Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Are We Really Proud of 44%?

A chest-thumping ad from the springtime Alumni Magazine:

DCF 44 Percent.jpg

The other half of the equation is that 56% of Dartmouth students come from families wealthy enough to pony up about $300,000 — that’s after-tax dollars — so that their son or daughter can come to Hanover for four years.

And at the College fewer students receive aid that at any other Ivy:

Ivy Financial Aid 2014.jpg

And Dartmouth gives less financial aid to middle class students than any other Ivy.

Ivy Family Contribution.jpg

Even though our endowment per student wealth is about double that of Brown, Penn, Columbia and Cornell.

The people who prepare an ad like this know what the truth is — either from the College’s own statistics or from reading this space. But they bank on the generosity and gullibility of alumni. If you are looking for a definition of cynical, the above is a good example.

Addendum: Apologies for using statistics from past years. I’ll be updating them soon.

Posted on August 30, 2016 4:00 AM. Permalink

Monday, August 29, 2016

This Isn’t Forward Progress

Our prize-winning Alumni Magazine consistently contains nuggets of somewhat subversive, or at least revisionist, information about the College and its history. Look at this side-by-side comparison of the profiles of the Classes of 1966 and 2016. Quite a contradiction to the received wisdom that the College has left behind the supposed bad old days in favor of a modern, progressive present:

DAM 1966-2016.jpg

Admissions figures show that we have to work a lot harder today to fill the freshman class. Though the number of applicants is much greater now, we aren’t so sure that the people we accept actually have a particular desire to come to Hanover. That’s why only 16.6% of the Class of 1966 was accepted early decision (ED), as opposed to 41% of the Class of 2016.

In order to fill the slots of students not admitted ED, for the Class of 1966 Admissions had to accept another 1,159 students, of whom 58.6% decided to come to Hanover. For the Class of 2016, Admissions let in 1,801 students in the regular pool, so that 648 would fill out the freshman class. That’s a yield of only 36.0%.

There were a few more legacies in the old days: 16.8% of the Class of 1966; and 14.1% of the Class of 2016. But the recent class had 40% of its members from prep schools versus only 24.8% in the supposed preppy days of yore. That’s a surprise, no? (Longtime readers will recall that the percentage of students from private schools jumped from the low-30%’s to 40% as part of the Kim administration’s attempt to ramp up tuition revenue. The number dropped sharply for the Class of 2019.)

Finally, look at the financial figures. Tuition (that’s tuition alone; no room and board and fees) soared from $1,800 for the Class of 1966 to $49,998 for the Class of 2016. Had tuition increased in line with inflation, the ‘16’s would have paid only $13,391.

The endowment grew remarkably, too: from $129 million in 1966 to $4.7 billion in 2016. Had the endowment only grown with inflation, it would just be $958 million today. That latter statistic bears thought: even though the endowment has grown almost five times faster than inflation — an extraordinary performance, considering that the College draws out about 5% from it each year to fund operations — we still have had to have super-inflationary tuition increases because the extra income from the endowment has not been enough to fund our bloated cost structure.

Addendum: A close observer of the College writes in:

In the class of 1966, the typical Dartmouth student had probably applied to two or three other colleges. Today, members of the class of 2016 averaged between ten and twenty applications to various colleges. That is one reason historical comparisons of the exponential increase in applicants for the College’s available seats are an “apples to oranges” exercise. Ideally, there would be a way to factor in how many other schools each prospective student applied to, effectively “discounting” the value of today’s applications.

The increase in private school-background matriculants is not a surprise, either. Public high school education quality has steadily declined, particularly outside of select, high-end enclaves (such as Hanover) where the adult community is highly educated and relatively affluent, with commensurate expectations and resources accelerating their youthful gene pool and comparatively solid family contexts that would help the kids excel in almost any school system.

Posted on August 29, 2016 4:00 AM. Permalink

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Baker Beclad

Out-of-towners seem interested in Baker Tower’s new dress. Here is a picture of the two sides of the library that I have not displayed — taken from just behind the Rauner Special Collections Library in Webster Hall:

Baker Renovation5.jpg

Addendum: An alum writes in:

What a great scrim for the tower. Just like it was there live. Takes me back to a beautiful sunny fall afternoon just 60 years ago. As a relatively new freshman wearing my appropriate green beanie, I was crossing Tuck Mall headed to my Russell Sage dorm when a ‘58, I think, crossed paths. He pointed to the Baker Tower highlighted by a late afternoon sun against a cloudless blue sky, and he said something like, “Don’t ever forget that beautiful tower picture. Treasure it forever. It is special.” And indeed it has always been thus. Being a five-year Tuck-Thayer, I crossed that mall hundreds of times, and the view of Baker Tower, especially in the late afternoon sun, never got old.

Addendum: An alumnus has a comment:

As for the Addendum to the Baker Tower story, I spent three years in Butterfield next to Russell Sage, and therefore I know well the Baker Tower view from Tuck Mall mentioned by the alum in question. That special view sticks with me, too, to this day, and stirs many fond memories of “my Dartmouth”.

Posted on August 28, 2016 6:00 PM. Permalink

When A Professor Dies

Jan Deutsch.jpgWhen a beloved professor passes away, the part of your mind that he created feels a particular sadness. Maybe one day the folks in Brain Science will be able to map the cerebrum and determine which faculty member cut the many and varied pathways of your thinking. My favorite Yale Law Professor, Jan Deutsch (1936-2016), was relentless in getting us to focus on what was really going on in the cases that we read together. It seemed that all of the legal decisions in his endlessly evolving draft of a textbook were wrongly decided, at least based on the law, if not on the judge’s personal sense of right and wrong. Welcome to Legal Realism, a flexible theory of interpretation that makes sense of cases that otherwise defy cold logic. Jan was an outlier: most YLS students thought that he was a tad unbalanced (he had been in a severe car accident several years before I arrived in New Haven), but for those of us who were fans (“Deutsch groupies”), his at-times incomprehensibility made us all think harder. We’d read the cases behind the cases behind the cases, and occasionally leave little notes lodged in book-bindings in the confidence that future students would follow the same path; we wanted them to know that other acolytes had been there, too. As a man, he exuded a warmth that drew us to his office, but that depth would never show itself there; he’d talk about the law and books, but never about himself, even as he seemed to ask you to know him better. We’d limp away, wounded, expectations dashed, but we would come back, ever hopeful. Today I like to think that he’d take some comfort in knowing that a part of his mind lives on in mine. Can a professor ask for more? Perhaps. But a student can’t.

Posted on August 28, 2016 4:00 AM. Permalink

Saturday, August 27, 2016

All in Good Fun

I don’t know how much extra money the College spent to print an image of Baker Tower on the scaffold cover that is protecting the workers doing the renovation, but the sight of the Tower that is not the Tower can’t help but bring a smile to a viewer’s face. We ran a picture of the view from the Green the other day; here is the Tower as seen from Tuck Mall:

Baker Renovation2.jpg

René Magritte painted Ceci n’est pas une pomme — but what if there really had been an apple behind his painting? Should we call the Tower reproduction Ceci n’est pas une tour, except that it is.

Addendum: A College video provides a rough-and-ready appreciation of the fine craftsmanship that went into the bell tower back in 1928:

Posted on August 27, 2016 4:00 AM. Permalink

Friday, August 26, 2016

Brian Solomon’s Guide To The Stars: Comp. Sci. Professor Tom Cormen

Dartmouth has a wealth of experienced professors who lead their respective research fields, while also working closely with students — inspiring them in the classroom and leading them in laboratory environments. And while at Dartblog we talk frequently about problems that need to be fixed at the College, there are still many bright spots. Our professors deserve more recognition for their achievements. As such, this is one of a series of posts that shines a spotlight on the best professors in Hanover:

Tom Cormen1.jpgTom Cormen is a Professor of Computer Science as well as one of the most well-rounded leaders at the College. He is a distinguished researcher on topics like parallel computing, the author of the definitive textbook on algorithms, the former Director of the Dartmouth Institute for Writing and Rhetoric, and he currently serves as chair of the Committee on Instruction.

That list sounds like a lot, but Cormen’s career path was much simpler to begin with. As a senior in high school, he took a programming class and was allowed to code on his school’s only computer: an IBM 1130 with just 8k of core memory. Cormen continued to pursue computer science in college at Princeton, where he graduated summa cum laude. He didn’t go straight to graduate school though; he spent six years near Silicon Valley working for a couple of startups that didn’t make it (and working next door to Seagate Technologies, which did). Cormen then came back east to earn his Ph.D. at MIT.

Cormen studied at MIT under Charles Leiserson, who would be a pivotal player in his career. First, the two earned a patent for a computer switch design. They also researched parallel computing, the concept of multiple computer processors working together at the same time while not stepping on each other’s virtual toes. Those concepts power nearly all of our modern devices, and Cormen continues to research them, along with other computer science topics like latency.

But soon he had a different project. After Cormen spent a semester serving as a teaching assistant for Leiserson’s course on algorithms, the two of them (along with Ron Rivest) coauthored Introduction to Algorithms, a 1,050-page textbook published by the MIT Press in 1990. As a result, Cormen wouldn’t finish his Ph.D. for eight years, but the book became a huge hit. It has since come out in more than fourteen languages and two more editions. The book alone has more than 42,000 individual citations, according to Google Scholar.

Cormen joined Dartmouth in 1992, and he has since taught sixteen different computer science courses, including COSC 1 (formerly 5): Introduction to Programming and Computation in all but two years. Cormen says he enjoys seeing students who never considered computer science engaging with the subject and often deciding to take it further. He currently teaches a course on algorithms (since he literally wrote the book) and another on parallel computing.

His life at the College has been busy outside of the classroom as well. From 2009 until last year Cormen was the chair of the computer science department. Before that, he was the director of the Institute for Writing and Rhetoric (previously known as the Writing Program), serving from 2004 to 2008. A programmer might seem like an odd choice for head of the writing program, but Cormen always emphasizes writing and presentation skills with his undergraduate and graduate students. He says professional success, even for comp sci grads, comes down to communication.

Cormen has also been active in College committees, most recently serving on the Committee on Grading Practices with Mark McPeek, and he carries on the battle against grade inflation with the Committee on Instruction. While he doesn’t want to take any drastic action, like limiting the number of A’s given out, Cormen hopes to help students and faculty come around to enforcing the College’s existing grading standards. In his most recent courses, he has experimented with different grading policies to see what standard elicits the best work from his students.

In this video, Cormen introduces and moderates a panel on The Future of Computing - The Next 50 Years:

Addendum: In his free time, Cormen is an active contributor to Quora, where he answers such questions as: “What would be your best advice for someone just starting college at Dartmouth?” He has also hiked all 48 of the 4000-foot White Mountains in New Hampshire and roller-bladed/biked the 71.4 mile Trail of the Coeur D’Alenes in Idaho.

Posted on August 26, 2016 4:00 AM. Permalink

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Finally Someone Has A Little Nerve

Bravo to the administration of the University of Chicago for going against the grain of insipid college administrators across the land. In a letter to the incoming class, the school takes the stand on free speech and academic freedom that any number of university presidents should have taken long ago:

Chicago Safe Spaces Letter1.jpg

Will other schools follow suit? Even Dartmouth? Or will Phil and Carolyn affirm their support for diversity and inclusivity in yet another in an endless string of cringe-inducing letters?

Addendum: The Chicago Maroon has the full story. And Inside Higher Ed reports on Chicago’s letter, too.

Addendum: University of Chicago President Robert Zimmer, has followed-up Dean Ellison’s letter with a piece in the Wall Street Journal: Free Speech Is the Basis of a True Education: A university should not be a sanctuary for comfort but rather a crucible for confronting ideas. His introductory paragraphs:

Free speech is at risk at the very institution where it should be assured: the university.

Invited speakers are disinvited because a segment of a university community deems them offensive, while other orators are shouted down for similar reasons. Demands are made to eliminate readings that might make some students uncomfortable. Individuals are forced to apologize for expressing views that conflict with prevailing perceptions. In many cases, these efforts have been supported by university administrators.

Yet what is the value of a university education without encountering, reflecting on and debating ideas that differ from the ones that students brought with them to college? The purpose of a university education is to provide the critical pathway by which students can fulfill their potential, change the trajectory of their families, and build healthier and more inclusive societies…

And his conclusion:

Universities cannot be viewed as a sanctuary for comfort but rather as a crucible for confronting ideas and thereby learning to make informed judgments in complex environments. Having one’s assumptions challenged and experiencing the discomfort that sometimes accompanies this process are intrinsic parts of an excellent education. Only then will students develop the skills necessary to build their own futures and contribute to society.

An alumnus writes in: “Too bad Hanlon shares neither Zimmer’s beliefs nor courage of conviction.”

Posted on August 25, 2016 4:00 AM. Permalink

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

A Touch-up and a Demolition

Construction work continues all over the campus: the buildings on Dartmouth Row are getting some new makeup, but more than few people on the faculty would like to see the oft-promised, top-to-bottom renovation of these buildings finally occur. The last few administrations have repeatedly told the Humanities departments who call the Row home that the white buildings will soon be equipped with such 20th century accoutrements as ventilation. Don’t hold your breath! Right now fresh air only comes in from the windows, even if it is -20° below outside — and sometimes the rusty steam radiators make open windows necessary at all times. Think of an old NYC apartment. Believe me when I say that it is a fetid affair to enter a closed-door classroom in which 50 student have just heard a 65-minute lecture. I audited a course in Dartmouth Hall in the winter term of 2008, and I’d always arrive early to open all the windows wide for ten minutes before class began. I’m all for intimate classroom interactions, but inhaling air that has already been breathed a dozen times is a little much:

Dartmouth Hall Painting.jpg

Simultaneously, as my four-year-old son put it many years ago in another context, “a machine is eating the Hood Museum.” Demolition of Charles Moore’s 1985 structure is well underway as the College prepares to spend $50 million on a new Hood:

Hood Demolition.jpg

Posted on August 24, 2016 4:00 AM. Permalink

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Show Me the Money Mag Rankings

While we await the U.S. News rankings, let’s look at a couple of other tables that have been published recently. First off, MONEY Magazine’s Best Colleges, as measured by value (find detailed information on MONEY’s methodolgy here):

- MONEY screened out schools with graduation rates below the median, financial difficulties, or fewer than 500 undergraduates.

- The remaining 705 colleges were ranked on 24 factors in three categories: educational quality, affordability, and alumni success.

- Plus, MONEY measured comparative value, by assessing how well students at each school did vs. what’s expected for students with similar economic and academic backgrounds, and the college’s mix of majors.

Schools with high tuition (we are consistently the second-most expensive Ivy) take a hit in MONEY’s ranking, and the Ancient Eight look less élite than they usually do (click on the image to enlarge it):

Money Magazine 2016 Rankings.jpg

On a more whimsical note, an outfit called WealthInsight (“WealthInsight is the leading source of high quality intelligence on global high net worth and ultra high net worth individuals (HNWs and UHNWIs) in the wealth management sector.”) has ranked institutions of higher learning by the number of millionaires that they produce. The ranking is only a relative one; the company doesn’t give actual numbers (between you and me, where would they get such figures?). We are #19, and the rest of the Ivies all make the the top 25:

Schools Producing Millionaires.jpg

“Millionaire” seems a weak metric these days. When you add in retirement accounts and home equity, even your average middle-aged Dartmouth faculty member would qualify — a fact that makes any emotional outpouring of solidarity with the staff somewhat problematic.

Posted on August 23, 2016 4:00 AM. Permalink

Phil’s Blog: All Arctic, No Abbey

Phil has run another post on his blog, this one about his trip to the Arctic. While he puts up some travel pics and evinces a new-found admiration for the College’s faculty — in an obvious effort to counteract his previous, oft-expressed disdain (never publicly, of course, but the word is out there) — he hasn’t yet found the time to write about Abbey D’Agostino ‘14. I wonder if he even knows what she did in Rio. He’s been clueless about significant Dartmouth events in the past.

Addendum: Um, Phil. Is there nobody in IT who can help you to format things better?

Addendum: An alum writes in:

My wife and I truly enjoyed your recent reports on Abbey at The Olympics. I know that President Hanlon is en vacances in the Arctic, but even if he was ON THE MOON he should have at least made some mention to The Dartmouth Family recognizing Abby… “One giant leap for sportsmanship the World over”.

How about a grass roots campaign to raise funds to build a “D’Agostino Gate” at Dartmouth memorializing the unselfish nature and kind heart of a MOST worthy Dartmouth alum who excelled on the World stage?

Is there a Dartmouth medal for outstanding achievement?

Abbey’s positive spirit and kindness in helping Nikki Hamblin to her feet epitomizes ALL that is good in sport, and it says a lot for Dartmouth and Dartmouth coaching, too! The visual of the two athletes helping one another reminded me of Jim McKay talking about “the agony of defeat” on ABC’s Wide World of Sports.

Phil should be ashamed for blowing yet another golden opportunity… to laud true humanitarian spirit and friendship. Dartmouth, sadly, is the loser here.

Posted on August 23, 2016 1:13 AM. Permalink

Monday, August 22, 2016

Dartmouth at Rio

The D’s Ray Lu ‘18, who wrote an exceptional report on the Amy Patton controversy, has summarized the results posted by Dartmouth athletes participating in the Rio Olympics.

Addendum: An alum writes in:

Thanks for highlighting Ray Lu’s excellent article on “Dartmouth at Rio.” Hats off to Abbey for her impressive show of sportsmanship, and her equally impressive show of “the right stuff’ by remarkably finding a way to complete the last mile of the race with a torn ACL and a torn meniscus.

As for the ruggers’ 9th place finish, Captain Madison Hughes’ boys were a hair away from greatness considering how close to victory they were in their games against Fiji (the ultimate champion) and Argentina (the beneficiary of a controversial try).

Posted on August 22, 2016 6:00 PM. Permalink

What We Do So Well

Ratings season is upon us (U.S. News will probably release its results in the second week of September), but Forbes has already ranked us #17 — after #3 Princeton; #4 Harvard; #6 Yale; #8 Brown; #11 Penn; and #16 Columbia — but ahead of #29 Cornell).

We do appreciably better in Forbes’ Grateful Grads Index (GGI):

Our Grateful Graduates Index ranks private not for profit colleges with more than 1,000 students by analyzing two important variables : private donations and gifts per student over 10 years, as reported to the Department of Education and the alumni participation rate, or what percentage of its graduates give back in the form of donations to their colleges.

The first measure is our show-me-the-money measure, weighted at 75%. It tends to favor elite research universities like Stanford, Caltech and Harvard, whose super successful alumni stuff its coffers with billions in donations. The second metric, the Alumni Participation Rate is measured by the Council for Aid to Education and is weighted at 25%.

Forbes Grateful Grads 2016.jpg

The other Ivies rank as follows: #14 Brown; #24 Penn; #25 Harvard; #37 Cornell; #46 Columbia.

Note that seven of the top ten schools in the Grateful Grads Index — a good barometer of alumni sentiment as to whether their school had a real impact on them — have the word “College” in their name. The irony will not escape readers that the Folt administration wanted to change our name to Dartmouth University, and the Hanlon administration wants to make us into one. Yet look around: close relationships with professors not only produce exceptional learning, they breed a special kind of loyalty. Why can’t the Trustees see the obvious — being a research college is our niche?

Posted on August 22, 2016 4:00 AM. Permalink

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Abbey Gets a Medal After All

Abbey D’Agostino ‘14 and New Zealander Nikki Hamblin have been given Olympic medals for sportsmanship. Both runners were presented with the Pierre de Coubertin Medal yesterday, an award given to those who exemplify the Olympic spirit:

Abbey Sportsmanship.jpg

Addendum: Still no word of appreciation from Phil about Abbey’s good-hearted gesture. If he is too busy, why doesn’t he just leave it to Dever?

Posted on August 21, 2016 8:00 PM. Permalink

A Sad Time In Hanover

Hundreds of people came to the Bema today to pay their respects to the Hartman family after Jinny Hartman passed away on Wednesday. We knew her from youth hockey, and she was the anesthesiologist for one of our kids’ surgeries. Jinny’s intelligence, warmth and wit touched a great many people, always for the better:

Hartman Memorial.jpg

The Valley News obituary is here.

Posted on August 21, 2016 6:00 PM. Permalink

Christo Is Not in Town

The artist Christo (and his partner, Jeanne-Claude, who passed away in 2009) visited the College back in my day, but he is not responsible for what appears to be the wrapping of Baker Tower — completed this week:

Baker Renovation Comp.jpg

The Tower has not been renovated since its construction in 1928. According to an FO&M press release, work on the $4 million project should be ongoing into October:

- Replacement of the copper roofing, flashing and ornamental metal;

- Expanded, energy-efficient LED lighting to highlight the architecture of the clock and tower;

- Fabrication of the clock’s hands and numbers back to their original 1928 design;

- Installation of a digital control system to support the Baker Tower clock and bells;

- Construction of an exact replica of the Tower’s weathervane, using original drawings found in Rauner Special Collections Library;

- Replacement of flooring within the Tower Room, electrical upgrades to support future lighting needs, and installation of USB ports in all electrical outlets.

Three years ago when the College did an assessment of the structure, it chose an intelligent, low-tech way to get the job done. Rather than paying $75,000 to rent a large, unsightly crane, Robert Fulmer, a building consultant at Maine-based Fulmer Associates, clambered all over the Tower using climbing equipment. Bravo.

Addendum: We’ve noted in the past the use of illustrative scaffolding covers in major renovations in France.

Posted on August 21, 2016 4:00 AM. Permalink

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Kim Takes It on the Chin

Our former President is in for a tough time in trying to keep his prestigious job at the World Bank. The folks at the Financial Times have his number, and they are fighting the good fight by printing stories and letters to keep the controversy about Kim’s reappointment (or not) alive:

FT Letter Kim Comp.jpg

How nice to see an honest reference to Kim’s weak tenure in Hanover.

The FT also ran a letter from Tim Cullen, a former chief spokesman at the World Bank. An excerpt:

While the Bank’s Staff Association has focused its attention on the need for a transparent process to appoint a new president, rather than on attacking the incumbent, the reality is that Jim Yong Kim has demonstrated over the past four years that he is not the leader the Bank needs. His development priorities seem aimed at soundbites rather than sound policies.

It was good that he initiated organisational change to make the Bank more effective and relevant, but his intolerance of any dissent, which included firing three of the Bank’s most senior women over a single weekend, and his apparent contempt for staff in general, doomed his messy restructuring to failure.

I had high expectations for an Asian-American president with a development record. But I was appalled when I heard him address 40 or so ministers from small states at the 2013 annual meeting. Dr Kim poured scorn on Bank staff, saying, among other things, that if doctors (like him) got as many things wrong as the Bank’s hopeless economists had, they wouldn’t keep their jobs for long. This particular doctor has got too many things wrong to be allowed to keep his job beyond a single term.

It isn’t just about process. The Bank’s member countries need to appoint a real leader if the Bank is to remain relevant and effective in the fight against poverty.

Lance Pritchett, a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development (CGD) and a professor of the practice of international development at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, offered a general argument on the CGD blog against the WB President being named again by the American President:

There has never been any expectation that World Bank Presidents would be reappointed. Only two of twelve presidents have been reappointed for a second five year term: Robert McNamara and James Wolfensohn. Reappointment, then, is the exception rather than the rule. The argument that the selection process for a reappointment should be different and isn’t a “time” is a non-starter, as it thwarts the very idea of having limited five year terms. Every President would love to declare that a re-election doesn’t need a full blown election, which is precisely why democracy requires that re-elections are just the same as elections.

Second, I am not (now) arguing that Jim Kim should not be reappointed because of poor performance. I am just arguing that the context within which his performance should be assessed is an “open, merit-based and transparent” process for considering who should lead the World Bank this time. Certainly it is possible that one of the candidates to be the next president will be Jim Kim. Assessing his strengths and weaknesses in his current term will be important factors in deciding whether he or some other nominee should be the World Bank’s next leader.

But even if, counter-factually, there were broad and deep consensus among all stakeholders that Jim Kim had done a fantastic job in his first term, this time would still be last time’s next time and it still would be necessary to go through a full-blown selection process in order to ensure the legitimacy of the selection, even if the result of that process is a re-appointment. Given the World Bank Staff Association’s recent open letter, it is clear there is not a broad and deep consensus on Jim Kim’s performance, which makes the legitimacy of the process even more important.

Addendum: Slightly below the radar, a WB staffer has written to me to note the repeated accusations that Kim has engaged in racist and sexist hiring practices while at the Bank. See: I can no longer remain silent about racism in the World Bank and Diversity Challenge At World Bank: How An “Exceptional” Confidential Assistant Was Ousted By President Kim. My correspondent asserts that there have been “over 20 articles” of this nature about Kim.

Posted on August 20, 2016 4:00 AM. Permalink

Friday, August 19, 2016

Brian Solomon’s Guide To The Stars: Physics Professor Lorenza Viola

Dartmouth has a wealth of experienced professors who lead their respective research fields, while also working closely with students — inspiring them in the classroom and leading them in laboratory environments. And while at Dartblog we talk frequently about problems that need to be fixed at the College, there are still many bright spots. Our professors deserve more recognition for their achievements. As such, this is one of a series of posts that shines a spotlight on the best professors in Hanover:

Lorenza Viola.1jpg.jpgLorenza Viola is a Professor of Physics and Director of the Quantum Information Science Initiative at the College. She’s a theoretical physicist whose stellar work on quantum mechanics, and specifically quantum information science, largely surpasses my ability to understand, let alone explain. But at the most basic level, she studies how tiny particles move and interact, and their complex behavior understood and harnessed for useful quantum tasks.

Viola grew up in Trento, Italy, where she graduated summa cum laude at the University of Trento with a undergraduate/masters degree in physics. She had originally considered astrophysics or even becoming a medical doctor, but as a junior fell in love with a year-long course on quantum mechanics and never looked back. Viola went on to the University of Padua, also in Italy, for her Ph.D. Her thesis was titled “Relativistic stochastic quantization through co-moving coordinates” — a mouthful, but one that came out of her work examining how the theory of quantum mechanics can be made to coexist with Einstein’s relativity theory that describes our Universe at the macro scale. While quantum theory is unquestionably necessary to explain physical behavior at the level of the the smallest particles in the world, as objects grow bigger they tend to lose their quantum qualities and behave according to the more familiar rules of classical mechanics instead. Making those rules come together in this “quantum-to-classical” transition is a difficult quest for physicists, one that she continues to explore today.

After earning her Ph.D. at Padua, Viola came to the U.S. and spent three years as a postdoc fellow at MIT. There she began working in the nascent field of quantum information science. Within this arena you find quantum computing, building a machine that works by quantum rules rather than the binary bits of our standard laptops and smartphones. Such quantum computers may eventually solve more complicated mathematical problems than our current devices, help simulate the complex quantum world itself, and make breakthroughs in cryptographic security.

Viola then spent nearly five years at the Los Almos National Laboratory, both in the theoretical division and in the computer and computational sciences division, before joining the Dartmouth faculty in 2004, along with her husband, physics professor Roberto Onofrio. Since arriving on campus, Viola has continued advancing and expanding her research, both in quantum information science and its implications for quantum matter. She boasts more than 7,500 individual citations and a h-index of 41, according to Google Scholar, giving her bragging rights at home over Onofrio, a formidable scholar in his own right.

We may not understand all of her work, but the source of Viola’s research grants shows how valuable they are. In the past few years, she has worked with grants from not only the National Science Foundation, but also the Department of Energy, the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity, and the Army Research Office & National Security Agency.

Two of Viola’s most impactful papers, with over 1,000 citations each, are “Dynamical suppression of decoherence in two-state quantum systems” and “Dynamical Decoupling of Open Quantum Systems.” For a (possibly) easier window into her work, here is a lecture she gave on quantum control theory in 2012:

While Viola says she wishes there were more professors at Dartmouth to explore the budding world of quantum physics, she enjoys teaching students of all levels. In her lab she currently works with two postdocs and three grad students, yet her favorite courses allow her to explain quantum mechanics to undergraduates for the first time, seeing some of them emerge from class with a spark of curiosity and the desire to learn more. This summer she’s teaching Physics 109: Statistical Mechanics II, then she’ll break in the fall and winter, and come back in the spring for another Statistical Mechanics course.

Addendum: Here’s a recent interview Viola gave to the Journal of Physics.

Posted on August 19, 2016 4:00 AM. Permalink

Thursday, August 18, 2016

More About Brown (As Promised)

A few letters came in concerning our analysis of the huge cost differential per student between #12 Dartmouth and #14 Brown, which I summarized as follows:

Brown’s expenses run to $89,381/student each year; we pay out $140,382/student. We spend $51,001/year/student more than Brown. However, part of that difference lies in our extra research spending — just under $12,000/year per student). After deducting research, we still spend approximately $39,000/student/year more than Brown.

A professor writes in:

Just came across your article and wanted to point out something. The $182,118,000 number quoted under Sponsored research is actually a revenue and not expense (i.e., this number is not part of the $891,428,000 total expense you quoted)! This is the total amount of money faculty bring in through grants. So we are actually pulling in 30 million more than Brown. And this is actually lowering the expense per student/year.

My correspondent is correct that the amount of research funding is listed as revenue in Dartmouth’s P&L, but I used this figure as a shorthand for research expenses. This is back of the envelope accounting, but it is not inaccurate, absent better figures. That said, while it is conventional wisdom that externally funded research generates a kind of operating profit for an institution, outside analysis indicates that sponsored research really does not cover its own direct and indirect costs. This point has been supported to me by people at the College.

Another correspondent raises some questions:

Playing devil’s advocate here: Dartmouth has fewer students than Brown and spends more per student than Brown. Some of that difference is expected due to economies of scale. How much of the difference in spending per student IS due to that factor? How do you quantify that? Some of the costs are fixed and would be the same between both schools no matter how many students they have enrolled. One example of this would be intercollegiate athletics because they are both in the same league and have to field the same number of teams and the same number of players per team.

Some of the cost difference between the College and Brown is due to economies of scale, but it is self-evident that if we increased the number of students in Hanover from our current 6,350 to Brown’s 9,073, the cost of running Dartmouth would not drop by $80,471,000 — so that Dartmouth would then have the same operating expenses as Brown. It is true that each school has one President, Provost, Athletics Director and hockey coach, etc., but my estimate is that in the grand scheme of things, the savings of scale would be minor, and would be less important than some of the real world differences between Dartmouth and Brown: for example, Brown has 80 armed police officers on its payroll; we have 40 security guards, and so forth.

More to the point, let’s look at the number of classes offered to undergrads at Dartmouth and at Brown, statistics that are available in the Department of Education’s university Common Data Set. Classes are defined as follows:

CDS Undergrad Class Size Definition.jpg

Look at the number of courses offered by the College to its 4,307 undergrads:

CDS Undergrad Class Size Dartmouth.jpg

and by Brown to its 6,320 undergrads:

CDS Undergrad Class Size Brown.jpg

While Brown has 40 courses with 100+ students (does the College really only have four?), it offers a total of 1,149 courses, a hair under double Dartmouth’s 575. And Brown proposes 806 (397+409) different courses with under 20 students — the College has 367 (122+245) small courses.

It does not appear that Brown is scrimping on instruction. 

Addendum: I argue frequently that the College needs to reduce its non-faculty staff headcount significantly — at least by the 447 staffers added since 2010, if not by the 1,100+ people added since 1999. But where would these people find work? Look to this recent tidbit in the Valley News:

“What I hear a lot of is ‘I can’t find housing,’ ” said Amy Smith, the director of care management at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center.

Across DHMC’s entire system, there’s about 1,000 job openings, she said, and a 30 percent vacancy rate in the environmental services department alone.

Note that this is the DHMC “system” — not just the campus in Lebanon, but still. There are hundreds of empty jobs in the Upper Valley right now: the Co-ops advertises for people on the radio, and various employment agencies are offering signing bonuses if you find a job with them. A real leader would seize this opportunity.

Posted on August 18, 2016 4:00 AM. Permalink

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Phil, Any Thoughts on Abbey?

Phil will be away from Hanover for well over a month this summer — the Arctic, Peru, a few weeks of vacation — but one would think that he could have sent out a word or two to the campus about Abbey D’Agostino ‘14. Abbey’s admirable sportsmanship (are we allowed to say that anymore?) at the Rio Olympics is all over the press, and our President might have used his bully pulpit to highlight her expression of some of the values that many people see as quintessentially Dartmouth. I sure do. Take a look at this post from a few years ago: The Sweet Students of Dartmouth.

Addendum: I imagine Provost Dever is preparing yet another missive about inclusivity and diversity. Isn’t she always? Could she add a note about Abbey to it? That said, maybe Carolyn is too busy interviewing for jobs at other schools. Judging by recent standards, she seems fully qualified to run the World Bank.

Addendum: An alumnus writes in:

In answer to your musing about Hanlon sending out a note about Abbey… No doubt, he will post something on his President’s Blog, when he does his next quarterly (semi-annual?) update.

Addendum: Per ESPN, Abbey described her motivation as follows:

Although my actions were instinctual at that moment, the only way I can and have rationalized it is that God prepared my heart to respond that way. This whole time here he’s made clear to me that my experience in Rio was going to be about more than my race performance — and as soon as Nikki got up I knew that was it.

Lots to think about there, Phil.

Posted on August 17, 2016 6:22 PM. Permalink

Kim Clinton Crony

In a recent post we noted that Jim Kim has asserted that Tim Geithner ‘83 contacted him out of the blue to suggest that he run the World Bank. We won’t impugn Kim’s veracity, but let’s just note for the record that his pants are decidedly on fire. Take a look at the below e-mails, brought to us by WikiLeaks and the Russian Federation. The cast of characters, beyond the Secretary of State herself, includes Cheryl Mills, Hillary Clinton’s longtime Chief of Staff, who has done a great deal of work for the Clinton Foundation (the overlap between those two entities is, ahem, substantial). 

Recall that Jim Kim’s nomination to the Presidency of the Bank was publicly announced on March 23, 2012

The first e-mail below has Secretary Clinton inquiring of Cheryl Mills on March 21 if she had been able to “reach Jim Kim?” Here she writes from her private server address, hrod17@Clintonemail.com:
  Clinton E-mail Kim World Bank0.jpg Mills replies ninety minutes later to Clinton. Note that she uses a State Department e-mail address, and her copy of Clinton’s prior e-mail lists it as coming from HDR22@Clintonemail.com. Mills writes that Kim is “grateful, overwhelmed…” Would it be too much to suggest that he is “grateful” for Clinton’s assistance in plumping for the WB job and “overwhelmed” to learn from Mills that he has received the U.S. government’s nod for it:
  Clinton E-mail Kim World Bank1.jpg As a last tidbit, enjoy Kim’s mixture of supplication and self-flattery in trying to have Clinton grace the Dartmouth campus for the 2010 Commencement. Copied on this e-mail are Huma Abedin, who was Hillary Clinton’s deputy chief of staff at the State Department and her personal assistant (in addition to being Anthony Wiener’s partner) — surprisingly enough, she, too, did extensive work for the Clinton Foundation while on the federal payroll — and Lona Valmoro, who was a Special Assistant to Secretary of State Clinton, as well as working on various election campaigns:

Clinton E-mail Kim Commncement.jpgBeyond the self-calls, note Kim’s familiar tone with Mills. Self-evidently, Kim is intimate with the corridors of power in Washington.

Addendum: The eventual 2010 Commencement speaker, Stephen Lewis (former Canadian Ambassador to the United Nations and former UN Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa), fawned all over Kim in his address (“Can I tell you something privately, never to be revealed to the outside world? I love Jim Kim.”). Conan did not come to town until the following year.

Posted on August 17, 2016 4:00 AM. Permalink

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Abbey Wins 5,000m, Placing 16th

D'Agostino Hamblin.jpgWith a gesture that will become part of the collective memory of the Rio Games (and the College’s sports history), Abbey d’Agostino ‘14 gave the world an Olympic moment when she inadvertently clipped a runner striding in front of her in the second heat of Round 1 of the 5,000 meters. Down went New Zealand’s Nikki Hamblin and so did Abbey. But Abbey didn’t leap up to continue the race; her concern lay with her fellow runner, and she stopped to help Hamblin. Both runners, though injured, finished the race.

Abbey ended up placing 16th, but she inspired the world with her instinctive kindness. NBC does not allow embedding, but you can view the event here.

Addendum: USA Today has a full account.

Addendum: The Times reprinted AP’s take on Abbey’s graceful support of a fellow athlete: Runners Help Each Other After Fall, Lifting Olympic Spirit:

In an Olympics that has seen a few unsavory incidents — the Egyptian judoka who refused to shake hands with his Israeli opponent, the booing of a French pole vaulter by the Brazilian crowd — Hamblin and D’Agostino provided a memory that captured the Olympic spirit.

Olympic officials also decided that both runners, and Austria’s Jennifer Wenth, who was also affected by the collision, would have places in Friday’s final.

“I’m never going to forget that moment,” Hamblin said. “When someone asks me what happened in Rio in 20 years’ time, that’s my story … That girl shaking my shoulder, (saying) ‘come on, get up’.”

Addendum: An MRI has shown that Abbey sustained a “complete tear of the ACL, a meniscus tear and a strained MCL” when she fell in the race. After helping Hamblin, she started up again; she ran over a mile and finished despite her injuries.

Abbey’s coach, who was also her coach at Dartmouth, adds a sweet coda to the race:

“She did pretty much the opposite of what I told her,” D’Agostino’s coach Mark Coogan told USA TODAY Sports. “And I am so glad she did.”

Coogan has known D’Agostino for six years, ever since she joined Dartmouth as a freshman and he was the women’s cross-country coach there. From the beginning he marveled at her work ethic but also noticed her kindness. Everyone notices D’Agostino’s kindness. Talk to people she knows and the word leaves their mouths within the first sentence.

Under Coogan’s mentorship, she became the most decorated athlete in Ivy League history, winning seven NCAA titles. Over the years with Coogan, she would discuss race strategy, tactics, and yes, what to do if the worst-case scenario of a fall happened mid-race.

“I always told her, ‘if you go down, here is what I want you to do,’ ” Coogan said. “I told her to get up, dust herself off, have a quick look around and then get right back to running. Obviously she did pretty much the opposite of that, and the world got to see the kind of person she is. She did the right thing.”

Of course she did the right thing. She always does. At her training group — she is a pro athlete with New Balance — the rest of the squad often reacts to mental dilemmas by asking aloud “what would Abbey do?”

Posted on August 16, 2016 5:30 PM. Permalink

Phil Stuffs His Resumé

I guess that Phil thinks that fundraising and administration are going so well in Hanover that he can take on an extracurricular activity: he has just joined the educational advisory board of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation for a four-year term:

The Guggenehim board is made up of university professors, a smattering of artists and writers, Phil and Harvard President Drew Gilpin Faust. Dartmouth Trustee Annette Gordon-Reed joined the board this year, too.

Addendum: Ecclesiastes 1:2: “All is vanity.”

Addendum: Phil is now about at the end of his Arctic trip with Environmental Science Professor Ross Virginia.

Posted on August 16, 2016 4:00 AM. Permalink

Monday, August 15, 2016

College Counsel Bob Donin Retires

Bob Donin.jpgCollege counsel Bob Donin, Dartmouth’s top lawyer, has announced his retirement, effective June 30, 2017. A 1971 graduate of Colgate, which would make him about 66 or 67 years of age today, he has been at the College for sixteen years, having previously worked at a small school in Cambridge. The General Counsel’s office currently comprises Donin, four attorneys and three assistants.

I have interacted obliquely with Donin on a couple of occasions, when College entities have reflexively refused to allow advertising by my health club business on the grounds that the College is a competitor. I wrote to the folks concerned, with a copy to Bob, letting them know that they don’t compete with my company because as a non-profit they don’t and can’t compete with a private sector business (not if they want to keep their tax-free status). Bob sorted things out in short order.

Though it is tough to know how much Bob has been involved, the Counsel’s office has a reputation among many members of the faculty for not allowing anyone to run the slightest legal risk. As we have noted, at least until recently the College has cut down much loved river ropeswings almost as fast as students can put them up; and softball games, when rarely played on the Green, have two levels of defensive perimeter. Sheesh. Rather than playing CYA all day, the College’s lawyers could take a more real world approach to student activities.

Donin was fairly compensated for his work, earning $509,904 in the 2014 calendar year. That made him the eleventh most highly paid employee of the College:

Donin Salary.jpg

Actually, such a salary is modest for the senior lawyer in an operation with expenses that totaled $891,428,000 in 2015. In New York the current going rate at top law firms for fresh-from-law-school, first-year associates is $180,000.

Addendum: A former member of the College’s Board of Trustees writes in:

Donin always struck me as an exception to the usual “yes men and women” in Hanover — one of the few administration officials who didn’t treat petition trustees as evil incarnate. Though he obviously couldn’t say so, I think he understood that we were doing our part to make Dartmouth an even better place for students and faculty. The College was fortunate to have such a skilled and fair-minded person as Donin handling its legal affairs over the last sixteen years.

Addendum: A senior faculty member writes in:

I can’t comment on Bob Donin’s legal work for the College per se, but I can say that he was always a pleasure to work with: reasonable, informed, and never confrontational. I think I can say that he was a gentleman in the best senses of that word.

Posted on August 15, 2016 3:59 AM. Permalink

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Athletics Turnaround Proceeds Apace

A sparklingly new FieldTurf surface is just a metaphor for the ongoing turnaround in Athletics. Harry Sheehy is culling the ranks of his coaches, and he is doing so despite taking heat for dismissing veterans like Chris Wielgus, Amy Patton and Mark Hudak. No guts, no glory applies off the field as well as on:

New FieldTurf.jpg

I went by Floren to say hello to my classmate Buddy Teevens ‘79, and I had a chat, too, with Drew Galbraith, who is Senior Associate Athletics Director for Peak Performance — the DP2 program. How nice to get a sense of intense purposefulness in interactions with both of them, and I felt the same sentiment in crossing paths with other people in the immaculately clean fieldhouse. The routine greetings from everyone and the seriousness that is in the air can’t but confirm that every aspect of the athletics program is seeking to meet a high standard. Bravo.

Addendum: Tuck is at the top of its game, as usual, and Thayer is on the ascent. If Harry Sheehy can turn around the mess that Josie Harper bequeathed him in Athletics, then a real leader could turn around the College, too. What a shame that the Trustees are such poor judges of talent.

Posted on August 14, 2016 4:00 AM. Permalink

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Kim’s Campaign Continues

Kim Guardian1.jpgHere’s a little primer on how the world really works. Jim Kim is currently rowing furiously to keep his job at the World Bank. His five-year term ends next summer. One step his PR folks have taken is to generate a laudatory profile by a sympathetic journalist. But when journalists do research, their activities become known to others.

As a result, when the World Bank employee association learned that the Guardian was about to come out with Andrew Rice’s puff piece, it rushed out its own public letter critical of Kim, which was duly reported on by the unsympathetic-to-Kim Financial Times — thereby pre-empting the Guardian piece that came out the following day. As they say, the battle is joined.

Perhaps you take issue with my characterization of the Guardian profile? Why don’t we put that assertion to the test. Here is the entire section in the article about Jim Kim’s time as Dartmouth’s President. We all know something about that. Is the Guardian’s depiction accurate?

Kim left the WHO in 2006. After a stopover at Harvard, where he headed a centre for health and human rights, he was hired to be president of Dartmouth College in New Hampshire. He arrived in 2009, with little university management experience but characteristically high hopes. With the global recession at its zenith, however, Kim was forced to spend much of his time focused on saving Dartmouth’s endowment.

He hardly knew the difference between hedge funds and private equity, so a venture capitalist on the college’s board would drive up from Boston periodically to give him lessons, scribbling out basic financial concepts on a whiteboard or scratch paper. His tenure soon turned stormy as he proposed slashing $100m from the school’s budget and clashed with faculty members who complained about a lack of transparency. Joe Asch, a Dartmouth alumnus who writes for a widely read blog about the university, was highly critical of Kim. “He is a man who is very concerned about optics and not so concerned about follow-through,” Asch says now. “Everyone’s sense was that he was just there to punch his ticket.” Soon enough, a surprising opportunity arose.

The way Kim tells it, the call came out of the blue one Monday in March 2012. Timothy Geithner, another Dartmouth alumnus who was then the US treasury secretary, was on the line asking about Kim’s old nemesis. “Jim,” Geithner asked, “would you consider being president of the World Bank?”

Interesting, no? So Kim had “characteristically high hopes” for Dartmouth? Just what were they? I wrote a Dartblog post every day during the Kim administration, and I could not tell you what Kim’s “high hopes” were — and neither does Andrew Rice. Puff. Puff.

And just what does Rice mean exactly when he writes: “Kim was forced to spend much of his time focused on saving Dartmouth’s endowment.”? Does he mean anything at all? Dartmouth’s President is only involved peripherally in managing the endowment; Kim certainly was not making investment decisions, which, as the following paragraph in the Guardian story notes, he was manifestly incapable of doing.

Rice then artfully notes that Kim “proposed slashing $100m from the school’s budget.” Come again? Did he propose it, or did he do it? How cleverly vague. As this space documented when the College’s accounts came out, the three budgets prepared by the Kim administration increased spending by 3.0%, 5.1% and 7.7% respectively — rates of growth entirely in line with the profligacy of the Wright administration that preceded it. Total cumulative spending growth in Kim’s three budgets was 16.5% during a period when inflation totaled only 6.8%. “Slashing $100m,” indeed.

Of course, in a nod to objectivity, Rice quotes an unimpeachable source as to Kim’s self-regarding PR focus — me — but my broad, unsupported assertion in the article is more than counterbalanced by Rice’s various allusions to Kim’s supposed concrete accomplishments. I made the comment to Rice in March and he first quoted it in his Foreign Affairs piece Is Jim Kim Destroying the World Bank — or Saving it From Itself?, which became the Guardian story.

At least Rice is honestly objective when he writes “The way Kim tells it” about a call “out of the blue one Monday in March 2012” from Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner ‘83. Geithner supposedly asked if Kim wanted to run the World Bank. Ha ha. Or should I say Puff Puff again? Over at least the preceding year Kim had been disappearing from the College for weeks at a time as he pitched himself for DC jobs. His nomination was announced on March 23, 2012, and the first Monday in March of that year was March 5.

For Kim to claim that he was picked for the WB presidency without his own participation, then Geithner phoned him, and he was then vetted and approved in a little over two weeks is just not a credible statement. That’s not how Washington works. After all, it is not as if he was doing such brilliant work in Hanover that he spontaneously came to the attention of senior people in the Obama administration.

Notably, Rice spoke to nobody at Dartmouth — neither faculty members nor administrators. Had he done so, he would have heard a torrent of criticism about Kim and his team of crony administrators — all of whom quickly left Hanover when Kim departed.

All in all, our dissection of Rice’s article’s section about Kim’s time at Dartmouth should leave a reader quite skeptical about the rest of the content in the piece.

Addendum: The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Kim has already lined up the support of key players in his re-nomination effort:

Mr. Kim received informal backing from several major shareholders, including China, the U.S. and Germany, according to one of the people with knowledge of the discussions, bolstering the likelihood he will win a second term.

Give Kim credit for playing the smokey back rooms with the best of ‘em. Too bad that the people who work directly with him know the truth.

Addendum: An administrator who worked with Jim Kim at the College writes in:

I have no idea how Jim Kim has managed to persuade so many serious people that he is qualified to lead a major global financial institution, let alone find his way to shelter in a rainstorm. One of the best con men in the business…

Posted on August 13, 2016 4:00 AM. Permalink

Friday, August 12, 2016

Brian Solomon’s Guide To The Stars: Economics Professor Andrew Samwick

Dartmouth has a wealth of experienced professors who lead their respective research fields, while also working closely with students — inspiring them in the classroom and leading them in laboratory environments. And while at Dartblog we talk frequently about problems that need to be fixed at the College, there are still many bright spots. Our professors deserve more recognition for their achievements. As such, this is one of a series of posts that shines a spotlight on the best professors in Hanover:

Andrew Samwick1.jpgAndrew Samwick is the Sandra L. and Arthur L. Irving Professor of Economics and Director of the Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences. His work has stretched from topics like executive compensation to social entrepreneurship, and he has both personally worked on government policy and been instrumental in encouraging young people to do so, too.

Ironically, Samwick’s earliest research concerned retirement. He got his start in economics at Harvard, where he graduated summa cum laude and wrote his undergraduate thesis on the British social security system. Later, for his Ph.D. dissertation at M.I.T., Samwick examined how social security and defined pension plans encourage people to stay in jobs and affect when they retire. But his career was just getting started — Samwick joined Dartmouth as his first academic job in 1994.

When Samwick came to Hanover, the Economics department was much smaller, so he taught finance courses almost exclusively for his first ten years or so. He produced some of his most cited research (he has more than 7,000 citations and a h-index of 25 according to Google Scholar) during this period, working with former Tuck professor Rajesh Aggarwal. They co-authored two influential papers on executive compensation — how CEOs of major companies are paid. The first explored the relationship between volatile stock prices and executive performance incentives. The second showed why executives are rarely given pay incentives for their company to perform better than competitors, even though that seems like a logical approach.

Samwick also continued to work on savings and retirement. A paper he co-authored flipped the traditional narrative that households save money directly for retirement, even if that prospect is still decades away. Instead, he found that for a typical household, one-third to one-half of wealth (savings) is based on the relative safety of that household’s earnings. People keep a large portion of their savings not for retirement years later, but as precautionary buffers against the loss of a job or other bad outcomes. Today Samwick is working on a new paper that explains how college financial aid serves as a valuable form of insurance for modern families.

Samwick’s most famous contribution to the public conversation on these topics wasn’t a research paper at all, but his year from 2003-2004 as the Chief Economist on the staff of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers. In an attempt by the Bush Administration to reform social security, Samwick worked on the proposal that would create personal retirement accounts for individuals. The idea never gained much traction, largely due to political realities of the time, but Samwick maintains it would have been beneficial, with less government interference (raiding the trust fund) and potentially higher returns offsetting the higher risks and less wealth redistribution. Here’s a Bloomberg TV clip of him talking about social security reform in 2008:

While he was the New Hampshire Professor of the Year in 2009, Samwick doesn’t teach many courses these days. His main course, which will be offered next winter term, is Econ 77: Social Entrepreneurship. Outside of the classroom, Samwick has had a significant impact on the College as director of the Rockefeller Center, a position he assumed in 2004. In that role, he encourages students to engage with public policy and leadership. Samwick created the Rocky First Year Fellows program, which takes the top performing freshman from the Introduction to Public Policy class and gives them the opportunity to qualify for summer internships alongside Dartmouth alumni in Washington D.C. About two dozen students take advantage of the program each year.

Addendum: You can read Samwick’s blog here.

Addendum: A loyal reader writes in:

I took your suggestion and looked at Professor Samwick’s blog. I found this quote, which is both accurate (based on my experience) and to the point (having been written in Hanover):

Education is like many public policy issues today — we spend too much, get too little, and either don’t yet know how to improve on those outcomes or don’t have the leadership skills to implement what we do know.

Posted on August 12, 2016 4:00 AM. Permalink

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Praise for New Women’s Lax Coach

College Crosse magazine was effusive in its praise of the Athletics Department’s choice of Danielle Spencer as the new coach of the women’s lacrosse team:

Spencer was a no joke when she played at Northwestern. She won 3 titles (2007, 2008, 2009) and was runner-up once (2010) during her playing career. Spencer was also a two-time All-American & a three-time All-ALC player. As an assistant coach & recruiting coordinator at Northwestern she helped the Wildcats four Big BBQ appearances and a two trips to the Final Four (2013, 2014).

This is a wonderful grab by Dartmouth. Moreover, getting someone of Spencer’s caliber is a great way to start to heal the wounds from the Patton saga. Hopefully the Dartmouth lacrosse community can now rally around Spencer & the program.

Posted on August 11, 2016 4:00 AM. Permalink

HeyHeyHoHo Sleazy Kim Has Got to Go

Jim Kim6.jpgAs talk swirls around Hanover concerning a vote of no confidence for Phil Hanlon and Carolyn Dever, it is worth recalling how close Jim Kim came to a similar fate. A richly deserved one, by the way. The Kimster was all charisma, no follow-through, and a whole heap of BS. For example, though he talked endlessly about budget cuts, once the accounts came out — and he had hightailed it out of town — it became clear that budgets rose in each year of his time in office.

More recently Kim has been scurrying about Washington lining up the support of principal patrons Hillary Clinton and John Kerry for his reappointment next summer after the end of his first term as President of the World Bank. They might well weigh in to support their glib friend. However, speaking out forcefully for the contrary position is the World Bank’s employee association. The situation is evidence of a phenomenon that everyone experienced in Hanover: the closer you worked with Jim Kim, the less you respected him.

The Financial Times, never one to hold back in its criticism of Kim (see Restructuring Hell at the World Bank), has run two pieces on Kim’s efforts to hold onto his job: World Bank staff challenge Jim Yong Kim’s second term and Jim Yong Kim is lightning rod for World Bank angst. Some excerpts:

The World Bank’s powerful staff association has called for an international search for a replacement to President Jim Yong Kim, pointing to a “crisis of leadership” at the bank just as he begins a campaign for a second five-year term…

His tenure at the bank has been mired in criticism, much of it from within the bank and related to a difficult restructuring that he has pushed through…

If the original angst was over putting a public health expert with no experience in finance or economics in charge of the bank, much of the criticism since has centred on a controversial reorganisation that he pushed through and a management style that has left many veterans feeling alienated…

Mr Kim told staff in a town-hall meeting earlier this year that he was open to serving a second term but had not formally sought a reappointment. He has, however, told board members that he would like to serve a second term, said one person close to the board.

The letter cites staff surveys which have pointed to low morale at the bank over the past two years and “made it painfully clear that the World Bank Group is experiencing a crisis of leadership”.

Only a third of staff surveyed “understand where the senior management team is leading us”, the letter points out. “Even fewer believe that our senior management creates a culture of openness and trust.”

But the unusual staff letter demonstrates that Mr Kim, who emigrated to the US from South Korea as a young boy and left the presidency of Dartmouth College to take over at the World Bank, is likely to face a raucous campaign for a second term.

Besides the staff he also has critics among campaign groups, many of which questioned an update last week to the environmental and social standards for bank projects, as well as among the bank’s active alumni network.

Paul Cadario, a former senior executive at the bank who is now at the University of Toronto, said it would be hard for Mr Kim to be reappointed if the board held a truly open process.

“His record does not justify it,” Mr Cadario said, pointing to a “sloppy, sprawling strategy focused on health” and the mismanagement of the reorganisation of the bank.

If Kim is reappointed to the Presidency of the World Bank, we will know that cronyism is alive and well in Washington.

Addendum: A writer for Devex asserts that Kim has lobbied for his accelerated reappointment. That’s no surprise. Wills Begor ‘12, the valedictory speaker at his Commencement, noted in his address that during his time as a student in Hanover: “Dr. Jim Yong Kim became the 17th president of Dartmouth College, Jim Yong Kim became the president of the World Bank, and word on the street is he’s already looking for the next big job.”

Addendum: A close friend who worked in the World Bank for decades, and was an early supporter of Kim, sums up the present state of affairs inside the institution: “A Sh**storm,” she said. Don’t we know.

Posted on August 11, 2016 4:00 AM. Permalink

More About Brown

A number of readers have written in about yesterday’s cost comparison between Brown and the College. I’ll have more about that topic next week.

Posted on August 11, 2016 3:59 AM. Permalink

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Brown Puts Us to Shame

As we wait for the fiscal 2016 numbers to come out in a couple of months, let’s do a quick by-the-numbers comparison of Brown’s and Dartmouth’s 2015 financial results:

— Brown has 42% more students (9,073) than we do (6,350) and 32% more full-time professors (all of whom are paid more than ours, except for Full Professors)

You can logically expect that Brown will have to spend much more money than Dartmouth to run its entire operation, right? More students means more dorms, office space, classrooms, dining halls, campus facilities of all types, administrators, professors, etc. And if Brown pays most members of its faculty more than we pay our people, that will ramp up the difference even more.

— Brown’s total 2015 expenses: $810,957,000; Dartmouth’s: $891,428,000:
— Brown paid out $80,471,000 less than Dartmouth

But, no. It costs Brown about $80 million less than Dartmouth to run the university each year. That makes no sense. Dartmouth has to be overspending wildly, especially given that land and the cost of living and construction in rural Hanover, New Hampshire is less than in urban Providence, Rhode Island (with its top state income tax rate of 5.99% and its 7% state sales tax; both are zero in flinty New Hampshire). And Brown has to deal with other urban concerns: for example, it has 80 sworn, armed municipal police officers on its payroll vs. our 40 private security guards, etc.

— Brown’s Salary/Wages ($322,533,000) and Benefits ($93,351,000) total: $416,484,000; Dartmouth’s Salary/Wages ($382,433,000) and Benefits: ($135,622,000) total: $518,055,000
— Brown paid out $101,571,000 less in employee compensation than Dartmouth

So that’s where that money goes. How can our payroll be over $101 million more each year than Brown’s? There’s an easy answer for that: too many people doing too little work for too much money. Recall, as I mentioned above, that Brown has 42% more students than we have; you’d expect that payroll at Brown would be higher by approximately that amount — not lower by almost 20%.

— Brown’s 2015 Endowment Draw: $142,725,000; Dartmouth’s: $212,493,000;
— Brown drew out $69,768,000 less from its endowment than Dartmouth

We are by far the richer school. Our endowment stands at $4.66 billion; Brown has only $3.07 billion. But more importantly, we have double the endowment per student that Brown has. We have it, so we spend it, though I don’t think that anyone who deals with the Dartmouth administration would argue that this spending translates into a responsive operation that caters to students’ and faculty members’ every need.

— Brown’s Sponsored Research: $151,458,000; Dartmouth’s: $182,118,000;
— Brown paid out $30,660,000 less than Dartmouth

Here is the only area where the cost of operating Dartmouth should be somewhat more expensive than Brown. We do slightly more sponsored research than Brown, which hikes up our overall cost of operations. But $30 million in a budget that runs at $891.4 million doesn’t have much impact.

— Brown’s tuition, room and board and fees in 2016/2017: $64,566; Dartmouth’s: $66,174
— Brown will cost $1,608 less than Dartmouth in the coming year

Go figure. Despite all of our wealth and cost advantage, we still charge our students more than Brown (both schools give financial aid to about 44% of students; the remainder pay full boat). You’d think that Dartmouth students would get to share in the spoils of our huge endowment. Nope.

Summary: Brown’s expenses run to $89,381/student each year; we pay out $140,382/student. We spend $51,001/year/student more than Brown. However, part of that difference lies in our extra research spending — just under $12,000/year per student). After deducting research, we still spend approximately $39,000/student/year more than Brown. That difference adds up. 

If we could reduce our spending/student to Brown’s level, we could take $247,650,000 of waste each year out of our budget, which we could then put towards more productive uses. Oh, the places we’d go if the administration ran the College with the goal of providing students with the best education possible, rather than allowing a cushy, overpaid bureaucracy to grow every year.

Addendum: A Dartmouth parent writes in:
Great. Can we poach the Brown top ten administrators and pay them each $2,000,000 per year? We would be way ahead if we did so. If a side by side comparison like this was done for all eight Ivy schools, it would be even more eye-opening. Maybe the board members or top administrators would have some explaining to do before anyone makes more donations. How’s that capital campaign coming along?

Posted on August 10, 2016 4:00 AM. Permalink