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Carol Folt Agonistes
Yesterday’s post has brought to light various stories about Provost Carol Folt, with whom I have had direct experience myself. In 2006 as Dean of the Faculty she cancelled a writing program, the Departmental Editing Program, that I had funded for nine years, one that had broad faculty and student support and was costing the College virtually nothing. Her notice letter to me, which led to the layoff of three dedicated writing editors, contained the following gem of turgid academic writing:
You need not take a position on the content of Dean Folt’s letter in order to appreciate its shambolic nature. Her decision, shall we say, was not on the merits. In fact, the word on Carol is that if she gives you three or more reasons for a decision, you can be quite sure that the real reason is not among them.
More recently, the story has made the rounds that Folt declined to review a lengthy report because the graphics on its first page weren’t to her liking. In fact, the Provost’s office has a reputation as being a “black hole” — the place where ideas go to die. People avoid working with her because she is so fearful of any innovation — particularly when students put forward an initiative; the real trick at Dartmouth is to structure an idea in such a way that the Provost’s Office does not have any authority over it.
However Folt’s trump card is one that Jim Wright used often to effect his purposes: the will of the faculty. When she states that “the faculty would not approve” of a proposal, the listener must understand that the end of the line has been reached. No more powerful interlocutor may be invoked to end a conversation than someone who is not in the room. I have to wonder if members of the faculty are aware of this tactic; a great many decisions in the Provost’s office are being made in their name.
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…
August 23, 2009
Fare Thee Well, Tom Crady
And now Dean Tom Crady has precipitously announced his departure from the College after only 20 months on the job. How to read this? By way of background, prior to coming to Dartmouth, Crady had…
May 31, 2009
Kangaroo Court, Indeed
In an interview with The Dartmouth, alumni-elected trustee T.J. Rodgers ‘70 explained his reasons for declining to participate in future evaluations of trustees up for “re-election,” namely the “kangaroo court” nature of such discussion in…