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Folt Floats a Lead Trial Balloon — or — It’s “the College” Carol

Jim Kim and Carol Folt seem obsessed with the notion that Dartmouth’s declining ranking is due to the presence of the word “College” in the school’s name. At the past weekend’s Alumni Council meeting, Folt repeatedly commented to councilors that changing our name to Dartmouth University would help our international standing. What bunkum’!

Twenty years ago Dartmouth ranked 7th in the nation, and there was no talk about “branding” the institution. People knew what the College was about, and because the school accomplished its mission in spades, so did the rest of the world of higher education.

Ultimately, reputation reposes on reality, not fancy marketing. Folt and Kim have it all wrong here — and their misguided sense of the importance of things superficial says a lot about them. Why? Well, for instance, if you started a computer company and named it after, say, a fruit, as long as your products were brilliant, innovative and well presented, you could grow it to be the biggest company in the world. The atypical name would not be a hindrance at all; in fact, it might distinguish you from everyone else. How do you like ‘dem apples?

Nelson Rockefeller ‘30 knew what to call Dartmouth. For one of our most illustrious and generous graduates, as for tens of thousands of proud alumni who feel no shame, the place where he went to school was most often referred to as “the College.”

Rockefeller letter.jpg

Note: The above letter accompanied Governor Rockefeller’s gift of an exceptionally important Picasso painting to the Hood Museum.

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