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Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Tusk Up1A.jpgThe Times recently noted the therapeutic value for veterans of spending time with parrots, but I’d put walking through the northern Tanzanian bush with our two favorite elephants up against parrots any time. What a bliss-generating activity. Elephants seem to radiate a joy that can’t help but affect the people around them. And a human can even get in something of an upper-body workout for the price of a couple of peanuts.

That said, we occasionally do misread the girls, most memorably by asserting our own cultural prejudices. This past summer the younger one came into estrus (the elephant equivalent of heat) and attracted the attention of a young, wild bull who was in musth (the elephant equivalent of being a guy). In order to protect our young lady’s virtue, a picket line composed of staff members and the older female was set between the youngster and her suitor. There was much trumpeting and shouting in a team effort to cool the fellow’s ardor.

But we didn’t take into account mademoiselle’s own inclinations. She made an end run around the defensive line towards her beau, and nature subsequently took its course — fortunately without enduring effect. Both elephants were seen strolling together later in the day with smiles of fulfillment on their faces — actually that’s not true, but the bull did return a few hours afterward, seeking unsuccessfully to renew the relationship (no word on whether he texted the next day).

Elephants are like fun, floppy St. Bernards that need to consume several hundred pounds of plant life each day (and occasionally the denizens of a termite mound). Yet despite their immense size, they walk with real care. We routinely sit on the ground to chat while they eat trees, shrubs and grass, and often they will walk right through our small grouping. The first time or two the experience can be stressful, but one soon grows confident in the precision with which they move.

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I wish that we understood elephants as well as they understand us.

Addendum: Disney Fantasia’s Dance of the Hours would have more fairly cast elephants than hippos:

Addendum: The depredations of poachers have caused the population of elephants in Tanzania to drop from 109,000 in 2011 to 43,000 now.

When a school is on a downtrend, the urge to pile on can be strong. Witness Thursday’s Washington Post story concerning our fall from the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education R1 research group (“highest” levels of research activity) to the R2 grouping (“higher” levels of research activity). The ranking, which has been compiled every five years since 1973, first included Dartmouth at the R1 level in 2005; we made it again in 2010:

WashPost R1 Story Comp.jpg

Curiously enough, the expensive efforts that led to the College’s inclusion in the R1 group in 2005 and 2010 took place concurrently with our plunging U.S. News ranking: up until 1998 we were consistently ranked #7 or #8 among national universities. Since Jim Wright doubled our research spending between 1998 and 2004, our ranking has dropped regularly. We are now #12.

Note above the addition this year at the R1 level of stellar institutions like West Virginia, Northeastern and George Mason. The main body of the article notes other additions, too: Boston College, Clemson (S.C.), Florida International, Kansas State, Syracuse (N.Y.), Temple (Penn.), Texas Tech, University of Texas at Arlington, University of Texas at Dallas, University of Mississippi, University of North Texas, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

While most of these schools could beat us in football, what does their superior ranking really say?

Interestingly, several other schools dropped to R2 this year: Rockefeller University (N.Y.), Mississippi State, Montana State, North Dakota State, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (N.Y.), University of Alabama in Huntsville and Yeshiva.

Um, isn’t Rockefeller University one of the finest research universities in the world?

Regrettably I could not find much detail about the methodology behind the classifications on the Carnegie Classification website.

Addendum: Some people place more importance than others on memberships in exclusive clubs. The Association of American Universities has long included the top research universities in the United States, among them seven of the eight Ivies: Harvard (1900), Yale (1900), Princeton (1900), Cornell (1900), Penn (1900), Columbia (1900). and Brown (1933). Dartmouth has never been part of the group.

Addendum: The Post article has one interesting comment:

These listings determine how U.S. News and World Report groups colleges and universities for its annual rankings. For example, Carnegie classifies as doctoral universities those that award at least 20 doctorates for research or scholarship in an academic year, not counting law or medical degrees. U.S. News, in turn, relies on this classification to define which schools should be called “national universities.”

While U.S. News takes note of the Carnegie classification, I find it tough to imagine that the magazine would put us in its National Liberal Arts Colleges rankings, where Williams and Amherst and #1 and # 2 respectively.

Jack Riley Comp.jpg

Addendum: The Valley News carried a fine tribute to Jack Riley, too.

Why does CNN have a large satellite relay truck parked on the Green?

CNN Truck.jpg

Maybe they have heard than another announcement about diversity and inclusiveness is coming. Oh, joy!

Addendum: A reader writes in:

That’s not a CNN satellite truck on the Green … It’s the replacement for Dartmouth Winter Carnival’s no-snow sculpture.

The D reports on the demise of another fraternity:

SAE Suspended1.jpg

Addendum: The Valley News has the story, too.

Just as when the College fails to note the loss of a top professor to another institution (leaving the job to this space: here, here, and here, etc.), so the administration fails to announce the demise of once-much-trumpeted initiatives, in this case the Masters in Management (MiM) program at Tuck. The program was supposed to be a one-year top-up for undergrads who had finished college and, well, just didn’t understand figures (an affliction easily as widespread as undergrads who don’t write well). It would prepare them for the real world by teaching the basic business skills that a liberal arts curriculum had failed to cover.

Phil announced in early November 2013 that the College would be creating a 4+1 degree: four years of undergraduate education and a year at Tuck. The Dartmouth Now description of his idea was as follows:

The new initiatives Hanlon envisions for Dartmouth include:

… New programs at Tuck, including a 4+1 degree program that would provide a master’s in management following a fifth year at Dartmouth…

Bloomberg followed up with a story on the idea:

Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business will explore adding a new master’s in management program aimed primarily at undergraduates earning liberal arts degrees. The earliest that the program could launch is September 2016, says Tuck Dean Paul Danos…

Anyone with an undergraduate degree could apply to this one-year master’s that Danos describes as a “high-level introduction to business.”…

Danos envisions it to include 100 to 120 students taught in two sections of about 60 each. Around 25 percent of them would probably come from Dartmouth and 75 percent from other institutions in the United States and abroad…

The Financial Times noted the increasing number of MiM programs — real money-makers for their institutions — and Poets & Quants quoted Paul Danos again saying that he hoped to debut the MIM program in 2016.

And then, silence, even though we are now in 2016. Last month I received the following e-mail:

Current Tuckies MiM1.jpg

A little digging confirmed that the Current Tuckies’ fears of an imminent announcement are unjustified. It seems that Dean Slaughter has announced on several occasions — most recently at Tuesday’s Town Hall meeting at Tuck — that the MiM won’t happen. It’s passed on! This program is no more! It has ceased to be! It’s expired and gone to meet its maker! It’s a stiff! Bereft of life, it rests in peace! It’s kicked the bucket, it’s shuffled off its mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleeding choir invisible!!

As to the reasons for this decision, there is no word. But the idea of 120 newly graduated students running around Tuck Mall amongst 571 full-fledged Tuckies — almost all of whom have 3-4 years of real world business experience — could not help but dilute Tuck’s position in the MBA world. Way to go Tuck. Fight to protect your market share and keep a good thing going.

Addendum: Of course, the popular six-week Tuck Bridge program will continue.

Addendum: A loyal reader picked up on the Monty Python parrot sketch reference above, and sent in a link to the esteemed Margaret Thatcher using the Python’s words in a political context.

Those Dartmouth guys from way back were mighty men of old from the lone and silent North. On Monday when I wrote about the demise this year of the center-of-the-Green Winter Carnival snow sculpture, I noted that in my day as a student, the fraternities each produced a memorable ice statue. Well, it turns out that in prior years, individual dormitories did so, too. In 1960 the theme was Swiss Holiday. Here is Woodward Hall’s ten-foot-tall award winner:

Sculpture 1960.jpg

Woodward was given a prize of $50 by the reigning Carnival Queen, the lovely Miss Suzanne Horney (I kid you not.)

Addednum: An alum writes in:

Dormitory ice sculptures continued at least into the early 1970s. At McLane Hall (now Judge), we completed sculptures in 1970, 1972, and 1973. We started one in 1971, but did not finish it because I was also heavily involved that year in building the statue in the center of the Green.

The College has announced the appointment of a new Dean of Admissions: Lee Coffin of Tufts:

Lee Coffin to Lead Enrollment, Admissions and Financial Aid

Lee Coffin.jpgLee Coffin, dean of undergraduate admissions and enrollment management for Tufts University, has been appointed to the newly created position of vice provost for enrollment and dean of admissions and financial aid, Provost Carolyn Dever announced today.

“We are thrilled to welcome Lee to Dartmouth,” says Dever. “He brings a track record of success and a deep appreciation for how to build an innovative, highly strategic, and statistically supported enrollment plan that attracts a talented, diverse, and exceptional class of students year after year.”

Coffin has led undergraduate admissions at Tufts since 2003. During his tenure, he has overseen an increase in application volume by 37 percent, the doubling of applications from under-represented minorities, and the development of two summer bridge programs for students from under-resourced high schools. This year, under his leadership, Tufts received a record number of applications, up 6 percent from last year’s record pool.

In addition, Coffin designed a set of predictive yield models for Tufts, increasing yield—the percentage of students who accept their offer of admission—by more than 12 points as well as improving the academic profile of enrolling classes. He also led two comprehensive studies that helped to enhance Tufts’ standing among high-achieving college applicants.

“As the first member of my family to graduate from college, my work as an admissions officer celebrates the transformative power of a liberal arts education and need-based financial aid,” says Coffin.

“My career has been dedicated to shaping a multifaceted undergraduate community from a wide array of backgrounds and perspectives, and I am honored to have the chance to do so at Dartmouth. The College clearly has the reputation, resources, and will to act on its aspirations, and its commitment to intellectual excellence, diversity, access, and inclusion is evident. Those objectives reflect my core values as an admissions officer, and make Dartmouth an especially good fit for me,” he says.

Coffin will begin his new role at Dartmouth on July 1.

“With the accessibility of so much data and new technology to identify and recruit prospective students, there has been a sea change in the admissions profession over the past several years,” says Dean of the College Rebecca Biron, who chaired the search committee that selected Coffin. “Lee has shown a mastery of his craft that I am confident will serve Dartmouth well and position us for success in the years ahead.”

The vice provost for enrollment and dean of admissions and financial aid will provide strategic and operational leadership to undergraduate admissions and financial aid and will partner with the provost, deans, and other academic leaders to bring to the division an increased analytical focus and greater coordination and integration of institutional priorities, says Dever.

The vice provost will also oversee the allocation of College resources of more than $80 million of Dartmouth scholarship funding to advance the mission of enrolling the most talented and promising students regardless of their financial resources.

Coffin’s appointment follows a national search facilitated by the firm Witt/Kieffer in collaboration with the search committee chaired by Biron. On the search committee were Trustee Caroline Kerr ‘05; Vice Provost for Student Affairs Inge-Lise Ameer; Associate Provost for Institutional Research Alicia Betsinger; Registrar Meredith Braz; Associate Professor Solomon Diamond, chair of the Faculty Committee on Admissions and Financial Aid; Advancement Chief Operating Officer Ann Root Keith; Director of Financial Aid Dino Koff; Director of Athletics Harry Sheehy; Associate Professor of Mathematics Craig Sutton; and Vice President for Finance Mike Wagner.

The search for the vice provost began this past fall after Maria Laskaris ‘84 left the post of dean of admissions and financial aid to work as special assistant to the provost for arts and innovation. Paul Sunde, director of admissions, will continue to serve as interim dean of admissions and financial aid until Coffin takes over in July.

Coffin will be joined in the Upper Valley by his partner, Steve Moore. [Emphasis added]

Addendum: Wikipedia defines the Tufts Syndrome as follows:

Yield protection is an alleged admissions practice where a university or academic institution rejects or wait-lists highly qualified students on the grounds that such students are bound to be accepted by more prestigious universities or programs. This is also referred to as Tufts Syndrome.

Actually, despite my headline, I think that the Tufts Syndrome has been a feature of life in Hanover for a while.

Some people, how naive of them, wrote in to ask if the College really gives preferences to big donors these days. Ha! The truth is that if you are a muckymuck like Sony CEO Michael Lynton, there is a dedicated staffer in the Dartmouth Development Office to show you and your daughter around campus. How solicitous of the College:

Wikileaks Admissions Comp.jpg

And such gentle phrasing: “I work with families as they go through the admissions process at Dartmouth.” That’s interesting. Nobody worked with my family. Did someone work with yours? Wait! Don’t answer that!

You can fairly expect that the College’s care extends to more than guided visits to Hanover. I just wonder if there is a set price list for an admittance, something like: you’ll need to make an upfront donation of a $1 million, plus $10,000 for every point your kid’s average SAT score is below 700. Score only 600, pay two million smacks, in you come. Or perhaps the price is higher?

If you want Jeff Sassorossi to work with your family, you can find out the details of the assistance that he can provide by calling him at 603-646-3657, or just drop him an e-mail: It will be interesting to see if he has time for you if your family’s net worth is anywhere south of $100 million.

Of course, Leon Black ‘73 is a former Trustee (and #105 on the Forbes 400; net worth: $3.5 billion) and the benefactor of the Black Arts Center.

This is all so very cosy. Who says that America does not have an aristocracy with its attendant privileges?

Addendum: Maisie Lynton ended up going to Brown.

Addendum: A reader sends in a link to The Unz Review:

Here’s some fun gossip I heard from a fellow about the Harvard Number. He’s a reasonably well connected gentleman. On the other hand, he’s my only source for this and I don’t have the connections to check up on this, so take it for whatever it’s worth.

The Harvard Number is the amount of money Harvard would want as a donation for accepting your kid as an undergraduate. It’s not the kind of information they post on their website. You have to ask the right people in the right manner.

He said he just found out that the current Harvard Number — assuming your kid’s
application was “competitive” (i.e., there’s some chance your kid would get in even if you didn’t write a check) — is $5 million.

If your kid’s “not competitive,” then it is $10 million.

If there are about 1,800 freshmen at Harvard each year, then Harvard could admit, say, 100 competitive applicants whose fathers (typically, hedge fund guys) write the Harvard Number on a check — without tangibly lowering the quality of the class. That’s, theoretically, a half billion per year in virtually free money. How could an institution resist that temptation?

Quid pro quo arrangements aren’t supposed to be tax deductible as charity, but how often does the IRS get the goods on this? In practice, a big chunk of the Harvard Number gets refunded by the taxpayers.

Oh, brother. Not more of the same. Don’t Carolyn and Phil have anything of greater interest in their professional lives than to gas on about the commonplace ideas that come from the pens and mouths of all the other right(left)-thinking bureaucrats in the land? Of course, they do; it’s just that they don’t see the College’s pressing needs all around them.

Diversity Letter1.jpg

Diversity Letter2.jpg

Note the chairs of the committees: Denise Anthony, Vice Provost for Academic Initiatives; Rebecca Biron, Dean of the College, and Inge-Lise Ameer, Vice Provost for Student Affairs, co-chairs; and Ahmed Mohammed, Director of Talent Acquisition, Human Resources. I don’t know Ahmed Mohammed, but the three other chairs are just shills for any administration that gives them a cushy, non-teaching job. Denise Antony brought us Carol Folt’s more-than-lamentable strategic plan. Rebecca Biron is now the czarina of the intimate, 700-student-each house system. And Inge-Lise Ameer is, well, the enabler of all that is wrong and bloated and stupid about the College.

Addendum: Here is the official Dartmouth Now announcement of this week’ exciting new diversity initiative.

Addendum: On November, 25, 2014 I wrote a well received post on Carolyn’s favorite (only?) topic: Diversity Schmiversity.

Here’s a video that is getting some attention: a Syracuse University student, Alex Purdy, talks about why she left her sorority. Kudos for her honesty:

Dartmouth’s Greek scene is not without such behavior. On October 4, 2010, I wrote a post entitled Girls Just Wanna Have Some.

Well, at least, it’s not “blue blood” candidates. Money is somewhat more meritocratic. But I still find it troubling to see this kind of dealing so bluntly discussed:

Kemeny Admissions.jpg

For as long as we waste money by the boatload on a mismanaged, over-compensated bureaucracy (remember that faculty compensation is only 10% of the budget), and despite the enormous size of the endowment ($4,663,491,000 as of June 30, 2015 — fourth in the Ivies after HYP on a per-student basis), we are going to have to sell admissions slots to big donors. Money is certainly not the root of all evil, but its egregious waste in Hanover puts irresistible, corrupting pressures on the College.

Addendum: Rauner’s files are filled with correspondence about donor preferences in admissions. A student of history would have a field day there.

Addendum: As you will recall, with the Class of 2014, the Kim administration hiked the number of legacies from about 11% to 14% of the incoming class — a level where it remains today. That decision was not made out of an excess of good feeling for alumni. You can fairly surmise that the children of alumni did not become substantially smarter on average that year and henceforth. The change was just a way to say thank$ to a greater number of generous alumni.

We have written before about the preferential admissions treatment that can be bought from the College in exchange for a consequential “gift.” Where I come from, that’s called corruption: the distortion of a fair-minded system with cash.

I was noodling through some of the College’s archives the other day and a couple of particularly egregious examples of favoritism to big donors came to light. This letter dated March 9, 1978 from Addison Winship ‘42, Director of Development, shows how bald the horsetrading can be for the children of donors. “Lu” Sterling was special assistant to President Kemeney, and Eddie Chamberlain and Al Quirk were, respectively, the outgoing and incoming Deans of Admissions:

Winship Letter Comp.jpg

“Some pretty important people of ours”? “A very important situation to us”? What could be clearer?

That said, sometimes an underlying honesty surfaces in the system, kind of. Only two of the “no way” applicants above ended up matriculating at the College; and only one of the eight “possibles” came to Hanover. One of the other “possibles” went to Yale, undoubtedly for reasons of intellectual merit, right?

The applicant who was the object of the below letter from College VP Paul Paganucci (a local luminary who, among other feats, co-founded the Ledyard Bank, and was the College’s CFO, Treasurer and a professor at Tuck) had the support of Kenneth Montgomery (who funded the Montgomery Endowment) to the tune of $800,000:

Admissions Donor.jpg

Incredibly, the applicant did not matriculate (Did he not get in?). He went to Haverford instead. I expect that the College kept the dough.

Addendum: In perusing numerous documents of the above type, it seems that the Old Boy/Rich Boy network had a lot less pull under Al Quirk than under Eddie Chamberlain. Such a transition is worth keeping in mind as Phil Hanlon looks for a replacement for Maria Laskaris ‘84.

Addendum: It should be obvious to everyone that such a cynical sale of admissions slots could never occur at the College today.

Addendum: For Sale, Gothic Revival Bridge Linking Manhattan and Brooklyn.

If you had any illusions that the Hanlon administration was thinking of reducing the size of the College’s ever-growing staff, think again. The latest mega-project is a large parking garage at the entrance to town just off of East Wheelock after you come over the Ledyard Bridge. The Valley News reports:

Hanover — A zoning amendment proposed by Dartmouth College would allow the school to build a parking garage along West Wheelock Street as part of a planned expansion.

The amendment would push the campus “institutional” district out to the intersection of West Wheelock and Thayer Drive, and would accommodate a building up to 60 feet high, with setbacks of as little as 15 feet. Current zoning rules there set the maximum height at 35 feet and side and rear setbacks at 75 feet.

Dartmouth officials say they have not settled on a final height for the garage, which is intended to replace parking spots displaced by the anticipated construction of a new building for the Thayer School of Engineering on the hill above.

Great. A “60 feet high” parking garage could be five or six stories in height. Just what we need in a pretty New England town. Why don’t they just pave over Paradise?

Seuss Sculpture.jpgLet’s start with a little history of the Winter Carnival Snow Sculpture from Dartmouth Now:

At Dartmouth, the craft has been practiced in a semi-official capacity for the past 90 years. In the late 1920s, a new student position responsible for a “Center of Campus Statue” was appointed for Winter Carnival, Dartmouth’s legendary event that in its heyday drew thousands of visitors and television crews to campus. One of the first “all campus” sculptures—a lovely castle on Occom Pond—was created by H. Pennington Haile ‘24, likely for the 1925 Carnival.

Since then the sculptures have ranged from the elaborate, such as a fire-breathing dragon (1969) or a whale with a snow spout (1982), to the simple yet imposing—such as a castle to celebrate 100 years of Carnival (2011). Most are based on the Carnival’s theme, chosen by students every year since the 1950s. (Carnival posters are also based on these themes.) A 20-foot tall young maiden, for example, is the sculpture for the 1967 Carnival, “A Midwinter Night’s Dream.”

One of the most celebrated sculptures was “The Cat in the Hat” for the 2004 Carnival, “Oh, the Places It Snows: A Seussentennial.” The image of the sculpture was featured in USA Today and other media.

Savor those memories because it seems that there will be no center-of-the-Green snow sculpture this year, despite the Geisel family’s visit. The administration will say something about a lack of snow — though everyone knows that snow has always been brought in by truck in years when Mother Nature has not been generous with Mother Dartmouth. Of course, many people will wonder if disappointed BLM protesters made threats against the sculpture after their proposed theme was rejected. But those two excuses are not the impetus for the change. The real reason is simpler and more dispiriting: not enough students were willing to take on the work. How sad. There was an expressive response to such apathy during my time in Hanover: weak tit!

Another old tradition fails.

Addendum: Back in the day, all of the fraternities on Webster Avenue built their own great sculptures, too.

Addendum: If you want to shed a silent tear at the sight of the empty Green just a little while before Carnival weekend, take a look in real time using the Class of 1966 Webcam:

Class of 1966 Cam.jpg

Addendum: There is no truth to the rumor that the snow sculpture has been cancelled because a twenty-story graduate student research complex is to be built where the Green is now — much as Phil and Carolyn might want that to happen.

Addendum: A young alum writes in:

How disappointing. My freshman year, the “Ravine Lodge sculpture” collapsed due to warm temps, and we worked all night to get a “Mt Moosilauke” up. Sledding down the mountainside was quickly ended by the college, likely due to safety reasons. Looks Dartblog had an article about it on Feb 12, 2009. You’ll notice that the mountainsides are chopped off…to prevent those dangerous sledders from hurting themselves! Hah!



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