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I am not the only alumnus who can’t abide Phil’s inability to celebrate the achievements great and small of students. It is, sir, as I have said, a small College, so there is no reason to miss out on those person-to-person moments that mean a great deal to undergraduates and to the community (I’m thinking of Abbey and Kyle here).

On that theme, an alumnus has written in to comment on a brief note that he received from President John Sloan Dickey (President of the College from 1945-1970) after his last game as a senior on the football team. (I have brushed out his name in the salutation.) That my correspondent has kept the note lo these many years speaks to the impact that a President can have on students:

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He reports:

At the end of fall term my senior year, after having played football at D for four seasons, I found the attached, hand-written personal note from President Dickey in my Hinman Box. I was both stunned and elated. What better example of why my decision to attend Dartmouth over Harvard was a wise one. Can you imagine this busy man taking the time to do something like this?

And I am sure the gesture was not singular. There were 15-odd other seniors who, no doubt, also received such a missive. And who knows what other sports team members as well? And note his comment about watching us at practice. Off and on someone would say from the practice field: Look up! There’s JSD on the hill. And sure enough, there he was taking a few moments out of his day to give us his moral support.

I have kept it all these years because of how very special this personal note is to me. And it was not dictated and typed by his staff for his signature, but hand written (with the informality of a red ballpoint no less) in Dickey’s distinctive style (as reflected on our diplomas).

Perhaps at big research universities the President is a distant and august figure, but that state of affairs should not be the case at Dartmouth.

Addendum: An alumnus from the same era writes in:

And I, as one of the student managers of the football team, can attest to Dickey’s attendance at practice on Chase Field. Frequently he would walk there with his dog, chat with those of us who could take a minute to visit, and then move on to his next stop. As I get older, it becomes a more special time on which to dwell. One of those that wets the eyes with the memory, even though as senior manager I don’t recall getting such a note, which is OK. I just enjoyed my visits with him.

Alice RuthA.jpgFollowing the departure of the College’s Chief Investment Officer Pam Peedin ‘89 (T ‘98) — who let it be known on November 9 that she would leave this June — the administration put together a search committee:

The College has hired executive search firm David Barrett Partners to assist with the search. Kimball, a founding general partner of the growth equity firm Technology Crossover Ventures, will chair the search committee and work with search committee members Trustee Beth Cogan Fascitelli ‘80 and Alice Ruth ‘83, both members of the board’s investment committee. [Emphasis added]

And today Dartmouth News announced the name of our new CIO: Alice Ruth ‘83. The College’s press release describes Ruth’s background as follows:

She comes to Dartmouth from Willett [Advisors], which, since its inception in 2010, has been the investment adviser for former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Bloomberg Family Office and the Bloomberg Family Foundation. Prior to Willett, she served in the same capacity for Bloomberg at Quadrangle Group.

Before Quadrangle, she was chief investment officer for the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, where she led and shaped a $6 billion portfolio. Prior to Moore, she spent 12 years at Montgomery Securities as a senior managing director and co-director of equity research. As a consumer stock analyst for Montgomery, Ruth was recognized a number of times by The Wall Street Journal and named by Institutional Investor’s as a “Home Run Hitter.” Ruth started her career at Morgan Stanley as an economic analyst, focused primarily on Federal Reserve and monetary policy.

The information that Dartmouth News did not give us is that ex-Trustee Diana Taylor ‘77 (2008-2016) is Mike Bloomberg’s partner, and that Ruth is not the first person to migrate from Willett Advisors to the College. You’d think that the Trustees would be up front about this kind of conflict of interest.

Beyond those facts, sources indicate the Phil Hanlon is so desperate to kick the stalled capital campaign into gear that he is currying favor with Michael Bloomberg by offering bolt holes to his ex-employees. Will favors like that help elicit a large donation? Who knows? But do you think that former New York Mayor Bloomberg, a legendary, no-nonsense, tough guy (#6 on the Forbes 400 with a net worth of $49.3 billion; #8 in the world) is going to be impressed by Phil?

Addendum: There appears to be a veritable pipeline from Willett Advisors to the College’s endowment office. Kelsey Morgan ‘02, T’08 spent 26 months with Willett before making his way to the College’s employ. At least a couple of other College staffers previously worked for Willett, too.

Addendum: The CIO position is usually the most highly paid position at the College. Here are the figures for the top earners in 2014 (click on the image to enlarge it):

Peedin Compensation 2014A.jpg

Addendum: According to Bloomberg News, Pam Peedin is now leaving the CIO position in April, rather than in June.

Addendum: Institutional Investor comments, ahem, on Alice Ruth’s hiring by the College:

Alice Ruth Institutional Investor.jpg

Jake Tapper.jpgThe College’s 2017 Commencement speaker, Jake Tapper ‘91, has won a Cronkite Award. From a press release from the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism:

With reporters, news media and even the truth under assault, the winners of the 2017 Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Television Political Journalism demonstrate that the legacy of the longtime CBS anchor is alive and well.

Given biennially since Cronkite first presented them in 2001, the prizes were announced today by the Norman Lear Center at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, which administers the award.

At the awards event in 2005, Cronkite warned that “it’s going to be, to a large degree, up to us in television and radio, in broadcasting” to equip Americans “to perform the act of intelligently selecting our leaders…. If we fail at that, our democracy, our republic is, I think, in serious danger.”

Tapper’s commendation:

Jake Tapper (CNN) wins for his fearless advocacy for the truth throughout the election cycle. Jurors said his interviewing “relentlessness” held officials to account and equipped voters with valuable information about the candidates. Forceful when necessary, refusing to let candidates slip away from important questions, he was praised for “his tenacious commitment to sorting fact from fiction, a quality essential to journalism.”

Addendum: Watch the clip that was cited by the Annenberg School judges as the basis for Tapper’s award:

Woodward and Bernstein.jpgIf The D is not to go the way of the snow sculpture, the paper will have to up its game. The folks there just don’t dig into what is going on at the College; and heaven knows, at least if this space is the judge, there is a lot to write about. Part of the problem is the editors’ attitude — why offend the administrators who will write your law school recommendations? — and part is just plain skills — how many gritty, incisive investigative journalists does the paper have on its staff?

Fortunately a solution to the latter problem has presented itself. This spring English Professor Jeff Sharlet will be offering a course, English 84, Intermediate Creative Nonfiction, that focuses on the history and techniques of investigative journalism.

Sharlet is more than accomplished. We have noted in past posts his April cover story in the New York Times Magazine (Donald Trump, American Preacher), his NYT obituary for Pete Seeger (He wanted everyone to sing along); and his Rolling Stone profile of Cornel West (The Supreme Love and Revolutionary Funk of Dr. Cornel West). Of greater consequence are his impactful investigative pieces: Straight Man’s Burden in Harper’s, which was instrumental in blocking Uganda’s so-called “Kill-the-Gays” bill, and The Invisible Man, from GQ, which is the only leak to date concerning police body cams.

In addition to several fine books (we wrote about Sweet Heaven When I Die), Sharlet’s work has also appeared in Rolling Stone, Esquire, Mother Jones, Lapham’s Quarterly, and other national publications — leading to honors that include the National Magazine Award for Reporting, the Molly Ivins National Journalism Prize, and the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission Outspoken Award. Needless to say, his finest accomplishment was to merit an entry in Dartblog’s Official Guide to the Stars.

Here is the thumbnail course description from the syllabus of this spring’s iteration of English 84:

The Art of Investigative Journalism” is a creative writing workshop in the mutant genre known variously as creative nonfiction, literary journalism, the lyric essay, documentary prose, and simply “longform”—stories rooted in fact, told with techniques borrowed from fiction, poetry, and visual mediums. In this course, we’ll consider the genre’s investigative tradition as it intersects with the questions of storytelling that distinguish creative nonfiction from conventional journalism. How do we tell stories that may be concealed, overlooked, or misrepresented? Why do we do so? What is the role of empathy in investigative journalism? What are the relationships between fact, “information,” and story? We’ll also consider practical questions of research, sources, ethics, and the aesthetic challenges of fact checking as we seek inspiration for our own creative works of investigative journalism, drawn not from national or international events but from the everyday of our lives. Our emphasis is on narrative, not breaking news, so in our reading we’ll interpret “investigative journalism” generously, looking well beyond the term’s traditional canon. Possible texts may include The Fire Next Time, by James Baldwin; Praying for Sheetrock, by Melissa Faye Green; Evicted, by Matthew Desmond; and recent writing by Nikole Hannah-Jones, Shane Bauer, Kathryn Joyce, Michelle Garcia, Jeanne Marie Laskas, Sarah Stillman, and others.

The course is by application only; space will be offered on a rolling basis. To apply, e-mail Jeffrey.Sharlet@Dartmouth.edu before the first day of the spring term. Include your major, a description of previous writing experience in the creative writing program and elsewhere, and a writing sample.

Any serious student journalist should take this course. Mother Dartmouth needs you to do so.

Dartblog’s world headquarters has moved to Saint Barthélemy for ten days. No whales here, but that lacuna is compensated for by the graciousness and refined French culture of the people on this island. Imagine the best of Paris in the Caribbean or la Côte d’Azur aux Caraïbes, if you will:

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Perhaps the clearest sign of the wealth here is the wine selection at the local Marché U. Nowhere else in the world (and I’ve looked) can one find such a range of extraordinary wines in a supermarket. We’ve written about wines from Domaine Jacques Selosse in the past. Back in France the waiting list for these unique Champagnes is closed, but in Saint Barth’s one can buy them off the rack — though the manager limits people to a few bottles each. He routinely denies requests to buy his entire stock:

Selosse Marche U1.jpg

The island has no water of its own, so it has been at best sparsely inhabited over the centuries. Today Saint Barth’s all-immigrant population is mercifully free of the simmering racial tensions that mark other Caribbean islands.

Addendum: The Euro is the currency of choice here, and the best one can say about prices is that Saint Barth’s is less expensive than Paris.

Addendum: An alumnus writes in:

My wife and I have visited St. Barths numerous times … but not for 20 or so years. When we first went there 40 years ago, farmers would drive their cattle down an empty Saline beach and Cheeseburger in Paradise had not yet been written. I understand that the mega-yachts are now rife in Gustavia harbor over Christmas week. I think I prefer it like it was back then when things were simpler but just as French.

The competition, if we have to have one, is close between Rio’s hero Abbey D’Agostino ‘14 and Alexi Pappas ‘12, whom we profiled when her movie TrackTown was completed (Alexi ran for Greece in the Rio Olympics). Variety now reports that Tracktown is scheduled for a wide public release:

Orion Pictures and Samuel Goldwyn Films have acquired the worldwide rights to “Tracktown,” the feature film debut of Olympian Alexi Pappas, with plans for a May 12 release in theaters and VOD.

Pappas competed for Greece at the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in the women’s 10,000 meters final and finished 17th. She stars in the movie as a lonely distance runner as she prepares for the Olympic Trials. When she’s temporarily sidelined by an injury, she wanders into a bakery and catches the eye of an aimless boy, played by Chase Offerle.

Tracktown Poster.jpg

We’ve already reported on a research faux pas on the part of Government Professor Kyle Dropp. He and Stanford political scientists Adam Bonica and Jonathan Rodden sent a mailing to 100,000 residents of Montana asking them to evaluate the political leanings of judges up for election to the state’s Supreme Court. It was all an experiment, but in trying to discern the impact of information in an election, they broke a few rules. The result:

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Ooops.

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:

Ryan HickoxA.jpgRyan Hickox is an Assistant Professor of Physics and Astronomy. As an observational astrophysicist, he focuses the majority of his considerable energies on questions relating to supermassive black holes and how they affect the evolution of galaxies. The combination of Hickox’s research output, teaching prowess, and engagement in the Dartmouth community is particularly remarkable considering the fact that he has not (yet) received tenure.

After obtaining his B.S. in Physics magna cum laude from Yale in 2000, Hickox completed a two-year teaching fellowship at a boarding school in England, where he was a physics instructor, a rugby coach, and a residential advisor. With scholastic life having perhaps planted a seed in his mind, Hickox went on to Harvard for his Ph.D., which he completed in 2007. He remained in Cambridge for the next two years in order to work at the Smithsonian Astronomical Observatory; in 2009, he moved back across the pond to Durham University to assume a position as a postdoctoral fellow. Hickox then joined the Dartmouth faculty in 2011, where he has been ever since.

Hickox has been an extraordinarily productive researcher during his relatively short time as a member of the professional physics community. His 108 authored or co-authored articles (generating an h-index of 38 and a citation count of 4706) would be notable for someone with decades of experience; for a scholar as young as Hickox, such statistics are particularly impressive. If the numeric trends are any indication, Hickox has an extremely bright career ahead of him — his yearly citation count rose from 726 in 2014 to 916 in 2015 and 1147 in 2016. The dollar signs are there as well. In 2016, Hickox received a highly competitive $672,000 grant from the NSF to fund his research group and support an outreach program that brings scientists into classrooms by video chat.

Hickox researches areas that stupefy the mind and leave one feeling, for lack of a better word, insignificant. At the center of virtually every large galaxy in the known universe there exists a black hole, which is a celestial object so massive and so dense that it warps space-time in such a way as to not allow anything, even light, to escape from its sphere of influence. “Smaller” black holes have a mass measuring tens of times that of our Sun, but those at the center of galaxies are incomprehensively huge. With masses that reach billions and billions of Suns, these monsters are so influential that they, in fact, as Hickox has explored, affect the behavior of entire galaxies, which themselves can stretch hundreds of thousands of light-years across.

Galaxies, which initially assume the form of a disk, are born when normal matter cools, falls into the center of “halos” of dark matter, and condenses to produce stars. As disk-shaped galaxies grow, they can collide with one another to create even larger galaxies. These mergers can produce a “bulge” at the center of a galaxy so that it begins to look less like a disk and more like an ellipse. In theory, galaxies with a bulge should continue to produce stars much like they did when they were younger and disk-shaped. In fact, star formation often stops at this point, causing a galaxy to “die.” This course of events has vexed astronomers for decades.

As Hickox’s work has helped demonstrate, the explanation for the dying-galaxy phenomenon may well rest with supermassive black holes. Black holes at the centers of galaxies accrete mass by pulling in surrounding interstellar material. When they do so, tremendous energy can be released as radiation or energetic outflows that move near the speed of light. Hickox and his colleagues have theorized that this release of energy can stop star formation by expelling the gaseous ingredients for a star from the galaxy altogether or by heating them to a point where they are not able to condense.

This is only part of the picture, though — as Hickox’s group demonstrated in 2014, black hole activity can also occur with star formation. As it turns out, black holes flicker on and off at random in the figurative blink of a galactic eye (which, for us, measures millions of years). Observational data as gathered from instruments like the Chandra X-Ray Observatory, which Hickox has personally used since his days in graduate school, have provided strong evidence that these breakthroughs are on the right track.

Hickox does more than enough to keep himself occupied when he’s not churning out valuable research. By the end of this academic year, he will have taught five different courses to Dartmouth students - Habitable Planets, Galaxies and Cosmology, Stars and the Milky Way, Observational Cosmology, and Exploring the Universe, the last of which is often an undergraduate’s introduction to the College’s physics and astronomy offerings.

Advising and community are moreover extremely important to Hickox, who currently has four undergraduates in his research group. He has also received an appointment as House Professor for West House until 2019 with the possibility of serving a second term that would last until 2023. Hickox, whose experiences at Yale, Harvard, and Durham led him to value the positive impact that cohesive residential communities can have on students, is optimistic about the future of Dartmouth’s house system:

…What we’re aiming to build in West House: a community in which those spontaneous interactions between faculty, students, and staff allow everyone to learn from each other’s diverse interests, talents, and backgrounds…. I see a real opportunity for the Houses to be an important vehicle through which Dartmouth further enhances its position as a leader in offering a vibrant intellectual experience for its undergraduates.

Let’s hope Professor Hickox is right, and let’s hope that he remains in Hanover a long, long time.

Addendum: You can hear Professor Hickox speak today from 3:30-4:30 pm in Wilder 104. His lecture, titled “The Hidden Monsters: New Windows on the Cosmic Evolution of Supermassive Black Holes,” is geared towards a general audience.

Addendum: Professor Hickox also participated in the “Pulsars and Quasars” episode of the History Channel series, “The Universe,” in 2009. If you’re into astronomy, watch the whole thing, but Hickox’s appearances begin after the 26:30 mark:

In a recent post, we recommended that people attend Tillman Gerngross’ Presidential Lecture. In case you did not follow our recommendation — how could you? — here is his presentation:

What an extraordinary man. Worth an hour of your time, to be sure.

Daniel Webster Men Quote Comp.jpg

Even though pedagogical literature talks about the importance of students learning grit, resilience and mental toughness — and with Dartmouth varsity coaches asking the very best of their charges — some parts of the College administration believe that coddling and gentle caring are vital features of education at an institution of higher learning. No need to push the little darlings. After all, they might feel bad:

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Such an event is important, at least for undergraduates who will one day become overweening daycare providers, or worse still, administrators in a bloated university administration. A cute puppy? Stress balls? Candy? All that is missing is stuffed animals and a doll house.

And to think that we pay administration staffers real money to put on these events, instead of using their part of the budget to hire brilliant young professors.

As Daniel Webster might say, God help us.

Addendum: The rot is not limited to the College. It turns out that even the Yale Law School has a therapy dog. No word yet on whether such comforts are also offered by major law firms.Note: a former Dartmouth professor now at Yales writes in to say, “The law school therapy dog died in the snow storm a few weeks ago.” My source believes that the pup went to the great beyond when “he drowned, running out on a snow-covered, but not-fully-frozen lake.”

As has been widely reported, a number of students at Middlebury embarrassed themselves by preventing scholar Charles Murray from speaking at their school. They later violently rocked his car, and then went so far as to injure the Middlebury professor who was to question Murray and moderate a Q&A following Murray’s remarks. The attached video is a model example of a kind of intolerance that exists on too many campuses today:

To Dartmouth’s credit, Murray spoke unimpeded at the College on April 28, 2016. For reasons of its own, The D chose not report on his talk.

Subsequently, Middlebury’s President Laurie Patton has come out forcefully against the behavior of her students (compare and contrast Phil Hanlon’s non-action after the BLM library invasion), and more significantly two professors at Middlebury, Professor of English and Creative Writing Jay Parini and Professor of Political Science Keegan Callanan, have drafted a Statement of Principle that is their take on the rules of intellectual decorum and give and take that should govern life at that school. Parini taught at Dartmouth from 1975-1982; he moved to Middlebury in the latter year:

Genuine higher learning is possible only where free, reasoned, and civil speech and discussion are respected.

Only through the contest of clashing viewpoints do we have any hope of replacing mere opinion with knowledge.

The incivility and coarseness that characterize so much of American politics and culture cannot justify a response of incivility and coarseness on the college campus.

The impossibility of attaining a perfectly egalitarian sphere of free discourse can never justify efforts to silence speech and debate.

Exposure to controversial points of view does not constitute violence.

Students have the right to challenge and even to protest non-disruptively the views of their professors and guest speakers.

A protest that prevents campus speakers from communicating with their audience is a coercive act.

No group of professors or students has the right to act as final arbiter of the opinions that students may entertain.

No group of professors or students has the right to determine for the entire community that a question is closed for discussion.

The purpose of college is not to make faculty or students comfortable in their opinions and prejudices.

The purpose of education is not the promotion of any particular political or social agenda.

The primary purpose of higher education is the cultivation of the mind, thus allowing for intelligence to do the hard work of assimilating and sorting information and drawing rational conclusions.

A good education produces modesty with respect to our own intellectual powers and opinions as well as openness to considering contrary views.

All our students possess the strength, in head and in heart, to consider and evaluate challenging opinions from every quarter.

We are steadfast in our purpose to provide all current and future students an education on this model, and we encourage our colleagues at colleges across the country to do the same.

To date, 62 Middlebury professors have endorsed the Statement of Principle. (Middlebury has 283 full-time and 58 part-time faculty members.)

The Hanlon administration would do well to support such a cogent set of ideas, and then back up that endorsement with enforcement the next time students seek to impede the free exchange of ideas at the College.

Addendum: Murray offers his own description and analysis of the events that befell him in an archly titled essay: Reflections on the Revolution in Middlebury. His conclusion:

It will take some time for me to be dispassionate. If you promise to bear that in mind, I will say what I’m thinking and rely on you to discount it appropriately: What happened last Thursday has the potential to be a disaster for American liberal education.

Winter 2017.jpgThe thing about outgoing Board of Trustees Chair Bill Helman ‘80 is that he understands what ails the College. More than any other Trustee in recent decades, he has been out and about on campus talking to faculty, staff, students, and even the occasional alumnus blogger in order to take the temperature of the place. He knows the level of discontent with Phil Hanlon. The waste. The poor management. The weak people in highly paid positions. But he never could do anything about it — though it is not impossible to imagine that behind the scenes he averted decisions that would have hurt the College even more than the current disastrous policies. Now there’s a scary thought.

In any event, as he ends his term as Chair, Helman is offering the campus a chance to pick his brain — at a time when almost no students will be here:

Helman Town Hall.jpg

The original Town Hall meeting — part of a series of ongoing events hosted by EVP Rick Mills — was scheduled for March 8, when everyone would have been in Hanover. By March 15, almost all undergraduate students will have hit the road.

I would have hoped for better.

Addendum: In his day job, Helman was a successful venture capitalist at Greylock Partners. The old joke in the VC world is that it takes five elements to constitute a good company: a product, a market, the people, the people, the people. In other words, VC’s must be good judges of character. And yet Helman led the search committee that chose Phil Hanlon — ostensibly the fourth choice for the Dartmouth Presidency. How is that possible? Would Bill Helman have chosen Phil Hanlon to run a startup, or a division of Ford Motor company, where he is a Director?

As we noted in this morning’s post, “A drop in applicants from either 20,675 or 20,676 students to 20,021 is a drop of 3.2%, not 2.6%.” The College agrees with us:

Admissions Drop Lawrence.jpg

Dartmouth News Applicants Revised Comp.jpg

Last week I wrote:

My bet is that tuition, room and board, and fees will rise by 2.5%-3.0% — even though the HEPI and CPI were stable at less than 2% and 1% respectively. We’ll probably go from $66,174 to a figure in the area of $68,000.

Today the administration announced:

The trustees approved a 2.9 percent increase in undergraduate tuition, mandatory fees, and room and board for the 2017-18 academic year. Undergraduate tuition will be $51,468, an increase of $1,470 over the current year’s tuition rate. Total tuition, room, board, and mandatory fees next year will increase to $68,109. The increase is consistent with the 2014 rate, which was the lowest percentage increase in tuition since 1977 and reflects Hanlon’s strategy to slow the growth of the cost of a Dartmouth education.

The Labor Department’s most recent price calculation has the Consumer Price Index rising by 1.2%.

So Phil has the cost of a Dartmouth education rising by almost two and a half times the CPI, and the College’s press release applauds “Hanlon’s strategy to slow the growth of the cost of a Dartmouth education.” Sheesh.

Addendum: In a not-unrelated development, the Trustees made no announcement at their meeting this past weekend about the capital campaign.

The gang that can’t shoot straight also can’t count. The other day this space reported that applications for the Class of 2021 (already widely acknowledged to be the worst class ever) fell by 2.6%. We were quoting from a Dartmouth News press release, and to our everlasting shame, we did not check the administration’s math:

Applications 2017 Dartmouth News Comp.jpg

The press release noted that 20,021 students had applied for admission — and it did not specifically cite how many people had applied the previous year. However in its prior-year release, Dartmouth News had the figure at 20,675:

Dartmouth News Applicants Comp1.jpg

The Dartmouth FactBook comes close to confirming this figure; at the present time it notes that 20,676 students applied for admission to the Class of 2020:

OIR Applicants.jpg

A drop in applicants from either 20,675 or 20,676 students to 20,021 is a drop of 3.2%, not 2.6%.

But hey, if all of the other Ivies are up, as I expect that they will be when they announce their numbers (right now applications are up at Yale by 4.6%, at Penn by 3.8% and Harvard by 1.2%), who really cares if our applications fell by 3.2% or 2.6%. The figure is an embarrassment any way you calculate it.

Addendum: Are the Trustees listening? We are heading fast to the Ivy basement. It’s time to make a change.

Addendum: Note in the screenshots above that the College announced the total number of applicants last year on March 31; it did so this year on March 2. I wonder why? One hypothesis: given that most of the Ivies have not released their figures, it is harder to make unflattering comparisons. (Have no fear. We will do so when the numbers are released.)

Addendum: A alumnus/parent writes in:

A drop in applications is what promoting “diversity” and “special institutes” over excellence and a focus on undergraduate teaching does — alienates those who may not see themselves as “diverse” or “diverse enough,” while trying to attract those, particularly international students, who may desire more urban environments over Hanover.

As someone with high school and college age children (one of whom is a student at the College and absolutely loves it, as I did!; another one is now bound for a great southern school), I can state firsthand that numerous peers and admissions counselors view Dartmouth as changing its admissions criteria to the point where “typical” kids — those without an athletic or some other special “hook,” including those who are not deemed “diverse enough” — have a more limited chance of gaining acceptance given the small size of the school and its Ivy status than they might encounter at its competitor schools (i.e. vs. other Ivies, Williams, Amherst, now Tufts, Duke, Vanderbilt, Northwestern, Georgetown, etc.)

To be more specific, as an alumnus and current parent, I routinely have been asked what the admissions rate is for non-minority, non-international, non-athlete applicants (obviously have no clue) — the implication being that Dartmouth actually may be one of the most competitive schools in the country with respect to admissions for an applicant who does not fall into one of those “special” or “unique” categories (do athletes alone take up 180-200 spots?).

Hence, it’s no surprise that some segment of the “majority” is beginning to conclude that there is little point spending time, money and effort on applying to the smallest Ivy in a relatively remote location where the focus on diversity and a stated strategy veering away from its focus on undergraduate education has overtaken that which has made Dartmouth so special for nearly 250 years. I’ll leave it to you to weigh in on whether Moving Dartmouth Forward and things like the incongruous “Energy Institute” have exacerbated rather than mitigated the challenge.

At some point the College needs to realize that the answer rests right under its proverbial nose — espouse Dartmouth as THE best college for undergraduate teaching in the world, essentially Williams but with many times the size and resources. Otherwise, we are at risk of becoming “Brand X” sold only in a remote location, destined to be crushed by superior competitors with better marketing and a better product. Of course, even commenting on the deleterious effects of over-hyping an overt effort to further change the make-up of the student body will seem politically incorrect.

How ironic is it that against this backdrop Dartmouth will soon be launching a $2.5 billion capital campaign seeking major support from the very people the College has been alienating for the past 5-10+ years?!

At what point do all colleges realize that it’s time to embrace excellence and passion first, and stop discriminating against any class of applicants or students based on ethnicity, nationality, athletic prowess (or lack thereof), etc.? We are about to see whether those who otherwise would have said “in” for a major capital campaign instead “vote with their dollars” and decline or reduce their commitments, as the College they see now is not that which appropriately continues to evolve and build off a great foundation, but rather is that which seeks to alter that foundation to the point where any semblance of Dartmouth’s inherent uniqueness could be destroyed.

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  • 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…

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