Thursday, May 28, 2015

AD Under Siege, Fights On

The Town is putting the squeeze on AD, undoubtedly after getting pressure from the College. In Hanover, things can slide by unless there is a complaint. The Valley News’ Rob Wolfe ‘12 has a good report on the situation.

Hanover Zoning administrator Judy Brotman is asserting that given that AD is no longer recognized by the College, it is not zoned to lodge eighteen unrelated adults. She sent the following notice to the house on April 23:

AD Zoning Violation.jpg

The Valley News quotes her as follows:

“You typically don’t want so many people living in one building in a residential neighborhood,” Brotman said in an interview Tuesday afternoon. “It’s a health thing.”

Three questions flow from that statement. Firstly, did the College ever do anything to keep AD clean when it was recognized? Secondly, just what health issues could arise now that were not a threat before? And thirdly, just how is a building entirely surrounded by College property said to be in a “residential neighborhood”?

The brothers have assembled a war chest from generous alumni, and they have engaged the Concord law firm of Cleveland, Waters and Bass — one of New Hampshire’s largest and best firms. The firm is arguing that AD’s right of residency predates any Hanover ordinance, and therefore the house’s right is grandfathered in despite the new rule. The Valley News reports that the next step will be as follows:

The fraternity will make its case to the town Zoning Board of Adjustment on Thursday night at 7 p.m., but no decision will be made that night. Board deliberations are scheduled for June 4.

After that, the matter could go to state court.

From the looks of things, AD has not yet begun to fight.

Addendum: The Town Police department is still investigating whether the branding of certain AD brothers constituted a violation of state law. No final determination has yet been made. Seems like the investigation is going quite slowly.

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

Will Carol Survive This One?

The NCAA has sent its findings about fraudulent classes for athletes and such to UNC, and Chancellor Folt is in a tough spot. Given her poor performance at crisis management heretofore, one has to wonder if her days in the top job in Chapel Hill are numbered. The News & Observer is oblique in its criticism — after all, Folt & Co. blasted whistleblower Mary Willingham (here and here), nobody else — but in calling for leadership, the editorial’s subtext is the observation that there hasn’t been a leader in the Chancellor’s post for far too long, and there isn’t one there now:

Folt NCAA Report Comp.jpg

The UNC Board, long wondering why it chose Carol two years ago, might finally act on its doubts.

Posted on May 28, 2015 3:59 AM. Permalink

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Full Grading Practices Report

Following on Bio Professor Mark McPeek’s exemplary presentation at the April 27 faculty meeting, the full report written by the Ad Hoc Committee on Grading Practices and Grade Inflation has been distributed to the faculty. For some reason, reading the document is formally limited to faculty members having password-access to Banner (and informally restricted to readers of this page); I wonder why the administration chooses not to release it to the general public.

In any event, unlike certain written efforts by past administrations (for example, see the Presidential Search Committee’s Opportunity for Leadership statement that brought us Jim Kim, or any part of Carol Folt’s now-forgotten Strategic Plan), the Grading Practices and Grade Inflation report is notable for its concise, forceful prose; tight reasoning; and abundant, relevant data. Herewith the intro page:

Grade Inflation Exec Summary Comp.jpg

Read the entire 16-page report here.

Addendum: A faculty member writes in:

I routinely include reference to the 1973 Dartmouth Scholarship Ratings grading standards in my syllabi. When students complain about grades or ask me about my grading standards, I ask them if they have read the relevant page of the syllabus. That’s usually a conversation-stopper.

Memo to members of the faculty: After you have read the full report, log into your Banner area. The second link from the bottom is entitled: Survey: Grading Practices Proposal, which takes you to a set of ten pages with each one containing a single sentence (the ten separate sentences that are the topic headers for each of the proposal points on pages 8-13 of the Grading Practices and Grade Inflation report). You may leave comments there. Please do so, whether you agree or disagree with the ideas contained in the report (whiners frequently take the time; supporters too often don’t).

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

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Michael Taylor to Virginia MFA

One of this season’s enduring mysteries around town concerns the departure as Hood Museum Director of well liked Michael Taylor. I’ve heard various rumors, but nothing that I could pin down to any level of certainty. Now word comes that Taylor has landed a new job at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts:

Michael Taylor Virginia Comp.jpg

Read the full VMFA press release here.

Addendum: The Valley News story on Taylor’s departure from the Hood and new appointment in Virginia ended with an interesting quote and two paragraphs of writer Nicola Smith’s editorial commentary:

Nyerges said that he talked both to Taylor, and to a “lot of other people who knew the situation very well; it’s Dartmouth’s loss and our gain. The politics of museums and universities, to say the least, are interesting.”…

The question remains why Dartmouth College would shoot itself in the foot with a public relations misstep. The college has the right to decide who is at the helm of the Hood Museum, but in the absence of information or explanation, rumor fills the vacuum, which is neither fair to Taylor, nor advantageous to the college. The Hood Museum serves not only the college, but the Upper Valley at large.

And what kind of signal does the manner of Taylor’s departure send to prospective applicants? If a director’s level of scholarship, personal and professional reputation, and engagement with the entire community, are not enough to hold onto the job, then what are the criteria?

Posted on May 26, 2015 4:00 PM. Permalink

Phil Takes It on the Road

Phil Hanlon3.jpgPhil put on his roadshow at the Marquette Hotel in Minneapolis on May 12, and with the help of modern technology I was able to listen in. Our President is visiting alumni clubs and individual heavy hitters across the country to drum up support for the soon-to-be-announced capital campaign, and also to quiet inquisitive folks who still wonder what the heck has been happening in Hanover for the last decade or two.

VP of Alumni Relations Martha Beattie ‘76 acted as the bubbly MC (she neither screamed nor shed tears, as is her habit in the office). Trustee Gail Boudreaux ‘82 then asked Phil a half dozen questions and he responded with bits/bites of his stump speech: extended answers that were prepared well in advance. I guess that someone with an eye for these things has understood that Phil is underwhelming when delivering a canned address. That’s an accurate evaluation, though the Q&A format is only a slight improvement. (Hint: Phil, don’t use the word “passionate” over and over again when referring to students.) On the meat of the event:

Academic Rigor: Phil took the opportunity to calm people who are concerned that ramping up academic rigor would make the College more of a pressure cooker than it already is. He stressed the distinction between quality and quantity, asserting that he was looking for “deeper student engagement” rather than just more work. I wish that he would distinguish between the segments of the student body that bust their hump and those that coast — this is true of the faculty, too — rather than talking in general terms.

Moving Dartmouth Forward: When asked about objective indicia that the MDF program was improving the College, Phil first cited reduced hospital transports for excessive alcohol consumption, and decreased reports of sexual assault (while noting that assualt is a hard phenomenon to measure); he then noted his desire that more students attend academic programming in the evening (guest speakers, etc.). Finally, and perhaps most interestingly, he noted that at present approximately 200 seniors write a thesis each year and 16% of students publish a paper in a peer-review journal as undergrads. He hopes that in the coming years the latter two figures might double.

Experiential Learning: Our President praised the Thayer school repeatedly in talking about learning by doing. Although he affirmed the College’s commitment to the liberal arts, he said that the people at Thayer were doing amazing things, and that a quarter of the faculty members there had started their own companies. In response to a question from the audience, he stated that the College had no plans to recreate a Great Issues course (a Jim Kim initiative, that, like all the others, went nowhere) because today’s students want to work directly on the world’s problems, rather than talk about them. There’s a contradiction in there somewhere.

The Cost of the College: Repeating that the cost of college and the College has been rising for 40 years at 2-3% higher than the rate of inflation, Phil stated that such increases were unsustainable. He attributed about 1% of the differential to financial aid, and the rest to “handling innovation badly”: that as Dartmouth came up with creative new programs for students, it failed to retire old ones that had lost their relevance. He believes that his 1.5% reallocation policy — wherein all areas of the College need to cut their budgets by 1.5% each year, and then spend 1.0% on new initiatives, while turning over the remaining 0.5%to the Provost for reallocation — will keep costs under control. He cited the fact that the cost of a Dartmouth education only increased by 2.9% over each of the past two years. There was no mention of administrative bloat (personnel costs are 58% of the College’s total expenses), or the huge increase in the number of non-faculty staff employees over the past five years.

International Visibility: Improving Dartmouth’s reputation abroad is “a huge positive thing that Dartmouth needs to accomplish,” said Phil. He met recently with the editors of the Times of London.

All in all, Phil has his priorities right, but he is only nibbling away at the College’s core problems. Deep pathologies require more than incremental solutions.

Addendum: An especially thoughtful alumnus writes in:

Excellent post on Phil Hanlon’s road show, and your conclusion (“nibbling away…at core problems”) is well taken.

I was particularly struck by the boast (?) that some 200 seniors write a thesis, and his hope to see that number double. Some of us can remember when every senior wrote a thesis; it was a requirement to graduate, as were comprehensive examinations in the major.

Writing the thesis was my single most valuable experience at Dartmouth; it provided the occasion to do some wide ranging research and pull the results together and try to communicate them in a way that someone might be interested in reading. I went on to a legal career, where these skills were essential, as they are in most professional careers.

Had it not been a requirement to write a thesis, I probably wouldn’t have bothered in my then state of immaturity.

The requirement was later dropped, perhaps for a variety of reasons. No doubt lazier faculty members were glad not to have to read and grade them, or be obliged to consult with students as they were writing them. A written thesis might also provide embarrassing evidence of how poorly a student had done, which might be especially discomfiting in the case of preferential admissions. So getting rid of the requirement was a step in avoiding institutional accountability for just what students had gained in exchange for very high tuition.

A friend of mine who is the managing partner of a major national law firm tells me that their current hires, all from the top law schools and colleges, are unable to write a simple memorandum. Colleges having dropped written work requirements may be one of the reasons.

That we have come to the point where a college president would boast that a small minority of his students had chosen to write a thesis is a sorry commentary on what has become of higher education. You would think Hanlon would be embarrassed to go out to alumni to raise funds while making such an admission. I would tell him, if you want money from me, you and your faculty have to get serious about education.

Addendum: Another alumnus, one from the early 1970’s, writes in:

haha… a great topic! I wrote a thesis for English and one for Geography (double major). In the latter, I got to page 84 and said to myself, “You know, you are never, ever going to get to 100 pages again in your life, so go for it.” I started restating things and circling around and putting more footnotes and references in, and eventually I stopped at page 108 (I couldn’t just stop at 100: too obvious).

I got it back about 6 weeks later. As usual in those days in every department, it had been meticulously marked up and critiqued by the professor, almost on a line-by-line basis. At the end, this comment: “This was an A until about page 85, when it started to go downhill. I wonder why. Perhaps there is a lesson to be learned here. C+.” There was and it was.

The good ol’ educatin’ days of dear ol’ Dartmouth!

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

Monday, May 25, 2015

Capital Campaign Gears Up

If you are looking for a change of career, the College is hiring like mad in preparation for the upcoming capital campaign. The below are just the director-level positions that have been advertised in the Chronicle of Higher Education:

Director, Academic Coordination: In partnership with senior Advancement leaders, provides a critical link between the Development Office and campus partners, including the offices of the Provost, Dean of Faculty, Dean of the College, centers and institutes. Coordinates with campus leaders to productively engage with current and future donors; maintains the integrity of fund raising priorities; and assists with the implementation of development plans.

Director of Donor Engagement: Leads a team of professionals who work in close partnership with principal gift officers ($5 million and up) and leadership gift officers ($250,000 to $5 million) to provide the highest level of personal engagement, communication, and proposal development for Dartmouth’s most important donors.

Director of Recognition and Stewardship: Leads a team of professionals to design and implement a comprehensive stewardship and recognition program, working collaboratively with departments throughout the Advancement division and across the institution to ensure regular and meaningful communication with donors about the impact of their philanthropy.

Associate Director, Leadership Giving: Responsible for developing long-term philanthropic relationships with alumni, parents and friends and securing and stewarding restricted and unrestricted gifts from individuals in the Central States region.

Senior Associate/Associate Director, Gift Planning: Responsible for providing charitable gift and estate planning expertise to the Dartmouth community, including donors, prospective donors, and the Development staff and works to increase the volume of outright gifts, bequests, life income gifts, and other forms of estate planned giving.

Associate Director of Regional Communities: Provides leadership, guidance and support to Dartmouth’s 90+ regional alumni organizations, including recruiting, developing, and managing alumni volunteers, assisting with regional activities, supporting the development of regional alumni networks, and enhancing communication between alumni and the College.

At this rate, we’ll soon be at 3,600 non-faculty staffers, up from 3,503 now and 2,408 in 1999. That seems like a large number of people to administer 6,298 students.

Beyond the above positions, the Dartmouth Jobs page currently lists another 144 open jobs, including more in the Advancement and Development area (I promise that I am not making these up): Associate Director/Senior Associate Director of Advancement, Director of Annual Giving and Alumni Relations, Stewardship Writer and Gift Recording Coordinator, Associate Director of Stewardship Services, Associate Advancement Director, Assistant Advancement Director, Associate Vice President for Development, Executive Assistant to the Vice President for Presidential Initiatives and Principal Gifts, Associate Director for Individual and Class Giving, Senior Managing Director for Athletics Fundraising, and Donor Relations Officer.

Addendum: There is no truth to the rumor that the College employs a full-time Director of Developing Titles for Other Directors.

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

Sunday, May 24, 2015

The Pru v. John Hancock

Hancock v Pru 1.jpgThe Prudential Center looks as good as it’s ever going to get in this iPhone 6 shot in angled evening light, but it doesn’t hold up to the John Hancock Tower, Henry N. Cobb’s 1976 creation (he was working at I.M. Pei’s firm). The two buildings offer a sharp contrast, don’t you think? Squat brutalist power facing sleek elegance. To my mind and eye, the Hancock building wins every time.

Addendum: Wikipedia summarizes the reception that the Pru received from architectural critics:

When it was built, the Prudential Tower received mostly positive architectural reviews. The New York Times called it “the showcase of the New Boston [representing] the agony and the ecstasy of a city striving to rise above the sordidness of its recent past”. But Ada Louise Huxtable called it “a flashy 52-story glass and aluminum tower … part of an over-scaled megalomaniac group shockingly unrelated to the city’s size, standards, or style. It is a slick developer’s model dropped into an urban renewal slot in Anycity, U.S.A.—a textbook example of urban character assassination.” Architect Donlyn Lyndon called it “an energetically ugly, square shaft that offends the Boston skyline more than any other structure”. In 1990, Boston Globe architecture critic Robert Campbell commented: “The Prudential Center has been the symbol of bad design in Boston for so long that we’d probably miss it if it disappeared.”

The individual critics have it right.

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

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Dartmouth CPA Led the Way

Black CPA Book.jpgI confess that I am not a regular reader of Accounting Today magazine, but a recent issue described Theresa Hammond’s 2002 book, A White-Collar Profession: African American Certified Public Accountants since 1921, and noted that the first black CPA in the United States was a graduate of the College: John Cromwell ‘06 (that’s the Class of 1906). He had been the top science student in his year, in addition to being elected to Phi Beta Kappa.

We too often hear a harsh narrative about bad olde Dartmouth, and 20-30 years from now today’s students will certainly be regaled with similarly critical comments about their own time in Hanover, but the College has a long, though certainly not unblemished, history of ahead-of-its-time enlightenment in civil rights matters, and we would do well to see ourselves in that tradition, rather than arrogantly believing that in the present era we are breaking with some shameful past.

John Cromwell Comp1.jpg

Prior to John Cromwell’s 20th reunion in 1926, the Alumni Magazine’s Class of 1906 class notes section mentioned him:

Cromwell 20th alumni notes.jpg

Cromwell was listed in both the DAM’s 1953 and 1954 editions as having attended his class dinner at the Algonquin Hotel in Boston and having given money to the annual Class of 1906 fund. In 1956 he is lamented as having missed the annual class dinner, but he still contributed money to the College. He attended the class dinner and gave money again in 1957. It would be a fair assumption that he gave money each year to Dartmouth, as more than 70% of alumni did in those days. Of course, Cromwell went to his 55th reunion in Hanover (far left) in 1961:

Cromwell 55th reunion.jpg

Two years prior to Cromwell’s death, his daughter Adelaide, a professor of Sociology at BU, interviewed him for a family history about his time in Hanover (page 166). He noted that when he was a student, tuition at the College was $110/year.

John W. Cromwell Jr. ‘06 died on December 16, 1971, having changed the world in a small but real way.

Addendum: The Prospecting Professor blog has a brief description of John Cromwell ‘06’s life, including a note that Cromwell’s “older sister, was the first African-American alumna of Smith College, and went on to earn a Ph.D. in English from Yale.”

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

Friday, May 22, 2015

Where the Real Money Goes

The publication of colleges’ and universities’ IRS Form 990 has engendered excitement about the salaries paid to top administrators. Frank Bruni had a column in the Times:

Bruni Academic Salaries Comp.jpg

And the Valley News’ review of the College’s Form 990 led off as follows:

The 2013 compensation packages of nine Dartmouth College administrators and professors each exceeded $600,000, according to the college’s most recent tax return.

Pamela Peedin, the Boston-based chief investment officer who oversees the college’s $4.47 billion endowment, was once again the institution’s highest paid employee. Her $473,000 base salary, $600,000 in “incentive compensation” and $37,500 in benefits added up to a total of $1.1 million for the year.

Ho hum. There is prima facie nothing at all wrong with earning a million dollars for running an institution with close to 10,000 employees (when you put the College and DHMC together). That puts Phil’s family in the Top 1%, but not all that far into it. After all, there are plenty of 30-year-old traders and investment bankers making well more than a bar, once bonuses are totaled up.

What makes the envious emphasis on these high salaries wrong is that this particular focus distracts from the real problem — where the big spending is really going.

According to the College’s 2010 Form 990, Dartmouth’s top sixteen earners took in $8,284,340 in salary and benefits, out of a total compensation budget for all employees of $431,170,000. That’s a piddling 1.92% of our total spending on personnel.

In the 2014 Form 990, the top sixteen earners saw their remuneration rise by 14.1% ($1,166,407) over five years to $9,450,747. That amount was still only 1.92% of the overall compensation paid to all of the College’s employees, which was $491,832,000 — a jump of exactly 14.1%, too, but here the total increase amounted to $60,662,000.

If we are looking to cut costs at the College, let’s focus on limiting that overall jump of $60,662,000 from 2010-2014, rather than professing shock that the College’s top people took in an extra $1,166,407.

As I never tire of saying — because one day somewhere somehow somebody will hear me — the real waste at the College is in the staff.

Addendum: The CPI increased by 8.57% between 2010 and 2014. If Dartmouth’s compensation budget had increased with inflation, the total cost of wages and benefits would have been lower by $23,710,000. To put that figure in context, in 2014 the College took in $126,611,000 in tuition from undergrads. Wouldn’t it have been nice to drop tuition by about a fifth?

Addendum: And what about Brown, you ask? In 2010 Brown’s salaries and benefits for its professors (one third more than the College) and staff came to $398,894,000 — $32,221,000 less than Dartmouth. In 2014 Brown paid out $408,375,000 in compensation — $83,000,000 less than the College. That’s a total increase from 2010-2014 of only 2.38%, a figure well below the 8.57% rate of inflation. Way to go, Brown.

Addendum: I focused my Form 990 post on the outrageous post-partum payouts to Jim Wright and Adam Keller because that money was all waste, not just partial waste as in the above bloated total salary figures.

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

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Mastanduno Informed Bin Laden

The federal government has released a partial list of the books found in Osama bin Laden’s Abbottabad, Pakistan compound. Among them, a 2003 book that Dean of the Faculty Mike Mastanduno co-edited: International Relations Theory and the Asia-Pacific.

Mastanduno Book Comp.jpg

Credit where credit is due.

Addendum: Bin Laden’s library also included a copy of Economics Professor Doug Irwin’s NBER research paper Did France Cause the Great Depression?

Addendum: Read the complete list of declassified books and other items from bin Laden’s refuge here.

Posted on May 21, 2015 4:40 PM. Permalink

Asian Americans Protest Harvard Bias

A coalition of Asian American organizations has filed a complaint against Harvard for discriminating against Asian Americans in its admissions process. The administration there could be in for a rough time. As Ron Unz pointed out several years ago in an article entitled: The Myth of American Meritocracy, How corrupt are Ivy League admissions?, statistics would indicate that all the Ivies established a quota for Asians around 2001-2003:

Asian Enrollment.jpg

Charles Murray noted the following in 2012 when Unz’s article was published:

Unz’s findings have received astonishingly little coverage. “Astonishingly,” because Unz has documented what looks very much like a tacitly common policy on the part of the Ivies to cap Asian admissions at about 16% of undergraduates, give or take a few percentage points, no matter what the quality of Asian applicants might be. That’s a strong statement, but consider the data that Unz has assembled. [Emphasis added]

Of more than passing interest is the fact that over the last four years Asian American enrollments at the College have consistently been 16%. Surely just a coincidence:

Asian Enrollment Comp.jpg

A piece in the WSJ on May 15 cited the following figures from the complaint:

The complaint, filed by a coalition of 64 organizations, says the university has set quotas to keep the numbers of Asian-American students significantly lower than the quality of their applications merits. It cites third-party academic research on the SAT exam showing that Asian-Americans have to score on average about 140 points higher than white students, 270 points higher than Hispanic students and 450 points higher than African-American students to equal their chances of gaining admission to Harvard.

The Washington Post reports:

This is the second complaint against Harvard admissions practices on behalf of Asian Americans in a month. A legal defense group called Project on Fair Representation filed a lawsuit against Harvard about a month ago on behalf of a group called Students for Fair Admissions. It accuses Harvard of “employing racially and ethnically discriminatory policies” in its admissions practices.

With the Supreme Court once again reviewing the constitutionality of diversity/affirmative action policies, and a national understanding on the rise that academic mismatch costs disadvantaged minorities more than it helps them, one has to wonder how long racial preference policies can endure in the academy.

Addendum: An alumnus writes in:

Although we have a new focus on race on admissions practices in the Ivy’s, this 2004 Princeton study provides a more holistic view: Admission Preferences for Minority
Students, Athletes, and Legacies at Elite Universities

While it’s a bit dated, it indicates that athletics preferences became the most influential advantage an applicant can have provided a student met the minimum academic requirements. According to this study, a sports recruit gets the equivalent of 200 SAT points which is more than the 140 point gap between Asian and White students cited in the lawsuit. Between 1980 and 1997, athletic preferences became more advantageous than being Black, Hispanic, or a legacy (see Figure 1, page 1443).

What this means is that the academically, rather than athletically inclined applicant has to really shine. Arguably, race-based quotas at least have a broader redeeming goal to redress societal biases. I’m not sure how a better football team does the same.

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

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Madison Hughes ‘15 London 7’s Victory

Madison Hughes Pic.jpg

The United States rugby Sevens team won a World Series tournament in London last weekend. Madison Hughes ‘15 was the captain and leading scorer for the first-ever U.S. team to win a tournament at the highest level of world rugby. Hughes was the Player of the Tournament with seven tries and fifteen conversion kicks in six matches.

Venues for the World Series circuit in Sevens rugby include London, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Cape Town, and Brisbane. The London tournament was the final stop. The road to the final for the United States included wins over rugby powers France, South Africa, and England. The Americans beat Australia 45-22 in the championship match.

Sevens rugby will make its debut at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Next up for the United States is Olympic qualifying in June.

Addendum: Dartmouth Rugby returns to the Collegiate Rugby Championship Sevens tournament next weekend in Philadelphia. The Club has won the tournament twice. See the tournament page for a good profile of the history of the College’s rugby program.

Addendum: A 60’s alum writes in:

Thanks for the story on Madison Hughes ‘15. Despite his stellar performance as an athlete, not to mention as a top student and exemplary citizen of the College community, no one in the College’s 15-odd person public relations office seems interested in doing much with this continuing story. In all likelihood he will be captain of the American Olympic 7s rugby team in 2016, the first time rugby has been played at the Olympics since 1928. One would think all of this would be viewed as an ideal opportunity to showcase a very special Dartmouth student who will be performing on the international stage before millions of viewers. But, to date, bupkis from the College’s PR operation. Before he quote/unquote resigned, PR head Tommy Bruce was informed of Maddy’s accomplishments and potential for greater glory but didn’t seem all that interested. And Harry Sheehy’s operation hasn’t done much to date either. Is that because men’s rugby is a club sport and Maddy is not a creature of the DCAD varsity programs? He is without question the finest athlete at Dartmouth right now — right up there with another great scholar/athlete/citizen of late, Abby D’Agostino ‘14, who should be joining him soon on the Olympic stage.

Addendum: Madison will graduate at the end of the summer term after he earns several remaining credits. He is currently otherwise occupied.

Addendum: Ray Lu wrote a fine profile of Madison Hughes in The D.

Posted on May 20, 2015 6:00 PM. Permalink

Dirty Yik Yak, B@B

The subject of the campus-wide mailing might have been entitled “seen last night on b@b,” but the screenshot was decidedly Yik Yak:

Asian Criticism B@B1.jpg

B&B and Yik Yak are filled with this kind of puerile sentiment. The sites are valuable if only to show that a certain number of students admitted through the College’s holistic admissions process hold and express thoughts that they would never utter in public.

Incredible as it may seem, some of these sites’ anonymous commentators have even voiced harsh, personal criticisms of your humble servant. However, each time that I go to look at B&B and Yik Yak, I read myself a prophylactic trigger warning; then I feel better.

Herewith a compendium of all kinds o’ mean nasty ugly things that have been written about me (fortunately there were many kind ones, too):

B@B Comp.jpg

And that’s just in the last couple of weeks.

Addendum: At one point the Trustees debated cutting student access to Bored@Baker from the College’s servers — a fact that says more about their lack of technical savvy and (dis)respect for free speech than it does for their concern about student welfare.

Message to students: Not everyone out there will like you. Get used to it.

Addendum: A recent graduate of the College writes in:

Just wanted to drop you a note on your most recent post. As a frequent reader of Dartmouth’s YikYak feed, I’ve been fascinated by the power of anonymous message boards, their implications for free speech, and the power they seem to have over young people in particular. The content on YikYak is usually clever, funny, and tame, while the Bored@Baker I remember was always venomous and targeted at specific individuals. Everyone had to read B@B as a perpetual form of damage control.

In terms of how the College should officially react, I think they should do exactly what they should do in cases of criminal activity: leave it up to the police to determine if a crime has been committed and otherwise keep out. Fighting against anonymous posters is like shadow boxing,; the best the College can do by meddling in free speech is break even.

In terms of advice to give, I think its easy for older people to tell young people that they shouldn’t care what others say about them online; people are wired to care less about the opinions of others as they age. As I student, I saw B@B posts as the product of a vast faceless horde of people who lived all around me and hated me so much that they spent their spare time writing mean things and upvoting them. It can be incredibly traumatic for a young person who has yet to work out his values or identity. To those young people, I promise them this: with every accomplishment you achieve, you will care less and less. Instead of worrying, go build up your resume.

Addendum: A faculty member and connoisseur of language notes:

… though technically “gives no fucks” is often a term of praise

I’ll take it.

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

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

College Still Discriminates

Imagine that as an employee of the College you go to the Benefits Office and ask that your partner be covered by your medical insurance plan. If you are married to your partner, then you are in the clear; your partner will be covered. But if you are not married, then the College wants to know a piece of personal information: what gender is your partner? If your partner is not the same gender as you, you get no benefits; but if your partner is the same gender, you are welcome to share in the cornucopia of Dartmouth’s Cadillac health plan. Here are the College’s own words on the subject:

Benefits Eligibility.jpg

Sound fair to you? Not to me. Since same sex couples can wed legally in New Hampshire, and have been able to do so since January 1, 2010 (only civil unions were open to same-sex couples in the two preceding years), it is curious that as we approach the fifth anniversary of state-honored, same-sex marriage legislation (NH was the first state to enact such laws by legislative vote; other states were ordered to do so by courts) such discrimination should continue to exist in the College’s policies.

But what should the College’s Benefits Committee choose to do now (or what should it have done in 2010?)?

● Insist that henceforth all domestic partners seeking benefits be married regardless of their gender?; or,

● Allow all domestic partners, married or not, to be covered by Dartmouth’s benefits?

The WSJ recently ran a story detailing various companies’ response to this issue:

WSJ Benefits Comp.jpg

Most companies are insisting that couples requesting benefits be married (in the 37 states where same-sex marriage is legal). Others, like Google, IBM and Dow Chemical, extend benefits to all partners, married or not.

What should Dartmouth do? Well, if our highest institutional priority is to extend costly benefits to as many people as possible, we should allow coverage of all partners, married or unmarried. But if our top concern is education, we’ll achieve far more impact on the quality of a student’s four years in Hanover by limiting benefits to legally married couples and using the ensuing savings to hire more faculty members.

Addendum: Brown University, which seems to be much more efficiently run than Dartmouth, ended benefits for non-married couples on December 31, 2014. Only legally married spouses and their dependents are now eligible for benefits at Brown. Civil unions were allowed in Rhode Island on July 1, 2011; same-sex marriages were authorized on August 1, 2013. Brown announced shortly thereafter that it would limit benefits to married couples.

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

Monday, May 18, 2015

BREAKING: Big Money for the College’s Top Dogs (and Former Top Dogs)

The College’s IRS Form 990 is out for the 2014 fiscal year (July 1, 2013-June 30, 2014) and, as usual, the salary information (which covers calendar 2013) bears analysis:

Form 990 2013 Salaries.jpg

● Phil Hanlon took in $695,568 for a partial year’s work (stating in June of 2013), a figure which the Form 990 says included a bonus of $100,000. If we extrapolate out those figures, his annual salary would have been somewhere between $1,021,176 and $1,192,402 — depending on whether you calculate that he would have received a larger bonus had he been on the job for an entire year. The latter figure would have made him the 18th-best-paid college president in the U.S. in 2012 (the last year for which figures are available), and the fifth-highest earner among the Ivy presidents, ahead of the leaders of Harvard (President Drew Gilpin Faust earned $908,642 in her eighth year), Cornell (President David Skorton earned $817,441 in his ninth year) and Princeton (then-President Shirley Tilghman earned $948,412 in her eleventh year) — even though Dartmouth is the smallest Ivy and Phil is only beginning his presidency, the first of his career.

● Dean of the Faculty Mike Mastanduno was paid $415,511 in 2013 in order to do, uh, what exactly? He’s still teaching, doing research, he has a radio show on Sirius, and he MC’s faculty meetings. But other than that, as I have written before, we are paying a lot for a genial, part-time Dean.

● Carol Folt took in $603,502, including a $78,000 bonus, for her half year as IP in 2013. As Chancellor at UNC Chapel Hill she made $520,000 over her entire first year. Folt had earned $699,742 at Dartmouth in 2012 for being Provost for half the year and the IP for the other half.

● Amazingly, even for Dartblog readers who could hardly be more amazed by the College’s wastefulness, Dartmouth’s worst President ever, Jim Wright, was still on the payroll in 2013: to the tune of $316,886. Since leaving the Presidency on June 30, 2009, the College has continued to pay Wright handsomely: $721,385 in 2010; $652,434 in 2011; and $645,280 in 2012; plus the 2013 money. That’s a total of $2,335,985 since he left what EVP Rick Mills indirectly called one of Dartmouth’s three consecutive failed presidencies. Now why would the College keep paying Jim? These aren’t bonuses, after all. Nope. They are part of a severance package that Jim Wright agreed to when he was fired — though, of course, the fig leaf word of “retirement” was bandied about at the time. (Curiously enough, the College’s 990 filing lists Wright as having put in 40 hours/week for Dartmouth in 2013. I’d call that a misrepresentation.)

● However, for flat-out excess — especially when the College is dismissing beloved teachers for lack of budget — nothing tops the fact that former-EVP Adam Keller took in $338,562 in 2013. Keller left his job in 2009, just like Wright, having made a shambles of the College’s finances. He is listed in the above table as Chief of Strategy at The Dartmouth Institute, but given that the actual leader of TDI is not on the 990 filing, we know who is paying the bills there. Since 2009 Keller has taken in (or has taken the College for) the following sums: $855,636 in 2010; $487,151 in 2011; and $776,756 in 2012; and the abovementioned $338,562. That’s a total of $2,458,105. I wonder what leverage Keller had to get such a great deal. Note: Keller’s background, a Masters degree in public health from the University of Minnesota, did not equip him in the slightest for the EVP job, as we all expensively learned.

Addendum: Jim Kim earned nothing from the College in 2013, and the only money that he earned in 2012 was for the time he was in Hanover — the first half of the year — plus a bonus of $200,000. That totaled out to be $778,499, far short of the one-year-of-salary bonus that Dartmouth Presidents traditionally receive. I would not even have given him the $200,000, not after he cut and ran without so much as informing the Trustees before he accepted the World Bank job.

Addendum: My apologies if any of the above seems intemperate, but when I review the close-to-$5,000,000 that Jim Wright and Adam Keller have received from the College since their departure, and then I think of students and parents indebted due to the high cost of tuition, and hard-working young academics who can’t get jobs, and students stuck in large courses because the College believes that it does not have enough money to hire more faculty members, well, I get a little upset. Dartmouth is rich, but not enough to waste this kind of money on people who did her no service.

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

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Pick Me! Pick Me!

When Jim Kim was in Hanover, he told the Development folks that his obligations to his family meant that he could only rarely go on the road to meet important donors. He was very sorry. But now that he is at the World Bank, not a week goes by without Kim travelling to yet another country (or two or three), doling out a loan (or two or three), and hopefully (or so he thinks) cementing a relationship that could be useful in the future. “What for?” you might ask. I’m betting that JYK is bucking to become Secretary General of the United Nations. Anyone have any other suggestions?

Kim Peru.jpg

Addendum: In the above photo, Jim is doing World Bank work in Oxapampa, Peru.

Addendum: As we have noted, despite Kim’s much touted claim to have made $100M in budget cuts at the College, total spending increased markedly in each of the three years he was President at Dartmouth. Kim’s biggest financial impact was to ramp up the actual number of tuition dollars paid in by undergrads and grad students. He accomplished this task by changing the type of students recruited: more legacies, private school students and early decision admits, all of whom have less need for financial aid.

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

Saturday, May 16, 2015

79!!! 79!!! 79!!!

Scott Blackmun Comp.jpgThere is a real pleasure in reading that one of the kids I used to have dinner with in Topside has gone on to better things. My classmate Scott Blackmun ‘79 will be receiving an honorary degree today at Bentley College in Boston. Bentley’s website describes Scott as follows:

Scott A. Blackmun, chief executive officer of the United States Olympic Committee (USOC), will deliver the commencement address to approximately 1,000 students at Bentley’s 96th annual undergraduate ceremony. The ceremony takes place at 10:00 a.m. on the south campus, with an expected 7,000 in attendance.

Blackmun, a lawyer and accomplished sports and entertainment executive, has been at the helm of the USOC since January 2010. Under his leadership Team USA topped the overall medal count at the 2010 Winter Games and 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London. Blackmun is credited with modernizing USOC operations and enhancing the organizations’ overall image. He negotiated a revenue-sharing agreement with the International Olympic Committee which restructured worldwide Olympic sponsorship and elevated the USOC’s international standing. For their efforts, the USOC was named Sports League of the Year at the Sports Business Awards last year, topping the NFL, the NBA and the MLA. In 2013 Blackmun was recognized as Sports Executive of the Year by Sports Business Awards. He will receive an honorary Doctor of Commercial Science degree at the ceremony.

After his time at the College, where he played goalkeeper on the soccer team and majored in Philosophy, Scott received a law degree from Stanford in 1982. He then practiced law in Colorado for twenty years, focusing on sports and entertainment, served in various roles at the USOC from 1999-2001, before becoming COO of Anschutz Entertainment Group, a job that he left to head the United States Olympic Committee.

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

Friday, May 15, 2015

Spare the Adjunct, Don’t Spoil the Cook

The Valley News weighed in yesterday on the controversial dismissal of Siobhan Milde, a senior lecturer in the Chemistry department, who has been with the department for thirteen years. The news of her departure led 800 students to sign a petition in her supoort:

Milde Comp1.jpg

The background to this situation seems to have escaped the media. While everyone notes that the Chem department is “dissolving” Milde’s position in order to hire more tenured professors, nobody seems to ask why this either/or decision has come to pass. Is spending money on Siobhan Milde the least important expenditure in all of Dartmouth’s $850 million budget — the line item that we want to cut because every other dollar spent is more important? How about letting go a couple of surly, non-productive food service workers? Or turning the snack bar at Novack over to King Arthur Flour and dismissing the overcompensated workers there?

Who is setting Dartmouth’s priorities that allow Chem to fire a beloved teacher when the College is drowning in the sea of incompetent, overpaid deans (all of whom earn more than Siobhan Milde, and none of whom do more good than she does)?

Addendum: A longtime reader writes in:

The 2014 USNWR Chemistry Department Ivy rankings are: Harvard (4); Columbia (10); Cornell (10); Yale (12); Princeton (15); Penn (19); Brown (60); Dartmouth (71).

Firing a well regarded part-time teacher of undergraduates does nothing to advance the woeful academic standing of the Chemistry Department.

The real question is why does the College have a graduate program in chemistry? The chances of attracting top scholars or top students to a #71 program are essentially zero.

Why not concentrate on having an excellent undergraduate chemistry department filled with excellent teachers? An easily achievable goal and, as well, something which directly benefits the undergraduate core of the College.

Addendum: A reader with an insider’s knowledge of the Chemistry department writes in:

The department hired the best two candidates in materials chemistry this year (one had eight other offers, for example), the best biophysical chemistry candidate last year, and we “poached” a highly regarded and accomplished synthetic chemist from the Scripps Research Institute two years ago. The three previous hires have all received the highly competitive and prestigious NSF CAREER award, and we are bringing in graduate students who have already won the prestigious NSF Graduate Research Fellowship. Obviously the department has no issues with attracting “top scholars or top students”.

The USNWR ranking of graduate programs is a farce at best, and it is not conducted with the same rigor as the undergraduate ranking; 205 chemistry departments were approached over a period of four years and only 18% bothered to respond to the survey ( As you can see, 168 department chairs did not find this survey important enough to spend time on it, and neither should you nor the long time reader.

Addendum: The longtime reader who wrote in above responds to the forgoing comments:

After reading the Chemistry Department’s reply to my comments and its attached link. Here is my rejoinder:

1 The Chemistry Department has 18 full professors, 5 associate professors and 4 assistant professors, including the 2 just hired. 27 professors in total;
2. In 2013, the last year for which numbers are on-line, the Chemistry Department had 15 undergraduates complete chemistry majors. In 2012: 24; in 2011: 15; 2010: 26; 2009: 29:
3. Thus, from 2008 to 2013, the number of professors exceeded the number of undergraduates completing majors in all but one year;
4. The yearly total of all enrolled chemistry graduate students from 2008 to 2013 follows: 2009: 29; 2010: 31; 2011: 40; 2012: 37; 2013: 41;
5. The link provided by the Chemistry Department did show that 18% of 205 chemistry departments replied to USNWR survey questions, i.e., 36 chemistry departments replied;
6. The 36 responding chemistry departments were not identified by the linked information;
7. In order to be ranked by USNWR, a department had to be mentioned in a least 10 responses;
8. Thus, the Dartmouth Chemistry Department was ranked 71st in the country as a result of at least 10 and perhaps as many as 36 chemistry department responses, or some number in between;

Based on the foregoing, I have the following questions for the Chemistry Department:

1. At what number does the Chemistry Department believe it should be ranked?;
2. Did the Chemistry Department respond to the USNWR survey? If not, why not?;
3. Did any other Ivy chemistry departments respond to the USNWR survey? If so, which ones?;
4. Did any of the “best” chemistry departments respond to the USNWR survey?;
5. Why is sample size pertinent to the reputation of the Dartmouth Chemistry Department amongst the 10 to 36 departments which responded?;
6. What reason do you have to believe a larger sample would produce significantly better results?;
7. How does the Chemistry Department account for its poor reputation amongst the 10 to 36 departments which responded?;
8. What are the reasons to have graduate students in the Department of Chemistry?
Would the quality of undergraduate chemistry instruction at Dartmouth be adversely affected by the elimination of chemistry graduate programs? If so, why?

Posted on May 15, 2015 4:00 AM. Permalink

Will the Students or the Rules Win?

The Jacko is on a roll. A new poster for Green Key weekend:

Animal House Poster D Version.jpg

And the beloved original:

Animal House Poster Original.jpg

Posted on May 15, 2015 4:00 AM. Permalink

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Campus Mental Health

On November 20 last year we wrote about the growing mental health crisis on campus, a post that was inspired by a comment on the Improve Dartmouth website by Heather Earle, Director of the College’s Counseling and Human Development service:

As many of you may know, more and more students are feeling increased pressure in many areas of their lives. While many students work at trying to find solutions to these pressures through help from friends and other support systems on campus, increasingly large numbers are seeking counseling assistance. As one example of this increase: in October 2013, CHD had 976 student encounters; in October 2014, CHD had 1355 student encounters. [Emphasis added]

A total of 1,355 “encounters” in a month for a student body of 4,276 undergraduates, not all of whom are on campus for the term, and many of whom, freshmen I expect, have not learned to avail themselves of Dick’s House. What do you figure? A quarter of our undergrads received mental health counseling last October?

I tried to follow up with Heather Earle a couple of weeks ago to find out how these figures had evolved. Earle politely suggested that I speak with Diana Lawrence, Dartmouth’s Director for Media Relations in the 21-person Office of Public Affairs (that staffing figure does not include the 14 other PR professionals scattered through various other parts of the College). Lawrence told me that the College maintains accurate records of student health care usage, but she politely suggested that she would not share them with me.

Too bad. How is Dartmouth doing compared to the various national trends about which the Wall Street Journal reported on April 28 in an article entitled Mental-Health Crunch on Campus. Herewith some pertinent statistics:

Campus Mental Health.jpg

One has to wonder if students’ mental health profiles have changed since my day, or whether the reflex has developed of quickly availing oneself to professional assistance in the face of life’s challenges. One former senior administrator commented to me that many parents have abandoned the responsibility of helping their kids work things out: “Isn’t there someone you can see about that, honey?”

Needless to say, members of the faculty wonder openly just how many of their students regularly ingest some kind of prescription mood-modification medication — I’ve heard guesses of up to 50% — and conversation often runs to other problems like eating, self-cutting, study drugs, and illegal drugs beyond marijuana (here’s looking at you, Cutta Cutta Gramma). The College’s 14-person Office for Counseling and Human Development lists resources for the following issues: Eating Disorders, Alcohol and Other Drugs, Stress Management, Suicide Prevention, Understanding Depression vs. Sadness, Response to Tragedy, Sexual Assault, and Resources for Student Veterans.

Of course, such travails have been present at the College since long before my time, but have recent changes been of kind rather than just degree? Undergraduate life is filled with challenges of identity, self-confidence, resistance to the pressure-cooker demands of a rigorous academic program, and of course, the obligation that one never, ever admit that things are less than perfect in Hanover’s most perfect of worlds. Are students now unable or unwilling to deal with the struggling to cope that is an intrinsic part of a Dartmouth education?

Addendum: A long-time reader writes in:

A shocking number of high-achieving high school students (according to my two boys attending different schools) have prescription Adderall and mental health diagnoses in order to get the drugs to increase performance and, importantly, to qualify for extra time for the standardized tests. SAT/ACT tutors even suggest this — off the record, of course. 75% of the kids in my senior son’s class who were admitted to Ivy League colleges had “extra time” (a huge advantage for these timed tests — almost 2X as much time). I assume that on arriving on campus students must get a New Hampshire doc to prescribe. It really is epidemic — like steroids in athletics. My son has his own motto “There is no extra time in the real world”!

Posted on May 14, 2015 4:00 AM. Permalink

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The College’s Race Problem

Frank Cunningham1.jpgDoes the College have a race problem? With generous affirmative action programs, an overstaffed OPAL office, and no end of special exceptions for students of color, I’d find it hard to say that the institution is anything but a social crusader in support of racial justice. But as far as intolerance goes, that’s another matter. As SA President Frank Cunningham is finding out, it’s one thing for students to disrupt a party with noisy chanting and expletive-filled signs, it’s quite another for a student to yell back, especially when that student is a man of color who has the temerity not to conform to the prevailing ideology of protest.

Beyond the petition asking for his resignation, Cunningham was the object of a meeting only vaguely veiled in its purposes:

Gay Men Misogynistic.jpg

Problems of ideology and discrimination are deeper than Frank Cunningham’s current treatment at the hands of an angry minority of students. They have been occurring for many years. An older alumnus writes in:

I wonder to what extent the college itself deliberately fosters hateful attitudes among black students.

This Cunningham flap reminds me of an experience some years ago with a black Dartmouth freshman whom I met on a flight just before Christmas when he was returning home for the holidays. I asked him how he liked Dartmouth, and he said “so far, not much - it has been my first experience with being segregated, and I don’t like it one bit.” It started the summer before when he was invited to an all-expense paid visit to the college. He naively assumed this was something extended to all admittees.

His first surprise was when he was met at the Lebanon airport by an all-black delegation. He thought at first that he had somehow taken the wrong plane and landed at Grambling. During the visit, he was “encouraged,” he felt pressured, to join the Afro-American Society, and take up residence in an all-black dormitory. During the fall term he had been appalled at the black separatism on campus, and the associated attitudes of racial antagonism.

The college’s having hired someone with the demonstrated attitudes of Jennifer McGrew also suggests that the administration is fully on board with promoting grievance identity and entitlement among black students, administrators, and others at Dartmouth. It seems to be the organizing principle for the institution’s dealing with blacks. When you reported on McGrew, senior administrators jumped on you, and mischaracterized the reporting as an attack.

Perhaps some of this began with hopes of making the Hanover campus somehow seem more welcoming towards blacks, many of whom emerge from a very different setting than rural New Hampshire. Whatever laudable motives there might have been, it seems to have become something far less benign.

To the extent the college itself, acting through its “diversity” bureaucrats, promotes and inculcates attitudes of radical antagonism of the sort reflected on the Afro American Society’s Facebook page, they do young black students a grave disservice, and may be disabling them from functioning successfully as adults, and achieving all that they might.

His words find an echo with a recent graduate:

I follow Dartblog regularly. I have been following the developments at the College and find it ever more perplexing how illogically some groups argue. I have been meaning to write you for a while about an experience I had at the college which exemplifies how ridiculous and irrational some so-called ‘diversity’ groups on campus are. I come from a mixed background, grew up in Mexico with one my parents being from Mexico and the other one being European. Thus, as an international student, I had the ‘privilege’ to be on the OPAL mailing list.

On May 5th 2008, I remember going to a meeting where we were supposed to celebrate the battle of Puebla as we sometimes do in Mexico. I remember walking into the room with at that time copiously provided food by President Wright (I guess before they started cutting catering funds for such events) and meeting some nice people. However, soon enough I noticed that the event wasn’t so much to celebrate Mexican heritage but to complain about other population groups. When I pointed out this to the group, inviting them to focus on the celebration and not the complaining, I was told that my opinion didn’t matter because I was (phenotypically, through genetic chance) white and I have no say on what being treated as a person of color meant. I found it somewhat ironic that that came from a US citizen who spoke no Spanish and had never crossed the border. Most surprisingly though, was that the OPAL coordinator did not disagree with this point of view and even continued with the argument.

To say the least, that is when I decided to never take part in an OPAL organized event but found other people with whom to share my varied interests. I apologize for my English, I haven’t lived in the US for over four years now. I hope this sheds some light into the sort of dynamics at play in some ‘minority’ groups at the college.

Posted on May 13, 2015 4:00 AM. Permalink

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

A Great Day to Downsize

VN Recovery.jpgWe might assume that Phil’s very highest priority is treating the College’s staff well — a priority that he places before hiring young faculty, renovating decrepit dorms, and reining in the out-of-control cost of Dartmouth’s tuition. But if he puts any weight at all on the latter considerations, he might think that this is a good time for the College to slim down its bloated bureaucracy (up almost 50% in the last fifteen years). After all, the local economy is short of workers, so there will be jobs aplenty for custodians, cook helpers, administrative assistants, and even senior executive special associate deans.

John Lippman’s article in the Valley News contained the following curious sentence:

… the economic news is a mixed bag regionally, where New Hampshire and Vermont have lower unemployment rates but also lower growth rates than the national average. When it comes to unemployment, the Upper Valley — Grafton County at 3.8 percent and Windsor County at 3.7 percent as well as the cities and towns within them — have among the lowest unemployment rates in the country.

Umm, John, do you think that these two factors might be related? I would like to grow my own business in the Upper Valley, but I am constrained from doing so because we cannot find personal trainers, hair stylists, daycare providers, housekeeping staff and on and on. I’d say that the recovery is so strong here that we have exhausted the supply of people willing to work, and that’s why growth has slowed.

Many economists would tell you that 4.0% is the frictional rate of unemployment: the rate at which there really is no unemployment at all, just people moving between jobs for short periods of time. Look at the stats for New England from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:

NH Unemployment.jpg

In short, we are not in a recovery after all; rather the growth of the local economy has stalled due to a shortage of labor. But if Dartmouth would trim its enormous staff, and use the savings to hire some bright young professors who would come here from elsewhere, several things would happen:

● Laid-off staff members could find other jobs and help the economy grow;

● New professors would improve the quality of a Dartmouth education, and by their many purchases help the economy grow, too; and

● As a leaner institution, Dartmouth would run better.

How about it, Phil? The time is right to finally trim the College’s wasteful bureaucracy. Does your administration have the nerve to do so?

Addendum: As we have written before, on average American workers change jobs every 4.6 years.

Addendum: The national rate of unemployment is far worse than that found in the Granite State:

U.S. Unemployment Rate.jpg

Posted on May 12, 2015 4:00 AM. Permalink

Monday, May 11, 2015

College Costs: A DAM Shame

DAM College Costs.jpgLet’s say I asserted that the first half of the 20th century was a peaceful time, and then I cited statistics noting that there were relatively few military casualties in Europe between 1920-1940. You’d scratch your head and ask me why I had chosen a restricted period of time to support my contention, one that did not include either WWI or WWII. Once you had finished scratching year head, you’d think a moment longer, and you’d realize that I was purposely obscuring the truth about that period. Armed with that principle, let’s look at the Alumni Magazine’s analysis of Why Does Dartmouth Cost So Much?

The Magazine’s cover piece — written by C.J. Hughes ‘92, who is not a financial journalist — is replete with the same kind of statistical cherrypicking and intentional obfuscation. One has to wonder whether the end result is the responsibility of Hughes, his editors, or the administration that furnished him with carefully chosen facts and figures. A few examples:

Non-Faculty Staffing: Let’s start off with a statistic in the article that wins Dartblog’s Obfuscation of the Year award:

Hiring seems to drive no small portion of the hike in spending. From 2003 to 2013 the number of faculty swelled by 16 percent, according to official College figures presented in one budget class session. During the same period the number of grad students went up by 30 percent, the data show, but the undergrad population climbed just 4 percent.

Staff levels, meanwhile, appear to have climbed about 4.5 percent from 2003 to 2013, according to College data. Although this may not appear excessive on its face, viewed across a longer span of time, the College can seem to be piling on non-teaching employees, who, as noted, make about 75 percent of its total payroll.
[Emphasis added]

The bolded assertion is true, but only as far as it goes. Let’s review hiring over a longer period and in more detail. According to the Dartmouth Factbook, from which I have taken screenshots, when Jim Wright became President in 1999, the College had 2,408 non-faculty employees (including about 75 people at the Hanover Inn). Over the next several years, until a recession took the wind out of his sails, Wright engaged in a hiring binge unlike anything ever seen in Hanover. He increased the non-faculty payroll by close to a thousand new positions: the next data provided by the Factbook show non-faculty payroll in 2005 at 3,342 positions — an increase of 38.8%. Over the following five years staffing rose and fell, dropping to as few as 3,056 non-faculty staffers in 2010, after Wright had trimmed the budget in preparation for Jim Kim’s arrival — a level still 26.9% over where the number of administrators had been in 1999.

Since 2010, binge hiring has been back, and staffing has risen each year. The total is now up to 3,503 staffers, a figure that does not include those 75 Hanover Inn employees, who were calved off to the Inn’s new private operator. The number of staffers on the payroll has risen 17.5% since 2010. More down to earth: the College has hired 447 staffers since 2010, and in the same time period we have added only 35.8 professors to the teaching ranks. That’s 11.6 new staffers for each new professor.

In short, with a correction for the Inn change, the number of non-faculty staffers at the College rose by 48.6% between 1999 and 2014, a figure an order of magnitude greater than the 4.5% figure cited in the DAM article, which cherrypicked a more limited time frame.

Our Endowment Wealth: The DAM does little better in describing Dartmouth’s endowment wealth relative to our sister schools:

While the endowment may be growing nicely, the $4.5 billion Dartmouth has under investment now is next to lowest in the eight-school Ivy League and just No. 22 in overall college endowment rankings, according to the National Association of College and University Business Officers and the Commonfund Institute, an investment firm. Only Brown’s endowment, with $2.9 billion, is smaller. Schools such as Notre Dame ($8 billion) and Washington University in St. Louis ($6.6 billion), for example, are Nos. 12 and 17.

Looked at another way—by endowment per student, a popular measure of an institution’s financial stability—Dartmouth is also behind. That measure can matter, as demonstrated by Princeton and Harvard being able to underwrite more financial aid by drawing on their larger funds. Dartmouth’s endowment breaks down to $710,000 per student, based on current enrollments. Washington University, meanwhile, has $1.05 million per student, and Grinnell, despite finishing at No. 48 in the endowment rankings, claims $1.14 million per student. [Emphasis added]

So the article would have us believe that we are next-to-last in the absolute size of our endowment, and as regards endowment per student, we are not only behind Princeton and Harvard, but also Wash U. and Grinnell. Poor, poor Dartmouth. Are we enlightened now?

Actually not. The figure we should be looking for is how we do against all of our Ivy sisters. Those numbers will help us understand why our tuition is so high: as the DAM article states, “within the Ivy League… Dartmouth ranks most expensive behind only Columbia (and 14th most expensive nationally).” Here’s how we stand versus the other Ivies and other wealthy schools in endowment per student:

Endowment Per Student.jpg

First off, though we lag well behind HYP, we are far wealthier than Penn, Brown, Columbia and Cornell. Our endowment per student is more than double all of these schools, except for Penn. More important than that observation is how this difference translates into support of the budget each year. As the DAM article notes:

Today, endowment reserves are drawn on sparingly, much as individual investors access their retirement funds. Dartmouth is no exception: It withdraws about 5 percent a year to fund operations, following a rule of thumb in higher education.

Let’s see how that 5% figures translates into the annual endowment draw on a per student basis: Cornell: $14,050/student; Columbia: $15,750/student; Brown: $17,400/student and Penn: $19,450/student. Before I tell you Dartmouth’s per student figure, recall that Cornell, Brown and Penn (and HYP) all charge a lower tuition each year than the College on the Hill.

Dartmouth: $35,250/student. That’s a difference of between $15,800/student and $21,200/student compared to Cornell, Columbia, Brown and Penn. Where does all that money go? It surely is not being used to keep our tuition at a reasonable level. ‘Nuff said.

Managing The Endowment: The DAM article includes statements of fact that are just plain wrong, as anyone with even a vague sense of Ivy League finances would understand:

…in FY 2014 the endowment, which is divided into a fairly standard 60/40 stock-to-bond ratio, had a banner year, up more than 19 percent, with an annualized return of about 12 percent. [Emphasis added]

A “60/40 stock-to-bond ratio” might have been true for a college endowment thirty or more years ago, but one doesn’t have to be aware of the controversy about all the money that the College places with Trustees in their hedge funds and private equity vehicles to know that this statement is in error. After all, the College’s annual accounts lay out the overall distribution of the endowment’s investments on Page 13:

Endowment Level 1-3.jpg

Stocks (“Global Equities”) and bonds (“Fixed Income”) amount to 37.4% of the endowment, and of these assets, more than half are held by outside managers and are only redeemable in ninety days or more. The remaining money is in other types of investments like hedge and private equity funds, venture capital placements and real estate holdings.

Teaching Loads: The DAM article edges into reportorial parody when discussing the number of courses that Dartmouth professors teach each year:

There’s also the argument that professors who carry a light course load, as they do at Dartmouth, provide “a smaller bang for the buck than teachers at other schools, who tackle several sections at a time,” says Bill Hall, the chief financial officer for Salve Regina University in Newport, Rhode Island, who has worked in higher education for decades. His far-less-funded school “couldn’t survive if our guys were teaching one class a semester,” Hall says. Even some Dartmouth professors, who did not want to give their names out of worries about reprisals, agreed with Hall’s assessment: Dartmouth profs, who don’t typically utilize teaching assistants, don’t teach as many courses as profs do at many other schools. In Hanover, profs typically teach three or four courses a year; at schools such as Salve Regina it is double that. [Emphasis added]

By what measure of intellectual rigor does Hughes limit his comparison of the College with Salve Regina University, a school that ranked #50 in U.S. News’ “Regional Universities (North)” category? While I might want our faculty to teach more, too (because so many Dartmouth professors are honestly devoted to their students), we must remember that the College is in a competitive market for faculty, and many Dartmouth professors are regularly offered positions at other high-ranking schools (and by that I don’t mean places that rank # 50 in the “Regional Universities (North)” group) where they would teach less than in Hanover.

The Cost of Doing Business in Hanover: Hughes writes:

Dartmouth officials are quick to disabuse critics of the notion that doing business in rural New Hampshire means that basic goods and services cost less than they would in a city. “At first blush, you would think things would be cheaper up here,” says Mills, who was previously employed by Harvard. “But there’s a scarcity. Many test tubes, for instance, need to be shipped from Boston, which adds to their cost. Similarly, to have a plumber around who can respond quickly to emergencies, Dartmouth has had to put some on staff. It would be far too risky to rely on freelancers.”

I like Rick Mills a lot, so I am going to assume that he was misquoted here, but if we take his comment about test tubes on its face, it is laughable. Most test tube companies — and anyone else for the matter — offer free shipping; it is not as if Harvard profs can walk to a test tube store in Harvard Square, but Dartmouth profs have to drive down to Cambridge to stock up. However, there is one difference between the College and Harvard that cuts entirely the other way: if the folks there buy their test tubes in Massachusetts, the sales tax is 6.25%; in New Hampshire the tax is 0%. All the other Ivy schools pay sales tax as well.

As for the plumbers, sure we might keep plumbers on the payroll, but if Hughes had looked at the hourly rate charged by plumbers in large cities versus the Upper Valley, she’d have seen that Dartmouth does very well by being in a low-cost-of-living environment. I know. I have a business in the Upper Valley, too.

Employee Benefits: Hughes glosses over the issue of benefits:

The impact of employee benefits packages remains to be seen. Although critics of the College’s budgetary policies, such as Dartblog’s Joe Asch ‘79, have complained that employee packages are too generous, the College shrank its contributions to employee retirement programs in 2008 and eliminated a retirement healthcare subsidy for those hired after 2009. Indeed, the share of healthcare premiums employees kick in now is about 31 percent, according to College figures, up from 24 percent in FY 2009. Similarly, for employees aged 35 to 39, for example, the College now chips in 7 percent of total salary as a retirement benefit, down from 10 percent, the data show—generous, but hardly out of line with competing New Hampshire employers. Many University of New Hampshire employees pay only 16 percent of their healthcare premiums and UNH has a standard retirement account contribution level of 10 percent against a 6-percent employee contribution.

DAM Spending Per Student.jpgHe notes that the College charges employees more than it used to and its pension contribution is less generous, but then he assumes that the medical insurance coverage provided by UNH is equivalent to the Cadillac plan offered by Dartmouth. A fairer comparison would be with another Ivy like Brown, a school with about the same number of full-time employees as Dartmouth (even though it has one third more professors and one third more students), and one that is embarrassingly more efficient that Dartmouth, as the table on the right from the DAM article shows. In 2014 Brown spent $95,299,000 on benefits and $313,076,000 on salaries — total employee compensation added up to $408,375.000. Smaller Dartmouth paid out $122,428,000 on benefits and $369,404,000 in salaries and wages — a total of $491,832,000. Dartmouth paid $27,129,000 more for benefits than Brown and $56,328,000 more in salaries and wages. That’s a total difference versus Brown of $83,457,000.

Brown’s thriftiness produces benefits for students: in the coming academic year, tuition, room and board, and fees in Providence will be $62,046; at the College they will be $63,744. That makes Brown $1,698/year cheaper than the College.

Conclusion: I could go on and on in finding errors and foolishness in C.J. Hughes ‘92’s piece. In short, he spent 4,818 words to confuse you. Don’t be. Dartmouth is a rich institution that has been managed for several decades for the comfort of the staff rather than for the students, the faculty, and for the excellence of its endeavor. That’s what Hughes should have written, but, of course, there is a capital campaign on the horizon, and nobody wants the heavy hitters to think that the College is, to use Reagan Budget Director David Stockman’s (father of Victoria Stockman ‘10) famous term, “a sinkhole of waste.”

That said, let me clarify the reason Dartmouth is so expensive: too many administrators earning too high salaries with extravagant benefits. If Phil could reduce the cost/student of a College education to Brown’s level, we could wipe out tuition and hugely increase the size of the faculty.

Addendum: Although the DAM article hid or misled more than it revealed, it did offer up some interesting information that I have verified independently:

● $127 million went toward sponsored research. Although tens of millions of dollars in grants from private foundations and government agencies such as the National Institutes of Health underwrite much of the cutting-edge work done by faculty with student assistance, the College says it has to kick in to cover the balance. [Emphasis added]

Translation: the College loses money every time it gets a research grant; a grant’s allocation for overheads does not cover the full cost of supporting research. That’s funding that comes from students’ tuition/r&b/fees, alumni contributions and the payout from the endowment.

Posted on May 11, 2015 4:00 AM. Permalink

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Longues-sur-Mer: Boots on the Ground

Which image is more evocative of history: the multi-gun German battery at Longues-sur-Mer overlooking both Omaha and Gold beaches?

Longues-sur-Mer batteryA.jpg

Or the hobbnailed jackbootprint of an awkward soldat who put his foot into wet cement as the casemate for one of the four 152-mm navy guns was being poured — undoubtedly leading to a tongue-lashing from his unhappy feldwebel?

Longues-sur-Mer Bootprint.jpg

Of course, the answer to most either/or questions is “both,” and in this case one without the other is incomplete.

Addendum: The guns are set well back from the cliffs overlooking the invasion beaches. Their fire was controlled from a bunker further forward with a view over the landing areas. The telephone link between the two was severed in the Allied bombardment during the night before the D-Day landings, and although the battery fired 170 rounds, it had little impact on the fighting. The guns were captured on June 7 by the members of the British 231st Infantry Brigade.

Posted on May 10, 2015 4:00 AM. Permalink

All Hail the Keggy Moose

The wits at the Jacko have come up with a fun T-shirt and tank top for Green Key. They are adorned with a striking image:

Keggy Moose2.jpg

You can order one here for $15.

Posted on May 10, 2015 3:59 AM. Permalink

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Go Big Black!

At the recent Green-White game, Bruce Wood on Big Green Alert noted that the football team was modelling its new Black-White uniforms. Past uniforms have had black accents, but I don’t ever recall green-free uniforms on a Dartmouth team. Qué pasa?

I guess that black is the new black; the younger set likes the color (is it a color?). Softball had black pants for a while, and a few years ago Jay Fiedler ‘94 (who had a fine pro career in Miami) funded black pants for the football team, though this sartorial choice didn’t sit well with then-AD Josie Harper. She later banned black — a verbot that remained in place until the arrival of a more open-minded AD: Harry Sheehy.

Black Uniforms.jpg

To the left of Buddy Teevens ‘79 is quarterback Dalyn Williams ‘16; to the right is Linebacker Will McNamara ‘16 and wide receiver Ryan McManus ‘15.

Addendum: A few years ago Buddy told me that he is ten pounds lighter than during his playing days, lo 35 years ago. Would that we all could say as much.

Posted on May 9, 2015 3:59 AM. Permalink

Friday, May 8, 2015

Jennifer McGrew ‘13 Checks In

McGrew5.jpgI am beginning to discern a certain style of expression among some students. In this case, Jennifer Mcgrew ‘13 — who lambasted the College in The D for multiple sins, pronounced that she could not wait to turn her back on Dartmouth, and then turned around (or perhaps didn’t turn around?) and took a job in the administration — writes in to complain that I referred to her in a recent post (actually, one of my correspondents referred to her indirectly). Can’t we all just get along?

McGrew E-mail May 2015.jpg

On her LinkedIn Page, Jennifer announces that she is a “community driven, passionate educator ready to take the Department of Education by storm!” She lists her current professional responsibilities as follows:

McGrew Professional Profile.jpg

Posted on May 8, 2015 6:27 PM. Permalink

AD Gone for Good

The College has released a statement to the Associated Press saying that AD has lost its appeal and has been permanently derecognized.

AD Appeal Comp.jpg

Addendum: Below is the complete text of the College’s statmeent:

On April 9, Dartmouth’s Organizational Adjudication Committee (OAC) found Alpha Delta fraternity responsible for violating Dartmouth’s standards of conduct in connection with the branding of some new members of the fraternity by other members in the fall of 2014. Alpha Delta was also found responsible for violating the terms of its suspension in effect at the time of the branding. Based on these findings, on April 13, the OAC derecognized Alpha Delta as a Dartmouth student organization. On April 20, the fraternity appealed the decision. After careful review and consideration the appeal has been denied. Derecognition stands.

Posted on May 8, 2015 4:49 PM. Permalink

On Publishing the Cunningham Diatribe

So what is the right and wrong of publishing the vulgar diatribe directed at SA President Frank Cunningam ‘16 that appeared on the Afro American Society’s Facebook page? D journalist Zach Hardwick ‘16 reported today on the same page that The D’s Editor-in-Chief Katie McKay ‘16 has assured him that The D will not be reprinting (nor reporting on?) the screed:

Hardwick Post.jpg

Let’s reason a little bit by analogy: if a fraternity has homophobic comments on its Facebook page — comments that receive numerous “likes” — would The D report the story? And what about racist comments on a sorority’s page? Or how about misogynist comments in a frat-members-only, in-house (pre-Facebook) newspaper? On the latter issue, we don’t have to ask the question; let’s just look at The D’s past behavior:

Zete Newsletter Comp.jpg

The D did not hesitate in choosing to out the brothers of soon-to-be-derecognized-for-their-crime Zeta Psi.

The first principle in this situation is that a broadly disseminated act of racist vulgarity (or any vulgarity for that matter) deserves to have the light of day shone on it. Perhaps in shaming the piece’s authors, my post might cause them to refrain from committing such a hateful action in the future.

Addendum: On the thought that a person need not be haunted forever by undergraduate indiscretions, I have refrained from publishing the names of the two authors of the attack on Cunningham.

Posted on May 8, 2015 1:31 PM. Permalink

Cunningham Object of Hate Speech

The following post regarding Student Assembly President Frank Cunningham ‘16 appeared on the closed Facebook page of the College’s Afro American Society. The page has almost 700 members, all of whom could see the below diatribe:

Afro Am Screed 1a.jpg

Afro Am Screed 2.jpg

Afro Am Screed 3.jpg

When I attempted to verify the post’s authenticity by writing to a student whose name had appeared as having “liked” the page, I received the below response from a different student, one who had been part of the Dartmouth Action Collective demonstration at which Frank Cunningham ‘16 behaved inappropriately:

Dear Joe Asch,

I’m going to try really hard to be nice to you and appeal to any conscience or sliver of a soul you may have in you and ask that you please not publish the posts that were made on the Afro-American Society’s page.

If you do, you will be complicit in making a spectacle of black people’s pain. You will be complicit in making a community even more vulnerable than it already is.

Is there any way that I can convince you to not publish words that people shared in confidence on that page? And I don’t mean to insinuate that we won’t stand by our words — many of us will — but all you will do is give us more evidence of what we already know: that we need to work through our internal power dynamics in order to build the strength necessary to defend ourselves from people like you.

Please consider giving us a break.

I’ll leave the above letter without comment, except to say that it is clear that the works of Dale Carnegie are no longer being taught at the College.

Addendum: In response to my question about what she meant by “people like you,” the author of the above note followed up with the following:

People like you means people who ruthlessly publish private information and insult people I care deeply about. You made a black woman’s life a living hell while she was on campus, and I don’t even understand to what end…??

PLEASE do not publish it. It will be detrimental to people’s mental health. You are targeting people who are already so vulnerable and you will make their lives on this campus even harder than they already were. I really don’t want you to throw my friend into another deep depression. Please please please.

I assume that she is referring to this Dartblog post concerning Jennifer McGrew ‘13.

Posted on May 8, 2015 4:00 AM. Permalink