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Denise Anthony on Carol Folt

I’ve often wondered how it was that the University of North Carolina hired Carol Folt to be its Chancellor — seemingly without talking to anyone at the College. Had they done so, they would have gotten an earful.

But there is a larger issue. Just how many Dartmouth faculty members would have supported Carol’s candidacy? I can offer up one name: our current Vice Provost for Academic Initiatives and Professor of Sociology Denise Anthony. She is not only highly placed in the current administration, but she carried water for Folt in chairing the committee that produced Folt’s now-completely-forgotten Strategic Plan Initiative. Here is what Anthony had to say about Folt and the SPI in an extensive profile of Folt that was published in Synapse by journalist Liz Crampton in November 2013:

Denise Anthony Folt Comp.jpg

Let’s be careful in our analysis here. Anthony is not saying that the SPI was a brilliant blueprint for Dartmouth’s future or any such comment about the quality of the document. In fact, she doesn’t even say that it was well written. All she evinces is that in supervising Anthony’s work, Carol was supposedly a stickler for output of the highest quality.

That’s all well and good and accurate as far as the it goes, but the impression one takes away from Anthony’s politic remarks is that Carol does good work, or at least did so in the case of the SPI. Such an impression seems to be the very aim of Anthony’s remark. Yet, as we have seen in detail, the reality was that the SPI was an ill-written, poorly thought-out mess. When the document was issued, we noted the below about the quality of much of the writing in it:

SPI Poor Writing.jpg

So what was Anthony doing in making her comment? Currying favor with Carol, I would say, and good-girlishly trying to fit into the narrative provided by the journalist writing the story. Anything except telling the unvarnished truth.

My general life rule is that truth-telling is a threshold test for a person. Comments like Anthony’s remark above, subtle though they may be, exclude people from any further consideration of their merits. Nonsense (or should we call it claptrap, humbug, eyewash, or just straight-out bullshit) is fairly widespread among people such as Folt, Jim Kim, Jim Wright and others. When Folt cancelled the DEP writing program at the College that I had created and funded for nine years, I was treated to a full dose. And when Jim Kim used the adjective “literary” to describe the Opportunity for Leadership statement written by the committee that picked him to be President, he could not possibly have been intending to fairly describe the miserable document. Of course, Jim Wright just went on and on. But hey, how important is truth when something other than it can further one’s endless personal ambition?

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