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Thumbnail image for Michael-Beechert.jpgDartblog is pleased to welcome a new writer, Michael Beechert ‘16. Michael grew up in Yorktown, NY. At the College he majored in Government and minored in German Studies, which led him to spend terms abroad at Keble College, Oxford as well as in Berlin, where he interned in the German Bundestag.

When he was in Hanover, Michael was an opinion columnist for The Dartmouth, a trombonist in the Wind Ensemble and the Barbary Coast, and he served for a year as his Class Treasurer. In the latter role he distinguished himself as the author with several other student leaders of an open letter to the administration regarding administrative waste at the College and the loss of focus in Hanover on undergraduate education.

Currently, Michael is a Fulbright Scholar in Munich, where he is performing research on perceptions of European integration and German identity at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich. He plans to start work at Google when he comes back from Germany.

From abroad, Michael supports the never-ending fight against administrative bloat and against infringements on free speech and free thought in higher education. Unfortunately, he also supports the Jets and Knicks.

LMU Comp.jpgWhen visiting colleges during my junior and senior years of high school, the word “fit” came up in almost every bit of advice I received relating to the process. “Just find the best fit!,” was frequently proffered as the answer to what was made out to be a crucially important, even life-altering decision. Years later, I still have no idea what exactly this means.

I chose to attend Dartmouth because of its ostensible focus on undergraduate education and because I like the woods; I did not, upon visiting campus for the first time, get the feeling that Cinderella must have gotten when she stuck her foot into that glass slipper. This went against the narrative to which American high school students were and, as far as I am aware, still are subjected — if it’s not love at first sight, scratch it off the list.

My sense is that this misguided obsession with fit is a large part of the reason why universities in the U.S. have established ever-larger staff profiles that, at least in theory, offer increased support services to students. If every student of every racial-ethnic-gender-religious-political-socioeconomic persuasion has someone of the same bent to talk to, universities can hope to present a perfect “fit” to a broader base of applicants.

Of course, increases in staffing can’t be entirely attributed to this; there are also phalanxes of paper-pushers employed at Dartmouth and other schools that aren’t expected to interact with students at all. Joe Asch ‘79 has published extensive statistics on the topic, so I won’t get into details here, but it’s clear that bloat is alive and well in American higher education. One size — XXL — fits all.

The German university system provides an interesting contrast to all of the above. Essentially all reputable universities in Germany are public and available to students at marginal or no cost (all I had to pay for this semester was about 120 EUR, which also covers a semester-long subway pass). Despite the lack of an intimate, personal classroom experience that is so prized at Dartmouth and other elite American schools, German universities haven’t exactly struggled to produce accomplished graduates, and I can anecdotally describe students here as generally kind, well-adjusted, and well-rounded individuals.

Incredibly, they manage to be this way without the benefit of a full-time crew of support staff, since university administrations and non-academic offices in Germany are run more leanly than their American counterparts. Let’s look to the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich, where I currently am, for an example:

lmu.jpg

The LMU is home to approximately 50,000 students each year, along with a little over 2,400 non-academic staff and 3,047 people classified as academic staff (all data is as of 2014 and does not include hospital personnel). Dartmouth, which in the year 2015 had 6,350 students, employed 1,066 faculty and 3,497 non-faculty staff members outside of DHMC. The LMU’s annual budget, not including the hospital, was 579 million EUR in 2014 (approximately $650 million with current exchange rates). Dartmouth’s overall budget in the fiscal year 2016 is $1 billion.

One accustomed to American universities’ cavalier attitude towards money may be surprised that an institution like the LMU, with approximately eight times as many students as Dartmouth, does not spend eight times the money or have eight times the number of employees. To be sure, students in Munich and elsewhere in Germany do not enjoy all the creature comforts or personalized resources that Ivy Leaguers do in the United States. Long lines, restricted opening hours, and a sense of frustration with bureaucracy are the norm here. However, those inconveniences seem minor in light of the (lack of a) cost of attendance.

Interestingly - and I would say not coincidentally - the question of “fit” plays little to no part in the average German student’s decision about where to pursue higher education. The decision calculus typically run by American high school students - how and where you might make friends, the quality of the food, whether the transgender Quidditch club has an adequate number of advisers - seems silly in Germany, where the assumption is that university students are adults and will make things work one way or another. While German students are generally about a year older than their American peers when entering university, the gap in neediness does not correspond to the gap in age.

There are certainly many things that schools like Dartmouth do better than the best German universities, and fostering close relationships between faculty and students is probably the most important. That being said, American college administrators might find it instructive to look across the Atlantic for a lesson in organizational efficiency from a fiscal standpoint to help develop leaner budgeting practices. If this could be done without sacrificing the intense, personal nature of academics we rightly hold so dear, we could have a school that fits just about everyone.

The Wall Street Journal has entered the college-ranking sweepstakes:

WSJ Rankings 2016 Full.jpg

Fortunately for us, Brown made it into the Ivy League. Cornell leapfrogged over us in the Journal — in U.S. News the Big Red is just behind Brown, which is just behind us (we are now tied with Caltech and Northwestern at #11).

Addendum: Though much of the Journal’s report is behind a paywall, the methodology its editors used is not.

Addendum: An alumnus writes in:

The inaugural WSJ rankings are a bit curious with Columbia the top Ivy and Princeton barely edging out Cornell for 8th place. Fortunately for us, at number 20, Brown ranked last among the Ivies. One encouraging metric is the “right choice” which measured students’ satisfaction with their choice of college. Out of the top 25 we ranked 3rd behind only Stanford and Notre Dame. However, we got hammered in the “environment” metric which apparently assesses the diversity of the university community. Does that mean we got punished because not very many minorities choose to live in the Upper Valley? It certainly can’t be referring to the make up of the student body. As I say - curious.

The College seems unaware of the PR problem that it has generated in accepting money from the Irving Oil company. Is Phil just too obtuse to understand the troubling moral issues in accepting a large gift from a donor, Arthur Irving, who has a direct interest in the activity that he is funding? (The rest of the world isn’t.) Or is our President so hungry for some kind of tangible achievement after three and a third years of floundering that he’s willing to overlook the problems that everyone else sees? Inside Philanthropy sums up the conflict-of-interest arguments well:

Irving Inside Philanthropy Comp.jpg

To create a new institute focused on society’s pressing energy problems, Dartmouth has accepted $80 million from a powerful oil family surrounded by controversy. Such a gift seriously undermines the credibility of such an institute.

When a really good school like Dartmouth College decides to take on the future of energy as a priority for its faculty and students, you would want it to be rigorous and independent—a beacon guiding the way as we grapple with climate change, sustainable development and environmental justice.

And you know what? Dartmouth’s new Arthur L. Irving Institute for Energy and Society may very well turn out to do some great work.

But $80 million, half of the institute’s funding, comes from Irving Oil and the powerful family behind it, which is surrounded by controversies environmental and otherwise. This casts serious doubt over the initiative’s credibility before it has even started…

But now and then, a donation is so blatantly suspect in the context of the gift’s purpose that it threatens to undercut the intent and integrity, or at least the perceived integrity, of the project at hand.

In the case of the Dartmouth gift, Irving Oil and the Irving family are deeply financially connected to the problems the institute seeks to solve, and not in a good way. Irving Oil is a Canadian oil and gas production and export company that owns, among many other things, the country’s largest oil refinery. The company and its chairman, Arthur Irving, are behind a controversial pipeline proposal that critics say would bring huge increases in tar sands oil production and carbon emissions.

It’s hard to believe the university would shrug that off as a “cosmetic” conflict, as Robert Hansen, the Dartmouth business professor who headed the task force behind the initiative, did in recent local news coverage. Campus environmentalists, who are in the midst of organizing Dartmouth to divest from its fossil fuel holdings, had a different word for it—“horrific.”

It’s one of the more questionable examples of private money flowing into academia we’ve seen, in fact, and it raises all kinds of questions about the growing role of industry in campus funding.

Maybe the gift wouldn’t be so troubling if we weren’t at such a tipping point for climate change. It’s a historic moment for global emissions reduction efforts, and universities are playing an important role, both in their campus organizing efforts and faculty and student research. [Emphasis added]

Meanwhile, in the Letters to the Editor section of the Valley News, the local citizenry is weighing in with equally critical remarks:

September 21:

DARTMOUTH’S CORPORATE FUTURE


To The Editor: I enjoyed your article on Saturday introducing Dartmouth’s plans for the Arthur L. Irving Institute for Energy and Society, begun with $80 million of Irving Oil’s money. What a challenge for other billionaires to go one better in corporatizing and mystifying other needs of society — with Dartmouth as the willing vehicle.

In 2017, I expect Dartmouth may announce plans for an $85 million Donald J. Trump Institute for Democracy, whose new building on the Dartmouth green will tower over Baker Library.

In 2018, we may see Dartmouth unveil the $90 million National Rifle Association Public Safety Institute, complete with shooting ranges scattered around campus to encourage safe practice.

For Fox News fans, 2019 could bring word of the $95 million Roger Ailes Institute for Women in the Workplace. At this time it appears their new building will require purchasing and razing all WISE offices and shelters. (Sorry in advance.) While other countries may provide needed institutes with public funding free of conflicts, Dartmouth’s way seems to me a better tutorial in how public relations handlers gradually dismiss the public’s legitimate questions, until we can only approve.

ROBERT SPOTTSWOOD
Norwich

September 22:

DARTMOUTH’S OIL MONEY


To The Editor: I want to comment on the audacity of Dartmouth’s Energy and Society Institute accepting money from Irving Oil, Irving family members and a family foundation (“Dartmouth Unveils New Institute; Donation to Fund Energy Research,” Sept. 17).

President Hanlon’s comment, “The past is the past,” regarding Irving Ene rgy’s record, is preposterous and utterly shortsighted. Irving Energy does not have a stellar environmental record, nor is the company focusing on a renewable energy future. In fact, it is doing the opposite and investing in tar sands oil projects.

What a company has done in the past is unequivocally important and can be a predictor of future actions. Accepting $80 million dollars of oil money to fund an institute focused on energy and society is equivalent to buying blood diamonds. Oil and gas extraction has destroyed countless ecosystems, contributes to climate change and endangered an untold amount of human lives. Dartmouth has ignorantly continued its “business as usual” policy and should be ashamed that it has not led society into a clean energy future.

Dartmouth should get out of bed with industry interests and show the college is serious about solving society’s energy woes.

MICHAEL MEZZACAPO
Canaan

BETTER USE FOR $80 MILLION


To The Editor: Irving Oil and the Irving family just gave Dartmouth College $80 million for something we did not know we needed. How generous of them: the $80 million must have come from the whole community of customers who paid too much. Irving could not figure out how to spend $80 million dollars. It’s tough. Dartmouth, always the helpful spirit, helped them.

Would it have been better for the whole community if Irving took $8 million a year for 10 years to offer oil for heating the homes of those now getting public assistance for home heating?

Now they will be building another office building and the community will be looking for housing for the homeless and heatless.

I’ll bet they still have $80 million left.

HERBERT KUMMEL
Hanover

September 23:

DARTMOUTH’S OIL INDUSTRY PARTNER


To The Editor: Dartmouth President Phil Hanlon was questioned about the appearance of influence peddling when he announced the receipt of $80 million from Irving Oil and the Irving family to fund the creation of a new Energy and Society Institute. The Valley News reports the college thinks the conflict is only “cosmetic.”

Business Professor Robert Hansen thinks, by my reading, that Irving Oil shouldn’t be held accountable for its history. “The past is past,” he’s quoted as saying. “We are concerned about the future.” I’m concerned about the future, too, which is why I think there should be a close look at what Irving’s plans are, what they’re likely to mean for a partnership with Dartmouth, and what they will mean for the climate.

Irving has plans to build a new facility to process heavy tar sands bitumen and expand its existing refinery and export terminal in Saint John, New Brunswick, at the end of the Energy East pipeline. Energy East is a $15.7 billion partnership with TransCanada — a pipeline that would stretch more than 2,800 miles from Alberta to the Atlantic.

TransCanada’s earlier plan to transport Alberta tar sands bitumen to the Gulf Coast, Keystone XL, was rejected following a public outcry from indigenous communities, farmers along the proposed route and scientists concerned about the effect on the climate. If built, Energy East will carry up to 1.1 million barrels of crude per day, 30 percent more than Keystone was designed for.

During the debate over Keystone, James Hansen, at the time NASA’s top climate scientist, famously wrote in The New York Times that if these “dirtiest of fuels” are fully exploited, “it will be game over for the climate.” Dartmouth’s association with Irving links the college to an oil company that is fully committed to business as usual. It’s a model that climate scientists say will lead inevitably to a dangerously changed and unstable climate. How can we help but wonder whether the college is selling academic legitimacy to Irving’s plans? How can President Hanlon square this partnership with the imperative for a carbon-free economy before the next graduating class finishes their working careers?

STUART BLOOD
Thetford Center

The College comes out of this affair looking dirty and, frankly, not very smart.

Addendum: Yesterday my classmate Dave Van Wie ‘79 (unbidden by me, of course) took to the pages of The D in a piece entitled Dirty Money, Clean Cause, to excoriate President Hanlon’s bad judgment in accepting money from Irving Oil. His introduction:

I am dumbfounded. When I read that Irving Oil was funding Dartmouth’s Arthur L. Irving Institute for Energy and Society, I checked to see if the article was in The Onion. Sadly, it was not.

As an energy and environmental professional who works to find real life solutions to our energy challenges, I was excited when College President Phil Hanlon established a task force to explore how the College could be at the forefront of energy, one of the greatest issues of our time. But with oil money as the foundation? On optics alone, this should have been a clear “no,” even to an alumna like Sarah Irving. How could so many smart people think this is a good idea?

This is clearly a public relations coup for Irving, Irving Oil’s chief brand officer. I am sure she’s glad to offset the bad press Irving has gotten about its disregard for climate change issues.

Having the Irving family fund and name an institute at Dartmouth or any other academic institution, which requires freedom from bias, is a mistake. It puts Dartmouth’s name, its academic freedom and its prestige in jeopardy. This blunder could set Dartmouth back from the pursuit of a sustainable future. The faculty and students in this institute and at the College will forever be trying to dance around the Irving connection, while all the papers and positions will be suspect, despite the “statement of academic independence.”

Top researchers and faculty will work elsewhere, where their research won’t be questioned. Will anyone at the institute take on a project that might even indirectly besmirch Irving? Of course not. Academic freedom is already compromised.

Phil, it’s time to have second thoughts.

Addendum: A longtime reader working at another school writes in:

Watching the Irving coverage. I would recommend advocating returning the gift. This thing will further catch fire within the faculty, community and student body as it already appears to be doing. I suspect this reaction was anticipated to a degree. That is why they announced gifts from Trustees to signal that there is alignment at that level. That should make others even more upset because of the clear heavy handedness of it. And I can promise you as a long time development pro that no one, and I mean no one, gives over $80 million without strings attached beyond just naming something… So the conflicts are serious and real.

The D has finally revised its comments policy. It is now using the Facebook Comments Plugin module, which allows commentary to go up on its website immediately with identification of the writer via a Facebook account. Previously all comments were moderated, leading to many hours or even days of delays while a moderator reviewed them. Good move. However there appears to be no announcement of the change on the paper’s new site.

Addendum: Fribble might be unhappy.

Erratum: The D, in fact, did announce its new policy on September 19:

As of Sept. 19, The Dartmouth has switched our commenting platform over from Disqus to Facebook. This change means that all previous comments are no longer on articles. We encourage you to comment on our new website and urge you to look at our comments policy which can be found here. — -Rebecca Asoulin, Editor-in-Chief

Wiping out all past comments does not seem a very nice thing to do. And as far as I can tell, the use of Facebook impedes people from posting anonymous comments, a brake on free speech for many.

Kyle Hendricks ‘12 pitched six scoreless innings to win his 16th game last night as the Cubs beat the Pirates 12-2 for their 100th win of the season. Kyle improved his record to 16-8 and lowered his MLB-leading ERA to 1.99.

Addendum: On its website, the Dartmouth Admissions department is listing Kyle’s ERA simply as 1.

The quality of the College’s Admissions marketing leaves a lot to be desired from an aesthetic and syntactical point of view, but heretofore, I hadn’t noticed its curious manipulation of statistics:

Admissions Stats Class of 2020.jpg

Look above at the % figure for the “Overall Admit Rate”: the numerator is the number of “Total Admitted” students divided by the denominator of “Total Applied” students.

For the Class of 2017 the math works out just fine: 2,337 divided by 22,428 does give you 10.4%. As does the calculation for the Class of 2018: 2,220 divided 1,926 equals 11.5%.

However for the Class of 2019, 2,250 divided by 20,507 gets you 11.0%, not 10.9% (actually it gets you 10.97%, which rounds up to 11.0%, right?).

But the whopper comes with the Class of 2020: 2,190 students were admitted out of a pool of 20,675 applicants. Run the math and you get 10.59%, which fairly rounds to 10.6%, or 11% — not 10%, thank you — if you want to get rid of the decimal place.

Did they think that nobody would notice?

Addendum: As we have noted in the past, the Admissions office pushes hard on early decision admits, legacies and donor kids and the waitlist in order to limit the number of students it needs to admit to fill the class. The number of students admitted from all of these categories have risen markedly in the last few years.

Addendum: Wow. That was fast. The Admissions department has already fixed their embarrassing, uh, error:

Admissions Stats Class of 2020 Fixed.jpg

The moral of the story: always take screenshots of offending webpages.

Sometimes you just have to laugh. If i told a venture capitalist that I was going to put together a project as follows, I’d be shown the door in short order:

1. Raise a ton of money for an innovative energy project
2. Appoint of committee to determine the project’s goals
3. Hire a director to execute the institute’s mission
4. Build a large research center

Does the Irving Institute exist for any other reason than that the head of a large oil company and a me-too President, who is hungry for visible achievement, want it built? Look at the project’s timeline. Where is the singular competence? The competitive advantage? The special human qualities that lead to a great enterprise? Are we to believe that the committee mentioned below is going to find the hole in the research market that was missed by numerous energy institutes in universities all over America?

Irving Timeline.jpg

Equally troubling is that the donors (other than Arthur Irving and his $80 million donation) who have contributed $33 million to the project are all loyal Trustees and alumni who well could have given money to fund other pressing needs at the College. Clearly they answered Phil’s call:

Several other donors have contributed to the institute. During the ceremony, trustee Chair Bill Helman ‘80 thanked the donors—Judith M. and Russell L. Carson ‘65 and Cecily M. Carson ‘95; Kathryn and Richard Kimball ‘78; Kristin and John Replogle ‘88; and Lori Weinstein and Martin J. Weinstein ‘81. Along with an anonymous donor, they have contributed $33 million, bringing the total raised to $113 million. The College plans to raise a total of $160 million to fund the project, which will connect, mobilize and empower Dartmouth’s base of talented faculty across arts and sciences, and at the Tuck School of Business and Thayer School of Engineering, who are already deeply engaged in work on energy.

At the very least, let’s hope that Phil will have roped in the full $160 million needed for the project before building starts in June, 2018. Otherwise our energy institute will be yet another drain on the College’s coffers.

Addendum: The right way to inspire innovation is to start with great people. The College missed such an opportunity with John Rassias.

What’s the appropriate analogy for the picture below: a Tiger tank and a Sherman? A sixteen-wheeler and a Miata? To compare a Boeing 747 and a Piper Cub would be going a little far, but let’s just say that the difference between a ten-pound big boy and a one-pound chicken lobster is substantial.

We’ve been buying these large guys from the Co-op ever since the demise of Mike Blood’s lobster business down in Lebanon. If you place an order a few days in advance, the fish department will bring a lobster of the size that you specify up from Boston on the day that you request. Voilà. Guaranteed liveliness, snow-white meat, and a lot more meat/pound than in the chicken lobsters that people too often eat in New England:

Lobsters.jpg

With lobster it’s the freshness that counts, not size. Big ones have tender, flavorful meat just like chickens, as long as they have not been sitting in a tank for several days.

My Japanese distributor’s wife showed me how much meat there is in a lobster’s thorax. The leg sockets and other hard-to-reach places repay cracking and winkling.

Addendum: The Guinness Book of World Records lists the largest lobster ever taken as 44 lb. 6 oz.

After losing seventeen starters from last year’s Ivy co-champion, including the best QB seen in Hanover in a couple of decades, the football folks tried to manage expectations regarding the team’s prospects this season. Well, following a strong comeback victory over UNH last week, the team comfortably handled Holy Cross today both on offence and defense in a 35-10 victory in Worcester. And they did it in green and white uniforms, too (according to Bruce Wood at Big Green Alert):

Football Uniform Holy Cross.jpg

Could be quite a season.

Addendum: The Valley News has a full report on the game, noting that Holy Cross’ first and second string quarterbacks left the game with injuries in the second quarter. No story in The D as of Sunday morning.

Bruce Duthu1.jpgProfessor of Native American Studies Bruce Duthu ‘80 has been nominated by President Obama to be a member of the National Council on the Humanities. This space noted in 2013 that Duthu had supported the American Studies Association resolution calling for the boycott of Israeli academic institutions. Duthu’s profile appeared on the White House homepage:

N. Bruce Duthu is the Frank J. Guarini Associate Dean of the Faculty for International Studies and Interdisciplinary Programs and the Samson Occom Professor of Native American Studies at Dartmouth College, positions he has held since 2016 and 2009, respectively. Mr. Duthu served as Chair of Native American Studies at Dartmouth College from 2009 to 2015. He worked at Vermont Law School from 1991 to 2008, where he was Professor of Law, Vice Dean for Academic Affairs, and Director of the Sun Yat-sen University Partnership in Environmental Law. He was a Visiting Professor at Harvard Law School, and has taught at the University of Sydney, the University of Trento, and the University of Wollongong. Mr. Duthu received a B.A. from Dartmouth College and a J.D. from Loyola University New Orleans.

Addendum: The Council’s role is defined on its website: “NEH’s chairman is advised by the National Council on the Humanities, a board of twenty-six distinguished private citizens appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate. The National Council members serve staggered six-year terms.”

Bloomberg is reporting that the endowment has dropped in value during the 2016 fiscal year (ending June 30):

Dartmouth posted a decline of 1.9 percent for fiscal 2016 and the value of its fund dropped about 4 percent to $4.5 billion, according to a statement Friday…

The decrease at the Hanover, New Hampshire-based school reflected net investment losses of $100 million and distributions of $209 million to support Dartmouth programs. That was offset by new gifts and transfers of $119 million.

The endowment said it had annualized gains of 8.7 percent for three years; 8.8 percent for five years and 7.2 percent for 10 years through June 30.

Just to lay this calculation out more clearly: on July 1, 2015 the endowment was worth just under $4.7 billion. During the year the College used approximately $208 million of this money to fund operations. And the remainder of the endowment money that was invested in myriad different ways by the College during the year lost about 1.9% of its value. However gifts from alumni and other donors in the amount of $119 million came in to offset the use of funds and the investment losses. As as result, by June 30, 2016 the endowment had declined about 4% from $4.7 billion to about $4.5 billion.

The College aims to draw out about 5% from the endowment’s value each year to fund its operations. It uses a smoothing formula based on the endowment’s three previous years’ results to determine how much money it will use. If cooler heads prevail in Parkhurst, the current slight drop should have little effect on the College’s operations. After all, the decline in 2016 only drops the endowment back to where it was at the end of fiscal 2014.

Addendum: In an article about the troubles facing the Harvard endowment, the WSJ lays out the ten-year performance of the Ivy endowments. We look pretty good:

Ivy Ten Year Endowment Perfromance.jpg

Addendum: Harvard and Penn have also reported declines in their endowments this year. Harvard’s investments lost 2% of their value, leading to a drop of 5% in its endowment. Penn had an investment loss of 1.4%, but its overall endowment grew by 6% due to strong giving and a one-time asset transfer. Running better than the pack, as it often does, Yale’s endowment investments posted a positive return of 3.4%, but due to high spending, the net value of the endowment was virtually unchanged. The rest of the Ivies have yet to report on their results.

Dartmouth has a wealth of experienced professors who lead their respective research fields, while also working closely with students — inspiring them in the classroom and leading them in laboratory environments. And while at Dartblog we talk frequently about problems that need to be fixed at the College, there are still many bright spots. Our professors deserve more recognition for their achievements. As such, this is one of a series of posts that shines a spotlight on the best professors in Hanover:

John Campbell1.jpgJohn L. Campbell is the Class of 1925 Professor and Professor of Sociology, as well as Chair of the Sociology department at the College. He also serves as Professor of Political Economy at the Copenhagen Business School in Denmark. Campbell’s curiosity has made him one of the most productive interdisciplinary researchers at Dartmouth, where his work stretches from a base in sociology to government, economics, and public policy. Yet his overriding focus is on institutions: where they come from, how they change, and how they affect nations, politics, and the economy.

Growing up in the turbulent 1960s, Campbell was always keenly interested in the world at large. In college at St. Lawrence University, he veered into sociology as an outlet for that interest after acing an introductory course in his first semester. Campbell’s first job after graduating was as a bartender, and he read sociology books all day before work. He eventually earned his M.A. from Michigan State University and then his Ph.D. in 1984 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Campbell’s research has never been static. While earning his Ph.D., he examined U.S. nuclear energy policy and why the country that created nuclear power generation could essentially abandon it as an option just a few decades later. The differences between the United States and nuclear-happy countries such as France were largely institutional: licensing and regulating nuclear was politically contentious here in ways that it wasn’t abroad. By 1988, Campbell was teaching at Harvard and researching everything from the evolution of American tax policy to major governmental and economic changes in Eastern Europe after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Campbell joined the Dartmouth faculty as a professor in 1996, and his current stint as chair of the sociology department is his second (the first was from 1997 to 2003). Since arriving in Hanover, he has continued his eclectic choice of institutional and public policy-oriented research topics. In 2007, he published his most cited work to date, a paper titled “Why Would Corporations Behave In Socially Responsible Ways?” Overall, Campbell has more than 10,000 individual citations and a h-index of 32, according to Google Scholar.

He has been prolific in writing books, too. “The Paradox of Vulnerability: Small Nation-States and the Financial Crisis” is Campbell’s latest, scheduled to be published at the end of this year. The book evolved out of a course he still teaches, SOCY 66: Markets and Management; it focuses on how three smaller countries — Denmark, Switzerland, and Ireland — dealt with the recent financial crisis. Last year he published “The World Of States,” and in 2014, “The National Origins of Policy Ideas.” Recently he has been considering a book on the Donald Trump phenomenon, and an analysis of the conditions that led to Trump’s emergence, especially in comparison to European countries that have seen similar right wing, anti-immigrant, xenophobic movements.

Meanwhile, Campbell has cultivated a special relationship with the Copenhagen Business School, where he works every Spring as a professor in the political economy research department. He also started and directs an exchange program that sends 6-12 Dartmouth students to Copenhagen University for the fall term each year.

Considering that it was his hook into the subject over 40 years ago, it’s no surprise that Campbell’s favorite course to teach is SOCY 1: Introduction to Sociology, a lecture course he leads once a year for 80-100 students. Half of the class is made up of freshman, and he likes waking them up with rock music at 9am on a Monday. Given Campbell’s wide-ranging intellectual curiosity, it also makes sense that he enjoys the course because it forces him to keep up with the wide spectrum of sociology research which he hasn’t personally had time to take on (at least so far).

A fair number of people on campus will have their panties in a twist, but Hanover should witness a rollicking intellectual time when flamboyant conservative provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos comes to town on November 1 with his Dangerous Faggot Tour:

Milo Bus.jpg

If you are not familiar with Milo’s brand of performance art, the below video will give you a flavor of the man: Why black lives don’t matter to Black Lives Matter:

At his best, Milo has the same kind of made-by-a-British-classical-education sparkle and wit that I always enjoyed in Christopher Hitchens, enlivened with more than a dash of Sacha Baron Cohen’s Bruno character.

Addendum: Yiannopoulos’ is visiting the College at the invitation of the Dartmouth Libertarians and the Dartmouth Review.

Addendum: An alumnus pointed me to a magic Milo moment:

When we think of Milo parallels, Liberace comes to mind — a personage so endearing to straight folks that he makes them get over whatever homophobia they might hold.

(I’m re-running this post for the freshman class so that they can see where their tuition dollars are going)

As we wait for the fiscal 2016 numbers to come out in a couple of months, let’s do a quick by-the-numbers comparison of Brown’s and Dartmouth’s 2015 financial results:

— Brown has 42% more students (9,073) than we do (6,350) and 32% more full-time professors (all of whom are paid more than ours, except for Full Professors)

You can logically expect that Brown will have to spend much more money than Dartmouth to run its entire operation, right? More students means more dorms, office space, classrooms, dining halls, campus facilities of all types, administrators, professors, etc. And if Brown pays most members of its faculty more than we pay our people, that will ramp up the difference even more.

— Brown’s total 2015 expenses: $810,957,000; Dartmouth’s: $891,428,000:
— Brown paid out $80,471,000 less than Dartmouth

But, no. It costs Brown about $80 million less than Dartmouth to run the university each year. That makes no sense. Dartmouth has to be overspending wildly, especially given that land and the cost of living and construction in rural Hanover, New Hampshire is less than in urban Providence, Rhode Island (with its top state income tax rate of 5.99% and its 7% state sales tax; both are zero in flinty New Hampshire). And Brown has to deal with other urban concerns: for example, it has 80 sworn, armed municipal police officers on its payroll vs. our 40 private security guards, etc.

— Brown’s Salary/Wages ($322,533,000) and Benefits ($93,351,000) total: $416,484,000; Dartmouth’s Salary/Wages ($382,433,000) and Benefits: ($135,622,000) total: $518,055,000
— Brown paid out $101,571,000 less in employee compensation than Dartmouth

So that’s where that money goes. How can our payroll be over $101 million more each year than Brown’s? There’s an easy answer for that: too many people doing too little work for too much money. Recall, as I mentioned above, that Brown has 42% more students than we have; you’d expect that payroll at Brown would be higher by approximately that amount — not lower by almost 20%.

— Brown’s 2015 Endowment Draw: $142,725,000; Dartmouth’s: $212,493,000;
— Brown drew out $69,768,000 less from its endowment than Dartmouth

We are by far the richer school. Our endowment stands at $4.66 billion; Brown has only $3.07 billion. But more importantly, we have double the endowment per student that Brown has. We have it, so we spend it, though I don’t think that anyone who deals with the Dartmouth administration would argue that this spending translates into a responsive operation that caters to students’ and faculty members’ every need.

— Brown’s Sponsored Research: $151,458,000; Dartmouth’s: $182,118,000;
— Brown paid out $30,660,000 less than Dartmouth

Here is the only area where the cost of operating Dartmouth should be somewhat more expensive than Brown. We do slightly more sponsored research than Brown, which hikes up our overall cost of operations. But $30 million in a budget that runs at $891.4 million doesn’t have much impact.

— Brown’s tuition, room and board and fees in 2016/2017: $64,566; Dartmouth’s: $66,174
— Brown will cost $1,608 less than Dartmouth in the coming year

Go figure. Despite all of our wealth and cost advantage, we still charge our students more than Brown (both schools give financial aid to about 44% of students; the remainder pay full boat). You’d think that Dartmouth students would get to share in the spoils of our huge endowment. Nope.

Summary: Brown’s expenses run to $89,381/student each year; we pay out $140,382/student. We spend $51,001/year/student more than Brown. However, part of that difference lies in our extra research spending — just under $12,000/year per student). After deducting research, we still spend approximately $39,000/student/year more than Brown. That difference adds up. 

If we could reduce our spending/student to Brown’s level, we could take $247,650,000 of waste each year out of our budget, which we could then put towards more productive uses. Oh, the places we’d go if the administration ran the College with the goal of providing students with the best education possible, rather than allowing a cushy, overpaid bureaucracy to grow every year.

Addendum: A Dartmouth parent writes in:

Great. Can we poach the Brown top ten administrators and pay them each $2,000,000 per year? We would be way ahead if we did so. If a side by side comparison like this was done for all eight Ivy schools, it would be even more eye-opening. Maybe the board members or top administrators would have some explaining to do before anyone makes more donations. How’s that capital campaign coming along?

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