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A reader writes in to let us know that other schools do things differently from high-cost-low-quality-much-disliked Dartmouth Dining Service:

I’m a follower of Dartblog who has never written before, but this one prompted a reply, not only because you featured one of our favorite food servers here in Concord, NH, Boloco’s Ben Nawn, but also because it appears Dartmouth is ripe for the kind of student-initiated foodie takeover sweeping the nation, in which huge food service companies are ousted in favor of real food from a clever chef.

Our daughter, now in MS working for FOOD CORPS, and others in the class of 2012 at tiny Cornell College in Mt. Vernon, IA (the “other Cornell”) worked very hard to replace Sodexo, the pricey and somewhat bland food service at their college with one far healthier and responsive.

Below is the college’s announcement when it happened.

Keep up the great work!

Cornell Dining Comp1.jpg

Of course, Dartmouth Dining Services is not run by a “huge food service company”; the situation is even worse: an institution of higher education managed by academics and their subordinates is trying to run a dining service that can serve thousands of meals per day. The results are predictably appalling and expensive.

Bon Appétit seems to be the real deal. Its website announces the following attributes of its food service sites:

Bon Appétit Management Company is an on-site restaurant company offering full food-service management to corporations, universities, museums, and other specialty venues. Based in Palo Alto, CA, we operate more than 500 cafés in 32 states. All Bon Appétit food is cooked from scratch, including sauces, stocks, and soups. Widely recognized as a pioneer in environmentally sound sourcing policies, we are proud to be the first food service company to:

● Cook 100% from scratch
● Directly support small, local farms
● Serve only sustainable seafood
● Address antibiotics overuse in our meat supply
● Serve only cage-free shell eggs
● Tackle food’s role in climate change
● Advocate for farmworkers’ rights
● Commit to pork raised without gestation crates
● Serve only third-party verified humanely raised ground beef

Geez. Wouldn’t it be amazing if students went to Class of ‘53 Commons because they wanted to do so, rather than because the College’s rules forced them to go.

Addendum: The Bon Appétit company has produced an engaging video:

Addendum: The success of the King Arthur Flour café in Baker is an example of what dining at the College could become in the hands of a creative, entrepreneurial operator.

As expected, Phil will be unveiling his Moving Dartmouth Forward agenda on Thursday, January 29. What was not expected is that his oration will take place at 8:30am the morning after Wednesday night Greek house meetings:

Hanlon Speech.jpg

The stated capacity of Moore Theater is 480 seats. Given that there are about 4,000 students on campus, and Greek membership totals 2,213, will the fire marshal have to keep an eye on overcrowding? Or will students be too worse for wear to show up? Maybe that is Phil’s point?

Me thinks that Wednesday night meetings will be animated. In the Greeks’ place, I’d make sure that brothers and sisters attended Phil’s presentation in massive numbers.

Addendum: The second para in Phil’s memo reads like an SAT prep question:

SAT Grammar.jpg

Just who is “them”? The committee? Barbara Will?

The NYT seems to have understood that if only fraternities — and not nationally affiliated sororities — can hold campus parties with alcohol, then they will likely abuse their monopoly power:

Local Sororities Comp.jpg

The article spends a moment focusing on a local Dartmouth sorority that holds parties:

An interesting case study exists at Dartmouth, where Sigma Delta, a sorority with no national affiliation, does hold parties with alcohol in its well-kept house. Events feature female bartenders, female members at the doors and women designated to remain sober and monitor the scene. A social chair at Sigma Delta, Molly Reckford [‘15], said that female students routinely have said they preferred parties there rather than at fraternities.

“Especially younger girls feel much more comfortable coming to our sisters for help if they need it, rather than men having almost all the power,” Ms. Reckford said. “That dynamic is one of the key reasons fraternity members feel so entitled to women’s bodies, because women have no ownership of the social scene. You can’t kick a guy out of his own house.”

A great many people in Hanover have comprehended this sad fact for a great many years, but the administration’s policy has long been that no new sororities would be created that weren’t affiliated with a national. Such sad, and typical, short-sightedness. I wrote about this issue starting in 2010, and this space’s clearest statement came in 2012: Reforming Fraternities: Reduce Their Absolute Power.

Addendum: The College’s sororities are not as dry as all that, but the drinking takes place behind closed doors, thereby belying Dartmouth’s honorable and longstanding tradition of open-door parties.

The other day we noted stars who had been poached away from the College by more energetic and ambitious schools. We cited people like Mike Gazzaniga, Walter Sinnot-Armstrong, and Jamshed Bharucha; however, several people have written in to justifiably mention Professor Victor Ambros (below left) as being of the same quality — see his CV here. In fact, Scientific American puts him in its “Should have won a Nobel Prize” category. He left the College for UMass Dartmouth in 2007 after fifteen years in Hanover.

Ambros Sci Am Comp.jpg

To say that Ambros’ scholarly work has had an impact on his field is a serious understatement. Let’s turn to Google Scholar, which lists eight research papers that have been cited by more than 1,000 other researchers, and 38 papers cited by more than 100 colleagues in Ambros’ field:

Victor Ambros GS.jpg

Ambros’ departure is yet another example of Gresham’s Law applied to the academy. If the College were supporting our top faculty members, their continued presence would attract other young professors of potentially equal quality — leading to a further increase in the average ability of our faculty members and a concomitant improvement in the intellectual climate of the Dartmouth community. Over the past twenty years, the flow has been very much in the opposite direction.

Addendum: An alert reader notes that in November Ambros was one of 14 biologists, physicists, and mathematicians to win a Breakthrough Prize — an award which the Globe noted was “founded by a Who’s Who of entrepreneurs and Silicon Valley technorati.” Each recipient was given $3 million.

When I return to New Haven for my Law School reunions, I often note posted directions to both Yale undergrads’ reunions and Yale Directed Studies events. Directed Studies is Yale’s optional freshman year Great Books program, and it seems that the bonds among its participants are so strong that they group together after all these years. The program defines itself as follows:

Directed Studies, a selective program for freshmen, is an interdisciplinary study of Western civilization. One hundred twenty-five students are accepted each year.

All students enrolled in Directed Studies take three yearlong courses—literature, philosophy, and historical and political thought—in which they read the central texts of the Western tradition. The fall term introduces students to the principal works of classical antiquity and to the Judeo-Christian tradition. The fall term ends with the Middle Ages. The spring term begins with the Renaissance and ends with the twentieth century.

Each course meets weekly for one lecture and two seminars; seminars have eighteen students and one faculty member. The regular lectures and seminars are complemented by a series of colloquia. Distinguished members of the faculty are invited to speak on major issues arising from the work in the program, on related disciplines not included in the program, and on the relationship between Western civilization and the non-Western world. Colloquium topics in recent years have included poetry and translation, the origin of consciousness in Greek art, Christians, Muslims, and Jews in medieval Spain, and Western views of China.

Interestingly, DS attracts the attention of top Yale faculty members. The erstwhile Dean of the Law School, Tony Kronman, teaches in Directed Studies now.

The closest Dartmouth gets to Yale’s successful program is our Humanities 1-2 sequence, which seems to be enjoying renewed popularity under the direction of Professor of French and Comparative Literature Andrea Tarnowski. According to The D, the program this year received 135 applications for its 48 slots. The courses immerse students in some of the classic works of Western literature and fulfill the requirements normally represented by Writing 5 and the Freshman Seminar. I like this self-description:

Humanities 1 and 2 draw students who love reading, who enjoy immersing themselves in books that have profoundly influenced Western culture from Antiquity onwards, and who are not daunted by intellectual challenge.

In the age of Instagram and Twitter, the phrase “students who love reading” seems almost old fashioned and romantic. How nice to see it again. The Humanities 1-2 website also offers a deeper rationale for participating in the program.

In a well functioning institution, the administration would build on Humanities 1-2’s success. First off, I’d suggest putting all of the freshmen signed up for the Humanities sequence next year in the same dorm (not the Choates, please). The faculty could also offer an optional Humanities 3 course in the spring term. Once the education and social value of that arrangement is proven, the College might consider a Dartmouth version of Directed Studies. Imagine students reading great books over an entire year in the company of other students whom they know well, with everyone support by the same engaged faculty members. Such a program could well encourage undergrads to choose to do other things than vomit on each other in dirty basements.

Addendum: Dartmouth Now did a good profile of the resurgent Humanities 1-2 sequence in November.

Addendum: I am a big fan of the Humanities for all the usual reasons, and for a non-standard one, too, which I laid out in this post: Why the Liberal Arts? To Make Money!

Addendum: An alumnus writes in:

It is a shame that someone can’t get their act together to make Sophomore Summer a signature learning experience at Dartmouth. Jim Wright saw the potential there but fumbled around with it because he wasn’t sure what he wanted to do (he envisioned classes with field trips and such). Jim Kim saw it as simply another way of promoting himself and his networking opportunities rather than creating a serious learning opportunity (shocking, I know).

But it would be the perfect opportunity for some sort of shared learning experience like a Great Books program or something. And I think by sophomore summer the kids are mature enough to actually get something out of that (Freshman year I think might be too difficult). In addition, I think that the usual crop of Dartmouth profs could be supplemented by some really outstanding visiting profs who would be happy to spend a summer in Hanover teaching Dartmouth kids in that sort of environment.

To put it another way, the only year of law school that really works well is first-year, and the reason is that it is a shared learning experience, where the in-class and out-of-class experiences reinforce each other. After that the students become so scattered with different classes and activities that the academic experience breaks down.

The problem, of course, is that it takes not only vision, but vision of the right sort to turn Sophomore Summer into a signature learning experience for the College rather than an obligation that every student has to undertake.

Synagogue Plaque.jpgParis is decidedly on a war footing: there are pairs of combat-ready troops in front of Jewish institutions all over our neighborhood. They are carrying the French FAMAS assault rifle and they wear flak vests and full camouflage uniforms. Two soldiers stood guard outside a synagogue near us that had been attacked in 1980: four people died there in a bombing. To their right is a wall-mounted plaque that reads:

To the memory of Jean-Michel Barbé, Philippe Bouissou, Hilard Lopez Fernandez, Aliza Shagrif. Killed during an odious attack perpetrated against this synagogue on October 3, 1980.

Synagogue Soldiers1.jpg

A Canadian man of Lebanese descent was recently extradited to France and charged with the bombing. His is accused of detonating 22 pounds of explosives packed in the saddle bags of a motorcycle parked in front of the synagogue containing 300 Sabbath worshipers. This event was the first fatal attack against the Jewish community here since World War II, but far from the last.

The French have deployed about 10,000 troops to stand guard at threatened institutions. That figure has to be somewhere near 10% of France’s front-line combat troops — a figure that is unsupportable in all but the short-term, if France is to fulfill its other defense obligations. However the public reaction could be negative when the protective troops stand down from our neighborhood’s school’s and synagogues.

Addendum: Heavily armed gendarmes were also present at our children’s school out in the suburbs.

Gregg Fairbrothers1.jpgEntrepreneurs never take no for an answer when they believe in an idea, especially if they can’t implement it in the organization where they work. (Think of Ross Perot, who tried to convince IBM to go into services when he was employed there; Big Blue said no, and Perot left to found EDS, which he ended up selling to GM in 1984 for $2.5 billion — which was a lot of money in those days).

A case in point is Gregg Fairbrothers, who was relieved of his positions at Tuck and the Dartmouth incubator under disputed and acrimonious conditions last summer. Gregg has now recruited a team of entrepreneurially-minded alumni, and he seems to have begun his own educational enterprise — ExL University — which is offering weekly lectures on Tuesdays in various Dartmouth fraternities. ExL defines its goals thusly:

The ExL program is a bootstrap collaboration between Dartmouth Greek houses, alumni, and students. The program will expose students to the skills that form the core of an entrepreneurial mindset—critical thinking, problem solving, leadership, and communication. These also happen to be the skills most sought by companies when hiring.

Gregg Fairbrothers EXL1.jpg

The ExL website is polished and the program shows evidence of a great deal of work. But then Gregg has a large network of alumni to call on. I wonder where he is going to go with this.

Click here to watch Gregg’s introductory lecture, which took place at GDX on January 6.

Addendum: Curiously enough, it seems that for several days, logging onto ExL’s site via Dartmouth’s servers was impossible, but that problem went away on Wednesday of this week.

The D was cited by the Poynter Institute as an “Other Favorite” in the latter’s year in media errors and corrections 2014 competition. Here is the lauded text:

D Correction 2014.jpg

The College’s reputation continues to improve.

Addendum: How good to know that staff members of The D will bend over backwards and forwards in order to be accurate.

Come and learn just how badly the cruel world is treating you. If you don’t feel your oppression now, you will soon. Courtesy of the Office of Pluralism and Leadership:

Intergroup Dialogue.jpg

Note that nobody from the Dartmouth faculty is involved in this program. Angry, self-involved administrators have taken it upon themselves to motivate the College’s students.

Addendum: I have no issue with the notion of students of different backgrounds discussing the world, but this program has a specific agenda that does little good for the Dartmouth community.

This week’s Charlie Hebdo sold out before we could get to the neighborhood newsstand, and supportive graffiti have appeared in a few places. The below hearts and cartoonist pencils were stencilled on the wall of the 16th arrondissment’s main reservoir at the corner of avenue Paul Valéry and the infamous rue Lauriston.

Charlie Hugo Reservoir.jpg

One of the wonderful characteristics of Dartmouth in my day (and up until the mid-1990’s, as I understand it) was the College’s all-four-classes dormitories. Not for Dartmouth of that era the freshman dorms of other schools (and the College today) where a bunch of rudderless 18-year-olds try to outdo each other as the handle of cheap vodka is passed around. Not for us the feckless Community Directors who seek to organize the kind of dorm life that grew organically among people who lived together for four years and passed on dorm traditions.

At some point about twenty years ago, some dean somewhere decided that we had to be like everywhere else, and while today freshman year is still marked by close friendships among needy freshman, sophomore year is now notable for the tearing asunder of those meaningful social bonds.

Listen to Becky Marder ‘15, an ardent défenseuse of the Greek system, who found herself in that situation after her tight group of freshman-year friends was scattered around campus at the start of sophomore year:

I think that I’ve really opened up since joining the Greek system. My freshman year I was really, really close to my freshman floor, so when I came into sophomore year, I kind of lacked that sense of community that I had, and we were all across campus at that point. We weren’t on the same floor, and I couldn’t walk out my door and find my all best friends anymore. So joining a sorority, I really found that community again, and I found those people that I could look up to and that I could turn to. And I felt like I really pushed myself out of my comfort zone and I really pushed myself to make new friends…

How sad those last words, “new friends.” What about her old friends from the previous year? Becky had invested time during her freshman year getting to know a diverse group of students in her dorm — as diverse as the College wanted them to be — and then the College throws them to the winds, and Becky had to start over again. Sure, she still knew those people, and no doubt she made efforts to see them from time to time, but as she says, it is easier to build friendships with the people next door than to maintain long distance relationships with classmates who might be on the other end of campus — or, frankly, even in the building next to yours.

One does not have to be an anthropologist to understand the role of proximity in establishing communities, though that observation seems to have escaped everyone in the Dean’s Office.

So let me make a last plea for mixed-class dormitories. Phil’s new shared-interest residential clusters might be somewhat successful in grouping together everyone of a certain narrow set of interests or orientations starting in sophomore year, but they do so at the cost of all the effort that went into building friendships during freshman year. Why throw away that successful activity? And ask yourself if a dorm of upperclassmen will ever be as tightly knit as the freshmen who cut their teeth together — especially when a goodly number of sophomores will be off campus on LSA/FSA programs during part of their second year as students.

If Phil wants to create an honest alternative to the Greek system, he has only to look at his past experience in dorm living. Some students, like he did, moved out of their home dorm and joined a fraternity, but a great many stayed in the same dorm and found the same social support that the Greek system provides. For people looking for the proverbial “alternative social spaces,” the example is in front of you, if you look to Dartmouth history.

Addendum: I can’t for the life of me understand the College’s blind fealty to the idea of freshman-only dorms. Are administrators afraid that upperclassmen will prey on the first-year innocents if they live in the same building? Or do they fear some kind of ideological contamination from older students who refuse to let the old traditions fail? Someone from anthropology or sociology should weigh in here.

The Admissions Office has announced that applications have rebounded from last year’s 14% decline; they are up 6.6% this year to “about 20,500” according to a Dartmouth Now story. That figure is still over 11% below the record-setting 23,110 applications received for the Class of 2016, which was called “the worst class ever” when it arrived in Hanover.

Applications Data 2015.jpg

After last year’s embarrassing drop, Admissions did everything in its power to increase the number of applications to the College for the Class of 2019. A modest increase of 6.6% points to the fact that Dartmouth is both suffering from the ongoing string of campus scandals that have made the national news, and the absence of countervailing positive stories in the press. Translation: we still have to dig ourselves out of a deep hole.

Addendum: Applications to Princeton rose 1.45% to 26,993 potential students. This figure is in line with the past few years, in which applications have ranged just below 27,000.

Addendum: The Classes of 2017 and 2018 were also adjudged to be the worst classes of all time, and from initial appearances, the Class of 2019 will continue this sorry downward trajectory.

Last week The D breathlessly reprinted a college press release about a Med School professor receiving a small grant:

Geisel School of Medicine pharmacology and toxicology professor Michael Spinella is being awarded a $250,000 two-year grant by the Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation to support his research, which could lead to a treatment for testicular cancer that is more effective and less toxic than current treatment options.

That development is all well and good, but the real story up at Geisel is that the College has lost a top-ranked professor, Jason Moore, who is the Director of the College’s Institute for Quantitative Biomedical Sciences, among his many other responsiblities. Moore was lured away to lead Penn’s new Institute for Biomedical Informatics.

By any standard, Moore is a heavy hitter: he has authored or co-authored 38 research papers that have been cited more than 100 times in the work of colleagues in his field:

Jason Moore Comp.jpg

Penn’s press release gushes about Moore’s scholarly profile:

Moore has written or co-authored over 400 peer-reviewed papers, editorials, and book chapters. He is also founding Editor-in-Chief of the journal BioData Mining and the founding editor of the Cambridge University Press book series on systems genetics. He has served as an editor and editorial board member of numerous other publications.

Among his many awards and accolades, Moore was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in 2011 and was selected as a Kavli Fellow of the National Academy of Sciences in 2013.

Of course, the College has lauded Moore’s achievement’s, too. Click here to watch a video about Dartmouth’s Discovery Grid:

Jason Moore Neukom Comp.jpg

Now that Moore is gone, we have to ask, again, why we can’t keep such a spectacular scholar in Hanover, and why we lose talent like this and never seem to poach equivalent people from other schools. When is the last time the College opened a new research center and found an academic leader of the highest order to run it?

Well, Jim Kim did open the the Dartmouth Center for Health Care Delivery Science, which was funded by a $35 million grant. But then Kim picked Al Mulley to run it — the same Al Mulley who headed the search committee that picked Kim as Dartmouth’s President. Only the crony should be the College’s theme song, and as a result of this weak appointment, the once-promising Center has gone nowhere, having recently been absorbed into the pre-existing Dartmouth Institute.

Who says that good management doesn’t make a difference?

Addendum: Jason Moore joins a long list of talented professors who have left Hanover for climes more conducive to excellence. Think Mike Gazzaniga, Walter Sinnot-Armstrong, Jamshed Bharucha and any number of rising young scholars. Let’s hope that Phil Hanlon and Carolyn Dever can turn things around; and after Mike Mastanduno is replaced as Dean of the Faculty, that the new Dean may be able to help them, too.

Addendum: Meanwhile, this very day, Geisel announced the creation of a pair of new basic science departments: biomedical data science and epidemiology. I don’t know much about epidemiology, but it seems a shame to announce a new department of biomedical data science within weeks of your biggest star in the field leaving town.

Certain people are being careful this year:

IFC Rush.jpg

How curious that the e-mail starts with the words “Male members of the class of 2017,” rather than, say, “Men of Dartmouth” (to coin a phrase) “of the Class of 2017.”

Charlie Mitra2.jpgParis is returning to normal, but many police officers are now carrying high-powered weapons — the better to respond, I expect, to AK47-bearing terrorists. The obliging neighborhood gendarme on the right holds a submachinegun in addition to his usual semi-automatic service pistol. The gendarmerie is the equivalent of the local police, the lowest level in the French law enforcement hierarchy

Notable for their absence from Sunday’s enormous manifestation were a senior representative of the U.S. government (Come on. Joe Biden could not have been too busy, and security for dozens of national leaders, including the heads of state of Israel, Germany, the U.K. and France, was certainly tight enough to protect the Veep) and also senior figures from the major religious groups. Charlie Hebdo was both ecumenical and unsparing in satirizing religions: Christianity, Judaism and their institutions fared no better than Islam in its pages. Of course, it is possible that the heads of the different groups determined that the demonstration was more about civil liberties than religion and therefore was best left to secular groups.

Addendum: The German Embassy on the avenue Franklin Roosevelt declares that, “We are all Charlie,” while the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris on the avenue Président Wilson makes the now ubiquitous proclamation in the first person:

Charlie Comp.jpg

Addendum: Yesterday John Kerry announced that he will be going to France at the end of the week. And in Washington, a spokesman at the White House acknowledged that the United States should have been represented at the demonstration by an official of a higher rank than the newly appointed ambassador to France.

Addendum: As an example of a multi-background demonstration, look to the march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, on March 21, 1965. Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel — the white-bearded father of Dartmouth Professor of Religion Susannah Heschel — joined the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. and a diverse group of civil rights leaders. According to Wikipedia, in the front row starting on the far left are John Lewis, an unidentified nun, Ralph Abernathy, Martin Luther King, Jr., Ralph Bunche, Abraham Joshua Heschel, and Fred Shuttlesworth. Visible behind King and Bunche is Rabbi Maurice Davis:


Addendum: For the curious among you as to why the marchers in the front row of a civil rights demonstration in the South are each wearing a lei, the garlands were brought to Alabama by members of the Hawaiian delegation. To my knowledge, on that day no charges of cultural insensitivity were lodged against King and the other protesters, unlike in 1999 at the College when a fraternity/sorority luau party was cancelled for just that reason. As the D reported at the time, “The controversy was sparked when Omar Rashid ‘00, president of the historically Latino fraternity Lambda Upsilon Lambda, sent a BlitzMail message late last Thursday night to various students and administrators calling the planned party ‘a vile act of incivility.’” Plus ça change.


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