Recent articles

In its November/December issue, the Alumni Magazine ran a half-page story on Phil’s half-baked ideas for increasing undergraduate enrollment by 10%-25% and building a massive dormitory complex in College Park. Several alumni were quick to respond in the January/Febuary issue:

DAM Jan-Feb 2018 Enrollment Increase Letters.jpg

Phil Hanlon’s justifications for increasing enrollments are achingly weak — because they aren’t the real justification at all. He just wants to bring in more tuition money to make up for failed fundraising.

Addendum: A faculty member writes in:

I don’t know if you are aware of this, but we are now having to share our offices because of lack of space. While I am happy in theory to do so, it means that there are days when I simply do not have a quiet room in which to do my work. The library is ridiculously noisy, and the faculty offices in there have long waiting lists (and they are hideous). It also means that I can’t leave my books and papers on my office desk from day to day.

Of course, given the impossible parking situation, getting to my office is nearly impossible. I am certainly not going to walk 30 minutes in this cold weather, back and forth to a parking lot, and the bus transport is totally unreliable.

It’s as if the administration doesn’t want faculty on campus.

Colleagues of mine at miserably underfunded institutions, such as U. of Illinois at Chicago, have lovely, well-lit private offices with parking lots a block away. How did we come to this?

Addendum: The author of the first letter above and his father generously donated the College’s new video scoreboard at Memorial Field:

Lewinstein Family Scoreboard.JPG

The Lewinstein family is a minority owner of the Boston Celtics.

With the cold weather this past week, we had crisp dry days (one of which touched -20°) and a glorious sun — which posed no challenge for my iPhone X:

Frozen Tree.jpg

Addendum: I recall about two weeks of -20° weather during my freshman winter. The long trudge down to the Thayer School of Engineering, where I had my Freshman Seminar, was no fun at all, but coming from Montreal, that kind of weather was no surprise. In fact, overall, the fearsome New Hampshire winter was mild compared to growing up in the true north strong and free.

A number of years ago, a sign panel next to Collis/College Hall lamented that people of a certain color could not buy Band-Aids that matched their skin tint. Boohoo. This complaint occurred before the term microaggression had even been invented.

My first reaction was, “Who could possibly care?” Light pink Band-Aids didn’t match my skin tone either, and I managed to get through the day without feeling any trauma. My second response was to wonder if there really were sensitive folks out there who would pay extra money for a dermatologically appropriate bandage. Seemed like an entrepreneurial opportunity.

I never did see Band-Aids come on the market in a range of hues, though why not, right? After all, you can buy lipstick in hundreds of shades (not that I do). If the demand were really there, someone would meet it. But I guess that it wasn’t.

However, in a better-late-than-never move, Apple has now introduced an emoji-adjustment feature into iMessage. It lets you match some emojis to your preferred skin color:

Emoji Skin Variations.jpg

Curiously enough, the basic symbol in the above image was not really the color of anyone’s skin. Did you ever notice? Not me. I always just saw hands joined in supplication.

Is the world a better place now that we can match a preferred skin tone?

Addendum: A reader notes a product that I missed:

Great for albinos too!

Band-Aid Clear Strips.jpg

Addendum: A reader notes that I am way behind the curve on Apple’s effort to be sensitive — one from 2015, it turns out:

Post Emoji article Comp.jpg

The moral of the story is that anything about race today in America will be controversial. A generation from now, I expect that we’ll be dealing with nanoaggressions.

Addendum: Wikipedia reports:

Five symbol modifier characters were added with Unicode 8.0 to provide a range of skin tones for human emoji. These modifiers are called EMOJI MODIFIER FITZPATRICK TYPE-1-2, -3, -4, -5, and -6 (U+1F3FB-U+1F3FF). They are based on the Fitzpatrick scale for classifying human skin color. Human emoji that are not followed by one of these five modifiers should be displayed in a generic, non-realistic skin tone, such as bright yellow (?), blue [69] (?), or gray (?).

To transpose to local conditions a common New Zealand phrase: “I have two favorite teams: Dartmouth and anybody playing Harvard.” Having said that, I would not wish Jim Kim on my worst enemy, and certainly not on Harvard as its president. But it seems that Kim is in the running for the top job in Cambridge — despite the opprobrium heaped on him in Hanover (all show, incompetent, dishonest), and the angry reaction of staffers at the World Bank (only concerned about “optics,” playing favorites, clueless about management):

Kim Harvard President.jpg

Recall that Kim, with the help of his golfing buddy, engineered an anticipatory re-appointment to the World Bank’s Presidency a full ten months before his first term was up, and more importantly, three months before the U.S. elections in 2016. So he’s now only six months into his second, five-year term. But, really, it should be no surprise that ambitious Kim is already job hunting. Recall the words of valedictorian Wills Begor ‘12 at his Commencement. He noted in his address that during his time as a student in Hanover:

“Dr. Jim Yong Kim became the 17th president of Dartmouth College, Jim Yong Kim became the president of the World Bank, and word on the street is he’s already looking for the next big job.

I expect that Harvard will not be duped. As part of the hiring process in Cambridge, numerous people from Dartmouth will be invited to share their views of Kim — as was done when Jim Freedman threw his hat into the ring for the Harvard presidency many years ago. The hiring committee will get an earful from guests driving down from the College.

Addendum: Harvard’s next President is going to have a serious issue with which to contend — Department of Justice Threatens Lawsuit Against Harvard in Admissions Probe:

The U.S. Department of Justice is threatening to file a lawsuit against Harvard unless the school hands over student records, a request the Department made as part of its ongoing investigation into allegations of racial discrimination in the College’s admissions processes.

In a letter to Harvard’s lawyers first obtained by The Wall Street Journal, the Justice Department stated that its Civil Rights Division is investigating the University for allegedly violating Title VI, which prohibits race-based discrimination in programs receiving federal funding.

The Justice Department’s probe into allegations that Harvard’s admissions processes unfairly disadvantage Asian-American applicants came to light in August. But the investigation has stalled as Harvard has refused to turn over “a single document” to the government, according to a Nov. 17 letter from John M. Gore, acting assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division. [Emphasis added]

Addendum: A wry reader writes in:

It insults my intelligence® that HMS Dean Daley considers Jim Kim to be a candidate of the same caliber as Eric Lander, who is indeed a Real Life Scientist Big Time. Jim Kim is at best an inefficient bureaucrat. But we know all that, and hopefully Harvard does or will too.

Of course it’s important to include a non-white candidate with Harvard ties even if he is literally the most unqualified contender possible. Speaking of nominal diversity, I find it amusing that George Q. Daley couldn’t come up with a single female life scientist worth including in the under-20 list. Or would a thought of having two female Harvard presidents in a row be too much for some? Must be classic toxic masculinity from male chauvinist pigs ;)

CPI 1998-2017.jpgThe Trustees will announce next year’s tuition increase in February as is their wont, and it promises to be a doozie. Though Phil made fashionable noises when he arrived in Hanover about “super-inflationary tuition increases” being “unsustainable,” since then College tuition has gone up every year far beyond the rise in the Consumer Price Index (CPI). That said, such behavior is nothing new: Dartmouth Presidents (like everyone in higher education) have mumbled the same words, and then defaulted when it came time to send out bills.

Though the Labor Department shows inflation having been 50.87% between 1998 and 2017, Dartmouth’s tuition climbed by 124.95% over the same time frame:

Dartmouth Tuition Growth 1998-2017.jpg

But Phil does not look at the CPI — even though that is the index by which we all live and die in the real world. His lodestar is the Common Fund’s Higher Education Price Index (HEPI), which jumped 3.7% this year (versus 1.8% last year), the highest increase since 2008:

HEPI 2017 Commonfund Comp.jpg

We can expect an increase from the College for the 2018-2019 academic year of well over 4%, though the beancounter in Phil might finesse things and only go up 3.9% (even though the CPI increased by only 2.23% over the past year). Last year’s increase for tuition, room and board, and fees was 2.9% — up to $68,109. That number will be eclipsed by an increase that brings the cost for undergraduates in 2018-2019 to close to $71,000/year. Unsustainable, Phil?

Addendum: Though HEPI reflects costs in higher education, using the cost structure of an area of the economy that is notorious for poor management is hardly helpful for families whose wages more closely reflect the CPI. Commonfund described HEPI’s methodology as follows:

The Higher Education Price Index (HEPI) is an inflation index designed specifically for use by institutions of higher education. Compiled from data reported by government agencies and industry sources, HEPI measures the average relative level in the price of a fixed market basket of goods and services purchased by colleges and universities each year through current fund educational and general expenditures, excluding research. A more accurate indicator of cost changes for colleges and universities than the Consumer Price Index (CPI), HEPI is used primarily to project future budget increases required to preserve purchasing power.

See the full 2017 HEPI report here.

Addendum: An alumnus writes in:

I read your story on rising tuition with amazement. Dartmouth is a great college, but tuition close to $71,000 per year? Being from an upper-middle class family, I did not receive any financial aid, and frankly when it was roughly $62,000 per year for me, my parents were highly reluctant to send me to Dartmouth, and it was a burden on my family. I also felt bad about having my family spend this much on my education, when I could have gone to many nearly-as-good colleges for a fraction of the price.

If I were admitted today, and asked to have my parents spend $71,000, I probably would just take the full ride that I got from a middle-tier liberal arts college in my own state. Four times $71,000 is $284,000… that truly reaches a point where attending Dartmouth would probably not have been worth it to me considering my family’s own finances, I am sorry to say. Sad that Dartmouth has allowed this to happen.

[For those of you who did not follow Dartblog over the Xmas break, here’s a post worth reading]

As I have written before, Phil Hanlon’s plan to expand the College is all about money — it’s a way for a President who has failed at fundraising to take in cash to finance his real ambitions: more researchers and prestige projects for the College.

Phil faced a similar financial pinch during his career at Michigan, and he responded in the same way. When I asked him in a meeting in the fall of 2013 about how he had cut costs in Ann Arbor in the face of the 2008-2009 recession, he responded that he hadn’t cut costs at all. He said that he had balanced the university’s books by increasing the size of the student body, thereby taking in more money.

That’s what the numbers show: in his years as Michigan’s Vice Provost for Academic and Budgetary Affairs (2007 - 2010) and then as Provost (2010-2013), the school saw a 7.92% growth in undergrads (between 2009 and 2013), with the numbers increasing every year:

Michigan Growth of Undergraduates 2000-2016A.jpg

And not only did Phil change the number of students, he changed their profile, too, as the MLive paper in Ann Arbor reported on February 8, 2015:

When the fall 2014 semester started at the University of Michigan, more than half of the students at the Ann Arbor campus were from outside the state. It was the first time that had happened in at least 15 years.

Of the 43,625 students enrolled in undergraduate and graduate programs, 21,514, or 49.3 percent, are from Michigan…

U-M records show that, from 2000 through 2009, at least 56 percent of the total student population was from the state of Michigan. That figure fell to 53.9 percent in 2010. The overall percentage of Michigan residents at U-M has fallen in each of the last five years.

The move toward a higher percentage of non-resident students isn’t a trend officials are shying away from. In fact, they predicted and welcomed it with open arms — and, from a business standpoint, for good reason.

Tuition for undergraduate in-state students during their freshmen and sophomore years is $13,158. For an out-of-state undergraduate at the same class level, the cost balloons to $41,578, or more than three times the cost of what in-state students pay.
[Emphasis added]

You can do the math, but growing the size of the student body by 7.92% while decreasing the number of in-state residents from 56% to below 50% — so that far more high-paying, out-of-state students could pay well over triple the tuition of in-state students — amounts to a massive increase in revenue.

But at what cost? First off, the university grew so crowded that “administrators also had to manage a housing shortage, which was a result of both over-enrollment and the closure of West Quadrangle for renovation. To ensure incoming freshman could live in on-campus residence halls, the University provided returning students incentives to live off campus.”

Obviously Phil did not do a very good job managing the growth that he initiated. In fact, the increase in the size of the student body was done so poorly that Hanlon’s successor, Provost Martha Pollack ‘79, now President of Cornell, announced a plan to scale back enrollments less than six months after Phil left Michigan for Dartmouth:

At a Board of Regents meeting last fall, University Provost Martha Pollack expressed frustration with the University’s trend of enrolling too many students.

“We have been over-enrolling every year for the past five years and we have to stop this,” Pollack said at the time. “I’m not happy about it.”

Pollack called for a plan to curb over-enrollment…

And the university shirked on its fundamental commitment to educate students from the state of Michigan. In the year that Phil left Ann Arbor, the legislature appropriated $279.3 million to the university — a sum that might get a legislator or two upset, especially when the majority of students, after Hanlon’s changes, came from outside of the state.

Isn’t Phil now trying to do the same thing in Hanover? And what will the end result be? We can expect initial chaos. And also a permanently diluted Dartmouth. One that has lost its soul and the very attributes that make the College a special place.

So don’t believe Phil’s nonsense about extending Dartmouth’s reach, or bringing in a more diverse student body, or following trends in higher education. The plan to increase the size of the student body is all about money. With Phil, it always is.

Addendum: An alumnus writes in:

The billionaire hedge fund manager, David Einhorn, was asked what he believed is the most important factor for his investing success during an Oxford Union event last month.

“If I had to pick one, I think it is critical thinking skill. It’s the ability to look at a situation and see it for what it is, which isn’t necessarily what is presented to you,” Einhorn said. And when something doesn’t make sense to question it, to challenge it, to look at it from a different way, to often come to the opposite conclusion.”

Apparently Phil doesn’t think that Dartmouth grads are capable of critical thinking. Otherwise he would never offer up the disingenuous reason for building the monster dorm. What is scary is that Phil actually thinks his rationalization will be believed by anyone.

Addendum: A parent writes in about a conversation with his student:

We did discuss the expansion of enrollment. All of the students are against it. She is living in a room with two roommates that used to be for two students. She feels the food at FOCO is awful and overpriced. Long lines at peak times. Very crowded always. After morning practice, she has very little time to eat and go to class, so she skips breakfast too frequently. She visits CVS often. Not a good solution due to limited selection.

She loves her friends and teachers.

John Gregg of the Valley News notes an interesting fact:

Dartmouth Senate Caucus.jpg

Phil Hanlon argues that the College should expand the number of students in Hanover in order to increase Dartmouth’s “impact” on the world. Given that we now have more Senators than any Ivy League school except for Harvard, and more sitting Governors than any other Ivy, perhaps the other Ivy schools should think of downsizing in order to pay special attention to their undergraduates? At least in the political realm, the results of a quality undergraduate education are clear.

The fact that the College’s faculty is underpaid relative to other Top 20 schools is a bitterly understood fact in Hanover. The administration makes noise about rectifying the situation, but given Phil Hanlon’s poor fundraising performance and the plethora of other spending priorities out there (dorms, classrooms, DDS, and so on), it’s hard to believe that the situation will improve — and faculty morale will rise — any time soon.

That said, it is worth looking more closely at the faculty payroll penury because a specific aspect of it is having an ongoing impact on Dartmouth’s future as an institution of the first order: the salaries paid to assistant professors — young, tenure-track scholar/teachers who could be tomorrow’s stars.

As we have noted, assistant professors in Hanover are paid far less today than their counterparts at other Ivy schools (all data come from the Chronicle of Higher Education (CHE) and were adjusted for inflation by the Chronicle).

And it has long been so:

Assistant Professor Salaries 2003.jpg

However the pay gap has worsened over the last twelve years:

Assistant Professor Salaries 2015.jpg

Look at the crunched numbers; we’ve lagged behind in providing junior faculty with raises. Adjusted for inflation, we’ve hardly given out any raises at all in real terms since 2003, unlike our Ivy competitors:

Assistant Professor Salaries 2003-2015 (Inflation adjusted).jpg

In contrast to Dartmouth, Penn has pushed hard to attract top-flight young professors. A junior scholar would really have to love New Hampshire to accept an average offer from the College of $78,390, when Penn is proposing average salaries for tenure-track assistant profs of $123,039.

Phil Hanlon likes to talk about making the College a “magnet for talent,” but to do so, he is going to have to pony up. Young faculty members won’t come to Hanover simply to bask in his charisma and enjoy his intellectual pyrotechnics.

Addendum: See CHE data for each Ivy school at the following links: Dartmouth, Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Penn, Columbia, Cornell and Brown.

Addendum: Do you sense that all is not right in Hanover when an eighteen-year-old Dartmouth Dining Services cook helper with a high school degree earns almost $40,000/year for washing pots and pans, and a young faculty member with a Ph.D. from a top graduate school earns $78,390 for working endless hours in the hope of obtaining tenure. That’s a slim rate of return for a young professor after four years of undergraduate study and five years in a demanding doctoral program.

Addendum: A Hanover friend writes in:

Although I can’t crunch the numbers the way you can, I believe the gap between the assistant professor and the pot washer is smaller than what you describe. My understanding is that there are substantial overtime opportunities and that the fringe benefits - especially vacation/personal time — are far more generous in DDS union-land than they are in the professor-seeking-tenure zone.

A toast for the New Year:

“Champagne for my real friends
Real pain for my sham friends”

Champagne Glasses1.jpg

This quotation has been traced to The Perfect Gentleman, or Etiquette & Eloquence: A Book of Information & Instruction for Those Who Desire to Become Brillant or Conspicuous in General Society (1860) (author unknown), though it has often been attributed to other people, including, according to Wikipedia, painter Francis Bacon and musician Tom Waits.

Addendum: The glasses in this picture are of an awful quality: thick rims do not favor a fine wine.

I know that I have taken this photograph in the past, but it never fails to attract my eye:

Xmas 2017.jpg

Addendum: The College’s website has assembled a collection of images from the past year: A Look Back at 2017: A few of our favorite photos from the past year. While the work of several photographers is included, photographs by Eli Burakian ‘00 stand out for me, as they so often do, for their clarity and dramatic color. To wit (the below reproduction does not do justice to Burakian; click on it to enlarge the image):

Dartmouth Drone View.jpg

Jerold F. Lucey.jpgThe New York Times has noted the passing of Jerold Lucey ‘48, another alumnus who had a significant impact on the world — in his case, the medical treatment of premature babies. From the Times obituary:

Dr. Lucey spearheaded the introduction of new treatments for fragile newborns. He also energized the field of pediatrics by encouraging national and international collaborations and emphasizing that procedures had to be backed by documented evidence of their effectiveness.

In the 1960s, he conducted a randomized trial of light therapy to treat jaundice in premature babies, leading to the wide adoption of the technique. A light therapy chamber he constructed was displayed at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington.

Dr. Lucey was also influential in the introduction of other important neonatal therapies, including using surfactant, which coats the air sacs, to help the struggling lungs of premature babies; cooling the brains of babies to prevent damage from asphyxiation; and monitoring babies’ oxygen levels through the skin, rather than through blood drawn repeatedly from arteries.

Dr. Lucey was also editor in chief of the journal Pediatrics for 35 years. He greatly expanded its circulation, creating editions in Brazil, India, China and elsewhere, and began posting articles online early in the digital age, said Dr. Lewis R. First, the current editor in chief.

Dr. Lucey was the recipient of numerous medical awards and honors and was inducted into the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.

In 1980 he created an annual conference, “Hot Topics in Neonatology,” which highlighted controversial issues, emphasized rigorous research and encouraged vigorous debate.

“He had this amazing ability to spot the important next thing,” said Dr. Jeffrey D. Horbar, chief executive and scientific officer of the Vermont Oxford Network, another innovation of Dr. Lucey’s.

The network was founded in 1988 after Dr. Lucey had returned from a sabbatical in England inspired to start a system under which hospitals in different locations could collaborate on randomized trials, share data and learn to apply research results to their patients.

Dr. Horbar said the Vermont Oxford Network now includes health professionals at more than 1,200 neonatal units around the world.

Dr. First said, “I don’t think there’s a pediatrician who doesn’t realize that some aspect of their career is because of a contribution that Jerry Lucey made.”

The Spring 2003 edition of Dartmouth Medicine provides a detailed overview of the lighthearted Dr. Lucey’s contribution to medicine; it looks, too, at his pragmatic and creative approach to research. Note: the Times obituary gives the impression that Dr. Lucey created certain therapies, whereas the DM piece illustrates how open-minded Lucey was in studying and promoting treatments originally developed in other countries.

The kids at Penn seem eager to get work done over the holidays. On Tuesday the following graphs appeared in a piece in the Daily Pennsylvanian entitled How Penn matches up: a breakdown of early admissions statistics across the Ivy League.

Geez, do we really have to make it easier for students to get into the College via Early Decision than any other Ivy school? I know that there are a disproportionate share of athletes in the ED pool, but that’s not what is going on (look at Cornell’s weak selectivity percentage, too — a school with almost four times as many undergrads as we have). The number of ED admits at Dartmouth has jumped a third over the last decade. We are rowing hard to protect our yield by letting in a disproportionate number of students who are contractually committed to come to Hanover:

Penn ED Selectivity.jpg

Our commitment to first-gen kids has returned to prior levels, following a dip under the money-above-everything Kim administration. We seem to be back to levels not seen since 2008, though a rate of 13% is down from the 15% figure of the last two years:

Penn First Generation Students.jpg

Lagging the pack in admitting people of color is not a bad thing here. Rural New Hampshire is not necessarily a first choice for underrepresented minorities:

Penn Students of Color.jpg

Good for Admissions in holding the line somewhat and endeavoring to admit students who are more likely to successfully do work at the College. No need to aggravate the problem of mismatch, a phenomenon that was first studied at Dartmouth.

A number of articles have crossed my desk recently wherein the authors step back and look at ongoing social conflicts from a perspective that evokes first principles. How nice to see common sense, clear writing, and dispassion — three qualities that are in short supply in these feverish days. I commend the following pieces to you:

1. For Freedom of Expression, For Due Process, and For Yale: The Emerging Threat to Academic Freedom at a Great University. José Cabranes has been mentioned in this space in the past for his incisive descriptive work on the general ineffectiveness of university Trustees: Myth and Reality of University Trusteeship in the Post-Enron Era (2007). A sitting judge on the Second Circuit Court of Appeals and a member of the three-judge United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review, Cabranes was a trustee at Fordham (1974-77), Colgate (1987-90), Yale (1987-99), and Columbia (2000-2102); in addition, his wife Kate Stith-Cabranes ‘73 was on Dartmouth’s Board from 1989-2000. His sons Alejo ‘08 and Ben ‘14 attended the College.

Here are Cabranes’ opening paragraphs in a comprehensive article about the ongoing threat to free speech on college campuses:

We have good news and bad news today. The good news is that we are printing in hard copy the Woodward Report on Freedom of Expression at Yale. The bad news is that we need to reprint the Woodward Report.

We are dealing today with interrelated developments at Yale that threaten freedom of expression and the institutions that protect it, including faculty due process rights, sometimes described as academic tenure.

Many writers on this subject understandably focus on the fate of students. But it is important to recognize that today’s developments are also redefining the rights of faculty—and the role of faculty in the governance of this University. These are developments that, if not addressed, ultimately threaten Yale’s place among the great universities of the world.

2. The Warlock Hunt. Claire Berlinski, a freelance journalist who lives in Paris, dares to ask if we are over-reacting to the wave of revelations about the sexual depredations-peccadillos-playfullnesses of powerful white men. She does not defend Harvey Weinstein by any means, but she asks if all of the actions that are lumped under the term “harassment” deserve the same penalty of personal and career destruction:

#Metoo, of course. Women are not going nuts for no reason. We’re fed up with feeling prickles down our spine as we walk alone on dimly lit streets. Fed up with thinking, “If he feels entitled to send me that message, what might he feel entitled to do to if he knew where I lived?” Fed up with strangers who smack their lips and murmur obscenities at us. Fed up with thinking, “No, I don’t want to go to his hotel room to discuss closing the contract. I’ll have to tell him my husband’s waiting for me to call. ‘My husband? Oh, yes, he’s pathologically jealous, bless his heart, and a bit of a gun nut…’” My husband is perfect in every way but one—he doesn’t exist—but he has served me so well over the years that I’m willing to overlook his ontological defects. I shouldn’t need him, but I do…

All true; yet something is troubling me. Recently I saw a friend—a man—pilloried on Facebook for asking if #metoo is going too far. “No,” said his female interlocutors. “Women have endured far too many years of harassment, humiliation, and injustice. We’ll tell you when it’s gone too far.” But I’m part of that “we,” and I say it is going too far. Mass hysteria has set in. It has become a classic moral panic, one that is ultimately as dangerous to women as to men.

If you are reading this, it means I have found an outlet that has not just fired an editor for sexual harassment. This article circulated from publication to publication, like old-fashioned samizdat, and was rejected repeatedly with a sotto voce, “Don’t tell anyone. I agree with you. But no.” Friends have urged me not to publish it under my own name, vividly describing the mob that will tear me from limb to limb and leave the dingoes to pick over my flesh. It says something, doesn’t it, that I’ve been more hesitant to speak about this than I’ve been of getting on the wrong side of the mafia, al-Qaeda, or the Kremlin?

But speak I must. It now takes only one accusation to destroy a man’s life. Just one for him to be tried and sentenced in the court of public opinion, overnight costing him his livelihood and social respectability. We are on a frenzied extrajudicial warlock hunt that does not pause to parse the difference between rape and stupidity. The punishment for sexual harassment is so grave that clearly this crime—like any other serious crime—requires an unambiguous definition. We have nothing of the sort.

3. The Age of Outrage: What the current political climate is doing to our country and our universities. Jonathan Haidt, social psychologist and award-winning Professor of Ethical Leadership at NYU, is consistently original in his analysis of society and current movements on college campuses. The Manhattan Institute published an edited version of Jonathan Haidt’s November 15 Wriston Lecture. A few excerpts:

What is happening to our country, and our universities? It sometimes seems that everything is coming apart…

Today’s identity politics has another interesting feature: it teaches students to think in a way antithetical to what a liberal arts education should do. When I was at Yale in the 1980s, I was given so many tools for understanding the world. By the time I graduated, I could think about things as a Utilitarian or a Kantian, as a Freudian or a behaviorist, as a computer scientist or a humanist. I was given many lenses to apply to any one situation. But nowadays, students who major in departments that prioritize social justice over the disinterested pursuit of truth are given just one lens—power—and told to apply it to all situations. Everything is about power. Every situation is to be analyzed in terms of the bad people acting to preserve their power and privilege over the good people. This is not an education. This is induction into a cult, a fundamentalist religion, a paranoid worldview that separates people from each other and sends them down the road to alienation, anxiety, and intellectual impotence.

Here is how one young queer activist described the cult. The essay is titled “‘Everything is Problematic’: My journey into the center of a dark political world, and how I escaped.” The author identifies four features of the culture: dogmatism, groupthink, a crusader mentality, and anti-intellectualism. Of greatest relevance to our exploration of tribalism, he writes: “Thinking this way quickly divides the world into an ingroup and an outgroup—believers and heathens, the righteous and the wrong-teous… . Every minor heresy inches you further away from the group. When I was part of groups like this, everyone was on exactly the same page about a suspiciously large range of issues. Internal disagreement was rare.”

Can you imagine a culture that is more antithetical to the mission of a university? Can you believe that many universities offer dozens of courses that promote this way of thinking? Some are even requiring that all students take such a course.

Haidt’s Heterodox Academy is a force for good in the world.

Happy reading.

Addendum: An alumnus writes in:

Thanks for posting the Jonathan Haidt excerpt. I had read the whole thing a few days ago (posted on arts & letters daily) and found it to be simply true —perceptive, well balanced and non-trivial in its insights. It’s always a thrill to come across excellent writing such as this.

Addendum: As does a senior member of the faculty:

Your post today leads me to voice a brief gasp of protest. Free speech is hardly at risk on university campuses. This is a bogus issue made up by the right to discredit institutions of higher education. Yes, “#MeToo” can go too far, but the problem pales beside the evidence of widespread sexual harassment. The remarks on “identity politics” are just another version of the attack on “political correctness,” which has become a tool for silencing minorities and women.

Meanwhile, a real and tangible danger emerges in the concerted political program to weaken our great universities. For Dartmouth alone, the 1.4% tax on endowments deprives scores of students of scholarship aid. This is where our great institutions of higher education are imperiled, but about this you’ve said almost nothing.

Addendum: Today’s first correspondent responds to the second:

When reading the second addendum to today’s post (from the ‘senior faculty member’), my immediate reaction was ‘oh, please.’ As to his first point, about the demonization of the universities by ‘the right’ (do the koch brothers even know where Hanover is?), well, they brought it on themselves by the very things that Haidt is writing about. As for the financial hit from the new tax setup, I’d dearly love to see a comparison of the cost he decries against the cost of the diversity bureaucracy or of the bloated ‘administration’ in general.

Occom Teacher Scholar Model.jpgThe Advancement Office and the Office of Communications are desperately trying to kickstart the College’s floundering fundraising. It seems that when Bob Lasher ‘88 tells donors of Phil’s plan for Michigan-on-the-Connecticut (with the views of current alumni, students and faculty be damned), wallets do not fly open as if by magic. In fact, fundraising data show that they mostly snap shut.

The administration has now changed tack. The PR folks have picked up on a set of forceful comments by Art History Professor Mary Coffey during the October 23 faculty meeting in which she exalted the College faculty’s traditional deep commitment to both teaching and research: what she called the teacher/scholar model. The winter edition of Occom, A Chronicle of Dartmouth Philanthropy, rightly celebrates the faculty’s ongoing commitment to undergraduates, and if the newsletter were telling the complete story of the Hanlon administration’s emphasis and strategy, it should be applauded.

But, of course, Coffey evoked the teacher/scholar paradigm as being under an existential threat from Phil’s plan to expand the student body by up to 25% — at an already overstretched institution that is having trouble keeping to its historic promise. Occom includes neither a mention of Phil’s plans for a huge increase in the number of students nor of the construction of huge new dorms in College Park.

Will donors be taken in?

Addendum: An alumnus writes in:

Hanlon’s razor is an aphorism expressed in various ways, including “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.”

Addendum: And another:

It is a killer to root against your own beloved (when I was there) College, but now the cards seem to have been turned over and it WILL become a University and IT WILL become much bigger. I do not know how the level of ignorance in the alumni/ae body can be maintained forever, but it has been and IS, especially in classes out a bunch of years, like mine.

The cadre which uses internet and has followed my advice to read Dartblog daily is PLUGGED IN, but I gotta tell ya, PHIL depends on keeping 60% or more in the dark. Our ‘55 Fund this year was only 37%…worst in our 60+ year history….but most attrition due to old age, fixed income, expensive health issues, parasitical kids and grandkids (yes). And that simple feeling at age 80 “I’ve paid for that education 100x over. I’m done.”

However, reading TODAY’s blog. I had the deja vu “what if they had a massive fund raising campaign and nobody gave?” That thought must permeate in Parkhurst every single day that this drags on….

The next time students (and their parents) wonder why Dartmouth Dining Services (DDS) is so expensive, compare and contrast these two local job offers from the Valley News’ want ads:

Freihofer's vs. DDS.jpg

While we might commend the administration’s sense of social justice in paying dining hall workers’ salaries and, especially, benefits that are far in excess of the local wage scale, remember that our administrators are spending money that is not theirs: it comes from student tuition, mandatory charges for board, and the donations of alumni.

And if anyone wants to trot out the notion of a living wage, the Freihofer’s hourly rate is well above the formal calculation of such a thing for the Upper Valley.

Addendum: As a local employer, there is no question in my mind that the Freihofer’s job demands a higher level of skill than the DDS positions. And Freihofer’s will fill the job, no doubt about it. Local workers and employers recognize that Dartmouth wages and benefits are in cloud cuckoo land. They are never cited as a comparison in wage negotiations.

Addendum: For more evidence of the local wage scale, look at the $12/hour, help wanted banner that was in the Hanover Dirt Cowboy Café’s window yesterday evening. It is located no more than one hundred yards from FoCo/Thayer dining hall:

Dirt Cowboy Wages 2017.jpg

Again, don’t get me wrong. Perhaps you believe that the 500+ members of Dartmouth’s SEIU union should get wages starting at $18.26/hour (the lowest level), and five weeks of vacation, and full family health benefits for almost no contribution, even if this extravagant generosity leads to tuition bills for students of over $70,000/year and underpayment of the faculty. Personally, I believe in paying no more than market wages and benefits to all of the staff, so that Dartmouth as an educational institution can be as good as it possibly can be. We all have our priorities, right?

Addendum: An alumnus writes in:

Very close to the pay scale for entry level HS teachers with a Master’s degree. I know from inside info. No wonder the golf course has an issue. But believe me this drives up all labor costs in the local market. We pay more for our home to be cleaned in Hanover than in Florida or Colorado.

Addendum: And another:

My wife and I were taking our dog for a walk through Pine Park this afternoon when who should we come upon heading the opposite direction, aboard snowshoes? Why, none other than President Phil, who perhaps may think of sojourns like that when he’s considering whether to sell off the golf course and its accompanying, picturesque trails. I’ll choose to believe in that possibility, anyway.


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