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.
The Latest Posts
VP of Advancement Bob Lasher ‘88 has written to the alumni community to announce the retirement of Office of Alumni Relations head Martha Beattie ‘76. Beattie is about 63 years old, and she is retiring on the eve of the College’s 250th anniversary, and also immediately after the Presidential Summit. Who are we kidding here?
This space has never been a big fan of Martha. Though warm and charming, she couldn’t manage herself out of a paper bag. She just doesn’t have the head for it, even with an Office of Alumni Relations composed of 30 women (and two men). Martha was appointed to run Alumni Relations on June 10, 2010 by Jim Kim, who knew Martha from the Presidential search committee that picked Kim to come to the College for a cup of coffee. Beattie’s only professional experience up until that time had been as a women’s crew coach, though she had participated in numerous alumni activities. How does that qualify her to run Alumni Relations and its multi-million dollar budget? It doesn’t.
My bet is that Martha got the boot for the various fiascos that took place this past weekend at the Presidential Summit. They were the last straw, so to speak.
Addendum: Repeat after me:
BOB FIRES MARTHA. PHIL FIRES BOB. THE TRUSTEES FIRE PHIL.
AND CAROLINE LEAVES ON HER OWN.
Addendum: Here is Bob Lasher’s announcement letter, which was sent directly to many prominent alumni:
The same text appeared in the College’s official announcement.
This space has commented ad infinitum on the fiscal disaster that is the College (in terms of fundraising, staffing, and construction). Has the same evident mismanagement spilled over into the College’s energy plan as well.
In a bid to become more environmentally friendly, Dartmouth plans to transition its power plant from dirty No. 6 fuel oil to biomass (likely wood pellets or chips). Moving to a cleaner source of energy is certainly commendable, but what of the expense? A Valley News article suggests that the cost of the conversion and other eco-friendly improvements may reach an eye-watering $100 million. And given the administration’s propensity for cost overruns, the actual tab may be even higher.
Fortunately, we can use the basic economic tool of cost-benefit analysis to examine the worthiness of this project. For this purpose, a back of the envelope calculation will suffice in showing whether the proposed plan is anywhere in the realm of making sense.
The College uses approximately 3.5 million gallons of No. 6 fuel oil each year. According to the EPA, No. 6 fuel oil has a carbon dioxide content of 11.27 kg/gallon, resulting in total carbon emissions of 39.5 million kg or 39,445 metric tons of carbon per year. Using similar calculations, we can find that the plant also emits 1,575 metric tons of methane and 315 metric tons of nitrous oxide every year.
The next step is to find the dollar value of these emissions in terms of the harm that they do to the environment (what economists call the social cost). The EPA pegs the social cost of a metric ton of carbon dioxide at $42, methane at $1,200, and nitrous oxide at $15,000 for the year 2020. Thus, the total social cost for a year of power plant operation is $8.27 million, with a breakdown of $1.66 million from carbon dioxide, $1.89 million from methane, $4.72 million from nitrous oxide. Or, put in other terms, the social benefit of eliminating these pollutants equals that dollar amount.
Given that $100 million annualized is equal to $5 million (or 5%) in endowment draw per year, the proposed plan would seem to pass cost-benefit analysis and actually be worthwhile. However, the price of carbon dioxide per metric ton in the European Union is currently €6.95, or $8.30. In other words, there are a plethora of emitters in the EU who can abate their emissions far more cheaply than the College can.
Theoretically, Dartmouth should be able to achieve the same positive impact on the environment at a lower cost by vacuuming up EU permits equal to the power plant’s carbon footprint and then simply refusing to exercise or sell said permits. This would have the effect of bidding up the price of carbon in the EU and forcing polluters offline, thereby offsetting the College’s carbon footprint.
The aggregate greenhouse gas emissions from the College’s power plant can be converted to 196,500 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent. That much in EU permits costs only $1.63 million per year — saving Dartmouth $3.37 million each year going forward — with the same positive environmental impact. In other words, if the goal is to do well by the environment, the College can achieve the same environmental impact for a much lower cost. Or it could spend the entire $5 million on permits and achieve a much greater impact. Either way, building a new power plant doesn’t seem like the most efficient use of capital in the short run.
Addendum: An expert in the field writes in:
This is a nice analysis. Indeed, it might even be too conservative.
Buying and not using an EU carbon permit probably gets you reductions in other greenhouse gases for free. If, for example, marginal carbon emissions in the EU are from an oil burning power plant, then the emission reductions of other gases would be roughly in proportion with our own emissions. If that were true, Dartmouth would only need to buy permits to offset its carbon, i.e. 39.5 million tons rather than 196.5 million tons.
In that case, buying permits would be 15.3 times cheaper than the $100 million project, rather than the 3.1 times cheaper calculated by the author.
Either way, he is making a great point. The whole point of tradeable permits is that they allow abatement to come from those with lower costs. It sounds like we have very high costs of abatement, so, if we want to be carbon-neutral, we should lead by example and do it the correct way.
The College leapt out front last week in announcing a 14.6% investment return on the endowment for fiscal 2017. We were the first Ivy to break the news, as Bloomberg notes:
Had we announced the stellar gain (not as good as the stock market, but a fine return overall) after three or four other Ivies, we don’t get the big headline. And had our return been below that of other schools, we’d have been depicted negatively. That may still happen, but at least until yesterday we enjoyed the limelight alone.
We really should see forward-thinking communications like this more often. In contrast to the past. During the failed appointment this spring of Bruce Duthu as Dean of the Faculty, senior members of the administration had not a word to say upfront about Duthu’s BDS petitioning. Were they so clueless as to think that Duthu’s stance would not be an issue?
I expect that if the administration and Duthu had jointly said at the time of his appointment that he had long since revised his view on the merits of boycotting all Israeli universities, he would be our Dean today. Instead, the Office of Communications and the Parkhurst, uh, braintrust, let the pot boil until the controversy was about the go national. Wrong. You have to get out ahead of a story.
In any event, let’s celebrate something well done by the administration. I wish that we could do so more often.
Addendum: Harvard announced its weak endowment return yesterday. Only 8.1%. Ouch. And because the school came out almost a week after the College with its press release, the Wall Street Journal story about Harvard’s results contained this pithy comparison:
Dartmouth College, the first Ivy League school to announce its results earlier this month, delivered a 14.6% gain for its endowment.
In tiny increments is a reputation made and protected.
Addendum: In 2013 the administration made the same communications mistakes as with Duthu when endeavoring to appoint Anglican Bishop James Tengatenga as head of the Tucker Foundation. No plan was in place when the good Bishop’s ambiguous position on gay rights was first reported. Let’s hope that Phil & Co. learn from their mistakes.
Addendum: A reader writes in:
Your characterization of Dartmouth’s 14.6% endowment return as “stellar” and “not as good as the stock market, but a fine return overall” is likely framed relative to the S&P 500 index (15.5%). The S&P is a useful benchmark, so OK. But an S&P investment would also include dividend return of about 2%. Moreover, other widely-tracked indexes outran the S&P by a good bit over the same 12 months: Dow Jones Industrials 19.1%, Nasdaq Composite (tech-heavy) 26.8%, Russell 2000 (small caps) 22.9%. All plus dividends (which the endowment return surely includes).
All such simple index comparisons are, well, simplistic. Consultants spend considerable time (and money) devising truer comparables. There are lots of factors that may legitimize even a way-below-index return, for instance bonds or other non-equity holdings. But just on a quick-take basis, 14.6% for the year ended June 30 shouldn’t really qualify as “stellar.”
Just what we need: a Professor in Transnational Feminism. And please note that in this, um, broad field, the College is looking for someone with a particular emphasis in Asian transnational feminism:
I guess that Dartmouth has no need to do anything about the fact that most classes in the Economics department are oversubscribed.
Addendum: Can we expect that the faculty will soon be enriched by additional Professors who focus on Latinx, African American, Native American, and Indo-European Transnational Feminism, too? Or are those people already on the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program payroll?
Addednum: Two alumni write in:
The ad for the “transnational feminist” is ridden with leftist cant, the sort of thing that should have no place in an institution supposedly devoted to the life of the mind.
These days to be on the Left is to have one’s mind stultified with fictive stereotypes which provide a mechanical response to experience, rather like an obsessional neurosis.
Cultural Marxism has displaced the old ideal of disinterested rational analysis.
How long can the college retain its traditional credentialing function when the first association anyone has is that it is a place devoted to mindless observance of ritual ideological pieties?
Why don’t they just hire a bullshit jargon expert instead? The great Werner Kleinhardt, who would have a word or two to say about Transnational Feminism, once told me that the highest use and expectation for a Dartmouth education was to be able to go to a cocktail party and talk to someone for at least 15 minutes without them knowing you don’t know what the F you are saying. Who’d have thunk that a whole academic discipline could be made up based on this precept, and the notion of making it up as you go along?
For a fuller understanding of the SAE case, and especially the constitutional issues surrounding the hand-in-glove cooperation between the Town and the College in derecognizing SAE and preventing the brothers from using their physical plant, the Fraternal Law newsletter, published by the Manley Burke law firm, is a good place to start (scroll down to the highlighted headline at the end of the second page of the attached file).
An alumnus wrote in when he alerted me to the Manley Burke analysis:
The article is by far the best summary of the legal process that SAE has been going through. It’s also a chilling look at how ideologically perverse the Hanlon administration is in its efforts to use Moving Dartmouth Forward as a Trojan horse in grinding away the Greek system. I’m sure that the senior societies are next in their sights (if not already under the gun).
Addendum: An alumnus writes in:
Sean Callan, who penned the piece re: SAE for Manley Burke, is a Dartmouth ‘90.
Below is every word of The D Editorial Board’s carefully researched and written editorial concerning the Hanlon administration’s plan to expand the size of the undergraduate student body by 10-25% (I know, I know, the official decision has not yet been made, but let me tell you, at the Trustee level it’s an all-but-done deal. The administration doesn’t “study” things that it doesn’t already want).
Congratulations to the Editors for producing a thorough argument, one that I hope will garner the undivided attention of the committee reviewing the question:
The members of the committee studying a larger College are Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Elizabeth Smith, Dean of the College Rebecca Biron, College Trustee Dave Hodgson ‘78, Economics Professor James Feyrer, Biology Professor Mark McPeek, Religion Professor Reiko Ohnuma, Mathematics Professor Scott Pauls, and French and Comparative Literature Professor Andrea Tarnowski.
A goodly number of readers have sent in pics of yesterday’s balloonfest on the Green. Phil is pulling out all the stops to convince the College’s donors of his administration’s intellectual vitality. Balloons are front and center in his effort, and word is that a large bouncy castle was in place for the exclusive use of eight-figure contributors:
Does anyone think that balloons will increase the likelihood that alumni will pony up? Will bread and circuses be next?
Addendum: A professor writes in:
Is there a better metaphor?
Seriously, folks. Is spending tens (hundreds?) of thousands of dollars on tents, white tablecloths, fancy food and hot air balloons going to inspire our richest alumni to give money to the College? Wouldn’t innovative programs and proof that the administration is running a lean, well managed operation constitute stronger arguments that students would get a better education if alumni gave generously. However, for Phil that’s hard to do.
Addendum: An observer of the College writes in:
This is lazy fundraising at its finest, what fundraisers do when they need to feel as if they are actually doing something, but in reality aren’t doing much! If they are pounding the pavement, meeting face to face and getting pledges, they don’t pull stunts like this.
Fundraisers have legit parties for two reasons: actually kicking off a campaign when they know the goal will be hit, so they want to further energize the base; or they are celebrating a campaign’s successful completion. Have either of those two goals been met?!?
Addendum: And an alumnus does, too:
I wonder if any of the big hitters in town this weekend played a round of golf…
If you have been curious about the fancy cars, the big tents and the extra lighting on Baker, then wonder no more. Phil Hanlon has convened a Presidential Summit: The Call to Lead, a significant event in the run-up (or is it limp-up, in both senses of the world limp) to the always-on-the-horizon capital campaign. This is his latest effort to reverse the sharply declining trends (here and here) in alumni donations.
The heavy hitters are in town, and methinks that Phil is under the gun this weekend. Either he secures some seriously large pledges, or he will have to start thinking of retirement (or the Trustees will certainly start thinking about it for him).
The administration is parading all of its leaders in an effort to wow big donors. But who knows if Phil will be talking honestly in the presidential keynote address today about his 100-year, Michigan-on-the-Connecticut vision for the College, the one that doesn’t care a wit about today’s students, faculty and alumni:
The last group of speakers includes some of the College’s most prominent alumni. I hope that they have been talking to faculty and students on campus to take the pulse of Phil Hanlon’s Dartmouth. With fundraising in the doldrums, you have to figure that the big donors are now regularly talking among themselves in concerned tones.
Addendum: An alumnus writes in:
This is what happens when you can’t look someone in the eye and explain why you want them to give you $20,000,000.
Julie Bolcer, the spokeswoman for the city’s Office of Chief Medical Examiner, said Mr. Rago suffered from the inflammatory disease sarcoidosis, which affected his lungs, heart, spleen, hilar and mediastinal lymph nodes. “The manner of death is natural,” Ms. Bolcer said.
Sarcoidosis is the formation of tiny clumps of inflammatory cells in one or more organs of the body, according to the Foundation for Sarcoidosis Research. Chronic inflammation can lead to permanent thickening or scarring of organ tissue.
In a separate piece, the Editorial Board wrote:
Joe was a brilliant journalist who died too young, but we were fortunate to have worked with him and benefited from his intelligence, his curiosity and a wit that informed and enlightened readers and all of us who knew him as a friend.
Emily Yoffe has written a thorough and incisive series of articles in The Atlantic on the subject of campus sexual assault. Anyone interested in the subject should read Yoffe’s work, given that the Trump administration seems to have changes on the way:
The series has the hallmarks of a piece that was edited repeatedly and with great care.
Needless to say, the topic is highly controversial, with a split between different opinions that does not seem to follow the usual ideological lines. To wit:
Addendum: Christina Hoff Sommers has penned a shorter article in the Chronicle of Higher Education: Protecting Due Process in Sexual-Assault Cases on Campus.
When Phil Hanlon announced on September 23, 2016 that the Irving Oil family was to contribute $80 million towards a $160 million energy institute at the College, I had already heard rumors about the institute for several years. Irving was to give half of the total amount; the rest was to come from other donors. However, I raised my eyebrows when the announcement noted that at that point — seemingly after several years of effort — only $33 million had been raised from various, non-Irving contributors:
One would think that Phil would have raised the entire $160 million amount prior to the big announcement — especially for a signature project like the energy institute.
Smelling a rat (as I am wont to do), I decided to keep tabs on fundraising for the energy institute. On June 6, I wrote to Diana Lawrence, the College’s amiable spokesperson (one of twenty-two people in the Office of Communications) to inquire about the institute’s progress:
Even though no numbers were forthcoming in Diana’s response, it was good to see that ten months after the initial announcement, fundraising for this important project was “ahead of schedule.”
However — um, with the Hanlon administration, there is always a “however,” don’t you think? — the following item recently appeared in the September/October 2017 issue of the Dartmouth Alumni Magazine:
As the math-minded among you will have already noted, if $47 million remains to be raised to reach the $160 million target, then only $33 million has been raised to date beyond the Irvings’ initial $80 million gift — which means that not a penny has been donated over the last year to the energy institute. And even if Bob Lasher’s Advancement division had planned to raise no money at all during the first year of public fundraising for the energy institute (very unlikely), it was inaccurate for Advancement to tell Diana (and for Diana to tell me) that fundraising was “ahead of schedule.”
As we have noted previously, Phil is just a terrible fundraiser (here and here). I mean, we are smack in the middle of the endless quiet phase of a capital campaign that is supposed to bring in about $2.5 billion, and Phil can’t scare up $47 million over the course of a year for the campus initiative that is closest to his heart?
The man that Phil hired to run fundraising at the College, Bob Lasher ‘88, is terrible in many ways, too (here and here) — which leads in turn to the conclusion that Phil is also an awful judge of character and an indecisive manager who can’t cut loose an under-achieving subordinate (See also: Dever, Carolyn).
Will the Trustees ever act in the face of such expensive incompetence?
Addendum: I checked with the folks at the Alumni Magazine regarding the accuracy of their figures. They confirmed the numbers after consulting their notes, which dated from the end of July (when they fact-checked their information and closed the fall issue).
An active shooter was reported yesterday at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center. A man from Warwick, R.I. allegedly shot his mother four times in the stomach area, killing her. She was a patient in the DHMC intensive care unit. The shooter’s step-father was in the room, too, but was not harmed:
The hospital was evacuated, and the local schools were locked down:
As of yesterday evening, the man was being held at the Lebanon Police Station, where he was being questioned by the Major Crimes division and representatives from the NH Attorney General’s office. He had been apprehended while trying to flee from the hospital.
The Valley News now has a full report on the incident. The paper notes that, “Travis Frink, 49, will be arraigned Wednesday in Grafton Superior Court for the first-degree murder of Pamela Ferriere, of Groton, N.H.”
Addendum: The Lebanon Food Coop in Centerra responded to a call yesterday saying that the store was not being evacuated; a manager there said that business was taking place as usual with lots of shoppers and no reason to close down. My own business, located immediately behind the Co-op, did not close either.
Addendum: As of Thursday, the Valley News has a detailed report on the incident.
We neither gained nor lost anything in the 2018 U.S. News ranking:
Phil breathes a sigh of relief that our longterm downward trend has stabilized for the time being:
We stayed at #11, tied with Hopkins (which moved down a notch) and Northwestern (which moved up). Caltech replaced Hopkins at #10.
In happier news, we regained our Best Undergraduate Teaching slot at #2 (up from #7 last year, which had been a precipitous drop).
In Best Colleges for Veterans, we were #2 behind Stanford. In the Best Value Colleges & Universities, we were #7. And in the 2018 High School Counselor Rankings of National Universities, we tied for #5.
Addendum: An alumnus writes in:
The real ranking is done by the College alums and students and their ranking overall is low enough to cause them to stop sending the college any more money. That’s the vote that counts.
Beyond the internal stories of temper tantrums, disorganization and silly turf battles, let’s look at the College’s fundraising disaster (here, too) from the perspective of people on the receiving (or giving) end: prospective donors who deal with Bob Lasher ‘88 and his ever-revolving team. Read with care the thoughtful depiction below by a wealthy alumnus who spent time with Lasher after having met with people in the Advancement office. It recounts part of the reason why Phil Hanlon’s capital campaign is still only on the horizon well into his fifth year in Hanover.
In my own business we use secret shoppers who go through the sales process and report back on what it is like to be treated as a customer. That’s where the rubber hits the road, and if Phil and the Trustees have any faith in Lasher after reading this vignette, well, heaven help us and the College.
By the way, this donor did not approach the Advancement office as a secret shopper. She only contacted Dartblog after the dispiriting experience of dealing with Bob Lasher ‘88:
Note also Lasher’s depiction of Phil Hanlon’s unvarnished vision for the College. Reduced to its essence, Phil has no more imagination than to turn Dartmouth into Michigan-on-the-Connecticut. And he does not care if today’s students, faculty and alumni disagree with his plodding ideas.
We are in big trouble as long as Phil and his team are in town.
Addendum: An active alumnus writes in:
I wouldn’t know Bob Lasher if I tripped over him. I am over at Centerra easily a couple of dozen times a year and in group meetings, and Lasher can’t be bothered with low-class peons like me who help get him more givers than almost any other class (over $1M)
I was barely an agent back in the Carrie Pelzel era, and she gladhanded me with the best of them. We have 10 top givers in our class that are supposed to be courted by the elite of the fundraising team, and if you asked me, I would say they do nada. Advancement is an area that needs a change a lot faster than Parkhurst, and almost as fast at the 22-person PR group.
Addendum: Lasher’s sales technique, if it can be called that, would be cited in a Tuck class as a model of what not to do. How many fundraising faux pas did he make in his interaction with a potentially significant donor? Hint: It’s not always about you, Bob.
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
Subscribe by Email
This website reflects the personal opinions of its authors. Any e-mails received may be published along with the full name of the sender. If you wish otherwise, please say so.
All content appearing at Dartblog.com should be presumed copyright 2004-2017 its respective bylined author unless otherwise noted or unless linked to original source.