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Faculty Derides Enrollment Increase
At yesterday’s meeting of the faculty, two professors, Art History Professor Mary Coffey and Government Professor Stephen Brooks, spoke critically about Phil’s plans to expand the size of the undergraduate student body by 10-25%:
“I know you’d like to have this conversation this winter when the task force has completed its work, which is fine, I mean, I look forward to that, but just from what you said here today and what little I’ve heard here before now about this potential to expand the undergraduate student population, what I haven’t heard is an argument that’s really pegged to the academic mission of our undergraduate institution.
I’ve heard arguments, assumptions, that, sort of, expanding the number of butts in the seat will somehow necessarily translate into qualitative impact on the world… I’ve heard arguments just now about what we are doing and comparing ourselves to our peer institutions. First of all, I would argue that our great strategic advantage within the Ivy League is precisely the fact that we are a small, liberal arts college, as opposed to a college which is predominantly oriented towards its graduate population. The teacher/scholar model is unique in the Ivies; maybe there is a little bit going on at Princeton.
And so, in order to be unskeptical about a move like this, something that feels like it will dramatically change the culture and character of this institution — everything that actually makes it strategically competitive and desirable from a standpoint of faculty — I need to hear a lot more about how this will enhance our academic mission. And I need to hear a lot more about how we would accommodate all of the other things that will have to expand or change in order to make it viable… I’m talking about are we going to maintain our student/teacher ratio? Are we going to go to larger classes? What are we going to do about our facilities?
You’ve heard this from us many times, but I am going to say it again: Dartmouth Row, which is really the spine of our undergraduate curriculum, is in disastrous shape. It is inadequate for the student population we have now and the faculty we have now. What will it look like if we add even a few more students? If that building isn’t addressed and addressed soon… We have parking problems, serious parking problems on this campus, and some of the proposed buildings that are on-line here are going to eat up even more existing campus parking.
These are just simple, obvious things that anybody could bring out, but there are also potentially unintended consequences, and I think the anxiety and the frustration that make us feel — especially those of us who have been in institutions that went this route ten years ago: increasing enrollments, offloading students to campuses on other sites, privatizing and casualizing labor, etc. — you know, we see some of this kind of thing, revenue-generating exercises in these terms, branding, competitive and strategic management, etc.
I think that there is a lot of skepticism, and until we hear really compelling arguments about how this can actually enhance the educational experience that we’re providing, how this will benefit the teacher/scholar model that we have come close to perfecting at this institution, how we will manage the constraints of our material footprint in the Upper Valley with an expansion of that nature, it is really hard to entertain this as a viable, feasible or desirable possibility.”
“A few things have come up on the Committee of the Faculty. I think one thing to note is that in an expansion, however it is done, there are going to be situations where we thought this would happen and we thought this would be enough, and it wasn’t — so we thought there would be enough dorms, and there weren’t; we thought there would be enough first-year classrooms, there weren’t; we thought there would be enough faculty in this department, there weren’t. And then there would be a lag, and presumably that issue would be addressed.
It’s hard to have confidence, what many faculty have told me, in how that process would work, given that right now we are dealing with the various issues that we have pointed out are problems now for the faculty here, even before the expansion, and they haven’t been fixed.
So, we don’t have adequate research support — that hasn’t been fixed; there hasn’t been a commitment made to it. We no longer have anywhere to park on campus — even the Dewey Lot is full every day. No movement apparently on that. We don’t have adequate computer support, in part because we don’t have enough people. Haven’t seen movement on that.
So it would be a lot easier to say, let’s do something, make the place bigger, they’ll be hiccups, but we will be able to fix them, if the problems we are having now were being addressed. That’s what the faculty is telling me.
That would be point 1. Point 2 would be, what people have told me, is that the task force has been given a very specific job: the job was to say, how much does this cost? The job was not to say if this is a good idea.
Well, the analogy is that Mike Pence recently floated the idea of going back to the moon. Presumably now there’s going to be a commission set up to figure out how much that will cost. I don’t need to know how much that will cost to know that it is not a good idea. The benefits will be marginally small, but whatever they are, will be tiny compared to whatever the costs are. I don’t need to pinpoint what the costs are to debate whether this is a good idea.
So that’s my feedback. One of the things that is the purpose of these committees is to kind of derive feedback. People talk to me all the time and relay stuff. That, in a nutshell, incorporates what fifteen or twenty people told me.”
Note Brooks’ use of the word “confidence” — and how it is hard to have any in the Hanlon administration. The faculty should formally vote to say so.
August 14, 2013
Breaking: Of Crips and Bloods and Memories of Ghetto Parties
History repeats itself, first as tragedy and then as farce, or sometimes it just repeats itself. From the New York Times on November 30, 1998: At Dartmouth College, white students at a ”ghetto party” dressed…
June 25, 2013
Dean of the College Charlotte Johnson’s War on Students Part (2/2)
Part 1, Part 2 Today’s post again recounts the events that befell the Freshman. However, the content of the Hanover Police department report reproduced in this space yesterday is supplemented by information from my own…
October 18, 2009
When Love Beckoned in 52nd Street
We were at San Francisco’s BIX last evening, enjoying prosecco, cheese, and a bit of music. A full year of inhabitation in Northern California has unraveled to me no decent venue for proper lounging, but…
October 9, 2009
D Afraid of a Little Competish
So our colleague and Dartblog writer Joe Asch informed me that the D has rejected our cunning advertising campaign. Uh-oh. The Dartmouth is widely known as a breeding ground for instant New York Times successes,…
September 4, 2009
How Regents Should Reign
As Dartmouth alumni proceed through the legal hoops necessary to defuse a Board-packing plan—which put in unhappy desuetude an historic 1891 Agreement between alumni and the College guaranteeing a half-democratically-elected Board of Trustees—it strikes one…
August 29, 2009
Election Reform Study Committee
If you are an alum of the College on the Hill, you may have received a number of e-mails of late beseeching your input for a new arm of the College’s Alumni Control Apparatus called…
- The Dartmouth College Case
- 2007 Trustee Election
- Dartmouth Constitution
- Sunday Morning Sinatra
- The Indian Wars
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