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“One Reason the Faculty Deeply Distrusts the Hanlon Administration”

A highly regarded member of the faculty writes in (I have added links to the missive):

One reason the faculty deeply distrusts the Hanlon Administration is that they contradict themselves about their plans and decision processes in a manner that suggests duplicity. For example, in the letter that Christianne Wohlforth sent to alumni, she tried to assure the Dartmouth community that no decision had been made regarding expansion. “The best way to [explore] whether we should expand, is to first ask, if we did, what would be the costs and opportunities? This is the work of the Task Force,” according to Wohlforth.

But her assertion contradicts what we have already been told is the charge of the Task Force. As you reported on Nov. 8, Elizabeth Smith (the Task Force’s co-chair) stated: “Our charge is to look at how — not whether — to expand enrollment.” And “We want to collect insight and deeply consider how aspects of the Dartmouth experience could be preserved and possibly even enhanced if a decision were made to enlarge the student body.” In other words, the Task Force is tasked with identifying potential benefits of expansion, not weighing “costs and opportunities” as Wohlforth claims.

Smith’s description of the Task Force’s charge does not seem to be a mis-statement. As you reported, in the October faculty meeting, Hanlon responded to Professor Steve Brooks’ critiques of expansion and the Task Force by saying: “Just as a factual error. Cost is not even anywhere in the charge of this task force.” In other words, the task force is not charged with weighing the costs and benefits of expansion.

When the administration seeks to assure people with information that we know is false, it has the opposite effect: it increases concerns and suspicion. Those suspicions are merited in this case. While it might be true that “no decision ha[s] been made”, the Administration is setting up the process to selectively gather the information they need to push this proposal through. Students, alums, and faculty who oppose this effort should do so now, rather than wait to be told that “It’s too late, the Trustees have signed off.”

Addendum: The faculty needs to chant in unison:

N-O
C-O-N-F-I-D-E-N-C-E
V-O-T-E

And the best way to do so would be to have fifty or more professors put forward a group motion of no-confidence two weeks before the next faculty meeting, and then have another fifty faculty members line up to second it. The motion itself could follow the simple text chosen by Harvard’s professors in regard to Larry Summers:

The Faculty lacks confidence in the leadership of Philip J. Hanlon

The winter 2018 faculty meeting on February 26 would be a good time.

Note: The Harvard vote took place by secret ballot.

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