Several faculty correspondents have written in and expressed a misunderstanding of a remark that I made in a recent post about the use of adjuct professros for teaching at the College. On February 24th I noted:
For some historical background, back in my day all of the College’s professors taught five courses each year; today professors in the Sciences teach only three courses, and profs in the Humanities and Social Sciences teach four courses. In theory, the faculty produces more research; in actuality, students have less contact with tenure-worthy professors.
I was not opining that faculty teaching loads should be returned to previous levels. If other schools have reduced the requirement for teaching, it would be competitive suicide for the College to move in the opposite direction. Our ability to hire the top people would be immediately harmed. However, when the administration and faculty chose to cut teaching by humanists and social scientists by 20% and by scientists by 25%, they created a concomitant obligation to increase the size of the tenure-track faculty — rather than either reduce the number of offered courses or increase the number of adjunct professors. After all, nobody suggested that tuition be cut when the quality of courses offered to students was diminished. If that obligation were not met — and it was not — then the quality of teaching at Dartmouth diminished.
One other note on adjuncts: as a rule they do not attend department meetings nor serve on departmental or College committees, nor do they usually do research. And not holding the protections of tenure, they are, theoretically at least, limited in voicing unpopular opinions.
The above is not to say that there are not fine teachers and human beings among the adjunct faculty (though there are lousy teachers and shallow radical in the cohort, too), but the College could distinguish itself by increasing the quality of its faculty if it departed from the modern trend of an ever greater number of adjuncts in its ranks.
The British Museum has a piece of artwork in an inauspicious place: on a wall in the back hallway leading to the coatcheck area and the washroom. There is no reason for it to be there, other than the fact that it is a great deal of fun to walk around. Take a look:
The work is entitled Paradoxymoron; it was created by by British artist Patrick Hughes in 1996.
The ever-creative DALI Lab at the College has worked with the College’s energy-generation plant to produce a complete website about energy use at Dartmouth. The site is replete with interesting facts:
And the history of energy at the College is covered, too:
Addendum: The College’s energy generation facility switched from coal to oil in 1922. Word has it that another change is in the offing: from oil to now-plentiful natural gas. That’s a fracking good idea.
Addendum: A technically minded alumnus writes in with a comment:
One thing struck me when I followed your post to the College’s Energy Website: The College burns a lot of No. 6 heating oil.
If you don’t know, No. 6 is heavy oil that must be preheated before burning. It is cheaper, dirtier, and contains more btu’s per gallon than the more common No. 2 (which is essentially diesel fuel). No. 6 is typically used in large commercial boilers, and NYC has mandated its phase out (see here, for example). We converted our last no. 6 apartment building three years ago and are now mostly burning natural gas.
It’s good to see the college reportedly is converting to natural gas for both cost and pollution reasons. But it’s mildly surprising that no one has made an issue of the burning of No. 6 oil.
Everybody knows, and the press certainly confirms the fact on a regular basis, that Dartmouth students are always drunk, and the only time that they take a break from playing pong is to engage in a cheap hook-up — or worse. Except, of course, when they are winning Rhodes scholarships (three this year) and, for example, preaching to the community about their faith:
Currently about 25 seniors stand up and preach each year in the Sunday evening Christian ecumenical service in Rollins Chapel. That’s over 2% of the class. I wonder if other students are engaged in similarly fruitful activities?
Preaching by senior students began last year, according to Reverend Nancy Vogele ‘85, the Director Office of Religious and Spiritual Life at the Tucker Foundation:
Starting in Winter Term 2014, a different graduating senior (from one of Tucker’s many Christian) groups preaches each week at our Sunday Night Chapel service. This has really re-energized the service. First since these students have to prepare a sermon to give to their fellow students, they deepen their own understanding of their faith. I meet with each student preacher individually the week before they preach in order to help them research and write the sermon. I also give them tips about preaching techniques, etc.. Having student preachers has also piqued the interest of more students because they see someone they know is preaching and want to come and hear. So far, attendance has been up as a result - ranging from 25-45 per week this term (with mostly students attending). In the past anywhere from 10-25 people (students and staff/community members) have attended. From time to time, students also lead the service in addition to preaching. This, too, has been great.
We just started a blog for religious and spiritual life events and several of this term’s sermons have been posted: http://dartmouthspirit.blogspot.com/. While this Christian service is geared towards students, anyone and of any faith is most welcome to attend: Sundays from 5-5:30pm in Rollins Chapel.
Nancy also reports that during fall term 147 different students attended chapel.
Sixteen members of the Penn Law faculty have published an open letter highly critical of Penn’s new sexual assault adjudicatory procedures. The letter follows on the heels of a similar letter and a subsequent memorandum from faculty at Harvard Law School. However, the Penn piece, in addition to specific references to Penn’s policies, stresses that the dictates emanating from the federal Office of Civil Rights have not only ignored notion of fairness, but that the OCR has circumvented the various procedural rules relating to the enactment of laws themselves:
Although we appreciate the efforts by Penn and other universities to implement fair procedures, particularly in light of the financial sanctions threatened by OCR, we believe that OCR’s approach exerts improper pressure upon universities to adopt procedures that do not afford fundamental fairness. We do not believe that providing justice for victims of sexual assault requires subordinating so many protections long deemed necessary to protect from injustice those accused of serious offenses. We also believe that, given the complexities of the problem, OCR’s process has sacrificed the basic safeguards of the lawmaking process and that those safeguards are critically necessary to formulate sound regulatory policy.
Folks, from a legal perspective, these criticisms will ring true to any lawyer whose understanding of due process goes beyond “the ends justify the means.” I wonder why nobody on the Dartmouth faculty has spoken up to date. (The faculty at my legal alma mater has been uncharacteristically silent, too.)
As for the process used to put the current rules in place, given the by fiat nature of the OCR’s actions, one might expect that a future administration will promptly do a volte face in this area. Live by the sword, etc. In all likelihood, the energetic federal bureaucrats in question will be working in private practice two years from now.
Addendum: Sexual assault is a serious problem on college campuses: take the death of chivalry, add young women’s confidence that it is their right to get black-out drunk, mix the whole thing in a stew of internet porn, and you end up with an environment where predators can have a field day.
That said, it bears noting that in those cases where the actual details of events have been elucidated — as opposed to reporting that states no more than “She was raped” — the fact patterns put forward are often ambiguous and troubling. This space has noted the events that led to prominent anti-assault activist Tucker Reed leveling a rape charge against a fellow student. And the horrific story described in Rolling Stone by a UVA student named “Jackie” did not stand up to scrutiny. More recently, the accusation placed by mattress-toting Columbia student Emma Sulkowicz has been called into question, and in a lengthy article by Emily Bazelon in the New York Times Magazine, Stanford student Ellie Clougherty’s account of her assault(s) by a Silicon Valley entrepreneur comes across as deeply suspect.
If one is to take anything away from these conflicting claims, it is that the narratives reported by accusers need careful review by experienced adjudicators before life-altering determinations can be made about both parties in the complaint.
Addendum: As we have reported, numerous colleges and universities are being sued for grievously biased adjudication of sexual assault allegations by students. Yesterday a settlement by the University of Colorado was announced in such a claim: a student will leave with a clean transcript and a $15,000 award even after a U. Of Colorado proceeding had found him guilty and suspended him for three semesters. His accuser had repeatedly lied in her report to the police, stating, according to the male student’s complaint, “that she wanted to get revenge against John [Doe] for rebuffing her and wanted “the s*** to be scared out of him.”
Is it time we began to worry about a faculty exodus from Hanover? Art History Professor Adrian Randolph, the College’s Associate Dean of the Faculty for the Arts and Humanities, has been appointed Dean of the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences at Northwestern. He’ll begin work on July 1. Northwestern’s press release was fulsome in its praise of Randolph:
A teacher-scholar, Randolph specializes in medieval and Renaissance Italy. His scholarship places a special emphasis on blending visual analysis with other contextual information — and from fields as varied as science, literature, social history and gender studies. In his work, he has successfully forged connections across disciplinary boundaries to build programming, lectures and conferences on topics as diverse as humor and race, Native American art and science and visualization…
Randolph has authored, co-authored or edited eight books and numerous articles, essays and reviews. He also has served on the international advisory board of the journal Art History as well as the University Press of New England. Randolph completed his B.A. at Princeton University, his M.A. at the University of London and his Ph.D. in fine arts and the history of art and architecture at Harvard University.
Closer to home, I audited Randolph’s Art 2 class in the late 1990’s. He was still finding his way as a lecturer, but Dartmouth had no more committed teacher. His detailed review of students’ papers was impressive. We spoke at some length on this topic because I felt that he would have been ably assisted by the DEP Editor that I had placed in the Art History Department. His position was that all faculty members should show the same diligence that he felt that he owed his students.
Randolph’s lecturing improved greatly over time — I returned to hear his Caravaggio lecture several years later — but that was certainly not unexpected. He worked hard to improve the things that he did, and he succeeded. Let’s hope that Art History can replace him with a teacher/scholar of equal character.
Addendum: Randolph’s wife, Art History Professor Angela Rosenthal, passed away in 2010 after a lengthy fight with cancer. She was as gifted a professor as her husband, and the College misses her presence still.
Here’s an assignment for the crack investigators at The D: how many Dartmouth classes are taught today by tenured or tenure-track professors, and how many are being taught by paid-per-course, itinerant adjuncts? The last I heard about a decade ago, from an ex-Dean of the Faculty no less, slightly under half of the College’s courses were taught by adjuncts. Since then, we’ve endured the Kim/Folt years; do you think that things have improved since I received my information?
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the use of adjuncts is soaring throughout institutions of higher education:
For some historical background, back in my day all of the College’s professors taught five courses each year; today professors in the Sciences teach only three courses, and profs in the Humanities and Social Sciences teach four courses. In theory, the faculty produces more research; in actuality, students have less contact with tenure-worthy professors.
As an example of the difference, Nancy Vickers, who later became the President of Bryn Mawr, was my Italian 1 professor. And my section of English 5 (now Writing 5) was taught by Don Pease, now a full professor of English. Today freshman writing classes are no longer under the purview of the English department, and I am not betting that any intro language instructors are going to one day become the president of a name school.
Dartmouth could set an example for the world of higher ed if it took resources away from the bloated, over-paid staff and moved them toward the hiring of many more talented, tenure-track professors.
Addendum: There is a place for adjuncts. The College needs to be able to shift resources from departments of declining popularity towards ones ascendant. A swing staff of non-tenured teachers allows this kind of flexibility. But if adjuncts are now teaching more than 20% the College’s courses, then students are being short-changed.
Addendum: Think about this entire state of affairs for a second. As we saw yesterday, the cost of higher education has soared, but the presence of ever-increasing numbers of non-tenure-track-worthy professors indicates that quality has declined. As I like to say, the College is doing less with more. In a decade or two, if present trends continue, Dartmouth students will never see a tenure-track professor, and the cost of four years in Hanover will be a million dollars.
Much commentary on the rising cost of higher education is ill-informed: most writers show little understanding of basic cost accounting. As an example, Peter Cohan, a management consulting and venture capitalist who teaches business strategy and entrepreneurship at Babson College, wrote in the Worcester Telegram to commend Phil Hanlon’s strategy of re-allocating 1.5% of the College’s costs each year. He noted what economists refer to as Baumol’s Disease:
… economists William Baumol and William Bowen noted that there had been no increase in the productivity of string quartet performers in the 200 years that had passed since Beethoven’s time.
They argued that this failure to boost musician productivity explains “why the cost of going to a live classical musical performance has gone up more than the cost of a drinking glass. You can manufacture the drinking glass more productively now than you could 200 years ago.”
Writing in the New Yorker on July 3, 2003, James Surowiecki made the same point:
Generally, productivity growth is a boon, but it creates problems for non-productive enterprises like classical music, education, and car repair: to keep luring talent, they have to increase wages, or else people eventually migrate to businesses that pay better. Instead of becoming nurses or mechanics, they become telecom engineers or machinists. That’s why teachers are getting paid a lot more than they were twenty years ago. (The average salary for an associate college professor has risen almost seventy per cent since the early eighties, and that’s if you adjust for inflation.) To pay those wages, schools and hospitals have to raise prices. The result is that in industries where productivity is flat costs and prices keep going up. Economists call this phenomenon “Baumol’s cost disease,” after William Baumol, the N.Y.U. economist who first made the diagnosis…
The basic flaw in this argument is that when you attend a string quartet concert, the fees paid to the musicians are but a fraction of the cost of your ticket. The cost of the concert hall, property taxes, ticket-takers, ushers, marketing the show and selling the tickets themselves eclipses the money paid to musicians. Those other costs reflect no more than inflation in the general economy and the increasingly efficient production of goods and services.
The same point can be made about higher education. What percentage of Dartmouth’s budget actually goes to professors’ salaries? If the answer to that question were a high percentage, say 70-80%, Baumol might have a point, but the actual figure is but a fraction of that amount, as we can calculate from a recent letter written by Professor of Mathematics Scott Pauls, the Chair of the Colllege’s Committee on Priorities:
Stick with me on the math here: Pauls notes that 1.5% of the total spending on the Arts & Sciences portion (i.e. the education of undergraduates) of the College’s budget amounts to $1.8 million. That puts the total A&S budget at $120 million. Pauls also observes that $1.8 million is 6.5% of the non-compensation portion of the budget, which would amount to just under $28 million. Working with those two numbers, you come up with the figure of $92 million for the compensation of faculty and staff (department secretaries, research assistants, etc.).
Let’s assume most generously that the A&S faculty budget is approximately half the College’s total faculty budget, the remainder being compensation for the faculty at Giesel, Tuck and Thayer — I write “most generously” given the large number of non-tenure track teachers at Geisel, almost 25% of the faculty at Dartmouth. By that equation, total faculty compensation in Hanover amounts to less than $200 million/year.
However in fiscal 2014 total salaries and benefits for faculty and staff (including deans, janitors, cooks, carpenters, electricians, administrative assistants, accountants, personnel officers, etc.) came to $491,832,000 ($369,404,000 in wages and $122,428,000 in benefits), which limits the percentage of the College’s compensation bill allocated to faculty at about 40%.
Putting those figures in a larger context, in 2014 the College took in tuition and fees (net of financial aid) of $191,826,000, the endowment disbursed $187,043,000, and operational funding from the Dartmouth College fund and other gifts came to $85,584,000. And the total cost of running the College came to $853,110,000.
Using this latter figure, we can calculate that faculty compensation is just over 23% of the cost of running Dartmouth. The remaining amount is made up of all of the College’s remaining expenses: the cost of labor of the non-academic staff, buildings, energy, taxes, food, computing, etc.. These items are the same expenditures made by regular business in the economy. In light of that fact, it should be self-evident that the cost of faculty compensation does not come close to explaining the exploding expense of going to college:
For a better understanding of the explosion in the cost of higher ed, one should look to the behavior of America’s erstwhile industrial behemoths: Big Auto, Big Steel, Big Rubber, and so forth. In the post-war decades they could charge what they wanted. As a result, many decisions that management in these enterprises should have made to stay lean and efficient were not taken, and staffing and wages ballooned. That strategy worked fine for a while, until well managed foreign competitors stole their markets. None of these once-admired companies exists in its original form today.
There is a lesson to be learned from this history.
Addendum: Jim Kim’s long-departed-but-not-at-all-lamented Chief of Staff David Spalding tried invoking Baumol in a speech to the Alumni Council in March 2013. He asserted that the massed personnel of the College could best be compared to physicians, lawyers, and dentists in trying to understand the evolution of Dartmouth’s costs. Given the ratio of faculty members to much-lower-skilled support staff, that assertion is silly.
Addendum: My legal training compels me at times to reason analogically. Imagine that you receive a quote from a contractor to build a house, and then he comes back to you and says that the total quote is now double the original figure due to a doubling in the cost of wood. Obviously, you would look him in the eye and assert that wood is only the fraction of the cost of building the house, and you would politely suggest that he not take you for a fool.
Addendum: Les grands ésprits se rencontrent. In a story today about Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s reforms of his state’s system of higher education, the WSJ notes: “The entitled academics pretend that universities are chamber orchestras that can’t improve productivity. But you can tell a college administrator is dissembling when he claims there is no fat left to trim, especially in as large an organization as UW.”
The Journal piece also praises Phil Hanlon’s first efforts to trim waste and invigorate the academic program, all with one cost-reallocation policy: “Another [cost-cutter] is Dartmouth’s Phil Hanlon, who requires college departments to cut 1.5% of spending each year and spend it on something new. This annual reallocation clears out deadwood while encouraging innovation.”
If this little village were in Italy — at least the part north of Rome — it would have a small factory or two on its outskirts. But here in France a community like Bussières in the Haute Saône region lost its mill/factory three or four decades ago; the old stone buildings are sinking into the river near where I was standing when I took this snapshot. Regulations and taxes have smothered these little towns, and they are slowly losing life, despite their many pretty 17th and 18th century stone houses and prominent churches. Today residents commute to larger nearby cities and try to hang on to the land where they were born.
The French countryside — la douce France — still has a hold on the hearts of les français and les françaises, but it is ceasing to make economic sense. That’s the world’s loss.
Degrees from Dartmouth and the Yale Law School are fine qualifications for an anti-aircraft battery commander, especially when the Germans are about to break through in the Battle of the Bugle and the battery’s 90mm gun (right) is pressed into anti-tank duty for which the men have no training. Leon Kent ‘35 and his crew were told to hold the line in what must have appeared to be a suicide mission (the German name for such assignments is Himmelfahrtsmission: trip-to-heaven mission), and on that day, they did their job. As other American troops streamed by them in retreat, Kent’s unit did not move. They fought German tanks from a gun that offered no protection to its men; as Kent put it in a 2011 interview: “If they got one shot at us, we were dead. I remember thinking: Do the shells go through you or do you go up in pieces?”
They destroyed two panzers in their first engagement, and then participated in the destruction of three more in subsequent days. Kent’s men all received Silver Stars for their courage; Kent’s application was lost, and he only received his medal in 1998.
Resuming his law practice after the war, Kent was involved in tax cases and entertainment and copyright law. His clients included Clayton Moore, who played the Lone Ranger, Lou Costello of the comedy team Abbott and Costello, and Pilar Wayne, wife of John Wayne.
He successfully represented American playwright and screenwriter Emmet Lavery in a copyright case in a court in Paris. Back in Southern California, he became an attorney for the Grandview Building Company and Budget Rent-a-Car.
In the 1960s Kent worked with the dean of the UCLA law school to help admit more minority students. He was chairman of the Lawyers and Civil Rights Committee of the Beverly Hills Bar Assn.
Leon Kent ‘35 died this week at age 99.
Addendum: Kent described his wartime experiences to the Library of Congress’ Veterans History Project.
According to Bloomberg, students at the nation’s top B-schools are preparing for the high life even as they work for their MBA degrees. The piece describes networking vacations with classmates “to far-flung destinations and swank enclaves closer to home”:
While some students believe that the returns are worth the expense, others question that logic. However, we can all agree that the exercise prepares our future CEOs for deficit spending:
The trips pay off over time, some say. “This group of people that I’m in school with right now, in 10 years are going to be the next CEOs,” says Phuong Nguyen, a second-year student at HBS who has traveled to Israel, among other places, with her fellow MBA candidates. The trips can cost up to $3,000, not including airfare, she says, but that’s nothing compared with the benefits of putting in time with people who could aid her career climb. “It’s investing in more than just knowing the names, but knowing the story behind them.”
Others aren’t convinced that luxury budgets have a higher purpose. “Wharton encourages extravagant spending,” one student said anonymously in Bloomberg Businessweek’s survey, calling the spending “toxic.” Wrote the student: “The mentality is that we’ll be rich eventually, so why not spend a ton of money now while we’re in debt.”
Two years at a top business school costs around $100,000 in tuition, and students at these programs have even more debt than their peers, who are also heavily indebted. At Dartmouth University’s Tuck School of Business, the median debt load for students was $90,000, including student loans, credit card debt, and personal debt, twice as high as the median of $40,000 at all U.S. schools. Wharton students said their median debt was $66,000.
That said, perhaps the investment pays off, as Poets & Quants notes:
For Harvard and Stanford MBAs, in fact, starting salaries and bonuses were the lowest they have been in the past three years. HBS grads landed jobs paying $138,346, down from $142,501 in 2012, while Stanford MBAs took jobs that on average paid $137,525, down from $140,459.
In contrast, Wharton grads were paid a record $141,243 last year, nearly $4,000 more than Stanford MBAs. Dartmouth Tuck grads left the school’s Hanover, New Hampshire campus with average salary and bonus of $139,036—more than $1,500 extra.
We can agree that offensive jokes have no place among thoughtful people, but it is a stretch to go from that assertion to determining that an inappropriate comment deserves the intervention of the College’s Office of Pluralism and Leadership (OPAL).
The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education thinks so, too. The watchdog organization gives the College a Yellow Light rating for OPAL’s policing policies in the area of mildly offensive speech, versus our overall green light rating for protecting free speech:
When the petition trustees won their initial elections in in 2004 and 2005, they campaigned against the College’s burdensome enforcement of speech codes, and after their election, the Wright administration rolled back the egregious rules about speech. However OPAL’s new rules seem to represent backsliding.
Once again, we can agree that certain types of expression are unacceptable among adults, but might we also agree that spoken and written words are protected from censorship. As has been said many times, the remedy for speech that offends is more speech: thoughtful, intelligent, even forcefully expressed arguments as to why even mildly offensive comments in various forms can wound people. But that response should be the end of it.
A little more than two years ago, an insensitive undergraduate made fun of two Chinese students who were speaking together in their native tongue; he let forth a stream of gibberish that was his attempt at mock Chinese. Funny? Not to the Chinese students. To the point that they filed a complaint with OPAL and the Bias Incident Response Team (BIRT, I kid you not). S&S was charged with hunting the perpetrator down, and a College spokesman said that if found, the miscreant might well be expelled.
We can look at such situations as proof that OPAL is a mess, and that the next Dean of the College has a clear task ahead in reforming that area (and many others) of the College’s sprawling bureaucracy. I don’t know if people still learn in kindergarten that “sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” but one would hope that the lesson would have sunk in by the time students begin their post-secondary education.
The Review has published a fine interview with Student Assembly President Frank Cunningham III ‘16 — ya, ya, he of Patagonia fleece fame — who served on the Moving Dartmouth Forward Steering Committee. The whole piece is worth a look, but the striking segment concerns the inner workings of the Committee as they relate to the abolition of the Greek system:
TDR: Do you think The Dartmouth’s editorial and the faculty vote had any impact on the discussion within the Committee?
FC: Yes. Abolition immediately moved to the forefront of the conversation when [it hadn’t really been] considered for the few weeks prior to that. After debating it for a while, the motion to get rid of the Greek system came up for a vote. Two of the faculty members on the Committee were throwing out all sorts of statistics and talking about how they [needed to support abolition because] they didn’t want students showing up [to class] hung over anymore. I lost my cool. I blew up in this meeting and told them they didn’t understand anything. I said, ‘You simply want to sit there and judge us based on… how many parties we throw and all of things you can see. But you can’t see the meaningful conversations I have. You can’t see the bonds that I’ve created in my fraternity.’ I flat out said in this meeting that I came out to my fraternity this summer. I came out to one of the most heteronormative fraternities on this campus, and at no time was I shunned. I remember [after I came out], I had almost my entire fraternity class standing in my room. They said, ‘We support you because we love you to death.’ I explained this to the Committee and then I packed up my stuff and I walked out the door. I was so frustrated that the conversation had gotten to that point and that they were judging us on these figures and [the headlines] without understanding the reality. I agreed that there needed to be a way to fix the problem of reckless behavior and make people more accountable. But I did not agree with getting rid of the [Greek system]. The problems were still going to exist. You needed to address the problems head-on. But at the end of the fall, the Committee wasn’t too receptive [to that argument]. Towards the end, I felt like my voice had been silenced. I felt like no one saw my side. I felt like I had divulged so much information about my own personal life and how the Greek system helped me through it, and yet the Committee didn’t see it for it was. Abolition was still its focus. And I’m telling you, in the weeks after Homecoming, the Greek system was as good as gone.
Way to go, Frank. The hill winds will know your name.
Addendum: Here is Frank’s bio from the SA’s website:
Frank M. Cunningham III is a ‘16 from West Palm Beach, FL. He is a Government major and is Dartmouth’s 2014-2015 Student Body Vice President. In addition to his role on Student Assembly, Frank is a member of the Moving Dartmouth Forward Presidential Steering Committee, a task force created by President Hanlon to address the serious issues of Sexual Assault, High-Risk Drinking, and Inclusivity. Previously, Frank served as President of the NAACP and as a member of The Dartmouth Business Staff. In the winter of 2014, Frank interned for Senator Tim Kaine in Washington D.C., where he tackled policy projects dealing with healthcare, education, and civil rights. Additionally, Frank served as the Director of Visibility for President Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign at Dartmouth, as well as spending two summers interning at ADT Security Services Corporate Headquarters as a marketing intern. In his spare time, Frank enjoys running, hiking, and spending time with family and friends.
While it is true that institutions of higher education are burdened with costly and unnecessary federal regulations — as a recent report described in the Chronicle of Higher Education notes — don’t for a minute think that the obligations imposed by these regulations explain the high cost of college and the high cost of Dartmouth College:
As this space reported on December 4, 2013, although colleges throughout the land bear the cost of identical federal requirements, the efficiency of different institutions varies a great deal. The College looks awful when compared to similarly situated New England institutions:
Phil, if you could cut the per-student cost at Dartmouth to the level of Brown, you’d then have a huge pool of money available each year to do truly interesting things: radically reduce the cost of tuition; refurbish the College’s most decrepit dorms, hire more faculty, and innovate in many other ways. Oh, the places you’ll go with the savings drawn from today’s wasteful spending.
One of the lesser-noted aspects of cost-cutting at the College is that the in extremis cuts that are made during periods when the endowment drops (1990-1991, 2001-2002, 2008-2009) are never restored. Take for example, the levy: the money that the central administration began skimming in 1999 from gifts that had been dedicated to specific college functions by alumni and other donors.
Before 1999, when a donor endowed a faculty chair, a center, or an academic department, that donation threw off a distribution each year. According to a specified formula, every penny of the money distributed went into the budget of the intended recipient. However, unbeknownst to donors — and to most people at the College — in 1999-2000, Jim Wright ordered that 14.29% of all distributions be skimmed off for the use of the College’s general fund. The endowment performed so well in that period that the change passed unnoticed.
Come the financial crisis of 2008-2009, Kim & Co. furiously sought out places to save money or increase income. Of course, trimming the bloated staff was off limits (John Rawls oblige), so Kim chose to cut bone rather than fat: tuition jumped up; financial aid was reduced; games were played in the admissions office (more legacies, early admits, and private school kids) and the levy, finally, was bumped up from 14.29% to 19.1%.
In real terms, according to Kim himself, approximately $2 million dollars was stripped from the College’s academic and research efforts in favor of the central operating budget.
Given that the endowment soared by 19.7% last year, and as the capital campaign gears up, Phil should put his house in order: the College’s academic areas should be given back their money — drop the levy back to its pre-1999 level of 0% — and donors should be told that their entire gifts will go directly to the education of students, and not to the ravenous bureaucracy. That’s the fair thing to do, and it will help everyone except the bloated staff. How about it?
Addendum: In a review of the share of returns taken from targeted gifts by the central administrations of other schools, Inside Higher Ed could not find any schools that skimmed off a figure as high as Dartmouth’s 19.1%.
I’m no hiking fool, but I can happily walk for hours through the plain and brush of 11,000-acre Ndarakwai Ranch in northern Tanzania with Nkarsis and Risiki, two elephants whom the owners saved as one-year-olds after the rest of their herd had been killed. The girls (they are sixteen and seven now; they won’t be full-grown until age 20) forage and stroll, pause to chat with each other, and occasionally come over to visit their human friends. They extend their trunks, and one is expected as a sign of greeting to blow into the outstretched nostrils.
A particular interaction is hard to properly describe — the language of spirituality has been so debased — but when one stands closeby to either Nkarsis or Risiki and inclines forward, and human forehead and the fleshy part of an elephant’s face just above the tusk come into mutually agreed contact, and stay there for thirty still and silent seconds, it is hard not to believe in the kinship of living things.
Addendum: The slaughter of Africa’s elephants proceeds apace. A decade ago, herds as large as 200 elephants migrated down from Kenya to Ndarakwi. Today a large grouping would be thirty animals. Overall populations have dropped by as much as 90% in some African nations over the past decade as China’s demand for illegal ivory drives a massive, corrupting trade (China leads the way, followed now by the U.S. market). The Times notes that, “More than 100,000 elephants were killed for ivory since 2010, according to a 2014 Colorado State University report.”
Last year the Times asked a number of authors, “What can literature tell us about love?” Here is the sweet answer penned by Columbia English Professor Colm Toibin:
I don’t read fiction or poetry to learn; nonetheless, it often happens as though by implication. Teaching us is one of literature’s afterthoughts; it is fiction’s bored sigh. Thus I have learned, or half-learned, that love is often just one way of putting something much more complex, and that, in turn, language is revenge on easy or false or lazy feeling. Often in fiction, people make choices in love that are very foolish; the drama comes from this. But there are times when words don’t matter, and books even less, and these are maybe the best times, such as when you turn in the night and find that someone you — what is the word? — love? desire? feel warm with? turns with you by a mixture of pure magic and sweet will, and then you both fall into a lovely literatureless sleep.
EVP Rick Mills’ Town Meeting on Wednesday — with “special guest” Provost Carolyn Dever — was a pleasure to listen in on. Gone are the Wright/Kim/Folt dissemblings, the we-can-do-no-wrong lies about the state of the College and the supposed achievements of the administration. What you hear are two people who are, as the French say, “comfortable in their skin” and ready to work for a good many years to improve Dartmouth. They laugh easily and sincerely, and they seem happy to work with each other.
Mills began the discussion with stories about administration projects gone wrong, but with a twist: the administrators involved saw the errors and admitted them quickly so that immediate action could be taken, rather then covering up bad choices that would later need to be fixed a great cost. These stories have a message: Mills is trying to show that honesty and risk are not just tolerated, but encouraged, at Phil Hanlon’s Dartmouth.
Provost Dever is still getting on her feet, and she is excited about the intellectual liveliness that she hopes to see from the soon-to-arrive post-docs. The sub-text to the post-doc story is that the College is burdened with a great many sub-par faculty members (some people estimate about a quarter of the faculty is in this category), professors who received tenure for political reasons from Jim Wright. They aren’t about to be poached by other schools; they’ll be in Hanover for decades. Post-docs are Phil’s compensation for their dead weight.
Regrettably Dever seems somewhat besotted by diversity. Yawn. May I suggest that she spend at least as much time talking about excellence as she does about having a faculty that is hired based on present-at-birth characteristics. Finding faculty of color, etc. is a challenge that all schools are facing; rather than reaching down into the third or four tier of scholars to meet some type of quota, the good Provost should assure us that she will look first for quality, and then hire diverse faculty members if she can find them in the pool of top-notch teachers and scholars.
One last note: only about 50-55 people attended the Town Hall meeting. That’s a sparse turnout given that the College community has been offered the chance to ask questions of Dartmouth’s senior-most administrators (other that Phil). Mills and Dever would be happy to field tougher questions. Don’t miss the next meeting, which will be held on April 15.
Addendum: Dartmouth Now has a report on Rick Mills’ Town Meeting.
Let’s take a brief break from our intense focus on Moving Dartmouth Forward, and turn our attention to the possibility of a global pandemic that could kill hundreds of millions of people. This presentation tomorrow could be of interest:
African countries are responding differently to the concern that Ebola might spread to their shores. Ethiopia (which, uh, does not have any shores) screens all incoming passengers, including those from Paris, for an elevated body temperature. When we changed planes at Addis Ababa airport on February 3, a technician was using a hand-held, laser temperature reader (left); upon our return from Tanzania on February 9, heavier-duty hardware was in place (right):
Tanzania is less focused on the problem:
Addendum: The NYT ran an editorial yesterday on Ebola. The piece summarized the disease’s current run:
As of Feb. 6, Ebola had infected more than 22,000 people and killed more than 9,000 of them, mostly in the three West African nations of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, with a smattering of cases in other countries. The number of new cases of Ebola had been falling steadily in those three countries but recently ticked back up for the first time this year in all three, according to the W.H.O.’s latest weekly report. There were 124 new confirmed cases, up from 99 the week before.
That could be a momentary statistical aberration or a harbinger of worse to come as the rainy season makes it increasingly difficult to reach remote areas where the virus may still be lurking.
Addendum: When we were in South Africa and Mozambique in October, we saw no screening at all.
There are two singular weaknesses in Phil Hanlon’s MDF plans, aspects which probably came as a result of compromises with people associated with existing practices or a concern for appearances. Regrettably, unless these policy choices are changed, they will cause Phil’s ideas to fail, or at least not come close to achieving their aims.
The Ban on Hard Alcohol: As I suggested on August 21 last year, a Grand Bargain on alcohol needs a buy-in from students. As MDF stands at present, all Phil has done is to propose a ban on hooch, with nothing offered to students in exchange. The end result: students, and especially the Greek houses, have no incentive, other than avoiding prosecution, to respect the ban — or the administration. If Phil were to offer students something that they want, something that they presently do not have, like kegs and taps in Greek houses and un-restricted beer in dorms, then the administration might see some self-enforcement re: hard liquor. Striking a deal with your counterparty is infinitely preferable to laying down yet another set of rules from on high, rules which will probably fail like all of the previous SEMP-type restrictions.
Housing: Currently, the College’s freshman trips sign up 90% of freshmen, slice and dice them into small groups, and send them out into the woods, where the beginnings of real friendships are forged. However, upon their return to campus, the students are cast to the winds by their assignment to different freshman dorms.
Students then live together in their freshman dorms, where they build bonds with their peers over their first year at the College. Nonetheless, when they return to the College for sophomore year, they are yet again scattered into different dorms, and the hard earned relationships from their first year in Hanover need rebuilding once again.
Finally, over the following three years, each time that students return to campus from a leave term or an off-campus program, they are shunted into yet another dorm where they find themselves among strangers. (Unless, of course, they join a Greek house, where they can find the continuity that the College’s housing plan does not offer to them.)
When you add to this mix the comings and goings of the Dartmouth Plan, one could almost imagine that the College had worked to establish a system where students would have trouble forging lasting friendships.
Phil’s MDF program only modifies the last feature of this system: students in freshmen year dorms are nominally associated with one of the new housing clusters (but there is no guarantee that their freshmen-year friends will join them there starting sophomore year), and once they have become upperclassmen, they will return to their new clusters each time that they come back to campus after an off-campus term.
The thrust of my introduction will have let you onto a sense of how an effective residential living plan would be set up. First off, freshmen trip groups would be made up of people who will subsequently live together; and then these coming-to-be-cohesive groups will reside in freshman housing that is integrated from the git go into the new housing clusters. In such a manner, the socialization of freshman trips and first-year dorms will build on itself, rather than being a flash in the pan whose success leads only to the occasional longterm relationship.
Of course, to put such a system in place, two parts of the Dartmouth administration will have to work together: the organizers of freshman trips (which might well be made mandatory) and the staffers at the housing office (whose freshman-year bureaucracy should be dissolved, by the way — ask Phil to describe how well this structure has worked to socialize Dartmouth students in recent years). With a little push from the President, there is no reason why they cannot.
That said, if these organizations don’t cooperate, Phil’s plan will leave us with only a slghtly-less-watered-down system of housing than at present and a Greek system that continues to ride high because the Greeks are the only place where students can live year after year with their friends.
Addendum: One way that we’ll be able to judge the success of the housing clusters is whether, three or four years from now, there will be flourishing dorm-based intramural sports leagues. I played touch football, softball, soccer and hockey for North Fayer, as part of huge intramural dorm leagues that were scheduled by only a couple of administrators. Students did the rest.
Since the death of their son Matthew in 2008 in a Northwestern dormitory — the freshman died after being encouraged by numerous upper class students to drink 17 shots of vodka in an hour in a drinking game; his fellow students did not call for emergency help; they simply put the unconscious Sunshine to bed, and he was dead by morning — attorney Jeffrey Sunshine and physician Suzanne Fields have worked extensively on the issue of student abuse of alcohol. Among other activities, Sunshine has monitored the extensive settlement between the Sunshine family and Northwestern, and Fields, who is a professor at the SUNY Stony Brook School of Medicine, has worked with the President of SUNY Stony Brook to establish the Red Watch Band Program, which has spread to dozens of other colleges and universities, including Northwestern.
A regular reader of this space, Sunshine wrote in to comment on Phil’s Moving Dartmouth Forward initiative:
It was with more than a fleeting interest that I read President Hanlon’s Moving Dartmouth Forward plan. Although the popular press has seized upon the Plan’s new ban on hard liquor, that ban is not the essence of the new program. As we say in our family, “He gets it.”
The underlying conditions at Northwestern University that were the cause of our son’s death at the hands of his fellow students unfortunately exist at most of our so-called elite universities. They are what permitted multiple sober upper class Northwestern students for their amusement to trick and/or encourage an already intoxicated freshman to drink a lethal amount of alcohol, parade his unconscious body throughout the dormitory and write vulgar images on his face and body as he was dying, with no consequences for those who witnessed and encouraged and limited or no consequences for most of those who actively participated.
They are what permitted football players at Vanderbilt University to parade an unconscious female student though the dormitory and allegedly gang rape/and or sexually assault her with no consequences for anyone except the actual alleged perpetrators of the crimes.
They are what permitted dozens of students at Harvard and Dartmouth to engage in coordinated academic cheating.
They are what permitted Dartmouth students and students at other universities to engage in or witness debasing and illegal hazing activities for their own amusement, activities which in many cases had no connection with fraternities, but instead were connected to university-sponsored activities — with no consequences to witnesses and usually none for active participants.
They are what permits Northwestern to say on its website a page entitled, Alcohol & Other Drug Resources — Real NU Party Habits, “People often exaggerate the party lifestyle of college students,” since, according to the same web page, only 39% of Northwestern student have had a blackout, 24% have gotten into fights and 14% have been injured due to alcohol or drug abuse — as if this is somehow OK.
As Professor Clifford Nass wrote in the Stanford Daily in an op-ed entitled, Time to Stop the Alcohol Nonsense, commenting on a Stanford undergraduate who recently was brought to the emergency room with a blood alcohol level that had a 50% mortality rate: “Here is what happened in virtually every single alcohol incident (more than 25) I have encountered on campus (including the coin flip death)… A student or students other than the person who lands in the hospital knowingly provides a dangerous amount of alcohol to the student who becomes intoxicated. Multiple students watch the student drinking extremely large quantities of alcohol over a short period of time” and do not get help which is always available… Students carry the extremely ill student back to his dorm” and do not get help… Sometimes, one or more students “trick” or at least urge a student to drink a level that causes risk up to a 50% chance of death.”
Other stores are legion, and easily found on the internet.
The simple fact is that these kinds of immoral and often illegal behaviors have no place on our college campuses. Yet they are common, open and notorious, and are accepted norms for college students, administrations and boards of trustees. When our son was killed at Northwestern, the reaction of administrators was to claim that they, too, were the victim of forces beyond their control. They rejected any notion that they had any control over the activities, behaviors and value system of students in their dormitories, on their campus (that was under the jurisdiction of their police force), and for whose care had been entrusted by their families and society for four years.
The underlying problem has been described by others. For example,
Professor Patrick Deneen at Notre Dame University in his article, From in Loco Parentis to Leviathan, recently wrote: “The lifting of in loco parentis rules on college campuses was done in the name of liberating students… Longstanding local rules and cultures that governed behavior through education of certain kinds of norms, manners and morals, came to be regarded as an oppressive limitation upon the liberty of individuals… Then, we see that absent such norms anarchy is the result.”
Ross Douthat is a recent edit Op-Ed in the New York Times entitled Rape and the College Brand, wrote, “Over the last few generations, America’s most prominent universities —both public and private — have pursued a strategy of corporate expansion, furious status competition, and moral and pedagogical retreat. But the moral retreat has in certain ways been disguised: elite schools have abandoned any explicit role in policing the choices and shaping the character of their students, but they have masked that abdication in the nostrums of contemporary P.C. piety-promising diversity tolerance, safe spaces, etc., with what can feel like a preacher’s sincerity and self-righteousness… But the modern university’s primary loyalty is not really to liberalism or political correctness or any kind of ideological design: It is to the school’s brand, status and bottom line.”
Add to the above, the fact that over time many universities have replaced the municipal police forces with their own police, who fail to enforce the law when student-to-student crimes are involved. The result is predictable. College campuses have become enclaves where the standards and norms of civilized behavior and laws that apply virtually every place else, do not apply, at least when students are involved (I wonder if an intoxicated student assaulted and injured a university administrator, would the reaction of the university police would be the same?).
Now for President Hanlon’s Plan. He knows that, “Policies alone will not create the change we seek on this campus.” He knows that, ” True change will come from individuals-and thereby student organizations-committing to live to a higher standard of behavior… To clarify what we expect of individuals, every student who enrolls in Dartmouth will sign a Code of Conduct that articulates the expectations — as they relate to civility, dignity, diversity, community and safety — for all members of the Dartmouth community… Moving forward it will be simple: Individuals and organizations that choose not to fulfill these higher standards will not be a part of our community.”
In furtherance of this goal, President Hanlon’s Plan has additional, concrete steps: residence community housing with graduate-students- and professors-in-residence, and with which each student will be associated for their entire stay at Dartmouth; increasing the presence of faculty and adult influences in the lives of students; Greek houses with active faculty/staff sponsors; and strengthening academic rigor.
Under President Hanlon, Dartmouth will no longer be in moral and pedagogical retreat. It will police the choices and shape the character of its students. He gets it.
In a comment to the an article in the Harvard Newspaper about the Harvard administration’s alleged inadequate response to sexual assaults, Harvard Professor John Hamilton wrote, “The best way to understand this irresponsibility on the part of administration is to look at the nature of bureaucracy… bureaucracies are about themselves, not the people supposedly served. In the case of a university, the students are the paying customers who are technically served, but in accordance with the priorities of the school. Since the bureaucracy puts itself first, reports of rape on campus are suppressed… If the pace of an organization is set by the person at the top, replacing the person at the top at the top sends a clear message throughout the bureaucracy that the operative bureaucratic truth has changed.”
President Hanlon, clearly is trying to change the truth at Dartmouth. And the message should be clear to other university presidents and boards of trustees. They need to change the truth at their university about what constitutes normal and acceptable behavior or they need to be replaced.
A bistrot like Le Dôme on the Left Bank in the Boulevard du Montparnasse is a complete work of art in the Wagnerian sense: the food, wine, décor and service appeal to all five senses simultaneously:
The artists and public figures who have gathered at Le Dôme since its opening in 1898 were called Dômiers; they include Ernest Hemingway, Robert Capa, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Paul Gauguin, Wassily Kandinsky, Vladimir Lenin, Sinclair Lewis, Henry Miller, Anaïs Nin, Amedeo Modigliani, Pablo Picasso, Man Ray, Chaim Soutine, and Meret Oppenheim.
Chapter 10 of Hemingway’s Moveable Feast is entitled “With Pascin at the Dôme.”
As we have pointed out in the past, Jim Kim’s College bio is shedding pounds on a regular basis. Look what it was (left) when his buddy Carol Folt was IP; and look now (right) with cooler heads prevailing in Hanover:
To spare you the effort of reading the current version let me summarize and interpret it:
● Kim began two collaborative, health-related efforts (the National College Health Improvement Project and the Dartmouth Center for Health Care Delivery Science); the first no longer exists and the second was recently absorbed by the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy & Clinical Practice.
● On Kim’s watch, three major building projects were completed: the Class of 1978 Life Sciences Center, the Black Family Visual Arts Center, and the Class of 1953 Commons. Impressive, except for the fact that all three were planned and begun by the Wright administration.
● Kim also “launched an institution-wide strategic planning process to chart a bold and aspirational vision for Dartmouth’s future”; the end result of the endless meetings held by an army of committees is less than nothing.
In an entry on the plus side in the Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due ledger, let’s note that the endowment did very nicely this year in comparison to everyone else in the Ivies, except Penn, which had a blockbuster year. In fact, Chief Investment Officer Pam Peedin and her team beat out everyone in the top thirty endowments in 2014 except for Penn, Northwestern, and two units of the University of Texas:
Such a performance is a refreshing return to the College’s achievements in the 1990’s, when we had the top-scoring endowment by growth among all the Ivies. But after that fine run Jim Wright took over from Jim Freedman, spending got out of control, and we had the worst endowment growth from 2000-2010.
Addendum: Pam was paid $1,060,844 in salary and benefits in 2013. Given that she earned the endowment $734,623,000 in 2014, I bet that she gets a nice raise.
Will wonders never cease? Seven years after I wrote a column in The D asking that individual Trustees get out more in Hanover and interact one-on-one or with small groups of faculty members, it seems that Board Chair Bill Helman ‘80 is doing just that. I bet that he is learning a lot, and I bet that a lot of what he is learning is that he heard a lot of eyewash from Jim Kim and Carol Folt.
Sources on the faculty report that Bill is on campus for a day every two weeks, poking around, knocking on professors’ doors, and gathering impressions and views. We can expect the same from other Trustees soon. It seems that Phil is is encouraging all of them to reach out to faculty and students and meet with them without Administration minders in the room.
That said, Bill is not without other responsibilities, so one has to wonder how much time he really has to devote to the College. In addition to being a partner at venture capitalists Greylock Partners, he is a Director of the Ford Motor Company, and he serves on the Boards of the Harvard Management Company, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, and the Broad Institute.