Friday, October 9, 2015

The College As Whipping Boy

We can debate all we want the accuracy of statistics regarding sexual assault, but the larger truth is that the College is now a symbol for the various pathologies that afflict most of higher education. A bad reputation, justified or not, will influence the choices made by high school students and potential faculty members. And from what I hear, three years ago Trustee Chairman Bill Helman’s Presidential Search Committee was rebuffed by several potential candidates because of Dartmouth’s notoriety as ‘a drinking school unfriendly to women.’

Here’s the latest headline — and look at the picture the editors chose. Of course, such an article is just a small cut to the College’s image, but it feels like we are suffering death by a thousand cuts:

Start Class Comp.jpg

Following the College’s #1 position (a total of 2.3356 forcible sexual offences/1,000 students) in this ugly ranking were #2 Princeton (1.5316) and #3 Vanderbilt (1.0531). The rest of the Ivies that made the list ranked as follows: #6 Brown (0.9392), #7 Yale (0.8923), and #14 Harvard (0.8266). Not only was the College tops in terms of reported assaults, but we were in the lead by a long distance.

Addendum: The Valley News reported yesterday on the College’s Clery statistics. Rather than comparing the College to other Ivy schools as above, the graphic accompanying Rob Wolfe ‘12’s story looked at similar stats from UNH, UVM and Colby Sawyer:

VN Campus SA Reports.jpg

Numbers like this, however debatable, make no friends for Dartmouth.

Posted on October 9, 2015 4:00 AM. Permalink

Thursday, October 8, 2015

How About an Intellectual Protest?

Word is that there will be a silent protest at Emily Yoffe’s talk today in Rocky 001 at 3pm. While silence may be golden, intelligent discourse is of greater value. Perhaps the protesters might want to engage with Ms. Yoffe by presenting alternative evidence, and in light of that evidence, draw conclusions that are different from those offered by Slate’s feisty columnist. They may want to follow on with politely expressed questions.

Meanwhile, here in France, the government has no difficulty letting young women know that imbibing to excess can lead to regrettable outcomes:

The visibly hungover young woman groggily asks, “Where the heck am I?”, and her host, thick gold chain and all, responds, “So, are you happy?” The tag line reads, “Have you seen yourself when you are drunk?”

This ad runs in movie theaters prior to the main attraction.

Update: The Valley News is reporting that a small group of students protested yesterday at Yoffe’s talk:

Yoffe said on Thursday that sexual assault was a serious problem, one that needed to be addressed, but she contended that efforts to support rape survivors sometimes impinged on men’s civil rights.

“The panic is poisoning relations between the sexes,” she said during her opening remarks.

She found little support, however, among the roughly 100 students and faculty in attendance. About 30 students stood along the back wall of the lecture hall, holding handmade signs bearing such phrases as “Rapists are not victims,” and “Consent is not confusing.”

When Yoffe made a point with which students disagreed, they raised their signs in unison above their heads.

Victoria Nevel, a senior who helped organize the demonstration, said beforehand that it was not meant as a protest but rather as an expression of support for rape survivors.

Posted on October 8, 2015 1:04 PM. Permalink

Dartmouth “Community Study” Has No Security, May Be Taken Multiple Times

The College’s newly released campus climate survey, the “Dartmouth Community Study,” has absolutely no means of confirming the identity of people who complete it: the on-line form can be filled in by people all over the world who have access to the internet, and they may fill in the survey multiple times. In addition, users can self-identify as belonging to any of the following six categories without any control or verification:

Campus Climate Survey.jpg

As such, the survey is wide open to manipulation and fraud. If you’d like to see for yourself, go to this link and fill it out:

Of course, we are counting on you to only fill out the survey once, to be a member of the Dartmouth community, and to identify your position with complete honesty.

We can trust you, right?

Addendum: The above is decidedly not a joke — though that qualification might apply to the people who developed a survey that is so wide open to distortion.

Addendum: The D comments on the survey, and it ran this ad in its October 7 edition:

Community Study Ad.jpg

Addendum: Today’s widely distributed Dartmouth Now daily note has included the link for the survey.

Posted on October 8, 2015 4:00 AM. Permalink

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

PR With a Straight Face?

The D seems in decline, but every so often there is a bit of writing and editing that gives me real delight. Look at the way writer Parker Richards ‘18 has juxtaposed statistics with administrative spin:

Clery Reporting Comp.jpg

Congratulations, Phil! Only 48 reported rapes. “We are incredibly fortunate that Dartmouth is a safe and secure environment and community.”

Addendum: Of course, the subtlety here is that “reported” rapes does not necessarily mean actual acts of sexual violence, but still.

Addendum: These statistics come from the College’s 2014 Annual Security and Fire Safety Report.

Posted on October 7, 2015 3:59 AM. Permalink

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Teevens ‘79 on Colbert ‘86

My classmate Buddy Teevens ‘79 will appear on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert ‘86 on Thursday:

Teevens Colbert.jpg

He will be describing the College’s new MVP motorized tackling dummy, a great innovation:

Ummm, Buddy, don’t forget that we are playing undefeated Yale on Saturday.

Addendum: Stephen Colbert’s Dartmouth roots are the stuff of legend.

Posted on October 6, 2015 4:08 PM. Permalink

Yoffe Criticizes Assault Data

One hears a lot about diversity at the College, but beyond skin color, gender and possibly national origin, the term does not mean a lot, save for the occasional visit by a provocative thinker. Slate’s Emily Yoffe falls in the latter category, and she will be in Hanover on Thursday:

Yoffe Lecture.jpg

Emily Yoffe1.jpg

Give Yoffe credit for swimming against the tide of received opinion. Her 2013 Slate DoubleX column entitled College Women: Stop Getting Drunk was beyond controversial:

… a misplaced fear of blaming the victim has made it somehow unacceptable to warn inexperienced young women that when they get wasted, they are putting themselves in potential peril…

Let’s be totally clear: Perpetrators are the ones responsible for committing their crimes, and they should be brought to justice. But we are failing to let women know that when they render themselves defenseless, terrible things can be done to them… That’s not blaming the victim; that’s trying to prevent more victims.

If female college students start moderating their drinking as a way of looking out for their own self-interest — and looking out for your own self-interest should be a primary feminist principle — I hope their restraint trickles down to the men.

In a more recent Slate column, Yoffe focused on the apparent flaws in the Campus Climate Survey on Sexual Assault and Sexual Misconduct, in which the College did not fare well. Her article was headlined: The Problem With Campus Sexual Assault Surveys: Why the grim portrait painted by the new AAU study does not reflect reality, and it was of a piece with other efforts like Stuart Taylor’s in the Washington Post: The latest big sexual assault survey is (like others) more hype than science; Ashe Schow’s in the Washington Examiner: New sexual assault survey suffers same problems as others; and Naomi Schaefer Riley’s in the New York Post: The myth of the college ‘rape culture’.

These authors point out numerous flaws in the survey, such as “response bias”: a small sample size (19.3%) and the likelihood that victims would answer the survey with greater frequency that students who did not feel that assault was an important campus issue. They noted the issue of definitions: for example, unwanted, though fully clothed, contact during dancing would be counted as a form of assault. And the lack of the use of the term “rape” or “sexual assault” in the questionnaire — which lead to incongruous results, as when Yale women who experienced what they described as “forced penetration” responded, “I did not think it was serious enough to report [to Yale or the New Haven Police],” 65.4% of the time.

Needless to say, Yoffe will expand on these issues in her talk on Thursday.

Addendum: Yoffe, a 1977 Wellesley College graduate, has character. Here’s how she responded to the question, “When did you decide that you wanted to become a journalist?”

In junior high, I had an English teacher who said, ‘You’re too smart to be such a terrible writer. When you get to high school, take a journalism elective.’ I took it, and I really liked it. The movie Love Story was the movie of the day, so I went to see it, and we had to do a review. I wrote a scathing review, while everyone around me is being washed away [with emotion]. Unbeknownst to me, the teacher passed it off to the school newspaper, which I never even read. They printed it, and all of a sudden all these people started coming up to me, saying, ‘You are SO mean.’ I decided on the spot, this is for me.

She reminds me of renowned Washington socialite Alice Roosevelt Longworth (1884-1980) (TR’s oldest child), who is supposed to have said, “If you haven’t got anything nice to say about anybody, come sit next to me.”

Posted on October 6, 2015 4:00 AM. Permalink

Monday, October 5, 2015

Waitlist Use Up Again

Here’s how it is in Admissions these days: the word seems to have arrived in McNutt that the College will never accept more than a maximum of 2,100-2,200 students to fill the freshman class. In that way, our yield looks passably good as compared to the other Ivies. But given our endless series of scandals, and the overall odor of decline that has attached itself to the College for a couple of decades now (thanks to Jim Wright and his successors), we have had to play multiple games in order to make this number work: an ever higher number of early decision admits, more legacies, private school kids and donors’ children, and when all else fails, increased recourse to the waitlist when we can’t fill the class with that limited number of admits.

As we have reported in the past based on data from the federally mandated Common Data Set, at Dartmouth an applicant has a better shot at being admitted from the waitlist than at peer schools (Columbia does not share its CDS):


And our use of the waitlist has been rising over time:

Waitlist 4A.jpg

Last year’s waitlist numbers were a strange anomaly: we took nobody off the waitlist at all. My speculation is that Admissions changed tack and played the Tufts Syndrome game in refusing admission to candidates who were clearly good enough to get into HYP and other top schools, and also accepting kids for whom the College was a reach. How could it be otherwise, in the year after our total applications number dropped by a headline-making 14%, and nothing of note hit the press that was positive about the College?

However this year, we are back onto our rising waitlist trendline, as recently departed Admissions Director Maria Laskaris graciously described to me several weeks ago:


In total, 129 students were admitted from the waiting list this year; of that group, 99 are enrolling in the Class of 2019 and two have postponed their enrollment to the Class of 2020.

This is the largest number of students admitted and enrolling from the waiting list in recent memory. After the unexpectedly high yield on the Class of 2018 and the subsequent over-enrollment in the first year class, we decided to admit fewer students to the Class of 2019 through the regular decision process and to use the waiting list to reach our target class size of 1,120.

[Emphasis added]

Let’s ignore Maria’s rationalization and just look at the numbers: the 129 admits off the waitlist is alarmingly higher than the record of 91 admits in 2011. And even though a quarter of the waitlisted-then-accepted students decided not to matriculate, waitlisted students will still constitute a record 9% of the incoming class — up from the 8% average between 2011-2013.

The College’s decline in the eyes of high school students and their college counselors proceeds apace. Fiddling at the margins regarding academic and social life, while hiring ever more staffers, is not going to turn things around. The waitlist numbers don’t lie. We are having trouble filling the freshman class with people who are getting into their first-choice school.

Addendum: In a couple of months, when the College announces that for the first time we have accepted over 500 early decision applicants, you can expect that the justification will relate to the “exceptional, unprecedented quality of this year’s applicant pool” — or some such nonsense.

Posted on October 5, 2015 4:00 AM. Permalink

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Frank Gilroy ‘50 1925-2015 R.I.P.

Frank Gilroy Comp V.jpgFrank Gilroy ‘50 was a young soldier with the 89th Infantry in George Patton’s Third Army before he was a Dartmouth student and then a playwright. His division liberated the Ohrdruf concentration camp on April 4, 1945, a sub-camp of Buchenwald. Ohrdruf was visited by Eisenhower, Bradley and Patton, and the camp was known for a time in America as the symbol of German barbarity. Gilroy’s glimpses there of stacked bodies became the basis for one of his later plays, Contact With the Enemy (2000).

More important for Gilroy, his time in Europe was the beginning of his road to Dartmouth (from The Rattle of Theta Chi, Volume 55, Issue 2):

In the fall of 1945 on a brief leave from Army duties, he met several Dartmouth alumni on the ski slopes in Austria. The alumni, as one might expect, whetted the Gilroy appetite for higher education, and especially for Dartmouth. Gilroy returned to his base and wrote his first letter to Dartmouth. The late Dean of Admissions Robert C. Strong ‘24 answered with what Gilroy recalls as a “very nice, hospitable, generous note.”

Three or four more letters were written and answered. Gilroy also applied for admissions into the College — he had applied to 40 or more other colleges and universities, too. But he had a special feeling about Dartmouth, based in part on his correspondence with Dean Strong, and upon his discharge from the service in May 1946 he immediately took a train to Hanover — only to find that the man who had shown such interest in him had died. Gilroy was stunned. His one contact with Dartmouth was gone. He looked up Prof. Arthur Jensen in the English Department, a friend of a friend, and Jensen took him to see Edward Chamberlain ‘36, then acting Dean of Admissions. Gilroy recalls how he asserted his sense of having achieved a firm fix on life and how he stressed that he was looking for someone to take a chance.

He was well aware of the admissions pressures on the College that year — from its own students who had gone off to war and now wanted to return without delay and from others — even before the acting dean put the odds squarely before him. But Gilroy persisted. He submitted a short piece of prose fiction, an interesting piece titled “The Worn-out Windmill,” through the alumni interviewer, author and editor Dave Camerer ‘37. This found approval with Camerer. “That a youngster, trying to impress someone with his writing,” wrote Camerer to Chamberlain, “has seen fit to underwrite rather than overwrite — speaks volumes for the boy’s sense of proportion.”

Back in the Bronx the mailman did not make young Gilroy’s first weeks at home any too pleasant. Rejection after rejection from colleges of all descriptions, north and south and west, came in; then finally there was an acceptance from Davis and Elkins College in West Virginia. At about mid-summer with rejections from all but Davis and Elkins — and about to make his plans for traveling to West Virginia — Gilroy received notice of his acceptance by Dartmouth.

Parenthetically, that’s quite an admissions process: three or four personal letters from the Dean of Admissions, a face-to-face meeting with the Dean himself, the involvement of an alumnus to whose opinion attention was paid, and a courageous decision by the College — going against the grain of lesser schools — to admit a student who later won a Pulitzer Prize for Drama, a New York Drama Critics Circle Award and a Tony for Best Play.

At Dartmouth, Gilroy was Editor-in-Chief of The D, and he wrote numerous plays for the then-flourishing Eleanor Frost Prize Play Contest (in my day, too, I recall fraternities vigorously competing in the Interfraternity Play Competition). He played trumpet in a Dixieland jazz band and was a member of Theta Chi. His playwriting was such that the faculty pushed hard for him to win a College fellowship so that he could spend a year studying at the Yale School of Drama.

After Yale, Gilroy began his career writing for live television, a new medium wide open to young talent. He only returned to plays after five years writing scripts for TV. He broke through with an off-Broadway success, Who Will Save the Ploughboy, followed by his finest work, The Subject Was Roses, which has been translated into several other languages. It is still regularly performed.

After Roses, his reputation was set, and opportunities were offered to present more plays and to write and direct for the theater, television and cinema. But nothing Gilroy created ever had the impact of his early great work. Later in life, he lamented always being associated foremost with Roses.

Variety reports on Gilroy’s later work and professional activity:

The two-act “Subject Was Roses” debuted on May 25, 1964, at the Royal Theatre. Gilroy would go on to adapt the play for a 1968 film of the same name.

His other film credits include writing the screenplays for “Desperate Characters” starring Shirley MacLaine, “The Gallant Hours” starring James Cagney and “The Only Game in Town” starring Elizabeth Taylor and Warren Beatty.

Gilroy also wrote fiction, including the novel “From Noon Till Three,” would was adapted to a film in 1976. Charles Bronson starred, with Gilroy writing the screenplay and directing.

Gilroy previously served as president of the Dramatists Guild, and was feted by the Writers Guild of America East with a lifetime achievement award in 2011.

Of Desperate Characters NYT film reviewer Vincent Canby ‘45 wrote:

I describe all of this at some length because it reflects the quality of the film itself, which is full of the details of urban desperation, painfully and accurately observed at eyelevel, without exploitation or condescension. Yet I must confess that “Desperate Characters” left me, if not unmoved, then unenriched. It’s as if its cheerlessness had been bottled straight, without the additive that transforms recognizable experience into art.

I’ve not read Miss Fox’s novel, but I’ve been told that Gilroy’s adaptation is a model of fidelity, even to careful inconclusiveness with which it treats the future of the Bentwood marriage. In every respect, the screenplay is a vast improvement over Gilroy’s Pulitzer Prize-winning “The Subject Was Roses.” Its literary style, however, is similar, and it’s a style to which I, for one reason or another, find it difficult to respond.

His characters talk in great chunks of theatrical exchanges, and monologues, which not only deny the splendid accuracy of the situations and the settings, but also somehow make me suspicious of the integrity of the characters. This is especially true of the supporting characters, who are always telling us too much, remembering too many details out of the past, nudging us for sympathy and never letting us discover them at our own speed.

In drama, as in real life, people have to earn the right to bestow confidences, as well as to receive them. There is a dramatic license for just about everything, including Gilroy’s style of theater, a style that I associate with the more serious television writing of the 1950’s. It is not, however, for me.

Perhaps because they have more time on screen, and are less pressed to make their points quickly, the stars of the film come off best, which is not always the case in movies with lots of little character-specialty numbers. I have nothing but admiration for both Miss MacLaine, who seems to be as sweet and appealing as a woman at the end of her rope can be, and Mars, whose denseness and cruelty are obviously the eroded remains of decency.

“Desperate Characters,” which opened yesterday at the Festival Theater, marks Gilroy’s debut as a film director, and I have a feeling that the director has perfectly served the writer. That is to say that Gilroy has realized the movie he intended to make. I wish I liked it more.

Frank Gilroy was awarded an honorary degree by the College in 1966 (bottom photo above). He passed away at age 89 on September 12 in Monroe, N.Y. He is survived by his wife Ruth, to whom he had been married for 62 years; his three sons; and five grandchildren.

Addendum: Gilroy’s three boys have acquitted themselves well in the arts. Tony wrote the screenplays for the first three Bourne movies, and he wrote and then directed the fourth one, in addition to directing, writing and producing other movies. Dan directed and wrote Nightcrawler, which was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, and he has writing credits for half a dozen other films. John is a film editor whose work includes Michael Clayton, The Bourne Legacy, Pacific Rim and Nightcrawler. Tony went to BU, and Dan and John were members of the Class of ‘81.

Frank’s grandson Sam Gilroy was an ‘09.

Addendum: A Dartblog reader says that Frank has long intended to donate his papers to the College.

Posted on October 4, 2015 4:00 AM. Permalink

Saturday, October 3, 2015

BREAKING: Union Approves Contract

By a wide majority, the members of the SEIU have approved their generous contract with the College:

SEIU 2015 voting.jpg

Regrettably, students interested in kosher dining, international students, parents, faculty and other groups hamstrung by the College’s profligate ways were not invited to participate in this vote.

Posted on October 3, 2015 12:59 PM. Permalink

Convocation and Chesterton’s Fence

The cancellation of Convocation has come and gone, and reporting on it has been supplanted by the ending of need-blind admissions for international students, the College’s results in the AAU Campus Climate Survey on Sexual Assault and Sexual Misconduct, Susan Taffe Reed, another giveaway union contract, and so forth. Still, we might take a moment to consider the irresponsibility of replacing an important ceremony in College life with a barbecue, especially in light of the below admonition:

Chesterton's Fence.jpg

True prudence is the humility to understand that human culture is infinitely complex, and we act as social engineers at our peril. Convocation was a group statement of values, a chance for the President and Provost to preach to the students of the incoming class about the expectations that Dartmouth has for them and about their responsibility as members of a scholarly community. Among the administration’s many mistakes this year, ending Convocation ranks high.

Addendum: One of the justifications given by Phil and Provost Dever for ending the formal Convocation ceremony is poor attendance by members of the faculty. Sadly, poor attendance by professors reflects their despair at the absence of leadership at Dartmouth. The President and the Provost have spent far too little time with the College’s faculty, especially the highest performing ones, and most faculty members are now resigned to more years of mediocrity in Parkhurst. They do their research, teach their classes, and choose not to waste time trying to participate in the lackluster public life of the College. Some of the good ones will leave for more supportive climes.

Addendum: An acclaimed member of the faculy writes in:

Joe, you nailed it. The place is falling apart — structurally, intellectually, and especially in faculty morale. Hanlon seems obsessed with raising vast sums of money to bring to Dartmouth what already exists (clusters of dynamic faculty who are internationally renowned). The message from Parkhurst is “none of you are good enough, we need to bring in real talent.” This is horribly insulting and demoralizing. Rumor has it that he feels Dartmouth faculty are overpaid and underperforming. It is therefore not surprising that many faculty have checked out or are checking out. Where is the intellectual leadership?

Addendum: And an alumnus shares his experience:

I very much enjoyed your post on the parable of Chesterton’s fence in regard to the abolition of Convocation. When I entered Dartmouth in the fall of 1956 (!), John Sloan Dickey delivered the Convocation address, and it made a powerful impression on me and others. Many of us really had no very clear idea of why were there, only that going on to college was what people like us were supposed to do.

The idea of being part of a community of learning was, believe it or not, quite new to us. The speech started us off with a certain enthusiasm and determination to make the most of our time at Dartmouth. I suppose these days young people are more sophisticated, and perhaps think “I am here to get an expensive credential that will let me go on to B school - what I learn along the way will be entertaining, but no big deal.” But perhaps a well conceived Convocation speech could help overcome such purely utilitarian attitudes.

Addendum: As does another one:

From John Sloan Dickey, some time between 1957 and 1960 (or perhaps at every Convocation?): “Your business here, gentlemen, is learning. Good luck to you, and we’ll be with you all the way.” Not a bad way to remember Convocation lo those many years ago.

JSD was President from 1945-1970. I’m told he spoke these words each year.

Posted on October 3, 2015 4:00 AM. Permalink

Friday, October 2, 2015

BREAKING: Feed Unionized Staff With a +2% Raise; Starve the Faculty at +1%

The College has come to an agreement with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the membership will soon be asked to vote on it. After a previous three-year contract that called for generous annual increases of 3%, 3% and then 2% in 2014-15 (for a total of 8.2% during a period when inflation was 3.8%), the new contract will only be for a term of two years, and the unionized staff will see an increase of 2.0% each year. The short term of the contract is due to the looming Obamacare tax on extravagant “Cadillac” healthcare plans, which could cost the College as much as $2.0 million/year beginning two years from now.

As usual, the College has caved in to the union. Let’s examine how badly:

— The Consumer Price Index rose by 0.8% over the past year, and given the rising dollar and the plummeting price of petroleum, we are probably looking at deflation before we’ll see higher inflation. To give the overpaid staff an increase beyond the rate of inflation is irresponsible. How so? Well, in the midst of a national debate wherein wages for fast food workers might rise to a level of $15/hour over several years in high-cost places like NYC and Seattle, the College is already paying unskilled dishwashers (the least paid union position) at least $17.12/hour in their first year of work. The rate will rise to $17.46/hour under the new contract. Janitors make more. (Don’t get me started on plushy benefits and long vacations. Under the new contract, anyone hired before 2011 will continue to receive entirely free health insurance.)

— The cost of the College’s compensation for union DDS and custodial workers is about double what local businesses pay people. The College should pay wages as set by the market. Dartmouth will want to pay enough to attract and retain workers, but no more — not when tuition is going to be $63,744 this year, the second highest in the Ivies, and when important institutional priorities (kosher dining, financial aid for international students) remain unfulfilled due to a shortage of funds.

— The College’s current wage levels for all of its workers are already far higher than MIT’s calculation of the living wage in Hanover. In fact, the wages paid to restaurant and custodial workers in Hanover easily surpass the living wage, too.

— A 2% raise is greater that that which many members of the faculty will receive in 2105/2016. Here is an excerpt from the College’s recent salary memo to faculty members:

2014-15 baseline raise: 1.5%
2015-16 baseline raise: 1%

For faculty members who demonstrated solid performance in scholarship, teaching, and service, we were able to set a baseline increment of x% for assistant, associate, and full professors. As in prior years, we continued to provide special increments for faculty who were reappointed (3%), promoted to associate professor (4%), tenured (4%), and promoted to full professor (6%). The remaining funds were then distributed on the basis of merit.

Generosity to unionized employees comes against a backdrop of the College failing to remain competitive over the past several years in compensation to the faculty, as Economics Professor Eric Zitzewitz laid out in a slide at recent faculty meeting. We are falling behind the other Ivies, the COFHE group, and the U.S. News Top 10 schools (which may be one reason why we are no longer in the U.S. News Top 10):

Faculty Salaries Comparative.jpg

If the administration keeps giving higher raises to the staff than the faculty, it won’t be long (probably about 75 years) before a cook helper in the dining hall will be earning as much as a newly hired, tenure-track professor in the Humanities. As things stand now, a cook helper without a high school education earns over half what a young Humanities professor takes home, and the prof has spent at least nine years after high school studying and teaching in several of the world’s finest universities.

Dartmouth shouldn’t be run like a business; we don’t need to maximize profit. But the school should not be run like a social welfare agency either. Let me remind Phil & Co. what the College really should be about, but isn’t yet: education.

Addendum: As we calculated several years ago, two cook helpers at the College who are living together would have a family income greater than 72% of all American families.

Addendum: One of my favorite student writers from past years sends in a note:

Ugh — things are never going to get better. In the event it isn’t hard enough to get top, young faculty to come to the Upper Valley, let’s make them feel like second-class citizens to the staff!

Posted on October 2, 2015 4:00 AM. Permalink

Thursday, October 1, 2015

BREAKING: Susan Taffe Reed Un-Appointed But Still Hired

Susan Taffe Reed will not be the College’s Director of the Native American program after all. But she will remain on the payroll:

STR Un-hire.jpg

Just what we need: another Dean of the College office bureaucrat. As we reported in April:

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…

Make that 448.

Addendum: The story has been picked up by AP and is in news outlets all over the country. Inside Higher Education and the Chronicle of Higher Education had reports as well.

Posted on October 1, 2015 4:30 PM. Permalink

WSJ Reports on STR

Never a dull day in the press when it comes to the College, though it would be nice to see the national media depicting an efficient, innovative institution, rather than an administration that can’t seem to do anything right. The Journal summarized the Susan Taffe Reed mess yesterday in a piece that makes is clear that nobody at the College did the necessary homework before hiring STR:

WSJ STR Comp.jpg

For the time being, Phil seems to be holding firm on the College’s hiring decision.

Addendum: Indian Country Today is having fun with the STR controversy:

Indian Country Cartoon.jpg

Posted on October 1, 2015 1:34 PM. Permalink

AD Sues the Town of Hanover

The Valley News is reporting that AD is suing the Town of Hanover in the New Hampshire Superior Court for the right to have its members continue to live in its house, despite derecognition by the College:

Alpha Delta, the former Dartmouth College fraternity, is suing the town of Hanover and its zoning board of adjustment over a ruling that keeps members from living in their house on East Wheelock Street.

After losing its ties with the college over revelations that 11 members had branded themselves with fraternity letters, Alpha Delta received notice from the town that it had also forfeited its status as a student residence. About 18 fraternity brothers living at 9 East Wheelock were ordered to move out.

Representatives for the attorney [sic] [fraternity] unsuccessfully argued to the Zoning Board of Adjustment that the mansion should be considered grandfathered as a student residence, as it has hosted students since before the town adopted its relevant zoning ordinance, they said.

After losing its final appeal to the board, Alpha Delta last month filed suit in Grafton County Superior Court to reverse the decision.

Valley News reporter Rob Wolfe ‘12 further writes that “Hanover Town Manager Julia Griffin, in an interview Tuesday, estimated the case could take at least a year to reach resolution.”

I would not give Hanover much of a chance in this proceeding, assuming the historical record is clear that AD brothers lived in AD prior to the enactment of the Hanover zoning ordinance. Grandfathered exceptions to the zoning laws are part of the day-to-day life of zoning in the Town. My own house has a porch that extends far into the standard setback area limiting building to portions of our lot 30 feet or more from the street. Nonetheless we were permitted to fully renovate the porch and make it part of a new structure when we built a house behind it.

Should AD prevail, the College could have an unregulated fraternity in its midst (i.e. no access by S&S), and an ongoing cat-and-mouse game might ensue. If the College banned students from living in the premises or from associating with AD, further litigation could result.

Once again, the administration has behaved maladroitly. Suspending AD because a minority of its members chose to brand themselves — an action that the Town of Hanover Police and the Grafton Country Attorney found did not contravene any laws — was a thin reed on which to base an absolute penalty for a fraternal organization. Once again, the Dean of the College’s office and the entire institution come out looking stupid. But then, we are getting used to that, no?

Posted on October 1, 2015 4:00 AM. Permalink

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Geisel Chaos: Phil Blames the Feds

Jim Kim is a doctor, as he endlessly told anyone who wandered within shouting distance (his favorite narrative was his own life story), but he isn’t a manager or a leader, as we all learned to our regret. As President, his ever-trumpeted achievement was the Center for Health Care Delivery Science, which he put forward as a singular innovation, when it was no more than a copy of the Cambridge-based Institute for Healthcare Improvement. Of course, today Kim’s Center is no more, having been absorbed last year into the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice.

Kim’s second large goal was the “20x20” initiative, an expensive ambition to vault the Dartmouth Medical School — now Geisel — into the ranks of the nation’s Top 20 medical schools by 2020. Yesterday that idea was buried by Phil Hanlon in a town meeting that detailed the utter disarray of Geisel’s finances. As Rick Jurgens, the lead Valley News writer where numbers are involved, reported yesterday:

The top leaders of Dartmouth College used a town hall meeting Monday to unveil a reorganization “framework” for the Geisel School of Medicine that they said would reduce — but not eliminate — an annual structural deficit ranging from $26 million to $28 million…

Geisel, which has about 360 medical students with another 340 studying for other graduate degrees, had operating expenses of $250 million in the fiscal year that ended June 30, down from $275 million for fiscal 2013. Geisel is a part of Dartmouth College but gets some financial support — $6.5 million in fiscal 2014 — from the college’s affiliated medical system, Dartmouth-Hitchcock…

Implementing the scheme would trim $15 million a year from a deficit that is otherwise projected to range from $26 million to $28 million annually over the next seven years, [Interim Dean Duane) Compton said. Even the new plan would leave the medical school with an annual operating deficit that he rounded down to $10 million…

Provost Carolyn Dever at one point rounded up the existing deficit to $30 million annually.

These cuts come on top of others made by Compton last year, as Jurgens further noted:

Duane Compton, who took over as Geisel’s interim dean in July 2014 and then implemented a $10 million budget cut, a wage freeze and the layoffs of 18 employees…

Let’s parse those numbers a little: Geisel has a $26-$30 million deficit (depending on who was talking and when at yesterday’s meeting) in an institution that counts only 700 students. That’s a hole of $42,857 per student, based on 700 students.

And the budget for all of Geisel is $250 million — that’s 29.4% of the College’s total expenses of $853 million, even though Geisel students number only 6.7% of Dartmouth students (actually, only 422 students out of 6,298, according to the authoritative Dartmouth Fact Book — which would calculate out to a budget deficit of $61,611/student).

So where does all that money go? Mostly to funded research, if you must know. In 2014 the College took in $177.6 million in Sponsored Research, Grants and Contracts, almost all of which went to Geisel.

If anyone needs further proof that research does not pay for itself, Geisel should be the leading exhibit. People talk about funded research’s overhead allocation as throwing off money for a school’s general operations; as a rule, the opposite is true. Dartmouth’s undergraduates and the endowment have been supporting Geisel for many years. How else do you think that an operating deficit is plugged?

Needless to say, mismanagement, unfounded ambition and pie-in-the-sky budgeting were not cited as the reasons for the looming cuts. Compton blamed the feds:

Geisel’s financial ills are part of a nationwide epidemic, Compton said in an interview prior to Monday’s meeting.

“The revenue streams that have historically supported medical schools and academic medical centers are essentially flattened out for the past few years as expenses keep growing,” he said. “That drives the financial challenge. Almost every academic medical center across the country is facing this challenge.”

And in The D, Phil Hanlon pointed to the same reason:

Hanlon attributed the budgetary issues to a national trend of decreasing revenue streams for academic medicine. Hanlon said at the town hall that medical centers across the country are seeing a constraint in resources, citing the 50-percent drop in the National Institute of Health’s budget in inflation-adjusted dollars over the last decade as an example….

Curiously, while other medical schools are supposedly facing the same stresses, a quick Google search of institutions across the country did not turn up any evidence of huge deficits, budget cuts and impending layoffs. But then, maybe I missed something.

Addendum: The architect of Kim’s 20X20 plan was former Geisel Dean Wiley “Chip” Souba. He arrived in Hanover on October 1, 2010, announced the ill-thought-out plan on June 9, 2011, and signaled his departure from the Deanship on June 20, 2014. The D reported on the end of Souba’s term as Dean as follows:

College spokesperson Justin Anderson said that Souba’s decision was personal.

“It’s a big commitment,” Anderson said. “He served one full term and has decided he wants to focus on Geisel in other ways.”

Hahaha. Actually, Phil decided that he wanted Souba to focus on Geisel in other ways.

We’ll only know in May if Souba is still receiving his rich compensation package that last year amounted to $970,850.

Addendum: Lest you think that Jim Kim was incompetent only in Hanover, have no fear: the situation at the World Bank is also a “disaster,” as a former senior WBG leader told me a few months ago. Someone will write a book about Kim one day, and expose him for what he is and isn’t.

Posted on September 30, 2015 4:00 AM. Permalink

College Joins New Application Coalition

The Chronicle of Higher Education is reporting that the Common App now has a competitor in the form of a new admissions platform produced by an 80-college coalition — The Coalition for Access, Affordability and Success — which includes all the Ivies.


The new platform hopes to improve the college application process using functions made possible by modern technology:

Jeremiah Quinlan, who’s helped lead the coalition’s efforts so far, thinks the admissions process is overdue for innovation. “Technology has totally changed the back end of our process, but not the front end,” said Mr. Quinlan, dean of undergraduate admissions at Yale University. “This is really an ambitious effort to rethink the timeline and the inputs for students.”

The group intends to do that in three ways. First, the new application platform would enable students to complete a basic application form, just as they do on the Common Application. Colleges would be free to “personalize” any additional admissions criteria. So member institutions grouped under the same banner would maintain a good deal of autonomy.

Plans for the platform also include a “digital portfolio, where as early as ninth grade students could put their favorite essays essays, notes on extracurricular pursuits, thoughts on college — anything that might help them later on. The idea, Mr. Quinlan says, is to demystify the admissions process, encouraging students to think of college-planning over a long period of time, well before they must meet application deadlines.

The new system was not without its detractors:

One dean of admissions whose institution considered joining the new application platform had a much different take. “I’m not convinced about the true intentions of the coalition,” the dean, who works at an East Coast college, wrote in an email to The Chronicle. “How does creating yet another application, yet another hurdle, and yet another process for students and counselors to learn and manage, create access?”

The dean, who shared his thoughts on condition that his name not be published, said his college has opted not to sign up. The participating colleges, he wrote, are using their “money and power” to create an exclusive system: “The schools participating in this effort should not mask their intentions under the guise of ‘access.’ It’s a deceiving marketing ploy, but in the end, they will win. The elite colleges always do.”

Addendum: Inside Higher Ed reports on the new coalition, too.

Posted on September 30, 2015 3:59 AM. Permalink

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

MacArthur Genius Heidi Williams ‘03

Another feather in the feather-filled caps of the College’s Mathematics and Economics Departments. A friend there writes in about MIT Econ Professor Heidi Williams ‘03, one of this year’s MacArthur Genius Grant Winners:

In addition to being incredibly smart and doing path-breaking research, Heidi is also a super nice person, humble, and generous with her time. For example, when she visited Dartmouth last year to give a seminar, she spent time talking to students who are interested in pursuing a PhD in economics. I think the MacArthur Foundation made an excellent choice.

The MacArthur Foundation described Heidi as follows:

Heidi Williams is an economist unraveling the causes and consequences of innovation in health care markets. Williams combines finely grained empirical observations and custom-designed data collection methods to build entirely new datasets about technological changes in health care. In addition, her creative methods for determining causal inference, and keen understanding of regulatory law, biological science, and medical research, have allowed her to trace the interplay among institutions, market behavior, and public policy-relevant outcomes.

Leveraging the race to decode the human genome by private and public institutions as a model, Williams reveals how the timing and nature of intellectual property restrictions affect subsequent innovation. She presents convincing evidence that a non-patent form of intellectual property protection at the early stages of scientific research limited follow-on innovation on human genes, a finding that was cited in arguments submitted to a 2013 U.S. Supreme Court case on gene patents. In subsequent work, however, she and a co-author find evidence that patent protection on human genes has in fact not substantively hindered later research or product development, suggesting that the precise design of intellectual property policies is important in shaping innovation outcomes. More recently, Williams and colleagues have investigated institutional factors affecting cancer drug development. Drugs that treat late-stage cancers take a shorter time to develop, test, and bring to market than those for earlier stage cancers. Because patent protection begins at the time of filing, rather than when a drug is actually brought to market, late stage cancer drugs have a longer period of protection and offer more potential for profit. Their work provides compelling evidence that institutional factors such as the patent system create a bias against the development of drugs to treat early stage cancers.

Taking their findings on cancer drug development one step farther, Williams and her co-authors analyze policy measures for correcting this distortion in research priorities, including changes in how the effectiveness of a drug is established and in the timing of patent protection. Williams’s insights about market inducements for innovation and the implications of technological change in health care markets are informing institutional practice and public policy and sparking new lines of inquiry about innovation more broadly.

Heidi Williams received an A.B. (2003) from Dartmouth College, an M.Sc. (2004) from the University of Oxford, and a Ph.D (2010) from Harvard University. She has been affiliated with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology since 2011 and is currently the Class of 1957 Career Development Assistant Professor in the Department of Economics. She is also a faculty research fellow (since 2010) at the National Bureau of Economic Research. Her articles have appeared in the Quarterly Journal of Economics, American Economic Review, and Journal of Political Economy, among others.

Posted on September 29, 2015 1:34 PM. Permalink

Blanchflower on Labour Econ Team

The surprise winner of the recent Labour Party leadership contest, Jeremy Corbyn, has put together an economics advisory panel made up of some heavy hitters, including Joseph Stiglitz, Thomas Piketty and Dartmouth Economics Professor Danny Blanchflower:

Blanchflower Corbyn Team.jpg

Blanchflower became a household name in the UK, at least in households interested in business, when, alone among the members of England’s Monetary Policy Committee (the British equivalent of our Federal Reserve Board), he predicted the onrushing recession of 2008 at a time when other members were concerned about inflation and wanted to raise rates. He now writes regularly for the UK’s leading papers, especially The Independent, and he appears almost daily on Bloomberg (in early May he correctly predicted that the Fed would not raise rates this month). I enjoyed listening to him impress a room of investors two years ago at a prestigious conference n Paris.

Addendum: Corbyn’s full panel is composed as follows:

Mariana Mazzucato, Professor, University of Sussex
Joseph Stiglitz, Professor, Columbia University, recipient of the 2001 Nobel Memorial Prize in economics.
Thomas Piketty, Professor, Paris School of Economics
Anastasia Nesvetailova, Professor, City University London
Danny Blanchflower, Bruce V, Rauner Professor of Economics Dartmouth and Stirling, Ex-member of the MPC
Ann Pettifor, Director of Policy Research in Macroeconomics (PRIME), and an Honorary Research Fellow at the Political Economy Research Centre of City University

Addendum: Following his appointment, Danny was interviewed today on BBC2 about monetary poilcy. Note the Dartmouth background in the College’s TV studios.

Posted on September 29, 2015 2:00 AM. Permalink

Monday, September 28, 2015

We Lose Yet Another Gem

Martin WybourneB.jpgImagine if 27 universities, national laboratories, non-profit research organizations and a college got together to form a consortium to work on cybersecurity. Cutting edge stuff, right? Of real national interest. Requiring multi-disciplinary expertise. And certain to generate a flow of grants in the tens of millions of dollars. You can bet that institutions of higher learning would fight to have such an enterprise on their campus. At least ones with any sense would do so.

In the tradition of the College’s leadership in computing, Dartmouth did, and thirteen years ago we landed the Institute for Information Infrastructure Protection (I3P) (full brochure here). Since then the project has secured over $30 million of grants under the direction of Physics Professor Martin Wybourne. It has played an active role in its field and brought leading scientists to the College. Take a look at the videos produced for its ten-year anniversary, which was fĂȘted at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C..

So why are we letting I3P leave Dartmouth now? Certainly it’s new home, George Washington University, is happy to have it:


I can’t for the life of me find out why. Phil talks about having groups of faculty work on the world’s most pressing problems, and he seemingly wants Dartmouth to be a magnet for talent in areas of critical importance. Perhaps he really means that Dartmouth should entirely devote itself to ending sexual assault and high-risk student behaviors, and he will leave other, less pressing matters to schools like GW? Does anybody know?

Addendum: I wanted to summarily give Dartblog’s Stupidest Move of the Month award to whomever let I3P leave campus, but there are already five or six candidates for that prize in September.

Addendum: The 22-person staff of the College’s newly christened Office of Communications have not seen fit to produce a press release or announcement of any kind about I3P’s departure. Were the people there too busy putting out other fires to report on a major loss for the College?

Posted on September 28, 2015 4:00 AM. Permalink

Sunday, September 27, 2015

A New Word: The Pretendian

Indian Country.jpgThe College is taking a hiding in the Indian Country Today publication over the appointment of Susan Taffe Reed, with writer Steve Russell now excoriating Dartmouth for having admitted a Pretendian:

Dartmouth College’s responses to criticism of Susan Taffe Reed’s appointment to direct Dartmouth’s Native American Program are deeply disturbing. The announcement on Dartmouth’s website describes Reed as “an ethnomusicologist and president of the Eastern Delaware Nations.” That is, her association with a band of Pretendians is given equal dignity with her academic specialty. Et tu, Dartmouth? If you don’t understand the Pretendian problem, who does?

The Chair of the search committee that recommended Reed’s hiring is quoted in the New Hampshire Guardian. After noting correctly that birth and death certificates are problematic reporters of Indian ethnicity, Native American Studies Professor Bruce Duthu opined, “there are serious problems with reliance on notions of ‘federal recognition’ as a measure of ‘authenticity.’” Of course there are, but claiming federal recognition of the Eastern Delaware Nations as the issue is classic misdirection. Et Tu, Dartmouth? If you won’t keep your eye on the ball, who will?

Pretendian is a clever term, and I guess an inevitable one in a world where race and origin often count for more than merit and excellence.

Addendum: Dartmouth’s name has been associated for many years now with a drumbeat of scandal upon scandal. If members of the public, or more aptly college counselors and high school seniors, were invited to freely associate with the College, what would we hear? Probably a question not to ask.

It’s time for Phil to change the narrative, but talk of post-docs, cluster hires and experiential learning (a clichĂ© in higher ed for a good many years) won’t do the trick. Phil is going to have to make real changes in Hanover. Is he up to the task?

Addendum: Andre Cramblit ‘86 in Indian Country Today adds another voice to the debate about STR. He opens as follows:

Uh oh! Looks like Dartmouth stepped right in the middle of a steaming pile of controversy.

In my own attempts at “transparency” I must start out by letting you, gentle readers, know that I am a Dartmouth alumni class of 1986 (OMG, has it been that long already…). Additionally, I have applied for the position of Native American Program (NAP) Director so this column may be or at least appear as sour grapes and self-serving. So be it. Regardless, I have an opinion on the matter that makes the Op/Ed section a perfect place to share my viewpoint.

I should also note that I did not receive the courtesy of a phone call or email notifying me that I was not selected for an interview and only found out about the appointment of the NAP Director upon reading the Dartmouth press release announcing the hire of Susan Taffe Reed.

And he concludes:

It is time for me to dismount my self-serving soapbox but let me leave by saying Dartmouth could have, and should have known better than this. They owe more to the current set of NADs. In performing their due diligence in the hiring of the NAP Director position they retained a head hunting firm to vet the candidates and shepherd the process forward. I hope they get a refund.

Talk about a PR disaster for the College in the Indian community.

Posted on September 27, 2015 5:34 PM. Permalink

Impression, Soleil Levant

The Impressionists distinguished themselves from earlier generations of artists by painting modern technology: bridges, trains, iron buildings, and urban life, in addition to depicting images of the countryside. On a recent flight from Montreal to Paris, I was struck by color of the rising sun on the engine of our Boeing 777. Fair game, no?:

Sunset Jet.jpg

Life is changing in so many ways because we can photograph and video the world around us with smartphones. Let’s add some beauty with our iPhones on occasion, too.

Posted on September 27, 2015 4:00 AM. Permalink

Saturday, September 26, 2015

The Butt of College Jokes

When your school becomes the symbol in the national press of a certain set of pathologies, you know that the rot has set in deeply. Cosmo recenty ran a story entitled 11 Guys You Break Up With in Your Late 20s, and according to my 16-year-old daughter, in the magazine’s Discover feed on Snapchat the editors associated an image with each personality type. Look at the editors’ choice for #5:

Cosmo Dartmouth1.jpg

Phil is going to have to conclude, hopefully soon, that he can’t just keep nibbling around the edges of Dartmouth’s problems. If not, we’ll see #20 in the U.S. News rankings before we see #10 again.

Addendum: Is this a staged photo, or a real one? Does anyone know?

Addendum: In fact, someone does know. A loyal reader writes in to note that Shonda Rhymes ‘91 appeared in an episode of Mindy Kaling ‘01’s The Mindy Project. The event in question was a re-creation of a Dartmouth Club of NY party:

(Apologies for the 65-second ad that precedes the Dartmouth-related video)

Cosmo appears to have lifted the photo and not properly attributed it.

Addendum: A diligent reader writes in to distinguish between perception and reality:

I debated whether or not to comment on this piece, but here goes. As far as I know, this depiction of unemployed Dartmouth graduates who never do their laundry is incredibly inaccurate. On the contrary, I know many, many parents of graduates of other schools who are beyond envious of how quickly Dartmouth grads transition to the career or graduate school phases of their lives. Hard to know what Phil could do about a second-rate magazine’s willful misrepresentation of what was obviously intended to be a hyperbolic comedy skit — a skit that only involved Dartmouth because alumna Shonda Rhimes appeared in it. People who have attended gatherings of the Dartmouth Club of NY inform me that the wardrobe shown should, all by itself, have pointed to the fact that this video was meant as a joke. In real life, it would be hard to find even an undergrad dressed like this there.

So much of today’s media is unadulterated trash. Am conflicted in regard to giving it more exposure by dispersing it to a wider audience.

My point in the above post is that if the media routinely depicts the College as a fractured, debauched, dangerous place, the reality of the faculty’s hard work with diligent students will have a tough time breaking through the noise. The school is on a downward trajectory now, one that will be difficult to alter without serious changes.

Posted on September 26, 2015 4:00 AM. Permalink

Friday, September 25, 2015

NAAAD Board Issues Statement

The Board of the Native American Alumni Association of Dartmouth has now issued a formal statement calling on the College to rescind the appointment of Susan Taffe Reed:

NAAAD Board1.jpg

Rumors abound that Phil will soon do so.

Posted on September 25, 2015 11:12 AM. Permalink

Native Alumni Criticize Reed Choice

A group of the College’s Native American alumni have written a widely disseminated letter addressed to current Native students in Hanover concerning the announced appointment of Susan Taffe Reed as Director of the Native American program. The talk is that this letter is a precursor to a formal letter from the Native American Alumni at Dartmouth (NAAAD) organization:

NADA Letter Comp.jpg

(The bolding of the sixth paragraph is added.)

The forthrightness of the opinion in this letter would seem to give Phil Hanlon no other option but to rescind the offer to Reed — just as Phil did in the case of the ill-advised choice of Malawian Bishop James Tengatenga to head the Tucker Foundation.

And while Phil is at it, he might also vet the procedures used by Dartmouth’s search committees to pick administrators.

Posted on September 25, 2015 4:00 AM. Permalink

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Endowment Returns Strong 8.3%

The investment returns on the College’s endowment amounted to 8.3% over the past year, a fine result. Cambridge Associates is reporting an average return of 5.6% for endowments over $3.0 billion — Dartmouth’s endowment stood at $4.7 billion as of June 30 — and among the Ivies that have reported so far, Harvard earned a lackluster 5.8% and Penn only 3.1%.

Although the College has not yet released its 2015 financials (its fiscal year runs from July 1 through June 30), Dartmouth Now reported that the administration drew $214 million from the endowment last year, a handsome $27 million increase (14.4%) from the $187 million that was distributed in 2014.

Dartmouth Now quoted Phil Hanlon as saying, “Dartmouth’s strong long-term investment performance record is a critical part of our foundation in pursuing excellence in education, innovation and research, and our commitment to need-blind financial aid.” However no comment was forthcoming from Phil about the College’s recent decision to end need-blind admissions for international students.

Posted on September 24, 2015 5:53 AM. Permalink

The Consequences of Ending Need-Blind Admissions For International Students

During his last spasm of spending, even as the financial markets (and the College’s endowment) went into freefall, Jim Wright announced on January 22, 2008 that Dartmouth would extend need-blind admissions to international students:

Starting immediately with the Class of 2012, the College will extend its need-blind admissions policy to all international students. Previously the College was need-blind for students from the U.S. as well as those from Canada and Mexico and provided financial aid to other international students up to a preset budget maximum. This cap will now be lifted and Dartmouth will join a very small group of schools that have a fully need-blind admissions process for international students.

The “very small group of schools” included HYP, MIT and Amherst. Actually, despite Wright’s profligate ways, this is good company to be in, given that these five schools are all in the Top Ten list of institutions with the highest endowment per student (we are #11, far above the remaining Ivies).

Now that we have decided to quit this club, what will the impact be of ending the College’s policy of need-blind admissions for international students? Let’s look at the numbers before we get to that question.

International students, including excellent Canadian hockey players (men and women), have made up 7-9% of the student body over the past five years. That figure jumped from 5% in 2005 — before Wright’s change of policy:

International Students 2015.jpg

Internationals make up about 20% of the College’s total pool of approximately 20,000 applicants:

International Student Profile 2015B.jpg

The figure of 7-9% of matriculating international students works out to be 80-98 students in each freshman class of about 1,100 students:

International Student Profile 2015C.jpg

Doing the simple math, you can derive that internationals have over twice as hard a time being accepted by the College as North Americans — according to my sources, usually only 5% of international applicants get into Dartmouth.

By ending need-blind admissions, we can expect a series of consequences:

First off, the College will be seen publicly as pulling back from its effort to attract the world’s finest students. That goal should be the very heart of our admissions effort. It obviously isn’t any more, and high school counselors and families everywhere will certainly take note, not to mention our peer schools.

As a result of the change in policy, we can expect that the number of international students applying to the College will drop significantly. Only students abroad whose family can anticipate spending over a quarter of a million dollars for a Dartmouth education will apply. With a drop in applications (how many? maybe a couple of thousand? that’s 10% of the applicant pool.), then our acceptance rate will rise (the number of accepted students as a percentage of applicants), thereby putting pressure on our U.S. News ranking. Did Admissions think of that when they decided to save a little money (and perhaps reduce their workload of applications to be read)?

In addition, our international rankings will fall even further. In the most recent QS World University Rankings 2015/16, we were #158. The other Ivies ranked as follows: #2 Harvard; #11 Princeton; #12 Yale; #17 Cornell; #18 Penn; #22 Columbia; #49 Brown. It sure looks like we are a regional school. Is that status the extent of our ambition?

Finally, from a management perspective, the administration is communicating by its choice in this instance that it has no intention at all of cutting the bloated bureaucracy (447 additional staffers over the past five years versus 36 new professors). Phil is telling us that on his watch, when money needs to be saved, it will come from budget lines like student financial aid, and not from layoffs of the massive, growing staff. Is spending on financial aid really the College’s very lowest priority?

If it is, then heaven help us.

Addendum: In Tuesday’s D, Michael Beechert presented a well written summary of various arguments against ending need-blind admissions for internationals. I particularly liked his following observation:

Interim dean of admissions and financial aid Paul Sunde inexplicably stated that shifting to a “need-aware” policy was part of an effort to stabilize international enrollment and develop a more “robust” class. If “stable” and “robust” are used in a purely socioeconomic sense, then this might be true, but I suspect that the admissions office simply dipped into the well-used bag of administrative platitudes when crafting its statement. Appeals to enhanced diversity are nonsensical on their face — there is no conceivable way that a smaller and more homogeneous applicant pool could yield a more diverse class.

When a stupid decision is followed by a stupid justification, there is only one conclusion to draw about the administration.

Addendum: A wit has a comment:

At least now we’ll know that all foreign kids come from rich families.

Addendum: Today’s D has another column critical of the end of need-blind admissions for internationals, this one by Reem Chamseddine ‘17. And three students in the Opinion section of The D were unanimous in their criticism of the decision.

Posted on September 24, 2015 4:00 AM. Permalink

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

“It Ain’t Over ‘Til It’s Over”

Yogi Berra 1925-2015 R.I.P.

Yogi Berra.jpg

The Time’s obituary does Yogi justice.

Addendum: Berra took part in the D-Day landings on June 6, 1944:

[Yogi] was part of a 6-man crew operating a 36-foot LCSS boat, the letters standing for landing craft support, small. Berra previously joked that the letters stood for “landing craft suicide squad.” Their mission was to fire rockets [from 300 yards offshore] at German gun targets to protect Allied troops struggling to storm the beach.

Though he was not hurt in Normandy, Yogi suffered a bullet wound near Marseilles during the Allied invasion of southern France in August, 1944.

Addendum: Apologies if you know this anecdote about Yogi’s first name; I didn’t:

As a boy, Berra was known as Larry, or Lawdie, as his mother pronounced it. As recounted in “Yogi Berra: Eternal Yankee,” a 2009 biography by Allen Barra, one day in his early teens, young Larry and some friends had gone to the movies and were watching a travelogue about India when a Hindu yogi appeared on the screen sitting cross-legged. His posture struck one of the friends as precisely the way Berra sat on the ground as he waited his turn at bat. From that day on, he was Yogi Berra.

The Times also describes some of the best lines attributed to Berra.

Posted on September 23, 2015 1:34 PM. Permalink

College Attacked in Indian County

What with the scandals swirling around the College (the AAU survey results, the end of need-blind international admissions, our status as the only-school-in-the-Ivies-to-not-offer-true-kosher-dining, our worst-ever U.S. News ranking, the decision to cancel Convocation, our fake-Indian NAD director — did I miss anything?), it’s tough to keep track of the bad press that Dartmouth is generating in the national media. But bad press it is, and the memories of the articles written about these events will long linger in the minds of high school admissions counselors and the communities directly affected by the College’s ill-advised choices.

Brandon Ecoffey Comp.jpgIn case anyone in the American Indian community was not up to speed on the Susan Taffe Reed imbroglio, Brandon Ecoffey ‘06 has written a thoughtful column in Indian Country Today that summarizes the mess: Dartmouth and Its Love Affair With Box-Checking Indians. Some excerpts:

Last week when Dartmouth College announced it hired Susan Taffe Reed as the director of the college’s Native American Program, alumni and Native people from across Indian Country took their keyboards to express their dissatisfaction. Although many recognized that Reed was for the most part professionally qualified for the position many have taken issue with her assertions of being an Indian as information on her background has come to surface. As a graduate of Dartmouth, it did not surprise me at all that the college opted to select a “box checking Indian” over someone with actual ties to a real Native community…

Dartmouth was a different world than the one I was used to. What I did know for sure was that the school had convinced me that the thriving Native American student population at the school was made up of students like me, ones who had come from the reservation or urban Native communities who I could relate to, and that when push came to shove that this community was large enough for us all to lean on. The reality was that the College was not made up, for the most part, of kids like me or the handful of others who were from reservations.

During my freshman year orientation, college representatives would boast of the high number of Native students on campus and the high rates of graduation amongst them. What I quickly came to realize, however, was that the majority of students they referred to were the ones who opted to “check the box” on their admission papers: the one that asks you to self-identify your ethnicity. Now, I am not the identity police and I never pretend to be the authority on issues like this but I have always felt uncomfortable with the fact that so many of these students had no relationship with their people nor nations and that the reason they actually acknowledged their Native connection was to improve the likelihood of their admission to Dartmouth and success when applying for scholarships. Most of these students had no connection to their Native communities and likely took the place of kids from the reservation who had applied to Dartmouth. I wonder if Taffe Reed was one of these students during her college years…

The real question is why hasn’t Dartmouth College opted to reach out to one of its hundreds of qualified and capable Native American alumni who are out working on behalf of their people? There is a huge contingent of Dartmouth alumni who are currently standing up for our treaty rights in Washington, D.C., who could have easily been tapped for the position. There is no excuse for an institution with such an abundance of resources to not engage in a nationwide search for a more appropriate candidate…

I have always wondered why Dartmouth loves to highlight their authentic Native community on their brochures and during their annual pow-wow but cannot succeed in recruiting more than a handful of reservation born students each year. I don’t know why the college has permitted non-Native faculty to speak on behalf of Native communities even at times when students from those same communities are present during these lectures. And I wonder why Dartmouth, once again, has opted to choose a “box checking Indian” over one of its alumni who are out there somewhere working on improving the lives of their people.

You will have noted that Brandon’s concerns go beyond the appointment of Susan Taffe Reed. He observes the implicit dishonesty of the College’s presentation of its commitment to Native Americans. A focus on PR in lieu of substance on the part of the administration is an attitude that has long pervaded College life; I hope that such an attitude is ending under Phil Hanlon.

Addendum: A second piece on l’affaire Susan Taffe Reed appeared Indian Country Today on Monday: Susan Taffe Reed: Dartmouth’s Dolezal?

Addendum: Indian Country Today is not an inconsequential publication: Editor Ken Polisse informs me that averages around 1.3 million unique visitors per month and its weekly newsletter has more than 25,000 subscribers.

Posted on September 23, 2015 4:00 AM. Permalink

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

AAU Survey Comparisons

The press is beginning to report on the AAU survey. As we noted, the College is certainly among the schools with the most problematic environment for women — though things are not as bad in Hanover as they are in Ann Arbor at the University of Michigan, where Phil Hanlon filled several senior administrative roles over the years prior to coming to Dartmouth. The Washington Post reports:

AAU Survey Post.jpg

The Times has a brief story on the survey. Let’s hope that The Upshot crunches the data more thoroughly.

The D also covers the survey, though its headline is most curious: College sees high response rate in AAU survey. I would have thought that the core information to be highlighted wouldn’t be the student participation rate. The Chronicle of Higher Education chose a different headline: 1 in 4 Female Undergrads Experienced Sex Assault or Misconduct, AAU Survey Finds.

Posted on September 22, 2015 4:00 AM. Permalink

Monday, September 21, 2015

Dartmouth’s AAU Survey Results

The College’s Office of Institutional Research has now released the Dartmouth-specific findings of the American Association of Universities Campus Climate Survey on Sexual Assault and Sexual Misconduct. As expected, we are decidedly on the unhappy end of the distribution for assault and harassment. There is work to be done.

The student body’s response rate to the survey was far higher (women: 47.6%; men: 40.5%; total: 44.0%) than the overall national rate of students taking the survey (19.3%):

AAU Dartmouth Response.jpg

Our rate of coercive sexual contact for undergraduate women (27.9%) placed us in the very upper range of the 27 respondent schools, where the rate ranged from 13% to 30%:

AAU Dartmouth Assault.jpg

The same is true for rates of harassment: 71.5% of undergraduate women reported some form of harassment, and 46.8% of undergraduate women who reported being harassed stated that this behavior originated from three or more people.

AAU Dartmouth Harassment.jpg

President Hanlon and Provost Dever have written an innocuous letter to the campus. They note:

We hope that you will read these materials. They confirm our understanding that sexual assault and harassment are significant challenges at Dartmouth and on campuses across the nation. We must make progress on these very serious issues of student safety and campus climate.

Hanlon and Dever have appointed a committee headed by Economics Professor Bruce Sacerdote ‘90 to review the entirety of the survey’s findings.

All in all, the above findings do not present an alluring picture of the College: more than a third of undergraduate women are assaulted in some way, and almost two thirds experience harassment. We’ll see whether applications rise in the coming admissions season.

Addendum: The schools participating in the AAU’s survey were: 1) Brown University; 2) California Institute of Technology; 3) Case Western Reserve University; 4) Columbia University; 5) Cornell University; 6) Dartmouth College; 7) Harvard University; 8) Iowa State University; 9) Michigan State University; 10) The Ohio State University; 11) Purdue University; 12) Texas A&M University; 13) The University of Arizona; 14) University of Florida; 15) University of Michigan; 16) University of Minnesota, Twin Cities; 17) University of Missouri-Columbia; 18) The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; 19) University of Oregon; 20) University of Pennsylvania; 21) University of Pittsburgh; 22) University of Southern California; 23) The University of Texas at Austin; 24) University of Virginia; 25) The University of Wisconsin-Madison; 26) Washington University in St. Louis; 27) Yale University.

Posted on September 21, 2015 12:58 PM. Permalink