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More Students? More Professors, Too?

The D’s Presidential puff piece on May 19 — an interview with and profile of President Hanlon that contained nary a criticism — did have one nugget of information:

Although most things are in early stages, Hanlon expressed optimism about the future and ongoing conversations.

“You may have noticed … that not all our [housing] is in great shape,” he said in half-sarcasm.

In addition to renovating the Choates, the River Cluster and the Lodge in the next few years, he said the administration hopes to develop a kind of “village” in College Park near BEMA. Whether that development would be to accommodate a 10 to 25 percent increase in the student body, or simply add options, is still an ongoing conversation. [Emphasis added]

In addition, at the faculty meeting on Monday, May 22, departing Dean of the Faculty Mastanduno also mentioned the possibility of a significant increase in the size of the undergraduate student body.

College Park is a surprisingly large section of undeveloped land in the heart of the campus. It chief current use is by students trying to complete the Dartmouth Seven:

College Park.jpg

What is Phil’s (and Mike’s) goal in adding a few hundred students to each class? It’s not hard to discern: they want to make more cluster hires: groups of outside researchers focussed on solving the world’s big problems in order to up the College’s prestige (undergraduate students be damned). Of course, the problem is — and this is always a problem for an administration that chooses not to cut an ounce of bureaucratic fat (and that has a dead-in-the-water capital campaign) — how to pay for these new folks?

For Phil the answer is easy: extra students means extra tuition income. That’s the strategy he adopted at Michigan in the face of the fallout from 2008-2009 financial crisis. He told me so himself when I met with him a few months after he had arrived in Hanover. I commented that in the press he had been depicted as a determined cost-cutter; “No, no,” he said, “I balanced the budget by increasing the size of the student body.”

Oh, great. More students in Hanover — but no additional athletes — means a great deal more tuition income (remember that over half of our students pay full boat) at little extra cost, especially if you shoehorn students into bigger classes and you don’t increase the size of other facilities like the HOP or the gym or the dorms. (Remember how those 51 Fahey doubles became triples, and how additional people will be jammed into the re-built Morton Hall. Expect a lot more of the same.) That’s more money for researchers and research, even though students receive a diluted experience.

Is this the direction we all want for the College?

Addendum: The College’s current master plan shows no new buildings scheduled for construction in College Park:

Master Plan 2017.jpg

If the administration is now planning dorms for this area of campus, they should not be used for additional students, but rather to accommodate people displaced when the River Cluster dorms are demolished forever (with their footprints used by Thayer and Tuck) and the Choates are entirely replaced by handsome dorms worthy of Dartmouth.

Addendum: A reader writes in:

Note that the master plan removes nearly all parking from the center of campus. More students, more faculty and less parking. A winning Hanlon formula.

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