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An Alumnus’ List of Phil’s Phailures

An alumnus who actively follows the goings-on at the College writes in to catalogue Phil Hanlon’s sorry record as Dartmouth’s President:

Joe, Here is my list of the most obvious bad policies and decisions made by Phil since he arrived. Even the most casual observer could see these clearly. How could he possibly survive after such a record of failure? Can anyone identify a successful endeavor by our lackluster leader?

  • Many terrible personnel appointments including Bob Lasher, the failed Bruce Duthu appointment, and the Provost Dever fiasco.
  • His oft stated intention he would get tuition under control.
  • The huge announcement that he would remake the College into a PC mirror of diversity at the expense of its true educational mission including lip service with regard to teaching leadership as a priority.
  • The creation of an unnecessary separate graduate school in his not well hidden intent to make Dartmouth a third-rate university.
  • The unproven Dorm Cluster idea and the incredibly expensive and architecturally insensitive cluster common houses designed as social engineering and behavioral modification experiments neither of which are the responsibility of a true institution of academic excellence.
  • The 750-bed dorm in College Park intended to facilitate his erroneous and now failed attempt to increase the student body by up to 25% in order to balance his bloated budget and the self-serving recasting of that effort as merely a place in which to move existing students while old dorms are torn down or renovated. All this at the expense of the last remaining natural space on campus.
  • The stated goal of making the faculty and undergraduate body as diverse as possible (up to 50%)… at the risk of diminishing academic rigor and teaching credentials but with no mention of the administration’s diversity imbalance.
  • The unnecessary increase of administration ranks coupled with their inflated salaries, plus the unwillingness to make faculty salaries competitive with other Ivy schools.
  • The failure to launch a capital campaign in a timely and effective way and the disturbing and precipitous drop in total alumni participation and support for the campaign.
  • The failure to address the total uselessness of Summer Term as a viable academic experience, as well as any achieving any success in improving year-round class size and course availability.
  • The stated purpose of eliminating all single-sex Greek and other undergraduate organizations.
  • A complete disregard for the history, traditions, and true mission of Dartmouth.
  • His lack of charisma and an arrogant personal style epitomized by his unwillingness to listen, coupled with a my-way-or-the-highway attitude. His failed policy of giving every faculty member just 10 minutes to meet with him is a good example of this.
  • And last but not least, his unwillingness to take responsibility for his mistakes. Clearly, he exhibits none of the qualities one looks for in a leader. Has he inspired anyone?

It appears that the proverbial ‘snowball in hell’ has finally arrived on the Hanover Plain. It does not seem at all possible that a leader, and I use that term loosely in reference to Phil, could possibly remain on the job after suffering so many setbacks to his avowed policies designed to make Dartmouth a better place.

He must either resign or retire as soon as possible and let someone else lead Dartmouth out of the mess he leaves behind. It is my hope the Trustees finally have the will to make this a reality. The biggest challenge will be finding the right person to lead Dartmouth going forward. Even the choice of an interim president will tell us a great deal about the Board’s mindset.

Can anyone think of positive things that Phil has achieved?

Addendum: Behind the scenes, Phil continues to make errors that never see the light of day. Though I hear about poor decisions, I often cannot confirm them or get my informants to go on record. As such, consider the above list to be only a partial inventory.

Addendum: An alumnus writes in:

Just saw today’s Dartblog. WOW! That should open a few eyes and as you say… It’s just the most obvious poor decisions, the tip of the proverbial iceberg. How many more will we have to endure before Dartmouth sees the light ???? Keep up the pressure…

Addendum: And another:

Two more things to add to the list today: 1) Destruction of the original Hood Museum. Highly acclaimed design by everyone when built. 2) Absolutely no preparations or lead up to the 250th anniversary next year. Less than 10 months away.


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