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Joe Rago.jpgThe age of 34 is too young for anyone to die, and the world should especially mourn the passing of one of Dartmouth’s most talented sons, Joe Rago ‘05. The Wall Street Journal, where he worked, reports:

Joseph Rago, a Pulitzer Prize winning editorial writer at The Wall Street Journal who was known for his richly reported pieces and influence on policy makers, was found dead Thursday evening at his home in Manhattan. He was 34 years old.

The New York Police Department found Mr. Rago dead in his apartment at 7:40 p.m., according to a police official. The authorities went to check on Mr. Rago after he didn’t show up for work on Thursday. Paul Gigot [‘77], the editor of the Journal’s editorial page, had alerted the paper’s security officials, who then contacted the police.

Mr. Rago was found with no obvious signs of trauma and emergency responders declared him dead at the scene, the police said. The cause of death was still being determined by the medical examiner on Friday.

“It is with a heavy heart that we confirm the death of Joseph Rago, a splendid journalist and beloved friend,” Mr. Gigot said in a statement. “Joe and his family are in our thoughts and prayers, and we will be celebrating his work in Saturday’s paper.”

Mr. Rago made his biggest mark writing about health care. In 2011, he captured the Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing for what the Pulitzer organization called his “well crafted, against-the-grain editorials challenging the health care reform advocated by President Obama.”

“No matter where you fall in the debate of health care reform, the arguments advanced by Joseph Rago in his series of editorials in The Wall Street Journal were impossible to ignore,” the judges wrote. “Not paying attention to these editorials was not an option for policymakers.”

Mr. Rago gained credibility with the policy community and with politicians because he did his homework, becoming one of the most well-sourced people around on health care, with sources throughout Washington and among academics on the left and right, Mr. Gigot said in an interview on Friday.

“Through his editorials, he had enormous impact on events in Washington,” he said.

The last editorial Mr. Rago wrote, on Wednesday, was titled “The ObamaCare Republicans,” Mr. Gigot said.

After coming to the Journal as a summer intern in 2005, Mr. Rago stood out for his thoughtful reporting and flair for prose. “I immediately hired him,” Mr. Gigot said. “He was just too good not to hire.”

Mr. Rago rose from an assistant editor on the op-ed page to editorial writer to a member of the editorial board. Friends and colleagues say he was modest and serious, but with a sardonic sense of humor that made him a pleasure to be around.

“He was the kind of person you liked to have a beer with—I know that’s a cliché, but it’s actually true,” Mr. Gigot said.

Along with health care, Mr. Rago’s topics ranged from energy regulation to antitrust issues to the debate between privacy and national security. He was the Journal’s main editorial writer during the 2016 presidential campaign and did interviews with many of the candidates as well as filed colorful opinion pieces from the campaign trail.

A native of Falmouth, Mass., Mr. Rago graduated with a degree in history from Dartmouth College in 2005. While there, he was a member of the Phi Delta Alpha fraternity and wrote for the Dartmouth Review, an independent conservative student newspaper. He served on the paper’s board of directors at the time of his death.

He remained active with the campus and in a 2011 videotaped interview there said he tried to stay in touch with students from all over the country and offer his advice.

“Journalism is a hard field to get into, and I caught a break and try to help other people,” he said.

In an interview, Peter Robinson [‘79], a former speechwriter to President Ronald Reagan and a fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, said that attitude was typical of Mr. Rago, a longtime friend and 2010 media fellow at Hoover.

“Joe was an intellectual fighter but there was also just a wonderful sweetness about him,” he said.

He praised Mr. Rago’s rigorous approach to opinion writing, saying Mr. Rago always presented the information readers needed to have to assess his conclusions.

“That’s very rare,” Mr. Robinson said. “Joe was never just mouthing off. He was doing the hard work of real journalism.”

The Journal has also published a compendium of Joe’s finest writing.

When Joe won his Pulitzer, I noted:

On occasion I will read an article and find myself pausing to observe that the quality of its writing is exceptional. I automatically look to the byline to see the author’s name. This was often the case in years past when Joe Rago ‘05 was Editor-in-Chief of the Dartmouth Review.

Addendum: A former news managing editor for the D writes in:

Big loss for the College, Phi Delt, and the Journal. Joe had a knack for distilling his arguments in a clear and compelling way, and was an inspiration for many campus journalists — myself included. Not to mention, the members of his class at Phi Delt singlehandedly saved their house from de-recognition and brought it back to its status as a campus institution.

Addendum: Rago has fans far and wide:

Paul Ryan Rago.jpg

Rodney Dangerfield’s line (actually, he referred to his wife) [actually, it’s Henny Youngman’s line — mea culpa] still makes me smile, though a recent headline might put a crimp in a College outplacement strategy: the fake positive recommendation. Inside Higher Education reports:

IHE Recommednation Firing Comp.jpg

One of the many little corruptions in the academy is the failure to fire incompetent people. Rather than give the boot to unsuccessful administrators so they might face their own inadequacies — rather than peddling them down the road at another institution — senior people routinely shade their recommendations (lying is a better verb) in order to encourage other schools to take staffers off their hands. Is this behavior indicative of a lack of resolve? Or a failure to rigorously insist on quality? Or just self-interested solidarity, i.e. I won’t do to someone what I hope they won’t do to me?

I don’t know for sure, but such dishonesty does not help our colleges and universities serve their students better.

Former Dean of the College Charlotte Johnson is a salient example. We poached her from Colgate, and as soon as she arrived in Hanover, I started hearing from staffers in Hamilton about the big mistake that we had made. After three years in town here, Johnson was off to Scripps where she has continued her undistinguished career. Phil had given her a gentle warning that her contract would not be renewed, and she had plenty of time and support finding a new position where she could work her magic.

UNC’s Carol Folt, formerly our interim President, Provost and Dean of the Faculty, would have been hard-pressed to find a sincere supporter in Hanover, yet somehow (you know how) she was hired to run one of the country’s leading state schools.

So what are Phil & Co. saying these days about Provost Dever to other institutions of higher learning? Are they touting Carolyn’s behind-the-scenes achievements? Are there any? The only stage center actions that she has effected are her endless diversity and inclusion memos.

The fact that Carolyn has not landed a plum job somewhere by now (she has been hunting for months) at her $783,890/year salary, incites the occasional vain thought in yours truly. Perhaps hiring committees out there are reading this space, and are using back channel means to find out what is really going on in the Provost’s office in Parkhurst. The answer that would are receive from the faculty in Hanover: not much of anything.

Addendum: An alumnus writes in to say that the line, “Take my wife, please,” belongs to Henny Youngman, not Rodney Dangerfield. Ooops!

You heard it here first. The administration’s next big marketing initiative is the phrase Distinctly Dartmouth — around which the Office of Communications and the Admissions staff will build a whole branding campaign. Sheesh. Sounds like the tagline for an upscale, gated housing community, a place whose McMansions are endowed with marble fireplaces, crystal chandeliers and real Corinthian leather.

How many hours of staff time and endless focus group gatherings did it take to come up with such an anemic alliteration? I mean, really, such boring branding. What slick sloganeering. I could go on.

After all, we are talking about an institution of higher learning that still possesses a faculty devoted to top-flight scholarship and close interaction with undergraduates. Is the Hanlon administration so lacking in self-confidence and so condescending towards prospective students that it thinks that the most-qualified high school seniors in the country won’t apply to the College and won’t come to Hanover unless we have a cutesy catchphrase?

How about skipping the hype and talking about our unique collection of foreign study programs, small classes with devoted professors, ample opportunities to do research, an intimate campus, and a friendly, open culture? And how about having the administration actually reinforce with time and money those salient attributes, rather than having bureaucrats pretend that they are in an episode of Mad Men.

Leave it to the Office of Alumni Relations to jump the gun last Christmas:

Distinctly Dartmouth comp.jpg

Phil’s letter to the campus of September 16, 2016 announcing the Irving Oil Energy Center contained the same phrase:

The institute will offer support for faculty and students to elevate research, teaching, and learning. It will provide resources for students, including undergraduate research opportunities; curricular development funds; and create a visible infrastructure that will help us secure new grants. The institute will help our community soar.

Undergraduate and graduate students will be full partners in the work of the institute, building on our rich history of student-faculty collaboration and creating a center of excellence that is distinctly Dartmouth. New research and programs will involve nearly every academic department in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and faculty in our professional schools in an integrated, cross-disciplinary manner.
[Emphasis added]

Back in the mid-1990’s, when we were the seventh-ranked school in the country, our renown was based mostly on word-of-mouth — the objective estimations of students and faculty members who could directly evaluate the College’s scholarly achievements and innovative academic programs. At that time we didn’t have or need advertising agency savvy or toney slogans to describe what goes on in Hanover.

Addendum: Here’s what’s next around the Ivy League: Patently Princeton. Conspicuously Cornell. Particularly Penn. Categorically Columbia. Hugely Harvard. Beyond Doubt Brown. Uniquely Yale.

Addendum: An alumnus writes in:

It was actually Boldly Brown.

Addendum: An alumnus writes in to note that the below slide was shown at this May’s Alumni Council meeting:

Distinctly Dartmouth Slide.jpg

It outlines five pillars of the dead-in-the-water capital campaign.

Addendum: Another alumnus write in — with wit:

Is the Capital Campaign “Distinctly Dead”?

President Hanlon claims that Dartmouth is “hot,” and the College’s PR folks don’t miss an opportunity to tout the alleged strength and sky-high yield of the Class of 2021. But as we have seen, Dartmouth loses on cross-admits against every other Ivy, save for Cornell. Still, we really should examine the College’s claim that the incoming class is “the most academically accomplished… the College has ever accepted.” In support of this assertion, the press release proffers the statistic that “mean SAT scores rose 17 points over last year’s accepted students, to an all-time high of 1495.”

However — why aren’t you surprised? — the alleged academic strength of the incoming class is NOT what it seems to be. With the new and redesigned SAT, the exam was rescaled. As the College Board itself explains, “Because the two tests are different, their scores are not equivalent — concordance is the only way to make comparisons between them.”

So, at the very least, the College is being sloppy in comparing scores that are on the same nominal numerical scale of 200 to 800, but are in no other ways comparable. To actually understand what the nominal rise in SAT scores means, let’s examine the College Board’s own concordance tables:

SAT Concordance Highlighted.jpg

As we can see, a higher score on the new SAT generally correlates with a lower score on the old SAT. Apparently, grades are not the only thing being inflated these days. Here is a graphical representation:


As the administration trumpets, the mean SAT score for students admitted to the Class of 2021 is 1495. Let’s be charitable and call that 1500. The mean SAT for those admitted to the Class of 2020 was 2219 on the 2400 scale and 1478 on the 1600 scale (see the yellow highlights above). Let’s call that 2220 and 1480, respectively. 2220 on the old SAT scales to somewhere between 1520 and 1530 on the new SAT, and 1480 scales to somewhere between 1510 and 1520. Using the table in the other direction, 1500 on the new SAT scales to 2170 out of 2400 or 1460 out of 1600 for the old SAT.

Either way, the sub-1500 score we are seeing for the Class of 2021 seems at a minimum like a 20-point drop (out of 1600) in real terms compared to the Class of 2020. Uh, Phil?

Does all this accounting really matter? Who knows? As anyone who has been through the process of applying to college can attest, scores on standardized tests are just one factor in a dauntingly complex and seemingly capricious process. There exists a surfeit of students with high test scores, and admissions officers have the unenviable job of constructing a class that is not just smart, but interesting and varied as well.

However, for our mathematician President and his administration to tout the incoming class as the strongest in the College’s history based on quantitative metrics is, at the very least, misleading. A truer representation is that this year incoming students’ mean SAT scores fell by more than 20 points, and by this limited metric the Class of 2021 is weaker than the Class of 2020, not stronger.

Of course, the administration’s leaders know this, but they think that we don’t. We do.

Addendum: Dartblog has it on good authority that most upperclassmen already believe that the Class of 2021 is the worst Dartmouth class ever.

This article in the Wall Street Journal prompted a reader to ask how many Chinese students we have at the College:

China Squeeze.jpg

Needless to say, the Office of Institutional Research’s FactBook was right on the money (click on the image to enlarge it):

International Students Enrolled.jpg

The grand totals for the Classes of 2017-2020 for the countries most strongly represented in the undergraduate student body are: Canada (69), Korea (40), China (40), India (16), the UK (23) and Mexico (17).

The College makes no announcement regarding the departure of faculty members high and low (if you hear of anyone leaving, please let me know), so it is up to this space to keep you informed. Today’s news regards former English Professor Aimee Bahng — she of the vigorous tenure controversy and anti-Israeli sentiment — who has found herself a job at Pomona, one that lacks tenure, at least at the present time:

Aimee Bahng Pomona Comp.jpg

This fall Aimee will be teaching two courses at Pomona as part of the Gender, Women, and Feminist Studies curriculum. Here are the descriptions:

Aimee Bahng Courses.jpg

Bahng’s book, Migrant Futures: Decolonizing Speculation in Financial Times, is now out, courtesy of the Duke University Press:

Aimee Bahng Migrant Futures.jpg

If anyone reads this opus, please let me know how it is. I fear that I won’t have the time to get to it.

Addendum: The Claremont colleges — Claremont-McKenna, Pomona, Scripps, Pitzer and Harvey Mudd — seem something of a refuge for Dartmouth folks. Little-missed Dean of the College Charlotte Johnson landed at Scripps after her three-year contract at the College was not renewed.

Addendum: Still no word on where Provost Dever will end up. Perhaps we can trade her back to Vanderbilt for a player to be named later — much later.

A timeless image of a campus landmark unchanged for generations:

Memorial Field Sun.jpg

Wikipedia’s thumbnail history of Memorial Field:

In 1893, Dartmouth alumni built a football field called Alumni Oval in the southeastern part of the campus. The field’s original wooden grandstand, which backed up on Crosby Street, burned in 1911. In 1923, the College built Memorial Field, with a brick-faced concrete stand and press box on Crosby Street. The stadium opened as a memorial to the students and alumni who had served and died in World War I. Permanent stands on the east side of the field were built later, and end zone bleachers have also been used.

Memorial Field underwent renovation during the summer of 2006, including replacement of the natural grass field with artificial turf to allow nearly year-round use; installation of an 8-lane Tartan track; construction of safety improvements; and the construction of a new varsity athletics center that has reduced the East Stands. With some of the loss made up by stands placed behind the end zones, the current seating capacity is approximately 11,000, down from 22,000 pre-renovation. Despite the loss of seats, it is still the largest athletic field of any sort in northern New England, ahead of the University of Vermont’s 10,000-seat soccer stadium.[citation needed]

The stadium is the end-point of a popular Shriners parade every summer, and is often the venue for the New Hampshire vs. Vermont high school all-star football game which follows the parade.

The Athletics Department prepared a video in 2014 about Memorial Field:

I don’t write about the courses that I audit at the College (probably approaching about 45 in number by now — I started in the mid-1990’s), but in enjoying Cornel West’s intellectual and emotional pyrotechnics in his course this summer on the life, times and thought of W.E.B. Du Bois, an image kept appearing in my head:

Cornel Quetzalcoatl.jpg

Cornel is on the left; that’s Quetzalcoatal on the right from the Orozco Murals (from the Departure of Quetzalcoatal panel).

Addendum: The Hood Museum has an everything-you-could-want-to-know site regarding Orozco’s epic work.

The latest Churchill film — Darkest Hour — seems more in line with the consensus understanding of the Great Man, in contrast to the spirit of takedown evident in the recent movie, Churchill. The trailer for Darkest Hour has just appeared; Variety reports that the release date for the film will be November 24:

I am happy to see that Darkest Hour integrates research from John Lukacs’ thrillingly original book, Five Days in London: May 1940, regarding the to-negotiate-or-not-with-Hitler debate in the War Cabinet.

Addendum: The WWII hits just keep on coming: Dunkirk will open next week.

Addendum: An alumnus writes in:

As a fellow admirer of Winston Churchill, I enjoyed seeing your post on today’s Dartblog about the upcoming movies about Churchill and Dunkirk. I was not previously aware of either one, and both look like they will be well worth seeing.

Since you so admire Churchill, I wanted to call your attention to another Churchill film with which you may not be familiar. I saw it about a decade ago at a local art house cinema, and then saw it again a few months later when it appeared again at the same theater. The small theater was packed on both occasions and at the conclusion of the film on both occasions the audience broke into applause. I like to think that the applause was for the long ago deceased subject of the film rather than for the film makers, although applause was warranted for both.

The movie is titled Winston Churchill: Walking With Destiny, and it was done by Moriah Films, which is associated with the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles. It is a documentary which runs just over 100 minutes. The principal focus of the film is on the period from around May 1940, when France was falling and Churchill was taking office as Prime Minister to just after Pearl Harbor, when America’s entrance into the war provided relief to Churchill that his country’s darkest hour had finally passed..

If you have not seen it, I would highly recommend that you see it if you get a chance. It is a very moving film and really does the man justice.

Winston Churchill: Walking With Destiny is available for rent in iTunes and for streaming on NetFlix.

Joe Helble.jpgIn another encouraging sign, the Hanlon administration has re-appointed Thayer Dean Joe Helble to lead the up-and-coming Thayer School of Engineering. He will begin his fourth four-year term on July 1. New buildings, more students, tighter cooperation with the undergraduate College and an overall increased dynamism have been the hallmarks of Helble’s leadership. In addition, Helble can report a national first for the College:

Thayer 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 remains just under 20 percent.

Helble LinkedIn.jpgHelble’s resumé (right) on LinkedIn gives you some idea of his background. How nice to see real private sector experience, especially given, as Helble notes, “Thayer nurtures and encourages our faculty entrepreneurs. One third of our tenure-track faculty have started a company, giving Thayer the highest percentage of faculty-entrepreneurs among U.S. engineering schools.”

Could Helble be the College’s next President? In a sense the graduate schools are the Triple A ball to the Dartmouth major leagues. Should we promote a slugger from Triple A to replace the weak-fielding singles hitter with a .128 batting average who is currently trying to run the school?

Addendum: In this video of a TEDxDartmouth 2011 event, Helble details the importance of technological literacy:

Addendum: For West Coast alumni who want to see Joe Helble live and in person, he will be presenting at the 2017 Dartmouth Entrepreneurs Forum in San Francisco on Friday, September 8 at the UCSF Mission Bay Conference Center, San Francisco — as will Tuck Dean Matt Slaughter; Hany Farid, Chair of the Computer Science department; and Eric Fossum, Associate Provost for Entrepreneurship and Technology Transfer. The DEF is open to the entire Dartmouth community.

Addendum: The College’s press release announcing Helble’s reappointment contained a lead comment from Provost Carolyn “Broken Record” Dever:

Helble Dever Comment.jpg

Can Provost Dever ever say anything that does not smack of her politics?

Addendum: D writer Rebecca Flowers ‘19 has a data-rich, detailed report on Joe Helble’s reappointment. Good writing.

The Internet Service Provider (ISP) that hosts Dartblog seems be having technical difficulties. Loading the site is easier on some browsers than on others. Apologies.

Problems have this type occurred early last year, too. They were sorted out within a day.

Addendum: Is anyone still having any difficulty in logging on to the site? It now works for me using IE, Chrome, Safari and Firefox.

Dan Rockmore1.jpgThings are looking up. The new Dean of the Faculty, Elizabeth Smith, had a position to fill immediately upon her appointment because she herself had vacated the Associate Dean of the Sciences role in order to become Dean. Her choice: Dartblog favorite Dan Rockmore, the Math and Computer Sciences departments’ Renaissance man. What a happy surprise. Dan’s name had been bruited about over the years as the head of the Science division, but no Dean had ever picked him.

We can surmise that Elizabeth Smith herself made the choice, given that Rockmore and other qualified candidates had not even merited an interview during Phil Hanlon/Carolyn Dever’s Dean of the Faculty search (the one that brought us Bruce Duthu for a while, before Smith was given the job).

Over the years we’ve written about Rockmore’s show at the Museum of Modern Art, his new, edited book about the various academic disciplines, his New Yorker essay about how he has banned the use of laptops in his own classes, and his Wall Street Journal column and film about The Birth of BASIC. Most recently, i.e. the day before yesterday, Rockmore has a piece in Slate about the Neukom Institute’s competition involving human/machine interactions in artistically creative endeavors. Dan is the director of the Neukom Institute. As I said, a Renaissance man.

So here’s to Smith’s choice of Rockmore. Let’s hope that he is tough-minded and rigorous in his role as Associate Dean of the Sciences. Hard decisions will need to be made; winners will win and losing ideas need to lose. Bad compromises help nobody, least of all Dartmouth.

Addendum: Review Dan Rockmore’s Google Scholar findings for the complete list of his publications.

Addendum: John Gregg in the Valley News writes:

Rockmore was to have assumed that associate dean’s post back in 2004, but that got scrapped after his ally, Michael Gazzaniga, the founder of the field of cognitive neuroscience, stepped down as dean of the faculty following an ugly no-confidence vote from a narrow majority of department [and program] heads.

Addendum: An ‘11 recounts a Rockmore anecdote:

In a previous post you discussed Prof Dan Rockmore and his all around excellence. Your post today brought him back into my mind, and gave me cause to share an anecdote demonstrating that, simply put, he is a nice guy.

My junior year, I took a mid-level math course with him, and unfortunately I had to miss a Thursday midterm in his course due to a funeral. Additionally, I had to catch a 9 am Friday bus to leave town for an away football game. His solution: he came in at 6AM Friday morning, two young children in tow, and allowed me to take the exam in his office before the bus departed. He also brought me a coffee.

For the department chair to wake up his kids early to proctor a makeup exam, instead of just sending a grad student or not accommodating my unique situation, speaks volumes about his commitment to undergrads. This is a guy who truly cares about his students.

Yesterday’s post on Fred Berthold ‘45’s recollections of College life contained another nugget worth thinking about. His below observation about President Ernest Martin Hopkins illustrates a first principle that seems to be passing from the scene, at least for some members of current student generation. Hopkins was a member of the Class of 1901, and he served as President of the College from 1916-1945:

Berthold on Hopkins Comp.jpg

This year a large number of Middlebury students couldn’t seem to stomach the presence on their campus of Harvard scholar Charles Murray, yet in the above quote we have Dartmouth’s conservative President Hopkins open to the idea of a lecture by the USSR’s bloody dictator, Josef Stalin. In a better time, the Midd students would have boned up on their Murray and engaged the professor in a vigorous, fact-filled debate (as Dartmouth students did, to their credit, less than a year before the Middlebury near-riot). Isn’t that a more thoughtful posture — and ultimately a more productive one — than trying to muzzle a scholar?

The principle of free and unimpeded speech should be a bedrock belief in the academy, supported by both a humility that one might be wrong on any given issue, and also by the belief that even the most pernicious beliefs should be analyzed, understood and then argued against or supported as the case may be. Did the Midd students even read any of Murray’s works, or had they just heard third-hand that The Bell Curve was a racist book, and therefore Murray was to be prevented from speaking? If the latter is true, and I expect that it is, then those students forfeit any right to the terms student and scholar. Brownshirt would be more appropriate.

Addendum: The “quota” to which Bertold refers is the reprehensible, but all too common among institutions of higher learning at the time, limit on the number of Jewish students at the College. A modern-day equivalent would be much-discussed Ivy League restriction on the percentage of Asian-Americans at each school. Dartmouth’s anti-Semitic restrictions were documented in a senior thesis written by Alexandra Shepherd ‘92, a 95-page paper entitled Seeking a Sense of Place: Jewish Students in the Dartmouth Community: 1920 to 1940. (Does anyone know of a link to this paper? It is in the College’s library catalogue.)

Addendum: In its Jan/Feb 2015 edition, the Alumni Magazine published several lighter vignettes about Hopkins:

Ernest Martin Hopkins Vignettes.jpg

Addendum: Click here to access a wide range of Rauner interviews regarding the Hopkins administration.

Fred Berthold.jpgThe staff at the College’s Rauner Special Collections Library does a good job recording alumni memories of the old Dartmouth (do you think that they are archiving Dartblog?) for Rauner’s Oral History Project. A professor sent me a charming interview with the Reverend Doctor Fred Berthold ‘45 conducted by Mary Stelle Donin.

Berthold, who was hired at the College in 1949 as an instructor in philosophy, later joined the Department of Religion, where he became a full professor in 1956. In 1957 he was named the first dean of the William Jewett Tucker Foundation. In his reminiscences about the College of yore, Berthold recounted the following anecdote:

Nelson Wormwood Comp.jpg

Nelson Wormwood Portrait1.jpgNelson Wormwood! (At right.) Sounds like a character out of Harry Potter. But I bet that he did a good job keeping undergraduates on the straight and narrow.

What a contrast with today’s College. Though we have slightly more than twice the number of students on campus today as compared to Berthold’s time in Hanover, there are thirty-seven times as many campus policemen. That’s the number in the 2016 Annual Security and Fire Safety Report, if you add up all of the different people working there:

Eighteen (18) Security Officers and Guards are trained to patrol the campus on foot, in vehicles and on bicycles, and are actively involved in the personal and physical security of the campus. Seven (7) Communication Officers provide continuous coverage of the Communications Center where they answer questions, provide information, and dispatch personnel to answer calls for service and to provide assistance in routine and emergency situations. Assisting the Director in administering all of the responsibilities of the department is an Associate Director; nine (9) supervisory personnel, which include three (3) full-time investigators all of whom are trained to conduct investigations into sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, stalking, and bias incidents; and one administrative assistant.

We won’t even ask how much of the Safety & Security budget is devoted to diversity training.

In its 1977 edition, the Alumni Magazine reviewed the growth of the College’s Safety and Security force (note: this data contradicts the notion that Wormwood was a one-man show; but he was certainly the sharp end of the spear):

1769-1920: no campus police
1920-or-so-1931: George “Bud” Spray
1931-1947: Spray and Nelson Wormwood
1947-1949: Wormwood and Theodore Gaudreau
1949-1963: Gaudreau, a lieutenant and two officers
1963-1964: John Carey, a lieutenant and two officers
1964-1975: John O’Connor, a lieutenant and two officers, and, I imagine, others
1976—1977: Robert McEwan, eight men in uniform and two female office staff

And so it goes.

Addendum: In his book Ten Years To Manhood, Clarke Church ‘50 recounts an anecdote about the “legendary” Nelson Wormwood:

Wormwood Clarke Church.jpg

Addendum: In another Oral History Project interview, Burton Elliott ‘48 recounts his own run-in with Nelson Wormwood:

Wormwood Burton Elliott Comp.jpg

“Topflight police work,” as Paul Newman said in Cool Hand Luke.

As Joe Asch ‘79 has noted, the College’s uncompetitive faculty compensation is a continual source of discontent among Dartmouth professors. We now have updated data for the most recent year:


As previously explained, the College fell behind peer schools during the recession despite progress through 2009 on the issue. Dartmouth has treaded water since then; our compensation has only tracked the pay of our “Non-Ivy-League Peers” for several years (and has even fallen a shade below them). 2017 brings more of the same. One might reasonably ask about the component schools in the “Non-Ivy-League Peers” comparison group. Take a look:


Yikes. The University of Chicago, Duke, and Northwestern are worthy as peer institutions. Reaching somewhat, one might say that Vanderbilt, Washington University in St. Louis, and Georgetown are as well. But Boston College and the University of Rochester? They have no business on that list. Needless to say, someone could have selected a better comparison group. If the College is now falling below even this benchmark, then our decline speaks to exactly how poor a job the administration has done in managing the faculty.

Moving on to a breakdown by academic rank, the latest data show, once again, that Dartmouth is especially far behind at the more junior ranks of Assistant and Associate Professor, the members of the faculty who represent the College’s future (click on the image to enlarge it):


We previously reported in 2016 that $5.4 million per year would close the pay gap between the College and the U.S. News Top 20 schools. Now, consider the fact that Government Professor Stephen Brooks stated at this May’s faculty meeting that an extra $1.4 million per year for the next four years has finally been set aside for raises to make the faculty whole. That $5.6 million in total — peanuts compared to the school’s average year-on-year spending increase — should just about do it. For a perennially undercompensated faculty, those raises cannot come soon enough.

While fixing the faculty’s undercompensation is to be commended, there is still much else to be done. With the painfully slow pace of the current capital campaign, it will be an eternity before the promised increase to faculty research stipends (unchanged in nominal dollars since 1995!) will materialize. Moreover, pressures on the available stock of office space, both in terms of quantity and quality, remain omnipresent. Solving these problems cannot wait.

And to think that we have cut corners in all of these areas (to which you might add substandard dorms) and yet we still outspend peer schools in our overall budget.

Joe Asch Addendum: Phil is now in his fifth year leading the College. Why did it take him so long to understand the legitimacy of the faculty’s concerns about compensation and act on them?

In response to the argument that the cost of living in New Hampshire is lower than elsewhere, and therefore faculty salaries go further here, why is it then that Dartmouth’s tuition is among the very highest in the Ivies?



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  • 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…

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