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Reviewing the Strategic Plan
Let’s begin our review of the Strategic Plan. Afrer all, we have plenty of time, given that the Plan was released at the very end of term — the day before The D ceased publishing for the quarter. What an interesting choice by the College.
First off, the various reports put out by IP Folt and her assembled committees are not a strategic plan at all, at least not as we would have defined one at Bain & Company. A plan involves specific goals, defined actions, measurable results, a timeline and a budget, none of which IP Folt deemed necessary to include in her verbose documents — most of which read like notes from brainstorming sessions. Of course, there is no problem with proposing interesting and even radical ideas, but to publish so many half-baked thoughts under the rubric of a strategic plan is, well, what can I say?; let’s file this material with Folt’s usual third-rate intellectual output. You see, for Carol, words and paper matter in and of themselves. Actions? Not so much.
However, the deeper flaw in the Strategic Plan exercise is how infrequently the content of these reports shows an understanding of present-day Dartmouth. As an example, next week we’ll look in depth at the contents of the Students of the Future report, but to start now, let’s review some topics that were not in it:
● Course Oversubscriptions: No reference is made to the fact that since about 2000 students at the College have been routinely turned away from oversubscribed courses. This feature, a common one at lesser schools, was unknown at Dartmouth prior to that year. I’ve spoken to hundreds of pre-2000 alumni about this subject; they hardly understand the idea of being turned away from a course. Not so students today.
● Poor Writing: The declining quality of student writing is a subject of concern for almost all members of the faculty, and it has been for many years. The problem is not limited to Dartmouth. Perhaps the idea is subsumed in the Students of the Future report’s section about, ugh, “competencies,” but nowhere is the critical skill of writing referred to by name in the report. Remember: I write therefore I think.
● Summer Term: Making something special of sophomore summer has been on the table for years. Jim Wright spoke about this goal repeatedly. The presence alone on campus of the entire sophomore class is a real opportunity; the term could be much more than Camp Dartmouth. Is the College ever going to realize the potential of this otherwise lackluster quarter?
● Dormitory Continuity: The report proposes that the College create various residential intellectual/living communities, and obliquely refers to the lack of continuity in dorm living; but beyond this wave to the College’s fractured residential life, it does not explore in any detail one of Dartmouth’s most serious problems.
● Great Issues: And what of Jim Kim’s signature project, his desire to restore John Dickey’s memorable innovation that brought together the entire senior class each week to examine weighty questions? Not a word. On this topic we can safely say that never has so much hot air been spewed by so many to so little effect.
All that said, I expect that these issues actually did surface in the Students of the Future committee’s discussions, but at that point Carol or one of her minions nixed the topics. That’s how things work at Dartmouth these days.
Addendum: Comments on the SP are due on April 15, which has folks on the Alumni Council steamed — they don’t meet until May 16-18. But then, given the AC’s past record, it will probably just vote unanimously to support the SP.
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…