Here’s the theory: the Dean of the College slot has been filled over the last fifteen years with people (with one exception) who were chosen for their racial/gender profile rather than their competence. (Want proof of their mediocrity? Look where they are now.) As a direct result of these sub-par hires, Dartmouth has been beset with a series of student life crises that have grievously hurt its reputation. How to repair the damage?
First, strip out all of the extraneous responsibilities from the Dean’s portfolio (Athletics, DDS, dorm maintenance, etc.) so that the Dean is free to concentrate on student life matters. That’s been or being done now.
Then choose competent Deans. That’s right: two of them. HYP all have deans who are heavy-hitting academics, but they are buttressed by experienced administrators who can handle the nitty-gritty of financial planning, personnel management, and the day-to-day responsibility of running of an organization with a budget well into eight figures.
At the College we should have co-Deans of the College: a professor who knows the school, has a good dose of common sense, and can speak with sufficient intellectual authority to be respected by students; and an experienced administrator who can sweat the details, streamline a bloated, low-performance staff, and cut out waste wherever it may be found (everywhere).
The College appeared to be on the way to executing this strategy, but a serious misteep has been made. For some reason, the first hire to fill the two-step was Inge-Lise Ameer, the acting Dean of of the College. She has been named Vice Provost for Student Affairs — a job that entails almost all of the responsibilities of the previous Dean of the College position. Oh, no. When Ameer was appointed interim Dean last May, we reported on her background as follows:
She’s been at Dartmouth since 2010, having come from some little school in Cambridge, where she had last been Interim Director of Advising Programs (a job she performed well, according to the Crimson). Previously she had been the administrator for undergraduate English programs.
That said, Ameer worked hand in glove with Carol Folt, having chaired the cliquey meeting that led to the College’s embarrassing shutdown last year. And she recently put in a pallid appearance on NPR as part of the College’s ongoing public self-immolation regarding student life issues. In addition, she has been joined at the hip with outgoing Dean of the College Charlotte “Phil’s just a fundraiser” Johnson. Whether her work with Charlotte represents the accommodation of a loyal subordinate or a deeper ideological sympathy remains to be seen….
Whatever her past record, let’s hope that Phil ranges further afield than Ameer in choosing the College’s next Dean of the College.
Uninspiring stuff, to say the least. Ameer is barely more experienced than Sylvia Spears. How is it that we can’t hire people who have done the same job admirably at a lesser school than Dartmouth? That’s what is done in the corporate world; people work their way up the ladder, gaining relevant experience at each level. Do we expect Ameer to learn the position on the job? That expectation surely hasn’t been met in the past.
When Ameer’s hire as Vice Provost for Student Affairs was announced, the Dartmouth Now notice also stated that the next Dean of the College would be a current faculty member. That’s good on its face, but, of course, this new position with the old name has a much reduced list of responsibilities, as The D reported:
The new dean of the College will be the academic leader of the residential community system initiative outlined in the “Moving Dartmouth Forward” plan, Dever said. The dean will lead the new cohort of house professors, and will convene “serious working groups” on diversity and inclusion within the academic experience, Dever added.
The dean will be a tenured member of the faculty who will offer strategic and creative leadership in the areas of undergraduate academic life, diversity and inclusion in the undergraduate academic experience, strategic planning, and the residential house system and house professors.
Reporting to me, the dean will lead the new house professors and a broad network of students, faculty, and staff to create a strong academic and residential program in the new residential house system. The dean will build partnerships across departments, programs, and schools to help us find the best ways to guide students in the pursuit of their educational goals. She or he will lead a process to help me to think through planning and innovation in the areas of admissions and financial aid, ensuring that Dartmouth is well positioned to compete in a changing world. The dean will also convene initiatives to address diversity and inclusion in the undergraduate academic experience.
And don’t forget diversity and inclusion.
The fluff about leading “a process to help me to think through planning and innovation in the areas of admissions and financial aid” has nothing to do with being the College’s official den mother and chaperone. The Dean of the College position has been gutted.
Then we learn from Provost Dever that, “The search for the next dean will be led by Vice Provost for Academic Initiatives Denise Anthony” of the Sociology department. Not a reassuring sign. Anthony was the leader of Jim Kim and Carol Folt’s laughable Strategic Planning Initiative. Do you remember that multi-year, multi-multi-committee effort? The one whose results were announced a little over two years ago, and hasn’t been heard from since. The one that didn’t even pass muster for its grammar and syntax.
How Anthony could have attracted the attention of Provost Dever is beyond me, unless Provost Dever likes to hire the same kind of person as Jim Kim and Carol Folt. Anthony was the Kim/Folt administration’s go-to good girl, and it would not surprise me if she wasn’t bucking for the Dean’s job herself. In any event, the position will likely be filled by a jargon-spouting humanist. And don’t forget diversity and inclusion.
In short, amateur hour is set to continue in the area of student affairs. When will they ever learn?
Perhaps the most dispiriting aspect of current life at the College — and throughout the academy — is the notion that students are crybabies: endlessly sensitive souls who need to be coddled and protected from any idea or expression that might trouble their so-delicate psyches. Administrators, many of whom see themselves as no more than daycare providers for 18-22-year-old infants, wail about “safe spaces” and “trigger warnings” and “micro-aggressions” (a generation from now, will we read about nano-aggressions?) and students’ right to be free from the harassment of discomforting ideas. Though they and their student acolytes talk long into the night about diversity, an appreciation of diverse ideas is not on the agenda.
However, at long last, professors at some institutions (not yet at Dartmouth, I’m sad to say) are pushing back against this mushy, stiffing orthodoxy. The faculties at Chicago and Princeton have passed resolutions in support of the rough and tumble of open debate. Here is the Chicago text:
‘Education should not be intended to make people comfortable, it is meant to make them think. Universities should be expected to provide the conditions within which hard thought, and therefore strong disagreement, independent judgment, and the questioning of stubborn assumptions, can flourish in an environment of the greatest freedom.’ . . . Because the University is committed to free and open inquiry in all matters, it guarantees all members of the University community the broadest possible latitude to speak, write, listen, challenge, and learn. Except insofar as limitations on that freedom are necessary to the functioning of the University, the University of Chicago fully respects and supports the freedom of all members of the University community ‘to discuss any problem that presents itself.’ Of course, the ideas of different members of the University community will often and quite naturally conflict. But it is not the proper role of the University to attempt to shield individuals from ideas and opinions they find unwelcome, disagreeable, or even deeply offensive. Although the University greatly values civility, and although all members of the University community share in the responsibility for maintaining a climate of mutual respect, concerns about civility and mutual respect can never be used as a justification for closing off discussion of ideas, however offensive or disagreeable those ideas may be to some members of our community.
The freedom to debate and discuss the merits of competing ideas does not, of course, mean that individuals may say whatever they wish, wherever they wish. The University may restrict expression that violates the law, that falsely defames a specific individual, that constitutes a genuine threat or harassment, that unjustifiably invades substantial privacy or confidentiality interests, or that is otherwise directly incompatible with the functioning of the University. In addition, the University may reasonably regulate the time, place, and manner of expression to ensure that it does not disrupt the ordinary activities of the University. But these are narrow exceptions to the general principle of freedom of expression, and it is vitally important that these exceptions never be used in a manner that is inconsistent with the University’s commitment to a completely free and open discussion of ideas. In a word, the University’s fundamental commitment is to the principle that debate or deliberation may not be suppressed because the ideas put forth are thought by some or even by most members of the University community to be offensive, unwise, immoral, or wrong-headed. It is for the individual members of the University community, not for the University as an institution, to make those judgments for themselves, and to act on those judgments not by seeking to suppress speech, but by openly and vigorously contesting the ideas that they oppose.
Indeed, fostering the ability of members of the University community to engage in such debate and deliberation in an effective and responsible manner is an essential part of the University’s educational mission. As a corollary to the University’s commitment to protect and promote free expression, members of the University community must also act in conformity with the principle of free expression. Although members of the University community are free to criticize and contest the views expressed on campus, and to criticize and contest speakers who are invited to express their views on campus, they may not obstruct or otherwise interfere with the freedom of others to express views they reject or even loathe. To this end, the University has a solemn responsibility not only to promote a lively and fearless freedom of debate and deliberation, but also to protect that freedom when others attempt to restrict it.
Addendum: Judith Shapiro, the former president of Barnard, has written a piece for Inside Higher Education, and Judith Shulevitz did so, too, for the New York Times, decrying the infantilization of college students. Shulevitz’ essays had a tongue-in-cheek headline: In College and Hiding From Scary Ideas.
Addendum: A Hanover-based alumnus writes in:
Thanks for today’s post. I couldn’t agree more. I’ve found that not a week on campus goes by without someone mentioning ‘safe spaces’ or ‘trigger warnings’ or ‘heteronormativity…’ (The list goes on, but I’ll spare you the gory details.) While I often understand these concerns, and even empathize, I do not understand the way in which people address them — or rather, do not address them. Evasion is the modus vivendi; folks don’t want spirited debate, or even civil discourse. They want to shut doors: “This person/idea/concept/practice/reality offends me. Therefore, it should not exist.”
I always wish to reply, “The fact that (xyz) offends you is precisely why it should exist! If we’re to be good learners — and, more importantly, good citizens — we have to confront difficult and displeasing ideas head on.” We ought to even reach out our hands and say, “I strongly disagree with you, but your opinion is as valid as mine. Let’s talk about our respective belief systems and put our world-class liberal arts education to good use.” But this does not happen.
Randall Balmer, writing in the Valley News, demonstrates how a good scholar and citizen can brave upsetting ideologies without slamming doors: When I Testified for Fred Phelps
What good is a belief if it can’t withstand a cup of coffee with its adversary?
Addendum: In his Commencement speech on that day, Eisenhower also put forward an admonition that has relevance today in a world where some people want to protect entire communities from uncomfortable speech and ideas:
It is not enough merely to say I love America, and to salute the flag and take off your hat as it goes by, and to help sing the Star Spangled Banner. Wonderful! We love to do them, and our hearts swell with pride, because those who went before you worked to give to us today, standing here, this pride.
And this is a pride in an institution that we think has brought great happiness, and we know has brought great contentment and freedom of soul to many people. But it is not yet done. You must add to it.
Don’t join the book burners. Don’t think you are going to conceal faults by concealing evidence that they ever existed. Don’t be afraid to go in your library and read every book, as long as that document does not offend our own ideas of decency. That should be the only censorship.
How will we defeat communism unless we know what it is, and what it teaches, and why does it have such an appeal for men, why are so many people swearing allegiance to it? It is almost a religion, albeit one of the nether regions.
And we have got to fight it with something better, not try to conceal the thinking of our own people. They are part of America. And even if they think ideas that are contrary to ours, their right to say them, their right to record them, and their right to have them at places where they are accessible to others is unquestioned, or it isn’t America.
This exhortation has an echo in remarks made, perhaps insincerely, by another national leader in the 1950’s: “Let a hundred flowers bloom; let a hundred schools of thought contend.”
Addendum: My evocation of Mao above led to Peter Lake ‘66 sending in the below vignette:
This is a picture of the Mao button I swapped a Newsweek magazine for on a South African Airways jet on the Nairobi-Aden-Karachi leg of our trip from Durbin to Colombo in July 1969 while filming BLUE WATER WHITE DEATH.
The 707 had a divided fuselage, with passengers occupying two-thirds of the back and an open cargo space with a pile of empty cargo nets in the front third. Our film crew left the passenger section and went into the cargo section to drink beer and lie down on the mats. Every time the door between compartments would open we’d see the ChiComs glaring at our decadent Western ways.
Back in my seat I told an English-speaking Chinese that we’d just landed a man on the moon. He denied it and when I produced a Newsweek with the cover story he shrank away and wouldn’t accept the magazine, not even to look at it. But later when his buddies were sleeping I told him to take the magazine and he stuffed it into his jacket and gave me his Mao button which I pinned right on my jacket.
It wasn’t the first time I’d swapped with commies. At the 1964 World Parachuting Championships in Orange, Massachusetts, I served as an assistant judge, translating among the French, Spanish and Soviet teams. The Soviets wore turtleneck blue jerseys with “CCCP” letters sewn on. I swapped a Dartmouth jacket (I was about to become a freshman) for one of those jerseys but when the Soviet manager found out he made me remove the letters.
We got our revenge, however, by helping Yugoslav team member, Milan (Max) Knor, defect at the end of the competition. As the Yugoslav team was preparing to leave, Max slipped out the back of the motel into our car and we whisked him away to state police barracks. The Soviets kept their letters but we got Max, who became a noted parachutist and whose legacy continued after his death with his wife, Kim Emmons Knor.
EVP Rick Mills didn’t use those words in his Town Hall Meeting on Wednesday, but that message was the clear import of all of his remarks. In that vein he led off with a October 19, 1869 quote from President Charles Eliot of Harvard:
The inertia of a massive University is formidable. A good past is positively dangerous, if it make us content with the present, and so unprepared for the future.
Mills noted that Eliot, a non-clergyman, was appointed to the Harvard presidency after “Harvard had had three failed Presidents in the space of ten years.” Then Mills said in the manner that has made me a big fan that this statement was “something prophetic for Dartmouth.” As I prepared to applaud the first public expression of that bracing truth, I looked around me to see that nobody in the Spaulding Auditorium crowd of perhaps 100 people seemed to have heard it: no clapping, no shuffling, not even a cough. I guess that the College’s staffers have other things on their minds (salaries, vacations, pensions, benefits).
Mills followed up with a 3:55 claymation/narration video that hammered home his core point: if you aren’t improving, you are falling behind:
He phrased the message somewhat less ambitiously — “you have to keep moving ahead to stay in place” — and he noted that a sense of complacency could be found at Dartmouth. Ha!
Stay tuned to Rick Mills. If anything is going to change at the College, he will be at the center of the effort.
Addendum: Right on time, the Valley News noted that the beginnings of wage discipline, and, heaven forfend, even merit-based raises, were occurring at the College:
Most non-union employees of Dartmouth College will receive a 1.5 percent pay increase for the upcoming school year but faculty and staff at the Geisel School of Medicine will have to settle instead for shots at one-time payments that would leave their base pay unchanged…
The base pay of Dartmouth employees outside of the medical school will increase 1.5 percent. That increase will take effect on June 28 for hourly workers and three days after that for those on salary. Temporary workers and those with negative job reviews won’t get raises. Some employees also will receive bonuses awarded by the provost, vice presidents and deans from “a small pool to recognize extraordinary contributions.”
Of course, these increases are taking place in a deflationary environment, but they are less than what we might have expected from the College’s three failed presidents: Wright, Kim and Folt.
This space has long noted the outrageous behavior and opinions of Dartmouth administrators such as Kate Burke and Amanda Childress, but to date the College has not been taken to task in court for the abuses perpetrated on students. The same excessive prosecution (almost always against men) has also taken place for years on other campuses, but now it seems that people are fighting back, as the Wall Street Journal reports:
As more plaintiffs step forward in these litigations, other students will find the courage to do so, too. The College will soon find itself in the crosshairs.
Addendum: The Chronicle of Higher Education has a piece this week that details the current state of the controversies surrounding sexual assault adjudication:
Four years after the U.S. Education Department admonished colleges to take their role in responding to sexual assault more seriously, a consensus is emerging among some campus officials and legal experts that the government’s guidance is not only unrealistic but exceeds its legal authority. The amount of money and effort colleges are devoting to try to meet the mandates for adjudicating sexual misconduct, they say, is unsustainable.
Even as colleges attempt to follow the government’s recommended procedures for judging allegations of sexual assault, under threat of losing federal funds, they’re facing more scrutiny from lawmakers, plus a torrent of lawsuits and complaints from students.
This poster came in today, and I am at a loss as to why I should attend this lecture.
Is it too much to ask for a little more information?
Addendum: A person who attended Gaus’ talk offers a report:
Jerry Gaus is among the best philosophers working in the English-speaking world; he is the author of (I would guess) about 10 books and many articles; he works in one of the finest philosophy departments in the country (some say #1). He also happens to be a libertarian of sorts, and has defied the left-liberal orthodoxy that characterizes academics in general and philosophy in particular. The term “natural liberty” is a classical liberal term—it comes from thinkers like Locke and Smith. It as been adopted by contemporary libertarians, and stands for the idea that people are naturally free; thus all abridgments, constraints, and modes of coercion—especially, but not only those imposed by governments—must satisfy a high burden of justification. His talk, the poster of which you reproduced on Dartblog, was pitched at a high level: it was meant for professors and discerning, able students. Notwithstanding the poster’s spare content, Gaus spoke to a full room of profs and students from a variety of departments (Govt, Phil, and Econ most notably). His talk did what I hoped it would: interrupted the orthodoxy that passes for truth and common sense. He performed at a high level, his arguments survived searching critiques by the faculty, and overall he showed why he deserves his reputation.
The derecognition of AD can be interpreted in various ways: a warning to the entire Greek system to behave, that nobody is safe from Dean Ameer’s College discipline — after all, AD is Dartmouth’s iconic frat, erstwhile home to Chris Miller, the author of Animal House; and President Hanlon, whose pledge name was diversity-rich “Juan Carlos.” Or perhaps the death of AD is only the first step in a long line of frat derecognitions, signaling a slow motion invasione alla Putinesca along the lines of Russia’s gradual absorption of the Ukraine. MDF might not formally kill the frats, but the sub-text is that the College will seek any pretext to derecognize a house, especially one with a strategically located piece of real estate.
Addendum: Interestingly enough, the College’s Dartmouth Now news digest today contained no mention of AD’s derecognition:
Based on these findings and in consideration of Alpha Delta’s past conduct history, the OAC has derecognized Alpha Delta Fraternity. Derecognition is defined in the Dartmouth College Student Handbook as permanent revocation of recognition. We direct you to the Greek Letter Organizations and Societies Handbook for a description of the privileges which recognized organizations enjoy. Loss of recognition revokes privileges including, but not limited to, recruitment of Dartmouth College undergraduates; recognition as a “college approved ” residential facility; use of College facilities or resources; participation in any College activities such as intramurals; and provision of insurance coverage.
The College’s Office of Public Affairs released the below statement late this afternoon while the letter derecognizing AD was disseminated. Note the final statement that any appeal that AD might undertake is probably in vain:
We have received a number of inaccurate reports concerning the pending Dartmouth College disciplinary matter involving the Alpha Delta fraternity. Therefore, we are issuing the following statement:
Dartmouth’s Organizational Adjudication Committee (OAC) has found Alpha Delta fraternity responsible for violating Dartmouth’s standards of conduct in connection with the branding of some new members of the fraternity by other members in the fall of 2014. Alpha Delta was also found responsible for violating the terms of its suspension in effect at the time of the branding. Based on these findings, the OAC has derecognized Alpha Delta as a Dartmouth student organization. The fraternity has until April 20 to appeal the decision.
In addition, the Dean of the College, exercising her separate authority under the policies of the Greek Letter Organizations and Societies, has taken under advisement the evidence presented during the OAC hearing and is considering whether it is in the best interest of the Dartmouth College community to withdraw recognition of Alpha Delta, regardless of the outcome of any appeal.
The brothers of Alpha Delta fear that their house will be de-recognized in the wake of the branding scandal, according to a memo drafted for the brotherhood by Larry W. Weidner, II D’85. Here is a summary of its key points. Needless to say, the brothers’ version of events is quite different from the depiction put forward by Dean of the College Inge-Lise Ameer in her public comments:
● AD’s first offense was to serve alcohol to a vindictive student who had pre-gamed on her own. Her accusations are vague due to College rules on privacy. The second incident involved the arrival of 30 or so students at AD after the break-up of a party elsewhere. They joined 30 AD brothers, and before the brothers could register the spontaneous party “on the fly,” Safety and Security had written the house up for an illegal gathering. As a result of the two incidents, the house incurred harsh penalties that will last through the summer of 2015.
● The AD “brand” incident involved 17’s who were not part of any initiation rite or pledge activity — rather some brothers chose to be branded rather than have Indian or AD tattoos, as had also been done in the past. The College is prosecuting the house, five brothers, and possibly also recipients of brands from past classes.
● The branding came to light when a brother was examined by a doctor prior to participation in an FSP program. The doctor noticed the brands and informed President Hanlon and Dean Ameer [a clear violation of HIPAA medical rules and the confidentiality of doctor/patient relations]. The Town of Hanover Police investigated the charge, but found no violation of any NH law, including hazing.
● The memo asserts that Dean Ameer is Harvard through and through. She wants to impose the Harvard “house” model on the College, and she has her covetous eye on AD’s physical plant (despite the fact that it is owned by the house corporation) for use as a “community house space.”
● Dean Ameer has asserted untruths about AD: that branding was part of hazing; that the house still hazes; that a student’s brand became infected, etc. Overall, she believes that she can de-recognize the house on her own initiative.
● The alumni of the house will create a petition to voice support for the house. The unfinished petition is here, and AD now has a Facebook page and a Google group.
● The brothers and alumni of the house will also look into setting up a trust account to hold donations to the College until such time as sanctions on the house are lifted, or in the event of de-recognition, until the house is reinstated. AD has existed in one form or another since 1799; its brothers won’t leave lightly.
● The house’s current brothers are sufficiently dejected that they have discussed voluntarily de-recognizing the house — an action that might save the five brothers who have been charged in connection with the branding.
● The alumni of AD will be reaching out to members of other houses in an effort to assemble support for the fraternity system.
● A hearing was held last Thursday.
We re-produce the entire memo below:
Subject: FWD: AD Situation Update - Danger Close to De-recognition
Date: April 3, 2015 at 4:15:54 PM EDT
Thank you in advance for indulging me as I try to bring you up to speed on the current AD situation as I understand it. Please forgive the length of this email, but I wanted to provide as much information as possible for your consideration of the proposal made at the end of this email. If you are receiving this, it is because I understand that you are an AD and I am trying to compile a list of as many ADs as I can muster from whatever source. If you receive multiple copies, I apologize, I am compiling a listing of brothers from multiple sources and some duplication is likely. If you see ADs that have not been included on this email, please forward this to them and advise me so I can add them to the list. I think the only way to save the houseboat is to get communication flowing so we can act as one brotherhood. What follows is what I understand to be the true status of matters. If I have anything erroneous included, I apologize and welcome correction.
Congrats to the Economics department for two interesting new programs, and for getting people off-campus during the over-crowded Fall term:
As I have noted before, when I was a student there was no housing crunch, and we could live all four years in the same dorm because the administration managed the attendance of 4,000+ Dartmouth students so that no more than 3,200-3,300 were on campus in the fall term. Frankly, the College should make an off-campus term on a Dartmouth program mandatory for all students. Give students a great educational experience and solve a good part of the housing continuity problem to boot. Come on, Phil.
Erratum: Ooops. An Econ prof writes in:
The new Econ classes are on campus in the fall term, off campus in the Winterim. They don’t alleviate the housing crunch. They make it worse.
Almost all of the Canadians killed on Canada’s D-Day beach — Juno — are interred at the Bény-sur-Mer Cemetery, situated about three miles inland from the invasion beaches themselves. As in all Commonwealth war cemeteries, the families of the dead were invited (for a small fee) to offer an inscription on their child’s tombstone. In contrast to the noble, exalting-their-sacrifice atmosphere of American military burial sites like the one behind Omaha Beach at Colleville-sur-Mer, the chosen words on the Commonwealth graves give an intimacy to them, a lasting memory that each soldier left behind a family who loved him:
More than 2,000 Canadian soliders lie at Bény-sur-Mer Cemetery; most of them died in the Normandy battles on June 6, 1944 and in the weeks that followed (American soldiers are brought home if requested by their families; Commonwealth soldiers are buried in multiple small cemeteries at places close to where they fell).
Addendum: Some headstones are incised with a cross, others the Star of David, and yet others are intentionally blank.
Last week’s post about Theodore Milton Selden ‘21 elicited a sympathetic response from many readers. The African-American’s death in a train accident cut short a life of great promise: Selden had spent a productive single year at Dartmouth — a second senior year after he had completed his degree at Lincoln University — and he had then finished in the top half of his Penn Law 1L class.
At the College, he had ranked second in the senior class with grades that would be outstanding even in the present era of grade inflation. A member of Dartblog’s Baker Tower Irregulars found Selden’s grade sheet and other materials with the help of the staff at Rauner:
Four A’s and a B each term isn’t half bad. In addition, Selden won the Barger Gold Medal for Original Oratory in 1921. Although his photo appeared in the July 1919 edition of W.E.B. Dubois’ magazine The Crisis, A Record of the Darker Races, Selden appears to have had greater sympathy for the ideals of Booker T. Washington than those of Dubois. Here is his prize-winning speech:
Now you know how to conduct your bond trades over the next nine months. Actually, I wonder if the folks at the Dartmouth endowment office consult Economics Professor Danny Blanchflower about the direction of the economy, and more to the point, the strategy that the Federal Reserve will adopt in the coming months and years. After all, Danny served on the British equivalent of the Fed — the Monetary Policy Committee — and became a hero in the process. Here he is on Bloomberg, broadcasting from the College’s studios:
One way to see if Phil is going to innovate at the College is by looking at the people he puts on the Board (I know, I know, the members of the Board and the Alumni Council supposedly choose the Trustees, but let’s dispense with that self-evident fiction — the President has at the very least a veto on the picks). Over the next two years one quarter of the 24-member Board (not counting Phil and the Governor of NH) is going to turn over: Steve Mandel ‘78 in a couple of months, and in 2016 Jeff “No Show” Immelt ‘78, Sherri Oberg ‘82 T ‘86, John Rich ‘80, Steve Roth ‘62 T ‘63, and Diana Taylor ‘77.
As we have discussed in the past, the Board is virtually bereft of members with leadership experience in higher education, even though there is a fairly deep bench of College alumni in the academy. In addition, the alumni body is replete with political leaders who would contribute an entirely different perspective to the Board.
For an example of a Board that brings real expertise to the table, you need look no further than DHMC, where the members of the Dartmouth-Hitchcock (D-H) Board of Trustees have a wide range of experience, and many have retired after long and successful careers; they can therefore devote the necessary time to their responsibilities (in contrast the the pulled-in-a-dozen-directions profile of the College’s Trustees).
And while we are on the subject of Trustee diversity, let me throw out the name of Burke Whitman ‘78 — a former Marine Corps Brigadier General and healthcare corporate CEO. The military is not represented among the Trustees, and in addition Whitman has extensive experience in the private sector and on non-profit boards. In the Corps Whitman seems to have done pretty much everything that a fighting man can do. And in the private sector he was a top-level executive with Health Management Associates, Triad Hospitals, Deerfield Healthcare Corporation, and Almost Family, Inc.
Given his broad experience, we won’t hold Burke’s Harvard MBA nor his time at Morgan Stanley against him.
Addendum: As an added bonus, Burke Whitman’s wife Sarah Hoit Whitman ‘88 co-founded ConnectedLiving, a non-profit whose goal is to bring digital connectivity to underserved Americans; she also founded Explore, Inc., a national before-and-after-school, school enrichment program.
Erratum (kinda): Several alert readers have noted that Trustee Nathaniel Fick ‘99 represents the military on the Board. That is true as far as it goes, but Fick rose only to the rank of captain in the Marine Corps during his four-year stint (1999-2003); as such, in Board of Trustee meetings he will not provide the command presence that General Whitman would offer in discussions with the captains of industry and investment billionaires who fill the Dartmouth Board today.
Addendum: Life sure moves fast. A loyal reader has written in to note that without having the good graces to let Dartblog know, the Congress voted two weeks ago to promote Burke Whitman to the rank of Major General. Semper fi!
If Burke were to be appointed to the College’s Board of Trustees, would the hedge fund managers be required to salute him?
The College’s ban on hard alcohol is attracting attention:
My sources on Main Street in Hanover tell me that a déluge of thirsty students has not occurred. At $6.50 or so for a hard drink, few students can afford to pre-game in downtown bars — even if they are of an age to make the activity legal — especially when a bottle of vodka goes for the same price or less in Lebanon.
I expect that the hard stuff will be secreted in dorm rooms and consumed on the QT among small groups of friends. As I have said before, it is easier to smuggle a handle of vodka into a room than a six-pack — so unless the College turns a blind eye to beer in the dorms, little will change.
Addendum: In Eubulus’ play (circa 375 BC) Semele or Dionysus, Dionysus says:
Three bowls of wine only do I mix for the sensible: one is dedicated to health (and they drink it first), the second to love and pleasure, the third to sleep — when this is drunk up wise guests go home. The fourth krater is ours no longer but belongs to hybris (outrage), the fifth to arguments, the sixth to drunken revel, the seventh to black eyes, the eighth is the bailiff’s, the ninth belongs to bitter anger, and the tenth to madness that makes people throw things.
Phil has reappointed Mike Mastanduno as Dean of the Faculty for an abbreviated two-year term (it’s usually five). The time had come to cut bait, but Phil does not seem to have had the nerve to make the hard decision and bring in some fresh blood. Obviously Mike likes the job, and I bet that he appreciates the salary, too — $398,280 in 2013 .
Almost $400k/year seems an extravagant amount of money for a part-time job. As Dartmouth Now notes above, Mike still spends time teaching and doing research (tasks for which, were he just a faculty member, he’d receive about $175k/year), and, as we recently reported, he now has his own bi-weekly radio show on SiriusXM. While he does have his supporters on the faculty, the great majority of professors with whom I talk consider him to have been, at best, an ineffective dean. That’s no wonder: Mastanduno seems to treat one of the College’s most important positions as a sideline.
Addendum: Mike was initially appointed by President Jim Kim and Provost Carol Folt in yet another search where the fix was in from the start. Need I say more?
Lots of interesting writing about Dartmouth-related topics and higher education in recent weeks:
The Times ran a column entitled, The Real Reason College Tuition Costs So Much, which defends states from the charge that the decline in their funding of education has led to an increase in tuition. Author Paul Campos, a University of Colorado, Boulder law professor, points his finger at the real culprit:
By contrast, a major factor driving increasing costs is the constant expansion of university administration. According to the Department of Education data, administrative positions at colleges and universities grew by 60 percent between 1993 and 2009, which Bloomberg reported was 10 times the rate of growth of tenured faculty positions.
Even more strikingly, an analysis by a professor at California Polytechnic University, Pomona, found that, while the total number of full-time faculty members in the C.S.U. [Colorado State University] system grew from 11,614 to 12,019 between 1975 and 2008, the total number of administrators grew from 3,800 to 12,183 — a 221 percent increase.
Note: the figures in the latter quotation are not necessarily comparable to the ones in yesterday’s post; we referred to all of Dartmouth’s non-faculty staff. I have not had a chance to to see exactly which employees the above term “administrators” includes.
Andrew Lohse ‘12, whose book we reviewed here, has returned to the campus to finish his degree. The estimable Alumni Magazine interviewed him in a piece published in the latest edition: Confessor Returns.
This space first wrote about the number of adjunct faculty members teaching Dartmouth undergraduates in 2010, and we ran another column in February. A New Yorker article from March 25 — O Adjunct My Adjunct — well describes the rise of part-time teachers in the academy:
There is a complicated culture of silence that surrounds adjuncting. Schools have no incentive to draw attention to how many adjuncts most institutions now rely on…
But then the students often don’t know to ask. If more of them learned how many of their classes are taught by poorly paid, unsupported teachers, even as their tuition rises, how would they react? Would they question the value of their education? Call for reform?
The Wall Street Journal published a provocative piece by Bell Curve author Charles Murray: Why the SAT Isn’t a ‘Student Affluence Test. Murray’s assertion: the available data shows a far tighter correlation with maternal IQ than with family income (which itself is correlated with IQ). As if in response, Michele Hernandez ‘89 opined in a Times debate that colleges should abandon the use of the SAT/ACT aptitude tests in favor of subject tests.
And finally, after a police report concluded that the horrific event described by UVA student “Jackie” had no verifiable basis in fact, and following its own investigation headed up by Steve Coll, Dean of Columbia’s journalism school, Rolling Stone has retracted its story about an alleged gang rape at UVA. The Times notes:
The report, published by the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism and commissioned by Rolling Stone, said the magazine failed to engage in “basic, even routine journalistic practice” to verify details of the ordeal that the magazine’s source, identified only as Jackie, described to the article’s author, Sabrina Rubin Erdely.
On Sunday, Ms. Erdely, in her first extensive comments since the article was cast into doubt, apologized to Rolling Stone’s readers, her colleagues and “any victims of sexual assault who may feel fearful as a result of my article.”
In an interview discussing Columbia’s findings, Jann S. Wenner, the publisher of Rolling Stone, acknowledged the piece’s flaws but said that it represented an isolated and unusual episode and that Ms. Erdely would continue to write for the magazine. The problems with the article started with its source, Mr. Wenner said. He described her as “a really expert fabulist storyteller” who managed to manipulate the magazine’s journalism process. When asked to clarify, he said that he was not trying to blame Jackie, “but obviously there is something here that is untruthful, and something sits at her doorstep.”…
Ms. Erdely, Mr. Wenner said, “was willing to go too far in her effort to try and protect a victim of apparently a horrible crime. She dropped her journalistic training, scruples and rules and convinced Sean to do the same. There is this series of falling dominoes.”
Addendum: A diligent follower of the College’s affairs offers a comment on the Alumni Magazine’s Andrew Lohse ‘12 interview cited above:
Was copied on an email making the rounds re the Alumni Magazine piece on Andrew Lohse. Seems people are wondering how it is possible that Andrew manages - in the space of a few paragraphs - to label Pulitzer Prize winner Joe Rago ‘05 an “absurd guy,” imply that the work of Chris Miller ‘63 is unreadable, claim critical thinking skills as the exclusive domain of English majors, lump all “rich white guys” together and imply that they are proponents of depravity, defend the veracity of his own book by citing the fact checking skills of Rolling Stone Magazine (now, of all times!), flirt with insulting Phil Hanlon, offer up Panarchy as a model of respectful decorum, and polish his nihilist bona fides with references to death threats and the possibility of his own assassination. Whew. Is he actively trying to provoke confrontation?
General consensus is that Andrew is a legend in his own mind - also that he is growing a little long in the tooth for this sort of overwrought nonsense. Hard to imagine what people at the Alumni Magazine were thinking when they decided to run this piece.
Of course, one might attribute a certain deviousness to the DAM’s editors: they gave Andrew lots of rope, and he obliged them.
I want to like Phil, I really do, but if the College keeps hiring people as if it on a mission to end unemployment in America, I won’t be happy, and we’ll end up with more non-faculty employees than undergrads. As the present rate, we are less than a decade away from that state of affairs:
The Dartmouth Factbook just came out with the employment figures for non-faculty staff members, and the numbers are both alarming and, more to the point, no more than a continuation of Wright/Kim/Folt excess: between November 2013 and November 2014, the College added 60 new non-faculty staffers:
Since 2010 we have added 447 new staff members, and once again we are in record territory: the College has never had so many employees. Worse still, about two-thirds of the new people came in areas having no contact with students:
Interestingly, there were job classifications where we did reduce the headcount. It can be done. But why the growth in so many areas?
While we have hired 447 staffers since 2010, look at how the faculty has grown. Since 2010 we have added only 35.8 professors to the teaching ranks — that’s 11.6 new staffers for each new professor — of which a grand total of 7.4 faculty members came to Hanover last year:
An average College staffer and a junior professor cost nearly the same amount of money each year. Remember to keep in mind that beyond salary and fancy benefits (a Cadillac health plan and lush pension contributions), there is the cost of office equipment and space, energy, professional development and training, conferences and travel. And so it goes. At this rate, all of the extra gains from a growing endowment will be eaten up in a hurry.
Addendum: In 1999, the College had 2,409 non-faculty staffers, and that figure included about 75 employees of the Hanover Inn — a business now separate from the College. But then Jim Wright went on his spending binge, and from the looks of things, we haven’t stopped.
After a visit a few years ago on a late spring day when the irises were voluptuous, we wrote about Claunde Monet’s home at Giverny. This week, at its early spring opening, the garden was spare, but gracious and fine nonetheless:
Monet once mused, “My greatest masterpiece is my garden.”
A while back we did a profile of Joseph Dryer Jr. ‘44 — a Marine in the first wave to land on Iwo Jima, a buccaneering international businessman, a thoughtful commentator on international relations, and a close friend of Ernest Hemingway:
One would hope that scholars in the academy would show an intellectual dispassion in discussing politics and policy, but if you want to see a Humanuties professor froth at the mouth, mention the Koch brothers, who, it seems, fund certain activities even at Dartmouth College:
Someone in Econ took in funding in 2012; there is no information on grant recipients in other years.
The Wall Street Journal has an article on the organized effort to reveal college professors who receive funding from the Koch brothers.
The figures are in, but the raw acceptance numbers are not the real story:
The acceptance rate is:
Last year we accepted 11.5% of all applicants, so we are improving on selectivity at 10.3% this year, but recall that these numbers can be gamed. The way to do so is to carefully choose who and how you accept your applicant class: you focus on the people you know will accept your offer of admission:
● Legacies: Starting with the Class of 2014, we ramped up by almost 40% the number of legacies that we accept. They almost all matriculate.
● Early Decision: The College can adjust its selectivity figure by admitting more ED applicants. Almost all of them matriculate, too. This year we admitted a greater number than ever before.
● Waitlist: In theory Admissions could fill the class without accepting anyone at all from the ED and regular admissions pool. Just take everyone from the waitlist. Though we did not use the waitlist at all last year, we have taken an increasing number of students from it over the last decade — at times more than anyone else in the Ivies.
Addendum: And then there’s the Tufts Syndrome, where a school intentionally does not admit candidates who it knows will appeal to stronger, more desirable colleges. Why admit kids to Dartmouth who will go to HYP — and hurt our selectivity figures? I’ll bet that Admissions is using this strategy on occasion.
The inequality in grades at Dartmouth is almost as big a problem as income inequality in our nation. While several students now graduate with extravagant 4.0 GPAs — the hated Top 0.1% — other worthy students have grades that can be as low as half of this figure, and students even routinely leave the College because they are unable to succeed academically. As an institution, just as we are trying to do as a nation, we cannot allow such disparities to continue.
I call upon President Hanlon to institute a school-wide program of grade re-distribution. Students who have high GPAs should have their grades “taxed” heavily, so that, for example, the Registrar can drop the A of a high-scoring student to a B+ and give the extracted 0.67 GPA points to a needy student whose GPA is not what it should be. In this way, as student who ordinarily would have received a C would now be accorded a more respectable B-.
Achieving poor grades is soul-destroying, especially for students who have poor study skills or who do not apply themselves in class. By adjusting their grades upwards, the College can not only improve their self-esteem, but such a move will improve weak students’ entire experience at Dartmouth. Besides, do students who almost always achieve top grades in a class really need such a high GPA? Isn’t it greedy of them to arrogate to themselves over and over again all the A’s given out by professors in a course. Sharing the wealth would make them better people, and make Dartmouth a better place.
We all know that students who receive high grades don’t really earn them on their own at all. High GPA’s are really only a reflection of privilege in earlier education, tutoring, and the support of the community. As both President Obama and, more recently, Hilary Clinton have pointed out, businesses and their owners don’t create jobs. The argument can certainly be made that Dartmouth students don’t actually earn their own grades either. To hold such an idea is to falsely attribute merit to students with high grades, when in fact, all Dartmouth students are worthy of our support.
Some people may advance the distracting idea that taxing high grades in support of lower-scoring students will take away the incentive of top students to work hard. We know that this is not true. Grinds will always grind away; this is their nature, and society as a whole, and especially other students, can benefit from their diligence.
Perhaps we can take the idea of reducing grade inequality further by instituting a minimum grade in all courses. Just as many communities are moving to a minimum wage of $15/hour, the College should make C the lowest grade for any student who signs up for a course.
I hope that people remember this first day of April as the one on which Dartblog announced its most important idea.
Addendum: I am not the only person to celebrate the day: