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Phil’s Litmus Test: Charlotte Johnson

Charlotte and Carol.jpgWhile it’s too early to evaluate just yet the quality of Phil’s performance as President — he’ll only have been here for one year as of June 10 — we can point to one upcoming test that will help us take the measure of the man. Does he have the toughness to make needed decisions as regards personnel? We’ll know soon when Dean of the College Charlotte Johnson’s three-year contract comes up for renewal next month. Pictured on the right with the dearly departed IP, Johnson has overseen three years of uninterrupted student life disasters at the College.

However the capstone on her dubious achievements was her recently recorded commentary to the Freedom Budgeters as they sat camped out in Phil’s office:

“A lot of you know this, too. The President’s top, sort of, chief responsibility, is chief fundraiser, right? So Phil’s out a lot. He’s raising money for the institution. He’s out cultivating donors. That’s what we hired him for. That’s what Presidents do. They raise money because resources are the life’s blood of the institution.”

I had people write to me stating that Johnson should have let go on the spot for such nonsense. But let’s not go that far; we can simply say that if someone like Johnson — a senior administrator at the College in charge of a annual budget in the area of $50,000,000 — doesn’t have a better understanding of the role of upper echelon leaders at Dartmouth than that, then she is suffering from terminal cluelessness. Why the heck is she in such an important job? Well, you know why.

Charlotte seems to say anything that will advance her case. If she wasn’t trained that way, then she learned to lie from the IP, who suffered from the same affliction. When Johnson faces students, they had better have their BS detectors turned up to full power. Read this series of lies to sophomores that we reported on a couple of summers ago:

This summer, when most upperclassmen were out of town, Dean of the College Charlotte Johnson introduced serious changes in the enforcement of the rules concerning the serving and consumption by students of alcohol. Among her ideas were three significant ones: random walk-throughs of students social spaces (private and College-owned); heightened enforcement of a ban on punches; and the obligation that only licensed bartenders serve hard alcohol at student events.

I attended Dean Johnson’s presentation of these ideas, at which the good Dean emphasized that these new policies simply aligned the College with rules in place at schools similar to Dartmouth. Of course, she trotted out Jim Kim’s favorite phrase, “best practices.” (This expression was well on its way to becoming a cliché when I was a Bain consultant in the mid-1980’s; today when you hear it, check your wallet.)

The only problem with the Dean’s assertion is that it is not true.

Phil, if you accept to have a person of such mediocre mind and morality at the very highest level of your administration, then you will continue to preside over a declining institution. Your subordinates must be held accountable, just as the Trustees hold you accountable for the work that you do.

Addendum: A close follower of the College comments:

While reading the article about the Phiesta-inspired altercation in Collis in today’s D, it was impossible to ignore the fact that here is yet another example of the culture that Charlotte has wrought. Many minority students at the College are now exquisitely attuned to even the barest whisper of a cultural slight, and feel entitled to raise hell about it. Way to go, Charlotte! You often hear things from administrators along the lines of “we want a campus that looks like today’s world looks.” Well guess what? This isn’t it. Guillermo Rojas ‘13 would be well-advised not to toss a drink on someone in the “real world” — simply because he does not like what they are wearing.


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