Welcome to Dartmouth's most influential daily
Each day, Dartblog and its team of alumni and students bring you news and commentary from Hanover and the world at large. Read our iPhone edition here.
Ouch. A real double whammy.
Addendum: An alum writes in:
Bloomberg is relentless in its biased coverage of Dartmouth. Duke and Penn each took a step down in the rankings this year but no one is suggesting that those schools have a problem.
Addendum: Bloomberg has now re-written the headline in its story to make it punchier, and to fit yet another stereotype:
This WCAX-TV story is an example of journalists stretching for something to say:
The Washington Post has looked at the evolution of the U.S. News rankings over the past five years in a story that summarized this year’s changes. As for the College, the Post used Bloomberg’s phrasing:
Dartmouth College in New Hampshire slipped out of the top 10 among national universities, moving from 10th to 11th.
In its interactive graphic, the takeaway for the Ivies and other top schools is that change is slow at best. Of the sixteen top schools (I chose this figure to capture all of the Ivies, Brown being in last place this year), over the past half decade none has moved on net more that one slot up or down, except for Chicago (+5), Penn (-3), Caltech (-3) and the College (-2). Plus ça change.
The Times Upshot column continues to crunch the numbers: last week it looked at a very limited data sample to see how students pick among top schools when they are accepted to several leading colleges; today it reviews the economic diversity of the nation’s leading institutions of higher learning. We come in fifth in the Ivies in terms of recruiting students from low-income and first-generation-to-college students.
The Upshot folks are thorough with data. In addition to the basic ranking, they have calculated the capacity for each school to be generous with financial aid. As we have noted in the past, the College is the fourth wealthiest of the Ivy schools: we have more endowment/student than anyone except HYP. Curiously, Columbia, Brown and Penn, which have endowment/student numbers well below ours, do better at recruiting an economically diverse class; as does Harvard, the Ivy’s third-richest school. Poor kid Cornell (the lowest endowment/student in the Ivies) and über-wealthy Princeton and Yale have the least economically diverse classes.
Addendum: As we have noted repeatedly, the sticker price of attending Dartmouth is the second highest in the Ivies — despite the fact, as detailed above, that we have the fourth highest endowment/student and we do business in a low-cost area of the country.
Here’s how Bloomberg is reporting the U.S. News rankings:
The downward death spiral continues.
Addendum: The alumnus who pointed out the above Bloomberg story writes in with some thoughts:
I agree with your conclusion that Dartmouth escaped potential disaster with the US News rankings. However, I have two observations on the rankings:
Although the drop from 10th to 11th place is fairly de minimis (especially given that there was a tie for 10th last year between Dartmouth and Cal Tech), the media (see Bloomberg headline above) is reporting it as Dartmouth dropping out of the top 10. That makes it look worse than it really is.
Also, I think the real concern is the drop in the undergraduate teaching category from 1st to 4th place. Despite all of the controversies, Dartmouth has been able to claim for the past 5 years that it has the best undergraduate teaching in the country. Now it plays second fiddle not only to Princeton, but to W&M and Miami of Ohio. That one hurts…
Addendum: You’d think that Bloomberg could be a little more charitable to the College. After all, Michael Bloomberg’s “significant other,” Diana Taylor ‘77, is a member of the Board of Trustees.
All scandalous things considered, we should be happy to have dropped only one place in the latest U.S. News rankings:
We dropped to #4 in Best Undergraduate Teaching (after Princeton, College of William and Mary, and Miami University—Oxford).
In other criteria, we are #7 in the High School Counselor Rankings (tied with Brown, Cornell and Penn; the other Ivies tied for #1); #7 for Best Value Schools; #15 for Most Students in Fraternities (male undergraduates) (only Ivy on list); #23 Most Students in Sororities (female undergraduates) (only Ivy on list); #13 Lowest Acceptance Rates (sixth in Ivies ahead of Penn and Cornell).
Addendum: After Columbia and Chicago, we have the third highest tuition and fees among the top schools. What can I say, it’s expensive to do business in major metropolitan areas like New York, Chicago and Hanover.
Addendum: An alert alumnus makes some interesting points:
Based on the US News chart that you provided in your most recent posting, it appears that they used 2013 data for the current rankings, which would not include the 14% drop in applications or the 11.5% acceptance rate in 2014. Does that mean that the real damage will occur next year when 2014 figures are incorporated in the data by US News?
Also, you may be interested in an article today in the Brown Daily Herald (link below) which tries to explain why Brown dropped two places (from 14 to 16) despite a record low acceptance rate in 2014. They blame it on an administrative reporting error.
Addendum: The College’s press release (headline: ‘U.S. News’: Dartmouth a ‘Great Value,’ With Low Debt) focused its first four paragraphs on metrics other than our declining national rank and undergrad teaching rating. Here’s how it reported on those measures in paragraph five:
Dartmouth also ranked in the top 10 for high school guidance counselors’ top picks and for “Focus on Student Success.” It remained in the top 12 in the magazine’s overall ranking of national universities, coming in at No. 11. The College was in the No. 10 spot for the last two years, and three years ago ranked No. 11. Dartmouth ranked No. 4 for undergraduate teaching, and for six years, since the category was created, has ranked among the best schools on the list.
I’d say that we rank pretty high for obfuscation.
Dartmouth employees have all been ordered to cross their fingers for the next 24 hours in anticipation of the to-be-announced-tomorrow U.S. News rankings. We could be looking at a black day in the history of the College. Here is what I wrote on February 20:
We’ll have to wait until September to learn where we stand versus other colleges after the bad press of the past few years and the collapsing application numbers, but it’s hard to imagine that we’ll keep our #10 position (tied with CalTech).
In U.S. News’ methodology, the acceptances/applications percentage only counts for 1.5% of our total rating, but that slight difference could cost us our tie. However, beyond that, 22.5% of the ranking comes from peer assessments: the views of college presidents, provosts and deans of admissions; and a survey of counselors at top-ranked public high schools. By now there can’t be anyone in these categories who isn’t aware of the College’s string of student life scandals, the AP fiasco, and the general turmoil on campus (fly-by-night Jim Kim and the high turnover in the senior administration, the College’s overspending, high tuition and comparatively ungenerous financial aid). I could go on.
Our ranking has already been drifting lower for a good while; on average, we have dropped about one or two positions each decade:
The trend can only accelerate now. I can’t see us being any better than #12 come the fall.
Let’s hope that we dodge a bullet, but given the weak leadership in Parkhurst and the non-existent/incompetent role played by the know-nothing Trustees over the past twenty years, we don’t really deserve to do so. The College has never been ranked worse than eleventh during this period, though as you can see from the chart, we were often as high as seventh in the 1990’s.
Though unheralded on campus, we have one of the nation’s best alumni magazines. It regularly wins top prize in its class, and a couple of years ago one of the competition judges, not an alum, opined that he’d like to buy a subscription. In the most recent issue, there is a good overview of the current lurching chaos at the College. Kudos to the editors for having the nerve to let alumni know that improvements are sorely needed in Hanover.
I wonder if Phil is even aware of the drubbing that we have taken over the past two years in the press — and in the minds of high school students and college counselors.
Franco-American Artist Niki de Saint Phalle’s (1930-2002) Giardino dei Tarocchi (The Tarot Garden) will bring back memories for Dartmouth students who have spent time in Barcelona. Her sculpture park in Garavicchio, Italy (Tuscany) was clearly inspired by Catalonia’s Antoni Gaudí.
All 22 cards of the tarot are represented in the phantasmagorical park, whose sculptures have a secondary whimsy: many can be lived in. De Saint Phalle carved out bedrooms, bathrooms and even a dining room and chapel inside the monumental pieces.
De Saint Phalle constructed a similarly fantastic park in Ecsondido, California: Queen Califia’s Magical Circle.
Geez. Talk about open season on Dartmouth. In a tongue-in-cheek review of The Ivy League Guidebook — an on-the-ground report dated 1969 about the Ancient Eight by three Harvard men; and a Harvard woman, Anne “Wendy” de Saint Phalle, whose name doesn’t make the cover — The Chronicle of Higher Education’s Eric Hoover chooses excerpts that seem to single out a certain College for special attention on three separate occasions:
But the pages within hold treasures, like this sentence: “With over twenty-five thousand young ladies attending one college or another in the Boston area, there is many a fertile field for the sowing of wild oats.” And this one: “When an Ivy Leaguer or a girl who has dated in the Ivy League thinks of a Dartmouth man, he or she does not call to mind a thin, pale, introspective boy with thick glasses sitting rapt in an obscure corner of the biology laboratory reading about the sex life of a mushroom.”
The Days Before Coeducation: “Dartmouth men can certainly have healthy social lives,” the book advises, “but they have to work at it.”
Like her male co-authors, Ms. de Saint Phalle beholds a realm of eager, frustrated males, locked in fierce competition for companionship, so often scarce. This was especially true at out-of-the-way Dartmouth, which she describes as “celibate during the week, hectically orgiastic on the weekends.” There, she found, date-swapping among fraternity brothers was a common practice, “whose frequency increases proportionately with the lack of inhibitions in a fraternity’s parties.”
Several friends from Dartmouth classes in the late 1960’s assure me that, just like Andrew Lohse’s assertions regarding scandalous hazing, none of the above is true.
Addendum: In Hoover’s book review, while Harvard is often referenced, student life at each of the other Ivies is noted only once or not at all.
Cornell is the only Ivy with an acceptance rate poorer than our own, and Cornell seems to play the same early admissions game as we do to prop up its yield — a necessary tactic when we almost always lose out to other Ivy schools when students have a choice.
Phil, what you gonna do about it?
What a contrast between our career educational administrators, who leave the College and head into terminal career decline, and genuine faculty members who served in the administration and are poached away by other schools.
For example, longtime Dean of the College Jim Larrimore survived less than a year at Amherst in the same job before being fired; he’s now Chief Officer for the Advancement of Underserved Learners with the ACT testing people. Acting Dean of the College Sylia Spears is today Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion at Emerson College. And Charlotte Johnson recently began flexing her muscles as Dean at 990-woman Scripps College. In contrast, former Provost Lee Bollinger is President of Columbia, and professors like Jamshed Barucha, Susan Prager, and Mike Gazzaniga occupy senior executive and research positions.
Another of College’s departed stars is Government Professor Allan Stam. He left Dartmouth for Michigan in 2007, where he became Director of the International Policy Center at Michigan’s Ford School of Public Policy. Stam was Dartblog founder Joe Malchow’s favorite professor, and his article on the educational value of participation in varsity sports is one of my every-six-months-or-so favorite reads. This past July he was appointed Dean of UVA’s Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy.
The list of books and articles that Stam has authored is significant, whether you look at his Google Scholar page (his various works have been cited hundreds of times by other scholars) or the list of his books available on Amazon.
Come back, Allan!
Addendum: Teaching at American U., Yale, Dartmouth, Michigan and UVA is impressive; rowing heavyweight crew at Cornell is distinguishing; following Jeff Gordon in NASCAR is, well, unexpected; but the fact that Professor Stam was a Special Forces Communications Specialist is downright cool. How many faculty members have a resumé that includes such a broad background.
The New York Times Upshot feature takes data from the Parchment service and compares which schools prospective students choose over others. The data sample size is very thin, but the results don’t look too good for the College. Upshot’s analysis emphasizes the virtues of a school having a distinctive identity, focus and traditions, rather than trying to be all things to everyone. Maybe those are things that Dartmouth should try to achieve?
There was no comparative data for the College v. Columbia or Cornell.
What to make of this news item? Sure, the College has a historic commitment to educating American Indians, but flying high school kids from Hawaii to Hanover to give them college prep classes seems, well, not very cost effective. Were there no American Indian kids from the East Coast who are equally deserving, or are they all flying to the West Coast and Hawaii for their college prep?
And people wonder why the cost of education is high.
At least someone in Admissions had the good sense to bring the Hawaii kids to New England in the summertime, rather than in February.
Addendum: Needless to say, one has to wonder how many Dean of the College staffers went to Hawaii to organize this venture. Did OPAL’s Tiffany Mosley set up this waste of money? Hawaii one day, Ghana the next.
Addendum: For those of a politically correct persuasion, this space assiduously employs the term American Indian for the first peoples that some folks in Hanover still refer to as Native Americans. Lest you doubt the wisdom of this posture, a visit to the National Museum of the American Indian on the mall in Washington, D.C. will dispel your concerns.
Addendum: A reader with a practical mind writes in:
Well, I hope somebody takes into account the six-hour time difference between Hawaii and New Hampshire.
I have trouble enough adjusting with just a three-hour difference between the west coast and the east coast. When it’s 8am in New Hampshire, it’s still only 2am in Hawaii.
You can fly some Hawaiians to New Hampshire, but can you really expect to get high school students up at 2am to start their day?
Correction: A reader writes in with new information:
I check your blog periodically and I was surprised to see your blog post about College Horizons suggesting that Dartmouth misuses funds to support American Indian higher education. College Horizons is a non-profit group that supports American Indian high schoolers with a summer pre-admissions program that alternates what schools it hosts at every summer. It does not receive funding from Dartmouth. Please see it’s website for a list of donors. http://www.collegehorizons.org/donors It seem’s likely that Hawaii is paying for its Hawaiian students involvement in this program.
Geisel School of Medicine c/o 2017
Dartmouth College c/o 2009
The Wall Street Journal had a timely article (pdf) last week about the growing strength of Ted Geisel’s Dr. Seuss publishing empire — timely because rumors are flying around that his massive bequest to Dartmouth is less than a done deal. As we have reported, the College has been operating under the assumption that Geisel’s testament leaves virtually his entire estate to the College upon the demise of his second wife, Audrey. Ted did not have kids with either of his spouses, but Audrey did have two children in her first marriage.
If those kids challenge Ted’s will and the College does not get the massive windfall that it has been expecting (and which Jim Kim and his now-departed hires used as the basis for much Med School budgeting), then financial chaos could ensue at Geisel. Perhaps it has already started?
How much could Dr. Seuss Enterprises be worth? The Journal reports that “Sales of Dr. Seuss books climbed to 4.8 million units in the U.S. last year from 3.2 million in 2010, according to Nielsen BookScan” and “Movie adaptations have grossed more than $1.1 billion world-wide, according to media tracker Rentrak, with 2012’s The Lorax… the most successful yet.” Following a curve like that, especially if Random House can extend the franchise around the world, it not hard to imagine the whole business valued comfortably in the high nine figures. The bequest would be the biggest one in the history of American higher education. I hope that we haven’t blown it.
Addendum: An alumnus writes in:
I wonder how it was possible that Dartmouth produced well-educated, artistic, creative, gracious men like Ted Geisel ‘26 when the College was all-male, had no OPAL, no “Bias Impact Response Team,” no Office of Institutional Diversity and Equity, no Women’s Center, no Title IX coordinator, no Gender Research Institute and so on…
Addendum: If the Geisel request falls through, do you think that the Trustees will rename the Medical School after the famous Dartmouth President who is now the famous head of the World Bank? After all, the guy famously golfs with President Obama.
Addendum: A vigilant reader adds an anecdote:
The name Dr. Seuss began after he was caught throwing a drinking party (which violated Prohibition), and Dartmouth insisted that he resign from all extracurricular activities. To keep writing for Jack-O-Lantern (Dartmouth College’s humor magazine), he became Dr. Seuss.
Dr. Seuss was called Theodor Geisel, after his father, the son of a German immigrant who settled in Springfield, Massachusetts. Dr. Seuss’s mother, also the daughter of German immigrants, was Henrietta Seuss, and when he appropriated the name for his books Dr. Seuss pronounced it in the German manner, “soice,” until he realized that Americans naturally read the name as “soose,” and that the American pronunciation of “Dr. Seuss” evoked a figure advantageous for an author of children’s books to be associated with-Mother Goose.
Addendum: Forbes estimates that Dr. Seuss earned $9M in 2013, making him the tenth-highest-earning deceased celebrity.
Addendum: More on the origins of the name Dr. Seuss from a Rauner publication:
…The other particularly significant feature of Geisel’s Jack-o-Lantern career relates to the spring of 1925, when apparently he first used the signature “Seuss.” The circumstances diat surrounded his employment of the later-famous pseudonym, he outlines as follows.
“The night before Easter of my senior year there were ten of us gathered in my room at the Randall Club. We had a pint of gin for ten people, so that proves nobody was really drinking. But Pa Randall, who hated merriment, called Chief Rood, the chief of police, and he himself in person raided us.”
“We all had to go before the dean, Craven Laycock, and we were all put on probation for defying the laws of Prohibition, and especially on Easter Evening.”
The disciplinary action imposed by Dean Laycock meant that the editor-in-chief of Jack-o-Lantern was relieved forthwith of his official responsibilities for running the magazine. There existed, however, the practical necessity of helping to bring out its succeeding numbers during the remainder of the academic year. Articles and jokes presented no problem, since they normally appeared anonymously; thus, anything the deposed editor might do in that area could be completely invisible as to its source.
Cartoons, on the other hand, usually being signed contributions, did present a dilemma; and it was a dilemma Theodor Seuss Geisel resolved by publishing some of his cartoons entirely without signature and by attributing others of them to fictitious sources.
The final four Jacko issues in the spring of 1925 contained, accordingly, a number of Geisel cartoons anonymously inserted or carrying utterly fanciful cognomens (such as “L. Burbank” “Thos. Mott Osborne ‘27,” and “D. G. Rossetti ‘25”), and two cartoons,
in the number of April twenty-second, had affixed to them his own middle name (in one case “Seuss” alone and in the other “T. Seuss”).
“To what extent this corny subterfuge fooled the dean, I never found out. But that’s how ‘Seuss’ first came to be used as my signature. The ‘Dr.’ was added later on.”
Dr. Seuss drinks gin?
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)
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 interviews, a review of…
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…