triumph; fear of imperfection will lead to educational limitation, and the unknown will remain as such because the student refrains from actually having to learn something, least they not excel at it immediately.
"There are many other nuggets of wisdom in these pages, so I'll just commend the rest of the book. As a reader can quickly tell, Brodhead is one of the greatest spokesmen for university education of his time. I would not be surprised if he publishes a second volume in a few years' time."
Note to Professor Emeritus Hershel Parker, America's premier Herman Melville scholar and an expert on the real Mr. Brodhead: That fan's review is the only review of the book posted at amazon.com. The book was not a best seller.
If Mr. Brodhead is "one of the greatest spokesmen for university education of his time," the need to fix university education is urgent.
Mr. Brodhead's next book should be: "That Zoning Variance, Not the Presumption of Innocence and Due Process, Was Top Priority; Those Ungrateful Lacrossers Should Have Asked Not What Duke Could Do for Them, But What They Could Do for Duke."
Stuart Rojstaczer, who describes Mr. Brodhead as his former boss, recently wrote that Mr. Brodhead is not evil and then confronted the distressing implications of a report by Friends of Duke University's Jason Trumpbour on a conversation he had with Duke Chairman Robert Steel.
Mr. Rojstaczer summed it up this way on his blog, Forty Questions:
"I read a blog posting by Jason Trumpbour that has made me reconsider my earlier assertion. In his posting 'Too Little Too Late,' he says a very disturbing thing; Duke was gung ho about the lacrosse case going to trial:
'The administration wanted the case to go to trial. It believed that, if the case were dismissed before trial for whatever reason, people would say that Duke used its influence to have it dismissed. Robert Steel, the Chairman of the Board of Trustees told me that a year ago....
If Reade, Collin and David had to be exposed to the risks associated with a trial by a corrupt, unethical prosecutor who had done everything he could to inflame the jury pool, that was just the way it had to be. Steel told me that it did not matter if they were convicted because all the problems with the case would be sorted out on appeal. That is not the way the appeal process works and I told him that, but that was still his plan.'
"If this is true, Robert Steel and Duke leadership are thoroughly lacking both ethics and humanity. It means that they were so obsessed with making sure that the lacrosse story wasn't about Duke that they were completely willing to sacrifice three people in the process."
But Mr. Rojstaczer insisted that Mr. Brodhead was not influenced, much less intimidated, by the politically correct extremists on the Duke faculty:
"One of the stranger things about the lacrosse affair is the political right wing's insistence that Brodhead's motivation in cutting ties with the lacrosse players was his fear of far left faculty. Why anyone buys this argument is beyond me. Anyone who knows Duke knows that faculty governance is virtually non-existent. It's a top down organization. Faculty opinion means next to nothing. The idea that Brodhead was kowtowing to extremist faculty is completely without merit. Yes, there are many hard left faculty at Duke. No, they don't have any influence on presidential decision making."
"Brodhead and Steel were motivated in their actions principally by one thing, public relations. They cut ties to the lacrosse team in an effort to try to get the lacrosse story off the front page of the national media. Their actions had nothing to do with the desires of Looney Tune left-wing faculty members.
"When big name p.r. firms were interviewed by the news media about Duke actions, they stated at the time of the crisis that in their outside opinion Duke was doing everything right. Duke was following the public relations playbook to a T. Those p.r. experts didn't say that Duke was being motivated by political correctness. And they weren't. Does political correctness exist at Duke? Definitely. But the idea that political correctness drove decision making during the lacrosse affair is a canard.
"The right wing loves to try to tie every dumb move on academic campuses to political correctness. But many dumb moves are the result of other factors. In this case, the awful behavior of Duke leadership was motivated by p.r."
It WOULD be better if the powers that be at Duke had just been dumb, but they just weren't that dumb.
I am amused with the it-was-PR-driving-Duke explanation, as though public relations and political correctness are unrelated and that variance Duke needed from extremely politically correct Durham was not much more important to the persons controlling Duke than Duke's white lacrosse players.
Based on everything I've learned about Mr. Brodhead, especially the James Van de Velde episode when Mr. Brodhead was Yale dean (too lengthy for inclusion in Until Proven Innocent: Political Correctness and the Shameful Injustices of the Duke Lacrosse Case).
Reality: Mr. Brodhead is politically correct in the extreme as well as acutely PR sensitive and he did not need to kowtow to the 88, since he was with them in spirit. He did not criticize them when basic decency demanded they be admonished, because they are folks he protects instead of punishes.
What is most telling is not what Mr. Steel reportedly told Mr. Trumpbour (horrific as that was), but Mr. Brodhead's cowardly refusal to review the prosecution's document production when Kevin Finnerty offered him the opportunity. (A fair-minded man would have reviewed the documents and then re-instated Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann, because, as even Cash Michaels conceded, there was no evidence of guilt in that material.)
If the false accuser had been white and the persecuted defendants and all but one of their teammates had been black, would the President of Duke University have passed on a review of the prosecution's evidence and the Chairman insisted that a trial was necessary?
Who are the real racists in the Duke case--the lacrosse players or the false accuser and her enablers (including Mr. Brodhead, Mr. Steel and Mr. Nifong)?
Please read this excerpt from Mr. Brodhead's book, published by Yale University Press in 2004, to appreciate Mr. Brodhead better:
"Last let me note that there is another provincialism quite as impoverishing as any social or academic one. In our world there are all kinds of people willing to pay tribute to diversity who have no intention of letting difference ever change their minds. 'Conviction' is a name for our most deeply held values and beliefs, but conviction can bring limits along with its values, since conviction can breed certainty that you are right and those so misguided as to disagree with you are wrong--so wrong that you would scarcely even want to know such people, let alone engage them or listen to them. I trust that you have convictions and I applaud you for them, but I hope you don't come here with the assumption that you already know the final answer to any question and have nothing to learn from the non-like-minded."
Messrs. Brodhead and Steel still have plenty to learn. They should read America's Declaration of Independence, since it sets forth the basic convictions on which America was founded, belief in a benevolent God and God-given rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and America's Constitution, which proclaims due process and a presumption of innocence and prohibits discrimination based on race, color, creed or national origin. We have nothing to learn from "the non-like-minded" that would improve on that.
Michael J. Gaynor has been practicing law in New York since 1973. A former partner at Fulton, Duncombe & Rowe and Gaynor & Bass, he is a solo practitioner admitted to practice in New York state and federal courts and an Association of the Bar of the City of New York member.
Gaynor graduated magna cum laude, with Honors in Social Science, from Hofstra University's New College, and received his J.D. degree from St. John's Law School, where he won the American Jurisprudence Award in Evidence and served as an editor of the Law Review and the St. Thomas More Institute for Legal Research. He wrote on the Pentagon Papers case for the Review and obscenity law for The Catholic Lawyer and edited the Law Review's commentary on significant developments in New York law.
The day after graduating, Gaynor joined the Fulton firm, where he focused on litigation and corporate law. In 1997 Gaynor and Emily Bass formed Gaynor & Bass and then conducted a general legal practice, emphasizing litigation, and represented corporations, individuals and a New York City labor union. Notably, Gaynor & Bass prevailed in the Second Circuit in a seminal copyright infringement case, Tasini v. New York Times, against newspaper and magazine publishers and Lexis-Nexis. The U.S. Supreme Court affirmed, 7 to 2, holding that the copyrights of freelance writers had been infringed when their work was put online without permission or compensation.
Gaynor currently contributes regularly to www.MichNews.com, www.RenewAmerica.com, www.WebCommentary.com, www.PostChronicle.com and www.therealitycheck.org and has contributed to many other websites. He has written extensively on political and religious issues, notably the Terry Schiavo case, the Duke "no rape" case, ACORN and canon law, and appeared as a guest on television and radio. He was acknowledged in Until Proven Innocent, by Stuart Taylor and KC Johnson, and Culture of Corruption, by Michelle Malkin. He appeared on "Your World With Cavuto" to promote an eBay boycott that he initiated and "The World Over With Raymond Arroyo" (EWTN) to discuss the legal implications of the Schiavo case. On October 22, 2008, Gaynor was the first to report that The New York Times had killed an Obama/ACORN expose on which a Times reporter had been working with ACORN whistleblower Anita MonCrief.