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Sloppy, Sloppy, Sloppy
Sorry to hammer on this theme, but when the Presidential Search Committee produces a second-rate document as it seeks to fill the College’s critical job, the members of the committee should be taken to task. How about these two sentences to lead off a paragraph in the Appendix to the Presidential Position Profile:
Two-thirds of eligible students (sophomores through seniors) join fraternities, sororities, and coeducational houses. There are three coed organizations, seventeen fraternities, and eleven sororities to which about seventy percent of Dartmouth sophomores, juniors, and seniors belong.
Not only are the two sentences redundant, but somehow the “two-thirds” figure in the first one has become “seventy percent” in the second.
Commentary in the Appendix about enrollments at Thayer and Tuck is as follows:
Thayer School of Engineering
Founded in 1867, Thayer School comprises both the undergraduate Department of Engineering Sciences and a professional school with degrees through the doctorate (BE, MEM, MS, PhD). Fifty-two faculty members serve approximately 2,270 undergraduate students and 1,675 students enrolled in graduate courses per year.
Tuck School of Business
The school has sixty-one faculty members and approximately 580 MBA students, representing more than thirty nationalities.
Looks like Thayer is a lot bigger than Tuck, doesn’t it? In fact, according to the Dartmouth Fact Book, Tuck had 579 students in 2011, and Thayer had a total of 257 students. Perhaps the Thayer students take six or seven courses per year, and a cumulative calculation gets you to the high figure? But to an aspiring President of Dartmouth College, this document leave the impression that Thayer is almost three times the size of Tuck.
Overall, the appendix to the Presidential Position Profile seems to have been born of a clean first draft, but it shows evidence of haphazard revising and internally contradictory statistics. In contrast, the main document is a shambles.
The problem, or so it seems to me, is the lack of central editor/fact checker. No single person bore the responsibility for the final document (or, at least, no person who can write and count competently) and, as a result, each participant in its creation seems to have assumed that someone else would catch the various errors. Nobelist Richard Feynman once said that if the packaging of an industrial product claimed that it had been vetted by 90 engineers, you could be sure that nobody had looked at it seriously.
The College comes out of this flawed process looking sloppy, indeed.
Addendum: IP Folt’s fingerprints are all over the Presidential Position Profile and its appendix. Beyond the documents’ pedestrian writing, self-calls like this — “Participation in the strategic planning task forces has been broad-based, intensive, enthusiastic, and well led.” — and inaccurate bows to Jim Kim tell the tale. For example:
“During Dr. Kim’s tenure, Dartmouth developed groundbreaking health policy initiatives, secured a naming gift for the Medical School.”
As this space reported in April, the Geisel gift has been in place for many years, and its existence has been clearly reported in the College accounts. The College rushed its announcement this past spring only to distract from the embarrassment of the Andrew Lohse hazing controversy. President Kim played no role in “securing” the gift — as both he and IP Folt know.
October 18, 2009
When Love Beckoned in 52nd Street
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October 9, 2009
D Afraid of a Little Competish
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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…