Sunday, February 25, 2018

Dominica Diary: Pinchy and Me

Dominica’s sperm whales seem to have weathered Hurricane Maria with aplomb, even if the island itself is worse for wear and therefore a fair bit less gemütlich to tourists. However come back I have, and not in search of new experiences, but only to relive those of last year. The act of swimming with whales might be classed under been there done that, but I want more to repeat the emotion of the event rather than the actual act.

People ask if I fear swimming with animals with five-inch teeth, the ability to hunt and kill giant squid at depths of up to 3,000 feet, and which outweigh me by 500 times or more. The answer is: not in the least. Therein lies the deeper pleasure.

You see, a sperm whale like Pinchy (below), radiates (for lack of a better word) a sense of calm, one that a human diver cannot help but discern. Her grace in the water is only a small part of the to-the-marrow sensation one feels that she bears people no ill, and that she herself is at peace with her surroundings. I am casting about for the right word; one has the opposite of an adrenaline rush: relaxation and tranquility are the order of the moment.

In the below image, Pinchy (about thirty-five feet long and twenty-five tons) has seen three of us in the water for a good hundred yards, and probably further than that using her echolocation. She swims straight toward us to get a good look. Dartblog’s freediving (no scuba) reporter is to her left (only about 20 feet below the surface):

Pinchy and Me2.jpg

Then she dives straight downward, tail in the air, for the depths. We watched her descend until she could no longer been seen:

Pinchy and Me1.jpg

The slashes and scratches on Pinchy’s head are the remnants of past battles with giant squid — formidable creatures that don’t die without a fight. Virtually all sperm whales bear scars from these brutal encounters. As for the curious white lines on her head, they are places where Pinchy’s skin has peeled off, perhaps due to the sun. Whales slough off their skin regularly; one finds strings of the gooey stuff floating in the water here.

Pinchy is part of Dominica’s resident population of sperm whales, the most studied whales on the planet. Researchers recognize animals by their distinct tail pattern — something that can change if an orca, pilot whale or false killer whale takes a bite. Here is Pinchy’s:

Pinchy Fluke.jpg

The image comes from the Fluke Book maintained by the Dominica Sperm Whale Project, the folks who gave Pinchy her name.

Addendum: Our trip was organized and led by Patrick Dykstra of Picture Adventure Expeditions, a small outfit that can take you to swim with sperm whales in Dominica, blue whales in Sri Lanka, whale sharks in Djibouti, and orcas in Norway. Patrick is an NYU Law alumnus, but he numbers among the many lawyers who have gone on to do better things with themselves. Pat took the above photographs of your humble servant (he also shot a great deal of video footage that appeared in Blue Planet II).

Addendum: An equivalent emotion to that of swimming with whales is to be had in the presence of a happy, affectionate elephant.

Posted on February 25, 2018 4:00 AM. Permalink

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Smart People Should Build Things

Smart People1.jpgI like to think that Andrew Yang and I would get along. He critiques the obsession with private equity/finance/consulting of so many members of his generation as not only a frittering away of top flight brain power, but also as occupations that are a good deal less satisfying than creating real businesses that serve people. Hear. Hear. His book Smart People Should Build Things: How to Restore Our Culture of Achievement, Build a Path for Entrepreneurs, and Create New Jobs in America not only advocates a return to hands-on business creation by the best and the brightest, but he describes his own efforts in that direction: an organization, Venture for America, which entices graduates of elite schools to work in start-ups, often in less favored cities.

I’ve played around in venture capital and other types of passive investments, but let me tell you, creating something that real people use each day has an emotional return that is incomparable. This assertion is not soft-heartedness; almost every morning when I am in Hanover, I swing by my 188-kid childcare center to watch parents drop off their children. The kids more often than not run ahead of their parents to their own classroom door. Sigh.

FitKids Playground1.jpg

Crunching numbers for advisory/investment firms might pay well off the bat, but a person armed with a liberal arts background is equipped to come up with original solutions in many industries, ideas that just aren’t available to mere mortals. Our childcare center is a far more attractive place for kids than local alternatives; it is easy to use for their parents; and as an economic proposition, it’s a pretty good thing, too.

Posted on February 24, 2018 4:00 AM. Permalink

Friday, February 23, 2018

A Thinking Man’s President

Robert ZimmerA.jpgI’m becoming a real fan of University of Chicago President Robert Zimmer. His determined support of free speech has resulted in the Chicago Principles — a thoughtful, rigorous response to the shut ‘em up ethos of too many staff, faculty, and students who would prefer to silence speakers with whose ideas they do not agree, rather than engaging them in precise, evidence-based debate. Zimmer fleshed out his arguments in a recent interview in the Wall Street Journal, and he went further in isolating a source of the problem, at least as he sees the world at the present time:

Robert Zimmer Free Speech High Schools.jpg

The parlous state of America’s high schools is, at least to my mind, at the origin of many, if not most, of our social problems. Bernie Sanders liked to talk about free community college, but he only did so to avoid confronting the supremely powerful teachers unions. Not only are our high schools not preparing students for university, they are failing to educate many students sufficiently so that they may participate productively in a modern economy. But enough of that.

Robert Zimmer is assuming the mantle of erstwhile college presidents, people who spoke to social issues in a forceful yet practical manner that commanded respect.

Today’s higher education leaders have left a moral vacuum, one that is being filled by people uneducated in the traditions of democracy. Let’s hope for a new generation of presidents who will include among their goals more than raising money and managing a bloated budget. Our world needs folks who can elucidate first principles.

If Phil Hanlon is bereft of ideas in this area (as in so many others), the least that he could do is have the College announce its support for the Chicago Principles. In September, 2015 the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (Fire) announced a campaign to have institutions of higher learning sign on to the Principles. To date, thirty-four schools have announced their support, including Princeton and Columbia. And Dartmouth?

Addendum: How sad to see belief in the value of unfettered speech, especially in the academy, drift to the sidelines. I like to think that the radicals in the Free Speech movement of the 1960’s would have made common cause with someone like Dartmouth President Ernest Martin Hopkins, who, for all of his faults, opined that he would leap at the opportunity to have Josef Stalin lecture at the College.

Addendum: An alumnus writes in:

Great post today on U of Chicago President Zimmer. I heard him speak at the American Council of Trustees and Alumni meeting in DC in October, when he was given an award. Instead of pandering to his campus Left, Zimmer has courageously reaffirmed the importance of the institution serving as forum for ideas, a function which is destroyed when it postures in support of PC pieties.

What a breathtaking contrast between him and President Hanlon, and what a comment on the quality of the members of the Dartmouth Board of Trustees to have hired Hanlon and to keep him in place. Higher education is under siege from Left which is opposed to what should be the core principles of any university. The essence of the university is the disinterested search for knowledge, and not attempts to bear righteous witness to ideological dogmas whose truth is assumed.

Present Dartmouth leadership is dragging our beloved college into mediocrity. It’s time for a leader instead of an overpaid placeholder.

Addendum: And another:

Chicago’s President correctly focuses on the failure of our high schools to instruct in basic civics. This was not always true.

In the state where I went high school, you could not graduate from high school without passing a year long civics class. We studied the Federal, State and local government structures and everything that went with them. Constitutions, taxation, eminent domain, voting, school boards, highway building, etc. It was one of the best courses I ever took. About 25 years ago, my state abolished this requirement.

Why doesn’t Dartmouth have a similar requirement for graduation. If we require that you learn to swim in the water, how about requiring that you learn how your own country operates.

Posted on February 23, 2018 4:00 AM. Permalink

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Giving: Down Dooby Doo Down Down

Back in the day, Dartmouth and Princeton competed neck and neck for the honor of having the most loyal alumni. Both schools received donations each year from close to 70% of their graduates, a level that only Tuck, among all the schools that I have seen ranked, achieves today. Look at the precipitous drop over the years for the Tigers and the College:

Dartmouth Giving3.jpg

What happened in Hanover in the 1990’s that led to such a drop in giving? We have never recovered from that loss; in fact, the downward trend has continued.

Let’s update these figures with recent numbers from the Chronicle of Philanthropy. Both the College and Princeton continue to be abandoned by donors:

Alumni Giving Participation.jpg

Giving by alumni to Dartmouth has fallen below 40% for the first time in history. Should the administration be asking questions of itself? You bet. (And the Trustees should be doing so, too.)

Addendum: Headline courtesy of Neil Sedaka.

Addendum: An alumnus writes in:

What happened in the 1990s, for better or worse, was the beginning of the institutional assault on the Greek system that had its first culmination in the Student Life Initiative of 1999. But the previous decade had seen Freedman predicting that all fraternities would soon be coed, for example. Many changes to the Greek system were inherently good, but against a backdrop of confusion, doubt, and worry about unneeded change, confidence plummeted. Whether with Dartmouth or the Dow, a financial plunge will always follow such sentiments, but unlike with Dow, in our case there has been little or no good news in the past 25 years to reverse the trend.

I’d add that in late 1980’s, students stopped being able to live in a home dorm — I lived all four years in North Fayerweather, for example. A great deal of community was lost in the the dorms after that change.

Addendum: Another alumnus writes in:

Note the sharp falloff in alumni donations during the presidency of technocrat progressive Kemeny, its sharp recovery under businessman McLaughlin, and its disastrous decline under the left ideologue Freedman and PC conformist placeholder Wright. You’d think they would get the message.

Addendum: And another:

I’m sure that Development offices are all over this, but the inherent danger here is that once down, it is hard to ever get giving back up again, barring some earth-shaking occurrence. We get in the habit of doing things. We subscribe to the Sunday paper because it’s the thing to do, because we’ve always done it and our parents did it, even though we no longer have time to read it all. We put Indian corn on our door in the fall because it’s the thing to do and we’ve always done it. We give to Dartmouth because it’s the thing to do and we’ve always done it. But once we stop doing these things, even temporarily, we find that the world doesn’t come to an end and we don’t go back and continue. So I wonder how “hard” or “soft” that 39.8% participation in 2017 is, and how much of it is being propped up by the traditional givers of the older classes, who are diminishing by the hour.

Posted on February 22, 2018 4:00 AM. Permalink

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Phil Announces What, Exactly?

I was not going to do a post about Phil’s utterly contentless update from the day before yesterday regarding the ongoing sexual harassment investigation of three members of the PBS department. After all, there was no news to announce, save for the limp fact that the sole investigator was soon going to be finishing her report. Ho, hum. However, a loyal reader wrote in with a pertinent comment:

Why make this announcement now and bring this issue back into the spotlight during the height of admissions season? With about a month to go before the Admissions Office mails out acceptances, why would the College want prospective students and their parents to associate Dartmouth with sexual misconduct? Someone should put a muzzle on Hanlon.

Beyond Phil’s missive, here is Dean of the College Rebecca Biron’s note from yesterday to all Dartmouth parents and families:

Biron on Hanlon re investigation.jpg

Great. A “criminal investigation.”

No word on whether Phil is going to start sending tweets out in the middle of the night.

Read Phil’s initial communication to the entire campus in the extended.

Addendum: The Valley News reported breathlessly on Phil’s announcement: Hanlon Says Internal Investigation Into 3 Dartmouth Professors Almost Finished.

Way back when, the New Republic characterized Flora Lewis’ NYT headline, Worthwhile Canadian Initiative, thusly:

These three words, which appeared over Flora Lewis’s column in the April 10 [1986] New York Times, strike many experts as possibly the most boring headline ever written. Each word taken alone is sleep-inducing. Taken together, they are virtually lethal.

The Valley News’ headline about Phil’s announcement comes close to equaling the NYT’s effort. Between you and me, I think that the editors in Lebanon knew exactly what they were doing. For a laugh, they even put the “news” on the front page — even though the piece contained no original reporting.

Addendum: An alumnus writes in:

Now that Hanlon is ready to announce the results of the College’s investigation of the Dartmouth 3, it will be interesting to see what happens next.

At the University of Rochester, the discontent with the sexual harassment investigation findings about brain science prof Florian Jaeger led to the resignation of the president, even though Jaeger was cleared of any direct violations of university rules by three different investigations.

I’m guessing that Hanlon realizes he must hand out some hefty punishments or his own job could be in jeopardy.

Addendum: The Office of Communications today put out the story of the “almost finished” report as a Dartmouth News release.


Posted on February 21, 2018 4:00 AM. Permalink

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Two Knight-Hennessy Scholar Winners

Two alumni, Leehi Yona ‘16 and Asaf Zilberfarb ‘17 have been named Knight-Hennessy Scholars, a new Rhodes-level scholarship initiative that endows 49 students from around the world for graduate study at Stanford. Congrats to two of the College’s finest international students (and what a shame that Phil ended need-blind admissions for internationals starting with the Class of 2020):

Leehi Yona CV Comp1.jpg

Asaf Zilberfarb CV Comp.jpg

The Knight-Hennessy website noted the undergraduate institution at which each of this year’s 49 Scholars studied:

The scholars earned undergraduate degrees at 37 institutions, including:

  • three each from Stanford University and Yale University
  • two each from Brown University, Dartmouth College, Georgia Institute of Technology, Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Ohio State University, Princeton University and Rice University.

No other school had more than one Scholar.

Once again, we punch above our weight.

Addendum: The Knight-Hennessy Scholars program was funded by a $400 million gift from Nike’s Phil Knight (its total endowment is $750 million). Additional funding for cross-disciplinary leadership training came from Robert King ‘57, who completed a degree at the Stanford Graduate School of Business in 1960. King donated $100 million to Stanford’s King Global Leadership Program; he also gave $14.7 million to a King Scholars Leadership Program at the College.

Addendum: International students have, to date at least, been disproportionately represented among the College’s valedictorians and winners of prestigious scholarships.

Posted on February 20, 2018 4:00 AM. Permalink

Monday, February 19, 2018

At Least Somebody Likes the Logo

A number of readers have written in to note that a well regarded design blog, Brand New, is a fan of the College’s new branding program:

Pine Review Brand New1.jpg

Pine Review Brand New2.jpg

That said, when a writer is endlessly effusive, as both immediately above and throughout the review — and never once critical — about something as multi-faceted as the College’s rebranding effort, it’s hard not to smell a rat. After all, what critic is not critical at least part of the time? The comments section at the bottom of the post contains observations that are a fair bit less enthusiastic, even if overall voting by readers is highly positive:

Pine Review Brand New3.jpg

Addendum: Most of the 1065 undergrad students who took a Pulse poll about the rebranding were less adulatory. 86.8% said that they strongly or somewhat preferred the old logo:

Pulse Logo Preferences.jpg

As always, click on any image to resize it for easier reading.

Posted on February 19, 2018 4:00 AM. Permalink

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Return to Dominica (Post-Maria)

Dominica Overview1.jpgA weeklong trip back to Dominica finds the country hammered by Hurricane Maria, whose 160mph winds damaged almost all of the island’s buildings five months ago. Today half the roofs on the island are still covered in blue tarpaulin, and the remnants of huge, destructive mudslides are to be seen everywhere: piles of broken trees litter the landscape, though now removed from the roads and habitable areas that they blocked for weeks. Acres of forest remain stripped of foliage where Maria’s force denuded them of every leaf. Here is a stretch of timber on the island’s Atlantic side that I viewed as we landed at Dominica’s Melville Hall airport. The approach rivals that of Gustavia in St. Bart’s for its reach-out-and-touch-the-vegetation fun:

Dominica Matchsticks.jpg

Longtime readers will recall that Dominica is the home of a large colony of sperm whales with whom one can happily swim.

Posted on February 18, 2018 4:00 AM. Permalink

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Words To Live By

Kevin Reinhart.jpgReligion Professor Kevin Reinhart (who has earned the sobriquet “Reinhartass” for his rigor) was interviewed in the Review recently. Among other thoughtful remarks, he had the following to say about the liberal arts:

TDR: As a professor of religion, a department in the humanities, what do you think is the role of a liberal arts education in today’s pre-professional society?

KR: Well the short answer to that is simple: people who do pre-professional work, someone who comes to Dartmouth and just does economics all the way through, I think are being trained to be middle-management. It is a luxury to be one of the people who, to use the business cliche, can see around corners. People who can draw on a wide variety of, not just American but also world cultural features — history, languages, so on and so forth — have that kind of ability. They are the ones who are going to be leaders. The ones who do solely pre-professional work may be well compensated, but they will not be leaders. To that end, I would point to the fact that two of Dartmouth’s most successful graduates in finance, one the head of the Fed and one the Secretary of the Treasury, both studied subjects other than finance. One was a history major and one was an Asian Studies major. It is a shame that students feel discouraged from taking advantage of a liberal arts education when, in fact, that is both what will benefit them and what Dartmouth is best at.

I agree in spades. Over the years, whether in dealing with managers or lawyers or even architects and other professionals, folks with a liberal arts background understand larger issues which people with only technical training just can’t comprehend.

Professor Reinhart is referring to Hank Paulson ‘68 and Tim Geithner ‘83, both of whom served as U.S. Secretary of the Treasury. Paulson was an English major, and Geithner majored in Government and Asian Studies.

Addendum: I expressed a few thoughts similar to Reinhart’s in a November 1, 2012 post subtly titled, Why the Liberal Arts? To Make Money! And Mike Gazzaniga ‘61, in his dinner address on the day in 2011 that he received an honorary degree from the College, confirmed the link between the humanities and scientific research at the highest level.

Posted on February 17, 2018 4:00 AM. Permalink

Friday, February 16, 2018

Is This a Good Thing?

I have gone back and forth over the years on the question of preferred admissions for legacies (way back in the day, some of the strongest proponents of co-education were alumni fathers wanting their daughters to come to the College), and finally I have come down in favor of the preference as a way of ensuring historical continuity at Dartmouth in the face of academic fashion.

The issue could come to the front burner again, given the below story:

Legacy Protest Comp1.jpg

Interestingly, the College has no first-generation student group. I call that a good thing. Students are students; they should not divide themselves up by class background, not when there are far more compelling attributes that can unify them.

Addendum: Here is the raw data for the number of legacies per class for the past thirty years:

Legacy Enrollment 1988-2017.jpg

As we have reported, the big jump in legacy admits in 2010 was part of the Kim Administration’s financial restructuring efforts; which included more legacies, private school students, early admissions admits and fewer first-generation students. Jim Kim had hi$ principle$, that’s for sure.

The large drop in legacy admits in the early 1990’s stemmed from Jim Freedman’s and his Admissions Dean, Karl Furstenberg’s, desire to change the character of the College. They succeeded in doing so on at least one level: ask anyone in fundraising about the “90’s Men.” This cohort gives far less money than any comparable group of alumni.

Addendum: Several readers have written in to point out the existence of the College’s First Year Student Enrichment Program (FYSEP):

The First Year Student Enrichment Program (FYSEP) empowers first-generation students to thrive academically and in the greater college community.

FYSEP provides a rigorous, dynamic and transformative experience that puts participants in a position to thrive at Dartmouth both academically and socially. The program offers sample classes with Dartmouth faculty, workshops, activities, and seminars designed to simulate life at Dartmouth and to prepare participants to handle some of the challenges they may face during the course of their first year.

Through a six day pre-Orientation program and ongoing support throughout their first year, FYSEP students gain a broad array of understandings and skills designed to help them make the most of their experiences both inside and outside of the classroom. ?As an example, all students participate in one-to-one mentoring meetings from upperclass students.

This College-organized group concerns itself with supporting first gen kids in dealing with the particular academic and social challenges that many of them face in the Dartmouth environment. However I believe that the Associated Press report reproduced above is correct that at the College there is no student-organized first gen group in Hanover, one that might take a political stand on an issue like legacy admissions.

Posted on February 16, 2018 4:00 AM. Permalink

Who Wants to Be a Provost?

The search for the College’s next Provost is ongoing, with headhunters Witt Kieffer leading the charge and a College search committee following along. The thumbnail description on the search firm’s website has a section leaps out at me:

Witt Kieffer Provost profile.jpg

Do Phil’s two major academic appointments — Carolyn Dever and Bruce Duthu — even come close to fulfilling the described goals? You have to be kidding.

Phil says one thing, and he does quite another.

Addendum: See the Provost search’s detailed profile here.

Posted on February 16, 2018 4:00 AM. Permalink

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Sing Out About Golf

A message from AD Harry Sheehy:

Sheehy re Golf Committee.jpg

The Golf committee’s web site is:

You can send e-mail to all of the advisory committee’s members at this address:

Posted on February 15, 2018 8:01 PM. Permalink

The DOC in the Time of Diversity

The impassioned debate about Ryan Spector ‘19’s column concerning the gender composition of the DOC Trips Directorate has to date contained little historical perspective. Let’s take a look at past practices.

Though the current directors, Lucia Pierson ‘18 and Dalia Rodriguez-Caspeta ‘18, have asserted that their choices for membership on the Directorate were made on merit alone (resulting in fifteen women and four men), last year’s director, Doug Phipps ‘17, stated forthrightly in a column in The D that a racial quota system was in place in choosing the Directorate’s members:

Doug Phipps Diversity.jpg

Of course, nobody this time around has spoken about white and non-white members, but clearly a focus on individual merit was not a feature of the selection process last year. We should be skeptical that such rigor was therefore in place this year.

Look at the division between men and women on the Trips Directorate over the last seven years (all figures drawn from The D and listserv announcements):

Trips Directorate Composition.jpg

As a percentage, the number of men is dropping precipitously — from a disproportionately high level to a low level that existed well before Ryan Spector was unable to secure a spot:

Trips Directorate Composition Percent.jpg

Do you discern a trend? Civil rights lawyers would. And with this kind of information, they could get the attention of a judge.

Addendum: Given that the Directorate was almost 4:1 female to male beginning in 2016, it is possible that men have held back from applying in the last couple of years. Why waste their time in a vain effort? If the DOC is going to release application numbers, it should do so for the past three years so that we get a complete picture of the process.

Addendum: In Monday’s D, Government Professor Michael Herron, who is also the chair of the quantitative social science program, dissects the (im)probability that the selection process for the Trips Directorate was gender-neutral:

Based on this model, the probability that the 19 students chosen for the Trips directorate are all men or all women is approximately 3.8 X 10^-6. This number is not zero, which means that it is possible for the Trips directorate to be completely gender imbalanced even if the process for choosing the directorate were gender-blind. This point is worth noting: A gender imbalance in the directorate is not necessarily evidence of a gender-aware leader selection process. Still, assuming that Trips leaders were chosen randomly from a gender-balanced pool, there is only a minuscule chance that a completely gender imbalanced directorate would result.

He also, amusingly, ends his piece with a pitch for the importance of understanding probability theory, and he encourages students to take a course in his discipline:

Spector’s argument about the inherent fairness of the Trips directorate selection process is the sort of claim that probability theory can address. With that in mind, if you have not taken a statistics course at Dartmouth or a course that teaches basic probability yet, it might be worth taking one next quarter. And if you have taken such a course but did not anticipate the argument made here, you might want to consider reviewing relevant material.

All is marketing.

Addendum: A friend of the College writes in:

Years ago, when I was on Wall Street and our firm was trying to figure out how to hire more women, a consultant put us in touch with a psychologist from Colombia who told us that, in general, male managers tended to hire both men and women when presented with equally qualified candidates, but that female managers were more likely to hire women candidates under the same circumstances. The reason for this — or so she said — lay in the differences between how men and women work in groups, with the task aspect of the group work being more important to the male managers and the social aspects of the group working together being more important to the female managers (with males seen as potentially disruptive to this social order, and thus to be avoided). She also said that in neither case were these apparent biases deliberate conscious choices.

Curiously, I’ve noticed this pattern in various organizations throughout my career, and it also tends to explain why many administrative functions at Dartmouth have evolved over time to be staffed primarily with women. Alumni Relations is a good example.

There is an excellent book by Kathleen DeBoer called Gender and Competition that talks about this issue in terms of male and female athletic teams. Other coaching-related literature does as well. Section 4 of the following article:

So, using this information, once the DOC Trips Board *tipped* majority female, it would be more likely than not to stay majority female in the future, as it has.

Posted on February 15, 2018 4:00 AM. Permalink

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Happy Valentine’s Day

Rockwell Love.jpg

Posted on February 14, 2018 4:00 AM. Permalink

The True Cost of Admissions

The College’s name pops up again in the papers:

NY Post $1.5 million fee Comp.jpg

NY Post $1.5 million fee Comp2.jpg

The student’s name is Vinh Ngoc Dao.

How embarassing.

Addendum: Who knows what really happened in this situation, but the College surely rolls out the red carpet to applicants from families with big money.

Posted on February 14, 2018 4:00 AM. Permalink

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

To the Faculty: Just Say No Confidence

The faculty will meet two weeks from yesterday, and to a man and women, they should think of shouldering their responsibilities to the College. Little if any good has come from the Hanlon administration; most actions have been lackluster, and there are decisions on the horizon that will be the death of Dartmouth. A motion of no confidence should be presented for the sake of everyone who cares about the school. Let me add my voice to that of The Review’s Jack Mourouzis and the Editors of the D.

First off, Jack’s column entitled A Vote of No Confidence:

Mourouzis No Confidence.jpg

And The D in a Friday editorial almost had the courage to say the same thing, Verbum Ultimum: A Vote for the Future:

The D No Confidence.jpg

Will Dartmouth be lost because two faculty members can’t be found to speak truth to an ever-weakening power. All it will take is a professor to put forward a motion and another one to second it. That would be the end of Phil.

Addendum: Of course, the members of the Hanlon administration care little for the thoughts of students, faculty and anyone else who might disagree with them. VP of Advancement Bob Lasher ‘88 has said as much.

Posted on February 13, 2018 4:00 AM. Permalink

Monday, February 12, 2018

Dinosaurs Still Walk the Earth

How dispiriting to see Marxists work so hard to make their lifelong learning relevant in the post-Soviet, post-ChiCom, post-pretty-much-anything-but-Hugo-Chavez era. If you want to see smart people spin their wheels in the sands of time trying to say something applicable to the modern world, you should attend today’s lecture: Spiraling Out of Control: A Conversation on Capitalism’s Current Crisis:

Nancy Fraser Panel.jpg

I might just go, simply for nostalgia’s sake. As an undergraduate I took a course in Marxism with Marlene Fried, and since Russell Rickford left town, there has been nobody (at least publicly) who espouses that ol’ time religion.

Note to Nancy Fraser: the reason capitalists like me get to keep any surplus (minus total government taxes of about 66%: federal income tax, state corporate profits tax, city property tax, employee payroll tax) is that we are saddled with all of the losses, too, if a business fails. And some do, most assuredly.

If you can’t make Monday’s panel, have no fear, Fraser and Harvey put on exactly same event last November 17 at the CUNY Graduate Center:

Addendum: There is a fair bit of chatter among the faculty about Nancy Fraser’s year-long sinecure at the College. The Marxist warhorse has a reputation of being impossible to work with, and her year in Hanover as the Roth Family Distinguished Scholar seems to involve doing little more than pocketing cash and offering a couple of public lectures.

Addendum: At least locally, today’s crisis in capitalism is about trying to find people to fill all of the open jobs. At my local business (250 full- and part-time employees), we have a dozen vacant positions right now. Are you a personal trainer? Can you cut hair or do aesthetic treatments? Or push a mop? Call me.

Addendum: An alumnus writes in:

I would like to deliver a lecture on how well Marxism worked. It will be a five-part lecture. The sections are as follows:

1. How great was Marxism for those millions who died in “Dekulakization”!
2. How great was Marxism for the millions who died when Mao was rounding up their cooking pots to become slag in inferior steel mills!
3. How great was Marxism for the million + who died in Cambodian killing fields!
4. How great has Marxism been for the freedoms of religion, press, and speech!
5. And finally, great prospects for Venezuela’s poor through Marxism, a look at the current state of play!

Posted on February 12, 2018 4:00 AM. Permalink

Sunday, February 11, 2018

The Art of the Meal

A quick trip to London included excellent meals at Core and Yen, two restaurants where the food is as beautiful as it is delicious. The pain perdu at Core and the fruit salad at Yen were both so pretty that a diner regretted disturbing them:

Core Dessert.jpg

Yen Dessert.jpg

When I worked for Bain in London from 1983-85, dining was lackluster at best. As the joke went, to find a good restaurant in Britain’s capital city, you had to drive 150 miles down the Edgware Road and stop when you got to France. No more.

Posted on February 11, 2018 4:00 AM. Permalink

The Dartmouth 911’s?

Just what we need (from Bloomberg):

Porsche Ivy Sponsor.jpg

Addendum: An alumnus writes in:

Based on today’s Dartblog announcements on new IVY League sponsors, is it too soon to expect that Indian Motorcycles will be the new corporate sponsor of Dartmouth athletics??? A long time leader in its field with a history of excellence… Hmmmmm!

Posted on February 11, 2018 4:00 AM. Permalink

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Record Fundraising, But Not Here

The Council for Aid to Education has released the results of it annual Voluntary Support of Education survey, and the figures show specifically what we have long expected: the rising stock market has led to the highest level of charitable giving to colleges and universities in history. Inside Higher Education reports:

Alumni Giving 2017B.jpg

While overall giving in 2017 rose 6.3%, alumni giving was up an impressive 14.5%.

And how did Phil Hanlon and Dartmouth do in this target-rich environment?

As we have noted, total giving to Dartmouth in 2017 was down 10.44%: from $318.9 in 2016 to $285.6 (the annual target last year was $350 million), even though the College is staffed up for an ever-on-the-horizon capital campaign. Actually the word is still that the campaign will kick off in April, just short of the fifth anniversary of Phil’s arrival in Hanover.

Addendum: Will the College’s new “branding” stimulate giving?

Posted on February 10, 2018 4:00 AM. Permalink

Mills Names Golf Course Committee

Just about six months after this space broke the story of the administration’s incipient closing of the Hanover Country Club and its 18-hole golf course, Executive Vice President Rick Mills has appointed an eleven-person committee to suggest alternatives for the course. The group will be chaired by popular Government Professor Charlie Wheelan ‘88:

HCC Committee.jpg

Their mission, should they decide to accept it (committees should feel free to leave the reservation, I say) is:

… evaluating three scenarios for the golf course. One is to continue operation as is while taking steps to limit or reduce cost; another is to close the course and analyze options for an indoor golf practice facility; and the third is to redesign and alter the golf course to improve its operation and develop a funding plan that is not reliant on the College’s operating budget.

Let’s hope for some courage and imagination from this group.

Addendum: If you know any of these folks, tell them what you think.

Addendum: A friend of the College writes in:

How can the committee not include the Head Golf Pro and/or Superintendent… the two people who run the day-to-day operation.

Addendum: A (cheeky) alumna writes in:

It goes without saying that any selected group that is male-majority receives less attention for the imbalance than if it were majority women.

Take the golf course committee for example: 9 men, 2 women. Surely there’s an uproar as to whether this committee can make unbiased decisions, right??? Right?

Posted on February 10, 2018 4:00 AM. Permalink

Friday, February 9, 2018

A College Ready to Expand?

As a student in the late 1970’s, when the College had about 6-8% fewer undergraduates than it does today, I can’t ever recall having more than a dozen people in line ahead of me to get into Thayer. So what it the meaning of the below? A friend took this photo last week:

Line for Foco.jpg

Lines to get into the College’s main dining hall can vary by time of day: lunch tends to have longer lines than dinner apparently. And while the queue can move along, why should harried students waste time gaining entrance to an all-you-can-eat refectory?

Hapless Phil’s administration should be fixing problems like this every minute. Gosh knows that there are enough administrators in enough meetings. Why can’t they come up with solutions to nagging issues like making students stand in the rain?

Addendum: The week before last The D ran a nice chart showing the evolution in pricing for meals at FoCo:

DDS Pricing Evolution 2012-2018.jpg

Since 2012, the CPI is up 8.76%, but DDS meals are up as follows: SmartChoice5: +31.9%; SmartChoice10: +17.9%; SmartChoice14: +15.2%; SmartChoice20: +14.0%.

There is absolutely no valid reason why mealplan prices have risen so much faster than inflation. Perhaps DDS is making even more profit than in the past. More likely, it is getting ever harder to afford the fat salaries and plush benefits given to the grossly over-compensated staff. In a better world, the College would turn over DDS to a private company like Bon Appétit Management Company (here and here).

Posted on February 9, 2018 4:00 AM. Permalink

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Iuxta Morem Universae Terrae

Dartblog has learned that the Hanlon administration, in addition to changing the College’s logo and “branding,” has decided also to drop the long-used phrase Vox Clamantis In Deserto from all Dartmouth materials.

From now on, in its place, the following words will appear:

Iuxta Morem Universae Terrae

Dartmouth New Logo and Motto1.jpg

The phrase translates as: “Like Everyone Else.”

Addendum: Just kidding. But not really.

Addendum: An alumnus writes in:

Joe: Please add something about Vox Clamantis in Deserto, and how inspired that phrase is for the future of Dartmouth as well as a reminder of its classical Latin past, beyond geography. A travesty to lose that!!! The world is still filled with virtual wildernesses that need pathways, and pathfinders, to enlightenment. The mission of the College must continue to be the education of those pathfinders. People who do not understand this do not understand Dartmouth.

Addendum: A close observer of the College writes in:

If the new logo was something interesting and inspired, I might be open to a fresh branding effort. But it is really not that creative or evocative. Its main asset is that it scales easily and is simple — but not in an effective way (like, say, Apple’s logo or Nike’s swoosh symbol). And I cannot imagine using it as the College’s crest. Who would want a “D” with a tree in it embroidered on a blazer?

I sound like a curmudgeon saying this. I am open to improving and refreshing things. But I don’t sense this logo accomplishes either of those objectives. It feels more like change for the sake of change, trading one of the College’s birthrights for a bowl of pottage.

Posted on February 8, 2018 4:00 AM. Permalink

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Gender Gap: Reactions to Spector

College Pulse has the ability to slice and dice in many different ways all the data offered up by students responding to its surveys. Let’s take a look at the questions we reviewed yesterday, but in this instance to see how the responses vary between male and female Dartmouth students.

Q: Do you think it was okay for The Dartmouth to publish the article?

82.8% of Dartmouth men think that it was acceptable for The D to publish Ryan Spector ‘19’s article, but only 52.8% of women share that view:

Pulse Gender OK to Publish.jpg

Q: In general, do you agree with the writer’s position?

66.9% of men disagree with Spector’s position versus 91.1% of women:

Pulse Gender Disagree with Spector.jpg

Q: Agree/Disagree: Assuming that the applicant pool was evenly split in terms of gender, the decision to select an 80% female directorate is inherently unjust.

41.3% of men agree that a 15:4 gender imbalance would be inherently unjust if the applicant pool were balanced 50:50, whereas only 13.8% of women do:

Pulse Gender 50-50 Applicant Pool.jpg

Q: Do you think gender was considered in the directors’ selection process?

75.9% of men believe that gender was a factor in the Trips Director and Assistant Director coming up with a 15:4 gender imbalance among its members, but only 53.3% of women do?

Pulse Gender Use of Gender.jpg

So why the stark difference between men and women on these pointed questions?

I was going to speculate about an answer, but then from down in Cambridge I heard Larry Summers yelling, “Don’t do it!” So I won’t.

Any suggestions, dear readers?

Addendum: An alumnus writes in:

You seem to need a fool to rush in where wise men fear to tread, so here are some speculations:

  • Question 1: This was the closest vote, but those opposing publication may have been motivated by concern that “discussion” of the selection process could prove to be a Trojan Horse introduced by the forces of male privilege. These people would tend to see this issue as a struggle between male and female privilege, with no possibility of a middle ground.
  • Questions 2-4: Women may have more likely than men to disagree with Spector, reject the idea that the 80/20 imbalance is inherently unjust, and doubt that gender was a criterion for selection because the opposite views might be taken to imply that women could not have won 80% of the positions based on merit alone. Given the history of male attitudes toward women, some women may have felt that they could not afford to concede on any of these three questions.

The thread that runs through all of these potential explanations is a distrust of men and a suspicion that men have still not accepted women as equals. Give a man an inch, and he’ll take a mile.

Addendum: And another:

I’m not a mathematician, nor did I stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night, so you might want to check my math, but if all things were equal (applicant pool had same number of male and female applicants of equal merit) and there was no unconscious (or conscious) bias, then the odds of selecting 15 females and 4 men would be the same as getting 15 heads if you flipped a coin 19 times and the odds of that happening is less than 1% (.00739 according to an online odds calculator).

Just saying …

Addendum: A (female) parent writes in:

Zombies are preferring to eat the brains of our girls? No, just kidding. But this is of course an extension of the concept of affirmative action, and that’s not, shall we say, an uncomplicated subject. With finite places for an infinite number of applicants, correcting historical injustice means making current generations pay for the sins of their foreparents.

And in a way of course that’s reasonable; a white male excluded, say, from Harvard so a black female can be accepted still has great odds of succeeding in the wider world, even without, perhaps, an Ivy League degree. The world is full of movers and shakers who got excellent educations at SUNY schools, for example. There’s the lifelong sting of not having that glittering diploma, perhaps, but not a huge detriment to a successful life.

But that black woman who did get it? That might have granted her the extra credibility her own talents might not have been sufficiently respected for.

This of course is the rosiest of spins, but it’s not invalid.

And perhaps, regarding the case in question here, the same shall have been accomplished, though on a less earthshaking scale, for the women accepted as Trips leaders. Mr. Spector can clearly advocate quite loudly for himself and does not slink off abashed into the night.

And it’s always possible they just didn’t like him, and with all things considered, and equal qualifications all around, they did what hiring managers do everywhere, every hour of every day — given two equally-qualified candidates, you go for the chemistry. Equal-opportunity, non-discrimination laws attempt to put bounds on this natural human impulse, to try to even out the playing field a little.

And what is just in theory is always going to hurt someone. Life is, you know, always going to be unfair, even if we try to pour salve on it 24 hours a day…

Addendum: An alumnus writes in:

This whole “In Solidarity” dialog is terribly dispiriting. Tired identity cliches stacked one on top of another, together with gross mis-statements of Spector’s actual position. (And together with silly errors like not knowing how to use an apostrophe.)

Posted on February 7, 2018 4:00 AM. Permalink

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Pressure on Frats to Conform

Rachel Kesler ‘19, a member of Native Americans at Dartmouth, has penned a letter to President Hanlon, with copies to all of the College’s fraternities, pressuring them to come out against Ryan Spector ‘19:

Kesler Letter.jpg

Spector is a member of Alpha Chi.

Addendum: Curiously absent from the addressees of this email is Alpha Phi Alpha — the College’s African-American fraternity.

Addendum: Here is Alpha Chi’s letter of solidarity, which was published yesterday afternoon:

To the Dartmouth community,

We are writing in response to the op-ed published in The Dartmouth on Friday. The article asserts that the members of the Trips Directorate were selected not on merit, but rather because of their identities. These claims are unfounded and harmful, and we stand in solidarity with the Director, Assistant Director, and the entire Trips Directorate. We additionally wish to express our support for women, POC, those with marginalized identities, and all other individuals negatively impacted by its publication.

Many Alpha Chi’s have been heavily involved in the Trips program as leaders, croo members, and members of directorate. We know how important Trips is to shaping the incoming classes’ experiences, and we have the utmost faith in the current Directorate’s ability to provide a fantastic and welcoming experience to the class of 2022.

Although Dartmouth students are allowed to have differing opinions, we cannot condone attempts to discredit the accomplishments of hard working community members simply on the basis of their identities. This issue is not isolated to a single individual or a single opinion; we as a campus must constantly strive towards a more inclusive Dartmouth.

In solidarity,
Alpha Chi Alpha

Addendum: Go to the College listserv to see all of the different letters penned by students groups opposed to Spector’s op-ed column.

Posted on February 6, 2018 8:42 PM. Permalink

Breaking: Students Support Publication of Spector Op-ed, But Disagree With Him

In another example of how effective the College Pulse software is at measuring student opinion, the on-line survey platform rapidly gathered responses yesterday from 846 undergraduate students concerning Ryan Spector ‘19’s critique in The D of the Trips Director’s and Assistant Director’s choice of fifteen women and only four men for the Trips Directorate. A sample size of only about half that amount, 450 students, is considered statistically valid in accurately measuring the sentiments of Dartmouth’s undergraduates.

In response to the question, “Do you think it was okay for The Dartmouth to publish the article?”, an overall majority of 71% of all students believes that the paper was correct in printing Spector’s piece. However a fairly sharp divergence of responses to this question exists among students of different races, with only 50% of Black/AfAm student supporting The D’s decision to publish the article:

Pulse OK to Publish.jpg

However 78.6% of all students disagreed with Spector’s critique of the Trips leadership in staffing the Directorate — a result that again has fairly sharp differences of opinion among students of different races:

Pulse Disagree wth Spector.jpg

To date the composition of the applicant pool for the Directorate has not been revealed, but one Pulse query asks students to assume that it is known: “Assuming that the applicant pool was evenly split in terms of gender, the decision to select an 80% female directorate is inherently unjust.” A full 72.5% of students somewhat disagreed or strongly disagreed with this statement, believing that an 80-20 female:male division was acceptable:

Pulse 50-50 Applicant Pool.jpg

Finally, two thirds of all students felt that gender was a factor used in the Trip leader selection process:

Pulse Use of Gender.jpg

What to say about the above? We can be glad that students support The D’s right to print a controversial article, but their acceptance of a self-evidently skewed end result in the selection process gives this observer pause.

But then, this stance should come as no surprise. After all, Phl Hanlon as much as told the assembled faculty that race and gender were the critical factors in his own selection of senior administrators, as he said at the May 9, 2016 faculty meeting:

My history in dean searches is probably relevant here. In my day I have conducted nine dean searches, all of them national searches. In every case I insisted that the search process generate a deep, talented, diverse pool of internal and external candidates from which to choose. In five of those cases I hired an internal candidate; in four of them I hired an external candidate. Of the nine, only two of the deans I hired were white males; four of them were people of color. So, that sort of tells you what I am looking for in the search… [Emphasis added]

Not long thereafter, Phil selected Native American Bruce Duthu for the Dean of the Faculty position, notwithstanding that Duthu did not hold a Ph.D, had a thin scholarly record, and had only served as the Associate Dean of the Faculty for International Studies & Interdisciplinary Programs for a scant ten months.

Addendum: Although there now seem to be a total of 37 open letters circulating on campus, virtually all of them condemning Spector and his column, when students can express their opinions on the Pulse platform, their views are more moderate.

Posted on February 6, 2018 4:00 AM. Permalink

Monday, February 5, 2018

Student Assembly in Solidarity, Too

Solidarity SA.jpg

It seems to me that the operative rule for these students is: thou shalt not criticize people of color, no matter how biased and discriminatory their behavior. And any criticism is to be equated not just with disagreement, but with violence.

Heaven help us.

Posted on February 5, 2018 6:00 PM. Permalink

The D Explains Itself

In response to numerous calls for The D to retract Ryan Spector ‘19’s guest column, Spector: You’re Not Tripping, The First-Year Trips directors have gone nuts for diversity, the senior staff at The D has published an open letter to the campus:

To the Dartmouth Community,

A guest column entitled “You’re Not Tripping” was published this past Friday in The Dartmouth, resulting in campus discourse as well as questions about the newspaper’s editorial policies. The Dartmouth accepts guest column submissions from all members of the Dartmouth community and edits each in the same way. Guest columns, and any column published in The Dartmouth not under the authorship of “The Dartmouth Editorial Board,” do not represent the views of the newspaper or the editors who worked to bring it to publication.

The guest column policy, publicly available here, requires that submissions fall within a specific word count, disclose author affiliations with the subject material and comply with the newspaper’s standard editing procedure for accuracy and style. This process includes verifying all factual assertions and strictly prohibiting hate speech. The paper requires that writers provide sources, which are generally not published, for every factual assertion. Columns that adhere to these policies are published. If a factual inaccuracy is found following publication, a correction will be issued.

Every factual assertion in the guest column in question was reviewed to ensure that the piece is neither slanderous nor ad hominem in its criticisms. The Dartmouth published publicly-available names, in accordance with the practice of specifying individuals discussed when they are public figures or organizational leaders, and notified the individuals named both upon receipt of the guest column submission and prior to its publication. To these points, the guest column will remain online in its current form.

The Dartmouth, an independent newspaper, takes its role seriously and aims to continue to advance open discourse within the community. The paper encourages any interested individuals to direct questions, comments or concerns about the column or the paper’s policies to Individuals are also welcome to submit guest columns of their own to and/or Submissions will undergo the same fact-checking and editing process and be published upon compliance with the guest column policy.

We encourage readers to continue to contribute to the discussion on our coverage and policies. We remain committed to fostering constructive dialogue and appreciate the feedback that has been provided both publicly and privately. We will continue to serve the Dartmouth community to the best of our abilities.

Thank you.

Ray Lu, Editor-in-Chief
Kourtney Kawano, Executive Editor
Erin Lee, Executive Editor
Parker Richards, Opinion Editor
Ziqin Yuan, Opinion Editor

Addendum: A parent writes in:

To the Editors I say bravo and well done.

Doomsayers and signs of the times nonetheless, a fair number of the kids are all right. The others (examples like Mark Bray notwithstanding) will grow up some day. I, too, was pretty dumb at that age; it takes life to teach you.

I’d wish some of our cable TV hosts might take note of what The Dartmouth’s editors wrote today, and the courage it required to do so, and that the courage was there. The rest of us should take good note too.

Posted on February 5, 2018 2:30 PM. Permalink

Matt Slaughter on NAFTA

Dean Matt Slaughter is taking Tuck from strength to strength in the B-school rankings, in fundraising, and in alumni participation, yet he still has time to do scholarship that has present-day relevance — enough to merit a column in the Wall Street Journal:

Slaughter on NAFTA Comp1.jpg

Slaughter on NAFTA Comp2.jpg

Quite a guy.

Addendum: Read Slaughter’s complete report, How Withdrawing from NAFTA Would Damage the U.S. Economy.

Addendum: A College/Tuck alumnus writes in to share some news:

I am a Dartmouth and Tuck alumnus — and now give only to Tuck directly (although I continue to support undergrad organizations with which was affiliated). My confidence in Tuck’s leadership to use my money for the right priorities and in an efficient manner so far exceeds the undergrad side of things that I can’t justify splitting it any way but 100% to 0%.

What’s happening on the fundraising front down Tuck Drive is an interesting juxtaposition to Parkhurst’s woes…

Tuck Raether Gift Comp.jpg

Whenever someone asserts that the College’s problems are structural — too small, not urban, in an all-white part of the country — look at Tuck’s ongoing achievement.

Posted on February 5, 2018 4:00 AM. Permalink

Sunday, February 4, 2018

The Dartmouth Review on Ryan Spector

The Dartmouth Review opines on Ryan Spector ‘19’s op-ed in The D about the 15-4 female:male composition of the Trips Directorate:

“In Solidarity”

On behalf of the more conservative members of the Dartmouth community, we would like to offer our support to both Ryan Spector and The Dartmouth in light of the recent publication of the op-ed entitled “You’re Not Tripping.”

While Spector’s column is not without flaws, we would like to condemn the numerous personal attacks he has endured, in addition to the dangerous rhetoric coming from many of the condemning organizations. While it is difficult to substantiate that the decisions regarding Trips executives were based on identity rather than merit, the issues he raises in his article are important, and it is important that an open discussion of the topic is held. Spector’s closing statement - that trips is “no longer for trippees… It is for ideology, no matter how cruel the implications” - indeed paints a picture of a troubling, yet very real state of affairs.

Furthermore, we find the notion that Spector’s column communicates any type of hate, racism, bigotry, or “toxic masculinity” to be wholly ridiculous. His words are not an attack on any population or any individual; they are simply raising awareness of a perceived problem. The many emails proclaiming solidarity for “victims” of his article have a warped perception of his ideas; nowhere does he convey the notion that “there is nothing meritable about a room full of women, WOC, or POC,” or that his article is an “attack on people of color, queer folk, gender non-conforming people, first generation, low-income students or women.” These perceptions are nothing but absurd. As such, any personal attacks directed back upon him - or anyone coming to his defense - are reprehensible.

Finally, and most importantly, we wholly support the decision of The Dartmouth to publish this article in the first place. It is an important step in assuring that all ideas, unpopular or popular, conservative or liberal, right or left, are heard on a campus that is overwhelmingly liberal and that often ignores unpopular, conservative, or right-leaning notions. We always stand for open discourse, and we condemn all those who seek its destruction.

Addendum: For further letters concerning the Spector op-ed, please see the extended:

Posted on February 4, 2018 5:00 PM. Permalink