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Fundraising Problems Continue

When Phil Hanlon announced on September 23, 2016 that the Irving Oil family was to contribute $80 million towards a $160 million energy institute at the College, I had already heard rumors about the institute for several years. Irving was to give half of the total amount; the rest was to come from other donors. However, I raised my eyebrows when the announcement noted that at that point — seemingly after several years of effort — only $33 million had been raised from various, non-Irving contributors:

Irving Anouncement $113 M.jpg

One would think that Phil would have raised the entire $160 million amount prior to the big announcement — especially for a signature project like the energy institute.

Smelling a rat (as I am wont to do), I decided to keep tabs on fundraising for the energy institute. On June 6, I wrote to Diana Lawrence, the College’s amiable spokesperson (one of twenty-two people in the Office of Communications) to inquire about the institute’s progress:

Irving Funding Lawrence E-mail.jpg

Even though no numbers were forthcoming in Diana’s response, it was good to see that ten months after the initial announcement, fundraising for this important project was “ahead of schedule.”

However — um, with the Hanlon administration, there is always a “however,” don’t you think? — the following item recently appeared in the September/October 2017 issue of the Dartmouth Alumni Magazine:

DAM Irving Funding Note1.jpg

As the math-minded among you will have already noted, if $47 million remains to be raised to reach the $160 million target, then only $33 million has been raised to date beyond the Irvings’ initial $80 million gift — which means that not a penny has been donated over the last year to the energy institute. And even if Bob Lasher’s Advancement division had planned to raise no money at all during the first year of public fundraising for the energy institute (very unlikely), it was inaccurate for Advancement to tell Diana (and for Diana to tell me) that fundraising was “ahead of schedule.”

As we have noted previously, Phil is just a terrible fundraiser (here and here). I mean, we are smack in the middle of the endless quiet phase of a capital campaign that is supposed to bring in about $2.5 billion, and Phil can’t scare up $47 million over the course of a year for the campus initiative that is closest to his heart?

The man that Phil hired to run fundraising at the College, Bob Lasher ‘88, is terrible in many ways, too (here and here) — which leads in turn to the conclusion that Phil is also an awful judge of character and an indecisive manager who can’t cut loose an under-achieving subordinate (See also: Dever, Carolyn).

Will the Trustees ever act in the face of such expensive incompetence?

Addendum: I checked with the folks at the Alumni Magazine regarding the accuracy of their figures. They confirmed the numbers after consulting their notes, which dated from the end of July (when they fact-checked their information and closed the fall issue).


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