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Student Body Decision. What Happened

So the Trustees met this past weekend, and did they get an earful! While the task force that was studying the question of increasing undergraduate enrollment had not yet finished its report, Dean of the Faculty Elizabeth Smith and Dean of the College Rebecca Biron offered the members of the Board the gist of what the group was going to find. My source reports:

The report was going to contain a fairly detailed section on what steps would be necessary just for 0% growth (i.e., what are the major shortfalls on campus now).

None of this will be a surprise to anyone. Significant investments are required for housing and dining for both undergrads and graduate students simply to meet current needs. A huge fraction of our classrooms are in a woeful state. There is a dire shortage in many areas of student health and academic support services, and many of the buildings housing departments and programs, particularly in Arts and Humanities and Interdisciplinary Programs, are in a the pathetic state. These are major issues that must be seriously addressed regardless of the decisions about expansion.

Congrats to Deans Smith and Biron for giving the Trustees the straight poop. However, I expect that the Board must be wondering how Phil could launch an initiative that was so obviously a non-starter once a committee looked into it — let alone everyone else who had more than a passing acquaintance with the campus.

Add to that point the fact that Phil engineered — or to be more accurate, mis-engineered — an increase in the student body at Michigan. He left a mess there.

The only crime in management worse than making a bad mistake is: 1) making a mistake, 2) not learning from it, and 3) making it a second time. In my business, that’s a fireable offense.

How many of Phil’s stumbles is it going to take for the Trustees to realize that he is in way over his head as President. The Board should maturely admit that it made a big mistake in hiring him, and the time has come to move on. That’s what any of the business leaders among the Trustees would do in their real world jobs, if faced with a similar situation. Why the wait at Dartmouth?

Addendum: The enrollment task force’s preliminary conclusions illustrate in spades the effect of funding a bloated bureaucracy at Dartmouth over the years, at the expense of everything else worthwhile on campus. Our massive payroll — 8% larger than Brown’s, even though Brown has 46% more students than we do — is sucking the life out of the entire institution. We overspend on staff compensation, and, as a result, we have been underspending on absolutely everything else, and we have been doing so for two decades. This self-destructive strategy has got to stop. Now.

Addendum: An alumnus writes in:

I was actually at a meeting where Phil spoke to the Parents’ Committee last weekend, and he didn’t even mention the size of the undergraduate student body (this was a week before he announced the increase was no longer happening). Someone asked him about increasing enrollment after his talk, and he mentioned that the Trustees would decide once they had the results from the Task Force. Funny how much changes in a week.

Addendum: An alumnus writes in:

Strike One: Dormzilla. Strike Two: Expansion of undergraduate enrollment. We can only hope that Phil hits the trifecta and the trustees summarily dismiss his misguided effort to close down the golf course. But why wait for the third strike? Phil has provided ample evidence that he is not fit for the big leagues and should be designated for assignment or outright released.

Send him back to Michigan for a player to be named later.

Addendum: And another:

So, to sum up the past week: The Dormzilla exercise highlights that the College has zero ability to fundraiser. And the task force on student body size highlights the College’s ever growing list of faults. I guess the silver lining in both fiascos is that neither will get done. Gold lining (is that even a saying?) would be if Hanlon was shown the door…


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