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The Sick Man of the Ivies

The federal Education Department has come up with a Financial-Responsibility Test to evaluate the fiscal health of the nation’s schools. How did Dartmouth come out? Well, given the College’s wealth — we have about double the endowment/student of all of the Ivy schools except for HYP — you’d think that we’d get top marks. But no. After years of profligacy and waste, it turns out that the feds think that we are at the bottom of the pack:

Education Department Financial Responsibility Test.jpg

What a sad result for a school that charges more tuition than anyone in the Ancient Eight except Columbia, that pays its faculty under the odds, and is letting its buildings molder. That a skinflint can end up poor is but a reflection of the fact that we cut spending to save money everywhere — except on the staff.

I know that this line of argument is beginning to sound like a broken record (note to undergrads: a broken record is like a scratched CD that repeats a scene over and over), but to see a fine college laid low by bad strategy choices and weak management practices is hard to take. Dartmouth could be great again if the administration approached the College as an educational institution first and foremost, and not as a welfare agency providing lifetime tenure to bureaucrats and laborers.

Addendum: The methodology behind the Financial-Responsibility Test has been criticized over the years. However this is not the place to pass judgment on the feds. The point to take away is that under the consistent application of a methodology, we come out looking bad yet again.


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