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Army 10th Mountain Division Uniform.jpgLast week at the Army-Navy game the cadets wore uniforms commemorating the Army’s 10th Mountain Division — the formation that most merits the name the “Dartmouth Division.” A total of 119 College men served in the 10th (the largest contingent from the Ivies) in WWII, and the unit’s ski instructor was varsity coach Walter Prager. A prior coach, Otto Schniebs, and John McCrillis ‘19 had written the 10th’s training bible in 1932: Modern Ski Technique.

The unit saw fierce combat in 1945 in the mountains of northern Italy; six Dartmouth men lost their their lives there: Robert W. St. Louis ‘30, Joseph J. Duncan ‘40, Roger W. Herrick ‘40, Jacob R. Nunnemacher ‘42 (Captain of the 1941-42 Ski Team), Joel S. Coffin ‘44, and Roger D. Emerson ‘46. May the hills winds know their names.

The Alumni Magazine ran a profile of the unit in its January/February 2001 edition, and the Passion for Snow video has a segment (1:56-3:50) on the 10th:

Addendum: After the war Walter Prager coached the 1948 U.S. Olympic Ski Team. He also designed and built the Dartmouth Skiway.

Addendum: The New England Ski Museum reports that after the war 10th Mountain Division battalion sergeant major “John Rand [‘38] settled into a long career as director of the Dartmouth Outing Club. He was involved with all aspects of the DOC, including many that involved the college’s ski programs. At a time when search and rescue in New Hampshire was not so formally organized as it is at present, Rand and the outing club provided much-needed manpower and oversight for large incidents. Over his four decades with the DOC, Rand influenced generations of Dartmouth students as they learned outdoor skills that for many became lifelong pastimes.”

Dartmouth Professor of Economics Eric Zitzewitz and BU’s Economics Professor Raymond Fisman have a piece in the NYT today entitled Is Trump Driving the Stock Market Rally? The answer: it’s complicated.

Almost all of the other Ivies have reported on the number of acceptance offers that they have given to Early Decision applicants, and on the number of applicants compared to last year. Everyone’s total applicant number is either steady or up substantially. No word yet from the Dartmouth Office of Admissions. I wonder why.

Addendum: The College Office of Communication’s Diana Lawrence tells me that the information will only be released on Monday.

Addendum: An alumnus writes in:

Just saw Diana’s response to you. Running the story on Monday seems bizarre. This cannot be good news for Dartmouth. They’ve known the application figure since early November and have had plenty of time to shape the messaging. The folks on College Confidential seem restless and disturbed that Dartmouth has not released results.

Maybe they are waiting to announce in conjunction with Phil’s resignation (wishful thinking). More likely they are waiting for the national news to announce Ivy results without Dartmouth to avoid the negative contrast.

Addendum: Another alumnus proposes an alternative view:

The accepted wisdom on news you don’t want people to know is to release it on a Friday afternoon. That they’re waiting until Monday makes me wonder if it really is that bad.

Perhaps there’s something else going on…or perhaps that accepted wisdom just hasn’t reached McNutt Hall?

Addendum: One alumnus who interviews students reports that the number of ED applicants in his district was up substantially this year.

When the College appears in comparative rankings, like yesterday’s “no loans” piece in Money Magazine, it perennially seems to be in something of a bad light. However a well run school like Tuck always stands out a little more than other institutions. The range in values in the gender distribution at B-schools is not high, but look who ranks first:

Tuck Gender Distribution 2017.jpg

The Forté Foundation has a more detailed look at women in MBA programs.

The members of a secret society, now three hundred members strong, have submitted a thoughtful and articulate set of arguments to the task force studying Phil Hanlon’s plan to increase the size of the student body by 10-25%:

300 Letter Comp.jpg

Addendum: Robert Whitcomb ‘70 writes in:

Phil Hanlon doesn’t understand the concept of institutional comparative advantage. One of Dartmouth’s biggest comparative advantages is its compactness/relative intimacy.

Loan Free Dartmouth in the NewsA.jpgThe College’s website and the Dartmouth In the News page both ran a headline this week featuring a Money Magazine story: All These Colleges Have Now Gone ‘Loan-Free’ to Help Keep Students Out of Debt. The thing is, if you are going to pound your chest, you had better deliver the goods.

I have always thought that being loan-free was a little like pregnancy: you either is or you ain’t. Well, it turns out that on the list of loan-free schools, there are two “loan-free” Ivies who aren’t really that at all.

Cornell does not require loans of students only from families earning less than $60,000/year, and only-slightly-more-generous Dartmouth obliges students to take out loans for their education as part of any financial aid package if they are from families making more than $100,000:

Loan Free Money Mag.jpg

Digging a little deeper in the numbers, let’s ask just how many families in America earn less than $100,000/year. Answer, about 75% of them. We offer loan-free financial aid packages to three-quarters of households; Cornell only covers half of them; the other Ivies cover everyone:

Household Income Brackets 2016-2017.jpg

We can understand Cornell’s parsimoniousness, given that it has the lowest endowment/student figure in the Ivies — less than a third the wealth that the College has:

NYT Endowment Per Student1b.jpg

But how to understand that Brown, Columbia and Penn require no loans at all, and they, too, are substantially poorer than the College. Could it possibly be that Phil Hanlon’s Dartmouth is grossly mismanaged?

Addendum: The median household income for Dartmouth students is $185,500, and only 44% of our students receive financial aid — the lowest figure in the Ivies.

Addendum: Did Phil change the name to Dartmouth University and not tell anyone?

Addendum: A parent writes in:

Are you kidding me? I make less than $100,000 and I absolutely have loans for my child. Absolutely. The package is generous, no doubt. But to advertise as loan-free is not true. Also, when did we become Dartmouth University? Phil needs to go!

Addendum: An alumna comments:

It’s my understanding that, even for “loan-free” individuals, the financial aid packages don’t cover the full cost of college and perhaps never will. Students are expected to work and contribute a portion of leave-term earnings. This is included in the expected family contribution. Dartmouth’s website states: “Students and parents may decide to take additional loan to help with the calculated family contribution or additional expenses such as health insurance or a computer.”

Addendum: An alumnus comments:

I noticed William University at first glance. I overlooked Dartmouth University, and only noticed it after reading your addendum. Have they been slowly brain-washing me?

Addendum: An anonymous commentator writes in:

Please. Don’t make more of this “no loans” thing. It’s very misleading. Princeton is very generous, but even then many of the students take out loans. According to Princeton’s own literature, 18% graduate with debt.

How is that possible? The literature says no loans! Some borrow to fund study abroad or other adventures. Some skip a paying summer job and need to borrow to cover the lost money. There are probably many reasons.

The point is that “no loans” is pretty much a fraud. They still get to make up a number and insist that the kid can afford to pay it. At Princeton, 18% can’t. Remember, it’s their definition of ability to pay, not the kids and not the parents.

And it’s worth noting that we’re just talking about student loans. Parental loans are a completely different ball of wax. No college is making a “no loans” pledge to parents.

The schools are also free to pull a number out of thin air and say this is your expected family contribution. I’m told by a savvy number cruncher that anyone making more than $120k is expected to contribute $60k. Note the $120k is pretax and the $60k is post tax.

As you might imagine, many parents need to borrow from home equity or other sources.

Even at the richest schools, these promises are hollow and some of the most misleading propaganda put out by the college industrial complex.

Dartmouth may be guilty of being too honest. I know that you like to see mismanagement all over the place, but maybe Dartmouth is just spelling things out.

(And don’t get me started on the admissions rate for kids who need financial aid at the so-called “need blind” schools. Riddle me this, Factman: why is the number of kids on financial aid so consistent from year to year at all of these schools? It’s not just the law of large numbers.)

I know, I know, Eleazar Wheelock is a dead white man who had slaves in Hanover (their quarters were about where Thornton Hall now stands), but it still seems curious that nobody in Hanover celebrates the founding of the College today, even though Wikipedia takes note of the memorable fact:

Dartmouth Founding Day.jpg

Are we even going to celebrate the College’s Sestercentennial in 2019, or is Phil going to nix that event, too, just like he did Convocation?

Addendum: Dartmouth News did commemorate the day with a story. And the Rauner Special Collections Library blog (always a good read) has some background on Eleazar Wheelock, too.

What an astounding event: a school announces a funding goal, fulfills it in short order, and all of the benefits flow directly to its students. If you’ve been in Hanover for the last decade or two, you’d never have thought such a thing to be possible.

We noted in a post a while back that Brown had stated on September 25 that it was undertaking fundraising efforts so that no students would graduate with loans. And now, less than three months later, the school has announced that the first part of its campaign has succeeded: no Brown students will have to take out loans in the coming year:

Brown No Loans Comp1.jpg

Not bad for a relatively poor school. Brown’s 9,380 students (6,580 undergraduates and 2,255 postgraduates) are supported by an endowment that reached $3,245,531,000 at the end of fiscal 2017. That’s $346,005/student. Dartmouth, au contraire, only has 6,409 students (4,310 undergraduates and 2,099 postgraduates), but our endowment is much larger: $5,069,578,000. That’s $791,009/student. On a per student basis, we are twice as wealthy as Brown.

In fiscal 2017, Brown drew a total of $164,967,000 from its endowment to support the year’s operations. The College’s draw was $223,545,000. I wonder where the difference of $58,578,000 went.

It seems that we can’t afford to have students come to Hanover without taking out loans, yet Brown can support its students in this way? For shame.

As I have written before, Phil Hanlon’s plan to expand the College is all about money — it’s a way for a President who has failed at fundraising to take in cash to finance his real ambitions: more researchers and prestige projects for the College.

Phil faced a similar financial pinch during his career at Michigan, and he responded in the same way. When I asked him in a meeting in the fall of 2013 about how he had cut costs there in the face of the 2008-2009 recession, he responded that he hadn’t cut costs at all. He said that he had balanced the university’s the books by increasing the size of the student body, thereby taking in more money.

That’s what the numbers show: in his years in Ann Arbor as Vice Provost for Academic and Budgetary Affairs (2007 - 2010) and then as Provost (2010-2013), the school saw a 7.92% growth in undergrads (between 2009 and 2013), with the numbers increasing every year:

Michigan Growth of Undergraduates 2000-2016A.jpg

And not only did the number of students change, but the nature of students did, too, as the MLive paper in Ann Arbor reported on February 8, 2015:

When the fall 2014 semester started at the University of Michigan, more than half of the students at the Ann Arbor campus were from outside the state. It was the first time that had happened in at least 15 years.

Of the 43,625 students enrolled in undergraduate and graduate programs, 21,514, or 49.3 percent, are from Michigan…

U-M records show that, from 2000 through 2009, at least 56 percent of the total student population was from the state of Michigan. That figure fell to 53.9 percent in 2010. The overall percentage of Michigan residents at U-M has fallen in each of the last five years.

The move toward a higher percentage of non-resident students isn’t a trend officials are shying away from. In fact, they predicted and welcomed it with open arms — and, from a business standpoint, for good reason.

Tuition for undergraduate in-state students during their freshmen and sophomore years is $13,158. For an out-of-state undergraduate at the same class level, the cost balloons to $41,578, or more than three times the cost of what in-state students pay.
[Emphasis added]

You can do the math, but growing the size of the student body by 7.92% while decreasing the number of in-state residents from 56% to below 50% — so that far more high-paying, out-of-state students could pay over triple the tuition of in-state students — amounts to a massive increase in revenue.

But at what cost? First off, the university grew so crowded that “administrators also had to manage a housing shortage, which was a result of both over-enrollment and the closure of West Quadrangle for renovation. To ensure incoming freshman could live in on-campus residence halls, the University provided returning students incentives to live off campus.”

Obviously Phil did not do a very good job managing the growth that he initiated. In fact, the increase in the size of the student body was done so poorly that Hanlon’s successor, Provost Martha Pollack ‘79, now Cornell’s President, announced a plan to scale back enrollments less than six months after Phil left Michigan for Dartmouth:

At a Board of Regents meeting last fall, University Provost Martha Pollack expressed frustration with the University’s trend of enrolling too many students.

“We have been over-enrolling every year for the past five years and we have to stop this,” Pollack said at the time. “I’m not happy about it.”

Pollack called for a plan to curb over-enrollment…

And the university shirked on its fundamental commitment to educate students from the state of Michigan. In the year that Phil left Ann Arbor, the legislature appropriated $279.3 million to the university — a sum that might get a legislator or two upset, especially when the majority of students, after Hanlon’s changes, came from outside of the state.

Isn’t Phil now trying to do the same thing in Hanover? And what will the end result be? We can expect initial chaos. And also a diluted Dartmouth. One that has lost its soul and the very attributes that make the College a special place.

So don’t believe Phil’s nonsense about extending Dartmouth’s reach, or bringing in a more diverse student body, or following trends in higher education. The plan to increase the size of the student body is all about money. With Phil, it always is.

Addendum: An alumnus who works in consulting writes in to the taskforce:

Expanding the size of the student body is the conventional answer to the issues you are investigating, but it will further destroy the unique character of Dartmouth College.

Why not step up to the challenges you describe through creative problem solving, rather than taking the easy way out? Your stated objectives of increasing diversity, and broadening academic and non- academic offerings, indicate you have concluded you are not delivering a first rate experience to today’s student body. By adopting the “economies of scale” argument, you risk embarking upon a continuing series of expansion decisions, because there is no limit to trying to achieve economies of scale. If Dartmouth were the size of the largest Ivy University, or the size of the giant State schools, there would still be an argument to expand because no institution can deliver all experiences to all students.

The collateral damage to Dartmouth of the course you are embarked upon will be irreparable. Once you start down this path, you cannot go back.

I mourn for the loss of a unique institution - Goodbye forever to “It is, Sir, as I have said, a small college. And yet, there are those who love it.”

Addendum: Another alumnus writes in:

To your point: “So don’t believe Phil’s nonsense about extending Dartmouth’s reach, or bringing in a more diverse student body, or following trends in higher education. The plan to increase the size of the student body is all about money. With Phil, it always is.”

Agreed. I assume that the diversity that Phil seeks to promote will come from admitting more international students who will not require financial aid. His revenue goals would not be met by admitting more students from traditionally underserved minority populations in the United States who, more typically, need financial aid.

And why does it necessarily follow that a more diverse student body will be achieved just by increasing the size of the undergraduate population? More than the size of incoming classes would have to change in the admissions processes to ensure that those classes are more diverse. What might have to change?

Today’s WSJ crossword puzzle:

WSJ Crossword.jpg

Phil is still scratching his head.

Addendum: A friend of the College writes in:

Hanlon doesn’t want anyone using this item in a crossword again. Hence, the expansion.

Addendum: A faculty member writes in:

Aargh, Phil should actually be quite pleased: The WSJ crossword has decided that we’re ‘Dartmouth’, not ‘Dartmouth College’.

By now, we all know that Dartmouth Dining Services (DDS) is a perpetual blight on the student experience. With an overpaid, over-benefited, unionized staff and monopoly power over the student body, DDS delivers what basic economics would predict: mediocre food, long lines, and exorbitant prices. But the rot runs even deeper. Consider this recent email:

Staff Foco Meal Plan.jpg

And this Campus Services website notice:

Staff Meal Plan Comp.jpg

Not only are students forced to pay for the College’s overpriced meal plans, even if they live off campus, but they pay more than the staff for the exact same product. Take a look at the per-meal prices for the student plans on offer here:


The prices are calculated by taking the overall price of the meal plan, subtracting out the DBA (essentially a dining debit account), and dividing through the number of swipes offered by the plan, assuming ten weeks in a term. Unless something major has changed since I graduated, most students are on plans with five to ten swipes (because of the difficulty of using more than that number every week), meaning that they pay $13.50 to $14.90 per individual meal swipe! Compare that to the $8.50 to $9.50 (or even less for an all-you-can-eat breakfast) cited for staff members.

To add insult to injury, the staff meal plans are also far more flexible than the notoriously convoluted student plans. Students have to wrangle with unfavorable and ever-changing exchange rates between DBA and meal swipes, limitations on how swipes can be used, and the weekly expiration of swipes, among other arbitrary rules. Meanwhile, the staff gets to buy never-expiring blocks of ten breakfast, lunch, or dinner swipes for $70, $90, or $120, respectively. It sure seems like the “GREAT deal” cited in the email.

Mind you, this subsidy is not just for food service workers at DDS; it’s available to all members of the College bureaucracy. All 3,335 of them. It’s just another way that students are subsidizing the plush lifestyle and above-market compensation package of Dartmouth’s bureaucrats, while we wonder where need-blind admissions for international students has gone.

In an educational institution, it should be a given that the students, not the staff, come first. It’s a shame that we’ve lost sight of that. Color me disappointed, but not surprised.

Joe Asch Addendum: One of the most difficult decisions in business is pricing. Too high and nobody buys your product; too low and you are giving away profit. Like Goldilocks, you want your pricing, “Just right.” In this instance, the College’s administrators have made the calculation that non-students just won’t pay any more than $7.00-$12.00/meal, even though they charge students far more than that.

Mark Rothko Dartmouth.jpgAs we descended into the clouds while flying from Oslo into Frankfurt recently, I was put in mind of artist Mark Rothko (1903 - 1970), one of whose paintings hangs to this day (or will soon hang again) in the College’s Hood Museum of Art: Lilac and Orange over Ivory (1953) — a gift of William S. Rubin. The work must be one of the Hood’s most valuable holdings; Rothkos now trade at auction for tens of millions of dollars. That said, the skeptic in me wonders whether these paintings will stand the test of time. Are they so valuable due to intrinsic merit, or simply because they are instantly recognizable.

Sunshine Rothko.jpg

Addendum: A wit writes in:

You wonder if the painting will stand the test of time? Me wonders whether or not the valuable painting will stand the test of the Hanlon administration and not be sold to pay off some debt or to pay for some new ill advised building?!?

After the suggestion on Thursday by a reader that the College hold an undergraduate referendum on increasing the size of the student body, a member of the faculty wrote in to point out that The D had conducted a poll of undergraduates prior to Homecoming. The results were not favorable to Phil’s Hanlon’s project:

Student Poll1.jpg

Student Poll2.jpg

The D’s survey of undergraduates was conducted from September 24-28. It had 677 respondents (out of 4,410 students).

Economics Professor Doug Irwin’s newest book made the The Economist’s Books of the Year list:

Economist Irwin Comp.jpg

Kudos to Doug for the high ranking, and also for having the stylists at The Economist describe his work as “elegantly” debunking a host of trade-policy myths. How many books coming out of Econ merit praise for style as well as content?

The breadth and thoroughness of analysis on the part of alumni who write to me is impressive. Dartmouth grads are thinking through Phil’s plan to bloat the College, and they see how shallow our President’s strategy really is. I think this review is particularly good (click on the image to enlarge and be educated):

Steinberg Letter.jpg

The winter term could see a huge backlash against the plan to increase the size of the College, and against Phil himself. Here’s to hoping.



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