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How Dartmouth Overspends (Wildly)

(For students returning to campus, we are re-printing a few highlights from the last term.)

Yesterday we saw how Dartmouth spends $105,491,000 more each year than Brown University, even though Brown has 36% more students than the College. In 2013 Brown cost only $729,782,000 to run vs. $835,273,000 for Dartmouth.

Let’s work that out on a per-student basis. Of course, to do so, we’ll need to take out sponsored research, which can skew these expense numbers. And while we are at it, let’s compare Dartmouth and Brown with several other predominantly undergraduate schools in New England:

Dartmouth Per Student Cost Comp.jpg

Yikes! The cost per student at Dartmouth is 35.38% higher than at plushy Williams, and it is 56.73% higher than at Brown. After that, the comparison gets really ugly: 76.82% higher than at Tufts; 139.01% higher than at Boston College; and $142.15% higher than at Brandeis.

Here’s a suggestion for Phil’s management team: get down to these schools, or better yet, hire some rigorous consultants, and obtain the following information:

● How many people each school has working in its various functional areas;

● What they are paid for their various bureaucratic jobs; and,

● The value of the benefits that they receive in addition to their wages.

Then, as my first-grade English teacher used to say: compare and contrast with the Dartmouth bureaucracy.

After that, act. Forcefully. If we could just get our per-student cost down to Brown’s level (but keep our current level of sponsored research), we would cut $236,623,634 from the current budget. Not an unachievable target, especially given that the cost of doing business and living in Providence is higher than it is in Hanover.

But that level of cost reduction is not the real goal. The $236,623,634 figure is just a preliminary indication of how much fat there is in the College’s budget. Rather than cutting all this money, Phil could re-allocate about half of that amount to reducing the draw on the endowment, and use the other half to dramatically trim the cost of tuition, room and board, and fees; re-build embarrassingly decrepit dorms like the Choates; and hire more faculty members in order to make a Dartmouth education the finest in the land. My word, you could almost say that this was the core of a strategic plan.

Addendum: The above is textbook Bain & Company analysis, the kind we provided to huge, bloated companies that were fighting for their lives. Phil should start getting our expenses into line before we get to that point.

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