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Which Product Do You Want to Sell?

Of some people it has been said, “They could sell snow to Eskimos.” Actually, they couldn’t. No matter how good a sales rep, nobody can sell a weak product for more than a short period of time (“You can fool some of the people some of the time…,” etc.). And so it is at Dartmouth. There are two high level jobs open now (not counting the Dean of the Faculty, and, ahem, the Provost position). Which one would you like to fill? And where might you stand a better chance of being successful?

Try on the Vice President, Presidential Initiatives and Principal Gifts for size. Phil will have been in Hanover for four years in June, and a capital campaign has long been in the offing, but our President is still searching for a worthy to fill this critical position — I say “still” because I did a post on June 23, 2016 about the open job. Here’s the first part of the current Help Wanted ad:

Advancement VP.jpg

My June post cited a memo dated March 8, 2016 that announced that Michael Kiefer was leaving as VP. Wow. Phil is gearing up for the capital campaign, and the staffer who is supposed to land the big ones has effectively been gone for a year now.

What does that tell you? It tells me that nobody serious in the fundraising world wants to work with either temperamental Bob Lasher ‘88 or feckless Phil Hanlon ‘77 — whose administration offers almost nothing in the way of checkbook-opening initiatives or leaders who can inspire donors to be generous. It also says that Phil is a terrible judge of character — by all reports he still loves Bob Lasher, when all about him have lost respect for the man and his inabilities. Judging character is probably the top requirement for a senior manager.

By way of contrast, let’s turn to Tuck, where an Executive Director of Admissions is needed:

Tuck Admissions Director.jpg

Of course, the College receives many more applications that it has spots, too, but Tuck can offer a unique selling proposition: the smallest of the major b-schools; a tight sense of community; by far the most loyal alumni (as measured by the percentage of graduates who give money each year); and a sense that the school understands itself and is on the move upwards from its already comfortable position in the Top 10.

I’d take that status any day over the drifting College, where good initiatives die on the vine for lack of funding, even as tens of millions of dollars are wasted on a bloated and inefficient bureaucracy each year.

Addendum: Note also the distinction between the first paragraphs in each of these two recruiting advertisements. Phil’s bunch provides an overview of the general strengths and prestige of the institution; Tuck’s ad emphasizes today’s excellent student experience. Need I say more?


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