The Times recently noted the therapeutic value for veterans of spending time with parrots, but I’d put walking through the northern Tanzanian bush with our two favorite elephants up against parrots any time. What a bliss-generating activity. Elephants seem to radiate a joy that can’t help but affect the people around them. And a human can even get in something of an upper-body workout for the price of a couple of peanuts.
That said, we occasionally do misread the girls, most memorably by asserting our own cultural prejudices. This past summer the younger one came into estrus (the elephant equivalent of heat) and attracted the attention of a young, wild bull who was in musth (the elephant equivalent of being a guy). In order to protect our young lady’s virtue, a picket line composed of staff members and the older female was set between the youngster and her suitor. There was much trumpeting and shouting in a team effort to cool the fellow’s ardor.
But we didn’t take into account mademoiselle’s own inclinations. She made an end run around the defensive line towards her beau, and nature subsequently took its course — fortunately without enduring effect. Both elephants were seen strolling together later in the day with smiles of fulfillment on their faces — actually that’s not true, but the bull did return a few hours afterward, seeking unsuccessfully to renew the relationship (no word on whether he texted the next day).
Elephants are like fun, floppy St. Bernards that need to consume several hundred pounds of plant life each day (and occasionally the denizens of a termite mound). Yet despite their immense size, they walk with real care. We routinely sit on the ground to chat while they eat trees, shrubs and grass, and often they will walk right through our small grouping. The first time or two the experience can be stressful, but one soon grows confident in the precision with which they move.
I wish that we understood elephants as well as they understand us.
Addendum: Disney Fantasia’s Dance of the Hours would have more fairly cast elephants than hippos:
Addendum: The depredations of poachers have caused the population of elephants in Tanzania to drop from 109,000 in 2011 to 43,000 now.
When a school is on a downtrend, the urge to pile on can be strong. Witness Thursday’s Washington Post story concerning our fall from the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education R1 research group (“highest” levels of research activity) to the R2 grouping (“higher” levels of research activity). The ranking, which has been compiled every five years since 1973, first included Dartmouth at the R1 level in 2005; we made it again in 2010:
Curiously enough, the expensive efforts that led to the College’s inclusion in the R1 group in 2005 and 2010 took place concurrently with our plunging U.S. News ranking: up until 1998 we were consistently ranked #7 or #8 among national universities. Since Jim Wright doubled our research spending between 1998 and 2004, our ranking has dropped regularly. We are now #12.
Note above the addition this year at the R1 level of stellar institutions like West Virginia, Northeastern and George Mason. The main body of the article notes other additions, too: Boston College, Clemson (S.C.), Florida International, Kansas State, Syracuse (N.Y.), Temple (Penn.), Texas Tech, University of Texas at Arlington, University of Texas at Dallas, University of Mississippi, University of North Texas, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
While most of these schools could beat us in football, what does their superior ranking really say?
Interestingly, several other schools dropped to R2 this year: Rockefeller University (N.Y.), Mississippi State, Montana State, North Dakota State, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (N.Y.), University of Alabama in Huntsville and Yeshiva.
Regrettably I could not find much detail about the methodology behind the classifications on the Carnegie Classification website.
Addendum: Some people place more importance than others on memberships in exclusive clubs. The Association of American Universities has long included the top research universities in the United States, among them seven of the eight Ivies: Harvard (1900), Yale (1900), Princeton (1900), Cornell (1900), Penn (1900), Columbia (1900). and Brown (1933). Dartmouth has never been part of the group.
Addendum: The Post article has one interesting comment:
These listings determine how U.S. News and World Report groups colleges and universities for its annual rankings. For example, Carnegie classifies as doctoral universities those that award at least 20 doctorates for research or scholarship in an academic year, not counting law or medical degrees. U.S. News, in turn, relies on this classification to define which schools should be called “national universities.”
While U.S. News takes note of the Carnegie classification, I find it tough to imagine that the magazine would put us in its National Liberal Arts Colleges rankings, where Williams and Amherst and #1 and # 2 respectively.
Just as when the College fails to note the loss of a top professor to another institution (leaving the job to this space: here, here, and here, etc.), so the administration fails to announce the demise of once-much-trumpeted initiatives, in this case the Masters in Management (MiM) program at Tuck. The program was supposed to be a one-year top-up for undergrads who had finished college and, well, just didn’t understand figures (an affliction easily as widespread as undergrads who don’t write well). It would prepare them for the real world by teaching the basic business skills that a liberal arts curriculum had failed to cover.
Phil announced in early November 2013 that the College would be creating a 4+1 degree: four years of undergraduate education and a year at Tuck. The Dartmouth Now description of his idea was as follows:
The new initiatives Hanlon envisions for Dartmouth include:
… New programs at Tuck, including a 4+1 degree program that would provide a master’s in management following a fifth year at Dartmouth…
Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business will explore adding a new master’s in management program aimed primarily at undergraduates earning liberal arts degrees. The earliest that the program could launch is September 2016, says Tuck Dean Paul Danos…
Anyone with an undergraduate degree could apply to this one-year master’s that Danos describes as a “high-level introduction to business.”…
Danos envisions it to include 100 to 120 students taught in two sections of about 60 each. Around 25 percent of them would probably come from Dartmouth and 75 percent from other institutions in the United States and abroad…
The Financial Times noted the increasing number of MiM programs — real money-makers for their institutions — and Poets & Quants quoted Paul Danos again saying that he hoped to debut the MIM program in 2016.
And then, silence, even though we are now in 2016. Last month I received the following e-mail:
A little digging confirmed that the Current Tuckies’ fears of an imminent announcement are unjustified. It seems that Dean Slaughter has announced on several occasions — most recently at Tuesday’s Town Hall meeting at Tuck — that the MiM won’t happen. It’s passed on! This program is no more! It has ceased to be! It’s expired and gone to meet its maker! It’s a stiff! Bereft of life, it rests in peace! It’s kicked the bucket, it’s shuffled off its mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleeding choir invisible!!
As to the reasons for this decision, there is no word. But the idea of 120 newly graduated students running around Tuck Mall amongst 571 full-fledged Tuckies — almost all of whom have 3-4 years of real world business experience — could not help but dilute Tuck’s position in the MBA world. Way to go Tuck. Fight to protect your market share and keep a good thing going.
Addendum: Of course, the popular six-week Tuck Bridge program will continue.
Addendum: A loyal reader picked up on the Monty Python parrot sketch reference above, and sent in a link to the esteemed Margaret Thatcher using the Python’s words in a political context.
Those Dartmouth guys from way back were mighty men of old from the lone and silent North. On Monday when I wrote about the demise this year of the center-of-the-Green Winter Carnival snow sculpture, I noted that in my day as a student, the fraternities each produced a memorable ice statue. Well, it turns out that in prior years, individual dormitories did so, too. In 1960 the theme was Swiss Holiday. Here is Woodward Hall’s ten-foot-tall award winner:
Woodward was given a prize of $50 by the reigning Carnival Queen, the lovely Miss Suzanne Horney (I kid you not.)
Addednum: An alum writes in:
Dormitory ice sculptures continued at least into the early 1970s. At McLane Hall (now Judge), we completed sculptures in 1970, 1972, and 1973. We started one in 1971, but did not finish it because I was also heavily involved that year in building the statue in the center of the Green.
The College has announced the appointment of a new Dean of Admissions: Lee Coffin of Tufts:
Lee Coffin to Lead Enrollment, Admissions and Financial Aid
Lee Coffin, dean of undergraduate admissions and enrollment management for Tufts University, has been appointed to the newly created position of vice provost for enrollment and dean of admissions and financial aid, Provost Carolyn Dever announced today.
“We are thrilled to welcome Lee to Dartmouth,” says Dever. “He brings a track record of success and a deep appreciation for how to build an innovative, highly strategic, and statistically supported enrollment plan that attracts a talented, diverse, and exceptional class of students year after year.”
Coffin has led undergraduate admissions at Tufts since 2003. During his tenure, he has overseen an increase in application volume by 37 percent, the doubling of applications from under-represented minorities, and the development of two summer bridge programs for students from under-resourced high schools. This year, under his leadership, Tufts received a record number of applications, up 6 percent from last year’s record pool.
In addition, Coffin designed a set of predictive yield models for Tufts, increasing yield—the percentage of students who accept their offer of admission—by more than 12 points as well as improving the academic profile of enrolling classes. He also led two comprehensive studies that helped to enhance Tufts’ standing among high-achieving college applicants.
“As the first member of my family to graduate from college, my work as an admissions officer celebrates the transformative power of a liberal arts education and need-based financial aid,” says Coffin.
“My career has been dedicated to shaping a multifaceted undergraduate community from a wide array of backgrounds and perspectives, and I am honored to have the chance to do so at Dartmouth. The College clearly has the reputation, resources, and will to act on its aspirations, and its commitment to intellectual excellence, diversity, access, and inclusion is evident. Those objectives reflect my core values as an admissions officer, and make Dartmouth an especially good fit for me,” he says.
Coffin will begin his new role at Dartmouth on July 1.
“With the accessibility of so much data and new technology to identify and recruit prospective students, there has been a sea change in the admissions profession over the past several years,” says Dean of the College Rebecca Biron, who chaired the search committee that selected Coffin. “Lee has shown a mastery of his craft that I am confident will serve Dartmouth well and position us for success in the years ahead.”
The vice provost for enrollment and dean of admissions and financial aid will provide strategic and operational leadership to undergraduate admissions and financial aid and will partner with the provost, deans, and other academic leaders to bring to the division an increased analytical focus and greater coordination and integration of institutional priorities, says Dever.
The vice provost will also oversee the allocation of College resources of more than $80 million of Dartmouth scholarship funding to advance the mission of enrolling the most talented and promising students regardless of their financial resources.
Coffin’s appointment follows a national search facilitated by the firm Witt/Kieffer in collaboration with the search committee chaired by Biron. On the search committee were Trustee Caroline Kerr ‘05; Vice Provost for Student Affairs Inge-Lise Ameer; Associate Provost for Institutional Research Alicia Betsinger; Registrar Meredith Braz; Associate Professor Solomon Diamond, chair of the Faculty Committee on Admissions and Financial Aid; Advancement Chief Operating Officer Ann Root Keith; Director of Financial Aid Dino Koff; Director of Athletics Harry Sheehy; Associate Professor of Mathematics Craig Sutton; and Vice President for Finance Mike Wagner.
The search for the vice provost began this past fall after Maria Laskaris ‘84 left the post of dean of admissions and financial aid to work as special assistant to the provost for arts and innovation. Paul Sunde, director of admissions, will continue to serve as interim dean of admissions and financial aid until Coffin takes over in July.
Coffin will be joined in the Upper Valley by his partner, Steve Moore. [Emphasis added]
Yield protection is an alleged admissions practice where a university or academic institution rejects or wait-lists highly qualified students on the grounds that such students are bound to be accepted by more prestigious universities or programs. This is also referred to as Tufts Syndrome.
Actually, despite my headline, I think that the Tufts Syndrome has been a feature of life in Hanover for a while.
Some people, how naive of them, wrote in to ask if the College really gives preferences to big donors these days. Ha! The truth is that if you are a muckymuck like Sony CEO Michael Lynton, there is a dedicated staffer in the Dartmouth Development Office to show you and your daughter around campus. How solicitous of the College:
And such gentle phrasing: “I work with families as they go through the admissions process at Dartmouth.” That’s interesting. Nobody worked with my family. Did someone work with yours? Wait! Don’t answer that!
You can fairly expect that the College’s care extends to more than guided visits to Hanover. I just wonder if there is a set price list for an admittance, something like: you’ll need to make an upfront donation of a $1 million, plus $10,000 for every point your kid’s average SAT score is below 700. Score only 600, pay two million smacks, in you come. Or perhaps the price is higher?
If you want Jeff Sassorossi to work with your family, you can find out the details of the assistance that he can provide by calling him at 603-646-3657, or just drop him an e-mail: Jeff.T.Sassorossi@Dartmouth.edu. It will be interesting to see if he has time for you if your family’s net worth is anywhere south of $100 million.
Of course, Leon Black ‘73 is a former Trustee (and #105 on the Forbes 400; net worth: $3.5 billion) and the benefactor of the Black Arts Center.
This is all so very cosy. Who says that America does not have an aristocracy with its attendant privileges?
Here’s some fun gossip I heard from a fellow about the Harvard Number. He’s a reasonably well connected gentleman. On the other hand, he’s my only source for this and I don’t have the connections to check up on this, so take it for whatever it’s worth.
The Harvard Number is the amount of money Harvard would want as a donation for accepting your kid as an undergraduate. It’s not the kind of information they post on their website. You have to ask the right people in the right manner.
He said he just found out that the current Harvard Number — assuming your kid’s
application was “competitive” (i.e., there’s some chance your kid would get in even if you didn’t write a check) — is $5 million.
If your kid’s “not competitive,” then it is $10 million.
If there are about 1,800 freshmen at Harvard each year, then Harvard could admit, say, 100 competitive applicants whose fathers (typically, hedge fund guys) write the Harvard Number on a check — without tangibly lowering the quality of the class. That’s, theoretically, a half billion per year in virtually free money. How could an institution resist that temptation?
Quid pro quo arrangements aren’t supposed to be tax deductible as charity, but how often does the IRS get the goods on this? In practice, a big chunk of the Harvard Number gets refunded by the taxpayers.
Oh, brother. Not more of the same. Don’t Carolyn and Phil have anything of greater interest in their professional lives than to gas on about the commonplace ideas that come from the pens and mouths of all the other right(left)-thinking bureaucrats in the land? Of course, they do; it’s just that they don’t see the College’s pressing needs all around them.
Note the chairs of the committees: Denise Anthony, Vice Provost for Academic Initiatives; Rebecca Biron, Dean of the College, and Inge-Lise Ameer, Vice Provost for Student Affairs, co-chairs; and Ahmed Mohammed, Director of Talent Acquisition, Human Resources. I don’t know Ahmed Mohammed, but the three other chairs are just shills for any administration that gives them a cushy, non-teaching job. Denise Antony brought us Carol Folt’s more-than-lamentable strategic plan. Rebecca Biron is now the czarina of the intimate, 700-student-each house system. And Inge-Lise Ameer is, well, the enabler of all that is wrong and bloated and stupid about the College.
Addendum: Here is the official Dartmouth Now announcement of this week’ exciting new diversity initiative.
Addendum: On November, 25, 2014 I wrote a well received post on Carolyn’s favorite (only?) topic: Diversity Schmiversity.
Well, at least, it’s not “blue blood” candidates. Money is somewhat more meritocratic. But I still find it troubling to see this kind of dealing so bluntly discussed:
For as long as we waste money by the boatload on a mismanaged, over-compensated bureaucracy (remember that faculty compensation is only 10% of the budget), and despite the enormous size of the endowment ($4,663,491,000 as of June 30, 2015 — fourth in the Ivies after HYP on a per-student basis), we are going to have to sell admissions slots to big donors. Money is certainly not the root of all evil, but its egregious waste in Hanover puts irresistible, corrupting pressures on the College.
Addendum: Rauner’s files are filled with correspondence about donor preferences in admissions. A student of history would have a field day there.
Addendum: As you will recall, with the Class of 2014, the Kim administration hiked the number of legacies from about 11% to 14% of the incoming class — a level where it remains today. That decision was not made out of an excess of good feeling for alumni. You can fairly surmise that the children of alumni did not become substantially smarter on average that year and henceforth. The change was just a way to say thank$ to a greater number of generous alumni.
We have written before about the preferential admissions treatment that can be bought from the College in exchange for a consequential “gift.” Where I come from, that’s called corruption: the distortion of a fair-minded system with cash.
I was noodling through some of the College’s archives the other day and a couple of particularly egregious examples of favoritism to big donors came to light. This letter dated March 9, 1978 from Addison Winship ‘42, Director of Development, shows how bald the horsetrading can be for the children of donors. “Lu” Sterling was special assistant to President Kemeney, and Eddie Chamberlain and Al Quirk were, respectively, the outgoing and incoming Deans of Admissions:
“Some pretty important people of ours”? “A very important situation to us”? What could be clearer?
That said, sometimes an underlying honesty surfaces in the system, kind of. Only two of the “no way” applicants above ended up matriculating at the College; and only one of the eight “possibles” came to Hanover. One of the other “possibles” went to Yale, undoubtedly for reasons of intellectual merit, right?
The applicant who was the object of the below letter from College VP Paul Paganucci (a local luminary who, among other feats, co-founded the Ledyard Bank, and was the College’s CFO, Treasurer and a professor at Tuck) had the support of Kenneth Montgomery (who funded the Montgomery Endowment) to the tune of $800,000:
Incredibly, the applicant did not matriculate (Did he not get in?). He went to Haverford instead. I expect that the College kept the dough.
Addendum: In perusing numerous documents of the above type, it seems that the Old Boy/Rich Boy network had a lot less pull under Al Quirk than under Eddie Chamberlain. Such a transition is worth keeping in mind as Phil Hanlon looks for a replacement for Maria Laskaris ‘84.
Addendum: It should be obvious to everyone that such a cynical sale of admissions slots could never occur at the College today.
Addendum: For Sale, Gothic Revival Bridge Linking Manhattan and Brooklyn.
If you had any illusions that the Hanlon administration was thinking of reducing the size of the College’s ever-growing staff, think again. The latest mega-project is a large parking garage at the entrance to town just off of East Wheelock after you come over the Ledyard Bridge. The Valley News reports:
Hanover — A zoning amendment proposed by Dartmouth College would allow the school to build a parking garage along West Wheelock Street as part of a planned expansion.
The amendment would push the campus “institutional” district out to the intersection of West Wheelock and Thayer Drive, and would accommodate a building up to 60 feet high, with setbacks of as little as 15 feet. Current zoning rules there set the maximum height at 35 feet and side and rear setbacks at 75 feet.
Dartmouth officials say they have not settled on a final height for the garage, which is intended to replace parking spots displaced by the anticipated construction of a new building for the Thayer School of Engineering on the hill above.
Great. A “60 feet high” parking garage could be five or six stories in height. Just what we need in a pretty New England town. Why don’t they just pave over Paradise?
Let’s start with a little history of the Winter Carnival Snow Sculpture from Dartmouth Now:
At Dartmouth, the craft has been practiced in a semi-official capacity for the past 90 years. In the late 1920s, a new student position responsible for a “Center of Campus Statue” was appointed for Winter Carnival, Dartmouth’s legendary event that in its heyday drew thousands of visitors and television crews to campus. One of the first “all campus” sculptures—a lovely castle on Occom Pond—was created by H. Pennington Haile ‘24, likely for the 1925 Carnival.
Since then the sculptures have ranged from the elaborate, such as a fire-breathing dragon (1969) or a whale with a snow spout (1982), to the simple yet imposing—such as a castle to celebrate 100 years of Carnival (2011). Most are based on the Carnival’s theme, chosen by students every year since the 1950s. (Carnival posters are also based on these themes.) A 20-foot tall young maiden, for example, is the sculpture for the 1967 Carnival, “A Midwinter Night’s Dream.”
One of the most celebrated sculptures was “The Cat in the Hat” for the 2004 Carnival, “Oh, the Places It Snows: A Seussentennial.” The image of the sculpture was featured in USA Today and other media.
Savor those memories because it seems that there will be no center-of-the-Green snow sculpture this year, despite the Geisel family’s visit. The administration will say something about a lack of snow — though everyone knows that snow has always been brought in by truck in years when Mother Nature has not been generous with Mother Dartmouth. Of course, many people will wonder if disappointed BLM protesters made threats against the sculpture after their proposed theme was rejected. But those two excuses are not the impetus for the change. The real reason is simpler and more dispiriting: not enough students were willing to take on the work. How sad. There was an expressive response to such apathy during my time in Hanover: weak tit!
Another old tradition fails.
Addendum: Back in the day, all of the fraternities on Webster Avenue built their own great sculptures, too.
Addendum: If you want to shed a silent tear at the sight of the empty Green just a little while before Carnival weekend, take a look in real time using the Class of 1966 Webcam:
Addendum: There is no truth to the rumor that the snow sculpture has been cancelled because a twenty-story graduate student research complex is to be built where the Green is now — much as Phil and Carolyn might want that to happen.
Addendum: A young alum writes in:
How disappointing. My freshman year, the “Ravine Lodge sculpture” collapsed due to warm temps, and we worked all night to get a “Mt Moosilauke” up. Sledding down the mountainside was quickly ended by the college, likely due to safety reasons. Looks Dartblog had an article about it on Feb 12, 2009. You’ll notice that the mountainsides are chopped off…to prevent those dangerous sledders from hurting themselves! Hah!
The tree that fills out the small public square off of the rue Croix de Petits Champs in the 1st arrondissement completes the space almost as if it had been trained — when it was only searching for light:
I shall have to schedule a return visit in the springtime when the tree will be blessed with the light green leaves that usually signal the definitive end of winter.
Addendum: The square is named in honor of Henri Karcher (1908-1983), a surgeon, politician and Free French fighter who accepted the surrender of Paris by German General Dietrich von Choltitz at the Hôtel Meurice in the rue de Rivoli in August 1944. Von Choltitz’ gesture is a fine human moment from WWII.
Addendum: I wonder if the apartment on the top of the building in the background is a fantastic duplex or even triplex penthouse with a huge terrace?
The NY Times Magazine now runs a weekly poem selected by Natasha Trethewey, the U.S. Poet Laureate from 2012 to 2014.
On January 22, Trethewey chose a work by Rachel Richardson ‘01, in which an intrepid woman, Amelia Earhart, fights for her life on a dangerous flight; her desperate radio messages are recorded by a diligent little girl, whose pleas and Earhart’s plight are ignored by an unfeeling male Coast Guard Officer:
Hmmm. Why did I get a taste of socialist realism from this poem?
Addendum: The Times notes that “Richardson is the author of two poetry collections, the second of which, ”Hundred-Year Wave,” is being published next month by Carnegie Mellon University Press”:
The fact that Phil is a member of the Class of 1977 filled me with hope upon his appointment, but we should all now understand that he really is a son of the Univerity of Michigan — Ann Arbor (the #1 Public Research University in the U.S. according to the National Science Foundation). Twenty-seven years at Michigan have trumped four years in Hanover. From the Dartmouth Now announcement.
Read ‘em and weep. I was about to label this post, Dartmouth College (1769-2016) RIP. Not a mention in the announcement of the undergrad program.
We are about to spend scads of money — of course, the exact amount is a deep secret — on becoming the Harvard of New Hampshire, yet we have many dorms that are an embarrassment; the second highest tuition in the Ivies; no money to provide need-blind admissions for international students; insufficient funds for kosher dining; and if you ask faculty on campus, the phrase “no budget, no budget” is the standard response that they receive to almost any idea to improve the undergraduate program. At this rate in a few years there won’t be much left of Dartmouth College, except a distant memory of when we weren’t at the very bottom of the Ivies.
Addendum: A faculty member writes in:
Despite his undergraduate years here, Phil Hanlon has no idea of what has made Dartmouth great. And Provost Dever, too, seems never have had a clue.
Over the past fifty years, Dartmouth earned a reputation as a preeminent undergraduate institution that also aspired to develop a world class research faculty in many departments (in selected STEM areas, history, economics, government, languages, and elsewhere). But pouring money into a bevy of poor and costly (science) graduate programs represents precisely the wrong way to go. Had these two administrators understood Dartmouth’s niche and strengths, they would have committed to building faculty across the board (not to say meeting with them!). They would have also championed innovative academic initiatives and an educationally supportive residential experience.
How unfortunate that after the Kim disaster, when reconstruction was needed, Hanlon and Dever have thought only of bricks and mortar—for the wrong building.
Addendum: Great software, Steve Jobs used to say, is the result of an endless series of small improvements — problems solved and then more problems solved. He noted that people could become afflicted with “the disease of thinking that a really great idea is 90% of the work,” rather than comprehending that incremental progress has to be your focus. The College has lost that understanding over the past twenty years.
My erstwhile Tokyo distributor taught me a Japanese saying that I quite like: “The taller a rice plant grows, the lower it bows its head to the ground.” That homily about humility finds an echo in the modern management concept of servant leadership: true leaders endeavor to facilitate and appreciate the efforts of the people working below them, thereby bringing out the best in their subordinates for the benefit of the enterprise in which they all work. Phew. The concept is widespread, as in Google founder Larry Page’s recent memo:
Alphabet is about businesses prospering through strong leaders and independence. In general, our model is to have a strong CEO who runs each business, with Sergey and me in service to them as needed.
So what to make of this memo from Phil?
I’m fine with office hours for students and staff. But for faculty? Does Phil truly think that senior professors — many of whom are world-renowned scholars — are going to show up at his door, hat in hand, to stand in line in the hope that he will have 10-15 minutes for them? I wonder how many members of the faculty have ever presented themselves at Parkhurst to see our tone-deaf President. Come on.
As we have noted in the past, neither Phil nor Provost Dever has ever made the rounds of departmental meetings (with only a few exceptions) to establish initial contact with the College’s professors. Such preliminary interaction should then have led to an ongoing series of agenda-free lunches/meetings with small groups of faculty members (a tip for Phil and Carolyn: invite only one prof and suggest that he or she bring along 2-3 compatible colleagues).
Formal faculty dinners with 12+ people at the President’s mansion don’t get the job done, especially when the professors in question do not know each other. The goal is not to bestow upon faculty the honor of dining at the President’s or the Provost’s table; Phil and Carolyn should be seeking a way to really hear what the College’s most valuable employees think about the institution and its strengths and weaknesses. They should be listening and probing to understand what is going on at the ground level. In this way they’ll identify problems and, more often than not, be offered effective solutions to them. They’ll also find that they’ll build useful capital by listening to professors.
The Arts and Sciences faculty has 348 tenured members. At a pace of a lunch or two each week, Phil and Carolyn could already have heard from all of the College’s professors in a setting where everyone would feel free to talk. That our noble leaders have not done so tells us a great deal about their ineptitude as managers (and their lack of confidence as people).
Addendum: In a display of effective management, Moneyball protagonist Brad Pitt, playing Oakland Athletics GM Billy Beane, humbly goes to the batting cage to talk to aging star David Justice (rather than calling him to his office) to ask for Justice’s help in motivating the team. Cynical Justice isn’t having any of it to start, but Beane is able to talk straight to him in an environment where they both can speak truthfully:
You might argue that professors are different from ballplayers, but you’d be wrong. Almost everyone responds to respectful, attentive honesty. Phil and Carolyn, please take note.
The passing of Richard Gilman ‘45, President of Occidental College from 1965-1988, puts me in mind of the dearth of educators on the Dartmouth Board of Trustees. The Board exists as the legal owners of the College, but more importantly as the entity that evaluates the sitting President, chooses the next one at a time of transition, serves as an advisor to the administration, and makes final decisions on policy. As such, one can see the necessity for real expertise on matters educational among its members.
In the corporate world, the markets expect a Board of Directors to be populated with people of deep experience in various facets of business; a Board composed of artists, politicians, athletes and teachers would have little of value to say to a CEO. In fact, such a Board would be roundly criticized as offering no knowledge and little oversight of a company.
So how is it that a man like Gilman never became a Dartmouth Trustee? Wouldn’t he have had more to offer than the current collection of stock-pickers, investors and corporate executives that utterly dominate the College’s Board (especially the Board within the Board that makes the real decisions). Board Chair Bill Helman IV ‘80 is a successful venture capitalist, but what does he know about higher education?
Richard Gilman had 28 years of retirement to serve on Dartmouth’s Board, yet he did not figure among the Trustees over that time. I guess that he didn’t have the dough to make the $10 million donation that buys a seat (and admissions slots). Why not? My guess is that a series of weak leaders like Jim Wright, Jim Kim and Carol Folt (we’ll soon see if Phil Hanlon can be added to the list) does not want real oversight from people who have been in the trenches. An experienced colleague might see a President’s weakness. We can’t allow that now, can we?
In contrast, let’s take a peek at the members of Harvard Corporation, the 13-person Board that runs the show in Cambridge and oversees President Drew Gilpin Faust and her administration. Kudos to Harvard for including Tufts ex-President and MIT ex-Chancellor Lawrence Bacow; Duke and Wellesley ex-President Nannerl Keohane, and Princeton ex-President Shirley Tilghman. Say what you want about this group’s politics or record, they have each done the work of a President and are in a position to opine intelligently about virtually every challenge that might confront a college.
There is an old joke about the five elements needed for a successful venture capital project: the product, the market, the people, the people, the people. As we discussed yesterday, letting go of under-performing employees and replacing them with top-quality folks is really the only way to upgrade an enterprise.
For an example of the honesty and character that we need in the College’s managers, look no further than AD Harry Sheehy. Here are a few excerpts from a recent interview that he gave to the Valley News:
If we’re recruiting a kid and Harvard’s recruiting a different kid, and both kids have scholarship offers from other schools, Harvard’s going to give them a better (financial aid) package. If we’re both recruiting the same kid, we’ll match Harvard’s offer, so it doesn’t hurt us as much. But then the question is: Will that kid come here if he gets into both schools? The real strength of Harvard’s program is to get kids who have been offered scholarships. Our package just isn’t going to match their package because we just don’t have as much money…
I want to win at everything and nobody in my seat can afford to think that narrowly, or you won’t be around very long…
Swimming, I think we can get better there. With our facilities and our admissions support, we’re not going to finish first or second in the Ivies every year, but we shouldn’t be eighth and both teams have finished eighth two years in a row. Those kids deserve better, and we need to give it to them. (Editor’s note: Jim Wilson, in his 23rd year as head men’s swimming coach and his 10th as women’s coach, will retire after the current season.)…
There were culture problems in that program [women’s volleyball] when she [Coach Erin Lindsey] got here. It was a much more social group of kids than I would have liked, in terms of what was important to them…
I knew there was more work to be done there [in women’s basketball], and we flat-out need better players. We really only have two kids (Lakin Roland, Fanni Szabo) who can score, and people figure that out. When I hired (coach Belle Koclanes), I thought it would be a four-plus-year job, and it’s clearly going to be that. We’ll see how recruiting goes this year, because she hasn’t gotten her breakthrough player yet.
Harry is a man who does not pull his punches, and we are now seeing the results of his efforts. We need a great many more people like him in the administration, and we need to dismiss the people who are not like Harry.
Addendum: My title refers to President Harry Truman, who is often said to have given ‘em hell. Actually his quote was more subtle than that:
“I never did give them hell. I just told the truth, and they thought it was hell.”
In a world where far too many people shy from speaking uncomfortable truths, especially about sub-par performance by colleagues and subordinates, anyone who dishes the straight poop can earn a reputation for being unpleasant — even though correct.
Addendum: Harry’s hard work and no-nonsense attitude is producing results, as Bruce Wood noted at his excellent Big Green Alert blog:
I hear this kind of comment fairly frequently: “Why do you ask that individuals be fired?” “Isn’t it enough to voice your disagreement with people on a specific issue?”
The answer to these questions is clear to anyone with experience in management. You cannot correct each mistaken decision by your subordinates. A good manager chooses people who will make the right decision far more often than not; and if a manager finds a subordinate making too many wrong-headed moves, it’s time to let that person go. Any Dartmouth varsity coach knows that to be true. And that’s why the Trustees passed on Carol Folt as President and why Phil did not renew Charlotte Johnson’s three-year contract as Dean of the College.
Of course, one can work with subordinates for a while, and sometimes they come around, but that occurrence is pretty rare. Either people have the right stuff or they don’t.
Outside observers at the College, like your humble servant, only see a fraction of the foolish decisions that are made in Hanover, so when I can lay enough irredeemably mistaken moves at the door of an administrator, the only responsible thing is to argue that the person be sent packing.
If the President or the Provost keep an incompetent person in a position, then we must start to draw conclusions about their own management abilities. That’s the place where we find ourselves right now with regard to Vice Provost for Student Affairs Inge-Lise Ameer, who famously advised a roomful of students that, “the [November 12 BLM] protest was a wonderful, beautiful thing.” She then said, “You know, people, there’s a whole conservative world out there that’s not very nice.”
At a recent division meeting, Ameer told the assembled crowd that her Dartmouth contract had been renewed for several years; yet at the last division meeting, she was not in attendance. I don’t know what either of these pieces of information means, but Ameer’s abilities, or the utter lack thereof, are not in doubt; whether Phil Hanlon and Carolyn Dever will keep her around is the real question — a question about her, and a question about them.
Needless to say, firing people is not easy, but it entirely necessary for the health of the College. The reason for the accumulation of low performers in the administration can be attributed to a lack of rigor in insisting on excellence throughout Dartmouth. By being tough in dealing with personnel at all levels — staff, coaches, tenure-line faculty — one can then be generous with students, faculty and parents. Take your pick; we can’t do both.
I am certainly not the first person to voice such a priority. Ray Dalio of high-performing Bridgewater Associates — a hedge fund where plenty of alumni have had the moxie to find a home — has made a fetish of the forthrightness required for high performance:
“I believe that the biggest problem that humanity faces is an ego sensitivity to finding out whether one is right or wrong and identifying what one’s strengths and weaknesses are.”
Today at the College, people who talk straight are not hired in the first place, and the low-performers are not fired. That’s why we find ourselves headed to the base of the Ivy League heap in the U.S. New rankings. When we hit bottom, will the Trustees get serious about hiring administrators who insist on excellence, and who will not abide by mediocrity? I don’t expect that we’ll have to wait for long to find out.
Addendum: Although faculty members dream of lifetime employment, in the real world people can expect to have jobs with five or more different employers over the course of a career. They are professionals who understand that layoffs can occur, as Oakland A’s GM Billy Beane explains to his subordinate, Yalie Peter Brandt, in Moneyball:
The faculty wrote a letter in October 2014 recommending that the Greek system be abolished; Andrew Lohse blew the whistle on the outrageous abuse of pledges in 2012; AD was derecognized in 2015 after some of the brothers branded each other (even though the Hanover Police found no impermissible behavior); and all SAE activities have been suspended and the house is under investigation for hazing (again). Those naughty, naughty Greeks. Now we can understand why nobody wants to be a part of the Greek scene.
Except, of course, Dartmouth students. Not only are many women and men at the College eager to become Greeks, but an ever-increasing number of them are joining houses. According to the Dartmouth Factbook, in 2005 there were 1,776 brothers and sisters; by 2015 the number had increased to 2,180 — a jump of 22.8%:
In percentage terms, the increase was from 55% of upperclassmen to 67%:
The moment is opportune to cite Chesterton’s Fence, and ask just what it is that students see in fraternities and sororities. Can someone prove to me that Dartmouth alumni’s legendary loyalty to the College has nothing to with the bonds of fellowship formed in the College’s omnipresent Greek life?
A further question: will Phil’s residential “houses” compete in popularity with the frats?
This summer the entire undergraduate student body will be divided into six new houses: that’s about 700 students per house (200 freshmen and 500 upperclassmen per house). Each house is composed of 3-4 existing dorms. For example, the new South House is made up of Topliff, New Hamp, and the Lodge.
How much cohesiveness are we going to see when students are in three different buildings? You live in Topliff for a term, go on LSA the next one, and then come back to campus and find yourself assigned to the Lodge. Welcome home? Sure, you will be living with your 500 closest friends, but will students forge meaningful communities when such large numbers of them are distributed across multiple buildings?
I could go on, but I think that it is clear that smaller fraternities built around a single physical plant will be with us for a while, unless Phil’s minions trump up charges in order to derecognize institutions that are successfully competing against the HYP-wannabee house system.
Today in the Valley News Jim Kenyon picked up on our celebration of the life of recently deceased SEIU Local 560 union boss Earl Sweet:
Kenyon accurately lays out the wage differential between market pay and what the College provides its union workers — the princes of the Upper Valley labor market. When you add in the cost of the luxury benefits package that Dartmouth provides to its labor force, and you multiply out the total difference by 500 union workers, well, the College could drop the cost of tuition for all undergrads and their families by about 10% if we paid our union workers the same compensation as their Upper Valley friends and neighbors earn from the same jobs with private sector companies. As I like to say, priorities, priorities.
Addendum: We can expect Kenyon to write a column one of these days about the outrageous cost of tuition at Dartmouth — but will he make the connection between today’s piece and that one?
Addendum: The SEIU union members at the College constitute only 500 of the College’s 3,503 non-faculty employees — all of whom enjoy salaries and, especially, benefits far above the local wage scale. Priorities, priorities.
On the 51st anniversary of Winston Churchill’s death, let us celebrate one of his many fine hours, the day when he presciently stated — despite a national euphoria in the other direction — that Neville Chamberlain’s Munich Pact was only the opening act to a destructive war. Needless to say, the truth was soon apparent: Germany invaded Poland eleven months later. Will our newly concluded nuclear disarmament agreement with Iran bring peace in our time? Or will a mushroom cloud signal the moment when the world sees that Barack Obama was as naive about the mullahs as Chamberlain was about Hitler? Despite the current backslapping, only the passage of time will tell.
The Iranian agreement has been criticized, but no speaker has found words of the force and foresight that were Churchill’s in his speech to the House of Commons on October 5, 1938. Some excerpts:
… we have sustained a total and unmitigated defeat…
… the German dictator, instead of snatching the victuals from the table, has been content to have them served to him course by course…
… There never can be any absolute certainty that there will be a fight if one side is determined that it will give way completely…
… I have always held the view that the maintenance of peace depends upon the accumulation of deterrents against the aggressor, coupled with a sincere effort to redress grievances…
… I venture to think that in future the Czechoslovak State cannot be maintained as an independent entity. I think you will find that in a period of time which may be measured by years, but may be measured only by months, Czechoslovakia will be engulfed in the Nazi regime… [Hitler’s troops marched into Prague on 16 March 1939]
… The past is no more, and one can only draw comfort if one feels that one has done one’s best to advise rightly and wisely and in good time…
… We are in the presence of a disaster of the first magnitude which has befallen Great Britain and France. Do not let us blind ourselves to that…
Many people, no doubt, honestly believe that they are only giving away the interests of Czechoslovakia, whereas I fear we shall find that we have deeply compromised, and perhaps fatally endangered, the safety and even the independence of Great Britain and France… [Germany invaded France on May 10, 1940]
… You have to consider the character of the Nazi movement and the rule which it implies…
… But never will you have friendship with the present German Government. You must have diplomatic and correct relations, but there can never be friendship between the British democracy and the Nazi power, that power which spurns Christian ethics, which cheers its onward course by a barbarous paganism, which vaunts the spirit of aggression and conquest, which derives strength and perverted pleasure from persecution, and uses, as we have seen, with pitiless brutality the threat of murderous force. That power cannot ever be the trusted friend of the British democracy…
… I have been casting about to see how measures can be taken to protect us from this advance of the Nazi power, and to secure those forms of life which are so dear to us. What is the sole method that is open? The sole method that is open is for us to regain our old island independence by acquiring that supremacy in the air which we were promised, that security in our air defences which we were assured we had, and thus to make ourselves an island once again… [The Battle of Britain began at the end of June 1940]
I do not grudge our loyal, brave people, who were ready to do their duty no matter what the cost, who never flinched under the strain of last week - I do not grudge them the natural, spontaneous outburst of joy and relief when they learned that the hard ordeal would no longer be required of them at the moment; but they should know the truth. They should know that there has been gross neglect and deficiency in our defences; they should know that we have sustained a defeat without a war, the consequences of which will travel far with us along our road; they should know that we have passed an awful milestone in our history, when the whole equilibrium of Europe has been deranged, and that the terrible words have for the time being been pronounced against the Western democracies:
“Thou art weighed in the balance and found wanting.” [Daniel. 5: 27]
And do not suppose that this is the end. This is only the beginning of the reckoning. This is only the first sip, the first foretaste of a bitter cup which will be proffered to us year by year unless by a supreme recovery of moral health and martial vigour, we arise again and take our stand for freedom as in the olden time.
A Dartmouth College English professor charged with a felony count of possessing child pornography in his Plainfield home appears to be preparing to change his plea in the case.
The attorney for J. Martin Favor, 49, on Wednesday filed a motion to continue the case for 60 days, saying Favor needed more time to prepare for the case.
“The case preparation includes significant mental health issues,” the motion filed by Norwich-based attorney George Ostler said…
Favor, who has worked at Dartmouth for 22 years and at one time chaired the African-American studies department, was arrested on Sept. 3 in his Plainfield home, and initially was charged in New Hampshire state court with five counts of possessing child sexual abuse images.
Authorities said they had found five videos depicting prepubescent children engaging in sex acts, according to documents filed at the time in state court.
No details were provided as to what type of mental health difficulties Favor had encountered.
What a pleasure to learn of a crisply executed College event. Each interaction that alumni have with the institution provides a flavor of how well Dartmouth is being run. Were but everything as good as this event:
One of Dartblog’s roving NYC correspondent reports:
On Friday night we attended a Dartmouth on Location event at a Metropolitan Opera House performance of Turandot. Music Professor Steve Swayne gave a terrific hour long lecture before the performance. He’s quite a character, and if you haven’t audited one of his classes, you would enjoy it. He also has a MOOC on Introduction to Italian Opera which is linked below. Whoever is running D on Location programs has their act together. They put on a great evening.
The dinner and lecture were at a conference space at a Fordham building a few blocks from Lincoln Center. Very convenient, and nice format — bar, simple buffet dinner and lots of interesting alums.
Below is from the website for the event. As you can see, the event was sold out. A nice feature of the event was that there were alums of all ages. A nice way to bring the NYC-area Dartmouth community together.
The announcement for the event read as follows:
Join Professor Steve Swayne, Dartmouth alumni, family and friends for a live performance of Turandot at the Metropolitan Opera at the Lincoln Center. This special event will not only include tickets for the performance, but also a cocktail reception and pre-performance lecture by Professor Swayne.
During the 2015 fall term, Professor Swayne is teaching “Introduction to Italian Opera“—the third DartmouthX massive open online course, or MOOC, that the College has produced in conjunction with the nonprofit online learning consortium edX. Swayne says “OperaX” has something to offer for both opera neophytes and those with prior knowledge.
We recommend that you take the course and then join us for this very special live event in New York.
5 p.m. Welcome and Registration, Fordham University
5:15-6:15 p.m. Presentation by Steve Swayne
6:15-7:30 p.m. Reception with dinner buffet and open bar of beer and wine
7:30 p.m. Depart for Metropolitan Opera
8 p.m. Performance of Turandot begins
Orchestra Prime: $250 sold out
Dress Circle Prime 1: $175 sold out
Dress Circle Balance: $150 sold out
Balcony Prime 1: $130 sold out
Family Circle Prime 1: $90 sold out
Young Alumni Family Circle Prime 1 (2005-2015): $45 sold out
This event is hosted by the Office of Alumni Relations in partnership with the Dartmouth Club of New York. To learn more about Dartmouth on Location programs, please contact us at (603) 646-9159 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The publication, which has come out on the first day of the week (except in August) since March 4, 2013, offers “offers expert analysis and insights into global economic news.” It is evidence that popular writing on current issues in economics can be both accessible and a good deal more thoughtful/technical than columns on the same subjects in the Times. Beyond that fact, the S&R Report is where you will first hear about things that will be commonly spoken about in a few years time (do you know what “the blockchain” is; or that the quality of our national economic data risks decline due to the most foolish of government penny-pinching — have you ever thought about data quality?). In short, you will learn things in the S&R Report that you didn’t know. Is there higher praise than that?
Take a look at a few of the S&R Report’s past posts:
You can sign up for the regular Monday mailing of the Slaughter & Rees Report here.
Addendum: As if bidden, the Times today ran a lengthy article on blockchain technology, which was discussed in the S&R Report about six and a half weeks ago.
Addendum: Today (January 25) Matthew Rees has a fine review in the WSJ of Robert M. Gates’ book “A Passion for Leadership.”
The site ranked what it referred to as the top 25 schools, which included Penn at #14 (30% of students in Greek houses) and Cornell at #22 (27% of students in Greek houses).
As is so often the case with such material, one has to wonder about the ranking’s source of information. The Dartmouth Factbook describes Greek membership among upperclassmen as ranging between 65-70% over the past four years — which would put Greek membership among all undergrads between 49-52%. Where does StartClass get its 61% figure?