Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Phil the Blogger, Where Art Thou?

Phil Hanlon announced with some fanfare on August 2, 2016 that he would be blogging, but since then, though he promised one or two post per month, his output has been sparse. No readers? No ideas? What’s up? And to think that I was worried about competition.

In fact, after a total of six posts between August and February, Phil has not written a thing for almost six months:

Hanlon Blog.jpg

If Phil isn’t blogging, maybe he is busy raising money — though, on second thought, given the College’s disastrous fundraising results (where, oh where, is that capital campaign?), maybe he is not doing that. However, on third thought, maybe he is fundraising, and he is just not very good at it.

Posted on July 25, 2017 4:00 AM. Permalink

Liberal Arts Police Work

While we are on the subject of bloggers, my classmate Dean Esserman ‘79 has become the Police Foundation’s Senior Counselor, and he has started off a blog with a post about humanistic policing that you should read as a primer on how we should all think about police work:

Dean Esserman Blog Comp.jpg

Dean is as clear-eyed as it gets about policing, and he articulates the challenges facing present-day law enforcement in an enlightening way.

Posted on July 25, 2017 3:59 AM. Permalink

Monday, July 24, 2017

The Administrative Pendulum

In their 2002 book, The Undiscipinables (available at Rauner), authors Sandra Gregg, Brian Reilly and James Tatum quote President Ernest Martin Hopkins regarding the origins of the senior fellowship program; Hopkins then goes on to talk about his overarching philosophy of education and its administration, too:

Hopkins Laws and Regulations.jpg

I think this is still another step towards untying somebody’s apron strings from around the waist of the Dartmouth undergraduate and turning him loose on his own sense of responsibility. We have had more laws and regulations and rules than were necessary to run a principality; and for 13 years now I have spent a large part of my time in knocking these down and getting rid of them… so far as my educational interest lies, my whole objective is to get the College recognized as a place where men are expected to stand on their own feet and, if they cannot do this, to take responsibility for falling down. … I prize this particular project because it is at least an eloquent gesture.

How bracing, in an era of safe spaces, special snowflakes and professional counseling for each and every student who feels challenged by social and work pressures, that a President can talk openly about responsibility, the educational benefits of failure, and the goal of having the College stand for specific values.

What if we could today have a President who unashamedly articulated the same themes? The world might sit up and take notice. Such language would be so distinctive that we wouldn’t need a slick slogan to point out that It’s Different at Dartmouth, as Jean Kemeny, wife of President John Kemeny (1970-1981) simply entitled her 1979 autobiography.

Furthermore, Hopkins offers us the model of a reforming President, one ready to hack away at the accumulated dross of the past with the goal of freeing up the College and its students so that they may achieve academic distinction. If Hopkins thinks that the Dartmouth of his day had “more laws and regulations and rules than were necessary to run a principality,” he would find today’s College filled with enough guidelines to administer a government agency. Is it too much to hope that Hopkins’ words inspire our next President (the current one seems incapable of inspiration).

Addendum: An alumnus writes in:

your post today inspired me to comment on something that has been a source of regret for some time. from the time I was an undergraduate (the stone age, circa 1965), I felt in my gut that dartmouth’s greatness stemmed directly from its distinctiveness—its location, its traditions (and the emphasis on them), its concentration on undergraduate liberal arts education, and the collegiality between students and faculty.

but over the decades, it was clear that many who came to hanover wanted to “transform” this college, one out of step with the postmodern zeitgeist, to take something singular and make it like every other elite bastion of academia. the penny dropped when james o. freedman lamented the fact that too many prospective students who applied to both dartmouth and H-Y-Pr were choosing the others. my immediate reaction was twofold: any high-school senior who applied to both dartmouth and harvard was an extremely confused puppy; and secondly, do we really want to have cadres of 18-year-olds dictate who and what we are?

we are (or were) who we are. we never tried to be like any other, but rather were happy in our own skin, so to speak. that’s not exactly consistent with diversity and inclusion, but so be it. those two values are a recipe for entropy and homogenization, and inevitably end up driving the institution to the level of insane asylum we see in higher education today.

Posted on July 24, 2017 4:00 AM. Permalink

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Though Tuck Be But Little, She Is Fierce!

B-School class sizes.jpgmbaMission’s Insider’s Guide to Tuck for the 2017-2018 year lays out the relative size of Dartmouth’s business school vs. the other majors. It then follows up with a complete review:

Tuck’s students typically have more work experience than those at other top programs, and of the Class of 2018, 100% entered with some level of full-time work experience (an average of five years). Although some top MBA programs have trended toward accepting younger applicants, Tuck’s small community environment actually benefits from its students’ depth of professional experience. In fact, an associate director of admissions at Tuck told mbaMission, “It would be very rare that we would offer deferred admission to a college senior.”

The school reportedly strives to maintain a small student-to-faculty ratio and, according to the Princeton Review, has one of the lowest—and some might say best—such ratios (11:1) among the top U.S. business schools. All of the school’s full-time faculty members teach in the MBA program and appear to maintain a balance between research and teaching. Tuck professors also stay active in the business community by holding advisory positions on boards and taking on consulting engagements, and this ongoing connection to the current business arena allows them to personally bring real-world experience into the classroom.

However, one thing we learned that Tuck students value most about the school’s faculty is the professors’ availability and approachability. A second year we interviewed shared that students commonly run into professors at restaurants or elsewhere around town and that faculty members are always very approachable. Another second-year student commented, “Professors are extremely accessible. You can go up to them, and they will invite you to their offices, or out for coffee or to their houses for dinner. Unlike at other businesses schools, a big divide between students and faculty does not exist at Tuck. … They often host events and are very much a part of the community.” He then affirmed, “Accessibility is the best part of Tuck.”

A fine performance for a small school lost in the wilds of New Hampshire.

Posted on July 23, 2017 4:00 AM. Permalink

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Joe Rago ‘05 (1983-2017) R.I.P.

Joe Rago.jpgThe age of 34 is too young for anyone to die, and the world should especially mourn the passing of one of Dartmouth’s most talented sons, Joe Rago ‘05. The Wall Street Journal, where he worked, reports:

Joseph Rago, a Pulitzer Prize winning editorial writer at The Wall Street Journal who was known for his richly reported pieces and influence on policy makers, was found dead Thursday evening at his home in Manhattan. He was 34 years old.

The New York Police Department found Mr. Rago dead in his apartment at 7:40 p.m., according to a police official. The authorities went to check on Mr. Rago after he didn’t show up for work on Thursday. Paul Gigot [‘77], the editor of the Journal’s editorial page, had alerted the paper’s security officials, who then contacted the police.

Mr. Rago was found with no obvious signs of trauma and emergency responders declared him dead at the scene, the police said. The cause of death was still being determined by the medical examiner on Friday.

“It is with a heavy heart that we confirm the death of Joseph Rago, a splendid journalist and beloved friend,” Mr. Gigot said in a statement. “Joe and his family are in our thoughts and prayers, and we will be celebrating his work in Saturday’s paper.”

Mr. Rago made his biggest mark writing about health care. In 2011, he captured the Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing for what the Pulitzer organization called his “well crafted, against-the-grain editorials challenging the health care reform advocated by President Obama.”

“No matter where you fall in the debate of health care reform, the arguments advanced by Joseph Rago in his series of editorials in The Wall Street Journal were impossible to ignore,” the judges wrote. “Not paying attention to these editorials was not an option for policymakers.”

Mr. Rago gained credibility with the policy community and with politicians because he did his homework, becoming one of the most well-sourced people around on health care, with sources throughout Washington and among academics on the left and right, Mr. Gigot said in an interview on Friday.

“Through his editorials, he had enormous impact on events in Washington,” he said.

The last editorial Mr. Rago wrote, on Wednesday, was titled “The ObamaCare Republicans,” Mr. Gigot said.

After coming to the Journal as a summer intern in 2005, Mr. Rago stood out for his thoughtful reporting and flair for prose. “I immediately hired him,” Mr. Gigot said. “He was just too good not to hire.”

Mr. Rago rose from an assistant editor on the op-ed page to editorial writer to a member of the editorial board. Friends and colleagues say he was modest and serious, but with a sardonic sense of humor that made him a pleasure to be around.

“He was the kind of person you liked to have a beer with—I know that’s a cliché, but it’s actually true,” Mr. Gigot said.

Along with health care, Mr. Rago’s topics ranged from energy regulation to antitrust issues to the debate between privacy and national security. He was the Journal’s main editorial writer during the 2016 presidential campaign and did interviews with many of the candidates as well as filed colorful opinion pieces from the campaign trail.

A native of Falmouth, Mass., Mr. Rago graduated with a degree in history from Dartmouth College in 2005. While there, he was a member of the Phi Delta Alpha fraternity and wrote for the Dartmouth Review, an independent conservative student newspaper. He served on the paper’s board of directors at the time of his death.

He remained active with the campus and in a 2011 videotaped interview there said he tried to stay in touch with students from all over the country and offer his advice.

“Journalism is a hard field to get into, and I caught a break and try to help other people,” he said.

In an interview, Peter Robinson [‘79], a former speechwriter to President Ronald Reagan and a fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, said that attitude was typical of Mr. Rago, a longtime friend and 2010 media fellow at Hoover.

“Joe was an intellectual fighter but there was also just a wonderful sweetness about him,” he said.

He praised Mr. Rago’s rigorous approach to opinion writing, saying Mr. Rago always presented the information readers needed to have to assess his conclusions.

“That’s very rare,” Mr. Robinson said. “Joe was never just mouthing off. He was doing the hard work of real journalism.”

The Journal has also published a compendium of Joe’s finest writing.

When Joe won his Pulitzer, I noted:

On occasion I will read an article and find myself pausing to observe that the quality of its writing is exceptional. I automatically look to the byline to see the author’s name. This was often the case in years past when Joe Rago ‘05 was Editor-in-Chief of the Dartmouth Review.

Addendum: A former news managing editor for the D writes in:

Big loss for the College, Phi Delt, and the Journal. Joe had a knack for distilling his arguments in a clear and compelling way, and was an inspiration for many campus journalists — myself included. Not to mention, the members of his class at Phi Delt singlehandedly saved their house from de-recognition and brought it back to its status as a campus institution.

Addendum: Rago has fans far and wide:

Paul Ryan Rago.jpg

Posted on July 22, 2017 4:00 AM. Permalink

Friday, July 21, 2017

Take My Provost, Please

Rodney Dangerfield’s line (actually, he referred to his wife) [actually, it’s Henny Youngman’s line — mea culpa] still makes me smile, though a recent headline might put a crimp in a College outplacement strategy: the fake positive recommendation. Inside Higher Education reports:

IHE Recommednation Firing Comp.jpg

One of the many little corruptions in the academy is the failure to fire incompetent people. Rather than give the boot to unsuccessful administrators so they might face their own inadequacies — rather than peddling them down the road at another institution — senior people routinely shade their recommendations (lying is a better verb) in order to encourage other schools to take staffers off their hands. Is this behavior indicative of a lack of resolve? Or a failure to rigorously insist on quality? Or just self-interested solidarity, i.e. I won’t do to someone what I hope they won’t do to me?

I don’t know for sure, but such dishonesty does not help our colleges and universities serve their students better.

Former Dean of the College Charlotte Johnson is a salient example. We poached her from Colgate, and as soon as she arrived in Hanover, I started hearing from staffers in Hamilton about the big mistake that we had made. After three years in town here, Johnson was off to Scripps where she has continued her undistinguished career. Phil had given her a gentle warning that her contract would not be renewed, and she had plenty of time and support finding a new position where she could work her magic.

UNC’s Carol Folt, formerly our interim President, Provost and Dean of the Faculty, would have been hard-pressed to find a sincere supporter in Hanover, yet somehow (you know how) she was hired to run one of the country’s leading state schools.

So what are Phil & Co. saying these days about Provost Dever to other institutions of higher learning? Are they touting Carolyn’s behind-the-scenes achievements? Are there any? The only stage center actions that she has effected are her endless diversity and inclusion memos.

The fact that Carolyn has not landed a plum job somewhere by now (she has been hunting for months) at her $783,890/year salary, incites the occasional vain thought in yours truly. Perhaps hiring committees out there are reading this space, and are using back channel means to find out what is really going on in the Provost’s office in Parkhurst. The answer that would are receive from the faculty in Hanover: not much of anything.

Addendum: An alumnus writes in to say that the line, “Take my wife, please,” belongs to Henny Youngman, not Rodney Dangerfield. Ooops!

Posted on July 21, 2017 4:00 AM. Permalink

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Distinctly Dartmouth! Sigh

You heard it here first. The administration’s next big marketing initiative is the phrase Distinctly Dartmouth — around which the Office of Communications and the Admissions staff will build a whole branding campaign. Sheesh. Sounds like the tagline for an upscale, gated housing community, a place whose McMansions are endowed with marble fireplaces, crystal chandeliers and real Corinthian leather.

How many hours of staff time and endless focus group gatherings did it take to come up with such an anemic alliteration? I mean, really, such boring branding. What slick sloganeering. I could go on.

After all, we are talking about an institution of higher learning that still possesses a faculty devoted to top-flight scholarship and close interaction with undergraduates. Is the Hanlon administration so lacking in self-confidence and so condescending towards prospective students that it thinks that the most-qualified high school seniors in the country won’t apply to the College and won’t come to Hanover unless we have a cutesy catchphrase?

How about skipping the hype and talking about our unique collection of foreign study programs, small classes with devoted professors, ample opportunities to do research, an intimate campus, and a friendly, open culture? And how about having the administration actually reinforce with time and money those salient attributes, rather than having bureaucrats pretend that they are in an episode of Mad Men.

Leave it to the Office of Alumni Relations to jump the gun last Christmas:

Distinctly Dartmouth comp.jpg

Phil’s letter to the campus of September 16, 2016 announcing the Irving Oil Energy Center contained the same phrase:

The institute will offer support for faculty and students to elevate research, teaching, and learning. It will provide resources for students, including undergraduate research opportunities; curricular development funds; and create a visible infrastructure that will help us secure new grants. The institute will help our community soar.

Undergraduate and graduate students will be full partners in the work of the institute, building on our rich history of student-faculty collaboration and creating a center of excellence that is distinctly Dartmouth. New research and programs will involve nearly every academic department in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and faculty in our professional schools in an integrated, cross-disciplinary manner.
[Emphasis added]

Back in the mid-1990’s, when we were the seventh-ranked school in the country, our renown was based mostly on word-of-mouth — the objective estimations of students and faculty members who could directly evaluate the College’s scholarly achievements and innovative academic programs. At that time we didn’t have or need advertising agency savvy or toney slogans to describe what goes on in Hanover.

Addendum: Here’s what’s next around the Ivy League: Patently Princeton. Conspicuously Cornell. Particularly Penn. Categorically Columbia. Hugely Harvard. Beyond Doubt Brown. Uniquely Yale.

Addendum: An alumnus writes in:

It was actually Boldly Brown.

Addendum: An alumnus writes in to note that the below slide was shown at this May’s Alumni Council meeting:

Distinctly Dartmouth Slide.jpg

It outlines five pillars of the dead-in-the-water capital campaign.

Addendum: Another alumnus write in — with wit:

Is the Capital Campaign “Distinctly Dead”?

Posted on July 20, 2017 4:00 AM. Permalink

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The Administration’s Hollow Boast On the Strength of Class of 2021 SAT Scores

President Hanlon claims that Dartmouth is “hot,” and the College’s PR folks don’t miss an opportunity to tout the alleged strength and sky-high yield of the Class of 2021. But as we have seen, Dartmouth loses on cross-admits against every other Ivy, save for Cornell. Still, we really should examine the College’s claim that the incoming class is “the most academically accomplished… the College has ever accepted.” In support of this assertion, the press release proffers the statistic that “mean SAT scores rose 17 points over last year’s accepted students, to an all-time high of 1495.”

However — why aren’t you surprised? — the alleged academic strength of the incoming class is NOT what it seems to be. With the new and redesigned SAT, the exam was rescaled. As the College Board itself explains, “Because the two tests are different, their scores are not equivalent — concordance is the only way to make comparisons between them.”

So, at the very least, the College is being sloppy in comparing scores that are on the same nominal numerical scale of 200 to 800, but are in no other ways comparable. To actually understand what the nominal rise in SAT scores means, let’s examine the College Board’s own concordance tables:

SAT Concordance Highlighted.jpg

As we can see, a higher score on the new SAT generally correlates with a lower score on the old SAT. Apparently, grades are not the only thing being inflated these days. Here is a graphical representation:


As the administration trumpets, the mean SAT score for students admitted to the Class of 2021 is 1495. Let’s be charitable and call that 1500. The mean SAT for those admitted to the Class of 2020 was 2219 on the 2400 scale and 1478 on the 1600 scale (see the yellow highlights above). Let’s call that 2220 and 1480, respectively. 2220 on the old SAT scales to somewhere between 1520 and 1530 on the new SAT, and 1480 scales to somewhere between 1510 and 1520. Using the table in the other direction, 1500 on the new SAT scales to 2170 out of 2400 or 1460 out of 1600 for the old SAT.

Either way, the sub-1500 score we are seeing for the Class of 2021 seems at a minimum like a 20-point drop (out of 1600) in real terms compared to the Class of 2020. Uh, Phil?

Does all this accounting really matter? Who knows? As anyone who has been through the process of applying to college can attest, scores on standardized tests are just one factor in a dauntingly complex and seemingly capricious process. There exists a surfeit of students with high test scores, and admissions officers have the unenviable job of constructing a class that is not just smart, but interesting and varied as well.

However, for our mathematician President and his administration to tout the incoming class as the strongest in the College’s history based on quantitative metrics is, at the very least, misleading. A truer representation is that this year incoming students’ mean SAT scores fell by more than 20 points, and by this limited metric the Class of 2021 is weaker than the Class of 2020, not stronger.

Of course, the administration’s leaders know this, but they think that we don’t. We do.

Addendum: Dartblog has it on good authority that most upperclassmen already believe that the Class of 2021 is the worst Dartmouth class ever.

Posted on July 19, 2017 4:00 AM. Permalink

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

International Students’ Homes?

This article in the Wall Street Journal prompted a reader to ask how many Chinese students we have at the College:

China Squeeze.jpg

Needless to say, the Office of Institutional Research’s FactBook was right on the money (click on the image to enlarge it):

International Students Enrolled.jpg

The grand totals for the Classes of 2017-2020 for the countries most strongly represented in the undergraduate student body are: Canada (69), Korea (40), China (40), India (16), the UK (23) and Mexico (17).

Posted on July 18, 2017 4:00 AM. Permalink

Monday, July 17, 2017

Aimee Goes Pomona

The College makes no announcement regarding the departure of faculty members high and low (if you hear of anyone leaving, please let me know), so it is up to this space to keep you informed. Today’s news regards former English Professor Aimee Bahng — she of the vigorous tenure controversy and anti-Israeli sentiment — who has found herself a job at Pomona, one that lacks tenure, at least at the present time:

Aimee Bahng Pomona Comp.jpg

This fall Aimee will be teaching two courses at Pomona as part of the Gender, Women, and Feminist Studies curriculum. Here are the descriptions:

Aimee Bahng Courses.jpg

Bahng’s book, Migrant Futures: Decolonizing Speculation in Financial Times, is now out, courtesy of the Duke University Press:

Aimee Bahng Migrant Futures.jpg

If anyone reads this opus, please let me know how it is. I fear that I won’t have the time to get to it.

Addendum: The Claremont colleges — Claremont-McKenna, Pomona, Scripps, Pitzer and Harvey Mudd — seem something of a refuge for Dartmouth folks. Little-missed Dean of the College Charlotte Johnson landed at Scripps after her three-year contract at the College was not renewed.

Addendum: Still no word on where Provost Dever will end up. Perhaps we can trade her back to Vanderbilt for a player to be named later — much later.

Posted on July 17, 2017 4:00 AM. Permalink

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Memorial Field Sun

A timeless image of a campus landmark unchanged for generations:

Memorial Field Sun.jpg

Wikipedia’s thumbnail history of Memorial Field:

In 1893, Dartmouth alumni built a football field called Alumni Oval in the southeastern part of the campus. The field’s original wooden grandstand, which backed up on Crosby Street, burned in 1911. In 1923, the College built Memorial Field, with a brick-faced concrete stand and press box on Crosby Street. The stadium opened as a memorial to the students and alumni who had served and died in World War I. Permanent stands on the east side of the field were built later, and end zone bleachers have also been used.

Memorial Field underwent renovation during the summer of 2006, including replacement of the natural grass field with artificial turf to allow nearly year-round use; installation of an 8-lane Tartan track; construction of safety improvements; and the construction of a new varsity athletics center that has reduced the East Stands. With some of the loss made up by stands placed behind the end zones, the current seating capacity is approximately 11,000, down from 22,000 pre-renovation. Despite the loss of seats, it is still the largest athletic field of any sort in northern New England, ahead of the University of Vermont’s 10,000-seat soccer stadium.[citation needed]

The stadium is the end-point of a popular Shriners parade every summer, and is often the venue for the New Hampshire vs. Vermont high school all-star football game which follows the parade.

The Athletics Department prepared a video in 2014 about Memorial Field:

Posted on July 16, 2017 4:00 AM. Permalink

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Cornel and Quezalcoatal

I don’t write about the courses that I audit at the College (probably approaching about 45 in number by now — I started in the mid-1990’s), but in enjoying Cornel West’s intellectual and emotional pyrotechnics in his course this summer on the life, times and thought of W.E.B. Du Bois, an image kept appearing in my head:

Cornel Quetzalcoatl.jpg

Cornel is on the left; that’s Quetzalcoatal on the right from the Orozco Murals (from the Departure of Quetzalcoatal panel).

Addendum: The Hood Museum has an everything-you-could-want-to-know site regarding Orozco’s epic work.

Posted on July 15, 2017 4:00 AM. Permalink

Churchill As He Really Was

The latest Churchill film — Darkest Hour — seems more in line with the consensus understanding of the Great Man, in contrast to the spirit of takedown evident in the recent movie, Churchill. The trailer for Darkest Hour has just appeared; Variety reports that the release date for the film will be November 24:

I am happy to see that Darkest Hour integrates research from John Lukacs’ thrillingly original book, Five Days in London: May 1940, regarding the to-negotiate-or-not-with-Hitler debate in the War Cabinet.

Addendum: The WWII hits just keep on coming: Dunkirk will open next week.

Addendum: An alumnus writes in:

As a fellow admirer of Winston Churchill, I enjoyed seeing your post on today’s Dartblog about the upcoming movies about Churchill and Dunkirk. I was not previously aware of either one, and both look like they will be well worth seeing.

Since you so admire Churchill, I wanted to call your attention to another Churchill film with which you may not be familiar. I saw it about a decade ago at a local art house cinema, and then saw it again a few months later when it appeared again at the same theater. The small theater was packed on both occasions and at the conclusion of the film on both occasions the audience broke into applause. I like to think that the applause was for the long ago deceased subject of the film rather than for the film makers, although applause was warranted for both.

The movie is titled Winston Churchill: Walking With Destiny, and it was done by Moriah Films, which is associated with the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles. It is a documentary which runs just over 100 minutes. The principal focus of the film is on the period from around May 1940, when France was falling and Churchill was taking office as Prime Minister to just after Pearl Harbor, when America’s entrance into the war provided relief to Churchill that his country’s darkest hour had finally passed..

If you have not seen it, I would highly recommend that you see it if you get a chance. It is a very moving film and really does the man justice.

Winston Churchill: Walking With Destiny is available for rent in iTunes and for streaming on NetFlix.

Posted on July 15, 2017 3:59 AM. Permalink

Friday, July 14, 2017

A Fourth Term for Thayer’s Joe Helble

Joe Helble.jpgIn another encouraging sign, the Hanlon administration has re-appointed Thayer Dean Joe Helble to lead the up-and-coming Thayer School of Engineering. He will begin his fourth four-year term on July 1. New buildings, more students, tighter cooperation with the undergraduate College and an overall increased dynamism have been the hallmarks of Helble’s leadership. In addition, Helble can report a national first for the College:

Thayer has seen a sharp increase in the percentage of engineering graduates who are women. In 2016, Dartmouth granted 52 percent of its undergraduate engineering degrees to women, making it the first national research university to award more bachelor’s degrees in engineering to women than to men. The national average remains just under 20 percent.

Helble LinkedIn.jpgHelble’s resumé (right) on LinkedIn gives you some idea of his background. How nice to see real private sector experience, especially given, as Helble notes, “Thayer nurtures and encourages our faculty entrepreneurs. One third of our tenure-track faculty have started a company, giving Thayer the highest percentage of faculty-entrepreneurs among U.S. engineering schools.”

Could Helble be the College’s next President? In a sense the graduate schools are the Triple A ball to the Dartmouth major leagues. Should we promote a slugger from Triple A to replace the weak-fielding singles hitter with a .128 batting average who is currently trying to run the school?

Addendum: In this video of a TEDxDartmouth 2011 event, Helble details the importance of technological literacy:

Addendum: For West Coast alumni who want to see Joe Helble live and in person, he will be presenting at the 2017 Dartmouth Entrepreneurs Forum in San Francisco on Friday, September 8 at the UCSF Mission Bay Conference Center, San Francisco — as will Tuck Dean Matt Slaughter; Hany Farid, Chair of the Computer Science department; and Eric Fossum, Associate Provost for Entrepreneurship and Technology Transfer. The DEF is open to the entire Dartmouth community.

Addendum: The College’s press release announcing Helble’s reappointment contained a lead comment from Provost Carolyn “Broken Record” Dever:

Helble Dever Comment.jpg

Can Provost Dever ever say anything that does not smack of her politics?

Addendum: D writer Rebecca Flowers ‘19 has a data-rich, detailed report on Joe Helble’s reappointment. Good writing.

Posted on July 14, 2017 4:00 AM. Permalink

Thursday, July 13, 2017

ISP Problems

The Internet Service Provider (ISP) that hosts Dartblog seems be having technical difficulties. Loading the site is easier on some browsers than on others. Apologies.

Problems have this type occurred early last year, too. They were sorted out within a day.

Addendum: Is anyone still having any difficulty in logging on to the site? It now works for me using IE, Chrome, Safari and Firefox.

Posted on July 13, 2017 7:57 AM. Permalink

Dean Dan of the Sciences

Dan Rockmore1.jpgThings are looking up. The new Dean of the Faculty, Elizabeth Smith, had a position to fill immediately upon her appointment because she herself had vacated the Associate Dean of the Sciences role in order to become Dean. Her choice: Dartblog favorite Dan Rockmore, the Math and Computer Sciences departments’ Renaissance man. What a happy surprise. Dan’s name had been bruited about over the years as the head of the Science division, but no Dean had ever picked him.

We can surmise that Elizabeth Smith herself made the choice, given that Rockmore and other qualified candidates had not even merited an interview during Phil Hanlon/Carolyn Dever’s Dean of the Faculty search (the one that brought us Bruce Duthu for a while, before Smith was given the job).

Over the years we’ve written about Rockmore’s show at the Museum of Modern Art, his new, edited book about the various academic disciplines, his New Yorker essay about how he has banned the use of laptops in his own classes, and his Wall Street Journal column and film about The Birth of BASIC. Most recently, i.e. the day before yesterday, Rockmore has a piece in Slate about the Neukom Institute’s competition involving human/machine interactions in artistically creative endeavors. Dan is the director of the Neukom Institute. As I said, a Renaissance man.

So here’s to Smith’s choice of Rockmore. Let’s hope that he is tough-minded and rigorous in his role as Associate Dean of the Sciences. Hard decisions will need to be made; winners will win and losing ideas need to lose. Bad compromises help nobody, least of all Dartmouth.

Addendum: Review Dan Rockmore’s Google Scholar findings for the complete list of his publications.

Addendum: John Gregg in the Valley News writes:

Rockmore was to have assumed that associate dean’s post back in 2004, but that got scrapped after his ally, Michael Gazzaniga, the founder of the field of cognitive neuroscience, stepped down as dean of the faculty following an ugly no-confidence vote from a narrow majority of department [and program] heads.

Addendum: An ‘11 recounts a Rockmore anecdote:

In a previous post you discussed Prof Dan Rockmore and his all around excellence. Your post today brought him back into my mind, and gave me cause to share an anecdote demonstrating that, simply put, he is a nice guy.

My junior year, I took a mid-level math course with him, and unfortunately I had to miss a Thursday midterm in his course due to a funeral. Additionally, I had to catch a 9 am Friday bus to leave town for an away football game. His solution: he came in at 6AM Friday morning, two young children in tow, and allowed me to take the exam in his office before the bus departed. He also brought me a coffee.

For the department chair to wake up his kids early to proctor a makeup exam, instead of just sending a grad student or not accommodating my unique situation, speaks volumes about his commitment to undergrads. This is a guy who truly cares about his students.

Posted on July 13, 2017 4:00 AM. Permalink

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Berthold on Ernest Martin Hopkins

Yesterday’s post on Fred Berthold ‘45’s recollections of College life contained another nugget worth thinking about. His below observation about President Ernest Martin Hopkins illustrates a first principle that seems to be passing from the scene, at least for some members of current student generation. Hopkins was a member of the Class of 1901, and he served as President of the College from 1916-1945:

Berthold on Hopkins Comp.jpg

This year a large number of Middlebury students couldn’t seem to stomach the presence on their campus of Harvard scholar Charles Murray, yet in the above quote we have Dartmouth’s conservative President Hopkins open to the idea of a lecture by the USSR’s bloody dictator, Josef Stalin. In a better time, the Midd students would have boned up on their Murray and engaged the professor in a vigorous, fact-filled debate (as Dartmouth students did, to their credit, less than a year before the Middlebury near-riot). Isn’t that a more thoughtful posture — and ultimately a more productive one — than trying to muzzle a scholar?

The principle of free and unimpeded speech should be a bedrock belief in the academy, supported by both a humility that one might be wrong on any given issue, and also by the belief that even the most pernicious beliefs should be analyzed, understood and then argued against or supported as the case may be. Did the Midd students even read any of Murray’s works, or had they just heard third-hand that The Bell Curve was a racist book, and therefore Murray was to be prevented from speaking? If the latter is true, and I expect that it is, then those students forfeit any right to the terms student and scholar. Brownshirt would be more appropriate.

Addendum: The “quota” to which Bertold refers is the reprehensible, but all too common among institutions of higher learning at the time, limit on the number of Jewish students at the College. A modern-day equivalent would be much-discussed Ivy League restriction on the percentage of Asian-Americans at each school. Dartmouth’s anti-Semitic restrictions were documented in a senior thesis written by Alexandra Shepherd ‘92, a 95-page paper entitled Seeking a Sense of Place: Jewish Students in the Dartmouth Community: 1920 to 1940. (Does anyone know of a link to this paper? It is in the College’s library catalogue.)

Addendum: In its Jan/Feb 2015 edition, the Alumni Magazine published several lighter vignettes about Hopkins:

Ernest Martin Hopkins Vignettes.jpg

Addendum: Click here to access a wide range of Rauner interviews regarding the Hopkins administration.

Posted on July 12, 2017 4:00 AM. Permalink

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Nelson Wormwood, Campus Policeman

Fred Berthold.jpgThe staff at the College’s Rauner Special Collections Library does a good job recording alumni memories of the old Dartmouth (do you think that they are archiving Dartblog?) for Rauner’s Oral History Project. A professor sent me a charming interview with the Reverend Doctor Fred Berthold ‘45 conducted by Mary Stelle Donin.

Berthold, who was hired at the College in 1949 as an instructor in philosophy, later joined the Department of Religion, where he became a full professor in 1956. In 1957 he was named the first dean of the William Jewett Tucker Foundation. In his reminiscences about the College of yore, Berthold recounted the following anecdote:

Nelson Wormwood Comp.jpg

Nelson Wormwood Portrait1.jpgNelson Wormwood! (At right.) Sounds like a character out of Harry Potter. But I bet that he did a good job keeping undergraduates on the straight and narrow.

What a contrast with today’s College. Though we have slightly more than twice the number of students on campus today as compared to Berthold’s time in Hanover, there are thirty-seven times as many campus policemen. That’s the number in the 2016 Annual Security and Fire Safety Report, if you add up all of the different people working there:

Eighteen (18) Security Officers and Guards are trained to patrol the campus on foot, in vehicles and on bicycles, and are actively involved in the personal and physical security of the campus. Seven (7) Communication Officers provide continuous coverage of the Communications Center where they answer questions, provide information, and dispatch personnel to answer calls for service and to provide assistance in routine and emergency situations. Assisting the Director in administering all of the responsibilities of the department is an Associate Director; nine (9) supervisory personnel, which include three (3) full-time investigators all of whom are trained to conduct investigations into sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, stalking, and bias incidents; and one administrative assistant.

We won’t even ask how much of the Safety & Security budget is devoted to diversity training.

In its 1977 edition, the Alumni Magazine reviewed the growth of the College’s Safety and Security force (note: this data contradicts the notion that Wormwood was a one-man show; but he was certainly the sharp end of the spear):

1769-1920: no campus police
1920-or-so-1931: George “Bud” Spray
1931-1947: Spray and Nelson Wormwood
1947-1949: Wormwood and Theodore Gaudreau
1949-1963: Gaudreau, a lieutenant and two officers
1963-1964: John Carey, a lieutenant and two officers
1964-1975: John O’Connor, a lieutenant and two officers, and, I imagine, others
1976—1977: Robert McEwan, eight men in uniform and two female office staff

And so it goes.

Addendum: In his book Ten Years To Manhood, Clarke Church ‘50 recounts an anecdote about the “legendary” Nelson Wormwood:

Wormwood Clarke Church.jpg

Addendum: In another Oral History Project interview, Burton Elliott ‘48 recounts his own run-in with Nelson Wormwood:

Wormwood Burton Elliott Comp.jpg

“Topflight police work,” as Paul Newman said in Cool Hand Luke.

Posted on July 11, 2017 4:00 AM. Permalink

Monday, July 10, 2017

Revisiting Faculty Compensation

As Joe Asch ‘79 has noted, the College’s uncompetitive faculty compensation is a continual source of discontent among Dartmouth professors. We now have updated data for the most recent year:


As previously explained, the College fell behind peer schools during the recession despite progress through 2009 on the issue. Dartmouth has treaded water since then; our compensation has only tracked the pay of our “Non-Ivy-League Peers” for several years (and has even fallen a shade below them). 2017 brings more of the same. One might reasonably ask about the component schools in the “Non-Ivy-League Peers” comparison group. Take a look:


Yikes. The University of Chicago, Duke, and Northwestern are worthy as peer institutions. Reaching somewhat, one might say that Vanderbilt, Washington University in St. Louis, and Georgetown are as well. But Boston College and the University of Rochester? They have no business on that list. Needless to say, someone could have selected a better comparison group. If the College is now falling below even this benchmark, then our decline speaks to exactly how poor a job the administration has done in managing the faculty.

Moving on to a breakdown by academic rank, the latest data show, once again, that Dartmouth is especially far behind at the more junior ranks of Assistant and Associate Professor, the members of the faculty who represent the College’s future (click on the image to enlarge it):


We previously reported in 2016 that $5.4 million per year would close the pay gap between the College and the U.S. News Top 20 schools. Now, consider the fact that Government Professor Stephen Brooks stated at this May’s faculty meeting that an extra $1.4 million per year for the next four years has finally been set aside for raises to make the faculty whole. That $5.6 million in total — peanuts compared to the school’s average year-on-year spending increase — should just about do it. For a perennially undercompensated faculty, those raises cannot come soon enough.

While fixing the faculty’s undercompensation is to be commended, there is still much else to be done. With the painfully slow pace of the current capital campaign, it will be an eternity before the promised increase to faculty research stipends (unchanged in nominal dollars since 1995!) will materialize. Moreover, pressures on the available stock of office space, both in terms of quantity and quality, remain omnipresent. Solving these problems cannot wait.

And to think that we have cut corners in all of these areas (to which you might add substandard dorms) and yet we still outspend peer schools in our overall budget.

Joe Asch Addendum: Phil is now in his fifth year leading the College. Why did it take him so long to understand the legitimacy of the faculty’s concerns about compensation and act on them?

In response to the argument that the cost of living in New Hampshire is lower than elsewhere, and therefore faculty salaries go further here, why is it then that Dartmouth’s tuition is among the very highest in the Ivies?

Posted on July 10, 2017 4:00 AM. Permalink

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Small Perfection: Mazda MX-5 Miata 1991

When sophomore summer rolled around in 1977, as per usual old English sports cars appeared on the streets of Hanover. The pared-down British convertibles — Triumph Spitfires, MGs, Autin-Healeys — might leave oil stains in your driveway, but they had an excitement that even Detroit’s muscle cars of that time could not deliver. By now those roadsters are all long gone in a cloud of rust, but this year, once again, the modern equivalent of the English cars is out in force: first-generation Mazda Miatas. I paid the list price of $14,499 for my one-size-fits-all 1991 model, and it is still running perfectly:

Miata 2017.jpg

Just between us, at 100mph on the interstate the Miata hunches down and gets serious. It seems to become subdued when going fast — and having run it for many years in Europe, I can tell you that at that speed it gets about 26mpg.

Mazda has sold over a million Miatas — the best-selling sports car in history — since the first ones appeared in 1989. They were simpler then: only 116 hp, weighing barely a ton, no air conditioning, manual steering and charming roll-up windows (I have to explain those to younger passengers). And, of course, the short-throw, five-speed gearshift that makes you feel at one with the engine, along with a perfect 50:50 weight distribution front to back that renders handling silky smooth. And don’t forget the tuned-exhaust growl.

Miata Comp1.jpgDe gustibus non disputandum est, n’est-ce pas? So we shouldn’t argue about which of the Miata’s four generations is the prettiest, but to my mind, only the third comes close to the first’s clean, trim look. The most recent edition has a pompousness far from the playful spirit of the original.

We’ll leave the last word about the Miata to Top Gear’s Jeremy Clarkson:

The fact is that if you want a sports car, the MX-5 is perfect. Nothing on the road will give you better value. Nothing will give you so much fun. The only reason I’m giving it five stars is because I can’t give it fourteen.

Addendum: The primary inspiration for the joint American-Japanese design effort that gave us the Miata was the Lotus Elan (1962-1975), pop-up headlights and all:

Lotus Elan.jpg

For older readers, recall that the dishy Mrs. Emma Peel drove an Elan in the 1960’s TV series The Avengers. She was played by noted Royal Shakespeare Company actress Diana Rigg, wife of James Bond in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, who modern viewers will know as Olenna Tyrell in Game of Thrones.

Addendum: My erstwhile Dartmouth roommate, a Harvard-educated architect, informs me that all cars go through the design process in only one color. Needless to say, just like Ferraris, the Miata was conceived in arrest-me red.

Addendum: Let’s classify my feelings towards the Miata as “affection.” That I rate an adjective no more forceful than that will become apparent when you review Sidney Goldman ‘60’s erstwhile “passion” for his Jaguar:

In 1957 my roommate’s physics professor, Bob Christy, who lived across the river on a farm in Norwich, drove around in the most elegant of all the Brit cars, a Jaguar XK120 Roadster. It was black but did have “catch me” red interior.

Years later in the early 70’s, a patient/friend and I began looking for a Jag to fix up. We drove at least five of them over a two year period and found them trucks to steer despite their fine lines. Finally we adjusted our sights to the next model, XK140 Drophead Convertible whose improvements included rack and pinion steering, a one piece bumper and an overhead cam engine.

I found mine sans wheels and top for sale in a field and towed it home for $500. Chuck found his for $1200. We labored side by side in his aunt’s garage with parts hung on walls until both were running.

I’m not sure what mileage I achieved at 110 mph, and I only tried that on one occasion. Alas, had to part with her in 2004 during permanent move to Key West where she would have rusted out. Take a look. I’ve included our first meeting.

Sydney Goldman Jaguar1.jpg

I now drive a 2007 VW EOS purchased new and currently with 130,000 miles on it.

Sidney Goldman reports that the Class of ‘60 will be holding a birthday party — its 80th — in Key West from February 6-8 — an event that is celebrated every half decade. So far seventy members of the class have signaled their intention to attend. Past birthday gigs have been held in Chicago, NYC, and Seattle. The 60’s were known as “Chamberlain’s Mistake” because the intended class size was exceeded; it totaled about 800. The Dean of Admissions at the time was Eddie Chamberlain.

Posted on July 9, 2017 4:00 AM. Permalink

I Only Have Eyes for You

Good to see Jim Kim keeping his eyes on affairs of state at the G20 summit:

Kim Trump.png.jpg

At G20, Ivanka Trump takes the spotlight - and a seat

By Andrea Shalal | HAMBURG

U.S. President Donald Trump shared the G20 spotlight on Saturday with his daughter and adviser Ivanka Trump, as she helped launch a loan program for women and caused a stir by briefly occupying her dad’s seat at the table with world leaders.

Ivanka, who ran an eponymous clothing and jewelry business before taking a formal job at the White House, has made women’s issues one of her signature policy areas, and the G20 revealed the power she wields as a trusted confidante to the president.

The World Bank used the occasion to launch a public-private loan program aimed at providing over $1 billion to support women entrepreneurs in developing countries, a project Ivanka first initiated just five months ago.

“This is not a cute little project,” World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said at the kick-off, attended by six of the 20 world leaders at the summit, plus leaders from other donor countries and IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde.

“$1 billion to support women entrepreneurs in developing countries,” eh? I wonder how much money will go to bureaucratic mechanisms to evaluate the proposals of Third World businesswomen, and how much will go to their businesses.

My contacts at the World Bank use the following terms for the current state of the institution: “chaos, a mess, and “sh**storm.” Imagine how Dartmouth would be if Jim Kim were still here.

Addendum: A wit writes in:

Here’s my caption for that Trump/Kim photo:

“Self-promoting climber unqualified for his job embraces two self-promoting climbers unqualified for their jobs.”

Addendum: The Washington Post reports on the World Bank’s initiative in support of women entrepreneurs:

The program, which will support loans, mentorship programs and gender equality advocacy, is funded by individuals, companies and foreign governments. The first countries to make a public commitment were Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which pledged a combined $100 million after President Trump and his eldest daughter visited Saudi Arabia in May.

My first funding suggestion: a driving school for women in Saudi.

Posted on July 9, 2017 3:59 AM. Permalink

Saturday, July 8, 2017

SCOTUS Chief’s Graduation Advice

I thought that everyone had seen Chief Justice John Roberts’ speech at Cardigan Mountain School (a private, grades 6-9, boys school only a twenty-mile drive from campus) when the Valley News ran a piece with a video about it almost a month ago. But it seems not. The Washington Post, um, broke the story this past Sunday:

Commencement addresses can possess real wisdom (as Steve Jobs showed at Stanford in 2005), and Roberts employs in his remarks the pared-down style that characterize his judicial opinions — along with pleasing wit. As someone might tell certain professors in the humanities, when your thinking is clear, simple language will more than suffice in communicating ideas.

Addendum: The College’s ties with Cardigan are extensive, as the school’s website reports:

Cardigan Mountain School was founded in 1945 by two men whose vision and belief in their goal were unshakable. Harold P. Hinman, a Dartmouth College graduate, and William R. Brewster, then headmaster of Kimball Union Academy, joined forces with legendary Dartmouth president Ernest Martin Hopkins to obtain the land that is now the site of Cardigan Mountain School’s campus. Cardigan Mountain School opened with 24 boys, and, in 1954, upon merging with the Clark School of Hanover, New Hampshire, the School as it is known today began to emerge. Since that time, the School has grown to its current enrollment of more than 200 boys in grades six through nine, while the philosophy and objectives set forth by the founders have remained unchanged.

Addendum: An observer of the College writes in:

Four-year Dartmouth hockey team member Dave McCusker ‘88 and his wife Stephanie (née Solms) ‘88 just concluded a HIGHLY successful decade as Headmaster and “First Mom” at Cardigan (2007-2016). The McCuskers’ tenure epitomized capable, caring and inspiring leadership at the school, resulting in strong enrollments as well as tremendous capital improvements and expansion on campus. They have founded an independent education consulting practice now, based in Concord. Cardigan already named a new dormitory in the McCuskers’ honor. That event never occurred before in my 23 years following the school and its leadership.

Posted on July 8, 2017 4:00 AM. Permalink

Nice Words About Tuck

Pomona’s new President is the dean of NYU’s Dean of the College of Arts and Science Gabi Starr, and in an article presenting her to the campus, the Pomona alumni magazine took time to introduce her husband, John Harpole ‘87, T ‘95:

Starr and Harpole.jpg

Harpole spoke fondly of his experience at Tuck:

Harpole Quote.jpg

Tuck does the College proud.

Posted on July 8, 2017 3:59 AM. Permalink

Friday, July 7, 2017

Phil & Carolyn: Class Solidarity

Carolyn Dever is invisible on the campus as she tries to scare up a President’s job somewhere else. An annual compensation package of $783,890 (that was in 2015; who knows what it is now?) is a lot of dough to pay for someone who has provided little or no value to the College, and who is doing little or no work now. By the way, $783,890 per annum works out to be a wage of $376.87/hour for someone working a 40-hour week:

Carolyn Dever Salary.jpg

How long will we put up with this? If I had employees who were barely phoning it in, they would not last long. And if I found out that they were searching for a new position somewhere else, they’d be off the payroll posthaste.

That said, on occasion I have let people go but given them a few months of pay to ease their transition. But Carolyn? At that level of compensation? It’s not as if she has no savings. Surely at a certain point she is going to have to hit the road, job or no job?

Of course, she is not searching for another position in secret. Phil and the Trustees know what is going on; they set the wheels in motion after the members of the faculty were more than clear about their disdain for Carolyn’s ineffectiveness in all areas (except for harping about inclusion and diversity — hence her nickname: Carolynclusion Deversity).

I hope that a search for a new Provost is quietly under way. Our floundering administration badly needs talent. Who hired Carolyn anyways? (Surprise! Bruce Duthu headed the search committee. And Phil made the final decision.)

Posted on July 7, 2017 4:00 AM. Permalink

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Big Green Alert Sign-up

Former Valley News sportswriter Bruce Wood writes the Big Green Alert blog, which gives you unparalleled coverage of Dartmouth football. Signups for the coming season have just opened. Go ahead. You know you want to. The site describes BGA as follows:

In 2017 sportswriter Bruce Wood is covering Dartmouth College football and Buddy Teevens exclusively on the Internet for the 13th consecutive year.

Prior to starting the most detailed coverage of any Football Championship Subdivision team in the country, Bruce spent nearly two decades as the Dartmouth beat writer for the local daily, covering not just football but the entire athletic program.

A Big Green Alert Premium subscription features the same comprehensive writing and reporting that has earned Vermont and New Hampshire Press Association recognition in past years.

Every game, home and away, is covered with a preview the day before, at least one story on Saturday night, a follow on Sunday, and the always popular Optimist-Pessimist on Monday.

Every single preseason and regular fall practice session over the first 12 years of BGA has been covered with a full-length story, featuring coach or player quotes. Double-session practice days would bring two stories.

There are least 8 stories posted on the site each week of the season, with at least one full-length story posted every day from the start of preseason until the final game.

BGA also offers full coverage of junior varsity football, the early-decision recruiting class, the regular-decision recruiting class and spring football.

Stories on games and practices are posted the same day they occur.

Sign up today to help Bruce provide a service that has no equivalent in the rest of the Ivies. Not only that, you’ll learn a huge amount about Dartmouth football and about the game itself.

Addendum: In a recent post on Big Green Daily (the free blog portion of BGA), Bruce took Ivy stats and summarized them to show how the College is doing and has done overall in Ivy League athletics:

Ivy Championship Stats 2017.jpg

We could do better.

Posted on July 6, 2017 4:00 AM. Permalink

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Schools for the Wealthy

Steve Sailer has taken advantage of the accessibility of randomized IRS data to look at the median income in the year 2000 (adjusted for inflation) of the wealthiest parents of students in fifty colleges and universities; he then compares that income with the children’s income about fifteen years after graduation. Cornell does not make the list, but the other seven Ivies are dispersed throughout the top fifty — and we find ourselves in the middle of the pack (remember that these figures are from the year 2000):

Top 50 Parent Income colleges.jpg

Figures adduced by the New York Times, on which we reported recently, showed the College currently having more students from 1% families than any other Ivy. I wouldn’t be surprised if an up-to-date version of the above chart showed us as now having close-to-the-wealthiest median families. The administration has no choice. If it wants to support a huge bureaucracy, it has to skew towards wealthier families by admitting more children of large donors and students via early decision, who are legacies, and who went to private schools. Priorities. Priorities.

Posted on July 5, 2017 4:00 AM. Permalink

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

July 4 in the Land of the Free

Happy July 4! Today in 1961, Hanover celebrated its own Bicentennial, and the College’s parade float confirmed that Dartmouth men see the Town as their second home:

July 4 Hanover 1961A.jpg

Addendum: The phrase “Every man has two countries — his own and France” has been attributed, falsely, it seems, to Thomas Jefferson. The Monticello website offers a gentle correction: “The specific quotation… has been traced back to Henri de Bornier’s play, La Fille de Roland (1875), in which Charlemagne utters the line, “Tout homme a deux pays, le sien et puis la France.” However, Jefferson did say:

So ask the travelled inhabitant of any nation, In what country on earth would you rather live? — Certainly in my own, where are all my friends, my relations, and the earliest & sweetest affections and recollections of my life. Which would be your second choice? France.

Hanover does come a close second in my mind.

Posted on July 4, 2017 4:00 AM. Permalink

Monday, July 3, 2017

The New Jobs? Look Around You

Dan Rockmore, when he is not being a math and computer science professor, or editing books about the scholarly disciplines, or putting together a show at the Museum of Modern Art, writes articles for various publications, including the HuffPost. In a January piece about the necessity of education, he noted something that has become part of modern received wisdom: “The jobs of the future, if they exist, are unknown.” I hear this often, as if all employment is going the way of the bank teller and the gas station pump jockey.

If I may make a modest contribution to the debate, in the Upper Valley today over fifty people are working full-time as personal trainers — about thirty-three of them at my local business. I expect to employ thirty-eight trainers by yearend. They work with people of all ages who are fit or deconditioned, coming back from heart attacks, or anyone wanting to lose weight and get into shape. Fifteen years ago, nobody was doing such work here.

Nationally, the Labor Department reports that 279,100 people were working as trainers in 2014 (the most recently available figures), and though the Department expects that the number of people in the category will grow only by a total of 8% between 2014-2024, I see that estimate as an egregious error. In fact, if the 2014 figure is a solid one, my ballpark estimate is that there are probably 500,000 people working as trainers today. The category is a primary focus for every health and fitness club with whom my managers and I have contact. Even the College now has eight trainers on the Zimmerman Fitness Center staff.

The average local trainer makes between $45-$60k annually (a figure mostly greater than the average household income nationally) — for doing 25-35 hours of training each week. Trainers can schedule their hours entirely according to their needs (family, school, etc.); we set no hours for them. They also are free to work on the fitness floor as monitors or as group exercise class instructors.

All in all, work as a trainer is a heck of a lot more pleasant than a job in manufacturing.

To put the 500,000 figure in context, look at the total number of people in the United States employed in full-time jobs (not seasonally adjusted) over the past year:

Total Full-time Employees.jpg

If my 500,000-trainer estimate is not far off, then about 0.4% of all Americans are employed today as personal trainers — up, as I said, from almost nobody fifteen years ago. For English majors out there, that’s one in every 250 workers. And growing fast. So fast that we can’t find enough trainers to work for us in the Upper Valley.

Curiously, despite all the handwringing about the imminent decline in the number of jobs, the total number of people working continues to climb (save for the years following the 2008 downturn):

Total USA Employment 1990-2016 Comp.jpg

Addendum: Meanwhile, food trucks are projected to be a $2.7 billion industry in 2017.

Addendum: If a great many jobs do disappear, I wonder if society might be reordered so that only one spouse in each family works in a paying job. Do you think we could survive a world where that state of affairs is the case?

Posted on July 3, 2017 4:00 AM. Permalink

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Amazon on Sunday

A figure appeared at my door in Hanover today with a delivery. A U.S. Post Office employee, no less. I expressed wonder that the folks at USPS worked on the Lord’s Day. “Yup,” he said, “We work on Sunday, but only to deliver Amazon packages.”

The modern world.

Addendum: Hey, Jeff. I’d have waited until Monday for my t-shirts. But thanks for the speedy delivery.

Posted on July 2, 2017 12:20 PM. Permalink

Conch Salad Annie

Actually her name is Fabrice, but I like the Tony Joe White song to such an extent (especially the opening words: “If some of ya’ll never been down south too much”) that I felt the unstoppable need to winkle its title into a post about Biminian conch salad as sold at Stuart’s Conch Salad shack.

The first step in eating conch (pronounced “conk” in these parts) is to remove the animal from its shell. A hole has to be tapped into the right place at the top of the shell, and then the critter is detached from high up inside of it:

Then the inedible bits are cut away (they are kept to be used as chum by fishermen), and Fabrice slices up the tasty parts for use in any number of preparations: cracked conch, scorched conch, conch salad, conch burger, conch chowder, conch fritters, steamed conch, fried conch, stewed conch, smoked conch, conch soup, and so on:

Conch Fabrice.jpg

My preferred preparation is scorch conch: large pieces of freshly killed, raw conch that have been scored, paired with thin-sliced sweet onion, and drenched in lime juice. When eaten in a conch shack in a fresh Biminian breeze, you have what the French call un grand moment.

Addendum: Conch salad is big business, at least judged by the number of discarded shells next to Stuart’s:

Conch Shells.jpg

The next time a tourist shop tries to sell you a pretty conch shell, ask them what they paid for it. Right now tens of thousands of shells are yours for the taking in Bailey Town.

Addendum: An alumnus writes in:

As you probably are aware, the future of conch is precarious due to over-harvesting. Here in Florida, they are a protected species, making it illegal to remove them from the sea. Yet in the USA we consume most of the world’s catch:
Population Trends

Queen conch abundance is declining throughout the species’s range as a result of overfishing and poaching. Populations of the species in Honduras, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic, in particular, are currently being exploited at rates that may be unsustainable.

— harvest for meat and shells

  • There has been increasing concern about the conch fishery as populations have been depleted.
  • Queen conch meat is used mainly for consumption but is also used as fishing bait.
  • A by-product of the meat trade are conch shells, which are used for jewelry or sold as curios.
  • Trade from many Caribbean countries is known or suspected to be unsustainable, and
  • illegal harvest, including fishing of the species in foreign waters and subsequent illegal international trade, is a common and widespread problem in the region (Theile 2001).

Key Westers are termed “Conchs,” and our high school teams are the “Fighting Conchs.”

In our swimming with dolphins, we saw numerous conchs on the sea bottom miles from shore. Bimini is still referred to as the Conch Capital of the Bahamas; the islands’ huge lagoon seems an ideal breeding ground for the animals.

Posted on July 2, 2017 4:00 AM. Permalink