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rebecca biron.jpgFirst of all, don’t be fooled: the Dean of the College position bears no resemblance today to what it was under Charlotte Johnson, the last Dean in an almost unbroken line of incompetents. The College has announced that Professor of Spanish and Comparative Literature Rebecca Biron will be the new Dean, but the notice defines her limited role realistically:

Biron’s role will include leadership of the College’s new residential house communities and the professors directing the communities…

The Dean of the College Division has been reorganized to focus the dean’s role on the integration of academics into the full range of student experiences, curricular and co-curricular, as Dartmouth seeks to enhance academic engagement on campus.

Biron will continue teaching at least one class a year while serving as dean. In the fall she’ll teach a comparative literature course and direct an honors thesis in Spanish. “It’s important that the new dean be an active scholar and teacher,” she says. “The whole idea of the reorganization of the Dean of the College Division is to infuse student life with the same intellectual purpose that defines Dartmouth’s primary mission to produce and disseminate knowledge.”

The reorganization includes the establishment of the position of vice provost for student affairs, a role with leadership and oversight of nonacademic student affairs programs and support services. Inge-Lise Ameer, currently serving as interim dean of the College, will begin work as vice provost on July 1. Both the dean and the vice provost will report to Dever.

As we have reported, we can expect little from Dean Ameer, whose limited experience condemns her to an ineffective and probably quite short run in the Vice Provost for Student Affairs position.

Addendum: Of note, the search committee that led to Biron’s appointment was led Denise Anthony, Vice Provost for Academic Initiatives, and it included Dean Ameer, Professor Solomon Diamond, Associate Professor Jim Feyrer, Professor Irene Kacandes, and Ashneil Jain ‘15. Denise Anthony did not, um, distinguish herself as the head of Carol Folt’s now-forgotten strategic planning initiative, and Irene Kacandes headed up the search committee that resulted in Bishop James Tengatenga’s offered and withdrawn appointment as head of the Tucker Foundation. Why do the same names appear over and over again on these committees, particularly after they perform poorly?

Addendum: The D’s report on Biron’s appointment is just a rehash of the Dartmouth Now story. Read it here, if The D’s website is working.

(For students returning to campus, we are re-printing a few highlights from last term.)

Ameer and Blank.jpgHere’s the theory: the Dean of the College slot has been filled over the last fifteen years with people (with one exception) who were chosen for their racial/gender profile rather than their competence. (Want proof of their mediocrity? Look where they are now.) As a direct result of these sub-par hires, Dartmouth has been beset with a series of student life crises that have grievously hurt its reputation. How to repair the damage?

First, strip out all of the extraneous responsibilities from the Dean’s portfolio (Athletics, DDS, dorm maintenance, etc.) so that the Dean is free to concentrate on student life matters. That’s been or being done now.

Then choose competent Deans. That’s right: two of them. HYP all have deans who are heavy-hitting academics, but they are buttressed by experienced administrators who can handle the nitty-gritty of financial planning, personnel management, and the day-to-day responsibility of running of an organization with a budget well into eight figures.

At the College we should have co-Deans of the College: a professor who knows the school, has a good dose of common sense, and can speak with sufficient intellectual authority to be respected by students; and an experienced administrator who can sweat the details, streamline a bloated, low-performance staff, and cut out waste wherever it may be found (everywhere).

The College appeared to be on the way to executing this strategy, but a serious misteep has been made. For some reason, the first hire to fill the two-step was Inge-Lise Ameer, the acting Dean of of the College. She has been named Vice Provost for Student Affairs — a job that entails almost all of the responsibilities of the previous Dean of the College position. Oh, no. When Ameer was appointed interim Dean last May, we reported on her background as follows:

She’s been at Dartmouth since 2010, having come from some little school in Cambridge, where she had last been Interim Director of Advising Programs (a job she performed well, according to the Crimson). Previously she had been the administrator for undergraduate English programs.

That said, Ameer worked hand in glove with Carol Folt, having chaired the cliquey meeting that led to the College’s embarrassing shutdown last year. And she recently put in a pallid appearance on NPR as part of the College’s ongoing public self-immolation regarding student life issues. In addition, she has been joined at the hip with outgoing Dean of the College Charlotte “Phil’s just a fundraiser” Johnson. Whether her work with Charlotte represents the accommodation of a loyal subordinate or a deeper ideological sympathy remains to be seen….

Whatever her past record, let’s hope that Phil ranges further afield than Ameer in choosing the College’s next Dean of the College.

Uninspiring stuff, to say the least. Ameer is barely more experienced than Sylvia Spears. How is it that we can’t hire people who have done the same job admirably at a lesser school than Dartmouth? That’s what is done in the corporate world; people work their way up the ladder, gaining relevant experience at each level. Do we expect Ameer to learn the position on the job? That expectation surely hasn’t been met in the past.

When Ameer’s hire as Vice Provost for Student Affairs was announced, the Dartmouth Now notice also stated that the next Dean of the College would be a current faculty member. That’s good on its face, but, of course, this new position with the old name has a much reduced list of responsibilities, as The D reported:

The new dean of the College will be the academic leader of the residential community system initiative outlined in the “Moving Dartmouth Forward” plan, Dever said. The dean will lead the new cohort of house professors, and will convene “serious working groups” on diversity and inclusion within the academic experience, Dever added.

Dever’s own announcement to the campus went further:

The dean will be a tenured member of the faculty who will offer strategic and creative leadership in the areas of undergraduate academic life, diversity and inclusion in the undergraduate academic experience, strategic planning, and the residential house system and house professors.

Reporting to me, the dean will lead the new house professors and a broad network of students, faculty, and staff to create a strong academic and residential program in the new residential house system. The dean will build partnerships across departments, programs, and schools to help us find the best ways to guide students in the pursuit of their educational goals. She or he will lead a process to help me to think through planning and innovation in the areas of admissions and financial aid, ensuring that Dartmouth is well positioned to compete in a changing world. The dean will also convene initiatives to address diversity and inclusion in the undergraduate academic experience.

And don’t forget diversity and inclusion.

The fluff about leading “a process to help me to think through planning and innovation in the areas of admissions and financial aid” has nothing to do with being the College’s official den mother and chaperone. The Dean of the College position has been gutted.

Then we learn from Provost Dever that, “The search for the next dean will be led by Vice Provost for Academic Initiatives Denise Anthony” of the Sociology department. Not a reassuring sign. Anthony was the leader of Jim Kim and Carol Folt’s laughable Strategic Planning Initiative. Do you remember that multi-year, multi-multi-committee effort? The one whose results were announced a little over two years ago, and hasn’t been heard from since. The one that didn’t even pass muster for its grammar and syntax.

How Anthony could have attracted the attention of Provost Dever is beyond me, unless Provost Dever likes to hire the same kind of person as Jim Kim and Carol Folt. Anthony was the Kim/Folt administration’s go-to good girl, and it would not surprise me if she wasn’t bucking for the Dean’s job herself. In any event, the position will likely be filled by a jargon-spouting humanist. And don’t forget diversity and inclusion.

In short, amateur hour is set to continue in the area of student affairs. When will they ever learn?

The College appointed three new Trustees over Commencement, and once again, any hope for reform is dashed. The present Board is notably bereft of expertise in higher education and the new folks signal no change at all. How are the Trustees to evaluate Phil’s performance and serve as a sounding board for initiatives if virtually none of them have experience in higher education beyond their years at the College and an MBA degree?

Effective companies have boards of directors composed of people with proven competence. The Board of Trustees at DHMC illustrates how it’s done: among the hospital’s Trustees are no less than four former CEOs/leaders of top-rank medical centers, three senior physicians and medical educators, and industry experts in information technology, government relations, and medical consulting. Quite a team.

Let’s look at the College’s newest Trustees:

Trustee Rodriguez.jpg

With a net worth estimated at between $2.1 and $3.0 billion based on a business empire centered in Peru, I’m not sure that we can expect Rodriguez-Pastor T’88 to be digging deeply into the College’s day-to-day affairs any time soon.

Trustee Kerr.jpg

While the appointment of Caroline Kerr ‘05 — sister of the College’s Sustainability Director Rosie Kerr — might gladden hearts in the LGBTQIAFRC community (that stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning, Intersex, Asexual, Friends, Romans, Countrymen), can we look to her to be a force on a Board filled with alpha-billionaires? With what authority does she speak about higher education?

Trustee Fascitelli.jpg

Steven Roth ‘62 will soon leave the Board, but he won’t be without future influence. Beth Fascitelli ‘80 is the spouse of Roth’s partner Steven Fascitelli (whom Roth lured to his Vornado Realty Trust business on 2001 from Goldman Sachs with an attractive compensation package: “a $25 million bonus plus options that could have brought the total package up to $127 million.”) Beth Facitelli, with her background in investment banking at Goldman Sachs (where else?) and a Harvard MBA, will join a Board already filled with other financiers and B-school grads. People of that background have run Dartmouth’s Board for the last several decades. Hardly a reference.

(For students returning to campus, we are re-printing a few highlights from last term.)

I want to like Phil, I really do, but if the College keeps hiring people as if it on a mission to end unemployment in America, I won’t be happy, and we’ll end up with more non-faculty employees than undergrads. As the present rate, we are less than a decade away from that state of affairs:

The Dartmouth Factbook just came out with the employment figures for non-faculty staff members, and the numbers are both alarming and, more to the point, no more than a continuation of Wright/Kim/Folt excess: between November 2013 and November 2014, the College added 60 new non-faculty staffers:

Staff Headcount November 2014 Comp.jpg

Since 2010 we have added 447 new staff members, and once again we are in record territory: the College has never had so many employees. Worse still, about two-thirds of the new people came in areas having no contact with students:

Staff Headcount November 2014 SOC.jpg

Interestingly, there were job classifications where we did reduce the headcount. It can be done. But why the growth in so many areas?

While we have hired 447 staffers since 2010, let’s look at how the faculty has grown. Since 2010 we have added only 35.8 professors to the teaching ranks — that’s 11.6 new staffers for each new professor — of whom a grand total of 7.4 faculty members came to Hanover last year:

Faculty 2014.jpg

An average College staffer and a junior professor cost nearly the same amount of money each year. Remember to keep in mind that beyond salary and fancy benefits (a Cadillac health plan and lush pension contributions), there is the cost of office equipment and space, energy, professional development and training, conferences and travel. And so it goes. At this rate, all of the extra gains from a growing endowment will be eaten up in a hurry.

Addendum: In 1999, the College had 2,408 non-faculty staffers, and that figure included about 75 employees of the Hanover Inn — a business now separate from the College. But then Jim Wright went on his spending binge, and from the looks of things, we haven’t stopped.

Dean Ameer (with Phil at her side, I expect) seems determined to break AD. While the Town of Hanover Zoning adminstrator and the Zoning Board have ruled against the house’s attempt to have more than three brothers live there post-derecognition, I imagine that College Counsel Bob Donin has determined that the case is hardly a certainty in the courts. So Dean Ameer has decided to try to destroy the house by fiat:

Ameer AD.jpg

What if the brothers en masse decided to contravene this policy — which we all know is motivated only by the good Dean’s concern for student health and safety?

Other than a possible court battle about the right to live in the house, the shoe that has yet to drop is the Town of Hanover Police investigation into AD’s branding of certain brothers. Should the Town and the Grafton County Prosecutor rule that AD has broken no laws (hazing, negligence, who knows), then the College could find itself in a tight spot having derecognized a house that had not committed a crime. Dean Ameer, who has no experience in these matters, other than her apprenticeship with the incompetent Charlotte Johnson, could well end up looking silly — and the College, too.

(For students returning to campus, we are re-printing a few highlights from last term.)

The College’s IRS Form 990 is out for the 2014 fiscal year (July 1, 2013-June 30, 2014) and, as usual, the salary information (which covers calendar 2013) bears analysis:

Form 990 2013 Salaries.jpg

● Phil Hanlon took in $695,568 for a partial year’s work (stating in June of 2013), a figure which the Form 990 says included a bonus of $100,000. If we extrapolate out those figures, his annual salary would have been somewhere between $1,021,176 and $1,192,402 — depending on whether you calculate that he would have received a larger bonus had he been on the job for an entire year. The latter figure would have made him the 18th-best-paid college president in the U.S. in 2012 (the last year for which figures are available), and the fifth-highest earner among the Ivy presidents, ahead of the leaders of Harvard (President Drew Gilpin Faust earned $908,642 in her eighth year), Cornell (President David Skorton earned $817,441 in his ninth year) and Princeton (then-President Shirley Tilghman earned $948,412 in her eleventh year) — even though Dartmouth is the smallest Ivy and Phil is only beginning his presidency, the first of his career.

● Dean of the Faculty Mike Mastanduno was paid $415,511 in 2013 in order to do, uh, what exactly? He’s still teaching, doing research, he has a radio show on Sirius, and he MC’s faculty meetings. But other than that, as I have written before, we are paying a lot for a genial, part-time Dean.

● Carol Folt took in $603,502, including a $78,000 bonus, for her half year as IP in 2013. As Chancellor at UNC Chapel Hill she made $520,000 over her entire first year. Folt had earned $699,742 at Dartmouth in 2012 for being Provost for half the year and the IP for the other half.

● Amazingly, even for Dartblog readers who could hardly be more amazed by the College’s wastefulness, Dartmouth’s worst President ever, Jim Wright, was still on the payroll in 2013: to the tune of $316,886. Since leaving the Presidency on June 30, 2009, the College has continued to pay Wright handsomely: $721,385 in 2010; $652,434 in 2011; and $645,280 in 2012; plus the 2013 money. That’s a total of $2,335,985 since he left what EVP Rick Mills indirectly called one of Dartmouth’s three consecutive failed presidencies. Now why would the College keep paying Jim? These aren’t bonuses, after all. Nope. They are part of a severance package that Jim Wright agreed to when he was fired — though, of course, the fig leaf word of “retirement” was bandied about at the time. (Curiously enough, the College’s 990 filing lists Wright as having put in 40 hours/week for Dartmouth in 2013. I’d call that a misrepresentation.)

● However, for flat-out excess — especially when the College is dismissing beloved teachers for lack of budget — nothing tops the fact that former-EVP Adam Keller took in $338,562 in 2013. Keller left his job in 2009, just like Wright, having made a shambles of the College’s finances. He is listed in the above table as Chief of Strategy at The Dartmouth Institute, but given that the actual leader of TDI is not on the 990 filing, we know who is paying the bills there. Since 2009 Keller has taken in (or has taken the College for) the following sums: $855,636 in 2010; $487,151 in 2011; and $776,756 in 2012; and the abovementioned $338,562. That’s a total of $2,458,105. I wonder what leverage Keller had to get such a great deal. Note: Keller’s background, a Masters degree in public health from the University of Minnesota, did not equip him in the slightest for the EVP job, as we all expensively learned.

Addendum: Jim Kim earned nothing from the College in 2013, and the only money that he earned in 2012 was for the time he was in Hanover — the first half of the year — plus a bonus of $200,000. That totaled out to be $778,499, far short of the one-year-of-salary bonus that Dartmouth Presidents traditionally receive. I would not even have given him the $200,000, not after he cut and ran without so much as informing the Trustees before he accepted the World Bank job.

Addendum: My apologies if any of the above seems intemperate, but when I review the close-to-$5,000,000 that Jim Wright and Adam Keller have received from the College since their departure, and then I think of students and parents indebted due to the high cost of tuition, and hard-working young academics who can’t get jobs, and students stuck in large courses because the College believes that it does not have enough money to hire more faculty members, well, I get a little upset. Dartmouth is rich, but not enough to waste this kind of money on people who did her no service.

(For students returning to campus, we are re-printing a few highlights from last term.)

The word seems to be out that we use our waitlist to fill the freshman class to an extent that other schools don’t. Bloomberg reported that at most schools placement on the waitlist is tantamount to a flatout rejection — but not at the College, according to a graph in Bloomberg’s article. We take more people off of the waitlist than anyone:

Bloomberg Waitlist.jpg

This space reported on our heavy use of the waitlist about a year ago. Along with a ramped up use of early admissions and legacy admits, such a strategy seems designed to hide our declining yield. Do you understand why? We announce each April how many people we have accepted to fill the freshman class, and at that point we will be compared to other schools. Then later, even if we have not admitted enough students — because so many of the admittees have chosen to go elsewhere — we fill the class with people off the waitlist. Recall also that the waitlist is an area of rich pickings; before we accept people off the waitlist, we’ve already asked them if they want to remain on it after they have heard from the other schools to which they have applied.

If we extrapolate the exploitation of the waitlist to its ad absurdum limit, we could accept only 1,100 or so people to supposedly fill 100% of the freshman class — we’d have the best admissions stats in the country (you can imagine the headlines now) — and later on, when nobody is looking, we could fill the class off of the waitlist.

Word back from the field is that this year the Admissions department is breaking from past practice and admitting students that it had refused when they had applied ED last fall. How clever. No doubt such people are far more likely to matriculate at the College than someone who had just applied for regular admission at Dartmouth and a dozen other schools. Work that yield, work it, work it.

Even using every trick possible, our admissions rate is still moving in the wrong direction, unlike all of the other Ivies:

Ivy Acceptances Class of 2018.jpg

(Note: What a strange use of colors by Harvard is green and Yale is orange?)

The only way to improve these numbers is to make real changes in Hanover: cut the horrific waste, and use the savings to greatly improve the undergraduate experience by hiring more faculty members and reforming student life.

Addendum: If we cut out the fat, and there is a lot of it, we could easily reduce tuition by double digits. That would send a signal to the world that the revolution in higher education is finally beginning, and it is beginning at Dartmouth.

Addendum: The D is reporting today that we have already accepted 93 students off the the waitlist — a figure well above our past averages, and well above the rate of the other Ivies. We can expect that this figure will climb over the summer.

Cherries.jpgThere are several songs that will stop a conversation in France, so strong are their evocations, at least among people of a certain age. Edith Piaf’s martial Je Ne Regrette Rien is one of them, and when Yves Montand or Charles Trenet sing Le Temps des Cerises (In the Time of Cherries), especially when the markets are full of perfectly ripe ones, it is not hard to be moved to a wistful romanticism about music from a time when such sentiments led to violent battles.

The song was composed in 1866 (words by Jean-Baptiste Clément and music by Antoine Renard) in anticipation of the communist utopia that was to come; a few years later the 1871 Paris Commune sprang to life. But that hoped-for paradise was not to last; it was violently put down during the Semaine Sanglante (the Bloody Week) by what were called the forces of reaction. The meaning of Cerises thereby changed from literal to metaphorical, from springtime’s deep-flavored fruit to the bright red eruptions on the white shirts of the Communards as they were shot down at their barricades by the government’s massed troops.

The emotions of utopian hope and wistful regret are both pure and fine. As I write these words with Yves Montand’s baritone in the background, the feelings are a sentimental pleasure. My sense is that many people on the Left enjoy these reveries, and wish that more people could share in them. That can happen, perhaps, after a dinner with good wine and music, but such passions are no substitute for the rigor of markets and accountability, much as many would like.

Diversity has many meanings. Did you know that a Dartmouth alumnus was one of the stars of the long-running soap opera As the World Turns? John Colenback ‘57 played Dr. Dan Stewart in the series, in addition to starring in plays on Broadway and Off Broadway, and in numerous other television shows. He died on May 12 at the age of ‘79:

John Colenback.jpg

Variety has an obituary that notes that Colenback “was a lifelong supporter of progressive candidates and causes, especially The Names Project and LGBT programs,” and the We Love Soaps blog tells the story of his career.

I was, shall we say, not a fan of the soaps (“daytime dramas” to the initiated), but an old friend on the faculty once told me that in the 80’s and 90’s it was hard to schedule meetings with a great many students in Hanover at times when certain soaps were on TV. Maybe today’s students stream their favorites in secret? Or is the College soap opera enough for everyone?

If you fire up your Bloomberg terminal, you can access a great deal of information about college and university endowments. After all, they total in the hundreds of billions of dollars, so financial analysts are interested. And how does Dartmouth come out? After an Ivy-leading performance in the 1990s, and an Ivy-losing performance in the first decade of this century (one of the significant differences between cost-conscious Jim Freedman and break-the-bank Jim Wright), the endowment under various managers (currently Pam Peedin ‘89 T ‘98) has done pretty well over the past ten years.

Not only do we have the fourth-largest endowment per student in the Ivies, we also have the fourth highest return:

Bloomberg 10 year endowment.jpg

Like the rest of the Ivies (except for Penn and Cornell), we have beaten our investment class’ average return according to the 2014 NACUBO-Commonfund Study of Endowments. Endowments over $1.0 billion returned on average 8.2% in the ten-year period ending in 2014; our return was 9.4%:

NACUBO 2014.jpg

Lest you think that 1.2%/year doesn’t mean much, $1,000 invested over 20 years at 8.2% will leave you with $4,836.65; the same money invested at 9.4% will give you $6,030.40 — another example of Warren Buffett’s miracle of compounding.

Addendum: Now if we can only figure out how it can be that even though our endowment is larger than Brown’s in absolute and per-student terms, and even though it is growing faster than Brown’s, and even though each year it throws off a lot more money than Brown’s to fund the College’s operations, as this space reported on May 11:

… in the coming academic year, tuition, room and board, and fees in Providence will be $62,046; at the College they will be $63,744. That makes Brown $1,698/year cheaper than the College.

Of course, regular readers know the answer to this question.

The Chronicle of Higher Education has looked at the schools that MacArthur Fellows attended as undergrads. The Ivies do well:

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(See the profiles of Dartmouth’s MacArthur Fellowship winners — eight undergraduates and one MALS degree holder — here.)

In addition to taking the prize in the total winners category, Harvard runs the table on a per-student calculation, too:

MacArthur Fellows Table1.jpg

Addendum: The MacArthur Fellows come from a wide variety of educational backgrounds according to this chart from the Chronicle:

MacArthurs Origins.jpg

Addendum: Jim Kim is a past MacArthur Fellowship winner (2003) in the category of, I believe, self-promotion.

Addendum: An alert reader notes that Cecilia Conrad, VP of the MacArthur Fellows Program, and previously a professor of economics and dean of Pomona College, comments on the varied origins of MacArthur Fellows in a piece in the Huffington Post. An excerpt:

One in five fellows graduated from institutions with acceptance rates of over 50 percent. Fifteen graduated from either historically black colleges and universities (HBCU) or tribal colleges and 44 from women’s colleges. Forty graduated from religiously affiliated institutions. Several fellows, such as organic chemist Phil Baran, began their studies at community colleges…

Our data provides one clue as to the educational environments most conducive for creative minds to develop: a relatively high number of fellows graduated from liberal arts colleges. Liberal arts colleges are distinctively American institutions, typically small, that focus on undergraduate education. Less than two percent of U.S. college graduates graduated from a liberal arts college, but 14 percent of MacArthur Fellows did. Liberal arts colleges are a diverse group of institutions. Some are highly selective; others are not.

I own a business in Lebanon, NH, just across the town line from Hanover: the River Valley Club. It is an important part of people’s lives — our members work out about eight times per month, which is twice the national average for health clubs — and for a club our size we have the largest personal training program in the nation by a multiple of about five. The health club business is tough, particularly due to the expense of having a large staff, but we make a decent profit for a small business — until we have to pay the various taxes that all levels of government extract from us.

Economics Professor Meir Kohn likes to use the phrase “predatory government,” and it is apropos in our case: federal, state and local governments take two thirds of our profits, a full 66% of what is left after we have paid the staff and vendors we need to operate on a day-to-day basis (note: I draw no salary):

Taxation of Profits.jpg

In the expense area, first off we pay our employees’ wages and our contribution to their health insurance. We have always been generous with health care (unlike most health clubs), and Obamacare’s new obligations won’t change anything for us. We also pay our vendors for equipment, utilities, outside maintenance, supplies, etc. After all those costs, in 2014 we were left with profits of 13.4% of our total sales. Not great, but not bad in a year when we plowed a lot of money back into the business.

Then various governmental entities take their deep cut of our profits:

● Payroll taxes on employees’ salaries amount to about 9% on top of our total compensation bill. That is, every time we pay out a dollar of wages, we pay a total of $0.09 to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Unemployment Insurance and so on. With over 150 employees, that figure adds up to a lot of money.

● The Club is an LLC, a transparent entity, so profits are taxed to us as personal income. Fortunately, payroll taxes, real estate taxes, and state income taxes are deductible. On what’s left, our federal income tax rate is in the high 30%’s.

● Real estate taxes in Lebanon run at about 2.5% of the assessed value of land, buildings and equipment. Not cheap — nor easy to stomach, given that municipal employees are better paid and have more generous benefits than our own employees.

● Though New Hampshire levies no tax on personal income, transparent entities pay a Business Profits Tax of 8.5%, and companies pay a Business Enterprise Tax of 0.75% of wages and interest paid out.

The way that I figure it, from New Year’s Day until the end of August, I work for the government; only starting in September do I begin to work for myself. Of course, were I to sell the Club and invest my money in the stock market, my capital gains tax rate would only be about 20%. Anyone want to buy a health club?

I would classify Economics Professor Eric Zitzewitz’ presentation at the faculty meeting on June 1 as slyly subversive. The ostensible topic of the report of the Committee on the Faculty was professors’ compensation by the College, but Zitzewitz went further afield and released a great deal of interesting data. In the part of his presentation where he made the case for benchmarking, he let us know the effect of Jim Kim’s manipulation of admissions standards in his search for additional revenue. Rather than reporting on SAT scores themselves, the data-crunching professor looked at the College’s SAT score rank versus other institutions. His first slide looked (slyly) at only the 2001-2008 period:

SAT 2001-2008 Comp.jpg

Good results. There was a decline at the start of the Wright years, but our SAT rank remained consistent from year to year, and more or less consistent with the College’s U.S. News national ranking. But then Jim Kim arrived and the search was on for more money. As we have reported in the past, three major changes took place on Kim’s watch: significantly more Early Decision applicants, legacies, and private schools students were granted admission (all of these groups can be counted upon, on average, to need less financial aid than other students). What Zitzewitz showed was that Kim & Co.’s policies lowered the College’s SAT scores relative to schools with whom we compete:

SAT 2001-2013 Comp.jpg

Ouch. From a rank around 11th, we dropped to the mid-teens or worse. Obviously, when it came time to choose quality over money, Kim chose money every time.

Though he did not evoke EVP Rick Mills’ favorite metaphor — the Red Queen hypothesis — Zitzewitz also pointed out that even as Jim Kim chose to have the College’s relative SAT scores decline, other schools with whom we compete for the best students, were making serious efforts to better themselves:

SAT v. Other Schools Comp.jpg

And so it goes.

Addendum: It takes a certain amount of work to come up with these stats. If you just look at the College’s raw numbers, all might seem well in Hanover, until you also analyze the performance of schools who are trying hard to improve (unlike Dartmouth):

SAT Raw Scores Comp.jpg

The point is not to remain static, but to gain ground. As the French saying goes, Qui n’avance pas, recule. If you ain’t going forward, you are probably going backwards.

A few weeks ago we noted the large number of jobs open in the College’s Development/Advancement office (that’s “fundraising” in plain English). I surmised that the College was gearing up for the capital campaign that has been looming for quite a while now. In fact, the campaign is part of the reason, and the hiring proceeds apace:

Development 11.06.2015 Comp.jpg

Thumbnail image for Development Office.jpgWhile there are plenty of new jobs to be had, another motive for the frenetic recruiting is the awful work environment up in Advancement’s dedicated building in Centerra (right). As we reported on October 1, 2014, Senior VP for Advancement Bob Lasher ‘88’s name bespeaks his management style:

From the first, Lasher’s behavior has spawned stories of slammed doors, angry tirades, whining about the Upper Valley social scene, and, well, very close supervision of certain subordinates.

As we noted then, and the observation is still true, people are leaving Development in good numbers, and many others are shopping their resumés at other schools. This is hardly what the College wants to see at the start of a campaign. Phil has set high goals for fundraising (though he should do more cost-cutting — that’s where the real money is), but if he wants to raise money, he needs to have on staff a cohesive, happy group of development officers, people who love the College and are willing to stay with her for the number of years needed to establish relationships with donors. Allowing a burn-and-churn boss to run Advancement won’t get Phil to where he wants to go.

I’m the first person in the world to admit that hiring quality people is a challenge. Nobody is better than good at it; the necessary strategy is to undo your errors as quickly as possible. Will Phil send Bob Lasher packing before too much damage is done and too many good people leave — or is he reluctant to admit a mistake? The current office pool is only running even odds on whether Lasher will get the boot before Vice Provost for Student Affairs Inge-Lise Ameer, an equally dismal hire (whose job consists of almost all of the responsibilities of what once was the Dean of the College position). Who knows how long either one will last?

Where, oh where are the Grand Old Seniors?
Safe at last in the wide, wide world.

Dartmouth Class of 2015.jpg

The new alumni are safe in part thanks to the College’s newly commissioned 2nd lieutenants: Jonathan Griffith ‘15 (Army); Joshua Rivers ‘15 (Army); Monica Wagdalt ‘15 (Army); Joseph Carey ‘15 (Marine Corps); and Zachary Queen ‘15 (Marine Corps):

Dartmouth Commissioning 2015.jpg

Addendum: With special thanks to the Class of 2015’s members of Dartblog’s Baker Tower Irregulars, who helped out in so many ways.

Addendum: Here is the College’s report and the Valley News story on the weekend’s events.

Addendum: 2nd Lieutenant Joseph Carey ‘15 is the son of Government Professors John Carey and Lisa Baldez. Can anyone recall a Dartmouth professor with a child in the military?

Addendum: One of Dartblog’s ever vigilant readers notes that Jamie Ermarth ‘04 gradated with an Army ROTC Commission. His father is recently retired History Professor Michael Ermarth, and his stepmother is English Professor Barbara Will.

Addendum: Another alumnus writes in:

Surely there are many others, if one goes back far enough. We always knew about and celebrated Stanley Proctor Wright ‘42, son of Philosophy Professor William Kelley Wright, but we never thought of him as being that unusual. He was 2nd Lieutenant USMC, killed at Bougainville on November 13, 1943.


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