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Several faculty correspondents have written in and expressed a misunderstanding of a remark that I made in a recent post about the use of adjuct professros for teaching at the College. On February 24th I noted:

For some historical background, back in my day all of the College’s professors taught five courses each year; today professors in the Sciences teach only three courses, and profs in the Humanities and Social Sciences teach four courses. In theory, the faculty produces more research; in actuality, students have less contact with tenure-worthy professors.

I was not opining that faculty teaching loads should be returned to previous levels. If other schools have reduced the requirement for teaching, it would be competitive suicide for the College to move in the opposite direction. Our ability to hire the top people would be immediately harmed. However, when the administration and faculty chose to cut teaching by humanists and social scientists by 20% and by scientists by 25%, they created a concomitant obligation to increase the size of the tenure-track faculty — rather than either reduce the number of offered courses or increase the number of adjunct professors. After all, nobody suggested that tuition be cut when the quality of courses offered to students was diminished. If that obligation were not met — and it was not — then the quality of teaching at Dartmouth diminished.

One other note on adjuncts: as a rule they do not attend department meetings nor serve on departmental or College committees, nor do they usually do research. And not holding the protections of tenure, they are, theoretically at least, limited in voicing unpopular opinions.

The above is not to say that there are not fine teachers and human beings among the adjunct faculty (though there are lousy teachers and shallow radical in the cohort, too), but the College could distinguish itself by increasing the quality of its faculty if it departed from the modern trend of an ever greater number of adjuncts in its ranks.

The British Museum has a piece of artwork in an inauspicious place: on a wall in the back hallway leading to the coatcheck area and the washroom. There is no reason for it to be there, other than the fact that it is a great deal of fun to walk around. Take a look:

The work is entitled Paradoxymoron; it was created by by British artist Patrick Hughes in 1996.

The ever-creative DALI Lab at the College has worked with the College’s energy-generation plant to produce a complete website about energy use at Dartmouth. The site is replete with interesting facts:

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And the history of energy at the College is covered, too:

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Addendum: The College’s energy generation facility switched from coal to oil in 1922. Word has it that another change is in the offing: from oil to now-plentiful natural gas. That’s a fracking good idea.

Addendum: A technically minded alumnus writes in with a comment:

One thing struck me when I followed your post to the College’s Energy Website: The College burns a lot of No. 6 heating oil.

If you don’t know, No. 6 is heavy oil that must be preheated before burning. It is cheaper, dirtier, and contains more btu’s per gallon than the more common No. 2 (which is essentially diesel fuel). No. 6 is typically used in large commercial boilers, and NYC has mandated its phase out (see here, for example). We converted our last no. 6 apartment building three years ago and are now mostly burning natural gas.

It’s good to see the college reportedly is converting to natural gas for both cost and pollution reasons. But it’s mildly surprising that no one has made an issue of the burning of No. 6 oil.

Everybody knows, and the press certainly confirms the fact on a regular basis, that Dartmouth students are always drunk, and the only time that they take a break from playing pong is to engage in a cheap hook-up — or worse. Except, of course, when they are winning Rhodes scholarships (three this year) and, for example, preaching to the community about their faith:

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Currently about 25 seniors stand up and preach each year in the Sunday evening Christian ecumenical service in Rollins Chapel. That’s over 2% of the class. I wonder if other students are engaged in similarly fruitful activities?

Preaching by senior students began last year, according to Reverend Nancy Vogele ‘85, the Director Office of Religious and Spiritual Life at the Tucker Foundation:

Starting in Winter Term 2014, a different graduating senior (from one of Tucker’s many Christian) groups preaches each week at our Sunday Night Chapel service. This has really re-energized the service. First since these students have to prepare a sermon to give to their fellow students, they deepen their own understanding of their faith. I meet with each student preacher individually the week before they preach in order to help them research and write the sermon. I also give them tips about preaching techniques, etc.. Having student preachers has also piqued the interest of more students because they see someone they know is preaching and want to come and hear. So far, attendance has been up as a result - ranging from 25-45 per week this term (with mostly students attending). In the past anywhere from 10-25 people (students and staff/community members) have attended. From time to time, students also lead the service in addition to preaching. This, too, has been great.

We just started a blog for religious and spiritual life events and several of this term’s sermons have been posted: http://dartmouthspirit.blogspot.com/. While this Christian service is geared towards students, anyone and of any faith is most welcome to attend: Sundays from 5-5:30pm in Rollins Chapel.

Nancy also reports that during fall term 147 different students attended chapel.

                        

Penn Law Logo.jpgSixteen members of the Penn Law faculty have published an open letter highly critical of Penn’s new sexual assault adjudicatory procedures. The letter follows on the heels of a similar letter and a subsequent memorandum from faculty at Harvard Law School. However, the Penn piece, in addition to specific references to Penn’s policies, stresses that the dictates emanating from the federal Office of Civil Rights have not only ignored notion of fairness, but that the OCR has circumvented the various procedural rules relating to the enactment of laws themselves:

Although we appreciate the efforts by Penn and other universities to implement fair procedures, particularly in light of the financial sanctions threatened by OCR, we believe that OCR’s approach exerts improper pressure upon universities to adopt procedures that do not afford fundamental fairness. We do not believe that providing justice for victims of sexual assault requires subordinating so many protections long deemed necessary to protect from injustice those accused of serious offenses. We also believe that, given the complexities of the problem, OCR’s process has sacrificed the basic safeguards of the lawmaking process and that those safeguards are critically necessary to formulate sound regulatory policy.

Folks, from a legal perspective, these criticisms will ring true to any lawyer whose understanding of due process goes beyond “the ends justify the means.” I wonder why nobody on the Dartmouth faculty has spoken up to date. (The faculty at my legal alma mater has been uncharacteristically silent, too.)

As for the process used to put the current rules in place, given the by fiat nature of the OCR’s actions, one might expect that a future administration will promptly do a volte face in this area. Live by the sword, etc. In all likelihood, the energetic federal bureaucrats in question will be working in private practice two years from now.

Addendum: Sexual assault is a serious problem on college campuses: take the death of chivalry, add young women’s confidence that it is their right to get black-out drunk, mix the whole thing in a stew of internet porn, and you end up with an environment where predators can have a field day.

That said, it bears noting that in those cases where the actual details of events have been elucidated — as opposed to reporting that states no more than “She was raped” — the fact patterns put forward are often ambiguous and troubling. This space has noted the events that led to prominent anti-assault activist Tucker Reed leveling a rape charge against a fellow student. And the horrific story described in Rolling Stone by a UVA student named “Jackie” did not stand up to scrutiny. More recently, the accusation placed by mattress-toting Columbia student Emma Sulkowicz has been called into question, and in a lengthy article by Emily Bazelon in the New York Times Magazine, Stanford student Ellie Clougherty’s account of her assault(s) by a Silicon Valley entrepreneur comes across as deeply suspect.

If one is to take anything away from these conflicting claims, it is that the narratives reported by accusers need careful review by experienced adjudicators before life-altering determinations can be made about both parties in the complaint.

Addendum: Meanwhile, Inside Higher Ed reports:

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Addendum: As we have reported, numerous colleges and universities are being sued for grievously biased adjudication of sexual assault allegations by students. Yesterday a settlement by the University of Colorado was announced in such a claim: a student will leave with a clean transcript and a $15,000 award even after a U. Of Colorado proceeding had found him guilty and suspended him for three semesters. His accuser had repeatedly lied in her report to the police, stating, according to the male student’s complaint, “that she wanted to get revenge against John [Doe] for rebuffing her and wanted “the s*** to be scared out of him.”

Adrian Randolph.jpgIs it time we began to worry about a faculty exodus from Hanover? Art History Professor Adrian Randolph, the College’s Associate Dean of the Faculty for the Arts and Humanities, has been appointed Dean of the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences at Northwestern. He’ll begin work on July 1. Northwestern’s press release was fulsome in its praise of Randolph:

A teacher-scholar, Randolph specializes in medieval and Renaissance Italy. His scholarship places a special emphasis on blending visual analysis with other contextual information — and from fields as varied as science, literature, social history and gender studies. In his work, he has successfully forged connections across disciplinary boundaries to build programming, lectures and conferences on topics as diverse as humor and race, Native American art and science and visualization…

Randolph has authored, co-authored or edited eight books and numerous articles, essays and reviews. He also has served on the international advisory board of the journal Art History as well as the University Press of New England. Randolph completed his B.A. at Princeton University, his M.A. at the University of London and his Ph.D. in fine arts and the history of art and architecture at Harvard University.

Closer to home, I audited Randolph’s Art 2 class in the late 1990’s. He was still finding his way as a lecturer, but Dartmouth had no more committed teacher. His detailed review of students’ papers was impressive. We spoke at some length on this topic because I felt that he would have been ably assisted by the DEP Editor that I had placed in the Art History Department. His position was that all faculty members should show the same diligence that he felt that he owed his students.

Randolph’s lecturing improved greatly over time — I returned to hear his Caravaggio lecture several years later — but that was certainly not unexpected. He worked hard to improve the things that he did, and he succeeded. Let’s hope that Art History can replace him with a teacher/scholar of equal character.

Addendum: Randolph’s wife, Art History Professor Angela Rosenthal, passed away in 2010 after a lengthy fight with cancer. She was as gifted a professor as her husband, and the College misses her presence still.

I’d ask ‘em what the policy is with regard to entering dorms and Greek houses.

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Here’s an assignment for the crack investigators at The D: how many Dartmouth classes are taught today by tenured or tenure-track professors, and how many are being taught by paid-per-course, itinerant adjuncts? The last I heard about a decade ago, from an ex-Dean of the Faculty no less, slightly under half of the College’s courses were taught by adjuncts. Since then, we’ve endured the Kim/Folt years; do you think that things have improved since I received my information?

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the use of adjuncts is soaring throughout institutions of higher education:

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For some historical background, back in my day all of the College’s professors taught five courses each year; today professors in the Sciences teach only three courses, and profs in the Humanities and Social Sciences teach four courses. In theory, the faculty produces more research; in actuality, students have less contact with tenure-worthy professors.

As an example of the difference, Nancy Vickers, who later became the President of Bryn Mawr, was my Italian 1 professor. And my section of English 5 (now Writing 5) was taught by Don Pease, now a full professor of English. Today freshman writing classes are no longer under the purview of the English department, and I am not betting that any intro language instructors are going to one day become the president of a name school.

Dartmouth could set an example for the world of higher ed if it took resources away from the bloated, over-paid staff and moved them toward the hiring of many more talented, tenure-track professors.

Addendum: There is a place for adjuncts. The College needs to be able to shift resources from departments of declining popularity towards ones ascendant. A swing staff of non-tenured teachers allows this kind of flexibility. But if adjuncts are now teaching more than 20% the College’s courses, then students are being short-changed.

Addendum: Think about this entire state of affairs for a second. As we saw yesterday, the cost of higher education has soared, but the presence of ever-increasing numbers of non-tenure-track-worthy professors indicates that quality has declined. As I like to say, the College is doing less with more. In a decade or two, if present trends continue, Dartmouth students will never see a tenure-track professor, and the cost of four years in Hanover will be a million dollars.

Much commentary on the rising cost of higher education is ill-informed: most writers show little understanding of basic cost accounting. As an example, Peter Cohan, a management consulting and venture capitalist who teaches business strategy and entrepreneurship at Babson College, wrote in the Worcester Telegram to commend Phil Hanlon’s strategy of re-allocating 1.5% of the College’s costs each year. He noted what economists refer to as Baumol’s Disease:

… economists William Baumol and William Bowen noted that there had been no increase in the productivity of string quartet performers in the 200 years that had passed since Beethoven’s time.

They argued that this failure to boost musician productivity explains “why the cost of going to a live classical musical performance has gone up more than the cost of a drinking glass. You can manufacture the drinking glass more productively now than you could 200 years ago.”

Writing in the New Yorker on July 3, 2003, James Surowiecki made the same point:

Generally, productivity growth is a boon, but it creates problems for non-productive enterprises like classical music, education, and car repair: to keep luring talent, they have to increase wages, or else people eventually migrate to businesses that pay better. Instead of becoming nurses or mechanics, they become telecom engineers or machinists. That’s why teachers are getting paid a lot more than they were twenty years ago. (The average salary for an associate college professor has risen almost seventy per cent since the early eighties, and that’s if you adjust for inflation.) To pay those wages, schools and hospitals have to raise prices. The result is that in industries where productivity is flat costs and prices keep going up. Economists call this phenomenon “Baumol’s cost disease,” after William Baumol, the N.Y.U. economist who first made the diagnosis…

The basic flaw in this argument is that when you attend a string quartet concert, the fees paid to the musicians are but a fraction of the cost of your ticket. The cost of the concert hall, property taxes, ticket-takers, ushers, marketing the show and selling the tickets themselves eclipses the money paid to musicians. Those other costs reflect no more than inflation in the general economy and the increasingly efficient production of goods and services.

The same point can be made about higher education. What percentage of Dartmouth’s budget actually goes to professors’ salaries? If the answer to that question were a high percentage, say 70-80%, Baumol might have a point, but the actual figure is but a fraction of that amount, as we can calculate from a recent letter written by Professor of Mathematics Scott Pauls, the Chair of the Colllege’s Committee on Priorities:

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Stick with me on the math here: Pauls notes that 1.5% of the total spending on the Arts & Sciences portion (i.e. the education of undergraduates) of the College’s budget amounts to $1.8 million. That puts the total A&S budget at $120 million. Pauls also observes that $1.8 million is 6.5% of the non-compensation portion of the budget, which would amount to just under $28 million. Working with those two numbers, you come up with the figure of $92 million for the compensation of faculty and staff (department secretaries, research assistants, etc.).

Let’s assume most generously that the A&S faculty budget is approximately half the College’s total faculty budget, the remainder being compensation for the faculty at Giesel, Tuck and Thayer — I write “most generously” given the large number of non-tenure track teachers at Geisel, almost 25% of the faculty at Dartmouth. By that equation, total faculty compensation in Hanover amounts to less than $200 million/year.

However in fiscal 2014 total salaries and benefits for faculty and staff (including deans, janitors, cooks, carpenters, electricians, administrative assistants, accountants, personnel officers, etc.) came to $491,832,000 ($369,404,000 in wages and $122,428,000 in benefits), which limits the percentage of the College’s compensation bill allocated to faculty at about 40%.

Putting those figures in a larger context, in 2014 the College took in tuition and fees (net of financial aid) of $191,826,000, the endowment disbursed $187,043,000, and operational funding from the Dartmouth College fund and other gifts came to $85,584,000. And the total cost of running the College came to $853,110,000.

Using this latter figure, we can calculate that faculty compensation is just over 23% of the cost of running Dartmouth. The remaining amount is made up of all of the College’s remaining expenses: the cost of labor of the non-academic staff, buildings, energy, taxes, food, computing, etc.. These items are the same expenditures made by regular business in the economy. In light of that fact, it should be self-evident that the cost of faculty compensation does not come close to explaining the exploding expense of going to college:

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For a better understanding of the explosion in the cost of higher ed, one should look to the behavior of America’s erstwhile industrial behemoths: Big Auto, Big Steel, Big Rubber, and so forth. In the post-war decades they could charge what they wanted. As a result, many decisions that management in these enterprises should have made to stay lean and efficient were not taken, and staffing and wages ballooned. That strategy worked fine for a while, until well managed foreign competitors stole their markets. None of these once-admired companies exists in its original form today.

There is a lesson to be learned from this history.

Addendum: Jim Kim’s long-departed-but-not-at-all-lamented Chief of Staff David Spalding tried invoking Baumol in a speech to the Alumni Council in March 2013. He asserted that the massed personnel of the College could best be compared to physicians, lawyers, and dentists in trying to understand the evolution of Dartmouth’s costs. Given the ratio of faculty members to much-lower-skilled support staff, that assertion is silly.

Addendum: My legal training compels me at times to reason analogically. Imagine that you receive a quote from a contractor to build a house, and then he comes back to you and says that the total quote is now double the original figure due to a doubling in the cost of wood. Obviously, you would look him in the eye and assert that wood is only the fraction of the cost of building the house, and you would politely suggest that he not take you for a fool.

Addendum: Les grands ésprits se rencontrent. In a story today about Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s reforms of his state’s system of higher education, the WSJ notes: “The entitled academics pretend that universities are chamber orchestras that can’t improve productivity. But you can tell a college administrator is dissembling when he claims there is no fat left to trim, especially in as large an organization as UW.”

The Journal piece also praises Phil Hanlon’s first efforts to trim waste and invigorate the academic program, all with one cost-reallocation policy: “Another [cost-cutter] is Dartmouth’s Phil Hanlon, who requires college departments to cut 1.5% of spending each year and spend it on something new. This annual reallocation clears out deadwood while encouraging innovation.”

If this little village were in Italy — at least the part north of Rome — it would have a small factory or two on its outskirts. But here in France a community like Bussières in the Haute Saône region lost its mill/factory three or four decades ago; the old stone buildings are sinking into the river near where I was standing when I took this snapshot. Regulations and taxes have smothered these little towns, and they are slowly losing life, despite their many pretty 17th and 18th century stone houses and prominent churches. Today residents commute to larger nearby cities and try to hang on to the land where they were born.

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The French countryside — la douce France — still has a hold on the hearts of les français and les françaises, but it is ceasing to make economic sense. That’s the world’s loss.

Degrees from Dartmouth and the Yale Law School are fine qualifications for an anti-aircraft battery commander, especially when the Germans are about to break through in the Battle of the Bugle and the battery’s 90mm gun (right) is pressed into anti-tank duty for which the men have no training. Leon Kent ‘35 and his crew were told to hold the line in what must have appeared to be a suicide mission (the German name for such assignments is Himmelfahrtsmission: trip-to-heaven mission), and on that day, they did their job. As other American troops streamed by them in retreat, Kent’s unit did not move. They fought German tanks from a gun that offered no protection to its men; as Kent put it in a 2011 interview: “If they got one shot at us, we were dead. I remember thinking: Do the shells go through you or do you go up in pieces?”

They destroyed two panzers in their first engagement, and then participated in the destruction of three more in subsequent days. Kent’s men all received Silver Stars for their courage; Kent’s application was lost, and he only received his medal in 1998.

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The LA Times reports on Kent’s post-war career:

Resuming his law practice after the war, Kent was involved in tax cases and entertainment and copyright law. His clients included Clayton Moore, who played the Lone Ranger, Lou Costello of the comedy team Abbott and Costello, and Pilar Wayne, wife of John Wayne.

He successfully represented American playwright and screenwriter Emmet Lavery in a copyright case in a court in Paris. Back in Southern California, he became an attorney for the Grandview Building Company and Budget Rent-a-Car.

In the 1960s Kent worked with the dean of the UCLA law school to help admit more minority students. He was chairman of the Lawyers and Civil Rights Committee of the Beverly Hills Bar Assn.

Leon Kent ‘35 died this week at age 99.

Addendum: Kent described his wartime experiences to the Library of Congress’ Veterans History Project.

As they say, you can’t buy publicity like this — nor would you want to do so. The Chronicle of Higher Education’s lead story today says it all:

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The above was the e-mailing to people on the daily feed. Here is how the Chronicle’s website looked:

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Do we really need yet another re-hash of the scandals and controversies, the protests and the vulgarity?

That said, does anyone find it interesting that none of the other Ivies is engaging in similar endless, public, self-flagellation?

Addendum: If you can’t get beyond the Chronicle’s paywall, here is the article in pdf form.

Addendum: The Chronicle describes its reach as follows:

The Chronicle’s audited Web-site traffic is more than 12.8 million pages a month, seen by more than 1.9 million unique visitors.

The newspaper is subscribed to by more than 64,000 academics and has a total readership of more than 315,000.

According to Bloomberg, students at the nation’s top B-schools are preparing for the high life even as they work for their MBA degrees. The piece describes networking vacations with classmates “to far-flung destinations and swank enclaves closer to home”:

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While some students believe that the returns are worth the expense, others question that logic. However, we can all agree that the exercise prepares our future CEOs for deficit spending:

The trips pay off over time, some say. “This group of people that I’m in school with right now, in 10 years are going to be the next CEOs,” says Phuong Nguyen, a second-year student at HBS who has traveled to Israel, among other places, with her fellow MBA candidates. The trips can cost up to $3,000, not including airfare, she says, but that’s nothing compared with the benefits of putting in time with people who could aid her career climb. “It’s investing in more than just knowing the names, but knowing the story behind them.”

Others aren’t convinced that luxury budgets have a higher purpose. “Wharton encourages extravagant spending,” one student said anonymously in Bloomberg Businessweek’s survey, calling the spending “toxic.” Wrote the student: “The mentality is that we’ll be rich eventually, so why not spend a ton of money now while we’re in debt.”

Two years at a top business school costs around $100,000 in tuition, and students at these programs have even more debt than their peers, who are also heavily indebted. At Dartmouth University’s Tuck School of Business, the median debt load for students was $90,000, including student loans, credit card debt, and personal debt, twice as high as the median of $40,000 at all U.S. schools. Wharton students said their median debt was $66,000.

That said, perhaps the investment pays off, as Poets & Quants notes:

For Harvard and Stanford MBAs, in fact, starting salaries and bonuses were the lowest they have been in the past three years. HBS grads landed jobs paying $138,346, down from $142,501 in 2012, while Stanford MBAs took jobs that on average paid $137,525, down from $140,459.

In contrast, Wharton grads were paid a record $141,243 last year, nearly $4,000 more than Stanford MBAs. Dartmouth Tuck grads left the school’s Hanover, New Hampshire campus with average salary and bonus of $139,036—more than $1,500 extra.

Nice work, if you can get it.

We can agree that offensive jokes have no place among thoughtful people, but it is a stretch to go from that assertion to determining that an inappropriate comment deserves the intervention of the College’s Office of Pluralism and Leadership (OPAL).

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education thinks so, too. The watchdog organization gives the College a Yellow Light rating for OPAL’s policing policies in the area of mildly offensive speech, versus our overall green light rating for protecting free speech:

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When the petition trustees won their initial elections in in 2004 and 2005, they campaigned against the College’s burdensome enforcement of speech codes, and after their election, the Wright administration rolled back the egregious rules about speech. However OPAL’s new rules seem to represent backsliding.

Once again, we can agree that certain types of expression are unacceptable among adults, but might we also agree that spoken and written words are protected from censorship. As has been said many times, the remedy for speech that offends is more speech: thoughtful, intelligent, even forcefully expressed arguments as to why even mildly offensive comments in various forms can wound people. But that response should be the end of it.

A little more than two years ago, an insensitive undergraduate made fun of two Chinese students who were speaking together in their native tongue; he let forth a stream of gibberish that was his attempt at mock Chinese. Funny? Not to the Chinese students. To the point that they filed a complaint with OPAL and the Bias Incident Response Team (BIRT, I kid you not). S&S was charged with hunting the perpetrator down, and a College spokesman said that if found, the miscreant might well be expelled.

We can look at such situations as proof that OPAL is a mess, and that the next Dean of the College has a clear task ahead in reforming that area (and many others) of the College’s sprawling bureaucracy. I don’t know if people still learn in kindergarten that “sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” but one would hope that the lesson would have sunk in by the time students begin their post-secondary education.

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