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Phil’s Big Ideas

Type in the words “Phil Hanlon’s Vision” in the search box of the Dartmouth webpage and you get 710 hits, but I’m not quite sure that Phil gets the vision thing. There is even a Big Ideas website associated with the Dartmouth College Fund.

So what is it that rankles me about this ad in the January/February 2016 edition of the Alumni Magazine? Do you see pie in the sky above Dartmouth Hall, too?

DAM Big Ideas.jpg

Let’s agree to check back with Phil in five years and see if his confidence in the College’s new special projects was justified. Has the big money invested by the administration in these cluster programs actually ended global poverty, cured cancer, halted climate change, fostered world peace, or won any awards for vacuous advertising?

Addendum: As 2015 ends, I can safely say that the Hanlon honeymoon is over. After two and a half years, Phil and Provost Dever had better start doing more than nibbling at the edges of Dartmouth’s rank-eroding problems. The knives aren’t out yet, but the sound of sharpening can be heard in Hanover.

Addendum: A close observer of the College writes in:

“We can foster world peace. We can half climate change. We can cure cancer. We can end global poverty.” But we can’t run a highly-esteemed, deeply-loved 246-year-old college sitting on a $4.5 billion endowment… without continuously embarrassing the institution and ourselves.

Addendum: And an alumnus notes (with no little panache):

“We” can do this, “We” can do that; one wonders whether Phil Hanlon or the College progressives have ever even heard of Friedrich Hayek.

Society is not an engineering problem, it is more like an ecology. Yet the dream of a collective rational management of human affairs, which is at the center of progressive eschatology, lives on notwithstanding one abject failure after another.

It is not surprising that as the College sinks ever lower, an appeal to this salvationist vision should be put forth. The unquestioned commitment to a shallow ideology without any apparent recognition of the limitations of such beliefs is a telling sign of the decline of the American university.

Here’s wishing you all the best in the New Year!


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