Commentaries, Global Warming, Opinions   Cover   •   Commentary   •   Books & Reviews   •   Climate Change   •   Site Links   •   Feedback
"And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." - John 8:32
WEBCommentary Contributor
Author:  Michael J. Gaynor
Bio: Michael J. Gaynor
Date:  November 6, 2007
Print article - Printer friendly version

Email article link to friend(s) - Email a link to this article to friends

Facebook - Facebook

Topic category:  Other/General

Richard Brodhead: Move Out, Not On

We don't know precisely how bad he is, but suffice it to say that what we know he did was "bad enough" for him to be sent packing.

That smarmy man (Duke University President Richard Brodhead) really appears to be shameless.

For sure, as Duke president, he's far from blameless. His lack of leadership has sullied Duke's reputation, cost Duke many millions of dollars and will cost more (either in settlement payments or litigation costs and judgments to be paid).

If Mr. Brodhead had any decency, he would have examined the documents Kevin Finnerty offered to show him (so that he would recognize a railroading in progress).

He deliberately chose ignorance instead.

If Mr. Brodhead had any shame, he would have apologized when Duke secretly settled with the Duke Three to protect him, his administration and a significant (and terribly flawed) part of his faculty.

He did not, in the hope he could just move on and in the expectation that none of the unindicted players would have what it takes to stand up to him and sue.

He finally apologized, a bit, because he found himself on the spot and yearns to stay in his comfortable slot.

We don't know precisely how bad he is, but suffice it to say that what we know he did was "bad enough" for him to be sent packing.

Mr. Brodhead has been trying to put the so-called Duke case behind him, with Duke's checkbook, confidential settlements, a minimal apology and arrogant presumption.

Chelsea Allison, a Duke student, presuming that Mr. Brodhead will be retained as president of Duke University, lauded him in an article titled "Prez's Yale Tenure May Offer Glimpse Into Duke's Future" and published in the Duke student newspaper on November 5, 2007.

Ms. Allison: "A long-time champion of undergraduate education, with the lacrosse scandal nearly behind him and the retirements of three top administrators in front of him, President Richard Brodhead now has an opportunity to shift his focus toward his own initiatives. And after spending 40 years in New Haven, Conn., he may begin by modeling it on what he knows."

"Don in New Orleans" was not amused.

He commented to Ms. Allison:

"Your piece today discussed Pres. Brodhead is remarkably written as if in a vacuum, utterly divorced from the events of the past 18 months at Duke, as have been so well chronicled by the Chronicle itself.

"I am wondering if Ole R Holsti, George V Allen Professor Emeritus, perhaps ghostwrote your article, since you echo his letter to the editor of a few weeks ago.

"Please consider in future articles refraining from reference to the 'Duke Lacrosse Scandal.' Wouldn't it be more journalistically accurate to refer to the events as the 'Duke Rape Hoax?'"

Journalistically accurate? Yes, Don.

But political correctness prefers the pretense to the reality.

Based on his performance in what is misnamed "the lacrosse scandal," why should Mr. Brodhead be permittted to continue as Duke's President?

It's absurd!

An anonymous poster offered this "fair and balanced" comment:

"Richard Brodhead appears to have many admirable qualities. The ability to demonstrate moral courage and leadership in a crisis, including the defense of civil liberties for members of his own community, are not among these.

"As much as Brodhead wishes that the 'lacrosse case' was behind him, and that all could 'move on', there is still much unfinished business regarding the outrageous, hostile, mendacious behavior of some members of the Duke administration and faculty that requires corrective action, and will not be swept under the rug.

"Brodhead should return to his teaching position at Yale. He has not demonstrated the qualities necessary to be the leader of Duke University."

Professor Emeritus Hershel Parker, America's premier Herman Melville scholar and an earlier victim of Mr. Brodhead's careless rush to judgment, isn't so sure Yalies should be subjected to that.

Professor Parker:

"Now in his tardy excuse for an 'apology' Brodhead wants a committee to tell him what lessons he needs to learn, and in a new puff piece in the Chronicle [Duke's student newspaper] he wants it made clear that the 'lacrosse scandal' (a misnamed scandal) is behind him.

"How Brodhead behaved in the scandal (where the nefarious actors were not student athletes) will never be forgotten, never be left 'behind,' no matter how often he says it is time to 'move on.'

"One consequence of Brodhead's failures in the lacrosse case (such as his failure to act on the assumption that the students were innocent until proven guilty) is that people have had a chance to look at his whole career as critic and as administrator and have found perturbing patterns going back a quarter of a century. Search 'Google' for 'Brodhead's Blindness,' for example, or look in Google News for Richard Brodhead: Duke's Prize 'Pig in a Poke.' Trustee Steel [Duke's Chairman of the Board] did not bring a 'scholar' to Duke, certainly not a 'first-rate scholar,' as an examination of THE SCHOOL OF HAWTHORNE in this article shows.

"Brodhead's baffling coldness of heart (his indifference to Melville's suffering) I pointed out as early as 1984, in FLAWED TEXTS AND VERBAL ICONS. I have forgotten the experience of reading his comments on Melville but the footnote I put on pp. 28-29 shows that I was shocked, appalled, bewildered, and downright sickened that anyone could be so blind, as I said then, to another's agony. James Van de Velde could add his comments on this point, having suffered from Brodhead's coldness of heart as Dean of Yale College. I can testify to the agony lasting five years after Brodhead in the New York TIMES false[ly] represented me and the state of Melville scholarship in implying that I alone 'surmised' the existence of two lost Melville books, THE ISLE OF THE CROSS and POEMS. Whether ignorantly, willfully, maliciously, he did terrible damage to my reputation, and to my peace of mind. And think how cold he was at Duke to Mike and Sue Pressler and to the lacrosse players and their parents.

"What Duke needed early last year was a grown man capable of rising up in extraordinary circumstances and by God doing the right thing, right then. A brave President, a wise, experienced President, someone who had had a lifelong history of dealing toughly with complex issues of all sorts (aesthetic, intellectual, social, political), would have acted wisely when the lacrosse case broke, acted out of an abundance of wisdom and courage whether derived from experience, instinct, or simply from innate majesty of soul.

"The lacrosse case gave Brodhead his defining moment. Every obituary writer will identify him as the President of Duke University during the tragic prosecution of three innocent students for a rape that never happened. Leave the lacrosse case behind? No."

Professor Parker's correction:

"I meant 'falsely represented me and the state of Melville scholarship.' I get tense and type badly when I try to characterize what Brodhead did in this review. He ignored the documentary evidence that I quoted on the pages of my biography which he was supposedly reading. I did not give a history of scholarship, but anyone who claimed to be a Melville specialist should have known of the work of Hayford, Davis-Gilman, and Sealts on the 1853 book, where they had long discovered almost everything but the title and the probable day of completion (my contributions). I did not surmise anything about the 1853 book, as Brodhead said I did. And I just don't know what to say about a reviewer who in 2002 could say that I was the only one with the instruments to penetrate the black hole of 1860 and claim that Melville had finished a book called POEMS then. Everyone had known the documents since 1922, not that they were not quoted in my biography. Lies, I should have said, but you hate to say that the Dean of Yale College lied about you. But these are falsifications. See NINETEENTH-CENTURY FICTION, Vol. 62 (June 2007), 29-47 for a polite temperate expose of Brodhead's utter failure to acknowledge Melville scholarship. Trustee Steel did not make a good hire."

Right! For good cause, the Trustees of Duke University should be reviewing the contract with Mr. Brodhead in search of grounds to fire!

It's time for Duke to leave Mr. Brodhead behind, so that it can set things right (NOT try to buy silence) and THEN move on.

Michael J. Gaynor

Send email feedback to Michael J. Gaynor

Biography - Michael J. Gaynor

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,,, and 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.

Gaynor's email address is

Read other commentaries by Michael J. Gaynor.

Copyright 2007 by Michael J. Gaynor
All Rights Reserved.

[ Back ]

© 2004-2024 by WEBCommentary(tm), All Rights Reserved