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Phil Softpedals It

Hanlon3.jpgAfter listening to the College’s new President give a speech to the Dartmouth Club of the Upper Valley on Friday, we can safely say that Phil Hanlon ‘77 didn’t get this far in life on charisma alone. He is — after John Kemeny — the second most spellbinding mathematician I have ever heard. All kidding aside, Phil’s speech was shorter than Search Committee Chair Bill Helman ‘80’s introduction, and the best gloss I can come up with is that it showed Hanlon’s unpretentiousness. He referred to his experience at Michigan only once, and he sketched his sense of the College’s future with little more than general themes.

That’s fair. He’s been on the job only a couple of months, and he has been energetic in reaching out to great numbers of students, faculty, and even alumni.

In his speech Phil did make several suggestions that would seem to indicate that his top priority will be to inject greater life into the faculty and the overall intellectual life of the College:

— More graduate students and postdoctoral scholars will come to Hanover in the thought that young scholars bring “energy” to a school and to its faculty.

— The number of interdisciplinary and experiential learning programs will be expanded in order to bring the disparate parts of the College together in productive ways. Phil mentioned Jim Kim’s Center for Health Care Delivery Science in this area, along with other efforts like the Tuck Bridge program, and he opined that, “It is easy to ride a horse in the direction that it is moving.”

— The College will engage in “cluster hiring,” to significantly strengthen weak parts of the faculty.

Phil also briefly addressed the issues of sexual assault, binge drinking and hazing, noting that Jen Messina ‘93, a national expert in these subjects, was already working with the College.

Addendum: Phil was asked by a member of the audience how his Presidency would be different from that of Jim Kim, and he graciously declined to answer, stating that a direct comparison would not be appropriate. He then went on to say that he would be in close contact with faculty, students and staff, and he hoped to be visible on campus. I took that as a pretty good, even pointed, response — a clear contrast to Jim Kim, who spent more time job-hunting than he did getting to know the College or its alumni.

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