A Critique of Phil’s Bloated Plan
Jack Nicholson ‘76 shares a thoughtful summary of his objections to Phil Hanlon’s plan to expand the College. Jack wrote his note to the members of the Enrollment Taskforce. I think that you should, too!
From: Jack Nicholson
Date: Fri, Nov 17, 2017 at 9:39 AM
Subject: Alumnus feedback
Acting on the invitation from the Task Force on Enrollment Expansion, I’m writing to offer my opinion on the potential increase in undergraduate enrollment at Dartmouth.
First, I have heard from Christianne Wohlforth of the President’s Office that objections to this increase are reminiscent of doubts expressed about “the last time Dartmouth intentionally expanded its student body - in 1972 to accommodate coeducation.” I was there, an entering freshman in the first coeducational class to matriculate. According to “Some Twentieth-Century College Statistics” by Kenneth C. Cramer in Dartmouth’s Special Collections, Dartmouth’s enrollment that fall was 3,412.
Two years earlier, in September 1970, John Kemeny oversaw enrollment of 3,271 as he began his first year as President.
That increase of 4% was very different from what’s being contemplated today. Arguably, it was inevitable and overdue. It was accomplished without the need to expand the physical plant and staff through the introduction of the Dartmouth Plan and a boost in off-campus programming. Its only similarity to this proposed increase was that it represented a fundamental, qualitative transformation of the College, regarded today as constructive, if belated.
The arguments supporting coeducation were clear and powerful, even to those who disputed them. I have yet to hear any specific arguments of any kind for growing the College. So far, the imperative seems to be driven by squishy ideas like: our peer institutions have already done so; and there is an urgent need to leverage Dartmouth’s resources so that we make an even greater impact on the world. I’d simply argue that, first, Dartmouth has no peer in the Ivy League for its undergraduate focus in an intimate, natural setting. Second, if increasing impact can be achieved simply by increasing enrollment, let’s just expand our online offerings and grow the “enrollment” by a lot more.
Hanover is unlike any other location in the Ivies. Adding hundreds of students would necessarily aggravate the many stresses already present (and not being managed now). Ithaca is the closest setting to it, and they are four times our size. The rest of the Ivies are urban universities. We shouldn’t want to emulate them, even if we could.
I’m sure the Task Force exercise now under way will surface hundreds of ideas about how more good things could be accomplished: any time you ask stakeholders to suggest how a bigger budget could be spent, you’ll get at least a few good ideas. But I don’t detect a slightest whiff of a theme - the compelling, clear idea behind a bold idea to (pardon the expression) move Dartmouth forward.
Perhaps one of the reasons why “opportunities” are being solicited is because the Administration is having difficulty coming up with a stronger argument than the benefits to administrators of bigger budgets.
My alternative suggestion: address the following issues first, which might arrest or reverse the dramatic decline in the many evaluations of Dartmouth that place us below Cornell, Brown and Penn, when we used to be grouped with Harvard, Yale and Princeton:
- The lagging compensation of faculty relative to peers;
- The quality and capacity of student housing (the Choates and River Cluster were lousy places to live when I was an undergraduate!);
- The bloat in non-faculty hiring;
- What appears to me to be poor overall priority-setting in budgetary matters;
- The collapsing breadth of alumni financial support;
- Perhaps most alarming to me, the recent dramatic declines in the expressed confidence of graduating seniors in the Hanlon Administration (and in President Hanlon personally) in the last two years. This is a situation where alumni criticism tracks closely to undergraduate opinion, unlike the coeducation argument.
I will say, as an alumnus, that I don’t think Dartmouth has been well led in many years. My high hopes for President Hanlon’s ability to overcome the disastrous malpractice of Jim Kim and, to a lesser degree, Jim Wright, have been dashed. To seize on a scheme to transform the College seems similar to hoping that having a child will save a dysfunctional marriage. The risk is far higher that disaster will result than not.
At a minimum, the Administration needs to respond with the compelling, clear idea behind this proposal. If that can’t be expressed, it must be because it doesn’t really exist.
Jack Nicholson, ‘76
Addendum: Jack’s arguments reflect many of the points made by professors at a recent meeting of the faculty.
Posted on November 24, 2017 4:00 AM. Permalink
On this happy day, let’s give thanks to the eternal soul of Dartmouth College, as expressed in a letter written to President Jim Wright by a grateful alumnus:
Why can’t Phil and his team see that an extraordinary institution can become even greater if the administration builds on its strengths — rather than seeking to dilute or even destroy them? As an alumnus himself, he should understand Dartmouth’s special qualities.
Posted on November 23, 2017 4:00 AM. Permalink
“One Reason the Faculty Deeply Distrusts the Hanlon Administration”
A highly regarded member of the faculty writes in (I have added links to the missive):
One reason the faculty deeply distrusts the Hanlon Administration is that they contradict themselves about their plans and decision processes in a manner that suggests duplicity. For example, in the letter that Christianne Wohlforth sent to alumni, she tried to assure the Dartmouth community that no decision had been made regarding expansion. “The best way to [explore] whether we should expand, is to first ask, if we did, what would be the costs and opportunities? This is the work of the Task Force,” according to Wohlforth.
But her assertion contradicts what we have already been told is the charge of the Task Force. As you reported on Nov. 8, Elizabeth Smith (the Task Force’s co-chair) stated: “Our charge is to look at how — not whether — to expand enrollment.” And “We want to collect insight and deeply consider how aspects of the Dartmouth experience could be preserved and possibly even enhanced if a decision were made to enlarge the student body.” In other words, the Task Force is tasked with identifying potential benefits of expansion, not weighing “costs and opportunities” as Wohlforth claims.
Smith’s description of the Task Force’s charge does not seem to be a mis-statement. As you reported, in the October faculty meeting, Hanlon responded to Professor Steve Brooks’ critiques of expansion and the Task Force by saying: “Just as a factual error. Cost is not even anywhere in the charge of this task force.” In other words, the task force is not charged with weighing the costs and benefits of expansion.
When the administration seeks to assure people with information that we know is false, it has the opposite effect: it increases concerns and suspicion. Those suspicions are merited in this case. While it might be true that “no decision ha[s] been made”, the Administration is setting up the process to selectively gather the information they need to push this proposal through. Students, alums, and faculty who oppose this effort should do so now, rather than wait to be told that “It’s too late, the Trustees have signed off.”
Addendum: The faculty needs to chant in unison:
And the best way to do so would be to have fifty or more professors put forward a group motion of no-confidence two weeks before the next faculty meeting, and then have another fifty faculty members line up to second it. The motion itself could follow the simple text chosen by Harvard’s professors in regard to Larry Summers:
The Faculty lacks confidence in the leadership of Philip J. Hanlon
The winter 2018 faculty meeting on February 26 would be a good time.
Note: The Harvard vote took place by secret ballot.
Posted on November 22, 2017 4:00 AM. Permalink
Do You Trust Phil?
Phil’s task force is supposedly looking at the idea of expanding the size of the College by 10-25%, and the members of the group might even recommend that Dartmouth remain at its present size, or not, but meanwhile, the 750-student, monster dorms planned for College Park are moving full steam ahead. These huge buildings (twice the size of the East Wheelock Cluster) will increase the number of dorm beds at the College by, uh, 22.3% (that’s 750 new beds on top of the 3,363 beds presently available — not counting Greek houses).
Check out the Weekly Project Updates on the Campus Services website for the two weeks beginning November 20 and 27 to see where the massive project stands:
Test pits? As anyone at the Presidential summit a few month ago will tell you, the plans and layouts for the new dorms are at all but finalized. Yet Phil keeps harping about waiting for the task force to submit its report.
At the faculty meeting a couple of weeks ago, Phil assured the assembled professors that the College Park dorms had nothing to do with the proposed increase in the size of the student body. The new dorms were being built, he said, as swing dorms in order to enable the renovation of Dartmouth’s existing sub-par dorms.
And he wonders why nobody believes him when he speaks.
Posted on November 22, 2017 3:59 AM. Permalink
Heatherton Attorney Third Statement
PBS Professor Todd Heatherton’s attorney, Julie Moore, has issued a statement on her client’s behalf:
Since Professor Todd Heatherton was informed of Dartmouth’s investigation, he immediately cooperated and continues to do so to this day. We have repeatedly reached out to Dartmouth to gain a better understanding of the investigation, but the College has failed to respond. Professor Heatherton is confident that he has not violated any of the referenced policies pertaining to Sexual Misconduct, Sexual Harassment, or Instructor-Student and Staff-Student Consensual Relationships. He has never engaged in sexual relations with any student.
Professor Heatherton rarely has socialized with students and the other professors under investigation, other than at work-related events. He has also never made his mentorship with students or post-docs contingent on socializing.
Professor Heatherton strongly supports the rights of all students and staff to study and work in an environment free of sexual harassment and discrimination.
Posted on November 21, 2017 4:00 AM. Permalink
Phil Wants to Hear From You, Really!
As people get ready for Thanksgiving, the College has gotten around to asking for everyone’s opinion about Phil’s plan to grow Dartmouth. In an e-mail headed Seeking Dartmouth alumni feedback on the possibility of enrollment expansion, Alumni Council President Jacques “Jack” Steinberg ‘88 (Alumni.Council.President@dartmouth.edu) has written to the entire alumni body:
In August, President Hanlon announced the creation of a task force to explore the possibility of increasing the size of the Dartmouth undergraduate student body by 10 to 25 percent. The task force is charged with studying the opportunities and challenges of a potential expansion, and their report to the Board of Trustees will be submitted in mid-March.
When the task force was formed, President Hanlon said that regardless of the College’s decision, one thing that won’t change is what he described as the unique access students have to faculty and the ability to do research with these remarkable scholars. He added: “We pride ourselves on the bonds that are established between members of our community and we’re not going to alter this hallmark of the Dartmouth experience.”
The Taskforce on Enrollment Expansion, co-chaired by Dean of the College Rebecca Biron and Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Elizabeth Smith, is seeking feedback from alumni on this important issue. It is in this spirit, on behalf of the Alumni Council leadership, that I invite you to share your thoughts directly with the task force. You can do so by emailing Enrollment.Taskforce@dartmouth.edu. Comments will be accepted until December 4.
You are also welcome to share your comments with your alumni councilor at any time, or with me, at email@example.com.
With the holiday season soon upon us, I would like to take this opportunity to wish you a joyous and restful time with family and friends in the weeks ahead.
Addendum: A Tuckie with a head for competitive strategy shares a letter that he wrote to the Taskforce:
The proposed expansion of the Dartmouth undergraduate enrollment doesn’t make sense.
I assume that the argument in favor of the expansion is a wider base for the distribution of fixed costs. This argument is fallacious. First, a larger base for spreading fixed costs indicates that there would be less services provided per student, the historical evidence shows that this is unlikely. Second, there are very few real fixed costs in a long term plan. Many Alumni would be happy to help the College spend much less to provide the same level of support to the students.
There are a number of strong arguments against expansion. First, no tangible benefit of expansion has been identified. Second, increasing enrollment would mean admitting more students. There is no logical reason that increasing enrollment would cause more students to apply, therefore our selectivity would go down. Increasing the percentage of students admitted will push the College further down the rankings, causing a vicious cycle which will continue to erode the College’s reputation. Third, expansion of the student body will diminish the tightknit community that has always been the College’s hallmark. It is clear that larger institutions don’t have the type of community and spirit that we have. Changes like that aren’t linear, there are meaningful inflection points. There is no way to know where those inflection points are, but it is foolish to take the risk.
If we care about the College we need to maintain the current enrollment and start reducing tuition. If we announced a 5% tuition reduction and said that we would continue to lower the tuition while everyone else is raising their tuition we would get a lot of positive press. That press would increase applications, mathematically increasing our selectivity. This would create a virtuous cycle where applications would continue to increase, increasing our selectivity and ranking.
The future of the College relies on making wise decisions now and improving our situation, not thoughtlessly trying to fix bad management through expansion.
Addendum: An alumnus adds a point regarding the previous addendum:
Joe, following up on your reader’s point on selectivity, the College has struggled to reach 20,000 applicants over the past several years, while all of the other Ivies have reached the 30,000 mark with record applications year after year (with some surpassing 40,000 applicants). Dartmouth is not even back to its high of 23,000 applicants for the Class of 2016. Yale can increase the size of its class and still increase its selectivity. However, for whatever reason, the College cannot do the same unless and until it finds a way to regain its popularity among prospective applicants.
While there are more compelling reasons not to expand the undergraduate population, if the end result is to reduce our selectivity while we fall further behind the other Ivies in number of applicants, I’m afraid that Dartmouth will soon be perceived as the “doormat” of the Ivy League.
Addendum: An alumnus writes in to Jack:
Hello Jack: Thanks for inviting comment on President Hanlon’s expansion plans.
The proposed College expansion would be a dreadful mistake. Worse, it would likely be irreversible. Once the infrastructure is in place, the pressure to keep it fully occupied–or over-occupied–would be just as powerful as the present pressure to keep the campus over-stuffed. Expansion will not relieve the pressure; it will only up the ante.
One of the stated reasons for expansion is to allow Dartmouth a broader impact in the world. This thinking is laughably fatuous. No imaginable expansion could possibly make a perceptible world impact. To have a bigger impact, turn out a more impactful product. That requires better educational content and some seriously strategic thinking. Simply adding bodies and buildings is not strategic thinking.
The Dartmouth experience deeply depends on limited size and class cohesion. Just say No to the Hanlon expansion.
Posted on November 21, 2017 3:59 AM. Permalink
‘What’s Up With White People?’
College Confidential and Fox News are reporting with sarcastic glee that the College will host a novel event in February. Says Fox:
Are you “perplexed” by white people? Temple University sociologist Matt Wray may have the answers.
Wray, a self-proclaimed “expert on whiteness,” is set to hold a forum at Dartmouth College on Feb. 2 to figure out “What’s Up With White People?”
The talk will be open to the public as Wray provides a “field guide” to learn about “the different types of white people and how you can learn to spot them in their natural habitats.”
Wray says the event will offer “a sociological and cultural analysis of what produces and sustains” certain “white social types” such as President Trump, transracial former NAACP leader Rachel Dolezal, white nationalist Richard Spencer and leftwing Social Justice Warriors.
Wray’s presentation, first reported by the College Fix, is set to conclude with “observations about the implications of white self-differentiation for social issues like immigration, mass incarceration, and the growing epidemic of self-destruction among whites.”
Though the event is sponsored by the Ivy League school’s Sociology Department, Dartmouth College spokesperson, Diana Lawrence told Fox News that Wray “does not represent the views of the college.”
“Dartmouth is and will remain committed to robust debate, respectful dialogue, and discussion, with the understanding that such interactions will sometimes be difficult or disagreeable,” Lawrence said. “As an academic community, we are committed to free speech and open inquiry in all matters. Our students, faculty, and staff enjoy the freedom to speak, write, listen and challenge ideas in pursuit of better learning and understanding.”
Blablabla. I am all for academic freedom, but unless this guy has something interesting to say, then I’ll say that I am all against academic stupidity. Is the Sociology department advancing an important intellectual objective with this lecture, or is their goal only to make the College look ridiculous in the eyes of the country, yet again?
Addendum: A parent writes in:
It is often hard to believe I pay the exorbitant amount of full tuition for stuff like this. But maybe he can explain Phil and the administration?
Addendum: An alumnus writes in:
Sociology is basically no longer a legitimate academic field. This event only further proves that. Economists and even political scientists make fun of the other social sciences for a reason. They’ve become completely ideological and dedicated to advancing the agenda of social justice rather than conducting good social science.
Posted on November 21, 2017 3:59 AM. Permalink
More PBS Allegations
The D has a thoroughly reported piece by Erin Lee and Ray Lu, Fifteen students allege three professors created ‘hostile academic environment’, that furthers the accusations against the three professors in the Psychological and Brain Sciences department. Here is the text of the students’ complaint as published in The D:
The D also noted:
The 15 individuals gave their statement to The Dartmouth only on the condition that their identities would not be disclosed. Four of the 15 also spoke directly to The Dartmouth, and three more provided their own written statements recounting their time with the department. All 15 have also given statements to the College’s external investigator describing what they considered to be inappropriate behavior by the professors.
Curiously, beyond descriptions of a departmental culture that was heavy on socializing at events where a great deal of alcohol was served, the only detailed allegation of inappropriate behaviour was the following:
She described an incident at a social event with members of the department, at which she said everyone was drinking, and one of the professors put his arm around her. She said his arm slid lower, to the point that she was uncomfortable and “very aware of where his hand [was] on [her] body,” and she said she felt like she was being tested. She immediately left and went to the bathroom, she said.
Addendum: Another story has been printed in Slate: An Allegation, Then a Prestigious Professorship. After reporting on further allegations about PBS Professor Heatherton, the author, Daniel Engber, notes:
Todd Heatherton’s name has been removed from web pages relating to the two psychology textbooks he co-authored for W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. Psychological Science, written with Michael Gazzaniga and Diane Halpern, first came out in 2003, with a sixth edition due out next year. Psychology in Your Life, written with Gazzaniga and Sarah Grison, was first published in 2015 and is now in its second edition. Heatherton is no longer listed among the authors of these books at Amazon.com, Barnesandnoble.com, or WWNorton.com, though his name appears on the covers of those books, and can be found on cached versions of some bookseller web pages. Meanwhile, Heatherton’s author page on the W. W. Norton website now lists only the defunct Canadian edition of Psychological Science. A cached version of that page from earlier this month includes the American editions of both books. Neither W. W. Norton nor Heatherton has responded to a request for comment.
Posted on November 20, 2017 4:00 AM. Permalink
Football Follies Finally Ends
The Ivy championship was not to be, but Tris Wykes’ Valley News summary of the season-ending victory over Princeton was one for the ages:
Trailing by three points with 3 minutes remaining, the hosts scored twice during the Ivy League game’s final second to beat Princeton, 54-44, at Memorial Field.
Scored twice in the final second? Incredible, but true.
Addendum: The College’s game report and video is here.
Posted on November 19, 2017 10:09 PM. Permalink
Avoid the iPhone X Notch (Kind of)
An iPhone X has a notch in the screen at the top for good technological reasons — that’s a lot of world class functionality per square millimeter in the image at right, if you ask me — but nonetheless, the black protrusion into the OLED screen is butt ugly or, as Jony Ive might say, design suboptimal. But rather than buying an app to reduce the size of your display, my fix was simply to go to black wallpaper. Whenever the homescreen is up, you don’t see the notch, and plenty of my applications hide it away anyway with a black background: Google Calendar and Maps; ProCam; Apple’s own Photo, Clock, Voice Memos, Stocks and Calculator apps; Gmail, etc. Looks pretty good, no?
The phone itself is a pleasure: I do a lot of dictation, and every increment of processing power makes talking to an iPhone more accurate and rapid. The big screen is also a treat, especially for those of us with failing eyes. Face ID is easy to use: one simply looks down at the phone and swipes it from bottom up in one motion to get the show rolling. As for the lack of a home button, the gestures that replace it are intuitive from the start.
Addendum: Several YouTube videos assert that the black background marginally reduces power consumption on the iPhone X.
Posted on November 19, 2017 4:00 AM. Permalink
Small and Proud of It, Man
While Phil disparages the College for lacking the reach that being big can supposedly bring, Tuck soars by emphasising the sense of community found only in a manageably small institution. The market has not remained insensitive. Poets & Quants’ lengthy profile, Meet Dartmouth Tuck’s MBA Class Of 2019, could not be more laudatory:
Let’s all hold hands and repeat: “perhaps the most unique dynamic found in any American MBA program.”
I’m a big fan of little Tuck, just as I sing the praises of smallness among major law schools. My alma step-mater, the Yale Law School; Stanford Law; and Chicago Law are ranked #1, #2 and #4 respectively by U.S. News, and they are the smallest of the Top Ten law schools.
Did Phil not get the memo? Small is beautiful.
Addendum: Tuck’s alumni giving rate is tops among business schools (close to 70%), and by a mile. Why is that not a surprise? And do you think that alumni who give money each year are energetic in supporting the careers of their fellow Tuckies? The answer is obvious.
Addednum: Tuck was just ranked #7 by BloombergBusinessweek.
Addendum: And just in time, the Forbes ranking of MBA programs came out the day before yesterday. The methodology:
Our ranking of business schools is based on the return on investment achieved by the class of 2012. We examined more than 100 schools and reached out to 17,500 alumni around the globe. We compared graduates’ earnings in their first five years out of business school to their opportunity cost (two years of forgone compensation, tuition and required fees) to arrive at a five-year MBA gain, which is the basis for the final rank. Schools whose alumni had response rates below 15% or a negative return on investment after five years were eliminated (click here for a detailed methodology).
Tuck is third according to Forbes when ranking most satisfied grads.
Addendum: I can remember twenty years ago when the College was #7 in the U.S. News undergrad rankings. Those were the days, my friends. We thought they’d never end.
Addendum: An alumnus of the College — but not of Tuck — offers a comment:
I agree with you on Tuck. The bond between classmates is incredible, and endures. A couple years ago at the San Francisco DEN conference, about 400 people attended. There amongst the crowds were groups of Tuckies several years out taking “class pictures.”
As an undergrad, I roomed in Chase (previously a Tuck dorm, now Tuck faculty offices). So I saw first-hand the intensity of the program, and the special bond Tuck’s small size encouraged. It really is a special advantage. And one the College should seek to duplicate (annual giving participation would be a good measure).
All that said, I was surprised to see the one attribute in the Businessweek rankings that did poorly was Student Survey Rank — in which the class of 2017’s responses put Tuck 35th (versus top 10 ranking for the 4 other criteria). I wonder what that signals, if anything.
Addendum: An anonymous Tuck alumnus (with a fake e-mail address) writes in:
Tuck rankings and yield were both higher when the school was smaller. 20 years ago when the class size was 160, Tuck was the #1 ranked MBA program in the WSJ. Now, with a class size of 293, there isn’t housing available for over 50 first year students, and Tuck overall ranking is 8-13 depending on the source.
Posted on November 18, 2017 4:00 AM. Permalink
Antifa Expert Mark Bray Profiled
The Gender Research Institute at Dartmouth instructor Mark Bray, who many observers assert advocates violence against white supremacists and others, was the subject on November 3 of a laudatory profile in the Chronicle of Higher Education. The piece is behind a paywall, but the section relating to Phil Hanlon and the College is as follows:
Less than two weeks after the Charlottesville rally, Mr. Bray was in the news almost every day. On Meet the Press, he boiled down the case for antifa for the Sunday-morning audience: “When pushed,” he said, “self-defense is a legitimate response.”
The scholar appealed to history, invoking the rise of fascism in Europe in the 1920s and ’30s. “The way that white supremacy grows, the way that neo-Nazism grows,” he said, “is by becoming legitimate, becoming established, becoming everyday, family-friendly.” Antifa’s project, he argued, is to “pull the emergency brake and say, You can’t make this normal.”
After that appearance, Campus Reform, a website devoted to pillorying liberal excess in higher education, ran a story: “Dartmouth scholar endorses Antifa violence.” The author was a recent Dartmouth graduate, a former editor in chief of the college’s conservative newspaper.
The same day, the university’s president, Philip J. Hanlon, issued a statement. “Recent statements made by lecturer in history Mark Bray supporting violent protest do not represent the views of Dartmouth,” he said. “As an institution, we condemn anything but civil discourse in the exchange of opinions and ideas.”
In the marketplace of ideas, Mr. Hanlon seemed to be driving down the value of Mr. Bray’s work.
The professor didn’t catch wind of the president’s statement until he saw it on the Campus Reform website. He was troubled. He wondered why Mr. Hanlon hadn’t reached out to ask what he meant.
Mr. Bray had received a few threatening messages. Now the threats increased. Most were vague; some mentioned gas chambers. When a package was sent to him at the college, an administrator contacted the police. (It turned out to be a book.) Reddit users publicized details about him, as well as contact information for Melville House and information about its distributor and sales team, and about Mr. Bray’s book talks.
The Dartmouth faculty rallied around Mr. Bray. Two days after Mr. Hanlon’s statement, more than 100 professors there signed a letter urging the president to retract his remarks. By validating the idea that Mr. Bray blindly supports violent protest, they argued, the president was showing that outsiders can suppress Dartmouth scholarship that they disagree with.
At the height of the public attention, some colleagues invited him for dinner and brought him home-cooked meals. James Heffernan, an emeritus professor of English, wrote to a local newspaper, calling Mr. Bray “a leading voice against the virulent fascism of our own time.”
Mr. Hanlon responded once more, sending an email to the faculty explaining his statement. He wanted to make clear, he said, that Dartmouth supports everyone’s academic freedom and is opposed to violence, and that Mr. Bray did not speak for the college.
“Immediately following Mark’s appearance on Meet the Press, the College experienced a tremendous surge of phone, email, and social media inquiry, from students and families, alumni and friends of the College, and from people without a clear connection to Dartmouth,” he wrote. “These questions and comments came from viewers of the show who not only interpreted Mark Bray to be supporting violent protest, but also believed him to be speaking for the College.”
To many professors, that email only proved their point.
“President Hanlon’s response, rather than strengthening the College’s commitment to the free exchange of ideas, effectively chills research and public engagement,” they wrote in a second response.
Mr. Hanlon had meant to put some distance between Mr. Bray and Dartmouth. In the process, he drew the professor deeper into the community. “If anything, I feel more at home at Dartmouth than I did before this,” Mr. Bray says.
Later on in the piece, the following is noted about Bray:
His current position at Dartmouth will end in the spring, so he’s on the job market. It remains to be seen whether hiring committees will see his high-profile public scholarship as a boon or a liability.
It’s hard to say that Phil Hanlon comes out of this situation looking like a sure-handed leader.
Addendum: Woodsville, New Hampshire resident and pundit extraordinaire Mark Steyn offers his take on Mark Bray.
Posted on November 17, 2017 3:59 AM. Permalink
Please Write to the Administration
For readers who have not taken the time to write into the College to weigh in on Phil Hanlon’s College-gutting expansion plans, please do so now. To find out how, read yesterday’s post below. And please don’t hesitate to ask students, alumni and all friends of the College to do the same.
Addendum: A member of the faculty writes in:
You wrote today:
“What can you do? The College has invited concerned people to write to two addresses to express their views on the expansion”
But alas, the Task Force invitation (“Task Force on Enrollment Expansion Seeks Input”) isn’t inviting us to express our views on the expansion. Elizabeth Smith, the co-chair, is unequivocal:
“The task force’s charge is to investigate how—not whether—Dartmouth should expand enrollment”.
And in the same vein:
“We want to collect insight and deeply consider [sic] how aspects of the Dartmouth experience could be preserved and possibly even enhanced if a decision were made to enlarge the student body.”
The Task Force has already made up its mind on one thing: Concerns that the Dartmouth experience could be impaired will not be entertained.
Posted on November 16, 2017 4:00 AM. Permalink
A Further Allegation Re: Todd Heatherton
The Facebook page of Ayse Pinar Saygin, an Associate Professor of Cognitive Science and Neurosciences at UCSD, contains a new allegation of improper conduct by PBS Professor Todd Heatherton. In response, Heatherton’s attorney issued the following statement:
Dartmouth was aware of this incident 15 years ago, investigated it, and determined it was accidental and totally unintentional—not a sexual touching at all. Therefore, the College determined that there was no need for any disciplinary action.
There is absolutely nothing in Todd’s personnel file about this.
Addednum: The Valley News has a story today regarding the allegations against Heatherton.
Posted on November 15, 2017 4:35 PM. Permalink
Not an Invitation But a Summons: Tell Phil Hanlon What You Really Think
The College stands at a significant turning point in its history. Beyond the quotidian incompetence of the Hanlon administration — the poor fundraising, the lack of initiative, the weak hiring, the ever-growing staff, the focus on research and graduate students at the expense of the undergraduate program — Phil Hanlon’s plans to grow the student body by up to 1,000 new undergrads, to build massive new dorms, and to populate the faculty with researchers working on prestige projects, will alter the College and Hanover for the worse forever.
Gone will be the tight community of teacher/scholars and students that mark the College’s distinctive and even unique strength in higher education; gone will be a manageable, close-knit campus where random interactions lead to lifelong friendships and fruitful collaboration.
What can you do? The College has invited concerned people to write to two addresses to express their views on the expansion:
Note: The College asks that you indicate your affiliation — faculty, staff, student, alumni, community member — in the subject line of your e-mail to aid the committee in sorting responses.
Note: The ALC requests that you put “Alumni Feedback on Enrollment” in the subject line.
Today — right now — is your chance to save the College from plodding, me-too ideas. You can help ensure that the spirit that led to the title of Jean Kemeny’s book — It’s Different at Dartmouth — continues to live.
Write to both these addresses and tell Phil Hanlon what you think. Do not falter. Your communication could be the one that tips the balance in support of the Dartmouth that we all love.
Addendum: Comments should be sent by Dec. 4.
Addendum: An alumnus writes in:
I have been opposed to the announced plans for a “modest” 10%-25% growth in undergraduates mainly due to the likely possibility that such an increase would cause the erosion of faculty/student relationships both inside and outside the classroom.
But then, of course, there is the huge question of infrastructure requirements not only within the campus confines but also involving the town of Hanover as well. Think of traffic issues, parking requirements and just plain sprawl. Almost by definition, the character and ambience of the entire community will likely change dramatically. Other Ivy locations, including Ithaca and Princeton, are all much, much larger than Hanover and, as a consequence, are able to absorb increases in the student body without difficulty.
I’m not aware of much discussion about how expansion would impact Hanover itself (and not for the better in my opinion). It might be interesting to promote a discussion on this topic on your site.
Addendum: A friend of the College writes in:
I do hope that Dartmouth decides not to expand its undergraduate student body. It seems ludicrous to me that one of the arguments for increasing the size of the student body is that every other Ivy League school has done that. If anything, that should be a reason NOT to increase the size of the College.
Addendum: An alumnus writes in:
Joe, here’s our chance to weigh in on the expansion. I personally hate the idea of expanding the undergraduate student body. The College already has more of a “university” feel than in our day, and the dorms and other facilities are bursting at the seams. If Dartmouth wants to preserve its unique identity as the smallest of the Ivies with a strong sense of place and community, then it would be foolhardy and counterproductive to dissipate that advantage for the sake of expansion.
Dartmouth is already struggling to keep pace with the other Ivies in attracting prospective students. Why concede our biggest selling point — the intimate size and feel of the College — to our peers? It will only make Dartmouth less distinctive and less attractive to applicants — and less selective in the process.
Posted on November 15, 2017 4:00 AM. Permalink
The Party Line on the Task Force
Christianne Wohlforth, Special Assistant to the President and a visiting scholar in the Government Department, is sending a standard letter to alumni who write in to ask about both Phil Hanlon’s plan to grow the College by 10-25% and the responsibility of the task force named to study the question. Here is a letter that one alumna received:
Posted on November 15, 2017 3:59 AM. Permalink
PBS Harassment Accuser Steps Forward
In a 2,358-word piece by journalist Daniel Engber in Slate, Three Dartmouth Psychology Professors Are Under Investigation for “Sexual Misconduct, a former graduate student, Simine Vazire, now a professor of psychology at UC-Davis, alleges that in 2002 PBS Professor Todd Heatherton inappropriately touched her:
… Simine Vazire, a tenured professor of psychology at the University of California-Davis (and one-time Slate contributor), says that several weeks before news of the criminal investigation broke, she learned from a colleague that Dartmouth was seeking information about potential sexual misconduct by its faculty. She reached out to the chair of the psychological and brain sciences department and was connected with an external investigator. On Oct. 17, she told that investigator about an episode from early 2002, in which she alleges Heatherton groped her at an academic conference.
That incident occurred at a waterfront hotel in Savannah, Georgia, she says, where more than 1,300 people had gathered for the annual meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology. Vazire, who was then a 21-year-old graduate student, was attending one of her first major conferences. Standing in a circle of students and faculty members outside a banquet hall, she found herself beside Heatherton, then in his early 40s and a full professor at Dartmouth. The two had not been introduced. Without saying a word, Vazire says, Heatherton reached his hand behind her, out of view of the others, and squeezed her butt. Erik Noftle, a psychology professor who dated Vazire in the early 2000s, confirms that she described the incident to him a year after it allegedly occurred, in 2003.
Vazire says she wasn’t that upset by the encounter. “This one ass-grabbing, it was just kind of a blip on the radar,” she told me. In sharing her experience, Vazire wanted to make it very clear that she didn’t consider her story of being groped at an academic conference on par with more grievous forms of sexual harassment, nor did she want it to overshadow the pending results of the investigations by Dartmouth and the New Hampshire attorney general. Still, she says the memory has stuck with her, as a first experience of the rampant, casual harassment that pervades the field of psychology and academic science as a whole.
“I do not remember touching her in any way at a conference 15 years ago,” Heatherton said via email. “I have just recently heard of this for the first time, but, if I touched her as she described, all I can say is that I am profoundly sorry.”
Heatherton added that he first remembers meeting Vazire in 2011 and that they have had “a collegial, but distant relationship.” He noted that Vazire emailed him in 2011 to recommend one of her female honors students “who is going to be applying to graduate school with you.” This student confirmed to me that Vazire wrote the email on her behalf but says Vazire also informed her about what had allegedly occurred between her and Heatherton in 2002. The student did not end up attending Dartmouth.
The article goes on to describe a hard-partying, hard-drinking atmosphere in the Dartmouth PBS department, with the department having “a reputation for rambunctiousness” in social interactions between faculty and graduate students. However, according to witnesses cited by Engber, Heatherton seems to have played less of a role in these events than the other two College professors currently on paid leave, Bill Kelley and Paul Whalen:
Via email, Heatherton said he didn’t think it was accurate to say the PBS department was characterized by heavy drinking or frequent socializing between graduate students and faculty. “I do my best not to socialize with graduate students outside of the work setting, as the mentoring relationship should remain professional,” he wrote, noting that his “main social contact” with graduate students occurs on the annual “Apple Pie Day” he hosts with his wife. He added: “Self-reflection has caused me to recognize that, on occasion, at conferences with other academicians I have consumed too much alcohol. On this I was not alone, but that is no excuse, and I have apologized for my behavior.”
Not clear in the article is whether other incidents less or more serious than the one described by Vizire led to the suspensions of Heatherton, Kelley, and Whalen.
Posted on November 14, 2017 4:00 AM. Permalink
A Dartmouth Man at HHS
Degrees from the College and the Yale Law School certainly testify to a fine pedigree, but I am not sure that Alex Azar ‘88 made the right decision to work for the Trump administration. From Wikipedia:
Alex Michael Azar II (born June 17, 1967) is an American government official and the current nominee for United States Secretary of Health and Human Services, after being selected by President Donald Trump on November 13, 2017. He was formerly the United States Deputy Secretary of Health and Human Services under George W. Bush from 2005 to 2007. From 2012 to 2017, Azar was President of the U.S. division of Eli Lilly and Company, a major pharmaceutical company, and was a member of the board of directors of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization, a pharmaceutical lobby.
Azar grew up in Salisbury, Maryland, where he attended Parkside High School from 1981-1985. He received a Bachelor of Arts summa cum laude with highest honors in government and economics from Dartmouth College in 1988. At Dartmouth he was a member of the Kappa Kappa Kappa fraternity. He earned his law degree at the Yale Law School in 1991, where he served as a member of the executive committee of the Yale Law Journal.
After law school, he served as a law clerk for Judge J. Michael Luttig of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit and then as a law clerk for Associate Justice Antonin Scalia of the Supreme Court of the United States from 1992 to 1993.
The New York Times’ report on Azar’s nomination is here. And Alex’s LinkedIn page is here.
Addendum: The budget at HHS is over one trillion dollars, at least for now.
Posted on November 13, 2017 6:22 PM. Permalink
Searching for an Interim Provost
The resurgent D reported an interesting fact today regarding the selection of Computer Science Professor Dave Kotz ‘86 to be the College’s interim Provost:
Dever announced that she will be stepping down to resume her teaching and research on Oct. 10. According to Kotz, Hanlon reached out to Kotz around two weeks ago to ask if he would consider the interim position. [Emphasis added]
What to make of the ongoing chaos in Parkhurst? That Phil announced on October 10 that Provost Dever had decided to “return to teaching and research at the conclusion of fall term on Nov. 22,” and he only got around to asking Dave Kotz ‘86 to be his interim Provost over two weeks later?
Firstly, it seems like Carolyn’s departure was precipitous. Numerous faculty members have stated to me that it is just not the done thing in academia for a leader to leave such a senior position in the middle of the year. And if Carolyn’s decision was really just to return to teaching, wouldn’t she have given Phil plenty of time to choose an interim replacement before she announced her departure?
Of course, as we have noted for several years, Carolyn was given the boot long ago, but in a gesture of 1% solidarity (the rich really do stick together), Phil let her range far and wide in trying to find another position. No dice. Other schools saw what Phil could not see: Carolyn is an unimaginative plodder who just does not get the job done.
So what happened? Perhaps it’s a stretch, but several people have suggested that the cover-up of l’Affaire PBS was Carolyn’s doing, and Phil threw her under the bus in order to shift the blame away from his good self. Who knows?
But then why wait for two weeks to ask Dave Kotz ‘86 to fill the interim position while a new Provost is chosen? Especially if Phil knew that Carolyn was on the way out long before the official announcement. My guess is that Phil asked several other people to be his interim Provost, and they all gave it some thought and then turned him down. Anyone with real ambition to be a senior administrator would not want to work under Pheckless Phil.
But Dave, good guy that he is, decided to take one both for the team and for his alma mater. He will only be in the position for a short while, and given that he brings in real grant money (he has been awarded over $65 million during his career, according to The D) and he is a fine researcher (look at his Google Scholar profile: an h-index of 68 and 18,227 citations of his work by other scholars), at least for now he seems to have no longterm ambition to be an adminstrator.
All in all, if I were writing for the Jacko, I’d call the goings-on in Parkhurst a real sh*tshow.
Memo to Dave Kotz: Despite recent appearances to the contrary, the Provost’s position consists of more than sending out a weekly, jargon-filled memo about inclusion and diversity. In your time in office, how about re-jiggering the academic calendar to end the interminable, six-week break between Thanksgiving and New Year. This Kim/Folt innovation has the effect of squeezing our already-too-short Dartmouth Plan quarters.
Addendum: An alumnus writes in:
I should be interim provost. I would do a better job than Dever ever did — I’d actually show up!
Addendum: An alumnus writes in:
I would like to suggest that the deficient academic calendar also bears upon the College’s “expansion” scheme. That is, If there is truly capacity for additional real estate development on campus (a doubtful proposition, as Phil hastens to cut down the Truffula Trees in College Park), it should be used to solve an existing problem — the D-Plan — rather than hatch new ones. The D-Plan was conceived as a compromise (driven by real estate constraints), and it remains one. If Dartmouth must build, it should do so in order to discard the D-Plan, and its “pump and dump” academic quarters, in favor of tried-and-true semesters. After all, that’s how our “peers” do it, right?
Posted on November 13, 2017 4:00 AM. Permalink
Google Maps v. Apple Maps
Everyone sees the world in different ways, including the Apple and Google map applications, at least according to some screenshots the other day. The top image from Apple Maps clearly shows the childcare center that my company finished in July last summer (lefthand arrow), and it also depicts the open parking area in our main lot (righthand arrow):
The Google Maps image has no evidence of the childcare center, and it still includes a diagonal parking median that we removed in the summer of 2014:
Hey Google, time for an update.
Addendum: Google’s Streetview of the parking area is as out of date as its overhead view. In that image you can see the median of trees that is long gone, too.
Posted on November 12, 2017 4:00 AM. Permalink
Jacko Squarely Hits the Mark
The Jack-o-Lantern has put out its 2017 parody issue of The D (please, do not say that The D is already a parody; they are doing good things these days), and there is some very funny material in it. For example:
[TRIGGER WARNING: If you missed learning to swear in the first grade, you might be offended by some of the naughty expressions in this article]
Another amusing piece proves that mordant wit lives among our undergrads (as always, click on an image to expand it):
That said, by common consensus, we can conclude that the Hanlon administration itself is a joke.
Posted on November 11, 2017 4:00 AM. Permalink
Hanlon: No PBS Research Impropriety
Phil Hanlon has issued a statement that the three PBS professors accused of sexual misconduct are in no way a threat to the safety of the community, nor did the accusations against them derive from their research:
Once again, one must wonder in these fevered times just what the accusations against the professors are.
Posted on November 10, 2017 1:07 PM. Permalink
Why Do You Love President Hanlon?
The Moosilauke Forum is a select group of alumni who answer polls about various issues concerning the College. The members recently received the below questionnaire. Can you think of more biased and manipulative queries than the ones below? My headline comes close:
How about asking people if they think that the idea of growing the College is a good one? Or not? And why?
Phil Hanlon is ramming through the increase in the student body. I hear that most deans see the idea as ill-advised at best.
Addendum: An alumnus writes in:
The Moosilauke Forum sent out a note on this subject this past week, with a 7-day window. Our class rep, prior to the recent AC meeting, canvassed the class on this issue… Preliminary views were all against!
Addendum: An alumnus writes in to share his response to the survey:
“I struggle to find any opportunity for Dartmouth to strengthen its position as a differentiated, small, undergraduate-focused College in expanding the student body.
I feel very strongly that Dartmouth should abandon any and all consideration of expanding the student body. Expanding enrollment would dilute the student experience and cause Dartmouth to lose its identity as a small liberal arts College focused on providing the best undergraduate education in the nation. I chose Dartmouth for Dartmouth, not because I thought it could be Harvard in the woods.
Even the wording of this survey concerns me. Asking to provided “opportunities” and “components of the Dartmouth experience that would be impacted” makes it seem that expansion is a foregone conclusion before listening to the opinions of those that know the Dartmouth experience best: current and former students.
From my time at the College it is clear that housing and dining resources are insufficient for the current student both, both in size and in quality. It is baffling that those in charge of Dartmouth would consider spending a single dime on expansion - and worsening these problems - rather than fixing the known issues to improve the experience of the existing student body.
I have chosen not to donate to Dartmouth in recent years because I feel the administration and board has lost touch of the school’s identity. A decision to expand the student body would prove my suspicions correct, and validate my decision to send my charitable contributions to other causes.”
Addendum: An alumnus writes in:
Completely unfair. We learned about this in a class that I took at the College! It talked about how surveys can be biased. It used the example: “Isn’t it true that the sun revolves around the earth?” An extraordinary number of people answered yes even though this is common knowledge that it is not true. It pointed out that the way the question is asked can bias people.
I did not respond to the survey the first time around because, I did not, in fact, think that expanding the college would provide more opportunities. Was I? supposed to come up with opportunities for them ? I? was baffled. And I did not want to answer that question. So I went back, and this is how I answered he question:
Addendum: A friend of the College writes in:
“What opportunities… What components…”
Should be “which opportunities” and “which components.”
Posted on November 10, 2017 4:00 AM. Permalink
Heatherton Asked to Leave NYU
Psychological and Brain Sciences Professor Todd Heatherton has been asked to leave his unpaid position at NYU. He had been there as part of his long-planned, one-year sabbatical from the College:
No information is available regarding the accusations against Professor Heatherton. He certainly, or so it seems, has not been found to have committed a crime by a judge. Is he being punished for an accusation?
Posted on November 9, 2017 4:00 AM. Permalink
The College and the Paradise Papers
The trove of internal documents spirited out of the Appleby law firm — let’s hear it for thumb drives — has cast an unaccustomed light on how the rich secrete their wealth abroad, and how certain colleges and universities do the same to avoid taxes and accountability.
The article is headlined: Endowments Boom as Colleges Bury Earnings Overseas. American universities are using offshore strategies to swell their coffers, skirt taxes and obscure investments that could spark campus protests.
One of those certain colleges, you guessed it, is Dartmouth, as the New York Times’ photograph on its smartphone app makes clear:
The use of blocker corporations has raised concerns among policymakers in recent years. That’s partly because they cost the United States Treasury millions of dollars, but also because they legitimize an opaque offshore network sometimes used for nefarious purposes.
“They’re not cheating. They’re not hiding money or disguising money,” said Samuel Brunson, a law professor at Loyola University Chicago who has studied endowment taxation. “But they’re adding money to a system that allows people, if they want to hide their money, to do it.” Not only do the universities benefit — so does the wealthy and influential private equity industry.
Perhaps illustrating the sensitivity of the topic, officials at most of the college and university endowments that use blocker corporations, including Colgate, Dartmouth, Duke and Stanford, declined to comment specifically, citing longstanding policies against discussing their investments. Among them was Matt Kavgian, the director of strategic communications for Indiana University’s $2 billion endowment, which had invested $10 million with Quintana…
References to such corporations in the Appleby files, shared with The New York Times by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, which obtained them from the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, date back at least to 2003. At that time, five elite schools — Columbia University, Dartmouth College, the University of Southern California, Stanford University and Johns Hopkins University — became partners in a Bermuda-based group called H&F Investors Blocker…
Colgate University, with an endowment worth $822 million last year, stood to benefit from blocker corporations in 2008 when it invested in Genstar Capital, a private equity fund specializing in leveraged buyouts, according to the records. One investor in that Cayman Islands partnership, called Genstar Capital Partners V HV, took pains to include a handwritten a note near his signature: “elect to invest through the blocker.” Other investors were Dartmouth, Stanford and a Duke fund called Gothic Corporation…
It sure is tough to keep up with all of the Hanlon administration’s scandals.
Addendum: In an article from May 17, 2016 entitled Dartmouth Releases Tax Return, the Valley News notes the extent of the College’s investment activities in entities located in tax-haven-rich locales:
The college had two dozen employees or agents overseas, including 19 in Europe, two in east Asia and one each in the Middle East, South America and Sub-Saharan Africa, but most of its overseas spending — $1.2 billion out of $1.26 billion — were in Central America and the Caribbean. Many alternative investment limited partnerships incorporate in that region for tax and legal reasons.
We’re not talking small change here.
Posted on November 9, 2017 3:59 AM. Permalink
Growth Is a Done Deal
As I have said, the huge growth of the student body — up to 1,000 additional undergraduates — is a done deal. From the College’s report on this past weekend’s Trustee meeting:
The only way to derail the impending gutting of Dartmouth College is to get rid of Phil Hanlon. Will anyone have the nerve?
Addendum: Note the use of the word “modest” above. Not the right choice for an institution already bursting at the seams.
Addendum: An alumnus writes in:
How many people other than Phil are interested in this cockamamie expansion plan? If this business with the PBS professors manages to bring down Phil (for the cover-up), does the expansion die with him? Or is it something the trustees want on their own?
Posted on November 8, 2017 4:00 AM. Permalink
Lady Pumpkin of the Night
Let’s take a break from Phil Hanlon’s efforts to ruin the College and from the saga of the PBS professors, and have a laugh at the kind of people who can be offended by a carved pumpkin, and the kind of people who abjectly cave in when the blue-haired ladies get their knickers in a twist. Check this out:
Once called onto the carpet, our valiant scientists were abject in their apologies:
What ever happened to common sense?
Addendum: An alumnus writes in:
Seems like there is a lot of “common sense” lacking on the Hanover Plain these days. Wow, how harmless can a crazy-looking pumpkin face for a pumpkin contest be. Let’s “face” it, there are still “ladies of the night” all over the world, and they might like to be honored by a pumpkin.
Posted on November 8, 2017 4:00 AM. Permalink
Finally an Interim Provost
Almost a full month after Carolyn Dever announced that she had, um, decided to return to teaching and research, Phil has appointed an interim Provost: Computer Science Professor David Kotz ‘86:
Why would it take so long to appoint an interim? The only reason is that Carolyn left precipitously, though try as I might, I can’t find out why. If she had departed in the ordinary course of business, an interim would have been teed up to fill her spot, and a search committee would have been named to begin looking right away for her successor. But no.
The College’s press release describes Kotz as follows:
In addition to his time [six years] as an associate dean, Kotz has chaired Dartmouth’s Science Divisional Council and the Dartmouth Centers Forum, and served as executive director of the College’s Institute for Security Technology Studies. He has taught more than a dozen different courses and mentored over 100 undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral researchers in his 26 years on the Dartmouth faculty.
Kotz has published more than 130 refereed scientific papers and obtained over $65 million in grant funding. He is currently the principal investigator on three large grants from the National Science Foundation and co-leads the Dartmouth Center for Technology and Behavioral Health.
Kotz, who received his PhD and master’s degree in computer science from Duke University, majored in computer science and physics as a Dartmouth undergraduate.
Addendum: For the vision-impaired, the Provostial search committee will be chaired by Professor Deborah Nichols. Members include Associate Professor Margaret Ackerman, Tuck student Eunice Bii, Professor Colin Calloway, Professor Paul Christesen, Vice Provost Lee Coffin, Professor Deborah Hogan, Associate Dean Punam Keller, Professor James LaBelle, undergraduate Jay Raju ‘18, Chief Financial Officer Michael Wagner, and a member of the Board of Trustees to be named later.
Posted on November 7, 2017 4:00 AM. Permalink
The Meaning of the Bonfire
As the Class of 1992 headed towards its 25th reunion this past June, its invitations signalled the importance of the bonfire in the Class’ memory. As you can see in the photo on the right (click on it to enlarge), the ‘92 freshmen in all their glory built a great bonfire themselves — even though it appeared at the time that they were the worst class ever.
No engineers from Buildings and Grounds (as FO&M was called then) were needed.
Addendum: Former Hanover Police Chief Nick Giaccone writes in:
Probably much to your dismay, I was really impressed with the Fire Chief’s well thought out response.
If I may, I want to give you some context into the birth and history of so-called traditions, and how we attempted to deal with their birth so they didn’t become traditions.
Touching the fire was something that developed since 1992. When it started to happen, we brainstormed if there should be a legal response. We just held our breath to see how the Court would react. To our surprise, the judge thought the behavior was ludicrous and dangerous and that there should be a penalty to thwart its behavior.
Quite some tradition. That said, I guess “traditions” have to start somewhere. I don’t recall what idiot upper class dreamt up this one. I guess that we’re not satisfied with “clothes-lining” the circling freshman. That behavior caused us to mingle the officers into the inner circle, ruining many a uniform jacket with burn holes.
It was the Texas A&M collapse [in 1999] that changed the shape of the bonfire, and also made changes in how College staff assisted in its construction. No longer would it be just freshman.
I also should mention that I ended up in the emergency room with a badly twisted ankle after being broadsided by a member of the worst class ever. The actual year escapes me.
Posted on November 7, 2017 3:59 AM. Permalink
A Bonfire Question
An interested observer writes in:
Interesting back and forth on the bonfire. My wife is an ‘86, and she says that the “tradition” of touching the fire didn’t exist then. So how long has it been in place? It’s not as sacred as the bonfire itself, so why not evolve it? There are many things that could be done that would be meaningful, build spirit, and involve the bonfire. I for one would rather the fences come down and the attempts at touching the fire stop than have the fences remain… Thanks for the great info!
On the Hanlon front, maybe the Psych Brain Sciences imbroglio might be enough to nudge him out of Hanover, no doubt with a generous severance.
As I have written, in the fall of 1975, despite the enormity of the Class of 1979’s bonfire, we neither ran around the pyre nor tried to touch it.
Does anyone know when (and how?) these two traditions began?
Addendum: An alumnus writes in:
I don’t remember trying to touch the fire in ‘88, but one of my friends tried to light a cigarette on it. The attempt, which I think was successful, melted the sleeve of his bright yellow Patagonia jacket. He wore that jacket all four years. The Class Historians even made a joke about him at Class Day in ‘92.
About 15 years ago, the College had a concern about the Freshman Roundup (I think that’s what it was called) and how the ‘shmen terrified the good citizens of Hanover when they stormed onto the Green. That may have been when the College started trying to control things, which leads to greater disregard for authority, right?
Posted on November 6, 2017 2:50 PM. Permalink