Friday, September 30, 2016

President Praises Abbey D’Agostino ‘14

No. Not President Hanlon. He is so busy sucking up to oil barons that he has no time to praise real heroism. But over at the White House, President Obama took a moment to note Abbey’s wonderful gesture in Rio, stating:

And then we’re in awe of American athletes like Abbey D’Agostino, who showed that the Olympics are about more than just setting records. It’s about sportsmanship and character. Some of you saw when Abbey collided on the track with another runner, tearing her ACL, Abbey popped up, reached out her hands to her competitor, and said, “Get up. We have to finish this race… We have to finish this race.” And that’s a remarkable sentiment in the middle of an individual event. But that’s exactly what the Olympic spirit and the American spirit should be all about.

Obama Abbey.jpg

Click here to listen to the President.

Addendum: Yesterday the Dartmouth News wrote about President Obama’s comment, and earlier in the week, at a fundraising meeting with alumni, President Hanlon said, after a great many ums and ahs, that he, too, “should probably write something.”

Posted on September 30, 2016 4:00 AM. Permalink

Phil, Show Us the Irving Gift Agreement

A development officer writes in about the Irving Energy Institute:

Research and other restrictions are usually spelled out in a gift agreement between a donor and the university. Such agreement would usually specify general criteria for faculty hires and an annual report of research produced (a soft way of evaluating). If donors are watching as faculty are hired/appointed to the institute, they can judge by professors’ previous research where they stand on fossil fuel/environmental issues.

If Dartmouth and the Irvings are willing to disclose the gift agreement, they could put a lot of the controversy to rest. So it may be an effective line of inquiry to publicly ask to see it. If Hanlon and the Irvings refuse to disclose the agreement, that is telling.

So, Phil. Will you disclose the gift agreement, and also pledge that the agreement that you show us expresses all the terms of agreement between the College and the Irvings? And will you confirm that the Irvings and their entourage have no prior view of faculty hires and the topics of research by people in the energy institute. Better still, that Irving has no prior view of anything.

Posted on September 30, 2016 4:00 AM. Permalink

Congratulations Scott Blackmun ‘79

Scott Blackmun1.jpgOne of life’s little, but undeniably real, pleasures is watching as one of the kids with whom I occasionally ate at Topside goes on to do good and noble things. Scott Blackmun ‘79 is the CEO of the U.S. Olympic Committee. The NYT reports:

1936 Olympians Receive Overdue Recognition at White House

WASHINGTON — Shortly after Jesse Owens returned home from his snubbing by Adolph Hitler at the 1936 Olympics, he and America’s 17 other black Olympians found a less-than-welcoming reception from their own government, as well.

On Thursday, relatives of those 1936 African-American Olympians will be welcomed to the White House and will get to shake the president’s hand — an honor Owens and the others didn’t receive, the way some of their white counterparts did, after they returned home from Berlin 80 years ago.

U.S. Olympic Committee CEO Scott Blackmun announced the visit Wednesday night at a Team USA Awards ceremony.

“That is why I’m here 80 years later, to recognize the senselessness (of not inviting them to the White House), and to pay tribute to all the progress that has come since,” Blackmun said…

Decades later, Owens was acknowledged and honored at the White House. In 1976, President Gerald Ford presented him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

The stories of the other 17 blacks on that team were less-widely known. Thursday’s event was meant to give a long-overdue White House recognition to those athletes, who accounted for 14 of America’s 56 medals in Berlin.

Way to go, Scott.

Addendum: Scott played goal for the men’s soccer team.

Posted on September 30, 2016 3:59 AM. Permalink

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Welcome Michael Beechert ‘16

Thumbnail image for Michael-Beechert.jpgDartblog is pleased to welcome a new writer, Michael Beechert ‘16. Michael grew up in Yorktown, NY. At the College he majored in Government and minored in German Studies, which led him to spend terms abroad at Keble College, Oxford as well as in Berlin, where he interned in the German Bundestag.

When he was in Hanover, Michael was an opinion columnist for The Dartmouth, a trombonist in the Wind Ensemble and the Barbary Coast, and he served for a year as his Class Treasurer. In the latter role he distinguished himself as the author with several other student leaders of an open letter to the administration regarding administrative waste at the College and the loss of focus in Hanover on undergraduate education.

Currently, Michael is a Fulbright Scholar in Munich, where he is performing research on perceptions of European integration and German identity at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich. He plans to start work at Google when he comes back from Germany.

From abroad, Michael supports the never-ending fight against administrative bloat and against infringements on free speech and free thought in higher education. Unfortunately, he also supports the Jets and Knicks.

Posted on September 29, 2016 4:00 AM. Permalink

Beechert: A More Frugal Type of Fit

LMU Comp.jpgWhen visiting colleges during my junior and senior years of high school, the word “fit” came up in almost every bit of advice I received relating to the process. “Just find the best fit!,” was frequently proffered as the answer to what was made out to be a crucially important, even life-altering decision. Years later, I still have no idea what exactly this means.

I chose to attend Dartmouth because of its ostensible focus on undergraduate education and because I like the woods; I did not, upon visiting campus for the first time, get the feeling that Cinderella must have gotten when she stuck her foot into that glass slipper. This went against the narrative to which American high school students were and, as far as I am aware, still are subjected — if it’s not love at first sight, scratch it off the list.

My sense is that this misguided obsession with fit is a large part of the reason why universities in the U.S. have established ever-larger staff profiles that, at least in theory, offer increased support services to students. If every student of every racial-ethnic-gender-religious-political-socioeconomic persuasion has someone of the same bent to talk to, universities can hope to present a perfect “fit” to a broader base of applicants.

Of course, increases in staffing can’t be entirely attributed to this; there are also phalanxes of paper-pushers employed at Dartmouth and other schools that aren’t expected to interact with students at all. Joe Asch ‘79 has published extensive statistics on the topic, so I won’t get into details here, but it’s clear that bloat is alive and well in American higher education. One size — XXL — fits all.

The German university system provides an interesting contrast to all of the above. Essentially all reputable universities in Germany are public and available to students at marginal or no cost (all I had to pay for this semester was about 120 EUR, which also covers a semester-long subway pass). Despite the lack of an intimate, personal classroom experience that is so prized at Dartmouth and other elite American schools, German universities haven’t exactly struggled to produce accomplished graduates, and I can anecdotally describe students here as generally kind, well-adjusted, and well-rounded individuals.

Incredibly, they manage to be this way without the benefit of a full-time crew of support staff, since university administrations and non-academic offices in Germany are run more leanly than their American counterparts. Let’s look to the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich, where I currently am, for an example:


The LMU is home to approximately 50,000 students each year, along with a little over 2,400 non-academic staff and 3,047 people classified as academic staff (all data is as of 2014 and does not include hospital personnel). Dartmouth, which in the year 2015 had 6,350 students, employed 1,066 faculty and 3,497 non-faculty staff members outside of DHMC. The LMU’s annual budget, not including the hospital, was 579 million EUR in 2014 (approximately $650 million with current exchange rates). Dartmouth’s overall budget in the fiscal year 2016 is $1 billion.

One accustomed to American universities’ cavalier attitude towards money may be surprised that an institution like the LMU, with approximately eight times as many students as Dartmouth, does not spend eight times the money or have eight times the number of employees. To be sure, students in Munich and elsewhere in Germany do not enjoy all the creature comforts or personalized resources that Ivy Leaguers do in the United States. Long lines, restricted opening hours, and a sense of frustration with bureaucracy are the norm here. However, those inconveniences seem minor in light of the (lack of a) cost of attendance.

Interestingly - and I would say not coincidentally - the question of “fit” plays little to no part in the average German student’s decision about where to pursue higher education. The decision calculus typically run by American high school students - how and where you might make friends, the quality of the food, whether the transgender Quidditch club has an adequate number of advisers - seems silly in Germany, where the assumption is that university students are adults and will make things work one way or another. While German students are generally about a year older than their American peers when entering university, the gap in neediness does not correspond to the gap in age.

There are certainly many things that schools like Dartmouth do better than the best German universities, and fostering close relationships between faculty and students is probably the most important. That being said, American college administrators might find it instructive to look across the Atlantic for a lesson in organizational efficiency from a fiscal standpoint to help develop leaner budgeting practices. If this could be done without sacrificing the intense, personal nature of academics we rightly hold so dear, we could have a school that fits just about everyone.

Posted on September 29, 2016 4:00 AM. Permalink

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

WSJ Rankings: We’re #16

The Wall Street Journal has entered the college-ranking sweepstakes:

WSJ Rankings 2016 Full.jpg

Fortunately for us, Brown made it into the Ivy League. Cornell leapfrogged over us in the Journal — in U.S. News the Big Red is just behind Brown, which is just behind us (we are now tied with Caltech and Northwestern at #11).

Addendum: Though much of the Journal’s report is behind a paywall, the methodology its editors used is not.

Addendum: An alumnus writes in:

The inaugural WSJ rankings are a bit curious with Columbia the top Ivy and Princeton barely edging out Cornell for 8th place. Fortunately for us, at number 20, Brown ranked last among the Ivies. One encouraging metric is the “right choice” which measured students’ satisfaction with their choice of college. Out of the top 25 we ranked 3rd behind only Stanford and Notre Dame. However, we got hammered in the “environment” metric which apparently assesses the diversity of the university community. Does that mean we got punished because not very many minorities choose to live in the Upper Valley? It certainly can’t be referring to the make up of the student body. As I say - curious.

Posted on September 28, 2016 6:00 PM. Permalink

Irving: College Takes a PR Drubbing

The College seems unaware of the PR problem that it has generated in accepting money from the Irving Oil company. Is Phil just too obtuse to understand the troubling moral issues in accepting a large gift from a donor, Arthur Irving, who has a direct interest in the activity that he is funding? (The rest of the world isn’t.) Or is our President so hungry for some kind of tangible achievement after three and a third years of floundering that he’s willing to overlook the problems that everyone else sees? Inside Philanthropy sums up the conflict-of-interest arguments well:

Irving Inside Philanthropy Comp.jpg

To create a new institute focused on society’s pressing energy problems, Dartmouth has accepted $80 million from a powerful oil family surrounded by controversy. Such a gift seriously undermines the credibility of such an institute.

When a really good school like Dartmouth College decides to take on the future of energy as a priority for its faculty and students, you would want it to be rigorous and independent—a beacon guiding the way as we grapple with climate change, sustainable development and environmental justice.

And you know what? Dartmouth’s new Arthur L. Irving Institute for Energy and Society may very well turn out to do some great work.

But $80 million, half of the institute’s funding, comes from Irving Oil and the powerful family behind it, which is surrounded by controversies environmental and otherwise. This casts serious doubt over the initiative’s credibility before it has even started…

But now and then, a donation is so blatantly suspect in the context of the gift’s purpose that it threatens to undercut the intent and integrity, or at least the perceived integrity, of the project at hand.

In the case of the Dartmouth gift, Irving Oil and the Irving family are deeply financially connected to the problems the institute seeks to solve, and not in a good way. Irving Oil is a Canadian oil and gas production and export company that owns, among many other things, the country’s largest oil refinery. The company and its chairman, Arthur Irving, are behind a controversial pipeline proposal that critics say would bring huge increases in tar sands oil production and carbon emissions.

It’s hard to believe the university would shrug that off as a “cosmetic” conflict, as Robert Hansen, the Dartmouth business professor who headed the task force behind the initiative, did in recent local news coverage. Campus environmentalists, who are in the midst of organizing Dartmouth to divest from its fossil fuel holdings, had a different word for it—“horrific.”

It’s one of the more questionable examples of private money flowing into academia we’ve seen, in fact, and it raises all kinds of questions about the growing role of industry in campus funding.

Maybe the gift wouldn’t be so troubling if we weren’t at such a tipping point for climate change. It’s a historic moment for global emissions reduction efforts, and universities are playing an important role, both in their campus organizing efforts and faculty and student research. [Emphasis added]

Meanwhile, in the Letters to the Editor section of the Valley News, the local citizenry is weighing in with equally critical remarks:

September 21:


To The Editor: I enjoyed your article on Saturday introducing Dartmouth’s plans for the Arthur L. Irving Institute for Energy and Society, begun with $80 million of Irving Oil’s money. What a challenge for other billionaires to go one better in corporatizing and mystifying other needs of society — with Dartmouth as the willing vehicle.

In 2017, I expect Dartmouth may announce plans for an $85 million Donald J. Trump Institute for Democracy, whose new building on the Dartmouth green will tower over Baker Library.

In 2018, we may see Dartmouth unveil the $90 million National Rifle Association Public Safety Institute, complete with shooting ranges scattered around campus to encourage safe practice.

For Fox News fans, 2019 could bring word of the $95 million Roger Ailes Institute for Women in the Workplace. At this time it appears their new building will require purchasing and razing all WISE offices and shelters. (Sorry in advance.) While other countries may provide needed institutes with public funding free of conflicts, Dartmouth’s way seems to me a better tutorial in how public relations handlers gradually dismiss the public’s legitimate questions, until we can only approve.


September 22:


To The Editor: I want to comment on the audacity of Dartmouth’s Energy and Society Institute accepting money from Irving Oil, Irving family members and a family foundation (“Dartmouth Unveils New Institute; Donation to Fund Energy Research,” Sept. 17).

President Hanlon’s comment, “The past is the past,” regarding Irving Ene rgy’s record, is preposterous and utterly shortsighted. Irving Energy does not have a stellar environmental record, nor is the company focusing on a renewable energy future. In fact, it is doing the opposite and investing in tar sands oil projects.

What a company has done in the past is unequivocally important and can be a predictor of future actions. Accepting $80 million dollars of oil money to fund an institute focused on energy and society is equivalent to buying blood diamonds. Oil and gas extraction has destroyed countless ecosystems, contributes to climate change and endangered an untold amount of human lives. Dartmouth has ignorantly continued its “business as usual” policy and should be ashamed that it has not led society into a clean energy future.

Dartmouth should get out of bed with industry interests and show the college is serious about solving society’s energy woes.



To The Editor: Irving Oil and the Irving family just gave Dartmouth College $80 million for something we did not know we needed. How generous of them: the $80 million must have come from the whole community of customers who paid too much. Irving could not figure out how to spend $80 million dollars. It’s tough. Dartmouth, always the helpful spirit, helped them.

Would it have been better for the whole community if Irving took $8 million a year for 10 years to offer oil for heating the homes of those now getting public assistance for home heating?

Now they will be building another office building and the community will be looking for housing for the homeless and heatless.

I’ll bet they still have $80 million left.


September 23:


To The Editor: Dartmouth President Phil Hanlon was questioned about the appearance of influence peddling when he announced the receipt of $80 million from Irving Oil and the Irving family to fund the creation of a new Energy and Society Institute. The Valley News reports the college thinks the conflict is only “cosmetic.”

Business Professor Robert Hansen thinks, by my reading, that Irving Oil shouldn’t be held accountable for its history. “The past is past,” he’s quoted as saying. “We are concerned about the future.” I’m concerned about the future, too, which is why I think there should be a close look at what Irving’s plans are, what they’re likely to mean for a partnership with Dartmouth, and what they will mean for the climate.

Irving has plans to build a new facility to process heavy tar sands bitumen and expand its existing refinery and export terminal in Saint John, New Brunswick, at the end of the Energy East pipeline. Energy East is a $15.7 billion partnership with TransCanada — a pipeline that would stretch more than 2,800 miles from Alberta to the Atlantic.

TransCanada’s earlier plan to transport Alberta tar sands bitumen to the Gulf Coast, Keystone XL, was rejected following a public outcry from indigenous communities, farmers along the proposed route and scientists concerned about the effect on the climate. If built, Energy East will carry up to 1.1 million barrels of crude per day, 30 percent more than Keystone was designed for.

During the debate over Keystone, James Hansen, at the time NASA’s top climate scientist, famously wrote in The New York Times that if these “dirtiest of fuels” are fully exploited, “it will be game over for the climate.” Dartmouth’s association with Irving links the college to an oil company that is fully committed to business as usual. It’s a model that climate scientists say will lead inevitably to a dangerously changed and unstable climate. How can we help but wonder whether the college is selling academic legitimacy to Irving’s plans? How can President Hanlon square this partnership with the imperative for a carbon-free economy before the next graduating class finishes their working careers?

Thetford Center

The College comes out of this affair looking dirty and, frankly, not very smart.

Addendum: Yesterday my classmate Dave Van Wie ‘79 (unbidden by me, of course) took to the pages of The D in a piece entitled Dirty Money, Clean Cause, to excoriate President Hanlon’s bad judgment in accepting money from Irving Oil. His introduction:

I am dumbfounded. When I read that Irving Oil was funding Dartmouth’s Arthur L. Irving Institute for Energy and Society, I checked to see if the article was in The Onion. Sadly, it was not.

As an energy and environmental professional who works to find real life solutions to our energy challenges, I was excited when College President Phil Hanlon established a task force to explore how the College could be at the forefront of energy, one of the greatest issues of our time. But with oil money as the foundation? On optics alone, this should have been a clear “no,” even to an alumna like Sarah Irving. How could so many smart people think this is a good idea?

This is clearly a public relations coup for Irving, Irving Oil’s chief brand officer. I am sure she’s glad to offset the bad press Irving has gotten about its disregard for climate change issues.

Having the Irving family fund and name an institute at Dartmouth or any other academic institution, which requires freedom from bias, is a mistake. It puts Dartmouth’s name, its academic freedom and its prestige in jeopardy. This blunder could set Dartmouth back from the pursuit of a sustainable future. The faculty and students in this institute and at the College will forever be trying to dance around the Irving connection, while all the papers and positions will be suspect, despite the “statement of academic independence.”

Top researchers and faculty will work elsewhere, where their research won’t be questioned. Will anyone at the institute take on a project that might even indirectly besmirch Irving? Of course not. Academic freedom is already compromised.

Phil, it’s time to have second thoughts.

Addendum: A longtime reader working at another school writes in:

Watching the Irving coverage. I would recommend advocating returning the gift. This thing will further catch fire within the faculty, community and student body as it already appears to be doing. I suspect this reaction was anticipated to a degree. That is why they announced gifts from Trustees to signal that there is alignment at that level. That should make others even more upset because of the clear heavy handedness of it. And I can promise you as a long time development pro that no one, and I mean no one, gives over $80 million without strings attached beyond just naming something… So the conflicts are serious and real.

Posted on September 28, 2016 4:00 AM. Permalink

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The D Changes Its Comments Policy

The D has finally revised its comments policy. It is now using the Facebook Comments Plugin module, which allows commentary to go up on its website immediately with identification of the writer via a Facebook account. Previously all comments were moderated, leading to many hours or even days of delays while a moderator reviewed them. Good move. However there appears to be no announcement of the change on the paper’s new site.

Addendum: Fribble might be unhappy.

Erratum: The D, in fact, did announce its new policy on September 19:

As of Sept. 19, The Dartmouth has switched our commenting platform over from Disqus to Facebook. This change means that all previous comments are no longer on articles. We encourage you to comment on our new website and urge you to look at our comments policy which can be found here. — -Rebecca Asoulin, Editor-in-Chief

Wiping out all past comments does not seem a very nice thing to do. And as far as I can tell, the use of Facebook impedes people from posting anonymous comments, a brake on free speech for many.

Posted on September 27, 2016 2:00 PM. Permalink

Kyle Blanks Pittsburgh Though Six

Kyle Hendricks ‘12 pitched six scoreless innings to win his 16th game last night as the Cubs beat the Pirates 12-2 for their 100th win of the season. Kyle improved his record to 16-8 and lowered his MLB-leading ERA to 1.99.

Addendum: On its website, the Dartmouth Admissions department is listing Kyle’s ERA simply as 1.

Posted on September 27, 2016 1:11 PM. Permalink

The Games Admissions Plays

The quality of the College’s Admissions marketing leaves a lot to be desired from an aesthetic and syntactical point of view, but heretofore, I hadn’t noticed its curious manipulation of statistics:

Admissions Stats Class of 2020.jpg

Look above at the % figure for the “Overall Admit Rate”: the numerator is the number of “Total Admitted” students divided by the denominator of “Total Applied” students.

For the Class of 2017 the math works out just fine: 2,337 divided by 22,428 does give you 10.4%. As does the calculation for the Class of 2018: 2,220 divided 1,926 equals 11.5%.

However for the Class of 2019, 2,250 divided by 20,507 gets you 11.0%, not 10.9% (actually it gets you 10.97%, which rounds up to 11.0%, right?).

But the whopper comes with the Class of 2020: 2,190 students were admitted out of a pool of 20,675 applicants. Run the math and you get 10.59%, which fairly rounds to 10.6%, or 11% — not 10%, thank you — if you want to get rid of the decimal place.

Did they think that nobody would notice?

Addendum: As we have noted in the past, the Admissions office pushes hard on early decision admits, legacies and donor kids and the waitlist in order to limit the number of students it needs to admit to fill the class. The number of students admitted from all of these categories have risen markedly in the last few years.

Addendum: Wow. That was fast. The Admissions department has already fixed their embarrassing, uh, error:

Admissions Stats Class of 2020 Fixed.jpg

The moral of the story: always take screenshots of offending webpages.

Posted on September 27, 2016 4:00 AM. Permalink

Monday, September 26, 2016

Irving: The Cart Before the Horse

Sometimes you just have to laugh. If i told a venture capitalist that I was going to put together a project as follows, I’d be shown the door in short order:

1. Raise a ton of money for an innovative energy project
2. Appoint of committee to determine the project’s goals
3. Hire a director to execute the institute’s mission
4. Build a large research center

Does the Irving Institute exist for any other reason than that the head of a large oil company and a me-too President, who is hungry for visible achievement, want it built? Look at the project’s timeline. Where is the singular competence? The competitive advantage? The special human qualities that lead to a great enterprise? Are we to believe that the committee mentioned below is going to find the hole in the research market that was missed by numerous energy institutes in universities all over America?

Irving Timeline.jpg

Equally troubling is that the donors (other than Arthur Irving and his $80 million donation) who have contributed $33 million to the project are all loyal Trustees and alumni who well could have given money to fund other pressing needs at the College. Clearly they answered Phil’s call:

Several other donors have contributed to the institute. During the ceremony, trustee Chair Bill Helman ‘80 thanked the donors—Judith M. and Russell L. Carson ‘65 and Cecily M. Carson ‘95; Kathryn and Richard Kimball ‘78; Kristin and John Replogle ‘88; and Lori Weinstein and Martin J. Weinstein ‘81. Along with an anonymous donor, they have contributed $33 million, bringing the total raised to $113 million. The College plans to raise a total of $160 million to fund the project, which will connect, mobilize and empower Dartmouth’s base of talented faculty across arts and sciences, and at the Tuck School of Business and Thayer School of Engineering, who are already deeply engaged in work on energy.

At the very least, let’s hope that Phil will have roped in the full $160 million needed for the project before building starts in June, 2018. Otherwise our energy institute will be yet another drain on the College’s coffers.

Addendum: The right way to inspire innovation is to start with great people. The College missed such an opportunity with John Rassias.

Posted on September 26, 2016 4:00 AM. Permalink

Sunday, September 25, 2016

There’s Lobster and Then There’s…

What’s the appropriate analogy for the picture below: a Tiger tank and a Sherman? A sixteen-wheeler and a Miata? To compare a Boeing 747 and a Piper Cub would be going a little far, but let’s just say that the difference between a ten-pound big boy and a one-pound chicken lobster is substantial.

We’ve been buying these large guys from the Co-op ever since the demise of Mike Blood’s lobster business down in Lebanon. If you place an order a few days in advance, the fish department will bring a lobster of the size that you specify up from Boston on the day that you request. Voilà. Guaranteed liveliness, snow-white meat, and a lot more meat/pound than in the chicken lobsters that people too often eat in New England:


With lobster it’s the freshness that counts, not size. Big ones have tender, flavorful meat just like chickens, as long as they have not been sitting in a tank for several days.

My Japanese distributor’s wife showed me how much meat there is in a lobster’s thorax. The leg sockets and other hard-to-reach places repay cracking and winkling.

Addendum: The Guinness Book of World Records lists the largest lobster ever taken as 44 lb. 6 oz.

Posted on September 25, 2016 4:00 AM. Permalink

Saturday, September 24, 2016

If This Be a Rebuilding Year?

After losing seventeen starters from last year’s Ivy co-champion, including the best QB seen in Hanover in a couple of decades, the football folks tried to manage expectations regarding the team’s prospects this season. Well, following a strong comeback victory over UNH last week, the team comfortably handled Holy Cross today both on offence and defense in a 35-10 victory in Worcester. And they did it in green and white uniforms, too (according to Bruce Wood at Big Green Alert):

Football Uniform Holy Cross.jpg

Could be quite a season.

Addendum: The Valley News has a full report on the game, noting that Holy Cross’ first and second string quarterbacks left the game with injuries in the second quarter. No story in The D as of Sunday morning.

Posted on September 24, 2016 9:36 PM. Permalink

ASA Boycotter Duthu ‘80 Nominated for National Council on the Humanities

Bruce Duthu1.jpgProfessor of Native American Studies Bruce Duthu ‘80 has been nominated by President Obama to be a member of the National Council on the Humanities. This space noted in 2013 that Duthu had supported the American Studies Association resolution calling for the boycott of Israeli academic institutions. Duthu’s profile appeared on the White House homepage:

N. Bruce Duthu is the Frank J. Guarini Associate Dean of the Faculty for International Studies and Interdisciplinary Programs and the Samson Occom Professor of Native American Studies at Dartmouth College, positions he has held since 2016 and 2009, respectively. Mr. Duthu served as Chair of Native American Studies at Dartmouth College from 2009 to 2015. He worked at Vermont Law School from 1991 to 2008, where he was Professor of Law, Vice Dean for Academic Affairs, and Director of the Sun Yat-sen University Partnership in Environmental Law. He was a Visiting Professor at Harvard Law School, and has taught at the University of Sydney, the University of Trento, and the University of Wollongong. Mr. Duthu received a B.A. from Dartmouth College and a J.D. from Loyola University New Orleans.

Addendum: The Council’s role is defined on its website: “NEH’s chairman is advised by the National Council on the Humanities, a board of twenty-six distinguished private citizens appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate. The National Council members serve staggered six-year terms.”

Posted on September 24, 2016 3:59 AM. Permalink

Friday, September 23, 2016

BREAKING: Endowment Suffers 1.9% Investment Loss; Drops Overall By 4.0%

Bloomberg is reporting that the endowment has dropped in value during the 2016 fiscal year (ending June 30):

Dartmouth posted a decline of 1.9 percent for fiscal 2016 and the value of its fund dropped about 4 percent to $4.5 billion, according to a statement Friday…

The decrease at the Hanover, New Hampshire-based school reflected net investment losses of $100 million and distributions of $209 million to support Dartmouth programs. That was offset by new gifts and transfers of $119 million.

The endowment said it had annualized gains of 8.7 percent for three years; 8.8 percent for five years and 7.2 percent for 10 years through June 30.

Just to lay this calculation out more clearly: on July 1, 2015 the endowment was worth just under $4.7 billion. During the year the College used approximately $208 million of this money to fund operations. And the remainder of the endowment money that was invested in myriad different ways by the College during the year lost about 1.9% of its value. However gifts from alumni and other donors in the amount of $119 million came in to offset the use of funds and the investment losses. As as result, by June 30, 2016 the endowment had declined about 4% from $4.7 billion to about $4.5 billion.

The College aims to draw out about 5% from the endowment’s value each year to fund its operations. It uses a smoothing formula based on the endowment’s three previous years’ results to determine how much money it will use. If cooler heads prevail in Parkhurst, the current slight drop should have little effect on the College’s operations. After all, the decline in 2016 only drops the endowment back to where it was at the end of fiscal 2014.

Addendum: In an article about the troubles facing the Harvard endowment, the WSJ lays out the ten-year performance of the Ivy endowments. We look pretty good:

Ivy Ten Year Endowment Perfromance.jpg

Addendum: Harvard and Penn have also reported declines in their endowments this year. Harvard’s investments lost 2% of their value, leading to a drop of 5% in its endowment. Penn had an investment loss of 1.4%, but its overall endowment grew by 6% due to strong giving and a one-time asset transfer. Running better than the pack, as it often does, Yale’s endowment investments posted a positive return of 3.4%, but due to high spending, the net value of the endowment was virtually unchanged. The rest of the Ivies have yet to report on their results.

Posted on September 23, 2016 9:06 PM. Permalink

Brian Solomon’s Guide To The Stars: Sociology Professor John Campbell

Dartmouth has a wealth of experienced professors who lead their respective research fields, while also working closely with students — inspiring them in the classroom and leading them in laboratory environments. And while at Dartblog we talk frequently about problems that need to be fixed at the College, there are still many bright spots. Our professors deserve more recognition for their achievements. As such, this is one of a series of posts that shines a spotlight on the best professors in Hanover:

John Campbell1.jpgJohn L. Campbell is the Class of 1925 Professor and Professor of Sociology, as well as Chair of the Sociology department at the College. He also serves as Professor of Political Economy at the Copenhagen Business School in Denmark. Campbell’s curiosity has made him one of the most productive interdisciplinary researchers at Dartmouth, where his work stretches from a base in sociology to government, economics, and public policy. Yet his overriding focus is on institutions: where they come from, how they change, and how they affect nations, politics, and the economy.

Growing up in the turbulent 1960s, Campbell was always keenly interested in the world at large. In college at St. Lawrence University, he veered into sociology as an outlet for that interest after acing an introductory course in his first semester. Campbell’s first job after graduating was as a bartender, and he read sociology books all day before work. He eventually earned his M.A. from Michigan State University and then his Ph.D. in 1984 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Campbell’s research has never been static. While earning his Ph.D., he examined U.S. nuclear energy policy and why the country that created nuclear power generation could essentially abandon it as an option just a few decades later. The differences between the United States and nuclear-happy countries such as France were largely institutional: licensing and regulating nuclear was politically contentious here in ways that it wasn’t abroad. By 1988, Campbell was teaching at Harvard and researching everything from the evolution of American tax policy to major governmental and economic changes in Eastern Europe after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Campbell joined the Dartmouth faculty as a professor in 1996, and his current stint as chair of the sociology department is his second (the first was from 1997 to 2003). Since arriving in Hanover, he has continued his eclectic choice of institutional and public policy-oriented research topics. In 2007, he published his most cited work to date, a paper titled “Why Would Corporations Behave In Socially Responsible Ways?” Overall, Campbell has more than 10,000 individual citations and a h-index of 32, according to Google Scholar.

He has been prolific in writing books, too. “The Paradox of Vulnerability: Small Nation-States and the Financial Crisis” is Campbell’s latest, scheduled to be published at the end of this year. The book evolved out of a course he still teaches, SOCY 66: Markets and Management; it focuses on how three smaller countries — Denmark, Switzerland, and Ireland — dealt with the recent financial crisis. Last year he published “The World Of States,” and in 2014, “The National Origins of Policy Ideas.” Recently he has been considering a book on the Donald Trump phenomenon, and an analysis of the conditions that led to Trump’s emergence, especially in comparison to European countries that have seen similar right wing, anti-immigrant, xenophobic movements.

Meanwhile, Campbell has cultivated a special relationship with the Copenhagen Business School, where he works every Spring as a professor in the political economy research department. He also started and directs an exchange program that sends 6-12 Dartmouth students to Copenhagen University for the fall term each year.

Considering that it was his hook into the subject over 40 years ago, it’s no surprise that Campbell’s favorite course to teach is SOCY 1: Introduction to Sociology, a lecture course he leads once a year for 80-100 students. Half of the class is made up of freshman, and he likes waking them up with rock music at 9am on a Monday. Given Campbell’s wide-ranging intellectual curiosity, it also makes sense that he enjoys the course because it forces him to keep up with the wide spectrum of sociology research which he hasn’t personally had time to take on (at least so far).

Posted on September 23, 2016 4:00 AM. Permalink

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Milo Yiannopoulos Comes to Dartmouth

A fair number of people on campus will have their panties in a twist, but Hanover should witness a rollicking intellectual time when flamboyant conservative provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos comes to town on November 1 with his Dangerous Faggot Tour:

Milo Bus.jpg

If you are not familiar with Milo’s brand of performance art, the below video will give you a flavor of the man: Why black lives don’t matter to Black Lives Matter:

At his best, Milo has the same kind of made-by-a-British-classical-education sparkle and wit that I always enjoyed in Christopher Hitchens, enlivened with more than a dash of Sacha Baron Cohen’s Bruno character.

Addendum: Yiannopoulos’ is visiting the College at the invitation of the Dartmouth Libertarians and the Dartmouth Review.

Addendum: An alumnus pointed me to a magic Milo moment:

When we think of Milo parallels, Liberace comes to mind — a personage so endearing to straight folks that he makes them get over whatever homophobia they might hold.

Posted on September 22, 2016 4:00 AM. Permalink

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Brown Puts Us to Shame

(I’m re-running this post for the freshman class so that they can see where their tuition dollars are going)

As we wait for the fiscal 2016 numbers to come out in a couple of months, let’s do a quick by-the-numbers comparison of Brown’s and Dartmouth’s 2015 financial results:

— Brown has 42% more students (9,073) than we do (6,350) and 32% more full-time professors (all of whom are paid more than ours, except for Full Professors)

You can logically expect that Brown will have to spend much more money than Dartmouth to run its entire operation, right? More students means more dorms, office space, classrooms, dining halls, campus facilities of all types, administrators, professors, etc. And if Brown pays most members of its faculty more than we pay our people, that will ramp up the difference even more.

— Brown’s total 2015 expenses: $810,957,000; Dartmouth’s: $891,428,000:
— Brown paid out $80,471,000 less than Dartmouth

But, no. It costs Brown about $80 million less than Dartmouth to run the university each year. That makes no sense. Dartmouth has to be overspending wildly, especially given that land and the cost of living and construction in rural Hanover, New Hampshire is less than in urban Providence, Rhode Island (with its top state income tax rate of 5.99% and its 7% state sales tax; both are zero in flinty New Hampshire). And Brown has to deal with other urban concerns: for example, it has 80 sworn, armed municipal police officers on its payroll vs. our 40 private security guards, etc.

— Brown’s Salary/Wages ($322,533,000) and Benefits ($93,351,000) total: $416,484,000; Dartmouth’s Salary/Wages ($382,433,000) and Benefits: ($135,622,000) total: $518,055,000
— Brown paid out $101,571,000 less in employee compensation than Dartmouth

So that’s where that money goes. How can our payroll be over $101 million more each year than Brown’s? There’s an easy answer for that: too many people doing too little work for too much money. Recall, as I mentioned above, that Brown has 42% more students than we have; you’d expect that payroll at Brown would be higher by approximately that amount — not lower by almost 20%.

— Brown’s 2015 Endowment Draw: $142,725,000; Dartmouth’s: $212,493,000;
— Brown drew out $69,768,000 less from its endowment than Dartmouth

We are by far the richer school. Our endowment stands at $4.66 billion; Brown has only $3.07 billion. But more importantly, we have double the endowment per student that Brown has. We have it, so we spend it, though I don’t think that anyone who deals with the Dartmouth administration would argue that this spending translates into a responsive operation that caters to students’ and faculty members’ every need.

— Brown’s Sponsored Research: $151,458,000; Dartmouth’s: $182,118,000;
— Brown paid out $30,660,000 less than Dartmouth

Here is the only area where the cost of operating Dartmouth should be somewhat more expensive than Brown. We do slightly more sponsored research than Brown, which hikes up our overall cost of operations. But $30 million in a budget that runs at $891.4 million doesn’t have much impact.

— Brown’s tuition, room and board and fees in 2016/2017: $64,566; Dartmouth’s: $66,174
— Brown will cost $1,608 less than Dartmouth in the coming year

Go figure. Despite all of our wealth and cost advantage, we still charge our students more than Brown (both schools give financial aid to about 44% of students; the remainder pay full boat). You’d think that Dartmouth students would get to share in the spoils of our huge endowment. Nope.

Summary: Brown’s expenses run to $89,381/student each year; we pay out $140,382/student. We spend $51,001/year/student more than Brown. However, part of that difference lies in our extra research spending — just under $12,000/year per student). After deducting research, we still spend approximately $39,000/student/year more than Brown. That difference adds up. 

If we could reduce our spending/student to Brown’s level, we could take $247,650,000 of waste each year out of our budget, which we could then put towards more productive uses. Oh, the places we’d go if the administration ran the College with the goal of providing students with the best education possible, rather than allowing a cushy, overpaid bureaucracy to grow every year.

Addendum: A Dartmouth parent writes in:

Great. Can we poach the Brown top ten administrators and pay them each $2,000,000 per year? We would be way ahead if we did so. If a side by side comparison like this was done for all eight Ivy schools, it would be even more eye-opening. Maybe the board members or top administrators would have some explaining to do before anyone makes more donations. How’s that capital campaign coming along?

Posted on September 21, 2016 4:00 AM. Permalink

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Irving Institute: Too Small, Not Unique

Let’s look at the Arthur L. Irving Institute for Energy and Society from an entrepreneurial perspective. Is this the kind of business that we want Dartmouth to get into? What special advantages do we have in this area? Who would be our competitors? Is an energy center the best use for our money?

To start, we’d have to compete against, um, the Energy Institute at the University of Michigan, which, as you can see below, has 130 faculty members and one mission:

Michigan Energy.jpg

Then there’s the Energy Initiative at MIT with seven senior executives and 72 staffers:

MIT Energy Comp.jpg

Of course, we should not slight the Energy Institute at the University of Texas, which attracts almost as much each year in grants as the entire Irving Institute might one day have in its endowment:

UT Austin Energy Institute.jpg

Not to mention the energy institutes at Penn State, Colorado State, Berkeley, the University of Wisconsin, Texas A&M, Texas Christian University, The City University of New York, Rutgers, University of Washington, Yale, and on and on (and that was just the first two pages of a Google search for “energy institute”).

The Valley News reported on Phil’s presentation of the new institute in which he described the kind of work that might be done in the new $60 million at the end of Tuck Mall:

Using the example of power grids, Hansen noted that current research is fragmented, with electronic engineers working on improved smart grid systems that can shuffle loads around more efficiently, economists trying to figure out how they fit into the marketplace, and computer scientists working to protect them from increasingly sophisticated attacks from computer hackers.

“Bringing these people together, and giving them more resources will make them blossom,” Hansen said.

Great, Phil. Now try to convince us that a dozen other energy institutes don’t already have large teams of experienced researchers working on this and other problems. You’ll need to present a better justification for us jumping into an area where big guys have been fighting hard for decades. Does the College’s new enterprise have any competitive advantage at all? If so, spell it out.

As for fundraising, it’s pretty clear that a project that has been in the works for three years is not setting the Dartmouth donor community on fire. More from the Valley News

The institute was started with an $80 million lead gift from Irving Oil, the Arthur L. Irving Family Foundation, and members of the Irving family…

The institute also has attracted an additional $33 million in funding from a handful of other alumni; college officials hope to raise a total of $160 million to fund the institute.

Hansen said roughly $60 million would be used in startup costs, including the construction of the building, and that an endowment of the remaining $100 million would provide annual revenues of about $5 million.

So, we have the Irving $80 million lined up, and after all this time, our President, the supposed fundraiser extraordinaire, has scrambled to come up with another $33 million. That leaves $47 million to be gathered from Dartmouth donors who could well be persuaded to contribute to the betterment of undergraduate education — but, obviously, the staffers in Development aren’t going to be pushing hard in that direction, not when Phil’s pet project needs money.

And just who is going to lead research at the new institute? Phil did not stand up the other day and present to us a team of the nation’s top energy scientists who will power (sorry) the new endeavor. There is nobody at Thayer now who can claim to have the special talent to lead the new entity. If there were, Phil would have named a director. (If you are thinking of Professor Lee Lynd, note that after receiving investments and grants totaling $108.3 million, his Mascoma Corporation sold its struggling yeast business to Canada-based Lallemand Inc. at the end of 2014).

There an old saying in the venture capital world: you need five elements for a successful enterprise: the product, the market, the people, the people, the people. We don’t yet have them. In fact, the way a project like this should be created is to identify an extraordinary member of the faculty or group of faculty members and then build an institute around them. Phil has gone about this process back-asswards.

Other than a big grant that gets us half-way to financing this project, and another partial bit of funding, what does Phil have to show for all of this efforts?

Not anything that I would put money into, not if I was hoping for a strong educational return on my investment.

Addendum: And what does the future hold? Can we expect $60 million buildings dotted around Hanover for new Hanlon institutes in microprocessor design, automobile development, battery research, pollution control, and other areas where we have little expertise and no possibility of doing work on the scale of numerous other competitors?

You don’t have to be a venture capitalist like Chairman of the Board of Trustees Bill Helman ‘80 to understand that Phil’s energy project is doomed to mediocrity at best. But then, as we have always said, the Trustees just rubber-stamp the President’s ideas, even when they should have the good sense to see that the inevitable result is failure and waste.

Addendum: An alumnus writes in:

The Energy Institute reminds me of the long-gone but once famous and prestigious Dartmouth Eye Institute, which President Hopkins closed down despite its fame because he feared it distracted from the central mission of the College.

Posted on September 20, 2016 4:00 AM. Permalink

Monday, September 19, 2016

The Oil College on the Hill

Crosby Hall Arrow.jpgThe Arthur L. Irving Institute for Energy and Society is a capstone on the College’s long association with the oil industry. While Hanover native George Bissel ‘45 (that’s 1845) has been termed the father of the American oil industry, the development of petroleum exploration and the commercial exploitation of oil have their origins in a group effort by Dartmouth faculty and alumni starting in Hanover. Bissel was a lawyer, but in a liberal arts moment, he put two and two together and realized that the derricks used to drill salt wells might also be used to drill for what was then termed “rock oil.” His effort in conjunction with members of the faculty and other men of Dartmouth is memorialized even today on a plaque on the wall of Crosby Hall (now attached to Blunt Alumni Center):

Crosby Hall Plaque2.jpg


The first scientific examination of crude oil which led to the beginning of the world’s petroleum industry was conducted in this building then the home of Dr. Dixi Crosby lifelong teacher in the Dartmouth Medical School.

In 1853 Francis B. Brewer Class of 1843 brought a sample of Pennsylvania rock oil to Dartmouth for analysis by Dr. Crosby and Oliver P. Hubbard professor of chemistry.

Their report of its useful and potentially valuable properties led to the purchase by George H. Bissell Class of 1845 and Jonathan G. Eveleth, aided by Albert H Crosby Class of 1848, of oil producing land in western Pennsylvania, the incorporation in 1854 of the first petroleum company in the world, and drilling of the Drake Well at Titusville in 1859.

This memorial erected June 26, 1953 on the one hundredth anniversary of the pioneering of this Dartmouth alumni and faculty group.

Addendum: Lest undergraduates think that old-time students and faculty spent all of their time being homophobic and racist, note that great events have taken place at the College throughout its history.

Addendum: A faculty member writes in:

If those [Irving] revenues has been dedicated to a program of research and development to replace the College’s (and DHMC’s) dependence on oil, that would have benefited everyone in perpetuity. We are a walking — burning — example of carbon emissions. How about using the money to pioneer a sustainable program of northern New England wood utilization, with chips produced on and delivered from the College Grant? Or solar on every building on campus? Or geothermal? All these options could be investigated and implemented where practicable with the results shared regionally, perhaps creating new businesses in the process. Dartmouth helped discover oil. Why not lead the way out of it?

Posted on September 19, 2016 4:00 AM. Permalink

Sunday, September 18, 2016

KKG Goes Local

The women of Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority voted tonight by a margin of 84%-16% to go local. The ballot required a super-majority of 75% in order to pass. This change will allow KKG to (officially) serve alcohol at social events and to hold rush in a more creative manner. It will also allow the house to freely use scholarship money. The change has been under discussion at KKG for several years.

KKG House.jpg

Additionally, in light of the College’s unprincipled derecognition of AD and SAE, KKG will not longer be at the mercy of its national for its existence; when SAE hammered its Dartmouth local for supposed hazing, Dean Ameer was all too eager to pile on.

Addendum: No word yet on a new name for the house.

Posted on September 18, 2016 10:00 PM. Permalink

A Big Football Weekend

My own days as a student occurred at the end of the era when a Dartmouth home football game brought fans, alumni, and opposing team supporters from all over New England. Needless to say, virtually the entire student body went to the game, but the 3,300 of so of us (with the remaining 700-800 undergraduates off-campus for one reason or another) were less than a fifth of an attendance that was routinely announced to be in the area of 18,000. The streets of Hanover were jammed, as were the now-demolished visitors stands on the far side of Memorial Field (where you’ll now find Buddy Teevens ‘79’s pride and joy, Floren Varsity House). This vintage postcard shows it as it was:

Dartmouth Football Weekend.jpg

Of course, having a winning team helps attendance a great deal. Memorial Field’s capacity is now 11,000, and if we keep playing as the team did last night — beating UNH 22-21 in the Granite Bowl after being down 21-7 in the second half — we might once again see a sold-out football game (8,296 fans showed up last night):

Football v. UNH.jpg

The victory was the College’s first against powerhouse UNH since 1976 — a period of time in which we were 0-18-2 against the Wildcats, according to the Valley News

Addendum: Last night Dartmouth sported black and gray uniforms: Go Big Black!

Addendum: The erstwhile height of the visiting-team stands shown in the postcard above gave real meaning to the term “running stadiums.” The view over Hanover was pretty good from up there, too.

Posted on September 18, 2016 4:00 AM. Permalink

Saturday, September 17, 2016

A Tale of Two Dartmouths

I have attended two dinner presentations put on by students in the Thought Project affinity house. They invite College professors to Wheeler Hall each week to discuss ideas of moment. As my Dean of the College Ralph Manual ‘58 might have said, “Long live the life of the mind.” Here is the group’s schedule for September and October:

Thought Project Dinners.jpg

Meanwhile, the Office of Pluralism and Leadership invites student to join together from the git go based on other criteria: their shared affinity of race, gender and orientation:

OPAL events.jpg

Why would students want to group with people like themselves, when they can join others who share a mutual interest in ideas?

Posted on September 17, 2016 3:59 AM. Permalink

Football Tonight vs. UNH at 7pm

Posted on September 17, 2016 1:41 AM. Permalink

Friday, September 16, 2016

Official Irving Annoucement

Phil has now officially announced the Irving Oil donation for the new energy institute, providing greater details about funding:

Irving Anouncement.jpg

Here is the College’s video describing the institute:

The Irving Institute already has a website.

Addendum: Beyond the $80 million donated by the Irving Oil group and the Irving family, another $80 million will come from other donors to the College. One can imagine the hard work that the Development office did in order to direct donors to give money to this endeavor, rather than to, say, undergraduate education.

Addendum: Today’s faculty joke:

Dartmouth Institute for Energy and Society: DIES

Posted on September 16, 2016 11:57 AM. Permalink

BREAKING: Energy Institute Storm

Irving Comp.jpgEarlier this week at the meeting of the Committee of Chairs, Phil announced with great pride that the College was to receive what I am told is a $100 million gift from Arthur Irving, Chairman of Irving Oil Company, to fund a new “Energy and Society” institute at Dartmouth.

Beyond his oil and gas empire, Arthur Irving is the owner of significant additional holdings in shipbuilding, media, defense and forestry — he is #308 on the Forbes 400 list of billionaires with a net worth of $5.2 billion. He is also the parent of Sarah Irving ‘10; he is an adopted member of the Class of 1972; and in 2010 he received an honorary degree from the College.

The announcement has the makings of a firestorm:

— The already surly mood of the Committee of Chairs manifested itself in intense pressure on Phil to respect the College’s tradition of shared governance between the faculty and the administration. The chairs of the College’s academic departments and programs had no prior knowledge of the institute, and it certainly has not been debated by the faculty. Speakers asserted that it should be.

— Just what expertise does the College have in this area? Will the institute be staffed entirely by new hires in Phil’s largest cluster endeavor yet?

— How independent will the institute be to explore all types of energy questions when funding comes from an oil company owner? Certainly we wonder about the bona fides of medical research that is funded by self-interested sources like cigarette manufacturers and large pharmaceutical firms. What is the Irving family’s goal here?

— Is energy an area where the administration wants to devote substantial resources? Is this our highest priority as an academic institution?

— Will $100 million make us a player in a hugely competitive field? If $40-$50 million goes into a new building and an endowment to support it, then the remaining funds will only support an annual operating budget of $2.5-$3.0 million (the College draws 5% from endowment money each year) — hardly the kind of commitment that will finance wide-ranging research by the 12-13 people that Phil said would staff the new institute.

— Last week the College updated the master plan and posted information on new buildings that might be built at the end of Tuck Mall. I expect that an energy institute building will be among them (in all likelihood the building indicated by the red arrow below). Are Thayer and Tuck willing to give up essential real estate for an uncertain endeavor that is far distant from our successful graduate schools’ central missions?

Green to Blue Buildings1.jpg

— Groups like Dartmouth Alumni for Climate Action and Divest Dartmouth have been drafting petitions, meeting Phil during his office hours, and organizing demonstrations with the goal of having the College divest all of its endowment holdings in fossil fuel-related companies. As Divest Dartmouth’s Leehi Yona wrote just this week in The D, “In April of this year, we organized the Big Green Rally, which had over 115 co-sponsors and nearly 500 attendees - the largest gathering of its kind in Dartmouth history.” Environment-conscious students would hardly appear poised to support an energy institute funded by the owner of a multinational oil company.

Beyond the merits of the energy institute, Phil has shown himself beyond maladroit in preparing the Dartmouth community for such a departure from its usual priorities. By springing the news on the Committee of Chairs, he is going to incite immediate pushback. Where that goes is anyone’s guess.

Addendum: The College is expected to formally announce the institute this morning.

Addendum: Does this effort sound like Jim Kim’s Center for the Science of Health Care Delivery to you?

Posted on September 16, 2016 12:00 AM. Permalink

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Phil, We Need a Real Convocation

Convocation 1947.jpgAt its best, Convocation is intellectual; it sets a tone for the freshman class’ upcoming years. The President and other senior leaders talk about serious matters in an atmosphere — with robed professors arriving in an academic procession — that is solemn, one that tells incoming freshmen that they are part of a tradition not to be taken lightly. Each year, John Sloan Dickey, the College’s President from 1945-1970 (shown at right at the 1947 Convocation in Webster Hall), would intone:

“Welcome to Dartmouth College, gentlemen. Your business here is learning. What you make of yourself is up to you. We’re here to help. We’ll be with you all the way. Good luck.”

His message did not go unheeded, as one alumnus shared with me:

When I entered Dartmouth in the fall of 1956, John Sloan Dickey delivered the Convocation address, and it made a powerful impression on me and others. Many of us really had no very clear idea of why were there, only that going on to college was what people like us were supposed to do. The idea of being part of a community of learning was, believe it or not, quite new to us. The speech started us off with a certain enthusiasm and determination to make the most of our time at Dartmouth. I suppose these days young people are more sophisticated, and perhaps think “I am here to get an expensive credential that will let me go on to B school - what I learn along the way will be entertaining, but no big deal.” But perhaps a well conceived Convocation speech could help overcome such purely utilitarian attitudes.

Convocation is Phil Hanlon’s chance to state his creed, to take a no-holds-barred stance on what Dartmouth is about. Beyond that broad goal, he has no shortage of issues to address in a speech. He could better define the notion of “rigor,” which had a brief half-life as a concern of his administration. Perhaps he could talk about free speech in light of the BLM library incident last November and the Collis poster fight of this spring. Or he could address the recent University of Chicago letter regarding trigger warnings and safe spaces. A spirited defense of the liberal arts is always needed, especially when sky-high tuition puts pressure on students to monetize their degree as soon as possible.

And Provost Dever could enliven proceeding with her special thoughts on diversity and inclusiveness. (Actually, strike that point; I am trying to argue in favor of a content-rich Convocation ceremony.)

In short, Convocation is an opportunity for Phil Hanlon and his administrators to show some leadership.

But, no. It seems that, like last year, there will be no formal Convocation ceremony this week. However the Hanlon administration can’t be accused of not doing something to mark the start of the academic year. Let’s have a Campus Celebration:

Campus Celebration Comp.jpg

Great. Barbecues, house swag and music in lieu of ideas, exhortations and requests for reflection.

If you are looking for an example of an institution laid low, one that has lost it seriousness, you need look no further.

Addendum: Phil could even, finally, talk about Abbey D’Agostino as an embodiment of Dartmouth values.

Addendum: A senior member of the faculty writes in:

At modest inconvenience to themselves faculty turned out for Convocation over the years in the belief that it was important to indicate to our students their entry into a community of scholarship and research. The gowned procession signaled that this is not your local high school, and the speeches formally welcomed students into the Dartmouth community. Convocation was one bookend matched at the other end by graduation, Now, it seems, students never enter: they pass through until they really commence.

Addendum: An alumnus writes in:

I’m with you, and with the ‘60 alumnus you quoted. I remember to this day that moment in the fall of 1955, early in the mysteriousness of the freshman year, when (1) my class assembled in one place and thereby produced for me an indelible “mind’s eye” picture of its size, variety, and overall appearance; (2) the president of the College I had chosen showed me who he was while speaking in both a welcoming and business-like manner; and (3) it was made clear to me that there was a “serious business” side to what I was doing in this place.

Addendum: As does another:

I, too, remember a memorable Convocation in the fall of 1977 when Peter Bien spoke to us about joining a community of scholars. I went on to study with Professor Bien, and he was my senior fellowship advisor. By eliminating Convocation, Dartmouth as an undergraduate community is de-emphasized. On a related note, no money for faculty salaries but plenty for house swag apparently….

Posted on September 15, 2016 4:00 AM. Permalink

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

“Phil Thinks We Are All Idiots”

Phil Hanlon12.jpgPhil Hanlon has at least been successful in communicating one institutional message: a disdain for the College’s present faculty. Professors far and wide have come to believe that our President holds the attitude expressed in the above headline (funnily enough, everyone seems to use the same words), and needless to say, such a thought does not contribute to academic productivity.

Phil started off his time in Hanover with a strategy that Carolyn Dever copied; unlike Jim Wright and Jim Freedman, neither Phil nor Carolyn made the rounds of departmental meetings in order to show the flag, listen to the hopes and concerns of faculty, and display knowledge about the scholarship and teaching of various professors. Beyond being courteous, such an activity is a way to amass political capital and establish the contacts that help a leader head off discontent. Imagine a corporate CEO taking charge of a large company and not visiting the various divisions that make up a conglomerate. You can’t? Neither can I.

If such behavior is not natural to Phil — and that could be so, given his legendary awkwardness and discomforture in larger social settings — perhaps he could have held a series of one-on-one meals with the College’s top scholars. As I’ve suggested before, Phil could have invited one star faculty member at a time and proposed that the professor in question invite several colleagues to join them. In this way, members of a cohesive social group could speak comfortably with him about their concerns.

The only effort Phil made was to have a number of dinners with a dozen or so professors, most of whom did not know each other. You don’t need to be a sociologist — or even a math professor — to understand that such a setting does not lead to much more than polite chitchat.

But then Phil is always outward looking. He is most concerned about prestige, about how Dartmouth is perceived in the outside world, rather than by the details of undergraduate education. As such, his pet initiative is cluster hires: bringing in groups of scholars, for whom Dartmouth’s culture of teaching and scholarship is quite foreign, in order that they create hermetic little groups to solve Big Problems. This idea is so good that dozens of other schools are doing the same thing, which, self-evidently, bodes ill for the success of Phil’s effort. But more importantly, in doing so Phil could fracture a faculty that is still committed to teaching, the College’s remaining strength (though a declining one). After all, when the President communicates that he wants to bring in outsiders, whom he sees as the future of the school, the folks who are here can’t help but understand his contempt for them.

The final proof for professors of Phil’s disdain is his lack of any effort to pull average faculty salaries up to the level of our peer institutions. A presentation by Government professor Stephen Brooks at a spring faculty meeting calculated that a $5.4 million increase in the overall salary budget would do the trick: a pittance in the College’s total expenses of $891.4 million in fiscal 2016 — and one that rankles, given the growth in total spending over the last five years, as I noted in May:

Look at the College’s year-on-year total spending increases over the last five years: 2015: + $38.3 million; 2014: +$17.8 million; 2013: +$59.5 million; 2012: +$37.5 million; 2011: +$21.2 million. In 2010 the College’s expenses totaled $717.1 million; in 2015 they were $891.4 million. Of that overall increase of $174.3 million over a five-year period, it is astounding that $5.4 million could not have been found to keep faculty compensation level with competing schools.

If Phil can’t find such a small sum in a sea of cash (and a sea of wasteful spending on members of the non-faculty staff, all of whom seem to have de facto tenure because Dartmouth does not fire people except for the most egregious offenses — not working very much is not one of those), the only explanation is that he just doesn’t care enough about the faculty to make them happy.

The situation has gotten so out of hand that several well meaning faculty members approached Dartblog last year to ask that we do our now-popular Guide to the Stars. Professors assume Phil reads Dartblog — a thin assumption given how detached he is from the daily life of the campus — and they wanted some way for him to understand the exemplary achievements of many of the College’s professors. Good luck.

The end result of this swirling discontent can be found in an answer given in Phil’s recent Campus Study:

Rankin Faculty Dissatisfaction.jpg

If I were on the faculty, I’d be looking around, too. Our professors are underpaid, underappreciated, and many of the best ones could soon be underway. Over to you, Phil, or better still, over to the Trustees, who must at least by now understand that they have made a bad mistake yet again in their choice of our President.

Addendum: Hanlon’s own thin scholarly record — a book and a half-dozen articles all co-authored with several other mathematicians — and his inarticulateness have not escaped the notice of members of the faculty. If Phil were humble, and he does have much to be humble about, he might get away with passing judgment on other scholars, but a lurking arrogance and sense of superiority (maybe he thinks that Michigan has it over Dartmouth) has set teeth on edge. Who is this guy, Dartmouth professors say, to look down on us?

Posted on September 14, 2016 4:00 AM. Permalink

Selective Reporting at Its Best

The Office of Communications has reported on yesterday’s announcement of the College’s U.S. News rankings in its Dartmouth News on-line newsletter. Clicking on other Dartmouth News stories normally brings you to a prose description of the event in question. Not here. You only go to the U.S. News summary page for the College:

Dartmouth News US News 2016 Comp.jpg

Nothing about the fall of our Undergraduate Teaching rank from #2 to #7.

Posted on September 14, 2016 3:59 AM. Permalink

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Bach Argues for No-Confidence Vote

Jinsung Bach ‘17, whose excellent column about last spring’s cancellation of the Derby Party elicited praise in this space, today summarized student discontent in a D column that calls for a faculty no-confidence vote concerning the Hanlon administration. Herewith his introductory paragraphs:

The fact is that the administration’s current state of affairs can sustain itself no longer. Its catastrophic ineptitude speaks for itself when they continue to support a half-baked housing system nobody desired or asked for, wasting valuable money in a mealy-mouthed attempt to supplant Greek houses. Nor does it fare well for our education that our faculty is among the most poorly compensated among our peer schools. Precious resources are squandered on hollow programs that pay lip service to diversity and safety but deliver on neither, while administrative bloat continues to astound us with its careless extravagance. We have lost our status as the Ivy League institution with the best undergraduate teaching, a casualty of the unsustainable rise in admissions rates. In exchange for our grief, the administration would have us pay even greater tuition fees - a reminder that their incompetence is funded out of our own pocketbooks.

It is unfair to students that their families should bear the financial brunt of these disastrous policies. It is just as unfair to the members of our faculty, who have given so much on behalf of the College, to suffer a leadership that does not care for their welfare. Intolerable as the status quo may be, more intolerable still is inaction. The time has come for the faculty to register a vote of no confidence in College President Phil Hanlon.

Note Bach’s reference to the College’s declining ranking for undergraduate teaching. His column came out this morning before the U.S. New results appeared noting that we have dropped from #2 to #7 in this category.

As for a vote itself, there is extremely widespread disenchantment about Hanlon among the faculty. But will there be a professor with the nerve to put forward a motion of no confidence, and will someone second it? How about a senior faculty member close to retirement?

Posted on September 13, 2016 8:23 PM. Permalink