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Faculty Meeting: Phil Phones It In

Last Monday’s faculty meeting barely achieved a quorum, and when Phil Hanlon began his remarks about ten minutes late (meetings, extraordinarily enough, usually start on time), he could have not been more wan. Our President realizes that he has long since outworn his welcome among the College’s professors; they know mediocrity when they see it. As Phil droned through his capital campaign talking points in a speech that anyone in the audience could have cut and pasted together for him from the College’s fundraising press releases (“Dartmouth’s profound sense of place”; “being a basecamp to the world”, “adventuresome spirit,” ad nauseum), you could see that he was just going through the motions.

Phil just doesn’t realize that among intellectuals you have to say something original to catch people’s attention — or perhaps he is not capable of doing so. At least, Jim Kim gave a good first speech, though once he had shot his bolt, it was hard to watch repeated evidence of his shallowness. But Phil doesn’t even try to make it interesting: he hoped to gin up enthusiasm by listing supposed fundraising successes, but try as he might to, for example, cite new construction in Hanover, everyone is fully aware that the recent report on enrollment growth condemned the poor state of the entire campus.

No applause at all were offered at the end of Phil’s presentation (in contrast to the almost-15-seconds of sustained clapping that Economics Professor Andrew Samwick, Chair of the Committee on Priorities, received) and no one rose to ask Phil a question:

Faculty Meeting May 7, 2018.jpg

Phil did let us know that admissions results would be strong again this year. Lee Coffin is working his magic, though between you and me, I think that Lee has turned us into a reach school, rather than a first choice place for people seeking a closer student/faculty relationship, or an institution that enrolls students who just didn’t quite make it to HYP.

Addendum: Phil commented that the Provost’s search is ongoing. Three finalists have been identified, and Phil will make his choice soon. What he did not say, but needs to be said, is that once again, as in the search for the Dean of the Faculty, straight white men need not apply. Even if they do, no matter the quality of their background, they won’t be accorded an interview.

Addendum: An alumnus writes in:

Sad commentary, indeed. If a picture is worth a thousand words than the view of so many empty chairs at the recent faculty meeting tells a very troubling story. What college or university can thrive in an environment so devoid of enthusiasm and fervor for the educational mission of their chosen place of employment? The short answer is it cannot due to a lack of committed and qualified leadership, little vision and the inability to motivate the remarkable teachers in their care. Clearly there is a need to find a leader who can and will lead, especially in light of the recent announcement that teaching leadership skills and producing the leaders of tomorrow is a major cornerstone of the now launched capital campaign.

Let’s follow that path to its logical conclusion and find a leader for today who will lead Dartmouth to a brighter future and fulfill that important mission. The true purpose of an education is to stimulate learning not to effect social change or pursue politically correct ideologies at the expense of true learning. Both the students and the faculty deserve no less.

It would be interesting to know what the motivation for attending this meeting was and was the audience an ever shrinking group of current policy supporters, unrepresentative of the faculty as a whole, or just curiosity seekers. Why did so many fail to attend? If widespread apathy has set in among the many dedicated and brilliant minds among Dartmouth’s faculty, where will the much needed energy to lead come from, and when?

Addendum: And another:

Maybe I’m missing something here, but those faculty meeting seats sure could be Phil’d (but wait: does that mean emptied?) if he announced ahead of time that he was going to present the report on those suspended profs that was almost-almost-almost ready how many months ago? [on February 21]

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