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Searching for an Interim Provost

Interim provost.jpgThe resurgent D reported an interesting fact today regarding the selection of Computer Science Professor Dave Kotz ‘86 to be the College’s interim Provost:

Dever announced that she will be stepping down to resume her teaching and research on Oct. 10. According to Kotz, Hanlon reached out to Kotz around two weeks ago to ask if he would consider the interim position. [Emphasis added]

What to make of the ongoing chaos in Parkhurst? That Phil announced on October 10 that Provost Dever had decided to “return to teaching and research at the conclusion of fall term on Nov. 22,” and he only got around to asking Dave Kotz ‘86 to be his interim Provost over two weeks later?

Firstly, it seems like Carolyn’s departure was precipitous. Numerous faculty members have stated to me that it is just not the done thing in academia for a leader to leave such a senior position in the middle of the year. And if Carolyn’s decision was really just to return to teaching, wouldn’t she have given Phil plenty of time to choose an interim replacement before she announced her departure?

Of course, as we have noted for several years, Carolyn was given the boot long ago, but in a gesture of 1% solidarity (the rich really do stick together), Phil let her range far and wide in trying to find another position. No dice. Other schools saw what Phil could not see: Carolyn is an unimaginative plodder who just does not get the job done.

So what happened? Perhaps it’s a stretch, but several people have suggested that the cover-up of l’Affaire PBS was Carolyn’s doing, and Phil threw her under the bus in order to shift the blame away from his good self. Who knows?

But then why wait for two weeks to ask Dave Kotz ‘86 to fill the interim position while a new Provost is chosen? Especially if Phil knew that Carolyn was on the way out long before the official announcement. My guess is that Phil asked several other people to be his interim Provost, and they all gave it some thought and then turned him down. Anyone with real ambition to be a senior administrator would not want to work under Pheckless Phil.

But Dave, good guy that he is, decided to take one both for the team and for his alma mater. He will only be in the position for a short while, and given that he brings in real grant money (he has been awarded over $65 million during his career, according to The D) and he is a fine researcher (look at his Google Scholar profile: an h-index of 68 and 18,227 citations of his work by other scholars), at least for now he seems to have no longterm ambition to be an adminstrator.

All in all, if I were writing for the Jacko, I’d call the goings-on in Parkhurst a real sh*tshow.

Memo to Dave Kotz: Despite recent appearances to the contrary, the Provost’s position consists of more than sending out a weekly, jargon-filled memo about inclusion and diversity. In your time in office, how about re-jiggering the academic calendar to end the interminable, six-week break between Thanksgiving and New Year. This Kim/Folt innovation has the effect of squeezing our already-too-short Dartmouth Plan quarters.

Addendum: An alumnus writes in:

I should be interim provost. I would do a better job than Dever ever did — I’d actually show up!

Addendum: An alumnus writes in:

I would like to suggest that the deficient academic calendar also bears upon the College’s “expansion” scheme. That is, If there is truly capacity for additional real estate development on campus (a doubtful proposition, as Phil hastens to cut down the Truffula Trees in College Park), it should be used to solve an existing problem — the D-Plan — rather than hatch new ones. The D-Plan was conceived as a compromise (driven by real estate constraints), and it remains one. If Dartmouth must build, it should do so in order to discard the D-Plan, and its “pump and dump” academic quarters, in favor of tried-and-true semesters. After all, that’s how our “peers” do it, right?

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