Sunday, November 29, 2015

Les Japonais à Paris

Is this cultural appropriation? Chefs in Japan have long been fascinated by French cuisine: I remember being served a passable meal à la française by a young chef at a ski-slope-side ryokan in Furano, Hokkaido (great powder snow there) in the early 1990’s, and today in Paris there are at least two dozen Japanese chefs serving French food in their own restaurants. We see them on Wednesday and Saturday mornings at the avenue du Président Wilson market behind the counters of the stands of vendors like Joël Thiébault; punters like your humble servant have to wait out front to be served. (Insider tip: the best meat and produce can be found at the stands where the chefs are buying).

One such purchaser is Chef Takashi Nakagawa of our local favorite: Hiramatsu. Not only is he a fine cook, but he seems to able to find clothing in shades of color that nobody else can unearth (think of Odilon Redon):

Hiramatsu Chef1.jpg

Though cooking French food with local ingredients, Paris’ Japanese chefs bring something more to the table: a sensibility for pure flavor and presentation, the occasional Asian seasoning, and a precision that many French chefs can only envy. Needless to say, the young cooks do apprenticeships at French restaurants; by some estimates there are now 500 young Japanese cooks working in La Capitale’s high-end palaces.

Recognition was quick in coming to Japanese chefs once they went out on their own. Today more than twenty of their establishments in France have Michelin stars. Leading eateries in Paris beyond Hiramatsu include: Passage 53, Sola, Kei, ES, Abri, Noglu, Nakatani, Toyo, Pages, Neige d’Eté, 6036, Clover, AT and Les Enfant Rouges.

One particularity of almost all the Japanese places: the chef decides what you eat. Occasionally there is a choice between a large and a small menu, and a diner can signal dietary concerns, but long gone are the days where one could choose among dozens of starters and main courses.

Addendum: At lunch at Pages on Wednesday last week, one of our many small courses was the Truffle Risotto, with white Alba truffles that are just coming into season:

Pages Truffle Risotto.jpg

Yes, the dish was as good as it looks.

Addendum: My headline today is an ironic allusion to a politically incorrect film from 1974: Les Chinois à Paris, in which doctrinaire Maoist Chinese successfully invade France, only to have their revolutionary ardor entirely corrupted by the infectious French devotion to sensual pleasures.

Addendum: Following the attacks on Friday the 13th, the government announced that all outdoor markets would be closed for several days. Originally the market on avenue Président Wilson was to be closed on Saturday and Wednesday, but with things getting back to normal here, the market was open on Wednesday, November 18 after all.

Posted on November 29, 2015 3:59 AM. Permalink

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Where They Are Now: Isaiah Berg ‘11

Even as Dartblog alumna Jenn Bandy ‘09 has ended her time as a Supreme Court law clerk to Justice Clarence Thomas — she was there for the October 2014 term — Dartblog writer Isaiah Berg ‘11 is in Okinawa with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit. He’ll be an officer until the middle of next year, at which point he might re-up. The below picture was taken before a training op in California:

Lt. Isaiah Berg.jpg

There is no truth to the rumor that 1stLt. Berg is looking for “safe spaces” for his troopers. In fact, their training focuses on making the world very unsafe for bad guys. Oorah!

Addendum: Isaiah provides some background on his weapon:

I’m carrying an M4 Carbine. Maximum effective range is 500m for a point target. You can fire a sustained 12-15 rounds per minute without overheating, until you run out of ammo. Mags can be reliably loaded with 27 rounds. The M4 has semi-automatic and three-round burst firing modes (no full auto). Generally speaking it’s a rifle that is optimized for vegetated and urban environments with engagement distances around 300m. Short barrel and collapsible butt-stock makes it a relatively light-weight and maneuverable rifle, nice for getting in and out of tight spaces, or ideal as a secondary personal weapon if you’re already carrying a crew-served weapon system like a machine gun or rocket launcher.

Here’s the Wikipedia page I dug up if you want more cool info. Also a sampling of some of the controversy surrounding the M4/M16 (pro and con).

M4 Accessories.jpg

Addendum: According to the Times, interest in enlisting in the French armed forces and police has surged since the Friday the 13th attacks in Paris:

Thousands of people have been flocking to sign up with the military. Those seeking to enlist in the French Army have quintupled to around 1,500 a day. Local and national police offices are flooded with applications…

The French Air Force, whose retaliatory airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Raqqa, Syria, were seen in images that went viral on the Internet, has likewise seen enlistment applications soar to about 800 a day from around 200, an air force spokesman said. And the French national police recruitment website was visited more than 13,500 times daily last week, compared with the usual 4,500, while applications jumped to 4,500 from 1,500.

A la défense de la patrie.

Posted on November 28, 2015 4:00 AM. Permalink

Friday, November 27, 2015

Where to in the Rankings?

Given the trend in the College’s rankings over the last 25 years (from #7 to #12) and our unending series of scandals, it’s hard to imagine that our U.S. News position is going to improve any time in the near future. My fear is that Brown and Cornell will soon pass us, and we’ll then be referred to as LIL Dartmouth*. has produced an infographic showing how U.S. News (and other ratings services) compiles its rankings:

U.S. News Ranking Methodology Comp.jpg

Given the tight bunching in U.S. News’ table, our drop could be preciptious:

U.S. News Ranking 2016 Comp.jpg

Has Phil done anything to raise our profile along the dimensions that U.S. News finds important?

* Last in the Ivy League.

Addendum: What is it going to take for the Trustees to realize that they don’t have a clue about what is happening on campus, and that successive administrations of their choosing are going consistently in the wrong direction? When we hit #20?

Addendum: A faculty member writes in:

Enjoyed your column on rankings. Note that faculty resources counts for 20%, of which 35% of that is faculty salary. That means 7% of Dartmouth’s score is based on faculty salary. Given your earlier columns showing Dartmouth falling behind peer schools in faculty salary during the Kim years, is it a surprise that our ranking has gone down? Our ranking is now more consistent with what faculty are being paid compared to other schools. Dartmouth now ranks #23 in faculty pay (according to the Chronicle). Note that Vanderbilt, Northwestern and WashU all have higher faculty pay than Dartmouth, as does Duke, which vaulted above us in the rankings. Eight of the top 10 of the U.S. News rankings are in the top 10 for faculty pay (and Duke just misses it). Given how tight the other statistics are, Dartmouth faculty pay may be a key factor in the ratings drop.

My correspondent correctly notes that faculty pay has dropped over the past few years as compared to the schools that are our competitors for professors and students. This choice on the part of the administration is particularity foolish given that compensation for the College’s professors amounts to only 10% of the total Dartmouth budget, as Economics Professor Eric Zitzewitz pointed out at a faculty meeting last May. In operational terms, we could raise professors pay by 10%, attract better faculty members, and improve our ranking, at a cost of only a 1% increase in the budget.

Regrettably, nobody but your humble servant takes the time to emphasize that while Dartmouth faculty members are poorly paid relative to their peers, members of the staff rake it in compared to people in equivalent jobs in the local labor market. There are people who believe that Dartmouth is really a social welfare agency, and others who think that we are an institution of higher learning. Which side are you on?

Posted on November 27, 2015 4:00 AM. Permalink

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving 2015

Bon appétit.

Thanksgiving Rockwell Ye Glutton 2015.jpg

Posted on November 26, 2015 4:00 AM. Permalink

Feds Run Professor Favor Prosecution

English Professor Martin Favor’s prosecution for the possession of child pornography is now in the hands of a federal prosecutor with a two-week trial scheduled to start on January 5, according to a story today in the Valley News:

J. Martin Favor, 49, pleaded not guilty to a felony count of possessing child pornography in U.S. District Court in Concord last week, two weeks after he was indicted by a federal grand jury on the charge.

Favor first faced child pornography charges in Sullivan Superior Court in Newport, but Sullivan County Attorney Marc Hathaway said those charges have been dismissed because the case is now proceeding on the federal level.

On the instruction of the court, Favor is currently undergoing counseling with a New Hampshire-based sex therapist. He is on paid administrative leave from the College.

Posted on November 26, 2015 3:14 AM. Permalink

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

We Lose FIRE’s Green Light

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) has downgraded the College from a Green Light to a Yellow Light rating. In a press release the organization was careful to note that this change was not related to the recent BLM invasion of Berry Library; rather, it originated in a “January 2013… incident in which a student spoke in mock-Chinese gibberish to several Asian students in the cafeteria.”

FIRE Downgrade 2015 Comp.jpg

FIRE explained the reason for its decision as follows:

Examples of bias incidents, according to Dartmouth’s Office of Pluralism and Leadership, include “telling jokes” and “stereotyping.” This policy is inconsistent with Dartmouth’s claim to be an institution that “prizes and defends the right of free speech.” If every joke or provocative remark about politics, religion, or culture is potentially subject to a formal investigation, Dartmouth students are not truly free to speak their minds.

Following our first letter, Dartmouth General Counsel Robert Donin responded to FIRE assuring us that “Dartmouth did not initiate any disciplinary action” in response to the January 2013 incident. But Donin’s letter did not address our concerns with the policy itself.

After roughly two years passed with no change to the policy, FIRE wrote to Dartmouth again in February 2015, this time warning that unless Dartmouth revised the policy, “FIRE will no longer be able, in good faith, to give the college our best rating for free speech.” Donin responded that the college would “consider [FIRE’s] suggestions,” but the policy remains unchanged to this day.

Here is the OPAL site defining incidences of bias that FIRE is concerned about:

OPAL Bias Comp.jpg

So this married guy walks into a bar…

The term from Constitutional jurisprudence that you are looking for to describe the weakness of the College’s rule is overbroad: the start of my joke above could have landed me in hot water had I been a student and had Dean Ameer taken a dislike to me. Her definition of bias is so wide open that you could prosecute anyone for almost anything under its terms. Our legal sense of fairness requires that laws offer some sense of predictability, which these anti-bias rules do not do.

With the College’s demotion, the only Ivy school with a Green FIRE rating (“Green light institutions are those colleges and universities whose policies nominally protect free speech”) is Penn. Like us, Yale has a Yellow rating (“Yellow light colleges and universities are those institutions with at least one ambiguous policy that too easily encourages administrative abuse and arbitrary application”), and Harvard, Princeton, Columbia, Cornell and Brown are rated Red (“A red light university has at least one policy that both clearly and substantially restricts freedom of speech.”)

Posted on November 25, 2015 4:00 AM. Permalink

The Usual Suspects Support BLM

A letter is circulating among faculty members asking for, um, I can’t figure out what really, except more money for the things that we have been spending fortunes on for the last 30-40 years. See for yourself:

Faculty BLM Letter.jpg

You would think that these intellectuals would have the artfulness to at least condemn the angry library invasion, but then justify it as the predictable result of dreaded “structural racism/inequality” — but no such finesse or specificity is to be found.

Comparable letters are being circulated at Princeton, Yale, Brown, Amherst, and Oberlin.

Addendum: Signatories so far are in the extended.

Posted on November 25, 2015 3:59 AM. Permalink

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Phil’s Right Hand, Left Hand and Elbow

Phil’s office keeps sending out to parents and alumni the same form letter that was drafted and distributed last week. Sad stuff, really. On one side we have a clear declaration that “vandalization” of a BLM display occurred — no quibbling there — and on the other we still have the words “political protest” as a description of the angry mob that invaded Berry. Here’s an e-mail that went out today:

Hanlon Letter 24.11.15 Comp.jpg

Phil’s Message to the Community dated yesterday was better, even if it did seem to say that both sides bore the blame for intemperate shouting. And it notes that several complaints have been received regarding the disturbance, and they are being investigated. Sloppy. Sloppy.

After close to two and a half years in office, Phil does not seem to have molded his personal staff into a smooth-running machine. Does that tell you anything about his abilities as a manager?

Posted on November 24, 2015 5:46 PM. Permalink

Truth on Andy Harvard ‘71’s Dismissal

Andy Harvard '71 Kayak.jpgThe Valley News’ investigative reporter/muckraker Jim Kenyon has published a two-part series on the 2008 dismissal of hugely popular Dartmouth Outdoor Programs Office director Andy Harvard ‘71 (Part 1 and Part 2). On July 15, 2008, this space’s headline read: Andrew Harvard ‘71 Fired as DOC Director; The D’s story took the College’s line: OPO director Andy Harvard steps down.

Harvard is perhaps the College’s most accomplished mountaineer with four ascents of Everest among other feats to his credit. In 2004 he gave up a varied career as a corporate lawyer, filmmaker and entrepreneur to return to Hanover to lead the Outdoor Programs Office, where his proudest accomplishments were the rejuvenation of the Outing Club and the re-building of Fred Harris Cabin. However after four years on the job, a period that included a 2007 NCAA nation championship in skiing and the great affection of students, Andy was abruptly dismissed. The ostensible reason: sloppy paperwork, late budgets and erratic job performance.

There was some truth to these charges, especially in that Andy was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease the following year, but not meeting paperwork deadlines does not get you fired out of the blue at Dartmouth. Actually, poor job performance hardly ever results in sacking at the College, but not being a team player certainly does. Andy had fought hard against the administration’s creeping nanny state attitudes: he wanted to teach students leadership and responsibility. For example, he insisted that DOC members could lead their own, chaperone-free trips to places like the Grand Tetons. He gave students the same freedoms that he had enjoyed as the undergraduate leader of the Outing Club.

The big herd of little minds in Parkhurst did not like such open displays of independence; they had been gunning for Andy for a good, long time, just as they have rousted out of the College’s ranks many other people who have argued against the party line. As it turns out, men were disproportionately the victims of this ongoing campaign, which reached its height in the following years under Jim Kim. The word is that the pattern was so clear that the General Counsel’s office wrote a letter to Kim noting that the College was at serious risk in a gender discrimination lawsuit. Kim brushed it off.

The College dangled a severance package in front of Andy, to be paid only on the condition that he keep his mouth shut about the dismissal. As Kenyon reports, the threat constituted huge pressure on Andy to not complain publicly about his treatment or even admit that he had been fired. Longtime readers of this space will recognize the paradigm here: dismissals are never announced as such in Hanover.

To date, seven years later, Andy and the administration have not come to an agreement on a severance package, despite medical confirmation that Andy had been suffering from Alzheimer’s while on the job. Andy and his family have argued for his inclusion in the College’s disability plan, which could have led to payments to Andy in the area of $200,000.

The College’s hardline attitude towards a once favorite son is hard to fathom, except for the rejection of Andy’s independent attitude. As we have reported, Dartmouth is more than generous with severance payments. In 2009 President Jim Wright and VP for Finance Adam Keller left their jobs after having been given the boot by the Trustees (Wright) and by Jim Kim (Keller) for disastrous job performance. According to the College’s IRS Form 990, both continued to receive severance payments at least through 2013 — the time period covered by the latest public filing. During the 2010-2013 period, Wright received a total of $2,335,985 and Keller took in $2,458,105. When the next Form 990 comes out in May, we’ll know if these payments continued into 2014 .

All in all, Kenyon’s two columns depict a mean-spirited College administration that had it in for Andy Harvard ‘71. Kenyon has the story right.

Addendum: Andy’s Class of 1971 is coming up on its 45th reunion. I wonder if the Class will decide to do right by Andy rather than contribute to the administration’s continued wasteful mismanagement.

Addendum: An alum from a recent class writes in:

When Jim Wright spoke at Homecoming, I always recall him closing his remarks by reminding students of the “oldest Dartmouth tradition: look out for one another.” I sincerely hope that the embarrassment generated by the Valley News will get the College to put its money where its “mouth” is and finally do right by Andy Harvard… but I suppose I shouldn’t get my hopes up.

Posted on November 24, 2015 4:00 AM. Permalink

Monday, November 23, 2015

Phil Shows (Some) (Late) Leadership

Eleven days after the November 12 Berry Library invasion by BLM protesters, Phil Hanlon has come out with another letter to the Dartmouth community — perhaps in replacement of his weak-kneed first effort of November 13. It would seem that Phil has had his knuckles rapped by someone. Could the Trustees have weighed in? Or is e-mail to the President’s office running ten to one against the aggressors, and so Phil is listening to the prevailing wind just like Dean Ameer?

Hanlon letter 23.11.15.jpg

That said, note how Phil strains to establish some moral equivalency in the underlined section of the above letter. He points out something that I have heard from no quarter: that students already in the library may have shouted back at the aggressive demonstrators. Heaven forfend if it’s true; shame on Phil if it’s not.

Addendum: A reader comments:

At least, the College is now “actively investigating all reports of violations of College policy” and not hiding behind the bogus lack of any “official” complaints, but the proof is in the pudding. We shall see if (a) anything actually happens, or if (b) student privacy rights will trump any reports of discipline for violations (extremely likely), or if (c) the administration is hoping that it all goes away over the winter break. I’m cynical enough to expect that the last of those three possibilities will prove to be the case. I would love to be wrong.

Posted on November 23, 2015 5:40 PM. Permalink

Inge-Lise Mea Culpa

Here’s a wan apology if there ever was one: only through listening has Dean Inge-Lise Ameer come to understand that “not everyone” believes that a mob of students screaming racist imprecations has no place in Berry Library. But does she?

Ameer also apologizes for making a generalization slandering conservatives, though she can’t bring herself to tell us why she said what she said, nor why she was wrong in making the statement:

Ameer Mea Culpa Comp.jpg

IngeLise Ameer1.jpgThis space pointed out from the very start that Dean Ameer’s appointment by Provost Carolyn Dever was a serious mistake. Ameer had neither the training nor the background to be the Dean of the College (note: though her official title is Vice Provost for Student Affairs, she is doing the job of the Dean in its traditional sense at Dartmouth). Her only qualification is that she appears to be in synch with the diversity-besotted views of Provost Dever. Amazingly enough, Dean Ameer is the proud holder of a doctoral degree from Harvard. Read her full thesis here, though the abstract may be enough:

Day-to-day race relations at Harvard College: The student perspective
Ameer, Inge-Lise. Harvard University,
Author Ameer, Inge-Lise, Pages 156 p.
Publication year 2002, Degree date 2002
Advisor: McLaughlin, Judith Block

Throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s, universities and colleges in the United States witnessed an increase in tense race relations among students. Undergraduates describing the racial climate on their campuses conclude that the day-to-day racial tensions are the most difficult to negotiate. (Turner, 1994) This study explores the characteristics of daily “cross-race interactions” (Hurtado, 1994), the routine social and academic interactions for students of color and white students at Harvard College.

Distinguishing this study from previous research on racial climate is its emphasis on exploring students’ experiences and interpretations of their day-to-day positive and negative cross-race interactions. Based on semi-structured interviews with seven African American, seven Latino, seven Asian American and seven white undergraduates, it examines students’ interpretations of these interactions, the differences in racial groups’ descriptions and reports of their experiences, and the strategies students employ to develop successful cross-race relationships. Data analysis incorporates two processes: drafting analytical memos (Strauss, 1987) and transcribing and coding the interviews and memos (Patton, 1990).

The study’s findings indicate that students experience a strained civility in their cross-race interactions in extra-curricular activities, in housing, and in the curriculum. Students arrive with different orientations: white students arrive excited about being part of the most racially diverse community they have ever belonged to. Students of color, on the other hand, are primarily focused on exploring their own racial identities with other students of color. As a result, students of color face nervous and awkward moments with white students who have little skills or strategies for living daily in a racially diverse community. Comparatively, white students experience students of color as not being interested in them. These factors contribute to tense daily cross-race interactions and result in students across race turning to racial stereotypes for explanations of these interactions.

White students and students of color who do experience positive cross-race interactions either came from uniquely diverse secondary schools or made positive cross-race interactions at college a top priority, seeking them out through extra-curricular activities and in race-related courses.

There are also tensions intra-racially. African American students feel tension from Afro-Carribeans; Mexican-American students have tense cross-race interactions with Cuban-American and Argentinean Americans; and the Asian American students face tensions based on country of origin.[Emphasis added]

Is such scholarship — I use the term very advisedly — the kind of thing that Harvard now rewards with the title of Doctor of Philosophy? Twenty-eight chats with students that one then writes up through a lens of political correctness.

The abstract alone contains generalizations that would cause any honest social scientist to cringe. I would have thought it self-evident that many students of color go to college for the same reasons as other students: to study the liberal arts and to obtain sufficient intellectual training to go on to become scholars, scientists, doctors, lawyers and entrepreneurs. But maybe I don’t listen as well as Dean Ameer?

She needs to find another job, and fast. Phil?

Posted on November 23, 2015 4:00 AM. Permalink

Dean Ameer Has Got to Go

The NY Post ran an editorial last Thursday about Dean Ameer’s “apology”:

NY Post Ameer Apology.jpg

I wonder what the Post’s half-million daily print and millions of on-line readers think about Dartmouth now.

Addendum: Who hired a person like Vice Provost for Student Affairs Inge-Lise Ameer anyways? Actually, Phil hired her as interim Dean, and then Provost Carolyn Dever appointed her as Vice Provost. Are you drawing conclusions about Phil and Carolyn?

Addendum: When Dean Ameer told a large group of students that, “There’s a whole conservative world out there that’s not very nice,” was she referring to the vast right-wing conspiracy?

Addendum: The WSJ ran a piece today entitled: A Campus Mayhem Syllabus: The grievance protests spread, and the adults keep rolling over. The College received a special mention:

WSJ Berry Protest.jpg

Posted on November 23, 2015 3:59 AM. Permalink

Sunday, November 22, 2015

I Bet That We Cave In, Too

Dollars to doughnuts Phil and his merry band of appeasers are busy right now drafting a diversity plan similar to the one that Brown has just announced:

Brown Diversity Plan Comp.jpg

Of course, if screaming at dedicated students in Berry Library will get you a $100 million diversity plan, I bet that sacking the President’s mansion will produce $150 million, and burning Dartmouth Hall to the ground will have the administration cough up $200 million. At least that’s the lesson that I would take away from administrators who cave in to the pressure of an unruly mob.

Addendum: A reader writes in about the dangers of giving in to the threat of violence:

And do not suppose that this is the end. This is only the beginning of the reckoning. This is only the first sip, the first foretaste of a bitter cup which will be proffered to us year by year unless by a supreme recovery of moral health and martial vigour, we arise again and take our stand for freedom as in the olden time.

Posted on November 22, 2015 6:00 PM. Permalink

Meanwhile Good Things Are Happening

Let’s not forget that despite the administration’s fecklessness, good things are happening all over the College. Football, which tied for the Ivy championship yesterday (Thank you, Penn!) for the first time since 1996, is on the way to building a dynasty — or at least a string of competitive teams. Thoughtful, well produced recruiting videos like this one are evidence of the increasing excellence in the Athletics Department:

Would you want your athlete to go to school with these guys? I sure would.

Addendum: From all reports, the most inclusive, diverse part of the College is the Athletics Department and the teams that represent Dartmouth. Of course, the folks there rarely primp and preen about that aspect of what they do; they are entirely focused on winning their next game. That the rest of the College could be as serious.

Posted on November 22, 2015 4:00 AM. Permalink

Paris Diary: Frisked at the Movies

We went to see Suffragette and The Martian this week at cinemas on the Champs Elysées, and we were frisked by a security guard entering both movies. I hadn’t been patted down in a public place since I don’t know when — until I did recall: London in the mid-1980’s, when I was there working for Bain. At that time, you could not see a movie or a play without someone looking inside your briefcase and giving you the once over. The Irish Republican Army waged an active war of terror in London for the last thirty years of the 20th century, with several hundred different incidents, mostly bombings, on over 140 separate days that caused 38 deaths and hundreds of wounded. Here’s a summary of attacks during the time I lived in Britain’s capital:

London Terrorism 1983-5.jpg

During the IRA’s war on Britain there were periods of sustained aggression, like the first week of October in 1993:

London Terrorism October 1-8 1993.jpg

London learned to deal with the incidents, just as Paris will. While La Capitale’s hoteliers are suffering a wave of cancellations, you can be confident that this, too, shall pass — or we’ll get used to it. We’ve seen it all before, even if the press gnashes teeth and wrings hands as if something unprecedented has occurred.

Addendum: During the same 1970-2000 period in London, there were also ten acts of terrorism by Arab groups.

Posted on November 22, 2015 3:59 AM. Permalink

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Palaeopitus: Moral Blindness

Palaeopitus.jpgThe Palaeopitus senior society describes itself as follows:

Palaeopitus is a senior society, founded in 1899, which unites campus leaders in service to Dartmouth College. Palaeopitus connects students with administration by advocating on behalf of the student body to high-level administrators.

In an e-mail to the campus yesterday, the society found it possible to take issue with the tone of criticism of the violent Berry Library invasion by students supporting the Black Lives Matter movement — without even obliquely alluding to the inappropriateness of the BLM action itself. Their logic seems to be that if a group is the subject of a couple of torn T-shirts and aggressive posts on Yik Yak, it may respond as violently as it wants:

From: Student Assembly
Date: Fri, Nov 20, 2015 at 5:09 PM
Subject: A Statement from the Palaeopitus Senior Society

Dear Students and Community Members,

In these past weeks, campus dialogue has turned toward race, inclusion and safety on campus. Last Thursday’s Black Lives Matter protest has become a focal point in this conversation.

Criticisms of the protest’s methodology have dominated discourse both here and in national media. It is the purpose of any institution of higher education to foster an intellectual environment that encourages both respectful dialogue and dissent. While some criticism of the protest has been respectful, we are dismayed at the form that much of the backlash against the protest has taken on campus. When students post racist comments online or direct slurs or threaten fellow community members, they only reinforce the bigotry those who protested were attempting to highlight and address.

As seniors, our delegation has witnessed firsthand the cyclical nature of protest at Dartmouth. The protests have catalyzed important conversations, but too often, pressing issues are raised by marginalized communities only to be dismissed outright or met with anger, even threats of violence. It is upsetting to see the issues raised by the protest—namely, racism on campus—recede into the background in favor of ad hominem attacks and outright racism. Thursday night reminded us that there are students on this campus who feel unsafe. That there are students who feel marginalized or threatened is a serious problem, and we must not dismiss this message by refusing to engage with it.

These conversations extend beyond the confines of our campus. Racial injustice exists in an important national context that includes the events at the University of Missouri and Yale University as well as the broader Black Lives Matter movement, which seeks to fight police violence and systemic inequality.

We as a delegation are comprised of student leaders from disparate walks of life, and each of us wishes to affirm our commitment to addressing racism on this campus. This winterim, Palaeopitus Senior Society will be soliciting feedback from the community on ways to continue the dialogue on these vital, difficult issues. We will be reaching out to administrators, students and staff on the best steps moving forward.

We encourage you to submit questions, comments or concerns through this google form, and we hope to have a concrete plan of action by winter term.


Palaeopitus Senior Society 2016 Delegation

Aniksha Balamurugan, Hui Cheng, John Comerci, Frank Cunningham, Kirk Davis, Nathaniel Goss, Zac Hardwick, Shagun Herur, Felipe Jaramillo, Charlotte Kamai, Katie McKay, Deidra Nesbeth, Victoria Nevel, Daniela Pelaez, Tyler Rivera, Robert Scales, Maclean Simonson, Jordyn Turner, Sarah Waltcher
[Emphasis added]

One would hope that the self-evident blindness and moral bias of these campus leaders would be challenged by senior members of the administration. That’s what a teaching moment is, right? Nope. Just the opposite. Dean of the College Rebecca Biron (“Biron is a professor of Spanish and comparative literature whose research and teaching focus on Latin American literary and cultural studies, literary theory, gender studies, and Mexican cultural criticism”) writes to applaud the students’ letter:

From: Rebecca E. Biron
Sent: Friday, November 20, 2015 5:33 PM
To: Student Assembly
Cc: Inge-Lise Ameer; Philip J. Hanlon; Carolyn M. Dever
Subject: Re: A Statement from the Palaeopitus Senior Society

Dear Palaeopitus 2016 Delegation
(Aniksha Balamurugan, Hui Cheng, John Comerci, Frank Cunningham, Kirk Davis, Nathaniel Goss, Zac Hardwick, Shagun Herur, Felipe Jaramillo, Charlotte Kamai, Katie McKay, Deidra Nesbeth, Victoria Nevel, Daniela Pelaez, Tyler Rivera, Robert Scales, Maclean Simonson, Jordyn Turner, Sarah Waltcher),

I applaud your statement to the students today. It is reasoned, calm, thoughtful, and productive. Your solicitation of comments and ideas from the community is a great first step toward formulating a plan for continuing dialogue on campus in winter term and beyond. Your leadership on this is exemplary. Thank you.

Please know that I will support this effort, as well as efforts originating from the administration and other student groups, to do the hard work of building a pluralistic community at Dartmouth. Everyone belongs. Everyone deserves to be heard. At this Liberal Arts College, we must continually teach and practice the skills necessary to listen and learn from each other.

All Best,
Dean Biron

One is left to wonder just how far the BLM movement can go before an adult on campus will take issue with its tactics. Pretty far, I think.

Posted on November 21, 2015 4:04 PM. Permalink

Phil Grilled by Parents About BLM

Phil Hanlon Target.jpgLast Wednesday evening, November 18, the College held a social gathering in Manhattan to allow Phil Hanlon to get together with 75-80 NYC-based Dartmouth parents. The event took place at a private apartment on the Upper East Side. Phil started off with his usual fifteen-minute stump speech — the Dartmouth Entrepreneurial Network, Moving Dartmouth Forward, we love your kids and we’re lucky to have them in Hanover, I’m teaching the Mathematics of Sports, it’s all great at the College — and then he asked for questions.

He got them. But they were all about Black Lives Matter and the library invasion, and many of the Manhattan parents were in no mood for soft answers. About a half dozen parents in a row gave Phil an earful: they wondered why they heard nothing about the events in Berry Library from the College; why everything came to them from the press; why were their children at a school where aggressive demonstrators could invade a place reserved for study; were the demonstrators going to be punished; what was Phil going to do in response? In short, the parents wanted to know, “What the hell is going on?”

Recall that this event is taking place in one of the finer precincts of NYC among parents who are likely paying full boat for their kids to be at Dartmouth, and who could well contribute serious money to the upcoming capital campaign (it has been upcoming for a long while now, don’t you think?) [Note: At the recent Alumni Council meeting, Ann Root Keith, Chief Operating Officer of Advancement, said that the capital campaign could begin “as soon as 2017.” Methinks that the quiet phase of the campaign is pretty quiet].

Phil did not, uh, wow the crowd with his responses. He tried to defend Dean Ameer, whose remark critical of conservatives did not play well with some people in the crowd. Phil finally fell back and said, “I need to look into this further.” When asked what could be done to resolve situations like this, he opined that at Michigan the administration had put together discussion groups to bring opposing parties together to sort out their differences. Sheesh.

At that point, Trustee Peggy Tanner Epstein ‘79 stepped in to try to address relieve the tension. She noted that similar disturbances were taking place at many schools across the country (a lousy argument, by the way). Finally the evening’s host suggested that people change the subject and simply enjoy themselves at her home. The party broke up soon after.

What to say? Phil probably risks losing the support of a good many parents. Rather than showing leadership, he made everyone aware of its absence.

The Trustees have a lot to talk about.

Does anyone who attended the event want to add a comment or two?

Addendum: On November 19 Dean of the College Rebecca Biron sent the following e-mail to many parents and members of the extended Dartmouth community:

From: “Dean of the College Rebecca Biron”
Date: November 19, 2015 at 4:03:45 PM EST
To: Undergraduate Parents:;
Subject: Message to the Community

Dear Parents & Families,

Many of you may have heard reports of a demonstration at Dartmouth last week. Some of you have reached out with concerns. Please know that the safety and wellbeing of all students is our highest priority and we are supporting all of our students as they move into the final exam period of fall term.

We have seen many portrayals of what transpired the evening of November 12, and some sources have greatly mischaracterized the evening’s events. At this point, the College has no confirmed reports of physical violence. We have been and will continue to review any information thoroughly and, as always, will rely on the Standards of Conduct to determine any violations.

I would like to share with you last Friday’s message from President Hanlon to the Dartmouth campus community. I also encourage you to read the College’s “Statement Regarding Recent Student Protest in Baker-Berry Library” (

Warm Regards,

Rebecca Biron
Dean of the College

— – —

Posted on November 21, 2015 4:00 AM. Permalink

Friday, November 20, 2015

BREAKING: College Receives Report of November 12 Bias Incident

Dartblog has learned that today at about noon the College’s Bias Impact Response Team (BIRT) website received an anonymous report regarding the invasion of Baker/Berry Library by disruptive and abusive protestors. BIRT’s procedures allow for anonymous complaints by people not present at events of bias, violence, racism, etc.:

BIRT Report Comp1.jpg

I know the identity of the person who submitted the report, but I have promised my wife that I would not tell anyone that it was me.

Posted on November 20, 2015 4:04 PM. Permalink

Lest There Be Any Doubt

While various self-interested parties try to cast doubt on what went on in Berry Library on the evening of November 12, students know full well what happened. They also know that anyone stepping forward to complain of the harassment meted out by the BLM activists will receive more of the same for months to come.

I’ve asked a couple of eyewitnesses to describe their own experiences on November 12:

BLM Testimony 1a.jpg

BLM Testimony 2.jpg

To date, it seems that Phil continues to hide behind the “nobody complained” excuse.

Posted on November 20, 2015 4:00 AM. Permalink

Final Exams Suspended? No

Erratum: It turns out that the College announcement was, shall we say, imprecise. Exams were never scheduled for today. The College Director of Communications, Justin Anderson, sent me this explanation:

The suspension on the Saturday during fall term exam period is not new. It’s been standard operating procedure since the calendar change several years ago. It is the result of an Ivy League rule that prohibits regular season games during reading periods or exams. When we adjusted our calendar it resulted in last football game of the season being played during exam period. To accommodate the change, the Ivy League gave us a waiver and allows us to play during the exam period. There are, however, no exams on this day to accommodate student athletes.

Addendum: A different College schedule does not include exams on November 21.

— – —

The Dartmouth Events website is noting “Final examinations suspended.”

Exams Suspended Comp.jpg

No announcement has been forthcoming from the College. This year exams run from November 20-25, according to the Registrar’s website:

Academic Calendar Comp.jpg

Posted on November 20, 2015 3:59 AM. Permalink

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Poor Republicans Don’t Feel Safe

The College Republicans have sent the below open letter to Phil Hanlon and other senior members of the administration:

Republican Letter to Hanlon.jpg

I wonder what will happen if the Republicans invade Cutter-Shabazz and chant “White Lives Matter” and yell racist insults at the inhabitants there.

Addendum: It’s hard to do satire these days. There is really no line at all between the serious and the absurd.

Posted on November 19, 2015 9:10 PM. Permalink

An Ugly and Violent Display

I’ve been late getting to the story of the students of color invasion of Berry Library. I guess that the macroaggressions in Paris (and the faculty meeting) have been of greater moment than the emotional outburst of many of the College’s minority students and their allies.

Two incidents seem to have incited an initially quiet protest on November 12: the tearing down by a single drunken student of two protest T-shirts from an NAACP Black Lives Matter wall display, and racially charged posts on Yik Yak — the anonymous commenting website that had superseded bored@baker. However what started as a respectful demonstration that included American Indian prayer circles quickly spun into an aggressive disruption of students who were studying in Novack Cafeteria and Berry Library. Take a look as at least a hundred students forcefully and noisily marched through the library:

The Dartmouth Review describes in some detail how the demonstration unfurled:

Review Protest Description.jpg

While less complete, eyewitness Charles Lundquist ‘17 gives a consistent description of the same event, as did an article in The D. In addition, I have spoken with several students who confirm the report of violent language used by many of the demonstrators.

Do you think that this behavior is in violation of Standard VIII of the College’s Standards of Conduct?

Standard VIII.jpg

Or how about Title LXII of the New Hampshire Criminal Code?


644:2 Disorderly Conduct. - A person is guilty of disorderly conduct if:
III. He purposely causes a breach of the peace, public inconvenience, annoyance or alarm, or recklessly creates a risk thereof, by:
(a) Making loud or unreasonable noises in a public place, or making loud or unreasonable noises in a private place which can be heard in a public place or other private places, which noises would disturb a person of average sensibilities; or
(b) Disrupting the orderly conduct of business in any public or governmental facility; or
(c) Disrupting any lawful assembly or meeting of persons without lawful authority…
VI. Disorderly conduct is a misdemeanor if the offense continues after a request by any person to desist; otherwise, it is a violation.

I agree with you.

In response to the events, Phil Hanlon sent out the following letter to the campus:

Hanlon BLM Message.jpg

And he has been sending the below form letter to alumni who have written in to ask about the library demonstration:

Hanlon Alumni Letter.jpg

The College also has put up a statement on its Press Releases website:

Berry Protest Press Release.jpg

Of course, the administration’s embarrassing formalism should be apparent to everyone. No Complaints! No Justice! Since when has a complaint been required for the College to enforce its rules and regulations? Has anyone ever complained about freshmen rushing the football field or trying to touch the bonfire. The College has had no problem prosecuting infractions of those rules.

And Phil Hanlon’s comment about a “political protest” is equally transparent. Nobody has the right to disrupt the peace for any reason. The College’s own rules and the NH statute above certainly don’t carve out exceptions for political or other activities. A disruption is a disruption. Even if you take Phil at his word, did the protest look like a political one to you? As Groucho Marx used to (almost) say (and as Richard Pryor often repeated), “Who you gonna believe, Phil or your lying eyes?”

Compounding the College’s ineptitude, Vice Provost for Student Affairs Inge-Lise Ameer attended a post-demonstration meeting on Monday at Cutter-Shabazz to discuss the situation with students. The entire meeting is here, but we have excerpted several salient sections in the below. Dean Ameer comments at length on the demonstration and race relations at the College, and responds to questions from Geovanni Cuevas ‘14, the student recently roughed up by the Brown campus police:

Below is a transcription of the first part of Dean Ameer’s comments:

Inge-Lise Ameer: I’m very sorry about all of this. I know it doesn’t help, but we’ve received a lot of terrible calls today, too, and we’ve told them that they were all, you know, ridiculous, and that the protest was a wonderful, beautiful thing.

Geovanni Cuevas ‘14: Can you elaborate on that?

Inge-Lise Ameer: You know, people, there’s a whole conservative world out there that’s not very nice.

Geovanni Cuevas ‘14: They’re fucking racists. Don’t say they’re not very nice. They’re fucking racists. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to blow up like that.

Inge-Lise Ameer: I’m not going to say that. But it was hard. We’re on Yik Yak all the time and we’re constantly contacting them: Please take this down. Please do this. Stop doing this.

We fought bored@baker. It’s finally down. It took five years to get that stupid thing down.

And all I can keep saying, as I’ve been saying with students all of the last few days, if you’re feeling unsafe, and you’re not feeling that you’re getting responded to, then you contact me directly. And will deal with it, because that is not right, and I don’t want you feeling this way, I don’t want any of you feeling this way.

And I think that the reaction to the protest in the library has been, I think that it just displays our society very clearly right now.

What to say about these pandering remarks? Ameer supports the students’ “wonderful, beautiful” protest, and she all but says that anyone who criticized the protest did so only as an expression of racism. Heaven help us, and heaven help the impressionable students who are being indoctrinated with such ill-thought-out nonsense.

Is there any teaching going on at Dartmouth? In the 1:13:01-long meeting, Ameer never asked exactly why someone might feel unsafe? She never inquired whether students understood that they were hurting their cause by disruptive behavior, nor did she suggest better methods of protest. She never defended other students right to study in peace. All she did was show support for students complaints and behavior no matter how baseless, disruptive and illegal.

This is higher education?

Addendum: A longtime reader writes in:

I have a reasonable awareness of the unfairness of “structural” racism, but this is ridiculous, especially in such a context. Premier academic institutions recruit under-privileged minorities, give them free tuition, and create academic departments and endless support bureaucracies organized around them. Is this a case of give someone an inch and they’ll take a mile?

It reminds me of the ideological purity power games from the early days of the Russian Revolution combined with Miller’s “The Crucible”.

Addendum: A professor writes in:

I just don’t understand what it means to feel unsafe in a place like Hanover, New Hampshire. This sort of thing has to be spelled out. What exactly is unsafe? Someone saying something offensive? Get used to the world. Students need to learn strategies of response. Not constant coddling. Protection is not the answer.

Posted on November 19, 2015 4:00 AM. Permalink

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

SAE Investigated For Hazing

Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more:

SAE Hazing Comp.jpg

AP notes that SAE’s national has ordered it to suspend all activities, and that “Hanover Police Chief Charlie Dennis said the criminal investigation began Oct. 20.”

The D’s report reprised much of the material reported on by AP, and listed the many people that the paper spoke to or tried to speak to, all of whom either did not respond or affirmed that they could not comment about an ongoing investigation.

No details of any kind were put forward regarding the hazing itself — certainly nothing of the shock value contained in Andrew Lohse ‘12’s original report in this space on January 24, 2012.

What do you bet that SAE is quickly derecognized by Dean Ameer if the Town of Hanover Police Department or the Grafton County Attorney find that hazing took place at the North College Street fraternity?

Addendum: Like AD, SAE owns its house and property, in addition to other land in Hanover.

Addendum: At the rate Phil is going, there will soon be so little of the College left that he’ll be able to re-name the place Dartmouth University, and nobody will care.

Posted on November 18, 2015 2:45 PM. Permalink

Snow Justice, Snow Peace

The Seuss family is coming to Winter Carnival this year, and as a result Seuss Enterprises has allowed the exceptional use of a Seussian Carnival theme this year: The Cat in the Hat Comes to Winter Carnival. However a number of students of color believe that as a matter of public safety — they feel they there are no safe spaces for students of color on the Dartmouth campus — the carnival theme should revolve around issues of social justice. They propose an alternative theme: Snow Justice, Snow Peace.

The following e-mail was circulated in advance of a meeting with the Carnival organizers:

Snow Justice, Snow Peace mailing.jpg

Below is a video of students urging the the Snow Justice, Snow Peace theme for Winter Carnival at an open discussion with the organizers with this year’s Carnival:

The theme of the absence of personal safety was repeated endlessly by the students who are requesting the change. No decision was made at the meeting on the choice of a Carnival theme.

Posted on November 18, 2015 4:00 AM. Permalink

Geovanni Cuevas ‘14 Roughed Up

In an altercation at Brown, Geovanni Cuevas ‘14 was physically manhandled by members of the Brown campus police. The story has made national headlines.

Cuevas was at Brown for the 2015 Latinx Ivy League Conference. Following the incident, the members of the conference produced a lengthy statement, which began with Cuevas’ account of the events that befell him:

Geovanni Cuevas.jpgThere was a party at Machado house last night. I was waiting to pay the price of admission along with two other female Brown students. I was completely sober on all accounts. A drunk Brown student stumbled out of the party and was immediately confronted by the officers working security, and when I saw what I perceived to be inappropriate touching on the part of the officer, I spoke up and told the officer that I felt the way he was touching the other student was inappropriate.

The two officers at the scene then left the drunk student and instead focused on my ‘disrespect’ and stepped forward to physically intimidate me. They told me that if I did not shut up and listen to them, that I would be arrested. After it was clear that other students were uncomfortable with the altercation, I removed myself from the situation and left. However, the officers informed me that if I were to return to the house I would be charged with trespassing.

Unfortunately I was being hosted at Machado. I did return to my room, but ventured downstairs to the party to find my host. The security found me before I found my hosts. They found me in the laundry room next to the dance floor, slammed me against the wall and slammed me to the ground. Meanwhile they accused me of resisting when I wasn’t, and scraped my face and chin. I was then detained outside of Machado until Brown students could verify my identity and the security officers finally let me go.

In light of Cuevas’ experience, the Latinx conference formulated a list of demands for Brown University Security, the Brown Administration, and the Ivy League:

Latinx Demands Comp.jpg

The document was signed by representatives from all of the Ivy schools, including the College:

Latinx Dartmouth Delegates.jpg

One cannot help but think back to the Freedom Budget of March 2014 in reviewing the specificity of these demands.

Addendum: Shame about the “University” sobriquet above the Dartmouth students’ names.

Posted on November 18, 2015 12:00 AM. Permalink

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Could Paris Happen Here?

Simon & Benjamin.jpgVisiting lecturer Steven Simon and Dickey Center Director Daniel Benjamin opined on the likelihood of a Paris-style attack in America in a NYT piece entitled: Could Paris Happen Here?

Come again? Could a few extremists — remember that the majority of killings on Friday were effected by only three men at Le Bataclan — get weapons and go on a shooting spree in the United States? Is that a serious question?

Simon and Benjamin go on at length on how the risk is less in America than in Europe because of our smaller, better integrated Muslim population, and our superior security and intelligence infrastructure, as aided by our Atlantic and Pacific moats. They even cite the cooperation of Mexican and Canadian intelligence services “which prevents would-be terrorists from slipping across our land borders.”

That may be so (I’m glad to hear that the Mexican border is now secure), but given that every few years some high school kids or college students dip into America’s sea of weapons and go on a murderous rampage (Newton, CT: 26 dead, 2 wounded; Virginia Tech: 32 dead, 17 wounded; Columbine, CO: 13 dead, 21 wounded), or Muslims like Nidal Hasan at Fort Hood, TX (13 dead, 30 wounded) or the Tsarnaev brothers in Boston (3 dead, 264 wounded) do the same, Simon and Benjamin’s piece seems downright silly. If high schoolers, soldiers and students can wreak havoc, what is to prevent a few well trained jihadists from doing so as well?

Why would Simon and Benjamin write such things? Is the government trying to calm a population worried by an event that struck a little too close to home (“Every man has two countries - his own and France,” Thomas Jefferson supposedly said)? Or are they throwing a bouquet to their colleagues in Homeland Security? Or do they want to lay the groundwork for further intrusive security measures?

A more thoughtful response would simply say that a few suicidal fanatics with AK-47s will always get through, and we might as well become used to the idea. In the U.S.A. on average more than 30,000 people are killed each year in traffic accidents, and over 16,000 homicides are reported, and though many people fight for gun control, we don’t have people cancelling vacations and cowering in fear in the face of these huge figures.

Terrorism is global; we can fight against it, but we won’t win any time soon. The whole world is Israel now. Or Paris. And the sooner we accept that fact, the calmer we can be.

Addendum: The government of France is asking for a constitutional amendment in order to beef up the freedom of action accorded its security services. I won’t make any generalizations about hot-tempered Latins, but such talk so soon after the November 13 massacre does not give one confidence that cooler heads will prevail.

Addendum: The Breitbart report notes that eight Syrians were apprehended in the Laredo sector trying to cross from Mexico into the U.S. I wonder if any other Syrians successfully entered the country.

Posted on November 17, 2015 6:00 PM. Permalink

A Sad Day for the College

Despite a great deal of private talk among members of the Arts & Sciences faculty, there was little opposition to GRAD at the meeting of the General Faculty yesterday. The General Faculty itself cannot pass motions that speak for the individual faculties according to Charter of the General Faculty, which reads in part:

Resolutions passed by the General Faculty are advisory to but not binding on the four separate Faculties.

But in its advisory capacity, the following motion was passed by a vote of 174-9:

The General Faculty advises the individual faculties to recommend that the President ask the Board of Trustees to approve the establishment of a School of Graduate and Advanced Studies.

Give the administration credit for getting its ducks in a row. In a well choreographed sequence, President Hanlon, Provost Dever, deans or major players from each of the professional schools, Dean of the Faculty Mike Mastanduno and A&S faculty members who had worked on the issue of a grad school over the past decades all spoke forcefully in favor of GRAD. They hit their shared talking points with dutiful consistency: virtually every speaker used the term “signaling” and some language about the College being perceived as “serious” about graduate education.

Several remarks summed up the fait d’accompli that this vote represents. Phil said:

I do not see a large expansion of graduate studies on the campus… But we do need a mechanism to add programs when groups of faculty or departments bring forward compelling proposals…

We must always be aware of our heritage: Dartmouth will continue to be a place where tenured and tenure-track faculty have the primary role in delivering undergraduate education. [Emphasis added]

The first paragraph above tells the tale: Phil might not immediately foresee “a large expansion” in graduate programs, but he is all but inviting proposals for new efforts in that direction.

The word “primary” above is compelling, too. At present, close to half of all undergraduate courses are taught by adjunct professors. This percentage has been the case for at least a decade now. Phil’s word choice leaves open a lot of room for grad student teachers to join the adjunct army. After all, part of good doctoral training involves teaching. Watch what happens at the College over the next few years for the real meaning of the word “primary.”

Geisel Professor Chuck Wira asked Provost Dever:

Will this process allow those departments and individuals that don’t have graduate education now to more easily bring in graduate students?

Provost Dever responded:

I think so. But this is really a question for the deans of the schools that are responsible for the faculty.

And Joe Heble, Dean of Thayer, honestly described the true implication of today’s decision (which will quickly be ratified by the Trustees):

Having a Dean who leads it [GRAD) says to our peers in the external community, and to the faculty that we are trying to recruit, that Dartmouth is as serious about graduate education as it is about undergraduate education. We stand for and aspire to excellence in both, and I think that this makes an important statement to our peer community that we are headed in that direction.

His remark received some of the loudest applause of the day.

Professor of Engineering Rahul Sarpeshkar, the first hire in Phil’s Academic Cluster Initiative concluded the meeting by asserting that the College would soon be:

… just as good as MIT, Stanford, Caltech and Harvard in science education… We are going to put ourselves on the map like all the other schools have done.

The salient concept to be considered here is that an institution cannot do everything well. If we try to do science like Harvard, we will get an undergraduate program like Harvard’s. Of course, we will fail to match Harvard in the sciences because we are hopelessly outgunned in that area, and in doing so we will bleed undergraduate education white.

Once again, this is a management issue: Phil wants to follow the model that he believes has worked for enormous schools like the University of Michigan — his spiritual alma mater. He has neither the modesty nor the originality to realize that excellence can only be had when you choose your niche. Today Dartmouth decided with some finality to leave the special area where it has excelled for close to 250 years. It is no longer different at Dartmouth.

Addendum: The professional schools and the faculty of Arts & Sciences must still vote individually on the GRAD question, but after today’s ballot, it is hard to conceive of any outcome different from today’s vote.

Posted on November 17, 2015 4:00 AM. Permalink

Monday, November 16, 2015

Paris: Fluctuat Nec Mergitur

The Latin on the side of the Eiffel Tower can be translated as “Tossed but not sunk” — Paris’ motto since 1358:

Eiffel November 16, 2015.jpg

The crowds are still somber, and there were TV broadcasters everywhere at 9:15pm.

Posted on November 16, 2015 3:41 PM. Permalink

It’s About Bloody Time

The members of the faculty of Arts and Sciences have just now (8:18am) received the materials for today’s General Faculty meeting. Professors at the professional schools were sent them late last week.

Addendum: A faculty member writes in:

Faculty might be more interested in supporting the proposal before us this afternoon if the material had been sent to us in a timely fashion, and not at the last minute, which gives a bad impression.

Are we simply rubber stamps? After all, creating a graduate school is about teaching and research: faculty are essential to the success of this proposal and should be engaged by the administration in the planning process. The discussions of the proposal have taken place primarily within small faculty committees, without giving enough opportunity for all faculty to consider the implications for our own teaching and scholarship.

Support could have been fostered by greater transparency and by more opportunities for faculty to discuss this informally with Hanlon and Dever. They are remote figures for most faculty, which is too bad. Let them open many more channels of communication with faculty to foster support for their ideas, especially those that involve teaching.

Posted on November 16, 2015 8:35 AM. Permalink

What’s At Stake Today?

Today the General Faculty and the Faculty of Arts and Sciences will vote on the creation of an independent School of Graduate and Advanced Studies at the College (GRAD). This step, if taken, would be part of the continued downgrading of both the role of the Dean of the Faculty and the primacy of Dartmouth’s undergraduate program.

This evolution began under Jim Kim when the Provost was elevated to a position above the Dean of the Faculty (prior to the change, both the Provost and the Dean has reported directly to the President, with the Provost overseeing the professional schools and the physical plant, and the Dean having responsibility for the entire liberal arts academic program). Here is the College’s organization chart once the change was made:

Kim Org Chart.jpg

Note: there is a secondary line from the Dean of the President that bypasses the Provost, but you don’t have to take a course in Art History to recognize a fig leaf when you see it.

Yet even after that change, the Dean of the Faculty continued to have responsibility for the College’s graduate programs: the Dean of Graduate Studies was and still is a direct report:

Dean of the Faculty Org Chart1a.jpg

If the faculty allows the creation of School of Graduate and Advanced Studies, then graduate studies will no longer be managed by the Dean in the context of liberal arts education at the College. Graduate programs will have their own advocate who can lobby the Provost directly.

One can be sure that the GRAD Dean will never, ever beseech the Provost to diminish the College’s graduate programs. It is the very nature of administrators to expand the scope of their responsibilities. If you don’t believe that statement, I submit to you as evidence the College’s burgeoning bureaucracy — the fruit of administrators who always need more resources and more people to accomplish their mission. The GRAD Dean will behave similarly.

Today’s faculty vote represents an inflection point for the College: Dartmouth’s distinctive focus on undergraduate teaching and scholarship by professors will only diminish further if professors vote to allow the Dean’s role to be circumscribed yet again. Don’t do it.

Addendum: The Valley News ran an editorial critical of GRAD last week, and today six professors wrote a Letter to the Editor in support of the initiative.

Posted on November 16, 2015 4:00 AM. Permalink