Dartmouth's Daily Blog
News, commentary, criticism and praise for the College on the Hill, enlivened with history, culture and travel when we feel so moved.
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 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:
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)
— 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?
Let’s look at the Arthur L. Irving Institute for Energy and Society from an entrepreneurial perspective. Is this the kind of business that we want Dartmouth to get into? What special advantages do we have in this area? Who would be our competitors? Is an energy center the best use for our money?
To start, we’d have to compete against, um, the Energy Institute at the University of Michigan, which, as you can see below, has 130 faculty members and one mission:
Then there’s the Energy Initiative at MIT with seven senior executives and 72 staffers:
Of course, we should not slight the Energy Institute at the University of Texas, which attracts almost as much each year in grants as the entire Irving Institute might one day have in its endowment:
Not to mention the energy institutes at Penn State, Colorado State, Berkeley, the University of Wisconsin, Texas A&M, Texas Christian University, The City University of New York, Rutgers, University of Washington, Yale, and on and on (and that was just the first two pages of a Google search for “energy institute”).
The Valley News reported on Phil’s presentation of the new institute in which he described the kind of work that might be done in the new $60 million at the end of Tuck Mall:
Using the example of power grids, Hansen noted that current research is fragmented, with electronic engineers working on improved smart grid systems that can shuffle loads around more efficiently, economists trying to figure out how they fit into the marketplace, and computer scientists working to protect them from increasingly sophisticated attacks from computer hackers.
“Bringing these people together, and giving them more resources will make them blossom,” Hansen said.
Great, Phil. Now try to convince us that a dozen other energy institutes don’t already have large teams of experienced researchers working on this and other problems. You’ll need to present a better justification for us jumping into an area where big guys have been fighting hard for decades. Does the College’s new enterprise have any competitive advantage at all? If so, spell it out.
As for fundraising, it’s pretty clear that a project that has been in the works for three years is not setting the Dartmouth donor community on fire. More from the Valley News
The institute was started with an $80 million lead gift from Irving Oil, the Arthur L. Irving Family Foundation, and members of the Irving family…
The institute also has attracted an additional $33 million in funding from a handful of other alumni; college officials hope to raise a total of $160 million to fund the institute.
Hansen said roughly $60 million would be used in startup costs, including the construction of the building, and that an endowment of the remaining $100 million would provide annual revenues of about $5 million.
So, we have the Irving $80 million lined up, and after all this time, our President, the supposed fundraiser extraordinaire, has scrambled to come up with another $33 million. That leaves $47 million to be gathered from Dartmouth donors who could well be persuaded to contribute to the betterment of undergraduate education — but, obviously, the staffers in Development aren’t going to be pushing hard in that direction, not when Phil’s pet project needs money.
And just who is going to lead research at the new institute? Phil did not stand up the other day and present to us a team of the nation’s top energy scientists who will power (sorry) the new endeavor. There is nobody at Thayer now who can claim to have the special talent to lead the new entity. If there were, Phil would have named a director. (If you are thinking of Professor Lee Lynd, note that after receiving investments and grants totaling $108.3 million, his Mascoma Corporation sold its struggling yeast business to Canada-based Lallemand Inc. at the end of 2014).
There an old saying in the venture capital world: you need five elements for a successful enterprise: the product, the market, the people, the people, the people. We don’t yet have them. In fact, the way a project like this should be created is to identify an extraordinary member of the faculty or group of faculty members and then build an institute around them. Phil has gone about this process back-asswards.
Other than a big grant that gets us half-way to financing this project, and another partial bit of funding, what does Phil have to show for all of this efforts?
Not anything that I would put money into, not if I was hoping for a strong educational return on my investment.
Addendum: And what does the future hold? Can we expect $60 million buildings dotted around Hanover for new Hanlon institutes in microprocessor design, automobile development, battery research, pollution control, and other areas where we have little expertise and no possibility of doing work on the scale of numerous other competitors?
You don’t have to be a venture capitalist like Chairman of the Board of Trustees Bill Helman ‘80 to understand that Phil’s energy project is doomed to mediocrity at best. But then, as we have always said, the Trustees just rubber-stamp the President’s ideas, even when they should have the good sense to see that the inevitable result is failure and waste.
Addendum: An alumnus writes in:
The Energy Institute reminds me of the long-gone but once famous and prestigious Dartmouth Eye Institute, which President Hopkins closed down despite its fame because he feared it distracted from the central mission of the College.
The Arthur L. Irving Institute for Energy and Society is a capstone on the College’s long association with the oil industry. While Hanover native George Bissel ‘45 (that’s 1845) has been termed the father of the American oil industry, the development of petroleum exploration and the commercial exploitation of oil have their origins in a group effort by Dartmouth faculty and alumni starting in Hanover. Bissel was a lawyer, but in a liberal arts moment, he put two and two together and realized that the derricks used to drill salt wells might also be used to drill for what was then termed “rock oil.” His effort in conjunction with members of the faculty and other men of Dartmouth is memorialized even today on a plaque on the wall of Crosby Hall (now attached to Blunt Alumni Center):
The first scientific examination of crude oil which led to the beginning of the world’s petroleum industry was conducted in this building then the home of Dr. Dixi Crosby lifelong teacher in the Dartmouth Medical School.
In 1853 Francis B. Brewer Class of 1843 brought a sample of Pennsylvania rock oil to Dartmouth for analysis by Dr. Crosby and Oliver P. Hubbard professor of chemistry.
Their report of its useful and potentially valuable properties led to the purchase by George H. Bissell Class of 1845 and Jonathan G. Eveleth, aided by Albert H Crosby Class of 1848, of oil producing land in western Pennsylvania, the incorporation in 1854 of the first petroleum company in the world, and drilling of the Drake Well at Titusville in 1859.
This memorial erected June 26, 1953 on the one hundredth anniversary of the pioneering of this Dartmouth alumni and faculty group.
Addendum: Lest undergraduates think that old-time students and faculty spent all of their time being homophobic and racist, note that great events have taken place at the College throughout its history.
Addendum: A faculty member writes in:
If those [Irving] revenues has been dedicated to a program of research and development to replace the College’s (and DHMC’s) dependence on oil, that would have benefited everyone in perpetuity. We are a walking — burning — example of carbon emissions. How about using the money to pioneer a sustainable program of northern New England wood utilization, with chips produced on and delivered from the College Grant? Or solar on every building on campus? Or geothermal? All these options could be investigated and implemented where practicable with the results shared regionally, perhaps creating new businesses in the process. Dartmouth helped discover oil. Why not lead the way out of it?
The women of Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority voted tonight by a margin of 84%-16% to go local. The ballot required a super-majority of 75% in order to pass. This change will allow KKG to (officially) serve alcohol at social events and to hold rush in a more creative manner. It will also allow the house to freely use scholarship money. The change has been under discussion at KKG for several years.
Additionally, in light of the College’s unprincipled derecognition of AD and SAE, KKG will not longer be at the mercy of its national for its existence; when SAE hammered its Dartmouth local for supposed hazing, Dean Ameer was all too eager to pile on.
Addendum: No word yet on a new name for the house.
My own days as a student occurred at the end of the era when a Dartmouth home football game brought fans, alumni, and opposing team supporters from all over New England. Needless to say, virtually the entire student body went to the game, but the 3,300 of so of us (with the remaining 700-800 undergraduates off-campus for one reason or another) were less than a fifth of an attendance that was routinely announced to be in the area of 18,000. The streets of Hanover were jammed, as were the now-demolished visitors stands on the far side of Memorial Field (where you’ll now find Buddy Teevens ‘79’s pride and joy, Floren Varsity House). This vintage postcard shows it as it was:
Of course, having a winning team helps attendance a great deal. Memorial Field’s capacity is now 11,000, and if we keep playing as the team did last night — beating UNH 22-21 in the Granite Bowl after being down 21-7 in the second half — we might once again see a sold-out football game (8,296 fans showed up last night):
The victory was the College’s first against powerhouse UNH since 1976 — a period of time in which we were 0-18-2 against the Wildcats, according to the Valley News
Addendum: Last night Dartmouth sported black and gray uniforms: Go Big Black!
Addendum: The erstwhile height of the visiting-team stands shown in the postcard above gave real meaning to the term “running stadiums.” The view over Hanover was pretty good from up there, too.
I have attended two dinner presentations put on by students in the Thought Project affinity house. They invite College professors to Wheeler Hall each week to discuss ideas of moment. As my Dean of the College Ralph Manual ‘58 might have said, “Long live the life of the mind.” Here is the group’s schedule for September and October:
Meanwhile, the Office of Pluralism and Leadership invites student to join together from the git go based on other criteria: their shared affinity of race, gender and orientation:
Why would students want to group with people like themselves, when they can join others who share a mutual interest in ideas?
Phil has now officially announced the Irving Oil donation for the new energy institute, providing greater details about funding:
Here is the College’s video describing the institute:
The Irving Institute already has a website.
Addendum: Beyond the $80 million donated by the Irving Oil group and the Irving family, another $80 million will come from other donors to the College. One can imagine the hard work that the Development office did in order to direct donors to give money to this endeavor, rather than to, say, undergraduate education.
Addendum: Today’s faculty joke:
Dartmouth Institute for Energy and Society: DIES
Earlier this week at the meeting of the Committee of Chairs, Phil announced with great pride that the College was to receive what I am told is a $100 million gift from Arthur Irving, Chairman of Irving Oil Company, to fund a new “Energy and Society” institute at Dartmouth.
Beyond his oil and gas empire, Arthur Irving is the owner of significant additional holdings in shipbuilding, media, defense and forestry — he is #308 on the Forbes 400 list of billionaires with a net worth of $5.2 billion. He is also the parent of Sarah Irving ‘10; he is an adopted member of the Class of 1972; and in 2010 he received an honorary degree from the College.
The announcement has the makings of a firestorm:
— The already surly mood of the Committee of Chairs manifested itself in intense pressure on Phil to respect the College’s tradition of shared governance between the faculty and the administration. The chairs of the College’s academic departments and programs had no prior knowledge of the institute, and it certainly has not been debated by the faculty. Speakers asserted that it should be.
— Just what expertise does the College have in this area? Will the institute be staffed entirely by new hires in Phil’s largest cluster endeavor yet?
— How independent will the institute be to explore all types of energy questions when funding comes from an oil company owner? Certainly we wonder about the bona fides of medical research that is funded by self-interested sources like cigarette manufacturers and large pharmaceutical firms. What is the Irving family’s goal here?
— Is energy an area where the administration wants to devote substantial resources? Is this our highest priority as an academic institution?
— Will $100 million make us a player in a hugely competitive field? If $40-$50 million goes into a new building and an endowment to support it, then the remaining funds will only support an annual operating budget of $2.5-$3.0 million (the College draws 5% from endowment money each year) — hardly the kind of commitment that will finance wide-ranging research by the 12-13 people that Phil said would staff the new institute.
— Last week the College updated the master plan and posted information on new buildings that might be built at the end of Tuck Mall. I expect that an energy institute building will be among them (in all likelihood the building indicated by the red arrow below). Are Thayer and Tuck willing to give up essential real estate for an uncertain endeavor that is far distant from our successful graduate schools’ central missions?
— Groups like Dartmouth Alumni for Climate Action and Divest Dartmouth have been drafting petitions, meeting Phil during his office hours, and organizing demonstrations with the goal of having the College divest all of its endowment holdings in fossil fuel-related companies. As Divest Dartmouth’s Leehi Yona wrote just this week in The D, “In April of this year, we organized the Big Green Rally, which had over 115 co-sponsors and nearly 500 attendees - the largest gathering of its kind in Dartmouth history.” Environment-conscious students would hardly appear poised to support an energy institute funded by the owner of a multinational oil company.
Beyond the merits of the energy institute, Phil has shown himself beyond maladroit in preparing the Dartmouth community for such a departure from its usual priorities. By springing the news on the Committee of Chairs, he is going to incite immediate pushback. Where that goes is anyone’s guess.
Addendum: The College is expected to formally announce the institute this morning.
Addendum: Does this effort sound like Jim Kim’s Center for the Science of Health Care Delivery to you?
At its best, Convocation is intellectual; it sets a tone for the freshman class’ upcoming years. The President and other senior leaders talk about serious matters in an atmosphere — with robed professors arriving in an academic procession — that is solemn, one that tells incoming freshmen that they are part of a tradition not to be taken lightly. Each year, John Sloan Dickey, the College’s President from 1945-1970 (shown at right at the 1947 Convocation in Webster Hall), would intone:
“Welcome to Dartmouth College, gentlemen. Your business here is learning. What you make of yourself is up to you. We’re here to help. We’ll be with you all the way. Good luck.”
His message did not go unheeded, as one alumnus shared with me:
When I entered Dartmouth in the fall of 1956, John Sloan Dickey delivered the Convocation address, and it made a powerful impression on me and others. Many of us really had no very clear idea of why were there, only that going on to college was what people like us were supposed to do. The idea of being part of a community of learning was, believe it or not, quite new to us. The speech started us off with a certain enthusiasm and determination to make the most of our time at Dartmouth. I suppose these days young people are more sophisticated, and perhaps think “I am here to get an expensive credential that will let me go on to B school - what I learn along the way will be entertaining, but no big deal.” But perhaps a well conceived Convocation speech could help overcome such purely utilitarian attitudes.
Convocation is Phil Hanlon’s chance to state his creed, to take a no-holds-barred stance on what Dartmouth is about. Beyond that broad goal, he has no shortage of issues to address in a speech. He could better define the notion of “rigor,” which had a brief half-life as a concern of his administration. Perhaps he could talk about free speech in light of the BLM library incident last November and the Collis poster fight of this spring. Or he could address the recent University of Chicago letter regarding trigger warnings and safe spaces. A spirited defense of the liberal arts is always needed, especially when sky-high tuition puts pressure on students to monetize their degree as soon as possible.
And Provost Dever could enliven proceeding with her special thoughts on diversity and inclusiveness. (Actually, strike that point; I am trying to argue in favor of a content-rich Convocation ceremony.)
In short, Convocation is an opportunity for Phil Hanlon and his administrators to show some leadership.
But, no. It seems that, like last year, there will be no formal Convocation ceremony this week. However the Hanlon administration can’t be accused of not doing something to mark the start of the academic year. Let’s have a Campus Celebration:
Great. Barbecues, house swag and music in lieu of ideas, exhortations and requests for reflection.
If you are looking for an example of an institution laid low, one that has lost it seriousness, you need look no further.
Addendum: Phil could even, finally, talk about Abbey D’Agostino as an embodiment of Dartmouth values.
Addendum: A senior member of the faculty writes in:
At modest inconvenience to themselves faculty turned out for Convocation over the years in the belief that it was important to indicate to our students their entry into a community of scholarship and research. The gowned procession signaled that this is not your local high school, and the speeches formally welcomed students into the Dartmouth community. Convocation was one bookend matched at the other end by graduation, Now, it seems, students never enter: they pass through until they really commence.
Addendum: An alumnus writes in:
I’m with you, and with the ‘60 alumnus you quoted. I remember to this day that moment in the fall of 1955, early in the mysteriousness of the freshman year, when (1) my class assembled in one place and thereby produced for me an indelible “mind’s eye” picture of its size, variety, and overall appearance; (2) the president of the College I had chosen showed me who he was while speaking in both a welcoming and business-like manner; and (3) it was made clear to me that there was a “serious business” side to what I was doing in this place.
Addendum: As does another:
I, too, remember a memorable Convocation in the fall of 1977 when Peter Bien spoke to us about joining a community of scholars. I went on to study with Professor Bien, and he was my senior fellowship advisor. By eliminating Convocation, Dartmouth as an undergraduate community is de-emphasized. On a related note, no money for faculty salaries but plenty for house swag apparently….
Phil Hanlon has at least been successful in communicating one institutional message: a disdain for the College’s present faculty. Professors far and wide have come to believe that our President holds the attitude expressed in the above headline (funnily enough, everyone seems to use the same words), and needless to say, such a thought does not contribute to academic productivity.
Phil started off his time in Hanover with a strategy that Carolyn Dever copied; unlike Jim Wright and Jim Freedman, neither Phil nor Carolyn made the rounds of departmental meetings in order to show the flag, listen to the hopes and concerns of faculty, and display knowledge about the scholarship and teaching of various professors. Beyond being courteous, such an activity is a way to amass political capital and establish the contacts that help a leader head off discontent. Imagine a corporate CEO taking charge of a large company and not visiting the various divisions that make up a conglomerate. You can’t? Neither can I.
If such behavior is not natural to Phil — and that could be so, given his legendary awkwardness and discomforture in larger social settings — perhaps he could have held a series of one-on-one meals with the College’s top scholars. As I’ve suggested before, Phil could have invited one star faculty member at a time and proposed that the professor in question invite several colleagues to join them. In this way, members of a cohesive social group could speak comfortably with him about their concerns.
The only effort Phil made was to have a number of dinners with a dozen or so professors, most of whom did not know each other. You don’t need to be a sociologist — or even a math professor — to understand that such a setting does not lead to much more than polite chitchat.
But then Phil is always outward looking. He is most concerned about prestige, about how Dartmouth is perceived in the outside world, rather than by the details of undergraduate education. As such, his pet initiative is cluster hires: bringing in groups of scholars, for whom Dartmouth’s culture of teaching and scholarship is quite foreign, in order that they create hermetic little groups to solve Big Problems. This idea is so good that dozens of other schools are doing the same thing, which, self-evidently, bodes ill for the success of Phil’s effort. But more importantly, in doing so Phil could fracture a faculty that is still committed to teaching, the College’s remaining strength (though a declining one). After all, when the President communicates that he wants to bring in outsiders, whom he sees as the future of the school, the folks who are here can’t help but understand his contempt for them.
The final proof for professors of Phil’s disdain is his lack of any effort to pull average faculty salaries up to the level of our peer institutions. A presentation by Government professor Stephen Brooks at a spring faculty meeting calculated that a $5.4 million increase in the overall salary budget would do the trick: a pittance in the College’s total expenses of $891.4 million in fiscal 2016 — and one that rankles, given the growth in total spending over the last five years, as I noted in May:
Look at the College’s year-on-year total spending increases over the last five years: 2015: + $38.3 million; 2014: +$17.8 million; 2013: +$59.5 million; 2012: +$37.5 million; 2011: +$21.2 million. In 2010 the College’s expenses totaled $717.1 million; in 2015 they were $891.4 million. Of that overall increase of $174.3 million over a five-year period, it is astounding that $5.4 million could not have been found to keep faculty compensation level with competing schools.
If Phil can’t find such a small sum in a sea of cash (and a sea of wasteful spending on members of the non-faculty staff, all of whom seem to have de facto tenure because Dartmouth does not fire people except for the most egregious offenses — not working very much is not one of those), the only explanation is that he just doesn’t care enough about the faculty to make them happy.
The situation has gotten so out of hand that several well meaning faculty members approached Dartblog last year to ask that we do our now-popular Guide to the Stars. Professors assume Phil reads Dartblog — a thin assumption given how detached he is from the daily life of the campus — and they wanted some way for him to understand the exemplary achievements of many of the College’s professors. Good luck.
The end result of this swirling discontent can be found in an answer given in Phil’s recent Campus Study:
If I were on the faculty, I’d be looking around, too. Our professors are underpaid, underappreciated, and many of the best ones could soon be underway. Over to you, Phil, or better still, over to the Trustees, who must at least by now understand that they have made a bad mistake yet again in their choice of our President.
Addendum: Hanlon’s own thin scholarly record — a book and a half-dozen articles all co-authored with several other mathematicians — and his inarticulateness have not escaped the notice of members of the faculty. If Phil were humble, and he does have much to be humble about, he might get away with passing judgment on other scholars, but a lurking arrogance and sense of superiority (maybe he thinks that Michigan has it over Dartmouth) has set teeth on edge. Who is this guy, Dartmouth professors say, to look down on us?
The Office of Communications has reported on yesterday’s announcement of the College’s U.S. News rankings in its Dartmouth News on-line newsletter. Clicking on other Dartmouth News stories normally brings you to a prose description of the event in question. Not here. You only go to the U.S. News summary page for the College:
Nothing about the fall of our Undergraduate Teaching rank from #2 to #7.
Jinsung Bach ‘17, whose excellent column about last spring’s cancellation of the Derby Party elicited praise in this space, today summarized student discontent in a D column that calls for a faculty no-confidence vote concerning the Hanlon administration. Herewith his introductory paragraphs:
The fact is that the administration’s current state of affairs can sustain itself no longer. Its catastrophic ineptitude speaks for itself when they continue to support a half-baked housing system nobody desired or asked for, wasting valuable money in a mealy-mouthed attempt to supplant Greek houses. Nor does it fare well for our education that our faculty is among the most poorly compensated among our peer schools. Precious resources are squandered on hollow programs that pay lip service to diversity and safety but deliver on neither, while administrative bloat continues to astound us with its careless extravagance. We have lost our status as the Ivy League institution with the best undergraduate teaching, a casualty of the unsustainable rise in admissions rates. In exchange for our grief, the administration would have us pay even greater tuition fees - a reminder that their incompetence is funded out of our own pocketbooks.
It is unfair to students that their families should bear the financial brunt of these disastrous policies. It is just as unfair to the members of our faculty, who have given so much on behalf of the College, to suffer a leadership that does not care for their welfare. Intolerable as the status quo may be, more intolerable still is inaction. The time has come for the faculty to register a vote of no confidence in College President Phil Hanlon.
Note Bach’s reference to the College’s declining ranking for undergraduate teaching. His column came out this morning before the U.S. New results appeared noting that we have dropped from #2 to #7 in this category.
As for a vote itself, there is extremely widespread disenchantment about Hanlon among the faculty. But will there be a professor with the nerve to put forward a motion of no confidence, and will someone second it? How about a senior faculty member close to retirement?
August 14, 2013
Breaking: Of Crips and Bloods and Memories of Ghetto Parties
History repeats itself, first as tragedy and then as farce, or sometimes it just repeats itself. From the New York Times on November 30, 1998: At Dartmouth College, white students at a ”ghetto party” dressed…
June 25, 2013
Dean of the College Charlotte Johnson’s War on Students Part (2/2)
Part 1, Part 2 Today’s post again recounts the events that befell the Freshman. However, the content of the Hanover Police department report reproduced in this space yesterday is supplemented by information from my own…
October 18, 2009
When Love Beckoned in 52nd Street
We were at San Francisco’s BIX last evening, enjoying prosecco, cheese, and a bit of music. A full year of inhabitation in Northern California has unraveled to me no decent venue for proper lounging, but…
October 9, 2009
D Afraid of a Little Competish
So our colleague and Dartblog writer Joe Asch informed me that the D has rejected our cunning advertising campaign. Uh-oh. The Dartmouth is widely known as a breeding ground for instant New York Times successes,…
September 4, 2009
How Regents Should Reign
As Dartmouth alumni proceed through the legal hoops necessary to defuse a Board-packing plan—which put in unhappy desuetude an historic 1891 Agreement between alumni and the College guaranteeing a half-democratically-elected Board of Trustees—it strikes one…
August 29, 2009
Election Reform Study Committee
If you are an alum of the College on the Hill, you may have received a number of e-mails of late beseeching your input for a new arm of the College’s Alumni Control Apparatus called…
- The Dartmouth College Case
- 2007 Trustee Election
- Dartmouth Constitution
- Sunday Morning Sinatra
- The Indian Wars
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