Dartmouth's Daily Blog
News, commentary, criticism and praise for the College on the Hill, enlivened with history, culture and travel when we feel so moved.
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On a clear spring day in Paris, a solitary tree gives volume and life to the Carrefour de l’Odéon on the Left Bank, not too far from the Sorbonne:
The square is an example of the wonderful cityscapes that one finds all over La Capitale. People come and go, unaware that they are passing through a tiny moment of urban perfection.
The College’s highest paid employee in 2016? Not Phil. Or Pam Peedin, who managed the endowment. It was now-former Geisel Professor Elizabeth Teisberg, who received a $1,500,000 bonus in that year on top of her standard salary:
Teisberg is now a Full Professor at the Dell Medical School at the University of Texas at Austin.
Obviously there is a story here. Does anybody know it?
Addendum: Teisberg is the co-author with longtime Harvard strategy guru Michael Porter of Redefining Health Care and five other jointly written articles. In this video, she talks about the notion of value in health care delivery:
She refers to the health problems faced by her two children.
Monday’s meeting of the general faculty could hold some fireworks. A good number of professors are upset about the closure of UPNE, as well they should be. A college press is central to the academic mission of an institution:
The names on the list could be called the usual suspects — Dartmouth’s left wing, activist professors, but I say good for them, even if much of their politics seems unrealistic to me. Standing up for what is right is always to be applauded.
Now if only someone in the group could sponsor a no-confidence motion.
Addendum: Professor of Art History Mary Coffey’s name originally appeared in the document above that was distributed to the entire faculty along with other materials in preparation for Monday’s faculty meeting. She informs me, and the author of the petition has confirmed to me, that her name appeared there in error. I have removed it from the list.
Thayer Dean Joe Helble has been named by Phil to the Provost’s position. The College press release lists his achievements — and they are real, for a change — as the very active dean of Dartmouth’s School of Engineering:
During Helble’s tenure, the engineering school has seen a sharp increase in the percentage of engineering graduates who are women. In 2016, Dartmouth granted 52 percent of its undergraduate engineering degrees to women, making it the first national research university to award more bachelor’s degrees in engineering to women than to men. The national average is 20 percent.
At the same time, overall popularity of engineering at Dartmouth has also grown, with currently more than 70 percent of undergraduates enrolling in at least one engineering or computer science course. Unlike any other engineering school in the U.S., candidates for a bachelor’s degree in engineering at Dartmouth must also earn an undergraduate degree in the liberal arts, a requirement that has been in place for more than 50 years.
Says Helble, “a grounding in the liberal arts creates the context for understanding engineering problems and helps students learn to ask broader questions and develop deeper critical thinking skills.”
Under Helble’s leadership, engineering enrollment in Thayer’s undergraduate and PhD programs has doubled, and the school created the nation’s first doctoral-level engineering innovation program to address the growing need for people with high-level technical and entrepreneurial expertise.
Also new are exchange programs in Asia and Denmark; a modified major with public policy for those interested in careers in public service; summer design programs for middle and high school students interested in exploring engineering; short courses taught over winter break for Dartmouth and Thayer students interested in exploring a technology-focused topic; and a biomedical engineering sciences major for engineering students interested in attending medical school. Thayer has also seen research funding grow to record levels, and the number of tenure-track faculty has grown as well.
As provost, Helble will be positioned to ensure continuity in the west end development, where Dartmouth will integrate engineering, the computer science department, and the new Magnuson Family Center for Entrepreneurship, a new 160,000-square-foot facility.
When Joe was appointed to his fourth term as head of Thayer last summer, we suggested that he’d make a pretty good President of the College. I wonder if the audience was listening. It does not seem like Phil to have hired a gray-haired, heterosexual white man, but then maybe Phil did not make the decision.
Addendum: My mailbox has been full of positive comments on Joe Helble’s appointment from members of the faculty. In addition, a witty alumnus writes in:
If Phil wants to decrease the number of older, heterosexual white men in the College’s administration, I know exactly where he can start…
And the Trustees love Phil. Why?
Expressions of support are a dime a dozen, but when senior people get big raises/bonuses, you have to think that the folks doling them out are sending the most positive message possible. So who merited hefty raises between calendar 2015 and 2016 at the College? If you guessed under-performers Phil Hanlon ‘77 and Bob Lasher ‘88, I think that you were peeking (or you are truly cynical).
Here’s what Dartmouth’s top administrators earned in 2015 (this table comes from IRS Form 990 that all non-profits must file each year):
President Hanlon took in a total of $1,251,216. And VP for Advancement Bob Lasher was paid $545,105.
And in 2016 Phil received $1,348,735. Lasher earned $646,678:
Phil’s increase of $97,519 (7.8%) contrasts favorably for Phil in comparison to the slim raise pool allocated to Dartmouth’s underpaid faculty. And Lasher’s jump of $101,573 (18.6%) came in the form of a bonus, as the Form 990 notes:
But the question we have to ask about both of these increases is: for what?
After close to five years in Hanover now, Phil’s campus is falling apart, the faculty is underpaid, the house system is the object of disdain by students (who happily drink hard alcohol in the dorms and elsewhere), and the capital campaign is only now getting off the ground. Bob Lasher is as responsible for the latter point as much as Phil. To take the measure of Bob, you but need to read this secret shopper report.
Oh, brother. Is this place a mess.
The satire involving Professor Ned LeBow and his encounter with humorless Merrimack Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies Simona Sharoni recalled for me the role of humor in the hiring process of Dartmouth’s excellent Economics department.
As I have heard from several Econ professors, the first set of interviews with outstanding candidates — the threshold test, if you will — has a single goal: to determine if the potential faculty member has a sense of humor. Why? Because professors who have the ability to laugh and not take themselves too seriously will be good colleagues, and they will also, in all likelihood, be good teachers.
And so it has come to pass in Silsby Hall that the faculty is to a man and woman engaging and menschlich. In fact, if Frans Hals were in Hanover for a visit, he might do a Baroque portrait called the Laughing Economist.
Once the humor hurdle has been passed, the members of the department look only at the quality of scholars’ research. An amusing academic who can think original thoughts and present them with the support of serious data will make a fine addition — as the College’s most popular department has shown time and again.
You see, the existence of a sense of humor on the part of an individual bespeaks self-confidence. Italy may have many faults, but how delightful it is that a women can freely say “Ciao, bello” to a man (“Hey, good lookin’”), just as a man may greet a woman with “Ciao, bella,” if he feels so moved. (My recommendation to Professor Sharoni is that she not go to Italy.) In fact, this salutation can either go across gender lines or remain between persons of the same gender. Nobody seems to feel the need to complain to the authorities.
Such self-confidence is a kind of buffer against misunderstanding and confusion. If one looks for humor in a remark, or simply asks for an explanation about a comment that was otherwise unintelligible, a whole lot of confusion can be avoided.
So, Professor Sharoni. Learn to laugh a little. But until you do, when Ned Lebow is hired for a job and you are passed over, you’ll know why.
Addendum: At the Yale Law School in my day, the faculty dining room, which was regularly used by students, had two large tables: at one, liberal Professor Paul Gewirtz often sat with his acolytes; at the other, you would find most of the students who founded the Federalist Society in their third year in New Haven. One table consistently showed evidence of an uproarious good time; the other was so somber that I once offered my condolences in the thought that the people there had lost someone very dear to them. I’ll leave you to guess which table was which.
Addendum: In the Atlantic, Conor Friedersdorf takes a dispassionate look at l’Affaire LeBow: Is ‘Ladies Lingerie’ a Harmless Joke or Harassment? A dispute among international-relations scholars puts the spotlight on a system that serves everyone poorly.” One of his conclusions:
Each of the shortcomings that I flagged would require different reforms to address, but perhaps fall short of fully capturing the bigger problems that loom over disputes like this.
Foremost among them is the purpose of a professional community’s code of conduct: It ought to be language that clarifies shared, non-negotiable community standards. The ISA’s code of conduct is much more effective at evading the necessity of having to weigh, debate, or commit to any particular standards.
Should all jokes with any sexual innuendo be banned from ISA conferences? Sharoni thinks they already are. If a vote were taken, what would the results be? Do a majority of ISA members agree? What about a majority of women who belong to the ISA?
But at present you have a complainant who earnestly thinks such jokes are obviously verboten, a respondent who thinks that his joke was obviously acceptable, and standards that not only offer no help in adjudicating the matter, but that give no hint as to what the organization’s membership would want.
Little wonder that the case is roiling the community.
Addendum: A longtime reader writes in:
About Prof. LeBow. My son, a first year university student, rolling his eyes said, “Lebow should know that he’s at a ‘Triggerfest Conference’ and should adjust his comments accordingly.” My mom, on the other hand, who well remembers Ogilvy’s and Eaton’s department stores in Montreal (yes, with an apostrophe) and their elevator attendants, didn’t see what the fuss was all about and thought LeBow’s comment was funny. It was.
Erratum: Although I heard about hiring in Econ directly from professors there, the faculty members currently in charge of recruiting have written in with a correction:
Your description of the Economics Department’s hiring practices is incorrect: sense of humor is not a hiring criterion. In the first set of interviews, we evaluate candidates on their ability to describe and discuss their research agenda and their existing research. During the campus visit, we continue to evaluate the candidate’s research and potential as a teacher/scholar.
Erzo Luttmer, Chair of the Department of Economics Junior Recruitment Committee
Eric Edmonds, Chair of the Department of Economics Senior Recruitment Committee
I know I’m repeating myself here, but every time that I see evidence of the College’s extraordinary wealth — especially compared to Penn, Columbia, Brown and Cornell, I want to jump up and down and wave a red flag.
The Congressional Research Service has prepared an elaborate report entitled: College and University Endowments: Overview and Tax Policy Options. Among the data it highlights is a table illustrating the enormous disparity in the endowment per student of various schools:
Unlike HYP and the College, of the four remaining poor sisters of the Ivies — Penn ($541,389/student), Columbia ($357,762/student), Brown ($346,005/student) and Cornell ($293,616/student) — only Penn makes it onto the Congressional Research Service’s endowment/student table.
Now let’s think about these figures in practical terms. Each year, the Ivy institutions draw out about 5% of the value of their endowments to help fund their operations. Let’s see how many endowment dollars/student each school is drawing in the current year:
Look at the relative position of the College. We can’t compete with HYP, but, for example, we have about $22,000/student more to spend this year than Brown ($39,120 vs.$17,300), yet we pay our faculty poorly, the entire College infrastructure is in bad shape, and dining services are over-priced and cause students to wait in line for ages (we will refrain from commenting on the food).
Will nobody do something about this state of affairs?
Last Monday’s faculty meeting barely achieved a quorum, and when Phil Hanlon began his remarks about ten minutes late (meetings, extraordinarily enough, usually start on time), he could have not been more wan. Our President realizes that he has long since outworn his welcome among the College’s professors; they know mediocrity when they see it. As Phil droned through his capital campaign talking points in a speech that anyone in the audience could have cut and pasted together for him from the College’s fundraising press releases (“Dartmouth’s profound sense of place”; “being a basecamp to the world”, “adventuresome spirit,” ad nauseum), you could see that he was just going through the motions.
Phil just doesn’t realize that among intellectuals you have to say something original to catch people’s attention — or perhaps he is not capable of doing so. At least, Jim Kim gave a good first speech, though once he had shot his bolt, it was hard to watch repeated evidence of his shallowness. But Phil doesn’t even try to make it interesting: he hoped to gin up enthusiasm by listing supposed fundraising successes, but try as he might to, for example, cite new construction in Hanover, everyone is fully aware that the recent report on enrollment growth condemned the poor state of the entire campus.
No applause at all were offered at the end of Phil’s presentation (in contrast to the almost-15-seconds of sustained clapping that Economics Professor Andrew Samwick, Chair of the Committee on Priorities, received) and no one rose to ask Phil a question:
Phil did let us know that admissions results would be strong again this year. Lee Coffin is working his magic, though between you and me, I think that Lee has turned us into a reach school, rather than a first choice place for people seeking a closer student/faculty relationship, or an institution that enrolls students who just didn’t quite make it to HYP.
Addendum: Phil commented that the Provost’s search is ongoing. Three finalists have been identified, and Phil will make his choice soon. What he did not say, but needs to be said, is that once again, as in the search for the Dean of the Faculty, straight white men need not apply. Even if they do, no matter the quality of their background, they won’t be accorded an interview.
Addendum: An alumnus writes in:
Sad commentary, indeed. If a picture is worth a thousand words than the view of so many empty chairs at the recent faculty meeting tells a very troubling story. What college or university can thrive in an environment so devoid of enthusiasm and fervor for the educational mission of their chosen place of employment? The short answer is it cannot due to a lack of committed and qualified leadership, little vision and the inability to motivate the remarkable teachers in their care. Clearly there is a need to find a leader who can and will lead, especially in light of the recent announcement that teaching leadership skills and producing the leaders of tomorrow is a major cornerstone of the now launched capital campaign.
Let’s follow that path to its logical conclusion and find a leader for today who will lead Dartmouth to a brighter future and fulfill that important mission. The true purpose of an education is to stimulate learning not to effect social change or pursue politically correct ideologies at the expense of true learning. Both the students and the faculty deserve no less.
It would be interesting to know what the motivation for attending this meeting was and was the audience an ever shrinking group of current policy supporters, unrepresentative of the faculty as a whole, or just curiosity seekers. Why did so many fail to attend? If widespread apathy has set in among the many dedicated and brilliant minds among Dartmouth’s faculty, where will the much needed energy to lead come from, and when?
Addendum: And another:
Maybe I’m missing something here, but those faculty meeting seats sure could be Phil’d (but wait: does that mean emptied?) if he announced ahead of time that he was going to present the report on those suspended profs that was almost-almost-almost ready how many months ago? [on February 21]
Following our post last weekend about Milan’s Bosco Verticale, note that the Grande Epicerie de Paris in the 16th arrondissement has fitted out its building in the same leafy spirit:
Imagine our cities covered with plant life. We could write a book about the effort. Suggested title: The Greening of America.
OK. I am not blameless here. Everyone who writes leaves in a typo or two (I am grateful to Dartblog’s Typo Team for keeping me on the straight and narrow), but for the College’s 22-person Communications staff and the various offices that put out announcements to make spelling mistakes that even an old-school spellchecker would catch (let alone a modern AI-driven one), well, that’s inexcusable:
Addendum: An alum who will soon be attending a clossy institution in Cambridge writes in:
I hope you feel a little better about Dartmouth’s spelling problem, when Harvard sent me a mea culpa email with, but of course, a spelling mistake (Sept. 4 below — looks like someone needs to go to English closs…).
The saga of Ned LeBow and his unfortunate interaction with Professor Simona Sharoni put me in mind of the contrasting agreeableness of good-hearted strangers sharing an amusing moment.
About a decade ago I was in Charleston, South Carolina for a trade show. I entered a hotel elevator with my wife, and on the following floor a young couple joined us. Several floors later, before we had reached the lobby level, the elevator door opened, and the young woman stepped forward. Her husband gently touched her arm, and said, “We’re not there yet.” She laughed, stepped back, and replied, “I always think it’s my floor.”
With studied tentativeness, I stage-whispered to her (and him), “You know, it’s not always about you.”
The husband looked over at me with a big smile and observed, “Uh, actually it is.”
All four of us laughed happily.
A few floors later we reached the ground floor and went out again into the world.
What a lovely, shared interlude between people who had never seen each other before and would never do so again. My spoken line was a bit of a trope, like Ned LeBow’s. Nothing serious. Nothing aggressive. Just an effort at a bit of fun that succeeded wonderfully.
How nice it is to live in a world where certain strangers always look on the bright side of life. Precisely the opposite of the pinched, bitter attitude that seemed to animate Merrimack University Professor Simona Sharoni at the ISA conference.
As I noted the other day, Simona Sharoni has a PhD in conflict resolution. In her interaction with Ned LeBow, was she thinking to resolve a potential conflict?
Or was she too slow-witted to respond to LeBow’s “ladies lingerie” witticism with a rival comment of her own? What if she had said in reply, “Next floor, men’s bikini briefs.” I expect that the occupants of the elevator would all have laughed out loud, too.
But no. Professor Sharoni seems animated by a different set of values and attitudes. She behaved as if she were a person who sees grievances and slights wherever she can find them. Perhaps she’s had a hard life as a tenured professor at a Massachusetts university.
Whatever her background, Sharoni missed an opportunity to help a group of strangers share a moment of common humanity. Everyone could have enjoyed a joke and then gone their separate ways, rather than beginning an ugly conflict. I guess that certain people are burdened by the weight of past oppressions at all times.
My own experience in life is that folks in New England seem to carry with them such an attitude more often than elsewhere in the United States. In fact, when I read about the Lebow vignette, I immediately looked to see the background of the complainant. I was not wrong. In other parts of the country, particularly in the South, there’s a greater sense of camaraderie, one that often carries across age and race and gender.
When the rhetorical question is royally asked, ‘Why can’t we all just get along?’, the answer is that some people really have no interest in getting along. At all. What a shame.
Addendum: As another old joke goes:
A man turns to two female college professors and says “Did you hear the joke about the two feminists.”
And they answer simultaneously, “That’s not funny!!!”
Addendum: Jokes making light of men and women abound in the culture. We can laugh at them — and at ourselves — or choose not to do so. Would you have laughed at Paul Lynde on the Hollywood Squares?:
The wink here is that Lynde’s feigned misogyny is part of his scarcely concealed homosexuality — a theme pursued by entertainers like Liberace in the 1970’s, too.
Addendum: My sister once joked:
Q: What’s the difference between a man and a sexual aid?
A: A man can also mow the lawn.
As you can imagine, I was in tears for hours thereafter.
Addendum: An alumnus writes in:
BRAVO! What a great way to start a lovely spring day. It sure is a breath of fresh air to hear that common sense can overcome personal insecurity on the part of those who see themselves as victims or entitled to respect when it is not earned. A good laugh at ourselves can go a long way to making life worth living. The age old expression ‘Get a Life’ takes on new meaning thanks to your insight.
Not Sig Ep, you say? The goody two shoes frat. The fraternity with the highest GPA — grade inflation notwithstanding, 3.6 doesn’t come easy. The brothers who supposedly don’t haze. Even the Review likes the house:
Sig Ep is the cheese pizza of fraternities. They’re not known for one thing in particular, but they still manage to appeal to everyone. They probably have the easiest new member term of any house, which, along with their large pledge classes, probably explains why their brotherhood isn’t particularly close. The antithesis of pompous, the brothers of Sig Ep want to have a good time without spending the night trying to dance with freshmen girls or engaging in excessive alcohol consumption. The house itself is probably one of the most sanitary on campus and is home to an absurdly large jack-of-all-trades sisterhood.
It’s hard to understand what’s going on at Sig Ep these days, given the curious dynamic between the brotherhood’s national organization and its Dartmouth chapter. And who knows what the Hanlon administration is doing in the background?
The facts are these: the national organization went dry, at least officially, due to soaring insurance costs. When the Dartmouth chapter was put on alcohol probation by the College, the national came down on it like a ton of bricks. All the brothers were suspended, and of the 102 active members, 63 applied for reinstatement (many juniors and seniors did not want to go through the entire process). The brothers were interviewed by a committee composed primarily of non-Dartmouth adults. And in the end, only 19 were invited to continue participating in the organization.
The process seemed entirely opaque, and as a result, a number of alumni brothers have written a document criticizing the whole affair and the current management structure of the house. It’s worth a read, if only to understand that manipulative processes are not the sole province of the Dartmouth administration. Here is the first page:
Read the rest of the memo here.
The national does not seems to understand the College’s unique Greek dynamic. For example, they have asked that parties be limited to invited guests — an arrangement that goes against the Dartmouth Greek system’s admirable rule that almost any party is open to anyone. And to have a process that seems skewed against minority students harkens back to the bad old days of restrictive brotherhood covenants.
Where this will all end for Sig Ep is unclear. The administration’s death by a thousand cuts strategy has already claimed two victims (AD and SAE). Will Sig Ep be next?
My recommendation does not stem from the fact that Gina Barreca is a ‘79 (though that helps), rather because she is thoughtful and funny at the same time:
Wikipedia seems to want to delete her profile. I wonder why.
Addendum: What’s with the “Dr.” in the College’s headline? Almost everybody around here has a Ph.D., yet Dartmouth professors don’t bandy this title about. I hope that Gina did not request this silly term.
Addendum: An alumnus writes in:
I wonder what Dr Barreca would think about the ladies lingerie controversy….
August 14, 2013
Breaking: Of Crips and Bloods and Memories of Ghetto Parties
History repeats itself, first as tragedy and then as farce, or sometimes it just repeats itself. From the New York Times on November 30, 1998: At Dartmouth College, white students at a ”ghetto party” dressed…
June 25, 2013
Dean of the College Charlotte Johnson’s War on Students Part (2/2)
Part 1, Part 2 Today’s post again recounts the events that befell the Freshman. However, the content of the Hanover Police department report reproduced in this space yesterday is supplemented by information from my own…
October 18, 2009
When Love Beckoned in 52nd Street
We were at San Francisco’s BIX last evening, enjoying prosecco, cheese, and a bit of music. A full year of inhabitation in Northern California has unraveled to me no decent venue for proper lounging, but…
October 9, 2009
D Afraid of a Little Competish
So our colleague and Dartblog writer Joe Asch informed me that the D has rejected our cunning advertising campaign. Uh-oh. The Dartmouth is widely known as a breeding ground for instant New York Times successes,…
September 4, 2009
How Regents Should Reign
As Dartmouth alumni proceed through the legal hoops necessary to defuse a Board-packing plan—which put in unhappy desuetude an historic 1891 Agreement between alumni and the College guaranteeing a half-democratically-elected Board of Trustees—it strikes one…
August 29, 2009
Election Reform Study Committee
If you are an alum of the College on the Hill, you may have received a number of e-mails of late beseeching your input for a new arm of the College’s Alumni Control Apparatus called…
- The Dartmouth College Case
- 2007 Trustee Election
- Dartmouth Constitution
- Sunday Morning Sinatra
- The Indian Wars
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