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Provost Dever’s New Year’s Platitudes
A day at Dartmouth would not be complete without a message from the College about diversity and inclusiveness. Rumor has it that ever-politically-correct Provost Dever has gone so far as to program Microsoft Word on her computer to add these terms to each paragraph of every e-mail that she writes:
What pap. Does such a memo befit the academic leader of a world-class academic institution? Of course, we might ask how the academy’s and Dartmouth’s emphasis on D&I is working out. Here’s one answer.
Provost Dever has certainty underwhelmed during her first eighteen months in Hanover. She is invisible to the faculty; her communications are awkwardly written (she a professor of English and gender studies); and as far as academic initiatives go, well, she does not have much to her credit. What was Phil thinking in choosing her as the critical hire in his administration?
Addendum: Another rumor circulating on campus is that the Provost’s New Year’s message in 2017 will focus on academic excellence, creative scholarship, and the life of the mind. Let me quash that one right now. Nobody in the current administration is interested in stuff like that.
Addendum: A community member writes in:
Provost Dever’s message is a monument to high-level administrative ambiguity. It is self-referential and self-adulatory (our “focused attention, consistent communication, regular assessment, and institutional accountability”) — all, of course, “in concert with the core values expressed in the College mission statement.” The top-down approach is painfully evident in how “the work of her office” will take the lead in developing “a diverse, vibrant intellectual community.”
One peculiarity of universities as intellectual communities is that the most creative individuals are at the bottom rungs of academic careers, not at the administrative top, and that talented senior colleagues, deans and (elsewhere, at least) provosts have a role in fostering the careers of such talented individuals without mandating re-education “training” sessions for communities of scholars already engaged in recruitment and sensitive to issues of diversity at a pragmatic level. In the case of this Provost-note, we are referred back to Phil’s First Words, the Provost’s earlier words, and the promise of opportunities to hear of top-down reports, study sessions and Town Hall meetings. (Perhaps the Provost’s words and the mission statement could be printed up in little red books that community members can carry with them at all times.)
I particularly like the exhortation to discuss the “core principles” of diversity and inclusion rather than allow “reactive responses to individual events.” Nope, we will “move forward” and not dwell on (or learn from?) the inchoate administrative responses to events in the immediate past.
As a source document for approved jargon, this note cannot be beat. Reading between the lines, I am certain that it augurs a continued flow of high-priced outside consultants (“new relationships with top programs for underrepresented scholars”) to help us see the light.
Compare and Contrast: Meanwhile, in an interview with Tuck Today magazine, incoming Dean Matt Slaughter shows that it is possible to articulate an institution’s purposes without sounding like an automaton:
Addendum: A wit writes in:
Are the rumors correct that e-mails from the Provost will in future be coming from Carolynclusion Deversity?
August 14, 2013
Breaking: Of Crips and Bloods and Memories of Ghetto Parties
History repeats itself, first as tragedy and then as farce, or sometimes it just repeats itself. From the New York Times on November 30, 1998: At Dartmouth College, white students at a ”ghetto party” dressed…
June 25, 2013
Dean of the College Charlotte Johnson’s War on Students Part (2/2)
Part 1, Part 2 Today’s post again recounts the events that befell the Freshman. However, the content of the Hanover Police department report reproduced in this space yesterday is supplemented by information from my own…
October 18, 2009
When Love Beckoned in 52nd Street
We were at San Francisco’s BIX last evening, enjoying prosecco, cheese, and a bit of music. A full year of inhabitation in Northern California has unraveled to me no decent venue for proper lounging, but…
October 9, 2009
D Afraid of a Little Competish
So our colleague and Dartblog writer Joe Asch informed me that the D has rejected our cunning advertising campaign. Uh-oh. The Dartmouth is widely known as a breeding ground for instant New York Times successes,…
September 4, 2009
How Regents Should Reign
As Dartmouth alumni proceed through the legal hoops necessary to defuse a Board-packing plan—which put in unhappy desuetude an historic 1891 Agreement between alumni and the College guaranteeing a half-democratically-elected Board of Trustees—it strikes one…
August 29, 2009
Election Reform Study Committee
If you are an alum of the College on the Hill, you may have received a number of e-mails of late beseeching your input for a new arm of the College’s Alumni Control Apparatus called…
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