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Where’s Our Favorite Blogger?

An alumnus writes in with a good question:

You can just sense it in the air. Tomorrow is the official start of winter. This weekend brings both Christmas and Chanukah. A week later, the New Year. A month from now, the new American President. These momentous changes can only presage one thing: sometime over the coming weeks, the 5th post on Phil Hanlon’s “President’s Blog” may be on its way.

When he began blogging last August, President Hanlon set our expectations for great things:


“…I hope my posts will get you thinking along with me. And since we all know that Dartmouth is fun, don’t be surprised if I occasionally post about things I see or hear on campus or in the course of my travels that make me proud, get me excited about where we’re headed, or remind me of why this place is so incredibly special… I aim to post a couple of times a month or when I’ve got something interesting to share, and I expect to invite occasional guest bloggers to the page, as well…”

It has only been two+ months since Phil’s last post. Perhaps some day, soon, Hanlon will find something that makes him proud, gets him excited, or reminds him why this place is so incredibly special,

Hey, the alum has a point. But really, is there anything for Phil to write about? How about the fact that Abbey D’Agostino ‘14 emerged as the hero of the Rio Olympics? Who cares?!? And that Kyle Hendricks ‘12 started Game Seven of the World Series for the Cubs? Boring! Of course, Phil could write about the ethical issues around having an oil company fund an energy research center, or even why in heavens we need an energy research center at all… but that might be too complicated. How about some insider thoughts on the upcoming capital campaign? Nah. Too practical. Does Phil have any thoughts on Sarah Waltcher ‘16, yet another Rhodes Scholarship winner from the College? Does he even know about her?

Phil’s promise, noted above, to post “a couple of times a month” has not been kept. But let’s not be to rough on the man for punctuality. He’s out there trying, with some difficulty, it seems, to impress donors.

However, what we should criticize is that he is not enough of a manager to delegate his blog writing to someone witty, creative, thoughtful and capable of tugging at the heartstrings of students, faculty and alumni (and even members of the staff). If the POTUS can have speechwriters, then Phil could/should have a blogwriter (someone from the College’s 22-person Office of Communications, perhaps?) who can sit with him for five minutes once each week and chat about ideas, and who can later submit a draft to Phil for personalizing edits. That our President can make a promise about blogging, and yet not use the opportunity to connect with the campus, says a lot about his failure to communicate.

Addendum: If you can think of anything that Phil is good at, I’m all ears. In the works is a post reviewing his strengths and weaknesses. I have a list of the latter, but I’m coming up short on the former. Please share your thoughts.

Addendum: An insider writes in:

My understanding is that Phil does have a stable of approximately six speech/letter writers that work directly for his office, but that they are too busy responding to angry alumni or parents via form letters. On the one hand they are trying to be efficient with the letter writing, but on the other the College seems to be involved in so many SNAFUs that they just can’t keep up.

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