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Phil at the Faculty Meeting

Phil Hanlon8.jpgThe D covered the details of the May 9 faculty meeting effectively (there will be another one on the 23rd), but it didn’t note one observation (what students might refer to as a self-call) made by President Hanlon. After he commented on fundraising for faculty clusters, experiential learning, Moving Dartmouth Forward, the creation of a School of Graduate Studies, the Society of Fellows, the undergraduate houses, the promotion of diversity, and the possibility of some other “big plays” (“possibly a major institute to study global energy systems or possibly a major institute on brain behavior, or the arts and innovation district with focus on the creative mind or some few, big investments like that”) Phil said:

What it probably feels like is a moment of great opportunity, dizzying forward motion and change, and that’s because it is. That’s the kind of moment it is right now at Dartmouth. And this forward motion, let me say very clearly, this is in no way a statement that we are not good enough right where we are.

Hanlon also noted the success of fundraising by the College in the ramp-up to the long-awaited capital campaign.

What to make of such talk? First of all, Phil seems to have a PR posture that involves him talking up aspects of his administration as great successes in order to cover up weakness. “Dizzying forward motion?” Who on the faculty would agree with that statement? And who among students (who seem now to have turned angrily against Hanlon)? And as for fundraising, almost three years into Hanlon’s Presidency, shouldn’t the campaign have begun by now? It would have, had Phil received sufficient commitments to go from the “quiet phase” to a full-blown public campaign.

A more telling point: a call came from the floor at the meeting for a count to confirm that there was a quorum — were there the 75 required professors present to hold an official meeting? In fact, 80 faculty members were present, the lowest number in recent memory, according to one source. I’d say that professors are voting with their feet. Plodding Phil Hanlon may speak of his successes, and the out-of-touch Trustees may applaud him, but students and faculty see him as yet another member in a line of failed Dartmouth Presidents. After three years, I do, too.

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