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All Hail All the Valedictorians

Grade inflation continues its march. Today five valedictorians and five salutatorians will be honored at Commencement — a new record total of ten students, as Brian Solomon 11’s research shows:

Valedictorians Graph1.jpg

Dartmouth Now has profiles and pictures of the honorees here, and the D reports here:

Five graduating seniors — Serena Liu ‘14, Jonathan Pedde ‘14, Ethan Portnoy ‘14, Natalie Salmanowitz ‘14 and Ezra Toback ‘14 — have been named valedictorians this year. Each has achieved a perfect 4.0 GPA at the College.

Julia Berkowitz ‘14, Laura Cressman ‘14, Charles Dong ‘13, Miriam Kilimo ‘14 and Jake Leichtling ‘14 were named salutatorians, each earning a 3.99 GPA. Dong received the honor after taking a gap year.

The Class of 2013 is abuzz with talk about the appropriateness of Charlie Dong ‘13 being named a salutatorian. While he did earn a 3.99 GPA, his “gap year” noted by The D above was the result of the fact that he was Parkhursted for stealing laptops from his fellow students. I am sure that he has been rehabilitated, but even having paid his debt to society, is it appropriate for someone with a severe disciplinary infraction on his record to be honored at Commencement? The ORC does not address the issue:

The two students who attain the first and second highest standings for the college course shall be given respectively valedictory and salutatory honors (which shall not necessarily consist of appointments as commencement speakers). No student shall be eligible for salutatory or valedictory honors who has not been for at least three years a student at Dartmouth College.

Note: The policy described in the aforementioned paragraph is under review.

I expect that this is the first time that a salutatorian has had a disciplinary record. The powers that be at the College might want to give the situation their consideration.

Addendum: As I noted recently, if current grading trends continue, all students in the Class of 2068 will be valedictorians.

Addendum: Valedictorian Jonathan Pedde ‘14 already has a Rhodes Scholarship to his name. The story of how he came to study at the College is a good one.


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