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Chaos in Spending and Personnel

One can glean a great deal of information from the want ads. Who knew that Phil Hanlon’s vision (Ha!) included the College embarking on “the largest program of strategic investment in its history”:

Vice President for Presidential Initiatives Comp.jpg

I have never seen any announcement to this effect, nor read any hard number in the College’s own press releases.

That said, how the College is going to bring in all the money that it hopes to raise in the capital campaign is beyond me. As we have seen, cash is going out a lot faster than it is coming in, so much so that the administration has had to go to the capital markets to raise $250 million in a bond offering. And the formal announcement of the campaign itself seems to have been delayed until Phil’s fourth or even fifth year in office. Silence regarding the total goal of the campaign is not a sign of successful fundraising, despite the administration’s protestations that all is going swimmingly.

Behind the scenes, the Advancement Office is still in turmoil. As we have also noted, working for Bob Lasher ‘88 is no picnic; three high-ranking managers reporting to Lasher have left recently their positions after short tenures at the College:

Michael Kiefer3.jpgFirst to go was Vice President for Presidential Initiatives and Principal Gifts Michael Kiefer:

From: Advancement Business Operations
Date: Tuesday, March 8, 2016 at 1:02 PM
Subject: Staff Update
This announcement is sent on behalf of Bob Lasher

Our colleague, Michael Kiefer, has expressed a desire to live in the Boston area where he plans to join his wife, Carol, his daughter and son-in-law, and his new grandchild, Oliver, after almost two years of living apart from his family. Working toward this goal while retaining Michael’s talents on behalf of Dartmouth Advancement, I’m pleased to report that he will assume a new post in Presidential Initiatives and Principal Gifts (PIPG) as Senior Philanthropic Advisor. This change will take place on Wednesday, June 1, 2016. He will continue to lead the PIPG program until that time.

As we make this change, I want to note that Michael’s work reflects a real commitment to Dartmouth College and President Hanlon’s vision. Over the past 18 months he has guided the articulation of this important new program within Dartmouth Advancement and forged strong relationships with a number of Dartmouth’s most committed alumni and parents in support of our academic initiatives. We look forward to seeing Michael continue to build a strong practice within PIPG, devoting 100 percent of his time to frontline fundraising once the spring term concludes.

We will launch a search for a Vice President of Presidential Initiatives and Principal Gifts imminently.

So Kiefer misses his grandchild and his family, does he? (Ha!, again.) He wasn’t even in the job for two years, having begun work on September 2, 2014. His press release noted at the time that he “plans to reside in Hanover with his wife, Carol Solomon, an art historian and curator.” Maybe he could not find a house, or maybe he saw that working for Bob Lasher was not something on which he was willing to bet longterm.

By the way, the help wanted ad above is part of the College’s effort to replace Kiefer

Ann McElwain.jpgThe next staffer to flee the unhappy Advancement office is Executive Director of Leadership Giving Ann McElwain. On July 1 she will become the chief development officer at the Carnegie Institution for Science. Like Kiefer, she was a senior member of the fundraising team, and her departure erases the results of several years of relationship-building with major donors — she began working at the College less than three years ago in September 2013.

Patricia Jackson1.jpgFinally, though Patricia Jackson’s LinkedIn page still lists her as Bob Lasher’s Chief of Staff (having assumed the role in May 2014), today she is no longer in that job. An undated page on the Dartmouth-Hitchcock website describes her current position as Interim Vice President for the Geisel/Dartmouth-Hitchcock Joint Development Office.

Alert readers of this space will recall that on October 1, 2014 we reported that both Jackson and Michael Kiefer were hired to backstop an obviously inexperienced and temperamental Bob Lasher. The short time that they spent in their positions speaks to the impossibility of working with Lasher. In the same post in 2014 we wrote, “Rumors are circulating that a good many Development officers have resumés out with other institutions.” We weren’t wrong.

At the start of his capital campaign Phil has an ongoing problem in Advancement. Is he manager enough to do something about it?


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