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Phil in the Valley News

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Valley News logo.jpgThe Valley News ran a profile of Phil on Sunday, and the focus was listening, listening, listening. That’s fine, as far as it goes, and Phil cautioned patience regarding the articulation of his goals for the College:

He’s read Dartmouth’s strategic plan and is beginning to think about the direction he’d like to see the college go.

But he’s not quite ready to lay out his vision. He’s begun proposing ideas to faculty, students and alumni, but he doesn’t think he’ll be equipped to talk about his plans until late fall or even spring.

“When it’s time for me to say, ‘OK, … here is where I think we need to go and here’s why,’ I think that needs to be delivered in a single, logical comprehensive statement,” Hanlon said. “But what follows that are the actual programs that will implement that direction and those will come out, I’m sure, over time.”

That said, I don’t think that we’ll have to wait that long. Phil’s choice for the next Provost will give us a sense of the directions he’s contemplating. Insider/Outsider? Big Science/Humanism? The word is that the applicant pool is strong, with many candidates now attracted to Dartmouth because, for the first time in 15 years, a competent, honest leader is in Parkhurst.

Additionally, we’ll see whether Phil is in any kind of a hurry or not by what he decides to do with the Dean of the Faculty and Dean of the College positions. Faculty Dean Mike Mastanduno is a nice guy, but he’s not going to drive the College forward any time soon. And Dean of the College Charlotte Johnson continues to flounder. She has been utterly invisible since Phil got to town; I bet that she is looking for a job. If Phil keeps her, there will be reason to worry about his discernment and his resolve.

As we have said before, good hiring is everything. The best strategy in the world is meaningless if you don’t have the troops to put it into place. Let’s hope that Phil chooses his top lieutenants well.

Addendum: It seems that IP Folt’s strategic plan is well and truly buried; it will never be heard from again, except, perhaps, if one or two of its multitudinous goals happen to coincide with Phil’s vision. The plan will not guide anyone. What a waste.

Addendum: Phil’s wife, Gail Gentes, is making a good impression. The VN had a brief note about her, too:

As for [Phil Hanlon’s wife Gail] Gentes, she has already had lunch and dinner with Susan DeBevoise Wright, the wife of the college’s former president, James Wright, and the two are working on a United Way campaign.

“I hear that Susan was a rock star,” Gentes said. “She did give me some advice, but mostly she’s just a cheerleader for me.”

Hmmm. Didn’t Jim Wright leave the President’s Office in 2009? Wasn’t some other woman the First Lady between 2009 and 2012? Why hasn’t Gentes consulted Jim Kim’s spouse, Younsook Lim? Oh, I know. Becasue Lim never actually spent any time being the First Lady, so she’d have nothing to say.

Addendum: An interview with Phil, as part of an extensive Bloomberg report on Dartmouth’s social problems, contained this new information:

Hanlon has made it clear that he wants a campus welcome to all. His older brother, Greg, was gay and died of AIDS in the 1980s. Hanlon said that Greg’s experiences have strengthened his commitment to making Dartmouth inclusive.

In addition, Charlotte Johnson was quoted several times in the piece, breaking her unexplained, several-months-long silence.

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