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What Were You Thinking, Håkan Tell?
I don’t believe for a minute that Classics Professor Håkan Tell was lying when he stood in front of the members of the faculty on November 12 and told them that most of Dartmouth’s peer schools had stopped offering AP credit to incoming freshmen. As chair of the Committee on Instruction and a published scholar, even if he were cut from the same cloth as fibbers like Jim Kim, Carol Folt and Jim Wright, Tell would never have knowingly made such transparently false statements. Professional spinners, like the aforementioned triumvirate, recognize the need to cover their tracks; in this case, information on AP crediting practices at Ivy and Little Ivy schools is easily available. It took me only an hour of browsing and a half dozen phone calls to run down the policies at other institutions.
In Tell’s letter to the faculty prior to its meeting, he was more limited in his assertions about peer schools, citing only Amherst, Williams and Brown in support of his proposition:
As we have seen, Amherst and Williams do not, in fact, offer any academic credit toward a degree for AP work — though Brown does.
However, at the faculty meeting itself, Tell listed additional schools when he asserted that,
“As I mentioned before, we have data, new data, of what the Ivies are doing, and some of the other colleges with a real commitment to undergraduate education.” [Emphasis added]
He then added comments about schools not previously described: Harvard, Penn, Princeton, Cornell and Yale. These remarks were all incorrect, and also misleading to a faculty that was about to vote on an issue that will significantly affect many future undergrads, and that has put Dartmouth in the national spotlight yet again.
So what happened? Registrar Meredith Braz was certainly involved in pulling together this information. After all, her office administers the recording of credits, and she prepared a redacted sample transcript that was given to the faculty prior to the meeting. Did she give Professor Tell inaccurate information, perhaps prepared by an uninformed subordinate? Or did someone like Carol Folt just advise Tell to wing it based on her own knowledge about other schools, knowing that nobody challenges her in her various assertions — even though plenty of people know that she often does not tell the truth.
I’ve written to Professor Tell to ask him what did he know and when did he know it. And how.
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…