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More on Rick Mills

A longtime Dartblog reader with an insider’s knowledge of the administration writes in about Rick Mills (as he is known to his friends):

Mills Sounds Like a Weakling….

Where is his experience in finance - especially of the oversight of sophisticated public and private borrowing programs of the type Dartmouth is now engaged in? Where is his experience running a business? It is all nowhere……………Dartmouth has been snookered again by a headunter…

Hmm. An saying in big, dumb companies once was, “nobody was ever fired for buying IBM” — meaning that Big Blue was the safe choice for a large corporate buyer. If things went south, a bureaucrat could not be blamed for purchasing computer equipment from the biggest player in the industry.

All that to say, Rick Mills is decidedly not IBM. In many ways, as we saw yesterday, he is an unconventional choice as the College’s EVP/CFO. Phil Hanlon has taken a risk in hiring him.

Is that good? Yes and no. Yes, because people who take risks have a chance of achieving special things. Yes, because taking a risk implies confidence, decisiveness, and the ability to depart from the expected. But, maybe, no, because risk-takers can be wrong. However, we can’t determine that yet.

Phil’s first big decision will tell us something about him. A year from now, the word will be out on Rick Mills. We’ll know if he is the EVP/CFO that the College needs, or not. And we’ll know if Phil Hanlon has a nose for talent, and if his instincts for departing from the beaten path are any good, or not.

Fingers crossed.

Addendum: My critical correspondent is correct that, at least on paper, Rick Mills has no experience in high finance. But let’s hope that his attention to detail, especially in the area of cost reduction, means that the College will have no need to add to its exploding debt. Also, any hire cannot cover all the bases. The College needs a detail man right now, someone who can bring sanity back to out-of-control administrative spending.


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