Professor of Music Emeritus Jon Appleton comments on the evolution of tenure decisions at the College:
The uproar over the denial of tenure to Assistant Professor Aimee Bahng might be seen as a return to rigor in the process of promotion and tenure at Dartmouth, something that has been in decline, spectacularly in the Humanities Division, for the last five decades.
When I joined the faculty in 1967, there were annual reviews of faculty by department chairs and the Associate Dean. Publication and teaching evaluations were the primary criteria for evaluation. A renewal of the three-year initial appointment was not nearly automatic as it is today.
Objectivity in promotion and tenure decisions is difficult in the tightly knit community that is Dartmouth, where collegiality is highly prized. As the number of positions in the humanities declined over this period, the focus of new faculty efforts became not the quality but quantity of publication. New faculty sought student approbation by lowering grading standards because they knew their students might have input into the promotion and tenure decisions.
Fortunately, there is still a degree of confidentiality in the process. When the Committee Advisory to the President makes a recommendation concerning promotion and tenure, the Committee’s members are privy to information that none of those protesting the denial of tenure to Assistant Professor Bahng have seen: confidential letters from distinguished peers, honest student appraisals, and the requirement to actually read some of the published work. I wonder how many people among those protesting this decision have in fact read this material?
Tenure is thus granted through the experienced judgment of a diverse group of women and men, who themselves have made significant contributions to their fields and to the College.
President John Kemeny recognized and sought to reverse the “old boy” hiring practices of the earlier Dartmouth faculty by limiting tenure to “two per ten per decade” — meaning that in every decade only two of every ten faculty in a given department should be granted tenure.
Since that time, and especially since the reign of James Wright as Dean, Provost and then President, these standards were relaxed. The perusal of the publication records of current senior faculty reveals a majority who have done very little since they were granted tenure. These are professors for whom the sinecure of tenure was more important than work in their own disciplines.
Addendum: Jon Appleton is the Arthur R. Virgin Professor of Music Emeritus. He served on the faculty from 1967 to 2009. Additionally he has held appointments at Stanford University, Keio University (Japan) and is a fellow of the Guggenheim and Rockefeller foundations.
Addendum: Another member of the faculty writes in:
I assume you are aware that “unanimous department votes” are not always as unanimous as they appear. Those in the minority may vote with the majority to avoid the possibility of word getting out that they voted against the tenure of a likely future colleague. Having a colleague who knows that you voted against him/her can make for a very unpleasant work environment.
Thus, rather than voting in the minority, those not supporting the “unanimous” department vote may signal their views to the CAP, who is then left with making an unpleasant or unpopular decision. Most faculty know this, and I think there are quite a few faculty (myself included) who are not at all roiled by CAP decisions to overturn unanimous department votes.
Addendum: Yet another member of the faculty has a thought:
I do think something is broken in the tenure system if someone comes up for tenure with a book in press and only four articles. It’s the fault of the Associate Dean, who is supposed to meet with junior faculty each year and make tenure requirements clear, and also the department chair, who should do the same thing.
The other problem is one of quality: a person may write brilliant articles on a narrow topic, but the question should be, what has this person contributed to the field (English, Government, History, etc.)? We have to ask an even tougher question: Is this someone who might one day earn a Guggenheim?
Addendum: One of my favorite student correspondents writes in to note that composer and Music Professor Paul Moravec was denied tenure twice (in 1993 and 1995) amid controversy, and he went on to win the Pulitzer Prize in Music in 2004.
Today’s faculty meeting at 3pm will address more completely the issue of revising the Non-Recording Option. If the proposed changes are approved, students will be obliged to meet a minimum standard of work in order to receive a grade of Satisfactory — or risk having a D or E listed on their transcript (with its GPA-busting consequences) — and they will only be able to do so three times in their academic career. That development is of real moment for students; why has The D not addressed its substance? After all, it was on the faculty agenda two weeks ago.
Other aspects of the meeting are equally interesting (here are the faculty’s complete materials). On April 26 we reported on the latest AAUP data concerning faculty salaries (our Associate and Assistant Professors and our Lecturers are paid considerably less than the faculty at the other other Ivy schools, though our Full Professors earn more than equivalent faculty at Brown and Cornell). Economics Professor Eric Zitzewitz reported similar figures at a faculty meeting last June, and the Committee on the Faculty (COF) will again observe today that the College is not keeping pace with its peers.
Note particularly that the gap in salaries opened up during the period of the Kim budget cuts (see the red arrows that I have added to the chart). Jim Kim was especially proud that his budget exercise did not involve layoffs of the impossibly bloated support staff (actually it did not involve any decreases in the budget either; spending rose each year under JYK). What a textbook example of cutting bone to save fat:
The Committee on the Faculty did a calculation that I was preparing to do (I’m kicking myself for being scooped). After noting that at “Dartmouth compensation is currently 6.8% lower than the average level of compensation for the US News Top 20 schools (the group of institutions that COF regards as the most reasonable peer comparison),” the COF commented:
The Committee on the Faculty estimates that it would take $5.4 million in total compensation to close the gap between Dartmouth and the US News Top 20 schools (when we look at assistant, associate, and full professors separately and the resources it would take to close the gap in all three ranks). Faculty compensation is a relatively small part of Dartmouth’s overall budget: the $5.4 million needed to close the current compensation gap only constitutes 0.6% of Dartmouth’s current operating expenses ($891 million). Assuming that our standard raise pools will keep pace with our peers, if Dartmouth were to try to close this compensation gap over a five-year period, it would require adding an additional 1.2% to the raise pool each year (or adding 2% each year if we opted for a three-year plan for reducing the gap). [Emphasis added]
Such a request is circumspect, to say the least. 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. But then, as the recent Class of 2016 petition noted, the College’s top priority still seems to be to feed the staff beast. During this same five-year period, the number of non-faculty staff members increased by 441 people — and the number of Arts and Sciences faculty grew by 46.
Of course, in keeping with this space’s promotion of quality, I agree that we should give raises so that our average pay is competitive with the other Ivies — but using the pitiless law of averages, we should allow a large gap between our top performers and mediocre faculty members, many of whom are professors favored by Jim Wright, scholars who never should have been given tenure in the first place.
Finally, the meeting materials reproduce a May 13, 2013 evaluation of the College’s popular and rigorous Jewish Studies Program. The review is included because Jewish Studies is up for a vote on its continuation. Read through the reportwith some care. The subtext is clear: Dartmouth has a program that is working extremely well for students and faculty; why is the administration starving it when a little more money would enable Jewish Studies to become one of the College’s top academicinitiatives?
Jewish Studies. Faculty salaries. Kosher dining. Decrepit dorms. Need-blind admissions for international students. The refrain is always the same. The administration has no money, except to pay the ever-burgeoning non-faculty staff.
We’ve written about Burgundian winemaker Dominique Laurent in the past. He has the heart and soul of an artist, the mind of an entrepreneur, and he makes wines that sing.
When Dominique could not find oak barrels that did his grapes justice, he started his own cooperage to produce what are now known as his Magic Casks. Made of staves of oak sourced from France’s renowned national forests, his barrels are 50% thicker than traditional ones. He lets the staves sit outdoors for about three years to cure in the heat and snow of Burgundy; then, after being fashioned into barrels, they are lightly charred. The “toast” must be just right: too light and the barrels will impart green tannins to the wine; too heavy and the overbearing vanilla of New World chardonnays will come to the fore:
Dominique’s wines show hardly any oak character (or if they do, only in the first blush of their youth), but the use of oak futs allows the developing wine to breathe during its élevage — the pre-bottling, in-barrel phase when the hand of man takes grapes and turns them into wine. The result is an almost unique richness and generosity of flavor.
There are few high-tech shortcuts in the manufacturing of barrels. Each one is produced by artisans who sense the particular qualities of each one. The coopers make decisions about fit and toast all along the production process:
Addendum: As regards the use of oak in winemaking — now often replaced by stainless steel tanks or enamel-lined cement vats — the oft-quoted remark of Burgundian winemaker Jean-Marie Guffens-Heynens sums up the state of affairs up well: “There are no over-oaked wines, but there are many under-wined wines.” By which he means that unless grapes are ripe and suffused with the minerals that come from low crop yields and vines with deep roots, a wine will always risk being overwhelmed by the use of new oak barrels, even ones made by Dominique Laurent..
Referring in the plural to “recent decisions to overturn unanimous department tenure votes are gravely concerning, indicating that even the best people cannot overcome a flawed process,” a petition is circulating among the faculty that questions the fairness of the tenure-granting process at the College and the use of private metrics provider Academic Analytics to compile quantitative data about faculty research:
The American Association of University Professors has issued a caution on the use of data from Academic Analytics.
An alert reader pointed me to a piece from late last year in Mother Jones about diversity in college faculties as measured by race and gender. In racial diversity, the College seemingly does not do well compared to the other Ivies, and, um, everyone:
Note: The “Other” category “includes individuals who are Native American, Pacific Islander, multiracial, or declined to report their race.” The “declined to report their race” section might be a joker in the deck: it can skew a school’s rank in an important way.
Stanford, which lies in the penultimate position at the bottom of the histogram, seems to have fewer Black and Hispanic faculty members as a percentage than the College, but the Farm earns a better ranking (if having less Whites can be deemed “better) by virtue of having a high number of Asian and Foreign professors on its faculty.
As for gender diversity, we have more women on the faculty than all of the other Ivies except Yale and Columbia:
How sad that magazines don’t rank schools on their number of top scholars or what percentage of courses are taught by tenured faculty (as opposed to adjuncts, etc.) or how diverse the faculty is in terms of ideology (Republicans vs. Democrats vs. Marxists vs. Libertarians) or religious affiliation (how many born again Christians do we have in the Religion department?). Phil and Carolyn are not the only people endlessly obsessed with skin color and gender.
Addendum: The College’s Annual Report on Faculty Diversity from January used data provided by the Consortium on Financing Higher Education to compare the percentage of Underrepresented Minority Faculty in Hanover to numbers at other schools:
Note too bad results. It looks like we are in the ballpark, though moving in the wrong direction, as regards full professors, and as a percentage we have far more underrepresented minority associate and assistant professors than our peers. However, as we pointed out above in contrasting the College’s results with Stanford above, these figures do not include Asian and Foreign professors.
As Provost Dever continues to weed out all of the men from the staff of her office, she is doing so without even a nod to graciousness. In the below e-mail announcing a search for a new Vice Provost for Research, the outgoing Vice Provost, Professor of Physics Martin Wybourne, who also served as the College’s interim Provost for two years during the Folt administration and then under Phil Hanlon until Carolyn came to town, doesn’t even merit a thank you. In fact, he isn’t even named. While Wybourne will continue in the position (which he attained in 2004) for a year after his replacement arrives in Hanover, Carolyn can only bear to refer to him as “the current incumbent”:
Upon Wybourne’s departure and after his undoubted replacement by a woman, the only male in the Provost’s Office (not counting the Presidential Fellow) will be the Institutional Official for Animal Care and Use, close-to-retirement Bio Professor Roger Sloboda (whose h-index of 24 tells you that he does not spend much time in Parkhurst):
Carolyn is the Invisible Provost, and most members of the faculty believe that she is in Hanover only to punch her ticket Kim-style, before moving on to the presidency of a research university. I’d say that she has reached her Peterian level of incompetence here, but then, given Carol Folt’s ascent to the Chancellorship of UNC at Chapel Hill, anything is possible in the untethered-from-reality world of higher education.
Addendum: An alumnus writes in:
Your piece this morning about the search for a new Vice Provost for Research reminded me that Martin Wybourne has been and continues to be a terrific asset to Dartmouth in the various key roles he has had in the Provost’s office over the last 15 years. He most assuredly deserves our respect and our thanks for his dedication and his service to the College — as well as mention by name in Carolyn Dever’s e-mail to the faculty.
In addition, the transformation of the Provost’s Office to a now nearly-exclusively female-dominated domain reminds me of the male purge that occurred in the Dean of the College Office in 2009 and 2010 when a number of highly-experienced male employees were forced from their positions — reportedly to the point where the General Counsel’s Office expressed concern that the College might have some potential liability for employment discrimination.
All of this, of course, is all the more interesting in light of Phil’s statements to the faculty about his clear priorities for the next Dean of the Faculty. I can’t help but wonder if Dartmouth is at — or is fast approaching — the point where male candidates for senior administrative positions at the College will need to be given preference for diversity reasons.
What does it take to get tenure at Dartmouth? The other day I used a term that we should hear more often to describe our special niche in higher education: research college. Members of the faculty need not only be excellent scholars, but unlike professors up for tenure at a research university, they must be fine teachers as well. How those two factors are weighed is open to debate, but there is no disputing that research always receives greater emphasis. That is as it should be, as I wrote in a piece in The D a little more than a decade ago:
If you give the subject a moment’s thought, you can’t have first-class teaching without research. Place yourself in the position of the College. When Dartmouth grants tenure to a faculty member, it faces several challenges in justifying a 30-plus-year commitment to its permanent employee.
How can the College ensure that the professor’s teaching remains vibrant for this extended period? How can Dartmouth guarantee that the professor imparts to students the notion that any intellectual field has an ever-evolving understanding of its subject?
Some of us, though only rarely at Dartmouth, have faced the bleak task of taking a course with a faculty member for whom the flame has gone out. With research in the distant past, teaching has become no more than the repetition of old lecture notes.
There seems a broad consensus that English Professor Aimee Bahng is a devoted teacher. The loyalty she has engendered has led several thousand people to sign a petition in support of her request for tenure. And the English department unanimously recommended that Bahng become an Associate Professor, with the virtual guarantee of lifetime employment. However the department’s recommendation was turned down at the level of the CAP, the College’s Committee Advisory to the President, though the petition says that the decision is being appealed.
By way of background, tenure is granted to a member of the faculty only after the successive approvals of the tenured members of a department or program, the CAP, the President, and the Board of Trustees — though in practice the latter two will not go against the wishes of the CAP. Everyone seems to agree that there should be oversight of an academic department’s determination; in a small school where professors in a department have been working and socializing together for six years before an assistant professor comes up for tenure, there will always be an emotional tug one way or another in a tenure determination. The CAP is there to offer dispassionate supervision of tenure decisions, especially ones relating to (un)popular professors. The committee safeguards the College’s interest in granting tenure only to the most qualified candidates.
So what happened to much loved Aimee? The Committee Advisory to the President seems a serious set of people: Dean of the Faculty and Government Professor Mike Mastanduno, Government Professor John Carey, Biology Professor Kathryn Cottingham, Professor of German Studies Gerd Gemünden, Professor of Film and Media Studies Amy Lawrence, Economics Professor Nina Pavcnik, and Professor of Environmental Studies Ross Virginia. For folks who believe that gender and race are destiny, that’s Dean Mastanduno and six members of the faculty: three men, three women — all white.
In addition, as is traditional at the College (though Jim Kim tried to shirk the responsibility), the President and the Provost sit in on tenure deliberations at the level of the Committee Advisory to the President. One is left to wonder about their role in the Aimee Bahng tenure decision. Many professors in Hanover believe that the two feel disdain for the College’s present faculty, leading them to want to raise the standards for granting tenure at Dartmouth to a higher level. At the same time, both Phil and Carolyn seem obsessed with diversity. Would they argue against an Asian professor?
In the end, Bahng’s tenure decision must, at least ostensibly, turn on the quality of her research. Her CV is quite lengthy, but with her first book still in the works, and only a limited number of articles appearing in lesser journals, on its face Bahng’s scholarly output appears limited. Curiously enough, in the current heated debate, I have heard from faculty who have classified Bahng’s research as being at the very top of her field, and others who see it as less than mediocre. I am in no position to judge.
Additionally, Bahng is a member of the Steering Committee of the Gender Research Institute at Dartmouth, and in her capacity there she invited Jasbir Puar to the College — a Rutgers professor whose work and campus presentations have been repeated characterized as anti-Semitic. Though tenure is a system designed to protect the intellectual freedom of professors to be bold and controversial, in practice the granting of tenure can be used by an administration to weed out faculty that are deemed undesirable. Did Bahng’s judgment, or lack thereof, in inviting Puar to the College count against her?
Finally we should ask if the CAP made its decision in light of the steady decline in the number of English majors at the College and in the nation (Source: the McPeek Report on grade inflation) — a drop in Hanover of more than 50% over the last 25 years:
Does the College want to make the decision to grant lifetime tenure to a faculty member in a field that is clearly on the wane, especially given that the quality of Bahng’s scholarship is open to debate.
Needless to say, Phil and Carolyn and the people on the CAP aren’t talking about what went into their decision, but the issue has landed the College in the press once again. Inside Higher Education and the Huffington Post both have run extensive stories on Professor Bahng’s tenure fight, as has the Valley News.
I agree with your take on the tenure issue wholeheartedly. While I’m not in a position to opine on the quality of her CV either, my sense is that the CAP probably got it right and that her department is to blame for not setting high enough expectations and then mentoring her to meet them.
What is sad and makes me angry about this situation is that the people on the CAP are getting a lot of flak — essentially being called racists — and that committee includes a professor from one of my favorite classes as an undergrad and another that I know well personally and have an incredible amount of respect for (Amy Lawrence and Nina Pavcnik). Both are women and are shining examples of scholarship, class and successful female professors at the College. None of the people on the committee deserve the ugly rhetoric being tossed about so casually here.
Andrew Lewin ‘81 has carefully reviewed the merits of the Class of 2016 leaders’ petition, and he has concluded that he will not be contributing to the Dartmouth College Fund until the administration gets its priorities in order. He was a longtime member of 1769 Society:
How many other alumni will come to the same conclusion? Perhaps a great many already have? Will Phil now delay the capital campaign until 2018 — his fifth year as the College’s President?
The petition advocating thoroughgoing reform for the College that was authored by leading members of the Class of 2016 (and one ‘17) has had over 10,000 hits on Dartblog in the 36 hours since it was posted. I have received numerous laudatory e-mails from alumni, students and faculty members, and even administrators who see the waste all around them.
No word, of course, from any Trustees. They were last seen toasting Dartmouth’s continued success with Phil Hanlon and Carolyn Dever.
Dartmouth’s valedictorian and salutatorian awards used to be a more solitary achievement. Daniel Fehlauer and J. Brooks Weaver, graduating seniors in the class of 1997, were the first co-valedictorians crowned by the College. Fehlauer, a Physics-German Literature double major, and Weaver, a Physics-Religion double major, each finished their academic careers in Hanover with a 3.99 GPA.
Nearly 20 years later, I’m not sure which is more quaint: that Dartmouth’s valedictorians could have less than a perfect 4.0 GPA, or that there were only two of them. As I documented three years ago in this space, the grade inflation scourge has made a mockery of the College’s top honors. In recent years, every June has brought a new record in the number of valedictorians and salutatorians:
Last year, the College honored 12 students in total, including eight salutatorians with 3.99 GPAs. If 2016 follows the recent trend, we will likely have even more. Luckily, in 2014, the administration ended its longstanding tradition allowing each valedictorian a chance to speak at Commencement. Otherwise the graduating class might soon be sitting out on the Green all day listening to speeches.
Addendum: In May of last year the Ad Hoc Committee on Grading Practices and Grade Inflation presented its full report to the faculty. Among the document’s highlights was a summary of the evolution of grading at the College between 1974 and 2014 — and a prediction regarding the number of valedictorians and salutatorians 38 years from now:
The odds that grading standards have become tougher since 2015 are, uh, low.
Senior Class President Danny Reitsch ‘16, Senior Class Treasurer Michael Beechert ‘16, the Moderator of the Palaeopitus Society Robert Scales ‘16, the Vice President of Student Assembly Dari Seo ‘16, and Junior Class President Elisabeth Schricker ‘17 have drafted a petition to the Trustees and administrators regarding the future of the College.
Let’s hope to see more against-the-grain courage from students in the coming years. Dartmouth needs all students, alumni and faculty to do their duty.
Addendum: A recent graduate writes in:
I felt compelled to write after your most recent post re: Student Leaders Speak Out. These students hit the ball out of the park. They’ve eloquently summed up what has been 10 years of frustration for me and what I expect must be a large portion of the alumni body. As the College gears up for a capital campaign, Phil and Co. must take these concerns to heart or I fear they will be very disappointed by the results.
Let’s make news in the right places, not in the realm of student life debacles, glorified babysitting and administrative bloat. Let’s see some concrete, positive steps towards world-class faculty recruitment and retention, the best undergraduate education in the world, and making this institution truly affordable. Until I am confident the College is allocating it’s resources towards these goals, I will not give a dime.
Addendum: Dartblog has learned that this evening, as a result of the Blue Lives Matter scandal, 1,891 American high school students crossed the College off the list of schools to which they will be applying in the fall.
The D covered the details of the May 9 faculty meeting effectively (there will be another one on the 23rd), but it didn’t note one observation (what students might refer to as a self-call) made by President Hanlon. After he commented on fundraising for faculty clusters, experiential learning, Moving Dartmouth Forward, the creation of a School of Graduate Studies, the Society of Fellows, the undergraduate houses, the promotion of diversity, and the possibility of some other “big plays” (“possibly a major institute to study global energy systems or possibly a major institute on brain behavior, or the arts and innovation district with focus on the creative mind or some few, big investments like that”) Phil said:
What it probably feels like is a moment of great opportunity, dizzying forward motion and change, and that’s because it is. That’s the kind of moment it is right now at Dartmouth. And this forward motion, let me say very clearly, this is in no way a statement that we are not good enough right where we are.
Hanlon also noted the success of fundraising by the College in the ramp-up to the long-awaited capital campaign.
What to make of such talk? First of all, Phil seems to have a PR posture that involves him talking up aspects of his administration as great successes in order to cover up weakness. “Dizzying forward motion?” Who on the faculty would agree with that statement? And who among students (who seem now to have turned angrily against Hanlon)? And as for fundraising, almost three years into Hanlon’s Presidency, shouldn’t the campaign have begun by now? It would have, had Phil received sufficient commitments to go from the “quiet phase” to a full-blown public campaign.
A more telling point: a call came from the floor at the meeting for a count to confirm that there was a quorum — were there the 75 required professors present to hold an official meeting? In fact, 80 faculty members were present, the lowest number in recent memory, according to one source. I’d say that professors are voting with their feet. Plodding Phil Hanlon may speak of his successes, and the out-of-touch Trustees may applaud him, but students and faculty see him as yet another member in a line of failed Dartmouth Presidents. After three years, I do, too.
Anthropology Professor Sergei Kan has written to the head of the Dean of the Faculty search committee and to 490 of his fellow professors asking that the next Dean come from the ranks of the College’s professors, as has been traditional, and not from another school:
Kan has a well deserved reputation for being outspoken — which, in the Dartmouth context, means that he says what he and a great many people think, but which few people have the courage to say. Bravo, Sergei!
Addendum: I sense a rumbling, ever-deepening discontent with Phil and Carolyn.
Addendum: See the Dean of the Faculty search committee letter in the extended:
Phil has decided to show some nerve and make a statement of principle:
While he is at it, our President might note that invading the library and screaming racist insults at students who are working there is off limits, too.
Addendum: Phil imagines an equivalency between the inadvertent removal of two T-shirts from a Collis display last November, and this past week’s premeditated vandalism. That’s wrong — as the BLM crowd and the campus NAACP knew..
This Dale Chihuly glass artwork — the Lime Green Icicle Tower at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts — is illuminated only by the sun, but it glows almost as if alive:
A visitor can reach over and touch the glass spines, none of which has a formally recognized position. Each time the piece is re-assembled, it is born anew.
There are artists who deride Chihuly — seen at right with his 2,000ft² Fiori di Como (Como Flowers) at the Bellagio in Las Vegas — as only a craftsman. Perhaps his art is too pleasing for an élite that disdains popular appreciation, but the pieces do merit sustained and repeated viewing. Isn’t that a better test?
We had the good fortune to visit Chihuly’s workshop in Seattle about twenty years ago. In it he had a lap pool with dozens of his pieces on the bottom; his works in water bear an uncanny resemblance to coral, at least as coral was in the past. An assistant wryly noted that occasionally the swimming maestro’s foot would graze a work, and a disconcerting — and very expensive — clink could be heard.
Addendum: On a recent trip to San Jose, I spotted a Chihuly piece in the headquarters of Oracle Corporation. However photographing it was beyond my (and my iPhone’s) capabilities, despite the kindness of a security guard. Here is a shot that appears on the website of Korth, Sunseri & Hagey, the architects of 488 Almaden:
Addendum: An alumnus writs in:
As you featured works by Dale Chihuly on Dartblog today, I was wondering if you have seen the Bridge of Glass in Tacoma?
The House Energy and Commerce Committee met on Friday to discuss concussive head injuries, and Football Coach Buddy Teevens, a member of the College’s remarkable Class of ‘79, testified extensively. You can hear his opening statement at 1:39:40 - 1:45:21 and he answered questions at: 2:28:18 - 2:30:30 and 2:47:50 - 2:50:40 and 3:04:00 - 3:05:43 and 3:07:20 - 3:07:52 and 3:08:49 - 3:09:20.
As Buddy tells it at the hearing, his no-tackling initiative has paid dividends on many levels: a remarkable reduction in concussions and other injuries, superior tackling technique and defense by his players, greatly improved recruiting for the football program, an Ivy League Championship for the College, and the initiation of a wave of no-tackling practices across the sport. Coach T came across as articulate and thoughtful (dare I say, intellectual?): he was to the point in answering questions and he left no doubt when he had finished his remarks. In short, he did the College proud.
Addendum: Dartmouth has wonderful students, a great many top professors, and a rapidly improving athletics program. Imagine what the College could be if it weren’t weighed down by a boat-anchor administration. Actually, you don’t have to imagine; just go back a few decades to when we were #7 in the U.S. News rankings, and we were the only institution of higher learning that occupied the research college niche.
Addendum: An alumnus from 1950’s comments:
This [BLM activity] is all truly dreadful stuff as the administration continues to inadvertently fan the flames of resentment throughout the community and beyond. I do not recognize the place where I spent four glorious years. Yes, I know similar events are happening elsewhere, but that notion provides little solace. Thank the Lord for Buddy.
Addendum: The Associated Press ran a laudatory story about Buddy’s testimony.
Black Lives Matter activist “Mikala Trilliams” (who shares a picture with Mikala Williams ‘18) admits to being part of a group that destroyed the College Republicans’ Blue Lives Matter display in Collis:
And the Republicans respond with the now-quaint argument that neutral principles of fairness and freedom of speech should protect their right to make public statements:
I say “quaint” because at the most recent faculty meeting Phil Hanlon told the assembled professors that the race of candidates for the Dean of the Faculty position matters greatly to him. And as we have documented, the College metes out punishment based on who you are and not on what you did. Why don’t these Republican people of privilege understand that at an institution of higher learning like Dartmouth race matters and reasoned argument does not. Phil and Carolyn confirm that observation almost every day.
Addendum: More seriously, what I am trying to say is that confused student are calling for adult guidance — but it is the administration that has them confused.
Addendum: The only element missing from the College’s latest drama is a meeting with Inge Lise Ameer.
Addendum: As of late Friday evening, the BLM folks were occupying the space around the bulletin board — ostensibly to protect it from a Republican counterattack.
NORTH HAVERHILL — A Grafton Superior Court judge on Monday upheld Hanover town officials’ ruling that members of Alpha Delta, a Dartmouth College fraternity banned from campus after its members branded themselves, may not live in their East Wheelock Street mansion.
Alpha Delta had challenged a decision from Hanover zoning officials that the fraternity’s loss of college recognition also meant it forfeited its status as a student residence.
Attorneys for the Greek-letter society said Alpha Delta should be considered “grandfathered” under the town’s zoning ordinance, which came into effect after the fraternity’s founding. After an unfavorable 3-2 decision from the Hanover Zoning Board, the fraternity filed an appeal in Superior Court.
A final hearing was held in January. On Monday, Judge Lawrence MacLeod Jr. ruled with the Zoning Board majority. He argued that Alpha Delta had not proven it had operated outside of Dartmouth’s influence before the institution of the zoning code, which requires that student residences in the campus “institutional” district be “in conjunction with” the college.
The court outcome was, in one way, moot: Since Alpha Delta’s expulsion, Dartmouth has enacted a rule forbidding students from living in unrecognized Greek-letter houses.
BREAKING: A Transcript of Jasbir Puar’s Presentation and a CAMERA Rebuttal
While a recording of Jasbir Puar’s GRID panel assertions — including that Israel arrogates to itself the right to maim Palestinians — is available at the College’s Jones Media Center, Puar’s presentation has not been made available to the public — until this moment. Click here to read a full transcript of her remarks.
Now that Puar’s words, if not the College’s high-quality video (PHIL, IT’S TIME TO RELEASE IT!) are online for everyone to peruse, Alex Safian, PhD, Associate Director of the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA), has prepared a point-by-point refutation of Puar’s claims.
Trigger Warning: Between Puar’s ugly assertions about Israel and her thick-as-it-gets, post-modern verbiage, the reading is slow going.
Brian Solomon’s Guide To The Stars: Economics Professor Jonathan Skinner
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:
Jonathan Skinner is the James O. Freedman Presidential Professor in Economics as well as the Professor of Family and Community Health at the Geisel School. His expertise in the field of health care economics has led him to contribute significantly to the current debates around the rising costs and future of health care in the United States.
Skinner graduated from the University of Rochester in 1977, magna cum laude with a B.A. in political science and economics. Afterward, he left the cold reaches of upstate New York for the sunny beaches of UCLA, where he earned both his Masters and Ph.D. in economics. He subsequently settling into a tenure track position at the University of Virginia from 1981 to 1995, with visiting stints at the University of Washington, Stanford, and Harvard
Skinner’s research is among the most cited of all professors at Dartmouth. According to Google Scholar, he has nearly 18,000 citations and 36 papers with at least 100 citations. His h-index of 71 places him among the top three professors in the faculty of Arts & Sciences.
The paper Skinner co-authored that has the most citations (1,375) was a piece for the Journal of Political Economy in 1994 with the title of Precautionary Saving and Social Insurance. It illustrated that certain social welfare programs encouraged poor families to spend rather than save their money:
In 1990, Grace Capetillo, a single mother receiving welfare assistance, was charged by the Milwaukee County Department of Social Services with fraud. Her crime: Her saving account balance exceeded $1000, the allowable asset limit for welfare recipients. How do programs with asset restrictions, such as Aid to Families with Dependent Children, Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and food stamps, affect the incentive to accumulate wealth?
As you might guess, the answer is not positive. Previous work on the savings rate gap between the poor and wealthy had focused only on earnings-based means tests, but restrictions in some social insurance programs incentivize their recipients to avoid accumulating assets. (A similar problem exists in the asset-based tests used for college financial aid scholarships that create an implicit tax on savings.)
More recently, Skinner has been cited in major publications on subjects such as the abnormally high cost of health care for dementia patients. In 2014 he and his coauthors also predicted that spending on health care in the United States will outpace economic growth by 1.2 percentage points over the next 20 years (full paper here). If you have an hour to spare, watch this talk Skinner gave in 2013 on the future of Medicare, which he calls “a really amazing program, and somewhat under-appreciated among people who have really come to take it for granted”:
In addition to all of Skinner’s research, he has served in various capacities at the Congressional Budget Office, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the National Academy of Science. He also teaches in the Masters of Health Care Delivery Science program and Economics 28 for undergraduates, an intermediate course focused on “public economics” — the intricate relationship between the economy and various levels of government activity.
Addendum: Here’s a fun panoramic photo from 2010 of Skinner capturing the attention of his Econ 28 class — with the possible exception of one student working on his laptop in the front row.
Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies Professor Annabel Martin (upper photo) didn’t quite say “I need some muscle over here,” like the now-fired Melissa Click (lower photo) did at the University of Missouri as she tried to impede a student photographer from reporting on an undergraduate protest; Martin simply called in Dartmouth Safety & Security and then the Town of Hanover Police when a student attempted to record an open-to-the-public panel discussion that included Rutgers Professor Jasbir Puar:
What a sad day for the College when visiting speakers can dictate to our faculty whether their words can or cannot be recorded — especially when many people expected that an anti-Semitic diatribe was in the offing. Seems to me like an anti-trust violation of the free market in ideas. Or at least a contravention of the court’s rules regarding the preservation of evidence.
Did you know that high-flying Tuck has its own endowment (which I expect is a dedicated section of the College’s total endowment)? I didn’t. Not until Poets & Quants asked all the leading B-schools just how wealthy they are. Tuck comes in at #13 with a total endowment of $332 million::
Savvy readers understand that total size is a poor way to measure a school’s financial resources, and Poets & Quants knows that, too. The publication crunched the numbers to measure endowment per student among the same schools. Tuck was a rich #4:
That meaningful level of wealth allows little Tuck to score high in the rankings: #8 at U.S. News; #5 for Forbes; #3 in The Economist; #13 among U.S. schools and #22 worldwide in the Financial Times; and #14 in Bloomberg Business.
As we have noted, Tuck ranks #1 in alumni participation in giving by a long way.
Addendum: In endowment per student the College ranks #4 in the Ivies with $740,000 per student. We are a long way behind Princeton ($2,809,000), Yale ($2,037,000), and Harvard ($1,736,000), but we are far ahead of Penn ($476,000), Brown ($335,000), Columbia ($323,000) and Cornell ($276,000).
Lest you think that these figures have no meaning, as a result of our wealth, we were able to pull $212.5 million out of the endowment in 2015 to finance operations; in comparison, Brown (which has a third more students than we do, and has more professors and pays them on average more) was able to draw only $142.7 million from its endowment — a difference of just under $70 million. Nonetheless, Brown will charge its students $64,556 in the coming year; Dartmouth will charge $66,174 — a difference of $1,618 (2.5%).
In the U.S. News rankings we are #12 among all institutions of higher learning, though in the Ivies we are ahead of only Brown (#14) and Cornell (#15). We seem to drop a place every couple of years. As for tuition, we charge more than any Ivy except Columbia.
Hanlon Announces Dean of Faculty Search; Tips Hand on Candidate Profile
President Hanlon has sent out a memo regarding the search for the new Dean of the Faculty who will replace the amiable but ineffective Mike Mastanduno. At the faculty meeting on Monday, Hanlon emphasized that the term “national search” meant that:
Both internal and external candidates will be given full consideration in this search. The sole objective would be to find the most qualified leader to fill the position of the Dean of Faculty.
However, Phil then described his own past experiences in hiring senior deans:
My history in dean searches is probably relevant here. In my day I have conducted nine dean searches, all of them national searches. In every case I insisted that the search process generate a deep, talented, diverse pool of internal and external candidates from which to choose. In five of those cases I hired an internal candidate; in four of them I hired an external candidate. Of the nine, only two of the deans I hired were white males; four of them were people of color. So, that sort of tells you what I am looking for in the search…
One would have to assume that the remaining three deans that Phil has hired were white women.
What an astoundingly clear declaration. White males outnumber other groups in the academy and at Dartmouth by a long ways — 63% of the full professors at the College are white males:
Yet Phil is leaving no doubt where his preferences — or should we say his biases — lie. The phrase “chilling effect” springs to mind. Hanlon’s signaling words will certainly cause numerous qualified candidates to hesitate in expressing interest in the Deanship.
And what are we to make of a man who in the same breath says that he is looking for “the most qualified leader,” but then tells us with personal statistics that white males need not apply. Does Phil have nothing more to say about the qualities that he is looking for in his next Dean than to talk about identity politics?
Why doesn’t Phil tell the faculty that he is looking for a Dean who will tighten up tenure standards, or someone who will energetically attract top scholar/teachers to the College? Or a person who will seek to mold the curriculum so that students will not find themselves repeatedly closed out of oversubscribed courses or have an academically unfulfilling sophomore summer? It seems that Provost Carolynclusion Deversity is not the only senior Dartmouth administrator who can’t see a single priority beyond the fulfillment of racial quotas.
Addendum: A senior member of the faculty writes in:
You may be right about the motives behind Hanlon’s (Dever-driven?) explanation, but there may be other things at work. To my knowledge, we’ve never had a national search for this deanship. A dean from outside is possibly the end of everything that has made Dartmouth’s faculty unique. Our two leaders seem oblivious to the erasure of a Dartmouth that privileges both teaching and research.
Addendum: See Phil’s memo re: the search committee in the extended. Hint: there is nobody from the departments of Economics and Government on the committee.
Students are upset that English Professor Aimee Bahng has been denied tenure; meanwhile today’s lecture by New School Professor Nancy Fraser is part of her hiring review. Is Fraser the kind of person we want to have on the faculty?:
Once you have read, possibly a couple of times, the description of Fraser’s lecture, ask yourself if Dartmouth needs yet another professor who is part of the academic jargonistic phase of post-capitalist social evolution. (My view is that anyone who talks such pap should be stricken from the rolls posthaste.)
Addendum: Kevin Bui ‘17 and 101 people concerned about Aimee Bahng’s tenure decision shared a thought in the peculiar vernacular of too many of today’s protesting undergraduates:
Addendum: A close follower of the College’s affairs writes in:
After perusing a few snippets from Professor Bahng’s English department webpage, Fraser and Bahng sound like a toss-up to me. I say posthaste to both of them. P.C. gibberish and trendy drivel.
Addendum: A thoughtful reader shares a comment on Aimee Bahng:
Regarding your piece on Aimee Bhang, it’s easy, unfortunate, and dismissive to label things “jargon.” When this happens in science, we assume the terminology to be necessary and helpful, even if we don’t understand it When it happens in American Studies or other fields,especially the much-maligned “studies” areas, we assume it’s b.s. Just for the hell of it, you might consider that these terms (like scientific ones) build on past knowledge, connect to past work, and generally are part of the field moving itself forward.
Not only is this a cheap shot, it ignores more obvious reasons for Bhang’s tenure denial. It appears from her cv she’s been at Dartmouth since 2009, which means her tenure review must already have been postponed once or even twice. Her cv list of presented papers shows a steady record of reading at ASA, a very competitive conference. But it also mixes panels on which she was a respondent with those in which she presented. Her publication list has a hole between 2008 and 2015, which looks like someone scrambling as they come up for tenure. There is a strong record of (internal) grants which one might hope would have resulted in more completed work. Bhang’s book, labeled “forthcoming,’ is also very late in the game (this might be ok at some places if there weren’t also the lack of articles in the same period) and can’t be found on the Duke Press website. I can think of some places where this cv could earn you tenure, but they are not in Dartmouth’s league.
Students might be less knee-jerk and angry themselves if, instead of attacking Bhang’s field from a cartoonish position, you situated her actual tenure case (admittedly, it can’t be known fully from this kind of poking around) within the world of academic tenure practices.
Addendum: A reader responds:
Your correspondent needs to read about the Sokal affair in which a scientist concocted an article of pure jargonized gibberish and had it published in an academic journal of “postmodern cultural studies.”
The GRID panel at which Jasbir Puar participated had a theme that was defined as follows:
April 30 (Saturday): “Archipelagic Entanglements”: This event maps different entanglements of nature and culture that produce geographies of gender, sexuality, and race. With scholars focused on the Caribbean, Pacific Islands, Northeast Asia, and the Middle East, we will make archipelagic connections between bodies, landscapes and violence to push the limits of conventional frames like “the nation” or “the global.”
However it seems that Professor Puar chose, to nobody’s surprise, to take the opportunity to offer her stump speech on the supposed horrors of the Israeli occupation of Palestine. Parker Richards ‘18 of The D reports:
Puar is known for her controversial remarks about Israel, which was her main topic during the panel. The stated topic of the event was related to feminism and the environment rather than Middle Eastern politics, according to GRID’s website…
Rather than discussing the gender and ecological issues that were the topic of the panel, Puar began discussing conflicts in Israel and Palestine.
Though there were mixed thoughts on the content of Puar’s presentation, The D reported at some length on the views of Anthropology Professor Sergei Kan:
Kan said Puar’s statements at the GRID-sponsored event were “academic anti-Semitism.” He said he saw one Jewish student close to tears while others were emotionally distraught because their faith “was being covered in dirt.”
“This is hatred,” Kan said of Puar’s statements. “This is the kind of scholarship that wants to provoke, wants to offend and does it without any concern for accuracy.”…
Puar made accusations that Israelis maim Palestinians, a claim that represents a “deliberate maligning of Israel that has no factual or almost no factual foundation,” Kan said.
Matthew Goldstein ‘18 attempted to take a video of Puar’s talk. He was criticized by Gender Research Institute at Dartmouth (GRID) Director Annabel Martin (right), who first asked that he desist, and then called for the assistance of Dartmouth Safety & Security and finally the Town of Hanover Police. Goldstein ceased recording the event when he was threatened with arrest for disorderly conduct — however he only ended his effort after the conclusion of Puar’s comments. At this time it is unclear whether he has a complete record of the event and whether he plans to post it on-line.
Though a video of Puar’s remarks is not available, according to Professor Martin a recording of her presentation can now be listened to at the College’s Jones Media Center. I find it curious, especially given past controversies over the recording of Puar’s presentations, that the College would have agreed to limit the diffusion of Puar’s public presentation. The panel was open to all comers; why restrict its contents only to people who can later only listen to it in situ? Shouldn’t the College place a high value on both the sharing of knowledge and the prophylactic value of sunlight?:
Addendum: In response to the controversy around Puar’s remarks, Phil Hanlon and Carolyn Dever released this statement:
A defense of academic freedom is fine as far as it goes, but we can’t compliment our leaders for any originality here. Would they have been so evenhanded for a speaker who asserted, say, the intellectual inferiority of African Americans or the lesser aptitude of women in the sciences? Methinks not. That said, an evocation of school policy regarding free speech that was followed by a personal condemnation of anti-Semitism and vitriol that passes itself off as scholarship would have shown a courage and subtlety that Hanlon and Dever have not heretofore displayed.
Addendum: GRID has released two pieces in response to The D’s reporting: an essay by GRID Director Annabel Martin entitled “Response to Defamation Charges by The D”; the second one is a letter to the Editors of The D from a group who call themselves the Bully Bloggers (Lisa Duggan, Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis, New York University; Jack Halberstam, Professor of American Studies and Ethnicity, University of Southern California; Tavia Nyong’o, Associate Professor of Performance Studies, New York University; and Sandra Soto, Winton Chair in the Liberal Arts, Visiting Professor, American Studies, University of Minnesota, and Associate Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies, University of Arizona.)
Addendum: A Dartmouth parent writes in:
While purporting to uphold free speech, by acceding to Professor Puar’s demands for restricted distribution, the College is actually facilitating her anti-Semitic campaign. One of the most important principles of free speech is that ideas must be openly debated in the light of day. Fordham handled it better, when it told Professor Puar that any remarks she made in an open public meeting would not only be recorded but also made available to the press, in the interests of “academic transparency”. She cancelled her talk at Fordham.
Addendum: An alumnus shares a letter that he sent to Professor Martin, with a copy to Phil Hanlon:
Dear Professor Martin:
So you have brought a notorious speaker to campus to spread her message of hate to students, telling them that the government of Israel engages in the “maiming” of the Palestinian population, among other crimes, as a matter of policy. What’s next? Someone to tell us about how the Jews use the blood of gentile infants to make their matzo?
Shame on you and on the College for sponsoring this sort of bigotry. I would have thought that after the Holocaust, people would hesitate to sponsor such things, for fear of their reputation. Evidently not.
William B. Modahl ‘60
841 E. Palace Avenue
Santa Fe, NM 87501
Faculty Meeting: Changes to Distribs, Language Requirement, N.R.O.
For the life of me I can never understand why The D does not report on upcoming faculty meetings. Matters of real importance to students are discussed and voted on at these gatherings; for students to find out what happened after the fact cuts them out of conversations that they might influence either directly by their presence or at least in interactions beforehand with their own professors. This afternoon’s meeting has four items on the agenda that will impact the academic life at the College in meaningful ways:
1. Simplified Distributives: The current ten-course/eight-category system will be replaced for the Class of 2024 with the requirement that students take ten courses as follows: three in Natural and Applied Scientific Inquiry; three in Social Scientific Inquiry; three in Humanistic and Aesthetic Inquiry; and one in Interdisciplinary Inquiry. “One course in Natural and Applied Scientific Inquiry must have a sustained laboratory or field component. One course in Humanistic and Aesthetic Inquiry must be in critical analysis and one in creative production.”
In addition, the World Culture requirement would be reduced to one course “designed to help students engage and understand a world of cultural and social ‘difference.’” The recommendation suggests that a range of 40-50 different College courses would satisfy this requirement.
Analysis: Yawn. Other than the amorphous World Culture obligation (a sop to the oft-repeated demand of the BLM crowd and their acolytes that the College offer some kind of diversity re-education program), this simplifying change represents little more than a swing of the pendulum back to the requirements in place when I was a student.
The question of distributive requirements was broached at the faculty meeting on April 29, 2015. At that time Professor of Anthropology Deborah Nichols sharply asked for some (any?) data about the current course-choosing habits of students. She stood before her colleagues and said:
It would be great, though, if at some point we institute some kind of measures for the success of these things [distributive requirements] since we’ve now gone from one to the other and back again. Maybe since we are an educational institution, we could do some research and know something about the patterns from the course selection of our students and whether any of this makes a lot of difference or not.
The proposal put forward today contains nary a statistic.
2. Language Requirement: Also starting with the Class of 2024, “every student must complete one course at the level of Language 3 or above in a (non-English) language that is offered at Dartmouth. (Transfer credits will be considered.) There will be no exemptions, or ‘placing out’ of this requirement.”
Analysis: The logic of requiring students to study a foreign language and/or literature at the college level holds together, but I can’t help but suspect that this new obligation is more about obliging students to take courses in Humanities departments where we have (too) many tenured professors and not much student demand.
3. Quantitative/Formal Reasoning Requirement: The general belief among the members of the various committees who studied this proposal is that “some type of quantitative requirement should be preserved.” One course in this area will be required of students.
Analysis: Just as we have Writing 5 and Freshman Seminars to teach writing, the belief that we should teach fluency with numbers makes sense. Numeracy is lacking among students; a quick read of The D will confirm that fact.
4. Modified N.R.O.: This idea “proposes to replace the N.R.O. with a Satisfactory/D/E option, in which any grade of C- or higher would count as a Satisfactory grade, and contribute towards reducing the number of credits required for graduation. The grades of D and E would count in the student’s grade point average.” A maximum of three N.R.O. elections per student would be allowed.
Analysis: Although professors appreciate the theory behind the Non-Recording Option, in practice they hate it. Their sentiment stems from promising students who do poorly in an early-in-the-term quiz and too-quickly determine that they have little likelihood of earning an A. Such students then elect to take the course as an N.R.O., and their engagement in their coursework plummets. The proposal would ensure that students do at least a minimal amount of work in a course.
Conclusion: These curricular changes would take effect in the seventh year of Phil Hanlon’s Presidency.
Addendum: The D reported quickly on the meeting: changes to distribs were approved; the proposed language requirement modification was rejected; and discussion of the N.R.O. was put off to a future meeting.