"The Flying Dentist" Drives Away

Nov 1 2014

He raced at Sebring, Daytona and Le Mans. He won at Watkins Glean. He was a heck of a good dentist. And he passed away last week at age 94. We'll find out in about seventy years whether the College is still making graduates like Richard K. Thompson Jr. '42. The Washington Post ran a lengthy obituary of another great alum:

In his day job, Richard K. Thompson Jr. pulled teeth and filled cavities. He did root canals and installed crowns. He was a fourth-generation Washingtonian, the grandson of a physician and the son of a dentist with whom he shared the early years of a practice that spanned a half- century.

To his patients he was "Dr. Thompson." But to hundreds of thousands of sports-car enthusiasts, Dick Thompson was "The Flying Dentist," the driver of fast, sleek and powerful automotive machines on tracks across the United States and Europe at speeds of more than 200 mph.

In a racing career that began in 1952 and ended in 1969, he won eight Sports Car Club of America racing championships in several categories. He was best known as the driver of Corvettes, for which he won five championships. But he also raced MGs, Jaguars, Ferraris, Porsches, Mustangs, Cobras and Maseratis...

Dick Thompson4.jpg

Dick Thompson1.jpg

Rest in peace (except for the sound of racing engines).

Addendum: While we are on the subject of fine alumni, this week the Valley News ran a touching obituuary about Walter Weed II: a member of the Class of 1940, a soldier in the 10th Mountain Division, an accomplished furniture maker and outdoorsman, and for many years the director of the Hop's woodwork shop.


There's Inflation and There's Inflation

Oct 31 2014

Last February when Phil announced that the rate of growth of Dartmouth tuition was not going to exceed "the rate of inflation" -- and then he later announced an increase of 2.9%, even though the current Consumer Price Index (CPI) rise was about half that figure -- he was not breaking a promise. He was simply using a different index: the Higher Education Price Index (HEPI). Inside Higher Education describes the Index as follows:

HEPI Comp.jpg

That said, choosing an index that rises far faster than the CPI earns Phil no points with Dartblog. That choice would be equivalent to the College's endowment managers announcing that their return on investment was better than the TMCEI -- the Terribly Managed College Endowment Index, made up of the worst performing funds of different schools. (Note: I made this up.)

American families live in the world of the CPI, and there is no reason that the College should not have a cost structure related to the CPI, too. Only about 13% of Dartmouth's overall expenses relate to faculty, and another few percent are the cost of senior administrators. The remainder of the College's cost structure, from custodians to administrative assistants to the construction of buildings to utilities to food to taxes is identical to the cost structure of the businesses that generate the CPI. The College should not compare itself to a subset of poorly performing institutions; let's set our sights higher than that.


Radical Faculty Go After Greeks

Oct 30 2014

Hard on the heels of The D's editorial urging the abolition of the Greek system, a group of radical faculty members is circulating a letter urging fundamental changes to the College's system of fraternities and sororities. In addition, at Monday's faculty meeting, a motion will be put forward from the floor "to call a vote on phasing out Greek organizations," as a letter making its way around the faculty has phrased it.

Faculty Greek Letter Comp.jpg

I expect that close observation of Phil Hanlon on Monday will provide us with an understanding on where he stands on the fate of the Greeks. Word is that English Professor Don Pease has long had Phil's attention. Curiously, Pease has not yet signed the above letter.

Addendum: As we have noted in the past, faculty meetings are dominated by a small clique; professors who are unable to attend for whatever reason are denied the right to vote.

Addendum: An alumnus writes in:

If the faculty think that Bowdoin College is better for eliminating fraternities, they clearly didn't read this article in the NY Post that indicates that binge drinking and sexual assault is endemic there as well.


Fraternities can have issues, but removing them does not eliminate student desires to drink and have sex.

Addendum: Hank Balaban '16 offers a comment:

The social system at Dartmouth is completely out of date and incredibly unfair to women in a myriad of ways, and the administration has done a terrible, truly embarrassing job of providing gender neutral alternatives to the Greek system. In that context, it's no wonder we have an "animal house" reputation (and easy to understand the precipitous decline in applications and reputation that is highly related).

That being said, I think that it's really short sighted to think that "abolishing" the Greek system would lead to sweeping culture change -- the problems have deeper roots than that, and all you have to do is look at similar schools to Dartmouth that have eliminated their Greek systems to see that sexual violence and binge drinking are far more complicated problems than some in Hanover would have you believe. Reforms are long due, but pretending like you have a simple solution to an immensely dynamic situation is immature.

In addition to the above addendum re: Bowdoin, here are horror stories of rape and sexual violence at:

Amherst: http://amherststudent.amherst.edu/?q=article/2012/10/17/account-sexual-assault-amherst-college

Middlebury: http://www.ihhmidd.org/#!about/c2414

Colby: https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2012/02/15/colby-college-responds-sexual-misconduct-allegations

Anyone who believes that these schools have successfully addressed college-aged binge drinking has truly detached themselves from reality. I'm happy for these professors that they have found an easy scapegoat to blame Dartmouth's problems on, but I hope that in the coming years Phil takes a well reasoned approach to the legitimate issues they raised rather than caving to the incredibly vocal minority.

Addendum: Another longtime reader writes in:

We shouldn't let Hamilton and Williams off the hook...

Hamilton: http://www.syracuse.com/news/index.ssf/2014/04/how_common_are_sexual_