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ABC: Anybody But Carol

The College is about to enter a difficult period of transition. Jim Kim will all but certainly get the World Bank job. Like pre-negotiated administrative appointments in Hanover, President Obama locked in his choice when he agreed to give the Europeans the top position at the IMF last year. If there is any public criticism of Kim, we can expect spin from Washington along the following lines: “Sure he had some difficulties at Dartmouth, but the World Bank job is a much better fit for him.” Of course, that smokescreen elides Kim’s inability to choose competent subordinates, manage crises, articulate a strategy for the College, and direct the institution on a day-by-day basis. But we need not go any further on those points; Kim was only in Hanover to punch his ticket and then move on to better things. Members of the faculty saw that from before his arrival.

So what now for Dartmouth? One can expect that Kim’s cronies Chief Financial Officer/Executive Vice President Steven Kadish and his wife Vice President for Campus Planning and Facilities Linda Snyder will be in a southbound convoy with Kim, leaving the College in the lurch. Who is left? I know. I know. I can feel you shiver, too.

Folt1.jpgCarol Folt. She has been all over the Trustees for the past three years. A bureaucratic operator of her experience knew well that Jim Kim would not be long for Hanover, and now she’ll put herself forward as the interim-but-I-want-to-be-permanent President. After all, she has been the College’s day-to-day leader for several years now, particularly during Jim Kim’s lengthy absences from Hanover (now we all know where Kim has been and what he has been doing).

Will the Trustees buy it? Folt pitched herself with no little energy to the last Presidential Search Committee, but she turned out to be a non-starter. At that time, the faculty in great numbers made its disdain for her known — though their opinion does not seem to have made its way to Jim Kim. Perhaps his most wrong-headed decision during his cup of coffee in Hanover was picking Carol Folt as his Provost.

Ordinarily it is difficult to prove a negative proposition, but not in this instance: Carol Folt has achieved nothing positive in her two years as Jim Kim’s Provost and in her six years as Jim Wright’s Dean of the Faculty. Can anyone point to any meaningful improvements in the College’s academic or residential life? To significant hires? To innovative new programs? Jim Kim and Folt’s supposed cost-cutting efforts, presented in an incoherent fashion, were twice rebuked by the faculty (here and here). And her current efforts at strategic planning are a regular Hanover party joke punchline. Has she done anything at all of note? Anything?

Will the Trustees accept her this time around, as seems likely? Or will the faculty rise up, either discretely or vocally, and let its voice be heard? Folt has all of Jim Kim’s effectiveness (that is to say, zero), but none of his superficial charm. Her only merit seems to be that she could be Dartmouth’s first female President. Otherwise, like Jim Wright following Jim Freedman’s resignation, she would appear to have a lock on the job by virtue of having occupied virtually all of the College’s other senior positions.

Folt has topped Dartblog’s list of ineffective and wasteful administrators since I first started writing. Her choice as acting-President or for the full job would be an utter disaster for the College. If you care about Dartmouth, do what you can to prevent this appointment from happening. We can’t afford yet another shallow, duplicitous, ineffectual President for this great institution.


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