Sunday, July 27, 2014



What’s Going On?

Hanover’s second mugging in a month:

July 27 AssaultA.jpg


Posted on July 27, 2014 9:44 AM. Permalink



Daily News on Zantops

Thirteen years and a six months after the horrific event, the NY Daily News has run an extended retrospective on the Janaury 27, 2001 murder of Dartmouth Professors Susanne and Half Zantop.


Posted on July 27, 2014 4:39 AM. Permalink



The Best of New Hampshire

‘Tis nice to be loved:

NH Mag Comp.jpg


Posted on July 27, 2014 4:00 AM. Permalink

Saturday, July 26, 2014



Rick Beyer ‘78’s Ghost Army

That the Allies faked the existence of an American army in the UK prior to D-Day is well known to historians and the public — the effort was even a core element in the popular 1981 movie The Eye of the Needle — but the clever subterfuge of spoofing the location of combat units during the fighting on the European continent was kept quiet for forty years, in the thought that we might use the same techniques in a war against the Russkies.

Rick Beyer ‘78’s film The Ghost Army tells the story of a group of artists, set designers, theater people (and some students, a cop, and a shoe saleman) who started off their war by learning the art of camouflage; then they changed gears with the goal of calling enemy attention to divisions that did not exist or were, in fact, elsewhere. There was no existing procedure for this unprecedented skill.

The group had mock tanks and vehicles that they could blow up like a kid’s inflatable swimming pool. They used “sonic deception”: recordings of tank engines and trucks and bridge construction; and they filled the air with the chatter of recorded radio communications — all to fool the Germans into thinking that there were units ready to jump off into attack at places where they were not actually present.

The 1:07-long film is narrated by Peter Coyote, and it is available on Netflix and on Amazon Streaming Video. Take a look at its website.

Addendum: The movie’s press kit describes Rick’s background as follows:

Writer/Producer/Director Rick Beyer is an award-winning documentary filmmaker, a bestselling author, and a long-time history enthusiast. His credits include Expedition Apocalypse, filmed in Siberia for National Geographic Channel; The Wright Challenge (winner of a Parents’ Choice Award), Secrets of Jamestown, Revolution in Boston and The Patent Files for The History Channel; and The Emancipation Proclamation (featuring President Bill Clinton) for the Smithsonian Institution’s exhibit “Abraham Lincoln: An Extraordinary Life.” He is also the author of the popular Greatest Stories Never Told series of history books published by Harper Collins, which have been described by the Chicago Tribune as “an old fashioned sweetshop full of tasty morsels.” He began his career as a radio and TV journalist in Chicago and Boston.

Posted on July 26, 2014 4:00 AM. Permalink

Friday, July 25, 2014



Need-Blind Admissions? Really?

Sure, I understand that correlation is not causality, but still, the below figures do make one pause. Why do students not needing financial aid stand a much higher chance of getting into the College than people who can’t pay full freight? Are they smarter? Does the supposedly need-blind Admissions Office peek at the financials just a teensy bit when deciding between two similar candidates whom to admit?

A loyal reader asked these questions when he noted that the College had boasted this year that 70% of all applicants had requested financial aid; then, a few weeks later, Dean of Admissions Maria Laskaris ‘84 revealed that only 45% of admitted students were to receive aid (actually the link says 46%, but Dean Laskaris kindly updated the figure for me). Using the College’s numbers, let’s do the math on this past admissions season’s figures:

Applicants for admission: 19,235
Applicants asking for aid (70%): 13,465
Applicants not asking for aid (30%): 5,770
Admitted students receiving aid (45%): 999
Admitted students not receiving aid (55%): 1,221

Chances a student requesting aid will be accepted (999/13,465): 7.4%
Chances a student not requesting aid will be accepted (1,221/5,770): 21.2%

Hmmm. If you don’t need financial aid, you have almost three times the chance of being admitted to the College as compared to a student requesting aid.

Addendum: An alumnus has a question:

I’m not good with math, but aren’t you missing something in your stats in today’s entry? Surely you need to discover which of the students requesting aid were admitted and which weren’t, and which of the students not requesting aid were admitted and which weren’t. Plenty of people apply and request aid, then get admitted but don’t get aid.

Addendum: An a longtime reader comments:

This is not specific to Dartmouth - but I have heard that admissions offices do not always need to violate their own stated policies by peeking at actual financial disclosures in advance of making their decisions. Seems that one can infer an astonishing amount of information simply by using an applicant’s zip code - particularly in urban areas.

Addendum: As does another active Hanover resident:

… A related question to your illuminating post about “Need-Blind Admissions” statistics would be to separate out the recruited athletes from Dartmouth’s financial aid data and then look at the need-blind numbers again.

My guess is that it would echo what happens with the College’s Early Decision application pool. The bulk of Early Decision admits are actually recruited athletes who received admissions “tips” allocated to their coaches. So the likelihood of getting in Early Decision if you are not among the recruited athletes is much worse than the ED statistics would superficially indicate.

Anyway, I think that if you take the recruited athletes out of Dartmouth’s financial aid allocations, the “Need-Blind” admission statistics will look even less promising than Dartblog’s assessment this morning.

Addendum: Yet another perspective:

Dartmouth is a member of the 568 Presidents’ Group (you can Google it). As such, the College has formally certified that it is “need blind” as it must be under federal law to engage in protected discussions within that Group about financial aid policy as allowed under an antitrust exemption granted by Congress. If Dartmouth were, as you suggest, “peek[ing] at the financials just a teensy bit” the College would be exposing itself to a suit for violation of antitrust law. Are you suggesting that Maria Laskaris or Bob Donan would put the College in that position? Or that she is performing her duties as Dean of Admission in contravention of stated College policy?

More to the point, the no-aid-application pool, by definition, consists of students from wealthier families where education is a priority, where they often have access to the best public and private schools, not to mention that most all legacies are no doubt need blind.

By the way, “Need blind,” for purposes of the antitrust exemption, is defined in federal statute, leaving no ambiguity about what that standard is.

Addendum: All views elicit contrary views!

Time for me to do one of my favorite things - playing the devil’s advocate. One of my nephew’s closest friends during his time at the College was accepted ED. This boy was not a recruited athlete, not a legacy, did not hail from an under-represented state and is a Caucasian Episcopalian to boot — haha. He also comes from an economically challenged background, so needed almost full financial aid. The admissions process may be more mysterious than we know.


Posted on July 25, 2014 4:00 AM. Permalink

Thursday, July 24, 2014



Stingy With Financial Aid

The other day we noted that the number of students receiving financial aid from the College had dropped in recent years from 51% to 45% of the student body — part of the Kim adminstration’s “soak the students to feed the staff” balanced budget initiative. Several readers wrote in to ask how we are doing versus the other Ivies. Here are the figures for Dartmouth, Penn, Brown, Cornell, Columbia, Yale, Princeton, and Harvard:

Ivy Financial Aid 2014.jpg

Not only are we again worst-in-show in the financial aid sweepstakes, but we have fallen off the previous trendline that related financial aid to endowment/student: by that latter measure we are still in fourth position in the Ivies behind HYP, and we used to be #4 in giving financial aid, too. Not any more.


Posted on July 24, 2014 4:00 AM. Permalink

Wednesday, July 23, 2014



Shall We Just Ban Alcohol on Campus?

A thoughtful observer of the College scene has read this space’s reporting on sexual assault. His reaction has been voiced by other correspondents in the past:

Joe, You noted in the first paragraph: “Yes, alcohol is always part of the equation …” [of sexual assault]

It is illegal in the U.S. (and in New Hampshire specifically) to consume alcohol prior to age 21. If Dartmouth College and its students honor this very simple, concrete law of the land, what effect would that have in reducing the incidence of sexual assault and rape on campus?

This illustrates why “the age of majority” makes sense, and deserves to be respected and enforced: Until you are 21, don’t drink at Dartmouth. If consuming alcohol as a minor in our campus community and under our institutional responsibility is more important to you than following that one simple law, then please go to school elsewhere. As an Ivy League student, plenty of other places will take you.

What to say about this position, an eminently logical one? Alcohol does have myriad negative effects on life at Dartmouth, and if the penalty for consuming it were expulsion, drinking would probably end at the College. Shall we bring back Prohibition?

To start, we should note that only a severe penalty like the expulsion of students could work to rein in student drinking. In the past decade, Jim Wright’s administration rang up hundreds of students on College discipline for underage consumption, and now-retired Hanover Chief of Police Nick Giaccone’s force arrested many hundreds more. Keystone Cop scenes of officers chasing Keystone-consuming students through the bushes played out over and over again on campus. To no effect at all, of course, except to give students disciplinary or criminal records that impeded their efforts to be accepted at grad schools.

We should also be cognizant of the fact that excessive student drinking has been decried in virtually every society from Ancient Greece (Plato’s Symposium means “Drinking Party”) to the present day, and certainly so at Dartmouth ever since Eleazar Wheelock supposedly arrived in Hanover with a barrel of five hundred gallons of New England rum. In 1772, student drinking was such that Wheelock wrote to John Sargent, who ran the Norwich-Hanover ferry (and a tavern, too),

I charitably hope …yt yo will henceforth Sell no Rum nor any Spirits to any Studt … belonging to ys College or School or to any Cook, Servt or Laborer … without a Written order undr my hand or one of ye Tutors-& pray sir, be so good as to signify to me by a Line …your complyce with my Desire …

Wheelock Rum.jpg

The imprecation didn’t work then, and it has not done so since. And frankly, as a society, I don’t think we much care. In some unspoken way, we accept that students on campus drink, though via our weak laws we tut-tut about the practice. Perhaps alcoholic excesses are our own form of Rumspringa, the period of time when Amish youth are allowed to depart from the strict norms of their faith, prior to taking vows to lead a restrained and observant life. In addition to working hard in Hanover, students have a chance to purge themselves of wild feelings, doing so in the knowledge that after Commencement the hard work of a responsible life begins.

I can’t come up with a better explanation than that one for an unstated tolerance that goes back centuries. Perhaps my correspondent is inspired by Utopian sentiments, and he is willing to harshly enforce them? Not me. A conservative approach would be to accept the world as it is, and have the serenity to accept what cannot be changed — while scolding the students for their naughty, naughty behavior.

Addendum: The element left out of the above argument is the new-found abuse of alcohol by women students, with obviously pernicious effects. Responding to that development might change the debate.

Addendum: A reader writes in:

There is one important consideration you omit. By turning a blind eye to underage drinking, we send the message that attendance at an elite institution allows you to selectively obey the law. It is at least worth asking to what extent the proliferation of insider trading and other lawbreaking in the financial world has been nourished by the attitude that the privileged are somehow above the law.

Addendum: As does a wit:

The problem is that the culture of drinking got established when there were different sociological facts than exist today, i.e., there are now women at Dartmouth. The solution is that all women should be required to take a daily dose of Antabuse. The assault problem is thereby mostly solved.

Addendum: And a veteran of the social wars:

Here is a question that I think begs an answer at Dartmouth and everywhere else: What is the driving force behind large numbers of today’s college students routinely drinking themselves into oblivion? What are they running from? What cultural forces are in play? I speak as someone who has certainly imbibed my fair share of cocktails through the years — but I simply do not understand what is fun about throwing up, passing out, making a fool of yourself and awakening with no memory of the night before. Have even heard that it is not unusual for some of these kids to wet their beds after passing out. Whaaaat? To me, the larger question is not about the relevant legalities or choosing to drink vs. choosing to abstain — my question is: Why the increase in continuous excessive drinking? In my day, this was a one or two time event — i.e. a learning experience — something that you never wanted to repeat.


Posted on July 23, 2014 4:00 AM. Permalink

Tuesday, July 22, 2014



Become a Dartblog Source

Crowd-sourcing might not be the right term for what journalists do, but if you care about the College and see her weaknesses through the same lens as the writers in this space, you might want to help us out. Do you know areas of waste and incompetence at Dartmouth that need sunlight shone on them? By sharing documents, pictures and details with Dartblog, we can bring information to the attention of the public, the administration and the Trustees — the latter all read us almost every day — that they might never see.

All the P's MenA.jpgAnd you can do so risk free. Unlike Robert Redford in All the President’s Men (or Bob Woodward in real life), sources no longer have to meet reporters in underground parking garages.

Just create a new Gmail e-mail address for yourself, give it a playful name — how about DartblogSource@Gmail.com — and send us news, tips, observations, documents, and your special thoughts about how to make the College a better place for students, faculty and staff. We can chat, and together we can expose secrets that should not be hidden. Needless to say, your confidentiality is guaranteed. Though we are eminently trustworthy, you really don’t need to trust us; equipped with an anonymous e-mail address, we have no way of finding out who you are. In fact, we don’t even try. Our concern is only that you care enough about the College to reveal what so many people don’t want revealed.

Write to us at mail@dartblog.com. We look forward to hearing from you.


Posted on July 22, 2014 4:00 AM. Permalink

Monday, July 21, 2014



Thank Heavens for Brown

At least we’re not in last place in the Ivies: Brown is ranked the 81st university in the world; we come in at 44th. The other six of the Ancient Eight are 14th or better:

CWUR Comp.jpg

The summary of the survey’s methodology is above. Clearly our small size is a hindrance to performance according to the scales the Center for World University Rankings has chosen to use. For a full description of the ranking methodology used by the CWUR — located in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia — click here.


Posted on July 21, 2014 4:00 AM. Permalink

Sunday, July 20, 2014



Norwich Diary: Stream of Consciousness

Our favorite summer swimming spot over in Norwich is in fine form: freezing cold water tinged an emerald green. We go twice or even three times a day when it’s hot and humid.

Swimming Hole.JPG

Paddling around in a rushing current is refreshing; the flow takes away your body heat in short order. Also, it is fun to swim upstream under the current and then surface into the foam of the waterfall. Simple pleasures. Of course, getting in can take a little effort.


Posted on July 20, 2014 4:00 AM. Permalink

Saturday, July 19, 2014



Live Free For Wine

Just as New Hampshire is #2 in the nation for per capita beer consumption, so is the state in second place for wine drinking — this time behind the District of Columbia. Is it something in the water?

USA Wine Consumption Comp.jpg

The figures don’t indicate whether Washington D.C.’s nation-leading performance derives from high sales of Chablis or Thunderbird — probably both.

Of course, New Hamsphire’s wine consumption is fairly modest by international standards. We are on a par with the UK, but only at a fraction of the level achieved by the Latin countries of Europe:

Wine Consumption Int'l.jpg

Addendum: One might wonder if New Hampshire’s state liquor store system is skewing the results by selling a great deal of alcohol to bargain-hunting Massachusetts citizens, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. How to explain Vermont’s and Massachusetts’ high ranking?


Posted on July 19, 2014 4:00 AM. Permalink

Friday, July 18, 2014



In the Fever Swamps

Sexual Assault Summit Logo Comp.jpgSexual assault on Dartmouth’s campus is a real problem — anyone who denies that assertion has not spent time discussing the issue with young women at the College. For decades I have heard thoughtful undergrads describe events that befell them and many of their friends. Yes, alcohol is always part of the equation, but so are predators who maneuver vulnerable students into searingly regrettable situations. Just what percentage of students are assaulted is unclear, but the figure is significant.

By all accounts, Phil Hanlon’s administration did a bold thing in hosting this week’s conference on assault. Several presenters talked about the longstanding difficulty in finding a venue for the event. Of course, as this space has observed, the College will take it on the chin for doing so alone. I wonder if the administration spent any time investigating whether the other Ivy schools had an interest in co-hosting the event as a sign that they, too, take the problem seriously.

That said, as Alexandra Arnold recently noted here, both peer-reviewed research and local experience point to a small number of students being responsible for a great many assaults. Yet all of the event’s polished presenters — many of whom seem to have presented the same material many times; in fact, several of them had worked as stand-up comedians — had a tremendous investment in the notion of “the water in which we swim.” Speaker after speaker asserted that our entire society is at fault for sexual assaults, and that incitement to assault is all around us in the media, the general culture, in rape jokes, and even in children’s nursery songs (not that I have ever heard the ballads that were sung by two of the speakers).

Different presenters had trolled the internet for evidence of the objectification of women’s bodies (avant garde fashion ads directed at women seemed particularly at fault), the glorification of violence against women, and rape images. Dartmouth Professor Susan Brison described the entire world as deeply misogynistic, and more than one speaker made statements to the effect that, “Any time a women leaves the house, she fears being raped, harassed and beaten.”

Perhaps the latter statement is true of the women at the conference (90% of the 250-300 people in attendance), but the assertion is a long way from reflecting the attitudes of most women. Activists and victims have a particular worldview, but, no matter how justified, it should not be allowed to dictate policy. In this instance, such shrillness undercut the seriousness of many of the speakers.

Sexual Assault Conference.JPGSpeaking of policy and its dictation, one session of the conference was entitled Sexual Assault on Campus: Federal Perspectives. The speakers were Catherine E. Lhamon, Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education and Anurima Bhargava, Chief of the Educational Opportunities Section of the Civil Rights Division at the U.S. Department of Justice. These self-assured, well spoken regulators insisted that it was their role to enforce “the law,” not withstanding the fact that prior to the Obama administration, Title IX had never been interpreted to cover sexual assault.

Both women seemed to believe that the world of higher ed should bend to their will — for its own good — and that we’ll all be better off if the effort against assault is piloted from Washington. Bhargava mentioned that this year alone she had threatened four schools with the complete loss of Federal support and grants unless they complied with her department’s orders. Questions from the audience about “safe harbors,” so that schools can know if they are in compliance with regulations, were met with derisory laughter from the audience. The consensus seemed to be that the Feds could not do enough to force schools to follow rules developed in D.C.

The whole proceeding recalled for me the fight against crime in the 1960’s and 1970’s: for decades, many people asserted that criminality was “a social problem” that was difficult, if not impossible, to solve, stemming, as it supposedly did, from social injustice and inequality. That idea turned out to be untrue. Since the 1980’s, strong enforcement and the incarceration of a relatively small number of criminals have returned us to low crime rates not seen since the 1950’s. Despite the unsupported ideological posturing of other speakers, David Lisak’s research, which he presented with special conviction at the conference, leads self-evidently to the conclusion that enforcement efforts should be specifically directed at predators (here and here). Notions of a rape culture distract from the needed fight against only a few culpable people, and worse, they generate a pushback when this idea leads all men to be tarred with a broad brush.

The coming months will make clear in which direction the College’s bureaucrats will go.

Addendum: The press was not allowed to attend the conference’s working groups, which addressed specific issues of prevention and enforcement. These groups will report on their recommendations in several months, perhaps at another conference.

Addendum: MindingTheCampus notes that the conference organizers chose not to include any civil libertarians or defense attorneys among the presenters.

Addendum: Several speakers commented that the U.S. military was far more energetic in working transparently against sexual assault than our leading universities. The military is forthcoming with detailed statistics about its problem; colleges were accused are being motivated by PR to downplay or even hide the gravity of campus assault. David Lisak asked pointedly if schools want to behave honorably or whether they will choose to conduct themselves in the manner of the Catholic Church.


Posted on July 18, 2014 4:00 AM. Permalink



The PR Nightmare Continues

Would you send your child to this school? Or if you were a senior educator, how would you evaluate Dartmouth when asked to do so by U.S. News as it prepares its rankings for the coming year?

In some abstract way, the College is taking the lead in the fight against sexual assault. However, on the ground, the administration-induced harm to our reputation will last for decades. The Chronicle of Higher Education is widely read. Articles like this don’t help us.

CHE Assault Conf Comp.jpg

Read the entire Chronicle piece here.


Posted on July 18, 2014 3:59 AM. Permalink

Thursday, July 17, 2014



Maybe a Good Idea

For a place that has been dead in the water for several decades, a V-P in charge of academic innovation could be a good idea — or it might just be another layer of bureaucracy. The choice of the person to lead the charge will make all the difference.

Vice-Provost.jpg

My sense at the moment is that Phil is hiring tough-minded, honest people to run the College. A good change. There remains plenty more house-cleaning to do at the senior level, and the new hires will have to deal with the Augean Stables bureaucracies below them, but the signs are there that this is already happening. Are things looking up?

Addendum: Upon further reflection, I might inquire why everyone in the administration is not responsible for innovation.


Posted on July 17, 2014 4:00 AM. Permalink



Hop/Inn Work: Will It Never End?

The College is spending $1.1M to replace the Hop’s windows, and there is still work going on at the Inn: it turns out that the structure’s porte-cochere needs to be renovated in order to be in compliance with building and transportation codes, and the outdoor dining area is being reconfigured. One would think that Jim Kim would have dealt with these things while spending over $50M on the Inn’s recent renovation.

In addition, the Town and the College, with the help of Federal money, are turning the area in front of the Hop and the Inn into a “Mobility Hub.” How did we get along all these years with just a plain old bus stop.

Mobility Hub.jpg

Let’s hope that the College’s new building czar, Lisa Hogarty, will soon be done cleaning up past messes.

Addendum: Here is the College’s press release on the various projects.


Posted on July 17, 2014 3:59 AM. Permalink

Wednesday, July 16, 2014



Mosley Mosies Out of Town

Mosley1.jpgThe exodus from OPAL continues, perhaps as a result of Charlotte Johnson hitting the road. As we mentioned the other day, Alysson Satterlund is leaving town, and Kyle and Aeriel Ashlee have departed, too, after a memorable parting shot.

Now Assistant Dean and Advisor to Black Students Dr. T.M. Mosley has told colleagues that she is exiting Hanover for points unstated. Mosley is well known to Dartblog readers: Charlotte Johnson sent her to Ghana in 2013 with another Dartmouth staffer to console the family of Ernest Amoh, a rising sophomore at Trinity University in Hartford, Connecticut, who drowned in a swimming accident at the Chieftan Inn. Ernest was the brother of Justice Amoh ‘13.

Mosley also journeyed to Hawaii this spring on the College’s dime to attend an American Counseling Association conference. Given that she’ll be leaving town soon, I can’t see how the College earned much return on that investment.

In my own business, when people don’t stay with us for at least a year after they attend a conference, they get to pay for half the cost of attending the event. Not so at the College, I guess.


Posted on July 16, 2014 4:00 AM. Permalink

Tuesday, July 15, 2014



Lumbering Adjudication

We’ve commented before on how the College’s bureaucracy seems to have formal procedures for resolving even de minimis incidents. Nothing just gets sorted out any more; everything must be adjudicated. As a result, there is pushback, with the upshot that we are burdened with endless, expensive processes. Students, lawyer up:

Con Rights Comp.jpg

On the subject of sexual assault — about which a national conference is currently being held at the College — we’ve noted in the past the depredations of notorious College administrators. I am not aware of any local litigious responses to frontier justice, but on a national level, an ever-growing number of institutions are being sued for sloppy, arbitrary procedures. Not that this situation is always the schools’ fault: the Departments of Justice and Education are micromanaging the anti-assault effort on an increasingly granular level according to the Chronicle of Higher Education (here and here).


Posted on July 15, 2014 4:00 AM. Permalink

Monday, July 14, 2014



Could They Be Any More Clueless?

Helman Mandel.jpgAs part of the search that led to Phil Hanlon ‘77’s appointment as President, Trustees Steve Mandel Jr. ‘78 and Bill Helman IV ‘80 met with several members of the Faculty Coordinating Committee a little more than two years ago. The event was memorable as an illustration of how out of touch with faculty sentiment these muckymucks are.

About a half dozen professors were present at a meeting that was the culmination of an extended formal process to gather faculty sentiment about the characteristics that professors wanted to see in the College’s next President. Helman explained at some length that the search committee was casting a wide net and that he had interviewed many candidates. Then he jocularly remarked, “But I imagine that you would all be happy with Carol Folt.”

The response of the professors in attendance could fairly be described as a deafening silence. To a man, they looked blankly downward at the conference room table.

Mandel reacted with his usual pokerface, but Helman was more expressive. My source, who heard an account of the meeting from one of the participants, says that the Committee members were surprised that the Trustees had so little insight into faculty sentiment. She can’t recall whether Helman exclaimed, “Oh shit!” out loud, or whether he only communicated that message via his facial expression. The effect was the same. For a brief moment, the two Trustees shifted uncomfortably in their chairs, and then they moved on to other matters.

How could these top Trustees not know that Carol was held in contempt/disdain by not only the members of Faculty Coordinating Committee, but also by almost everyone on the faculty itself, even women science professors? To whom were the Trustees turning at that time in order to understand the day-to-day working of the College? I only know one person who thought that the IP was doing a good job — Carol herself. There’s your answer to the latter question.

As I have repeatedly written, the Trustees need to get out more.

Addendum: Of course, Carol has been the subject of special attention in this space for many years. It seems that the Trustees read Dartblog; sadly they don’t take it to heart. Experience shows that they should.


Posted on July 14, 2014 4:00 AM. Permalink

Sunday, July 13, 2014



Babson Diary: Smart WiFi and Air Con

My boy is at Babson College’s five-week summer entrepreneurship program. Seems a rigorous affair. In contrast to the decrepit, steamy dorms reserved for summer students by a certain Ivy League college, the dormitories at Babson are all air conditioned with, get this, individual units that the denizens can adjust themselves. The 72 high school students in the program will leave Babson thinking that the school is a cool place.

Babson also offers all campus visitors an easy-to-use Internet connection. Access to the speedy network is unsecured, and once you are recognized, your are accorded instant access forevermore. Turn on your iPhone and you are in. In contrast, Dartmouth Public doesn’t remember you at all: if you turn off your phone, even for a few minutes, and then turn it back on, you will need to go to Settings/WiFi/Dartmouth Public and then tap on the network; after 5-10 seconds you are connected to the College’s slow public server. A poor show. Check out the comparative download speeds at Babson and Dartmouth — over an order of magnitude of difference from one to the other:

Dartmouth Babson WiFi.jpg

Slow speeds make a difference when you try to download even something basic like e-mail. But the multi-step connection process is the real burden. The College should do better here, but I bet that some department somewhere is saving a few bucks by cutting bone to save fat. Visitors to Hanover will not go away impressed. This sad performance comes from a school that used to win awards as the nation’s most wired campus.

Addendum: A reader provides some background:

College and university amenities are an interesting consideration. They do seem to attract potential students (and perhaps more importantly, their parents). One of my friends currently attends High Point University, which is definitely on the extreme end of amenity spending. Though its endowment is only $37M, the current president has directed roughly $700M toward renovations and new amenities over the years. HPU has a beautifully landscaped campus, outdoor swimming pools & hot tubs, movie theater showing new releases (with free snacks), free arcade, putting green, sports bar, ice cream truck, personalized visitor parking spots, and an on-campus steakhouse that students can eat at with their meal plan. Obviously, Dartmouth doesn’t need most of these somewhat cheesy amenities; we have an excellent academic reputation to stand on.

While we don’t need to model ourselves on HPU, we do need to make investments in things that have a profound impact on students and academic life. The Choates dorms are decrepit, DDS continues to limit competition and burdens students with high prices, and our technological innovation has come to a near stand-still. According to a somewhat recent article on the D, our network capacity is 4 gigabits of data per second. To put this into perspective, Google Fiber offers gigabit connections for $70/month, admittedly in a few select markets. Thus, four homes with Google Fiber have the same network capacity as a college with over 6000 total students. Dartmouth used to be associated with innovation—BASIC, campuswide wireless Internet, even VoIP in dorms—but it seems non-academic staff members take precedence in our budget today.


Posted on July 13, 2014 4:00 AM. Permalink

Saturday, July 12, 2014



The Choates Hole

The administration never misses an opportunity to shoot itself in the foot. Each year hundreds of eager high school kids come to Dartmouth for summer camps. My son attended the debate camp a couple of years ago, and this year he enjoyed rugby in Hanover. Where does the College lodge these potential applicants — kids who will go back to their schools and tell the world about the wonderful College on the Hill? Not the elegant Gold Coast dorms, nor solid Mass Row, nor even the functional Fayers. Nope. The powers that be put the soon-to-be PR emissaries in the moldy, decrepit Choates. Oh, the stories they will tell back home.

Is anyone thinking in Parkhurst and McNutt? Or are the folks there just spending time calculating their pension benefits and how to spend their five weeks of annual vacation? Sloppiness is the rule almost everywhere in the administration. How sad.

Choates Hole.JPG

Back in the late 1970’s we considered the Choates to be a cross between a cheapo municipal hospital and a federal housing project. Since then they have not aged with grace.

Addendum: At least the girls’ summer soccer camp puts its kids in Ripwood Smith.

Addendum: An alumnus writes in:

The Choate Road dormitories may have been degraded into a “hole” by the late 1970s, as you write, but when I resided in them in 1960-1962, along with Ron Schram and others, they were comfortable and, dare I say, well-designed.

The cluster opened in 1958. Our only complaint was perceived distance from the rest of campus. The Choates were divided into suites, each composed of three doubles, two singles, a common room for socializing and late-night study, and showers/toilets. In addition, there was a faculty apartment connected to the cluster, and the faculty member annually invited all of us to dinner and conversation in small groups, and many of us informally sought advice from him throughout the year.

In 1995, a student invited me to revisit the Choates, which I had not seen for over three decades. The common rooms and faculty residence had disappeared, subdivided into additional sleeping rooms. Perhaps worse, institutional memory of a the Choates as a pioneering student residential cluster with a contiguous faculty apartment appears to have evaporated as the College in the 1990s introduced various top-down initiatives to “redesign” student life.


Posted on July 12, 2014 4:00 AM. Permalink

Friday, July 11, 2014



More News About the College

Just when you thought that the barrage of articles associating the College with sexual assault had abated, the administration is ramping up its efforts to have Dartmouth be known as the rape school. The Dartmouth Summit on Sexual Assault starts on Sunday evening. We’ll be in the news this week, that’s for sure:

Sexual Assault Summit.jpg

Have you heard anything about this subject from the other Ivy Presidents. As I’ve mentioned, I wonder why they are being so discreet on this subject.


Posted on July 11, 2014 4:00 AM. Permalink



The Classiest Guy in Greenwich

In celebration of his Chairmanship of the Board of Trustees (2010-2014), Stephen F. Mandel Jr. ‘78 produced dozens of personalized neckties as commemorative pieces. During his reign Mandel set several new records: Most Presidents — and IPs — While a Trustee (four); Most Scandals While Chairman (innumerable); Greatest Disjunction Between Self-Perception and Reality (What, Me Worry?); and Least Progress by the College (priceless). To his credit, the man has made more than $2.0 billion picking stocks.

Mandel Tie Comp.jpg

I wonder if Steve sent a tie to his buddy Jim Kim.


Posted on July 11, 2014 4:00 AM. Permalink

Thursday, July 10, 2014



Clever Clever HYP

The federal government’s involvement in higher education is moving along smartly: the Department of Education now has a website that ranks colleges by affordability. Needless to say, the College doesn’t come out well. Columbia is the most expensive Ivy; it stands in second place among all private schools. That said, New York City is a very expensive place in which to do business. Embarrassingly, Dartmouth is #14 — in Live Free of Taxes, low-cost New Hampshire:

Tuition Rankings Comp.jpg

The next-highest-ranking Ivy is #50 Brown: tuition and fees in Providence are $43,758. Penn is #51 at $43,478, and Cornell is #60 at $43,413.

Interestingly enough, Harvard, Yale and Princeton don’t make the list. Perhaps they feel that there is no honor in being among the most expensive colleges in the land. Their reputations are intact, nonetheless.

Addendum: As we noted the other day, in the Ivies only HYP have more endowment/student than the College. Why are we so expensive?


Posted on July 10, 2014 4:00 AM. Permalink

Wednesday, July 9, 2014



Broken Faculty Governance

Gulliver.jpgPerhaps the most dispiriting moment in recent memory — a point at which something positive could have easily been done for the life of the College — was the tabling at May 5th’s faculty meeting of the motion to open up student course evaluations to review by students. The Student Assembly Academic Affairs Committee and the Committee on Instruction had unanimously supported the idea for a change to College procedures that had ample successful precedent at other Ivy schools, but at the meeting itself, the faculty nitpicking started. Small points were made about aspects of the course evaluation itself, about how students might misinterpret it, how certain professors might unjustly be slighted by the process itself, and so on.

All the comments were narrowly valid as far as they went, but as in any decision in life (where to go to college, where to work, whom to marry, etc.), it is easy to find negatives, if that is what you are seeking.

One professor, to his credit, opined that, despite the Lilliputian drawbacks, opening the evaluations to student review would improve course selection immeasurably over the present state of affairs at the College. Regrettably that point, a commonsense one, did not carry the day.

Let’s step back a moment and look at the process. There were perhaps 60-70 faculty members in the room — a fraction of the College 396 voting members of the Arts and Sciences faculty. And observers noted that professors from the hard sciences and leading departments like Economics were scarcely represented. Furthermore, the usual voices from the same departments and programs dominated the proceedings (you know who you are).

This state of affairs is just plain wrong. It’s high time that the procedures for faculty governance be reformed, chiefly the requirement that faculty members be present at meetings in order to vote. Perhaps there was some rationale for this many years ago when people traveled less and communications were more expensive and slow. But today the effect of such a restriction is the disenfranchisement of the majority of the faculty.

Certainly there is precedent for faculty on-line voting in other areas. For example, professors routinely vote over secure links for the faculty members who will staff the College’s key committees. That system has been in place for many years. And committee members themselves communicate their wishes by e-mail in terms when many members are travelling.

I like to think that the great majority of faculty members would have supported open use by students of the College’s course evaluations, if they had had the chance to vote. It’s high time that the faculty made this change.

Addendum: The College records all faculty meetings with an impressive array of audiovisual equipment. Transmission of the proceedings to professors who wish to view them prior to casting votes would be a simple matter.


Posted on July 9, 2014 4:00 AM. Permalink

Tuesday, July 8, 2014



The KAF Controversy

The D and the Valley News have reported on King Arthur Flour Café’s year-end departure from Baker. Jim Kim’s only positive legacy is on the chopping block. For what reason? All sides agree that the extent of the Café’s menu is the issue. The College won’t allow KAF to serve sandwiches; KAF must limit its menu to coffee and pastries. KAF says that it can’t make a go of things with a limited menu, so it is leaving.

KAF.JPGWhy the restrictions? Is nutrition the issue? Or litter? Self-evidently not. The obvious impetus is that KAF is a far more attractive option for students than the Novack Café, and undergrads have voted with their feet, wallets and (Dart)mouths. The end result is that Novack is losing gobs of money.

Well, we can’t have that now, can we. Of course, if Novack would up its game and serve more attractive food at better prices, then it might compete better for students’ patronage. But if it did so, it would lose even more money. As this space reported three years ago, wages and benefits for DDS workers at Novack are close to double what the friendly KAF workers take home. In order to make ends meet, DDS is forced to charge high prices and make sandwiches and other items with cheap ingredients. In contrast, KAF pays a market wage to its people, actually a little better than that paid to most food service workers in the Upper Valley. The resulting saving allows it to offer tastier, more nutritious products.

Novack1.jpgThe College’s effort to protect DDS’s monopoly from competition is entirely the wrong choice. The better move in the short term would be to keep KAF in Baker, and see if another food service company wants to take over Novack. More competition rather than less is what we need.

Then the next step would be to have DDS’ entire slipshod operation in ‘53 Commons replaced by an independent company that has experience in servicing a large population like the College’s undergrads. Let’s end the SEIU sinecure and ask DDS workers to go find jobs elsewhere. If they want to work for the new company that runs the Class of ‘53 Commons, they can do so at the same level of wages and benefits that all of their friends and neighbors earn in the Upper Valley.

By passing the ensuing savings on to students, we could lower the cost of board at the College. In making that change, we would no longer be the second most expensive Ivy, even though we do business in the second cheapest locale (after Ithaca). Phil, you’ve said that you want to control the cost of education. If you are serious about that goal, then start by running DDS for the benefit of students, not the staff.

Addendum: Seattle was recently in the news when it boldly raised the local minimum wage to $15/hour (benefits are not included, and vacation days can be as low as ten days/year). The federal minimum wage is currently $7.25/hour. In unhappy contrast, DDS’s starting wage for SEIU workers is $16.78/hour. In addition, DDS workers over 40 years of age receive a 9% of wages pension contribution. All DDS workers start with just under five weeks of vacation each year; things get better as time of service goes on. I won’t even start on the Cadillac medical plan. Whatever your politics, the College can’t afford such unnecessary largesse when market wages are so much lower in Hanover and its surrounding communities.

Addendum: Meanwhile the New York Times reports:

Boloco.jpg


Posted on July 8, 2014 4:00 AM. Permalink

Monday, July 7, 2014



Show Me the Financial Aid

In perusing the College’s financial aid figures, there is proof to be found for an assertion that we have repeatedly made:

…over the past three years the Admissions department has bent over backwards to protect the College’s yield figures by admitting more students early decision, and also by accepting far more legacies. These two moves, beyond helping the yield, also have had a positive financial impact: students accepted early cannot play off one school against another in negotiating financial aid; for them it’s take it or leave it. And legacies, by and large, have a far greater capacity to pay full freight.

The above table shows that the Trustees have made a similar financial calculation as regards our mix between public and private school admits; students from the latter group are self-evidently wealthier. For the classes between 2007 and 2013, admitted private school students ranged between 32-36% of the freshman class; the last three years have seen a jump to a rock-solid 40%. That consistency sure looks like a quota to me. Of course, you might believe that kids from private schools suddenly got a lot smarter starting in 2010. If so, may I interest you in a bridge?

Once again, the Kim administration chose to play fast and loose with the quality of the College’s incoming students — our lifeblood — for financial gain, rather that dealing with the big bear in the room: our bloated, over-compensated staff.

The Dartmouth Factbook describes how the number of students receiving need-based financial aid has dropped since the Class of 2014, the class year for which the Kim administration made significant, financially motivated decisions regarding the College’s admissions policies (here and here). From a high of 51% in the 2009-2010 academic year, the number of students receiving aid has consistently fallen:

Financial Aid Comp.jpg

Dartmouth Now reported in March that “Forty-six percent [of accepted students in the Class of 2018] have qualified for need-based financial aid,” and Dean of Admissions Maria Laskaris has informed me directly that it now appears only 45% of incoming students will receive aid.

The difference between 51% and 45% of students is significant: approximately 260 students over four classes. If this many students no longer receive financial aid — of which the average award is now over $44,000 — the College will take in an extra $11.4 million each year.

Soak the students to feed the staff.

Addendum: I don’t share President Obama’s worries about “the rich,” but if 55% of the College’s incoming students come from families that are able to drop more than a quarter of a million dollars on the education of each of their children, Dartmouth can’t help but have a social atmosphere somewhat divorced from the real world.

Addendum: An alumnus writes in with questions and observations:

As a follow-up to your observation: “…Dartmouth can’t help but have a social atmosphere somewhat divorced from the real world. ” ….

I’m pretty sure I’m not the only alum who has wondered whether the discord and angst that seem to permeate the social atmosphere on campus over the last few years are, at least in part, products of a stark economic divide that separates “the 55%” from the 45% receiving a financial aid package which on average is somewhere north of $42,600 per year.

In my DED role, I have observed that many of the admitted students in our district who come from middle income families, rather than matriculating at the College which offers them only modest need-based financial aid, are choosing to go to schools such as Duke, Wash U, Emory and Vanderbilt which, in many cases, offer them very generous merit scholarships. Others, choose to attend less expensive state schools to preserve financial resources for grad school.

If the data is available, it would be interesting to know how many currently-enrolled students are from what would be considered “middle income” families. (Admittedly, there must be some who account for the average financial aid package not being closer to the actual total cost of one year at Dartmouth.) The absence of a significant number middle income students in the College student body, who might serve as a “buffer,” of sorts, between “the 55%” and those receiving substantial amounts of financial aid, may partially explain the toxic social atmosphere that, of late, seems to be so prevalent.

If my hypothesis has any validity, perhaps Admissions should make some effort to achieve a better economic continuum across the student population…admittedly, a challenge given the demands to maintain revenue while providing meaningful financial aid to a large number of applicants; or (here’s a novel thought) maybe the College could cut administrative costs to make the College more affordable for all.


Posted on July 7, 2014 4:00 AM. Permalink

Sunday, July 6, 2014



Hanover Diary: Phil at Morano

Good to see that Phil Hanlon is out and about in Hanover. We spotted him this week standing in line at Morano Gelato waiting to order ice cream. His wife Gail Gentes is standing behind him wearing a pink blouse.

Phil at Morano.JPG

In contrast to Phil, Jim Kim was notable for his utter invisibility around here. I guess that one has to choose between pressing the flesh in Hanover and jobhunting in DC.

Addendum: Although Morgan Morano has sold her business to local owners, the quality of the store’s gelato is still exceptionally high, and the lines continue to be long. Many Italian towns have nothing as good.


Posted on July 6, 2014 4:00 AM. Permalink

Saturday, July 5, 2014



Hanover Diary: Chief Charlie

Charlie Dennis4.jpgCharlie Dennis has begun his time as Chief of the Hanover Police department following the retirement of Nick Giaccone. I spent an interesting hour with Dennis this week, though I have little to report. Chief Dennis is a friendly, confident, polished guy, and in his first month in Hanover he is meeting with any and all comers; however, he is a ways from making any changes to policies now in place.

We talked about the varying levels of enforcement of the alcohol laws in the different Ivy towns and cities (Dartmouth has often had more alcohol-related arrests than all of the other Ivies combined), the staffing levels of police forces in similarly sized towns in New Hampshire (Hanover has a high number of officers relative to many comparable cities in the state), and some of the things that the Hanover Po could do preemptively in the fight against sexual assault at the College.

Yesterday, a couple of days after our chat, I ran into Chief Dennis on Main Street in Hanover. He was enjoying the 4th of July parade and festivities with his son:

Chief Dennis.JPG


Posted on July 5, 2014 4:00 AM. Permalink

Friday, July 4, 2014



Signed on the 4th of July

Trunbull July 4.jpg

John Trumbull’s 1819 Declaration of Independence depicts the presentation of a draft of the document to Congress on June 28, 1776. The painting is 12’x18’; it hangs in the Rotunda of the United States Capitol. Trunbull’s work, and the document to which it refers, have had more success than the U.S. currency note which uses a modified version of Trumbull’s image on its obverse. I haven’t seen a $2 bill in ages.

Two Dollar Bill.jpg

Have a Happy 4th.


Posted on July 4, 2014 4:00 AM. Permalink

Thursday, July 3, 2014



The Satterlund Memorandum

The other day we referred to soon-to-be-departed OPAL DIrector Alysson Satterlund’s curt e-mail cancelling the “Phiesta” fundraiser after a single Latina student complained about the complexion of the event. At my request, Taylor Cathcart ‘15, the President of Phi Delt, provided us with the note itself. Satterlund, who describes herself as Senior Assistant Dean for Student Academic Support Services (SADSASS) made the decision to cancel Phiesta, which she communicated to Wes Schaub, the Director of Greek Letter Organizations and Societies (DGLOS). Schaub forwarded Satterlund’s memo — without comment — to Cathcart and Courtney Wong ‘15, the President of Alpa Phi:

Satterlund Memo.jpg

It certainly doesn’t appear as if there was a lot of teaching going on in this situation, nor debate, nor did anyone in OPAL show any desire to work with students. Imperious would be the term that I’d pick, coupled with dimwitted.

Satterlund’s decision made the national news. Now she is leaving town for points unknown. I wonder why?

Addendum: A droll correspondent chimes in:

When the Phiesta story first broke, I wondered aloud if Phi Delt and Alpha Phi Alpha might have been able to have their “Phiesta” had they served paella and flan instead of burritos and guacamole. After all, the Spanish word for party could just as easily apply to Spain as Latin America. I quickly realized, however, that even if they could find a place to get such things catered in the Upper Valley, Phi Delt and Alpha Phi would most likely run afoul of Daniela Hernandez for tacitly endorsing the Spaniards’ subjugation of native peoples.

Perhaps Dean Satterlund would share a motto with Dean Wormer: “No fun of any kind.”


Posted on July 3, 2014 4:00 AM. Permalink