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A Self-Congratulatory Phil

The Valley News ran a four-year profile of Phil Hanlon today. The first half of the piece gives you the party line, and the second focuses gently on Phil’s shortcomings, particularly in the eyes of the faculty. Most notable is Phil’s unvarnished self-regard. Even if nobody else thinks so, he’s quite sure that he’s a great Dartmouth President:

“Like Kemeny,” he exhorted the wider community in another 2015 speech, this one announcing Moving Dartmouth Forward, a slate of student-life reforms intended to curb risky behavior, “we must recognize a moment in time when change is necessary to reach our potential.”

“It was a time of amazing change and forward motion here,” Hanlon said of Kemeny’s era during an interview last week. “I think we’re at a similar time. We’re at a similar moment right now when the campus is really aspiring to great things.”

Sitting in his Parkhurst Hall office, the 62-year-old Hanlon ticked off a list of achievements from a sheet of paper on the conference table in front of him. After four years as president — his official anniversary is July 1 — there was a lot to talk about.

There was his faculty cluster hiring initiative, which is fully funded, he said, and for which recruitment is underway. There was the society of fellows, a group of early- and mid-career academics who are adding “incredible energy” to campus, he said in his quiet, earnest voice, still looking at the paper. There was the Dartmouth Entrepreneurial Network, a campus incubator that is “generating a lot of energy and excitement”; the establishment of an independent graduate school; a “very ambitious” sustainability plan; a new, $160 million energy studies institute….

“I think our reputation’s turned a corner,” he said. “I think the word’s out that great things are going on at Dartmouth.”

Note that the Dartmouth Entrepreneurial Network was entirely a Kim-era project, and none of the other achievements cited by Hanlon relate to undergraduate academic life.

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