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Phil has issued a statement on the State of the College to open the academic year. He is brimming with pride and optimism about Dartmouth — though for some reason he does not even barely refer to the student-life crises that have made the College a national whipping boy in the media. Today Dartblog will award no points for courageous leadership.

(For students returning to campus, we are re-printing a few highlights from last term.)

As we’ve mentioned before, the College has the fourth highest endowment/student in the Ivies, coming after Princeton, Harvard and Yale. But rather that looking at HYP, let’s continue our comparison between Dartmouth and Brown. I keep referring to Brown because the structure of that school (ratio of undergrads to grads, number of professional schools, etc.) is closest to the College among the Ivies.

On June 30, 2013 our endowment was $3,733,596,000 and Brown’s was $2,669,948,000. Our position is a strong one, given that Brown has over a third more students than we do.

Last year we drew $183,816,000 from the endowment to fund the College’s ongoing operations:

Dartmouth Endowment Draw 2013.jpg

Given that there are a total of 6,342 students at the College, that works out to be a draw of $29,984/student.

Brown was able to draw only $125,858,000 from its endowment in the same time period.

Brown Endowment Draw 2013a.jpg

Given that there are a total of 8,619 students at Brown, the draw was $14,602/student.

Putting things another way, Dartmouth drew more from its endowment than Brown did in absolute terms: $57,958,000, and the difference on a per student basis was $15,382/student.

Where did all this money go? Certainly not to the College’s students. Tuition, room and board, and fees at the College in the fall of 2014 will be $61,947. Brown will only charge its students $59,428. That’s a difference of $2,519/year. Dartmouth students will pay 4.2% more for their education than the kids at Brown — a total of $10,076 over four years.

The faculty did not get its hands on the $15,382/student surplus either. According to the federal government’s authoritative Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) data for 2011, not only does Brown have 35% more full-time professors than Dartmouth — as you would expect, given that Brown has 36% more students than Dartmouth — but Brown also pays its professors more than faculty in Hanover, by about 10% or so, depending on the level that the faculty member has achieved:

Dartmouth Brown Faculty Salaries2.jpg

Certainly some Dartmouth professors out-earn their equivalents in Providence, but the overall figures are clear.

If the students and the faculty don’t enjoy the benefits of the endowment’s big payout, then who the heck does? I’ll leave that answer up to you.

We’ve commented before on the visible success of the the College’s gay alumni. The Times added to that story last week by noting that Trevor Burgess ‘94 is one of two openly gay CEO’s running publicly traded corporations. Burgess commented on Dartmouth in the article:

When Mr. Burgess was a student at Dartmouth College in the early 1990s, one of his fraternity brothers wrote an article in the conservative Dartmouth Review that referred to Mr. Burgess with an anti-gay slur. “Within one week, I resigned from my fraternity and became president of the gay and lesbian student association,” Mr. Burgess recalled. When he was applying for jobs after graduation, he included the organization on his résumé. “They said they were looking for evidence of leadership,” he said. “Maybe I was naïve.” But it didn’t stand in the way of job offers.

Mr. Burgess noted that today, Dartmouth has Triangle House, one of five living and learning communities at the college. That house aims to enhance the “intellectual and cultural environment” for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students, according to Dartmouth. “Progress is possible,” Mr. Burgess said.

Trevor Burgess1.jpg

Statue of Liberty Flame.JPGThe French authorities seem to have accepted that the Statue of Liberty flame on the banks of the Seine has become a widely beloved memorial to Princess Diana, popularly called “Lady Di” here. The flame itself — an exact replica of the one that stands in New York Harbor — was made by the same guild of Gallic artisans who crafted the original Lady Liberty, and who restored her several decades ago. It stands above the tunnel in which Diana’s fatal traffic accident occurred on August 31, 1997.

We flew back to Paris from our Hanover summer that year after having watched Diana’s funeral at the break of dawn. Her brother’s eulogy was one for the ages. After our arrival, jetlag kicked in and at about 3am Elizabeth and I and our seven-month-old son found ourselves unable to sleep. We strapped the little guy into a Baby Bjorn and spontaneously decided to go to the site of Princess Di’s accident, which is a little more than a mile from our apartment. I don’t think we had ever before or have ever since gone on a middle-of-the-night walk in Paris. In some curious way we were drawn to the place, as we found hundreds of other people were, too. We could leave no flowers at that hour, but there was solace in understanding our own emotions were widely shared.

A good friend repeatedly asks what Princess Diana did to deserve such adulation. The better question is what it is about her that moved so many people, as she still does.

Princess Di Memorial.JPG

Addendum: We regularly bike and drive by the site. It stands near the Pont D’Alma at the bottom of avenue du Président Wilson, where an excellent open-air market is held each Wednesday and Saturday. There are always people standing reverently near the flame.


As my father says, “Everything in the press Is true, except those stories about which you have personal knowledge.” The NY Daily News did not distinguish itself in reporting on the College’s declining ranking with U.S. News. What school is this?

NY Post Dartmouth Mass1.jpg

Of course, the feckless Daily News photo editor should have known better. Accurate data was in plain sight:

NY Post Getty Images.jpg

The headline might say “America’s Top Colleges,” but the great majority of Newsweek’s 4,282-word story is about Dartmouth. Not a single mention of academics, great teachers, extracurriculars, or the love for the school felt by alumni. Nope. It’s all about pong — beloved by undergrads, still played by alums — and the entire range of the College’s negative aspects that have been reported on endlessly in the press. The gods of public opinion are angry. In fact, the term “feeding frenzy” is now appropriate.

Newsweek 0911.jpg

The piece was written by Newsweek editors Abigail Jones ‘02 and Alexander Nazaryan ‘02, with reportorial help from Lauren Sarner ‘14. The authors have their facts straight, and given the depth of research and fact-checking, there is no doubt that this story has been in the making for a good while. It jumps between a history of pong, a rundown of Dartmouth’s various woes, and a narrow depiction of debauched campus social life. Herewith some excerpts:

Pong is more than a game at Dartmouth; it is a symbol, maybe the symbol of the school. It is a seductive relief valve on a campus where “Work hard, play hard” has become an unofficial motto. It is also a public health pestilence that, critics say, vanquishes both brain cells and intellectualism. Worse yet, it is at least partly responsible for what some say is an epidemic of binge drinking and sexual assault on campus…

[Dartmouth] is the smallest and most remote of the eight Ivy League schools—respected, well known, the perfect microcosm for what challenges the success of American higher education. Perhaps that’s why it’s been the subject of some brutal headlines over the last year: “Dartmouth in the Glare of Scrutiny on Drinking” (The New York Times); “Dartmouth vows to curb student misbehavior” (The Boston Globe); “How I Became an Alcoholic and Failed Out of Dartmouth” (Business Insider)…

But while other top-ranked schools have transcended their scandals, Dartmouth seems trapped in a keg of sour beer. The problem is that the school’s beloved pong culture is, well, a big part of the problem…

The Dartmouth weekend begins on Wednesday night, when the 30 fraternity, sorority and co-educational houses hold their weekly meetings. For the next four days, campus social life largely revolves around pong…

Eventually, all of those 16-ounce cups will find their way to someone’s lips; if they don’t, the contents will end up in a garbage can, a dim corner of the basement or on the floor, where the beer will turn into a sticky substance known as mung. All the while, young men and women watch the games from the sidelines, talking, flirting and drinking, some of them waiting to play on the next free table, others content to watch for hours…

“Imagine the valedictorian of your high school class,” says a current Dartmouth fraternity member, who asked that his name not be used. “Now put lots of versions of that person in a remote New Hampshire town and try to make them socialize. Now create a game that makes it acceptable (and heavily encouraged) to drink at a pace of six-ish beers an hour without having to say more than a few words to each other. Congratulations, you just created Dartmouth nightlife.”…

On January 25, 2012, a student named Andrew Lohse published an op-ed in the school’s daily newspaper, The Dartmouth. Titled “Telling the Truth,” it revealed the sordid details of his pledge term at the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, wherein he and his cohort were allegedly made to engage in extreme, sometimes nauseating acts. The piece went viral, and Lohse became the focal point of a Rolling Stone feature that painted the campus as a boozy proving ground for future Goldman Sachs managing partners who treat global finance like a game of tree. Lohse’s book about the ordeals of Greek life at Dartmouth, Confessions of an Ivy League Frat Boy, has just been published.

Lohse’s op-ed ignited what has been a remarkable stretch of bad publicity for a school that, by dint of its remote location and small student body, generally stays out of view. In April 2013, about a dozen protesters interrupted a session for prospective students to protest the school’s supposedly lax handling of sexual assault. Over the summer, the Alpha Delta fraternity held a Bloods and Crips party, with predictable outrage following online. In February 2014, The Dartmouth uncovered online postings by a male student gleefully describing the rape of a woman he called “Choates whore,” a reference to a dormitory where underclassmen live. Students occupied the office of new college president Philip J. Hanlon, who had been a member of Alpha Delta in the 1970s. A former student was acquitted of raping a fellow student. Online organizers UltraViolet launched ads on Facebook and Web browsers claiming Dartmouth had a “rape problem.”

After a piece like this, certainly the harshest one to appear in the press during this annus horribilis, one has to wonder just who is going to apply this fall for admission.

Addendum: We can take solace that the once-mighty Newsweek — its circulation in 2003 was four million — doesn’t do even 5% of that figure now in newsstand and subscription sales. The reach of its for-pay website is unclear.

Addendum: The Valley News’ Rob Wolfe ‘12 reviews Andrew Lohse’s book today.

What it is ain’t exactly clear, but it seems that Phil’s new CFO, Rick Mills, the guy with the interesting background, is holding a series of open fora on the state of the College’s benefits policies:

Mills Benefits Comp1.jpg

As we have observed only a few dozen times in the past, the College’s salary and benefits policies are hobbling the school. For example, while Brown has a third more professors and students than Dartmouth, more employees overall, and it operates in a large city, Brown’s total spending in 2013 on compensation was 22.3% less than the College’s — that’s a difference of $86,715,000. This efficiency enables Brown to charge its students about 4% less than the College for tuition/room and board/fees.

Let’s wish good luck to Rick Mills. I’m hoping that this could be the start of something big.

Addendum: The Dartmouth Now description of the events notes that a forum will be recorded and put up on the web. The first one will take place today from 11 a.m. to noon in Kemeny 006.

Ouch. A real double whammy.

Bloomberg Top Ten Comp1.jpg

Addendum: An alum writes in:

Bloomberg is relentless in its biased coverage of Dartmouth. Duke and Penn each took a step down in the rankings this year but no one is suggesting that those schools have a problem.

Addendum: Bloomberg has now re-written the headline in its story to make it punchier, and to fit yet another stereotype:

Bloomberg Top Ten Revised Comp.jpg

This WCAX-TV story is an example of journalists stretching for something to say:

WCAX Top Ten Comp.jpg

The Washington Post has looked at the evolution of the U.S. News rankings over the past five years in a story that summarized this year’s changes. As for the College, the Post used Bloomberg’s phrasing:

Dartmouth College in New Hampshire slipped out of the top 10 among national universities, moving from 10th to 11th.

In its interactive graphic, the takeaway for the Ivies and other top schools is that change is slow at best. Of the sixteen top schools (I chose this figure to capture all of the Ivies, Brown being in last place this year), over the past half decade none has moved on net more that one slot up or down, except for Chicago (+5), Penn (-3), Caltech (-3) and the College (-2). Plus ça change.

WP U.S. News Changes.jpg

Addendum: As we observed the other day, in the 1990’s right up until the disastrous moment when Jim Wright became President, we were in seventh place most years.

The Times Upshot column continues to crunch the numbers: last week it looked at a very limited data sample to see how students pick among top schools when they are accepted to several leading colleges; today it reviews the economic diversity of the nation’s leading institutions of higher learning. We come in fifth in the Ivies in terms of recruiting students from low-income and first-generation-to-college students.

The Upshot folks are thorough with data. In addition to the basic ranking, they have calculated the capacity for each school to be generous with financial aid. As we have noted in the past, the College is the fourth wealthiest of the Ivy schools: we have more endowment/student than anyone except HYP. Curiously, Columbia, Brown and Penn, which have endowment/student numbers well below ours, do better at recruiting an economically diverse class; as does Harvard, the Ivy’s third-richest school. Poor kid Cornell (the lowest endowment/student in the Ivies) and über-wealthy Princeton and Yale have the least economically diverse classes.

Upshot Economic Diversity.jpg

Addendum: As we have noted repeatedly, the sticker price of attending Dartmouth is the second highest in the Ivies — despite the fact, as detailed above, that we have the fourth highest endowment/student and we do business in a low-cost area of the country.

Bloomberg logo1.jpgHere’s how Bloomberg is reporting the U.S. News rankings:

Bloomberg on U.S. News 2014.jpg

The downward death spiral continues.

Addendum: The alumnus who pointed out the above Bloomberg story writes in with some thoughts:

I agree with your conclusion that Dartmouth escaped potential disaster with the US News rankings. However, I have two observations on the rankings:

Although the drop from 10th to 11th place is fairly de minimis (especially given that there was a tie for 10th last year between Dartmouth and Cal Tech), the media (see Bloomberg headline above) is reporting it as Dartmouth dropping out of the top 10. That makes it look worse than it really is.

Also, I think the real concern is the drop in the undergraduate teaching category from 1st to 4th place. Despite all of the controversies, Dartmouth has been able to claim for the past 5 years that it has the best undergraduate teaching in the country. Now it plays second fiddle not only to Princeton, but to W&M and Miami of Ohio. That one hurts…

Addendum: You’d think that Bloomberg could be a little more charitable to the College. After all, Michael Bloomberg’s “significant other,” Diana Taylor ‘77, is a member of the Board of Trustees.

U.S. News logo.jpgAll scandalous things considered, we should be happy to have dropped only one place in the latest U.S. News rankings:

US News September 2014a.jpg

We dropped to #4 in Best Undergraduate Teaching (after Princeton, College of William and Mary, and Miami University—​Oxford).

In other criteria, we are #7 in the High School Counselor Rankings (tied with Brown, Cornell and Penn; the other Ivies tied for #1); #7 for Best Value Schools; #15 for Most Students in Fraternities (male undergraduates) (only Ivy on list); #23 Most Students in Sororities (female undergraduates) (only Ivy on list); #13 Lowest Acceptance Rates (sixth in Ivies ahead of Penn and Cornell).

Addendum: After Columbia and Chicago, we have the third highest tuition and fees among the top schools. What can I say, it’s expensive to do business in major metropolitan areas like New York, Chicago and Hanover.

Addendum: An alert alumnus makes some interesting points:

Based on the US News chart that you provided in your most recent posting, it appears that they used 2013 data for the current rankings, which would not include the 14% drop in applications or the 11.5% acceptance rate in 2014. Does that mean that the real damage will occur next year when 2014 figures are incorporated in the data by US News?

Also, you may be interested in an article today in the Brown Daily Herald (link below) which tries to explain why Brown dropped two places (from 14 to 16) despite a record low acceptance rate in 2014. They blame it on an administrative reporting error.

Addendum: The College’s press release (headline: ‘U.S. News’: Dartmouth a ‘Great Value,’ With Low Debt) focused its first four paragraphs on metrics other than our declining national rank and undergrad teaching rating. Here’s how it reported on those measures in paragraph five:

Dartmouth also ranked in the top 10 for high school guidance counselors’ top picks and for “Focus on Student Success.” It remained in the top 12 in the magazine’s overall ranking of national universities, coming in at No. 11. The College was in the No. 10 spot for the last two years, and three years ago ranked No. 11. Dartmouth ranked No. 4 for undergraduate teaching, and for six years, since the category was created, has ranked among the best schools on the list.

I’d say that we rank pretty high for obfuscation.

Dartmouth employees have all been ordered to cross their fingers for the next 24 hours in anticipation of the to-be-announced-tomorrow U.S. News rankings. We could be looking at a black day in the history of the College. Here is what I wrote on February 20:

We’ll have to wait until September to learn where we stand versus other colleges after the bad press of the past few years and the collapsing application numbers, but it’s hard to imagine that we’ll keep our #10 position (tied with CalTech).

In U.S. News’ methodology, the acceptances/applications percentage only counts for 1.5% of our total rating, but that slight difference could cost us our tie. However, beyond that, 22.5% of the ranking comes from peer assessments: the views of college presidents, provosts and deans of admissions; and a survey of counselors at top-ranked public high schools. By now there can’t be anyone in these categories who isn’t aware of the College’s string of student life scandals, the AP fiasco, and the general turmoil on campus (fly-by-night Jim Kim and the high turnover in the senior administration, the College’s overspending, high tuition and comparatively ungenerous financial aid). I could go on.

Our ranking has already been drifting lower for a good while; on average, we have dropped about one or two positions each decade:

Dartmouth U.S. News Ranking.jpg

The trend can only accelerate now. I can’t see us being any better than #12 come the fall.

Let’s hope that we dodge a bullet, but given the weak leadership in Parkhurst and the non-existent/incompetent role played by the know-nothing Trustees over the past twenty years, we don’t really deserve to do so. The College has never been ranked worse than eleventh during this period, though as you can see from the chart, we were often as high as seventh in the 1990’s.

Though unheralded on campus, we have one of the nation’s best alumni magazines. It regularly wins top prize in its class, and a couple of years ago one of the competition judges, not an alum, opined that he’d like to buy a subscription. In the most recent issue, there is a good overview of the current lurching chaos at the College. Kudos to the editors for having the nerve to let alumni know that improvements are sorely needed in Hanover.

DAM Sep-Oct 2014 Comp.jpg

I wonder if Phil is even aware of the drubbing that we have taken over the past two years in the press — and in the minds of high school students and college counselors.



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