Mike Krzyzewski and Gail Goestenkors were the two most famous hosts for a reception held Wednesday at the Washington Duke Inn for U.S. Senate candidate Elizabeth Dole, Woman's College '58. A gaggle of other prominent Duke administrators and affiliates also served as hosts for the reception, including University Counsel David Adcock, Duke University Health System Chief Financial Officer Kenneth Morris, Annual Fund Executive Committee member Anne Faircloth and former basketball player Jack Marin.
The reception, entitled "Blue Devils for Dole," was held at a University-owned campus hotel, and invitations were mailed to many alumni and University employees. While the co-hosts certainly have the right to support whichever political candidate they choose separate from Duke, the collective effect of their joint sponsorship, the title of the reception, the location it was held at and the composition of the mailing list give the impression that this was a University-sponsored event and that the University itself is lending its support to Duke.
The impression that the University is lending its support to Dole is particularly the case because of Krzyzewski's involvement. Krzyzewski is one of the most prominent University officials, and people across the country associate his name and image with Duke. With his name on the reception, the impression is immediately given that the University itself sponsored the event.
Senior administrators such as President Nan Keohane and Provost Peter Lange make it a policy not to publically endorse candidates or donate money to campaigns. This sort of detachment is appropriate in order to maintain the objectivity that is necessary to conduct academic inquiry and discourse.
The most suspicious aspect of the reception is the invitation list. No one will comment on how the list was compiled, but it seems as if the names were gathered from a list of of Duke alumni that should be kept private by the University. Alumni lists should not be abused for political purposes.
Again, while individuals have the right to participate in the political process, in this situation it is appearances that matter, and the appearance of this Dole banquet reflects poorly on the University.
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