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The evolution of a school’s endowment is a combination of three elements: investment returns achieved by the endowment office, financial giving by the alumni, and funds drawn out of the endowment by the administration for ongoing operations.

Look at how well the Freedman administration did versus the other Ivy schools in adding to the College’s financial resources. In the 1990-2000 period we were the top performer in the Ivies in terms of endowment growth:

Ivy Net Endowment Growth 1990-2000.jpg

However, as we have documented, when the reins were passed to the lamentable Jim Wright, the spending floodgates were opened, and we are still suffering today from his profligacy. As a result, during the 2000-2010 period Dartmouth went from first to worst:

Ivy Net Endowment Growth 2000-2010.jpg

And how have things unfurled since 2010? A little better than middling: we are in the top half of the Ancient Eight. Penn leads. We are behind Yale, and just ahead of Princeton. And the four of us handily beat the remaining schools:

Ivy Net Endowment Growth 2010-2016.jpg

Of course, the first glimmerings of fiscal discipline merit few applause. To use Reagan Budget Director David Stockman’s memorable phrase, the College remains a sinkhole of waste.

Kyle at White House.jpg

Second from right in the second row, I think.

Addendum: No tie and an unbuttoned shirt? At the White House?

The MDF faculty residence/clubhouse next to the President’s Mansion at 18 Webster Avenue is a typical small New England clapboard. It’s somewhat spare — where are the shutters? — the windows are pokey, and the walls are made of panelized sections (constructed off-site), but it is the kind of house that everyone in the Upper Valley recognizes:

13 Webster Avenue1.jpg

Its interior layout is nothing special either: a kitchen, dining room, and a large gathering room on the main floor, along with a two-car garage:

18 Webster Interior Plan.jpg

But once again, the College has found a way to spend a fortune for even a simple building:

18 Webster Cost.jpg

Recall that the above $640k figure is for constuction cost only. Add to that, according to an e-mail from the College’s recently departed Chief Facilities Officer Lisa Hogarty, soft costs in the amount of a quarter of a million dollars:

In addition to the construction costs we spent another $250k. About half of that went to site work and landscaping. The rest was for indoor and outdoor furniture, FO&M and IT expenses, project management and architect fees and lastly permitting. The house is 3000 sq .ft exclusive of the basement and two car garage.

That figure gets us to $890k and we haven’t yet added the value of land.

Does this look like a million-dollar Hanover house to you? Not on your life.

The College’s 21-person Office of Communications might sing Phil’s praises, but out in the real world people vote with their feet, or rather, students weigh in on various colleges’ popularity with their applications. Look at the total number of applications received by each of the Ivies for the Classes of 2007 through 2020. We rank at the bottom in absolute terms, and everyone in the Ivies except Dartmouth has increased their number of applications since 2016:

Ivy League Total Applicants 2007-2020.jpg

Of course, you say, Dartmouth is the smallest of the Ivies (just as Cornell is the largest); it’s not fair to put us up against the bigger schools. And you are right. Therefore my data-minded ‘18 has crunched the data on a number-of-application-per-freshman-year-slot basis to see where we stand relative to the other Ivies. Yikes.

Look at how our applications/slot numbers plummeted from the Class of 2016 to the Class of 2018 (I have added a red arrow); they have stayed in third-from-the-bottom place since then, after having been in the thick of things for many years. Harvard, Princeton and Brown passed us during that time frame, and the situation has not improved since:

Ivy League Applications per Spot 2007-2020.jpg

Thank heavens for Penn and Cornell. They are keeping us out of the Ivy basement, at least for the time being.

Addendum: An alumnus-correspondent notes that he is now seeing many applicants interested in the Ivies who apply to only seven of the Ancient Eight. All of them except us. Do you think that the problem is Phil’s breath?

Addendum: An alumnus writes in:

One would think that the Trustees would notice stuff like this. Of course, they are most reluctant to admit they made a horrible hiring decision in the first place.

John Sloan Dickey: How we miss you!

From the NY Times obit in 1991:

“Under Mr. Dickey, Dartmouth’s 12th president, the faculty and graduate schools were greatly strengthened, the student body was diversified with more minority students and a Great Issues course was required for all seniors to underscore the responsibility of free citizens in the nuclear age.”


“Mr. Dickey’s dedication to Dartmouth was acknowledged by annual alumni contributions, which rose to more than $2 million, from $337,000, with up to 66 percent of the alumni contributing, the highest percentage in the nation for a major school.”

I call it a sea of clouds when flying above it, but it’s a carpet when the whole of Western Europe is swept under it — as it was when I flew from Paris to Milan recently:

Sea of Clouds1.jpg

Add restricted daylight hours, because of Europe’s northern latitude, to the dreariness of not seeing the sun for days and even weeks on end, and you have a recipe for plenty of existential angst:

Sea of Clouds2.jpg

Addendum: I am always amazed that the High Dynamic Range function of my iPhone lets me point the viewfinder directly into the sun and take a well resolved picture.

Perhaps I should be called for piling on, but the MDF clubhouses are ugly both inside and out. Look at the interior of the $2.0 million plastic structure next to the Alumni Gym. Sanborn House it ain’t:

Plastic House Interior1.jpg

And the $3.0 million convenience store cum clubhouse behind the Gold Coast is no better. The place has all the charm of a basement cafeteria in a municipal hospital:

Gold Coast Clubhouse.jpg

Students inform me that MDF events are sparsely attended. Who would have guessed that Greek houses would exert a greater pull on students than these architectural gems?

Addendum: As I like to say, each year the College does less with more. Can we expect the dynamic Phil Hanlon to turn things around?

Snow Sculpture 2017.jpg

In other news, Phil Hanlon announced that Dartmouth Row will soon be demolished to create space for an administrative office complex, and the Green will subsequently be paved over so that the inhabitants of the new buildings will be able to park close to their places of work.

Addendum: Only Dartblog will have this story. Nobody had any time to write it up for The D.

Addendum: An alumnus write in:

That snow-sculpture email was disappointing for two reasons. Obviously the lack of even an attempted major sculpture marks the end of a wonderful tradition. Equally disturbing was the wording of the announcement. I’ve read it three times and cannot identify an actual statement that there will be no snow sculpture this year. It’s implied by the list of difficulties, but they never actually come out and say it. It’s pusillanimous language to match our pusillanimous times.

(We are re-printing a few highlights that students have commented on favorably)

Green Heart.jpgThe events of May 2, 2013 between Parker Gilbert and the young woman who pressed charges against him for rape need to be looked at in a broader context. The gymnastics that occurred between them seemingly did not mark firsts for either one, a point that can sadly be made about many students. What the defense called “clumsy, awkward, drunk college sex” is a feature of weekly life at the College for far too many students — the end result of which is, at best, hurt feelings, and at worst, angry “he slurred/she slurred” accusations.

Consent is a strange concept for two people who hardly know each other, whose inhibitions and modesty have been erased by liquor. One or both are vulnerable to abuse, and certainly clear communication between respectful people is well nigh impossible. The hook-up culture will lead to many more May 2’s; things cannot be otherwise. No need to wait. Just look around you, and talk to students whose emotional wounds are not buried at all.

While students will initially protest that they have thrown off the shackles of Victorian morality, and sociologists opine that the hook-up culture is a rational response on the part of both males and females to educational pressures and career ambitions that leave them short of time, it doesn’t take long to hear from students that the age-old longings for love and enduring caring still mark them to the core.

Red Rose1.jpgThe question is whether students in their late-adolescent confusion — and in a world deeply marked by Internet pornography that makes most freshman more knowledgeable about sexual permutations than many of their parents — can learn to hold out for something better than the unsatisfying rutting that takes place today without emotion, let alone love.

The D had a column on Tuesday that, among other things, derided students for what is called on campus “slut shaming.” Maybe we ought to reconsider that point. Perhaps sluts should be shamed as breaking a moral code that treats making love as something precious. And so should “playas” — the kind of guy who thinks that he is admired for bedding as many girls as possible. Both not only do harm to themselves, but they put unneeded pressure on other students to sexually commit themselves far too early in “relationships.”

While we’re at it, let’s also ask students to ask themselves why is it that they need copious amounts of alcohol in order to loosen up and enjoy a party. Are they proud that they have so few personal resources, so little self-confidence, that they can’t go to a fraternity without having knocked back shot after shot of cheap vodka? Examine your lives. Is this how the supposed best and brightest are meant to live with each other? Are the arts of intelligent conversation and romance so dead that Dartmouth students can’t interact without alcoholic lubrication?

Will some group at Dartmouth have the conviction and boldness to break with the herd, and decide that romance is worth the effort — and the risk? A frat? A sorority? A club? There is renown to be had in carving a new way, even if it is the old way. And no little pride in doing an unalloyed good thing. Any takers?

Addendum: I’ve touched on these themes in the past in posts entitled Girls Just Wanna Have Some and Will No One Defend Romance?

Addendum: An alumnus writes in:

The clubs at Dartmouth, or any college campus, that spring immediately to my mind as adhering to old-fashioned chastity and chivalry are the following Christian groups: Agape, Cru, Navigators, Christian Union, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, comprising at least a few hundred students. There may be other students of Christian and other faith backgrounds who are committed to romance and honor, but these are the ones that I am familiar with. I might also point you to an interesting recent article (with particular attention to point 1) which notes the early Christian church’s distinctiveness in this area:

Thumbnail image for IngeLise Ameer1.jpgAs we all mourn the departure of Inge-Lise Ameer, I thought I would take the opportunity to share a couple of brief anecdotes relating to my own interactions with the former Vice-Provost of Student Affairs.

I first met Inge-Lise in the spring of 2013, when I was a freshman and she was a “senior associate dean” of the College. As one of two students helping to organize First-Year Family Weekend, I had the privilege of introducing Dean Ameer (who was speaking in lieu of the mysteriously indisposed Charlotte Johnson) at the weekend’s welcome event for a group of assembled parents. Before stepping up to the podium, Dean Ameer and I had the chance to chat for a few minutes in private. She was warm, engaging, and demonstrated genuine interest in both my experience as a freshman and in the success of the event. It seemed obvious that she cared, and I saw this attitude as an encouraging sign.

A little over a year later, I found myself in the same position during Sophomore Family Weekend, which took place in the summer of 2014. Once again, Inge-Lise — who had, in the meantime, received a promotion to Interim Dean of the College — was to deliver the welcome address. She remembered me from the year before, and we had another pleasant conversation. I came away, for the second time, with the impression that she was simply a very nice human being.

Fast-forward to the fall of 2015, in the wake of the infamous library protest. I cracked open the morning issue of The D and came across this article, where the following section on now-Vice Provost for Student Affairs Ameer and her performance at the post-protest venting session at Cutter-Shabazz stood out:

Vice provost for student affairs Inge-Lise Ameer was in attendance at the meeting, and she apologized to students who engaged in the protest for the negative responses and media coverage that they have received.

“There’s a whole conservative world out there that’s not being very nice,” Ameer said.

Ameer pointed to the College’s press release that acknowledges that no complaints of violence have been filed with the College at this time and describes the protest as a “peaceful meeting” turned “political protest.”

Concerned about both the obvious bias in her statement and her blatant distortion of the events in the library, I sent Vice-Provost Ameer an email asking her to explain her words. I received the following reply:

Dear Michael:

Thank you so much for reaching out to me. I was joking and am sorry you were disappointed. I meant the world can sometimes be a hard and difficult place. The meeting was very intense with your peers expressing lots of fear and frustration about their experiences on campus. I wish you could have been there. I would be happy to meet in person to discuss. Please let me know if you would like to talk.


Dean Ameer

Because it was clear from the video of the event that Ameer was not, in fact, joking, I did want to talk, so I responded to suggest possible times for an appointment. I never heard back.

The moral of the story here is that nice folks don’t necessarily make for good administrators. Perhaps the most important part of working at the managerial level in an educational institution is ensuring that the various interests and perspectives of the different people who comprise that institution are represented fairly. There can be no room for a political agenda — no thumb pressed on one side of the scale — in a setting that should be a truth-seeking one. Inge-Lise Ameer, despite what we can assume to be good intentions, was therefore incapable of even adequately carrying out her duties as a College employee. Let’s hope that she finds another line of work.

Addendum: A ‘15 writes in:

If one thing is consistent about Ameer, it is that she was never around to answer for her actions or engage with Students. When AD was de-recognized, she had given the students her word that the seniors living in the house (weeks into their Senior Spring term) would not have to move out for their final few weeks on campus. Only days later, she threatened suspension if they did not leave immediately. When those students requested to meet her, she told them she was out of town on vacation. Only problem was she was spotted that night at Molly’s — I guess the only way to get out of a lie to the students you are supposed to represent is to continue to lie.

Addendum: A reader writes in:

Enjoyed your post today — your contributions to Dartblog have been overall excellent! You are more charitable toward Dean Ameer than your older colleague, maybe a function of age and idealism, I don’t know :-)

You make the comment that the Dartmouth setting should be “truth-seeking.” But that’s exactly why people like Ameer proliferate in today’s American college: it no longer is primarily concerned with truth! How apropos that the OED 2016 Word of the Year is “post-truth”: “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.” God help us all.

Addendum: A regular reader writes in:

With respect, I suggest that Ms. Ameer does not merit inclusion in the roster of “nice folks.” From your anecdotes, she could be superficially pleasant when leftist politics were not at issue. I liked the “mourning”!

DCF 44 Percent.jpgIn light of the financial aid figures adduced by Michael Beechert last week (here and here), we are certainly competitive with the other Ivies as regards the amount of financial aid that we can offer admitted students (actually, given the size of the endowment, we should be more generous that most of the other Ivy schools, but then there are armies of administrators to feed).

However the question that arises is why, when the admissions dust settles each year, we end up with more full-boat kids in the student body than any other school in the Ancient Eight? As the Dartmouth College Fund ad at right from a recent Alumni Magazine points out (though that is obviously not its intention), 56% of Dartmouth students come from families wealthy enough to pony up about $300,000 — that’s after-tax dollars — so that one son or daughter can come to Hanover for four years (the sky’s the limit on multi-kid families). I’m not ashamed to be in the same bracket, but are we proud that well over half of our students come from families deep into the 1% — the highest proportion of rich kids in the Ivy League:

Ivy Financial Aid 2014A.jpg

Just to be clear, I have no problem with wealth. For the most part, its possession reflects honest achievement on the part of the people who earned it, but when a disproportionate number of students come from cossetted backgrounds (my sense is that the College is loaded with suburban kids who are the offspring of professionals), campus life lacks the perspective that poor and middle income kids bring to the mix, let alone city and rural students.

Why do we have a student body with this kind of profile? The College’s flood of early decision admits certainly plays a role — ED kids are well advised and come from a higher income demographic — though this year a greater number of early decision admits appear to be from less wealthy backgrounds according to the College’s press release:

More than half of the admitted students—52 percent—have applied for financial aid, up from 48 percent last year, and at least 11 percent are eligible for federal Pell Grants.

The number of legacies has increased in the last few years, and the number of first-generation-to-college kids has declined, factors which tamp down the number of students requesting aid. That said, both of those trends appear to be turning around.

It’s not clear what’s happening with the College’s extravagant solicitousness towards the children of major donors (the College employs a special liaison in Admissions-Advancement to “work with” wealthy families, whose donations are desperately needed to …), but needless to say, such students often have both big money and little acquaintanceship with the real world.

All in all, as I wrote the other day, the College should revamp its admissions efforts. As but one measure, on-the-ground interviewing by admissions officers (supported by alumni) would help root out the professionally polished applications of rich kids in favor of students, poor or rich, who will bring experience, leadership skills and intellectual curiosity to Hanover.

Addendum: An alumnus who works closely with students writes in:

I just read your latest piece on Dartmouth as the “rich kids’ school.” You are absolutely right. Your article goes the heart of what is wrong with Dartmouth today. I have been around the Dartmouth scene a long time, and the problem has never been so pronounced. The college’s addiction to money now supersedes everything else. A rural kid like myself from a second-rate high school would never be in the mix. The college is a much less interesting and dynamic place because of it.

A professor writes in:

Here is the problem: we have a growing number of adjuncts teaching courses at Dartmouth. However, they do not undergo the rigorous examination of their teaching quality that tenure-track faculty undergo. We receive student evaluations, of course, but we do not have a process for adjuncts of sitting in on classes, observing the teaching, discussing the teaching with the instructor, etc. What’s the result? Do we not care about the quality of adjuncts, some of whom teach for decades?

The point is not insignificant in that Dean of the Faculty Mike Mastanduno and Registrar Meredith Braz have both confirmed to me that approximately 34% of the College’s classes are taught by non-tenure-track/non-tenured professors.

This state of affairs has come about as the College has lessened teaching loads on tenure-line faculty members over the years (everyone used to teach five courses each year; today faculty in the Humanities and Social Sciences teach four courses, and professors in the Sciences teach three). Of course, there are competitive reasons for reduced teaching, but the College has not compensated for the changes by adding additional, expensive full faculty members to its ranks (it’s better to hire hundreds of staffers, right?). The administration, as at so many other schools, chose to go with part-timers and other teachers who had been unable to secure tenure track positions — thereby debasing the coin of the realm.

The contrast is notable. As examples, for English 5 (now Writing 5), I was taught by now-full-professor Don Pease (and I survived); and my Italian 1 prof was Nancy Vickers, who went on to become the President of Bryn Mawr. Can today’s students claim teachers of the same pedigree?

That said, the College is holding the line as compared to most institutions in higher education, according to a report published in November by the Delta Cost Project — The Shifting Academic Workforce: Where Are the Contingent Faculty:

Between 2003 and 2013, the study finds, the share of faculty members who were off the tenure track increased from:

- 45 to 62 percent at public bachelor’s degree-granting institutions.
- 52 to 60 percent at private bachelor’s-granting colleges.
- 44 to 50 percent at public research universities.
- 80 to 83 percent at community colleges.

However, given Dartmouth’s wealth, if Phil could get his priorities straight, expanding the faculty in order that classes be smaller and tenure-track faculty have more contact with students, we might help claw back our declining ranking as regards undergraduate teaching.

Addendum: One further comment from a past post:

As in all things, the issue here is balance. Any institution needs a certain percentage of adjunct professors — people to whom it does not make a long term commitment. For example, these flexible relationships allow the administration to shift resources from departments less favored by students over time to more popular ones. And often adjunct faculty are the highly qualified spouses of tenured professors, for whom there is no available tenured position. Their teaching and research can be first-rate.

Buddy Teevens, a typically high-performing member of the Class of 1979 (the best class ever?) has been appearing on NFL game broadcasts in a 30-second spot that describes his varied efforts to reduce injuries by eliminating tackling in practices — as numerous readers have written in to note. See the commercial here:

Buddy NFL Ad Comp.jpg

Word from the inside is that recruiting for the football team is proceeding swimmingly, as Buddy takes the national lead in playing smart ball. I expect that fundraising is going well, too.

Memo to Phil: If you do memorably innovative things on the ground, applications and dollars will flow in quite effortlessly.

We’ve written in the past about the College’s planned fieldhouse — a utilitarian, 70,000 ft² structure that is going to cost an inexplicable fortune:



That said, the building is more than necessary. As in so many areas, the administration has fallen behind the competitive curve: Leverone is jammed up at all hours. The structure, which was built in 1965, was adequate for the men’s teams that existed back in the day; with the advent of women’s varsity teams, it has long since been unable to handle demand.

However the College did not reckon with the NIMBY selfishness of the new structure’s residential neighbors, and the intellectual sloppiness of the Town of Hanover’s Planning Board. Several weeks ago the Board voted 4-1 against allowing the construction of the building in the College’s institutional zone next to the Boss Tennis Center:

New Fieldhouse.jpg

The Planning Board’s members seemed to be swayed by the neighbors’ complaint that the building would impact the character of their neighborhood, their property values, and cast a shadow on several homes at some times of day, even though the College’s plan met, as the Board’s members forthrightly admitted, all of the requirements of the Town’s zoning ordinance.

Several aphorisms come to mind: “The difference between a developer and an environmentalist is that the environmentalist has already built a home”; and more classically, Henry David Thoreau in Walden:

Thoreau doing good.jpg

The issue here is one of property rights. The landowners who own homes next to the College’s institutional district have no right to assume that the pretty “sunken field” across the street from them will remain green and untouched for eternity. Dartmouth had already built Thompson Arena, the Boss Tennis Center and the Scully-Fahey stadium in that area, and the Town’s zoning ordinance does not stand in the way of an additional facility. While Hanover’s overall planning ordinance does take into account the Town’s aesthetics (maximum building heights; no commercial buildings in residential neighborhoods, etc.), the Planning Board itself does not sit in arbitrary and unlimited judgement on the look and impact of individual new buildings. It is duty bound to uphold the law. That the Board now arrogates to itself such a subjective and unfettered power should put fear in the hearts of citizens. It is not an overstatement to ask just what other tyrannies await us?

I faced the same type of capriciousness in constricting my childcare center in neighboring Lebanon. Under the misguided notion that the building codes were the law of the land, we designed and prepared a budget for a project that did not include sprinklers (saving about 4% of our construction budget).

Now before you, dear reader, presume to be an expert in fire safety (as the Lebanon Planning Board did), you should be cognizant of several facts: for a small building (9,400ft²) such as ours, the building code does not require sprinklers. Nor does the national fire chief’s generally-more-conservative commentary on the code (the fire chiefs explicitly note that sprinklers are not required for a ground-floor-level childcare facility with adequate egress). Why? For one reason, there has never been a fire-related fatality in a licenced childcare center. We went so far as to do a survey of New Hampshire childcare centers that did have sprinklers — because they are in large structures. All 70 centers told us that their sprinklers had not been activated even once in the last decade.

That information did not restrain the members of Lebanon’s Planning Board from imposing such a requirement on us (at a final cost of $75,000) — even though their responsibility did not extend to building code enforcement (we were before them to review our site plan), let alone requirements clearly exceeding the code. Spare us from well-meaning citizens boards uninfluenced by research, facts and a respect for the law.

The College has now made the decision to take the Town to court on the matter. Good for Phil and his team. Entrepreneurs and builders all over the Upper Valley are applauding the College. With the help of a competent judge, the administration should obtain a decision reining in Hanover’s Planning Board, and the Grafton County Court’s ruling will restrict as a matter of precedent New Hampshire citizens’ boards that range far beyond their grant of power. In doing so, the College will do a service to the State and to democracy.

Addendum: At a time when the nation’s legal and constitutional restraints are considered by many people to be under some pressure, the Valley News quoted one of the project’s residential neighbors, a doctor at DHMC who holds both an MD and a Ph.D.:

Julie Kim, who would have been one of the closest abutters, said board members had taken an “aspirational” step outside the letter of town ordinances, and looked beyond to what the character of the town should be. “That was the right decision,” she said. “This is outside the box, really, in terms of rules and regulations. That’s huge.”

God save us from citizens’ boards that make decisions “outside the box, really, in terms of rules and regulations” — and from people whose understanding of basic civics is so limited. When did we forget that government staffers are there to uphold the law as it was voted on by the legislature, and not to make up new laws as they see fit on a case-by-case basis?

There’s a good story to be written about the emphasis that Buddy Teevens ‘79, his assistant coaches, and his players place on academics. For now, here’s a taste:

Today’s quiz: Which Ivy League school’s football players have a higher graduation rate than the student body as a whole — and by a long ways?

Doisneau Kiss.jpgSo do Italians kiss better than the French? Robert Doisneau’s image of Parisian lovers outside of City Hall lacks the tenderness, at least to my mind, on behalf of both the woman and the man that animates every aspect of Francesco Hayez’ oil painting entitled The Kiss (1859) below. Which painting is about desire, and in which one are the characters giving of themselves heart and soul?

Hayez (1791-1882) doesn’t seem to make it into the canon as taught at the College, but his paintings are much loved in Milan — especially the portraits of patrician local families, which are displayed in abundance at the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana and the Pinacoteca di Brera. I had gone to Brera to enjoy Caravaggio’s late-in-life Supper at Emmaus (different from an earlier one in London), and after spending time with that painting and works by Caravaggisti in a previous room, I happened once more (I never remember to look for it) upon Hayez’ work. Needless to say, there is always a shy group of people around it — folks too awkward to admit being moved by its unabashed-on-both-sides romance. I was not so limited:

Hayez The Kiss.jpg

A kiss isn’t just a kiss.

Addendum: Thanks to Herman Hupfeld for penning the headline to this post.



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