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Blank Face.jpgThe vision that Phil articulated yesterday can fairly be classified as a strategy, but as any consultant or manager can tell you, the devil is in the implementation. We should now all turn our attention to the choice that Phil, Provost Dever and EVP Mills make in choosing the next Dean of the College. The person in that role will be responsible for pulling the College out of the student life quagmire in which it finds itself.

In reviewing the various episodes that have marked Dartmouth student life over the past several years, any observer will remark on the evident absence of an adult hand at the College. Let’s reprise in no particular order a few of the events that summarize what clearly have been one annus horribilis after another:

● Students repeatedly asked questions involving anal sex of visiting Texas Governor Rick Perry, a potential candidate for the Republican nomination.

● Angry, disrespectful students occupy the President’s office and harangue Phil about their “Freedom Budget.”

● Students ranging from Andrew Lohse ‘12 to Yesuto Shaw ‘15 describe violent hazing at the College’s fraternities.

● Real Talk, an angry protest group, forcibly disrupts the College’s springtime Dimensions weekend held for accepted students.

● Classes are cancelled for a day after members of Real Talk are insulted and threatened in anonymous posts on the Bored@Baker chat website.

● Sixty-four students are accused of and judged to have cheated in Religion Professor Randall Ballmer’s 272-student Religion 65 class: “Sports, Ethics and Religion.”

● Parker Gilbert ‘16 is tried for and acquitted of the dorm room rape of another student in a trial that described the rampant abuse of hard alcohol by students.

● The College suffers from an ongoing mental health crisis, with counseling sessions in October numbering 1,334 in an undergraduate student body of just over 4,000.

● Lohse and other student describe widespread cocaine use.

● The broad use of “study drugs” by students is asserted.

● The College is the subject of a TitleIX/Clery Act investigation for its handling of sexual assault complaints and it overall environment as relates to assault.

● Students plan a costume party with the theme of “Bloods & Crips” — notorious Los Angeles gangs whose member are mostly African-Americans.

● A student publishes what is referred to as a “rape guide” on Bored@Baker.

● A fraternity/sorority Latin-themed fundraiser for cardiac research, known as “Phiesta” — a play on the names of the participating Greek houses — is cancelled after a student complains of cultural insensitivity.

● The senior editors of the Daily D advocate abolishing the Greek system in a front-page editorial. They do so without consulting the broad mass of students who write for and work on the paper.

● The Dean of the College organizes a national conference on sexual assault. The event is noteworthy for the lack of any diversity of opinion. No school steps forward to hold a follow-up event.

Did I miss anything?

As we have discussed in the past, successive Dartmouth Presidents have employed an obvious racial filter in hiring for the Dean of the College position. Not that this is exceptional; most institutions of higher learning want quite desperately to see people of color in their top ranks. Therein lies the problem. The demand for top-flight administrators of color outstrips the supply, and as a result a little college in New Hampshire is mostly left to employ incompetent also-rans (or also-also-rans?) in hiring student life leaders. Want proof? Charlotte Johnson. Want more proof? Re-read the list of bullet points above. Talk about reaping the whirlwind.

Secondly, Phil needs to make a decision on the professional profile of the next Dean of the College. Over the last couple of decades, we’ve hired only career student life administrators; none have had the kind of academic background that would generate respect among the faculty, and almost none have had the native intelligence to earn the attention of smart Dartmouth students. Harvard, Yale and Princeton have gone in a different direction: they’ve hired serious scholars as deans of student life, faculty members with the intellectual pedigree and force of character to make everyone on campus take notice.

Phil has shared with us his vision for Dartmouth. Perhaps he can soon share his vision for the Dean of the College position, too.

Hanlon Speech1.jpgIn presenting his ideas today for transforming campus life, Phil Hanlon ‘77 evoked the image of President John Kemeny coming to Hanover to build a strong Math department, and then transform Dartmouth via coeducation. But for all the drama of that anaolgy, and despite angry talk from faculty (their letter) and The D (its editorial) about abolishing the fraternities, Phil’s proposals are moderate, thoughtful, and with a little luck and the help of an energetic Dean of the College, achievable.

One could almost say that Phil is conservative (with a little “c”). Not for him the radical projects that rarely lead to the results expected. He has a sense of where he is going, and while that destination is not original, there is little likelihood that his plans will leave Dartmouth worse off, and a strong chance that campus life in Hanover will be better for his thinking.

The Greek System: The Greeks will not be abolished (what chaos that would have brought us — a full two thirds of upperclassmen are in a house), nor will they be forced to go co-ed (over the years co-ed frats have occasionally made it onto the College’s list of problem houses, too, and Phil understands that sorority women decidedly do not want to move into fraternities). Phil also wisely noted that schools with/without Greeks, and those who have abolished their fraternity/sorority system, all suffered from the same social pathologies as the College. At meetings with faculty in recent days, he noted that sexual predators might well gravitate to fraternities now, but abolishing frats would only lead predators to change the locus of their depredations (not that he phrased it exactly like that).

Hard liquor will be banned in “residential spaces or other college property” (though it seems unclear whether that verbot can/will extend to privately owned Greek houses). Phil noted that incidents of intoxication severe enough to require hospitalization almost always stem from the hard stuff. Henceforth the consumption of alcoholic beverages stronger than beer and wine will not be permitted (the technical limits is 15% alcohol by volume — which rules out California zinfandels, a good outcome). Social events at which beer and wine are served must have “third party security and bartenders” — though it is unclear who will pay for this support.

Enforcement of the no-hard-alcohol rule will be unrelenting, but punishment for underage drinking of beer and wine in frats and dorms will be dialed back. However Phil made no reference in his speech and in his earlier discussions with faculty as to whether taps would once again be allowed in frats. Nor is it clear if henceforth S&S and the UGAs will turn a vision-impaired eye to students bringing beer into the dorms.

All frats will be required to have “active faculty advisors of both genders,” “active alumni boards,” and each house will undergo a thorough annual review.

In addition, Phil went out of his way to praise the set of proposals advanced by the Greek Leadership Council, which he noted “introduces more serious ideas for reform than the system has seen in 50 years.”

In his implementation document, Phil put some teeth in his request for reform:

But, of course, we are also quite aware that promises and plans for reform generated by Greek organizations have not, in the past, led to substantive and lasting changes. If in the next three to five years, the Greek system does not engage in meaningful, lasting reform, and we are unsuccessful in sharply curbing harmful behaviors, we will need to revisit its continuation on our campus.

En garde, ye Greeks. You have been warned.

Residential Life: Phil expanded on his previous thoughts regarding residential “house communities” on campus, of which their will be six, with each one to:

… organize and host social and academic programs, and eventually each will have dedicated space for study and social interaction… Each Residential Community will have a house professor and graduate students in residence.

No word yet on the fate of the College’s much-mocked Community Directors.

Overall Phil expects that “faculty and grad students [will] play more influential roles in the lives of undergraduates.”

Although freshmen will know in which house community they will live starting in their sophomore year, and “be included in all community activities and events,” they will continue to be segregated in their own dorms.

Moral Education: Phil’s proposals are suffused with the sense that campus life lacks a moral compass, that the College has erroneously abdicated its role in directing student behavior and establishing a healthy climate for undergrads, and that students have too much free time for mischief. Among his ideas:

• I am asking the faculty to consider a number of ways to increase the rigor of our curriculum — from curbing grade inflation, limiting lay ups, to not cancelling classes around celebration weekends, to earlier start times for classes on Tuesday and Thursday mornings.

• We have signed on to the Aspen Institute’s Franklin Project, which helps admitted students find Gap Year projects if they wish, and going forward will be investing more heavily in additional educational opportunities.

• We will be investing an incremental $1M each year in experiential learning - both to support faculty in their efforts to design and evaluate programs and to expanding current efforts and seeding new ideas.

Incoming freshmen will be asked to “sign a Code of Conduct that articulates the expectations - as they relate to civility, dignity, diversity, community, and safety - of all members of the Dartmouth community.”

Faculty and staff will participate in “first responder training,” and students will all take part in a new program — Dartmouth Thrive — which seems to be a rollout of the Athletic Department’s DP2 initiative.

As regards sexual assault, the College will supplement existing enforcement programs with extra education:

• Introduce a comprehensive and mandatory four-year sexual violence prevention and education program for students.
• Create an online “Consent Manual,” including realistic scenarios and potential sanctions to reduce ambiguity about what is and what is not acceptable.
• Develop a Dartmouth-specific safety smartphone app for students to easily and immediately seek assistance if they ever feel threatened.
• The College will continue to enhance our partnership with the Upper Valley advocacy and crisis center for victims of domestic and sexual violence, WISE.
• Increase the presence of faculty and other positive adult influences in the lives of students.

To monitor the College’s progress in improving campus life, an external Oversight Committee will be established, to be be chaired by Tufts President Emeritus Larry Bacow. The College will participate in two regular climate surveys (an AAU Sexual Assault Climate Survey and a Dartmouth campus climate survey), and promptly publish their results.

Addendum: There was a fourth leg to Phil’s speech, one about inclusiveness. Remarks about the topic were painfully out of place, but I guess that Phil was following one of the unwritten rules of today’s academy: thou shalt never speak about anything without mentioning diversity. As a result, in a speech that was otherwise entirely focused on student life and its perversions, Phil found time to talk about initiatives for hiring a “representative” faculty, recruiting diverse students, and making campus life more open (Dartmouth’s Greek houses are already famously open to non-members). There was nothing at all original in this section of his remarks. I am sure everyone went to sleep or shifted impatiently in their Moore Theater chairs as he waded through the boilerplate.

Addendum: Read the draft of Phil’s speech that was distributed to the press, and the implementation guidelines for his new policies.

Addendum: Phil sent the below e-mail to the campus at 9am:

Hanlon MDF announcement.jpg

Addendum: A library of materials about Phil’s plan can be found at the Office of the President website. And the Valley News and The D now have reports on the speech and Phil’s proposals.

Looks like Phil is going underground in the weeks after tomorrow’s speech:

Hanlon Office Hours1.jpg

I wonder why.

The Trustees have endorsed Phil Hanlon’s plan to revamp the College’s off-the-rails social environment — and to nobody’s surprise, they did so unanimously. Here’s the announcement.

Trustees Hanlon Pln.jpg

Addendum: Bloomberg is now reporting as follows:

Dartmouth College is considering banning hard liquor on campus as part of a series of measures to curb excessive student drinking and sexual assault.

President Philip Hanlon is expected to propose the change in a speech Thursday, according to a person familiar with the recommendations who asked not to be identified because they’re confidential.


The back beat to my time in Hanover was “You have so much reading; you have so many papers.” I heard the same thrumming when I first came back to town two years after Commencement. One refuge for me from the pressure of undergrad life was the woodworking shop in the basement of the Hopkins Center. I don’t recall the name of the weathered New Hampshire teacher there, but he had the kind of accent that you don’t hear anymore, and his toolbelt fit him as if he had grown up wearing it — which he probably had. In the Hop I built a shelf for our dorm room stereo, other furniture, and columns to grandiosely frame our door in North Fayer.

The tradition of craftsmanship and good student support seems to live on in the shop. Recently Gabrielle Emanuel ‘10, a Rhodes scholarship winner in 2010, did a story for NPR on one of her favorite teachers, Hop woodworking shop teacher Dudley P. Whitney:

Dudley Whitney.jpg

Her piece is a good read — and also a radio report and interview — about a good guy.

Addendum: According to her bio, Gabrielle is now an NPR Kroc Fellow working at WBUR in Boston. On the fellowship she has been an assistant producer in Washington on NPR’s Weekend Edition and a reporter on the National Desk. Since graduation, she has also worked for UNAIDS in Mali, on microfinance in India, and on access to higher education in Uganda. In addition, Gabrielle has written a children’s book that is coming out this fall.

Addendum: Who was that New Hampshire man? Several alumni correspondents have suggested that he was Walker Weed:

The guy you remember is probably Walker Weed. He was there when I haunted the Woodshop in the winter of ‘70 - ’ 71 as a second year Tuck student. I needed the furniture I made then and still use it to this day. End Table pairs in mahogany and walnut. And two hefty mahogany coffee tables, one of which went to a professor for the cost of the wood. I got an “A” in the course.


Walker Weed is the person you fondly remember at the Hop Shop. He was a gentle and delightful person [and the object of a fond obituary recently in the Valley News].

Another proposed Ralph Rogers:

That’d be Ralph Rogers. Splendid carpenter and teacher. Even his van had beautifully turned woodcraft roof bars.


Having read your addendum to the post, I’m going with Rogers. Weed was born in New Jersey. Hard to get the emmett accent down there. He was named after a relative — I assume an uncle — who was killed on a flight training run in WW!.

I never heard of Weed in college - and still “let” my wife handle the carpentry, but my uncle, a high school teacher in Massachusetts somehow weaved Walker into his teaching of literature and writing. That’s how I know about him.

The Alumni Magazine often has a slyly subversive side to it; let’s tip our hat to the editors over in Allen Street. Look at the recent entry regarding Jim Kim in a story summarizing the achievements of all of the members of the Wheelock Succession (except Phil).

DAM KIm Comp.jpg

What are we to take away from this summary: that poor Jim was put upon as a youngster; that he’s a good golfer; that he hobnobs with the famous and powerful; that he scored points for diversity; and that he parlayed his job at Dartmouth into something that he liked better? That’s thin gruel — no mention of any achievement at all — and DAM’s writer does well to point out the fact in a laughing way.

A recently retired professor once told me that over his forty-year career he’s watched students regress one year each decade: today’s seniors are at an intellectual level of the freshmen of his early years of teaching. I have no way of evaluating that assertion, but there are a fair number of faculty members who believe that a gap year would do students a world of good. Perhaps a year of decompression from the admissions process and time spent building confidence would give students the means to resist some of the baser group temptations that seem to mark freshman year.

Princeton has put this idea into action with its Bridge Year Program: nine months of overseas public service work. This year 35 soon-to-be-Tigers will spend their time on Princeton’s dime in Brazil, China, India, Peru and Senegal.

Princeton Bridge.jpg

Good for Princeton for insisting on a serious commitment here — not just edu-tourism. Nine months is an honest invesment, as one undergrad noted:

I remember that the first time we told local shopkeepers and community members that we were staying for nine months, they thought we had misspoken in our broken Hindi. “You mean nine days or nine weeks,” they’d reply. It was beautiful to watch them realize over the course of our stay that we weren’t just tourists passing through, but students and volunteers who cared about forming lasting relationships in our new home.

The College might consider such an idea.

Addendum: Harvard has long had a curious feature called the “Z-list,” which the Crimson defines as follows:

Z-list, that elusive list that comes after the waitlist. A handful of students will be plucked from uncertainty and receive an offer of admission deferred. If they agree to take a gap year, Harvard guarantees a place for them next time. For 2018 applicants, that would mean a spot in the Class of 2019.

Harvard takes 20-50 people off the Z-list, and the Crimson notes that Brown has a similar program which averages about 26 admits each year.

Addendum: A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, when I was an undergrad, B-schools accepted most incoming students straight out of college. That practice is a rare thing today — for good reason: back in the day, newly minted MBAs had a reputation for being long on arrogance and short on experience and wisdom. Should undergraduate education move in this direction, too?

The rue du Faubourg St. Honoré in front of the Elysée palace — home to the French Président — is now closed to all traffic, though the H&K MP-5-carrying policeman there assured me that this state of affairs would not last too long. That said, one thinks of Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House, which has been shut down since 9/11.


Later on my bicycle ride, I was stopped by a hurrying young trooper when I tried to photograph the U.S. Embassy. He went so far as to look at the last images on my iPhone 6 to make sure that nothing depicting the fortified building was recorded there.

The Embassy is surrounded by heavy, concrete posts at about one-foot intervals — in order to prevent bomb-carrying vehicles from parking directly against the building’s walls. It seems that a distance of several feet from a wall allows a bomb’s blast to disburse, limiting interior damage significantly. This fact was once explained to me by a Guinness salesman on the Falls Road in Belfast, when I asked him why there were garbage cans filled with concrete all around the pubs that we were visiting to collect money. He also enjoyed telling this erstwhile Bain consultant, after the fact, that in one of the bars we entered, “everyone was carrying a gun.”

A film about sexual assault on campus with the name The Hunting Ground appears ready to be released in March. There is no mention of Dartmouth in the official trailer, but at 1:15 an image of SAE appears, and a young woman asserts that the letters stand for “Sexual Assault Expected”:

The same filmmaking team produced The Invisible War, an exposé of sexual assault in the military. That film focused on the problem of serial predators, a scourge previously evoked in these pages.

Addendum: Matt Shepard is a Friend of Mine will also reach theaters this year.

Churchill Nobel.jpgGovernment Professor Russ Muirhead, who graciously allowed me to audit his Political Speech seminar four summers ago, is a fellow admirer of Winston Churchill. He is also the kind of guy who has a favorite footnote. On the 50th anniversary of Churchill’s death, let’s enjoy it together. Historian A. J. P. Taylor’s included the note in his 700-page English History, 1914-1945 (Oxford History of England). Please read all the way through to the end:

Taylor footnote.png

To my mind, one can fairly make the assertion that Winston Churchill singlehandedly saved more than Britain; he saved the world.

Jane’s Defense Weekly, the go-to publication for matters relating to weaponry and defense, has weighed in with its own witty take on the world’s favorite phrase. It notes that France’s only aircraft carrier, the nuclear-powered Charles de Gaulle, is en route to the Persian Gulf to participate in the fight against the Islamic State:

Charles de Gaulle Aircraft Carrier.jpg

Winston would have been pleased at the resolve shown by today’s French government.

In a memo to the students who asked for a review of their punishment for violation of the Honor Principle in Randall Balmer’s Religion 65 class, Interim Dean of the College Inge-Lise Ameer details the different sanctions leveled on students:

Ameer Sanctions.jpg

As we have reported, once students have paid their debt to Dartmouth, no trace of a probation or suspension will appear on their transcript.

Dean Ameer is nobody’s fool. Students seem to have made every possible argument as to why they should not have been put on probation/suspended/had their course grade reduced. The Dean replied dutifully to each point, and in addition, she included this more forceful replique in her memorandum:

Ameer Sanctions Excessive.jpg


Addendum: Congrats to the Dean for her vigorous prose (ignoring, of course, the infelicitous repetition of the word “purposeful” in the above paragraph) and tight reasoning. One can scarcely imagine such language coming from the pen of her predecessor, the justly forgotten Charlotte Johnson.

Addendum: The Valley News summarized the state of the cheating scandal in an article yesterday.

Amy Allen.jpgAlthough Dartmouth’s Office of Public Affairs has said nothing, Penn State’s Department of Philosophy is proud to announce that it has a new chair: Professor Amy Allen, currently the Parents Distinguished Research Professor in the Humanities at guess-which-College on the Hill.

Professor Allen’s research interests are not to my taste — according to the Philosophy department website, “Her research and teaching interests are in Continental philosophy, with a particular emphasis on the intersection of critical social theory, poststructuralism, and feminist theory. She has published widely on the topics of power, subjectivity, agency, and autonomy in the work of Foucault, Habermas, Butler, and Arendt.” — but by all accounts she is a good colleague, a serious scholar, and she is respected in her field. Allen was the chair of the Department of Philosophy from 2006-2012, and she is currently chair of the College’s Women’s and Gender Studies Program

Addendum: When do I get to write about the stars that we have stolen from other schools?

Matt Slaughter.jpgThe selection of Matt Slaughter as Tuck’s next Dean is another great decision for the school. As with so many other professors at Tuck, and in the undergraduate Economics department where he taught from 1994 to 2001, Slaughter excels in multiple areas: he is an excellent teacher (winner of the Tuck Class of 2011 Teaching Excellence Award and the 2001 John M. Manley Huntington Teaching Award for undergraduate faculty), a superb research scholar (author of 28 publications that have been cited in more than 100 other scholarly works), a distinguished participant in government (a member of the Council of Economic Advisers, an adjunct senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, a member of the advisory committee of the Export-Import Bank of the United States, and a member of the academic advisory board of the International Tax Policy Forum), and a respected public intellectual (op-ed pieces in The Financial Times, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post).

Once again, Tuck is showing Dartmouth how a small school in New Hampshire can compete with anyone.

Tuck Dean Slaughter.jpg

Here is the College’s press release, and the Valley News’ report.

John Harp.jpgWhen students pushed the administration at 1,100-student Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa to change their dining services provider, V.P. for Student Affairs John Harp (right) did his homework. He understood students’ concerns about the mediocre quality of food provided by Sodexo, a publicly traded corporation that provides dining servces to institutions all over the world. Students put forward the name of the Bon Appetit Management Company (BAMC) as an alternative.

BAMC — which is unrelated to the cooking magazine Bon Appétit — was founded in 1987 in Silicon Valley, and its headquarters is still in Palo Alto. It began life as a purveyor of dining services to companies and museums in California, and it branched out when its management saw a real opportunity to serve high-quality food to schools.

BAMC Splash.jpg

Harp found the idea of BAMC’s fresh dishes prepared to order to be enticing in comparison to Sodexo’s steam tables of food cooked in large batches. In visiting three other colleges, he found that BAMC does what it says. Not only is BAMC’s food fresh as advertised, but the structure of the storage areas of the company’s dining halls backs up that assertion. As compared to standard institutional food businesses, BAMC’s sites have far less dry storage space devoted to canned goods and other pre-packaged food items, and a great deal more space allocated to coolers holding fresh ingredients, many of which were sourced from local farms and small businesses.

Cornell College came to an agreement with BAMC, and the company began serving food to its students in 2012. The entire Sodexo staff was hired directly by BAMC. They were given extensive training, an effort that was needed because serving freshly prepared food requires better organization and more intense work. In its first several years of operation in Mount Vernon, BAMC increased both the number of food service workers and the wages and benefits that they received. Nonetheless, within two years approximately 75% of the Sodexo workers had left for other jobs. BAMC’s open-to-view food preparation — which it calls “exhibition cooking” — and its work pace are more akin to a private restaurant than an institutional dining hall. It seems that many workers were unwilling or unable to adapt to these changes, despite better compensation.

For students, the cost of Cornell College’s obligatory, all-you-can-eat dining plans increased somewhat. However Harp found that students saved money overall: the high quality of BAMC’s food meant that they chose to eat less frequently in town restaurants. Harp says that Cornell College’s dining hall cuisine is “the best food in town.”

The only hiccup in the transition was finding the right BAMC managers to supervise the dining facility. Harp watched BAMC work with several people before finding the right leaders in their organization to work at Mount Vernon.

Addendum: Cornell College’s full dining plan with BAMC will cost $4,800 for the 2015-2016 academic year. That figure contrasts with the total current cost of $5,550 for Dartmouth’s SmartChoice20 plan. Once again, I would cite this difference as an example of Dartmouth doing less with more.

Addendum: Below is a partial list of BAMC’s 500+ clients:

Education: Penn, MIT, Stanford Graduate School of Business, Duke, Johns Hopkins, Case Western Reserve, Denison, Hampshire, Carleton, Oberlin, Reed, St. Olaf, University of the Pacific, Washington U. in St. Louis, Wheaton College.

Corporate: Adobe, DreamWorks SKG, eBay, Electronic Arts, Genentech, Google, Levi’s, Lucasfilm, Nordstrom, Oracle, Plantronics, SAP, Starbucks HQ, Sony, Target Corporation, Twitter, Yahoo.

Museum and specialty venues: Terzo Piano at the Art Institute of Chicago, AT&T Park (San Francisco Giants), Getty Center and Villa (Los Angeles), Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Musical Instrument Museum (Phoenix), Theory at the Oregon Museum of Science & Industry, Public House (San Francisco), Panorama at the Saint Louis Art Museum, TASTE Restaurant at the Seattle Art Museum.

Addendum: John Harp also noted that BAMC listens attentively to students’ wishes for particular recipes. Here’s a flyer from the dining website at Carleton College, a longtime BAMC client :

BAMC Carleton.jpg

Addendum: UC Santa Cruz’ Center for Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems has written a thorough case study of BAMC’s business model.



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