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News, commentary, criticism and praise for the College on the Hill, enlivened with history, culture and travel when we feel so moved.
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For a Re-building President
— End class oversubscriptions: More easily recommended than done, I know. To bring back students’ ability to be admitted to the courses that they want — a given at Dartmouth until the late 1990’s — faculty in some departments will have to be trimmed to the benefit of other disciplines. There will be howls, but there is no more pressing need at the College today than this one.
— Attract additional engaging teachers. We can’t just double the size of the Economics department to satisfy student wishes; students should be attracted to departments outside their usual areas of interest by the arrival in Hanover of exciting young teacher/scholars. An active President can be directly involved in this effort.
— Revamp foreign study programs so that they are challenging and rewarding for students (no more “LSPlay”), and make participation in a Dartmouth foreign program mandatory for all undergraduates. With the right emphasis and teaching, studying abroad with 16 other students and a devoted faculty member can be immensely rewarding — especially if students are assigned enough real work so that they aren’t tempted to use their EurRail pass each weekend from Friday evening after class until dawn on Monday.
— Rethink sophomore summer. In typical doddering fashion, various administrations have been talking about this problem for years, but nothing has been done. It’s time to get serious. Jim Wright spoke repeatedly about the opportunity, with no result, and Jim Kim often suggested a new Dickey-style Great Issues course for the sophomore class. That’s a good idea, but to date, other than a speaker series for the benefit of Hanover residents and a single small undergraduate course, nothing at all has been achieved. There are plenty of good proposals out there, but the will to do something has been absent, as in so many other areas.
— Dedicate the institution at all levels to producing students who are polished writers and engaging public speakers (and you might throw in some familiarity with basic accounting, too). Critical thinking is of little use if students can’t communicate effectively; and any professor can tell you that we graduate far too few students who are strong in these areas.
— Re-establish the dormitories as social centers by allowing students, if they wish, to return to a home dorm for all four years. The creation of cohesive residential communities should be a top priority at Dartmouth, where the D Plan fragments student relationships like no other system of academic organization. Dorms can and should be a counterweight and complement to the Greek system, but they can’t fulfill this role if a third or more students leave a dorm every term never to return.
— Ask the faculty to devote more time to interactions with students. Where will they get that time, you ask? Easy. Give our professors exclusive parking privileges in the central campus; 9-5 administrators and staffers should park in the satellite lots and take the College’s shuttle buses from there. They have different schedules than professors. In awarding this privilege to the faculty, you’ll free up an extra 2-3 new hours per week of their time. They should use it for students.
— Encourage innovation in course creation. For the last 15 years, the Provost and Dean of the Faculty has done nothing to support interdisciplinary work, though they sure talk about it a lot. (This means you, Carol.) Creative, imaginative people in the Provost and Dean of the Faculty positions could encourage exciting programs like the immensely popular Humanitates Vitae course that was cancelled due to budget cuts in 2003.
There are plenty more ways to improve students’ experience at the College, if only the administration would devote itself to this effort. A first step: listen to the faculty. Once the above list and a few other good ideas are put in place, we can move on to more imaginative endeavors. But for the time being, let’s find a President who will stick to the knitting.
Addendum: The Search Committee should look closely at any candidate’s ability to recruit energetic, able administrators. Wright/Folt/Kim were notable for their predilection for lesser lights — the better to stand out themselves. Talented Presidents understand that the people they hire are a critical factor in the quality of any administration.
August 14, 2013
Breaking: Of Crips and Bloods and Memories of Ghetto Parties
History repeats itself, first as tragedy and then as farce, or sometimes it just repeats itself. From the New York Times on November 30, 1998: At Dartmouth College, white students at a ”ghetto party” dressed…
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…
- The Dartmouth College Case
- 2007 Trustee Election
- Dartmouth Constitution
- Sunday Morning Sinatra
- The Indian Wars
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