Dartmouth's Daily Blog
News, commentary, criticism and praise for the College on the Hill, enlivened with history, culture and travel when we feel so moved.
The Latest Posts
Although the administration is still playing coy about announcing the upcoming capital campaign, the College’s recruiting ads (here and here) in the Chronicle of Higher Education are straightforward about the big fundraising push to come:
Geez, that many years of experience seems like a lot.
How will alumni respond to a request for large donations from an institution that wastes money as if it were General Motors in 1979? Last year we drew $51.6 million more out of our endowment than Brown did (look at our 2014 accounts and Brown’s), yet Brown will charge its undergrads $1,698 less than the College in the coming year ($62,046 vs. 63,744). Of course, donors may have other things on their minds (like admissions for their kids) than their love of the alma mater.
Addendum: We continue to hear reports of high turnover in Development. It is unclear whether the above positions are new ones, or just the replacement of staff who have chosen to flee Bob Lasher ‘88’s Development office.
Let’s start off with one stipulation: if the rabbis at élite Jewish day schools don’t think that DDS is running a true kosher dining area, then all the heartfelt declarations that the College makes about keeping kosher are not going to change anything. The fact that we have only a handful of Orthodox Jewish students on campus would seem to be confirmation of this thought.
If we can’t win over this market, then we might as well close down the Pavilion. In the Valley News piece on Monday on kosher dining at the College, reporter Rob Wolfe learned the following from the administration:
Often, sometimes twice a day, a supervisor called a mashgiach visits to enforce the exacting rules of kosher food preparation, which according to scripture must not happen without a Jew taking part. Among other duties, the supervisor walks around the kitchen, making such symbolic gestures as adjustments to stove temperatures in a ritual expression of his or her participation.
“Often, sometimes twice a day” is a vague formulation that just doesn’t cut it in following the Orthodox dietary laws (especially when the certifying company that the College has engaged, Tablet K, is often singled out for criticism by rabbis). And the notion of “symbolic gestures” is irresponsible: the mashgiach is formally charged with ensuring the respect of carefully enumerated dietary laws.
But don’t take my word for it, listen to the students who are arguing for true glatt kosher dining at Dartmouth; or look at the poor attendance at the College by Orthodox Jews. Folks, you might argue that you have a good product, but if very few customers buy it, it can’t be very good, can it?
If the College wanted to be persuasive to the Jewish community in the Upper Valley, and to prospective students who keep kosher, the administration should gather together testimonials from rabbis at the élite Jewish day schools certifying that they accept that Dartmouth has glatt kosher dining. It has not done so to date. Short of that, we’ll have to accept the word of the Jewish students who have energetically urged the College to upgrade the Pavilion. Here is the presentation — Kosher Food at Dartmouth College — that they made to the College. Their effort has attracted the attention of the press, including The Forward and Israel’s leading paper Haaretz.
Addendum: A long time observer of the kosher dining conflict at the College notes:
The College has never been willing to provide the kosher oversight protocols that Rabbi Saffra fils and all supervising rabbis must formulate and adhere to as a matter of kashrut law. When Rabbi Saffra père was first engaged by DDS in June 2002, he refused point blank to reveal Tablet K’s protocols. No one has ever seen them. Transparent protocols are essential for present or potential students and their rabbis to make a judgement as to whether the Pavilion is kosher.
And what precisely has been the role of Rabbi Boraz in all of this? As a Reform rabbi, he has no locus standi for students of Conservative or Orthodox denomination (Reform Judaism does not practice Kashrut). Has he been advising the College about kosher dining during its current negotiations with students? What has he been telling the administration about kashrut and Tablet K?
Addendum: Meanwhile, as Dartmouth tries to figure out if it is willing to offer glatt kosher dining like all of the other Ivies, Princeton has taken a step forward and implemented an eruv plan: delineating the campus and areas of the town where observant Jews can uphold the Sabbath laws with some flexibility. CentralJersey.com reports:
Princeton University will install an eruv, or a virtual boundary used as part of Jewish religious law, around most of campus and parts of town to enable observant Jews to carry essential items outdoors without breaking the Sabbath.
The boundary relies upon utility poles, fences, power wires and natural topography to create a type of enclosure within which observant Jews can carry keys or push baby carriages, for example. Such activity ordinarily would be prohibited.
The eruv enables them to keep the Sabbath yet have some flexibility of movement when they are supposed to observe a day of rest.
The school said it was approached by Jewish students and others about having something that is in place in communities that are home to peer institutions of the university as well as in hundreds of towns nationwide where observant Jews live. Rabbi Julie Roth, Jewish chaplain and executive director of Princeton’s Center for Jewish Life, said Wednesday that the 40 to 50 observant Jewish students at the university come from towns that have an eruv.
Aside from this, the university has taken other steps to accommodate religious minorities on campus, including having Muslim and Hindu chaplains, providing halal food for Muslim students and offering a Kosher meal plan. The eruv is one more step in that direction.
The Forward notes that, “Several other Ivy League universities, such as Harvard, Yale, Cornell, Columbia and the University of Pennsylvania have eruvim around their campuses.”
Measures like this will attract an important population of accomplished students to Princeton. The same students sure won’t come to Hanover.
Addendum: Why is the Dartmouth administration always a step or two behind other elité schools? Shouldn’t we be doing everything possible to attract the finest students to Hanover? Does the College have any higher priority?
Mridul Khan, a graduate student in the College’s Computer Science department, died in a skydiving accident on Sunday near Yolo County Airport northwest of Davis in California. He was jumping with the SkyDance SkyDiving facility and his parachute failed to open. Here is Phil’s announcement:
Curiously, Phil chose to omit the manner in which Khan died. Khan was a relatively experienced jumper, having completed between 20-30 jumps according to news reports.
Khan’s equipment failure would have had to have been twofold: his main chute did not deploy if/when the ripcord was pulled; and his microprocessor-controlled reserve chute, which deploys automatically when it senses that a jumper is still in freefall upon reaching a pre-determined altitude (a minimum of 2,500 feet), also did not successfully engage.
Addendum: The nature of Mridul’s accident has a certain relevance for me.
Addendum: The Sacramento Bee now has a thorough report on Mridul’s death.
A loyal reader writes in:
The ranking season is upon us, and this year could be ugly for Dartmouth. As you may recall, U.S. News uses statistics which lag a year — so last year’s admissions stats will be reflected in this year’s rankings. Of course, 2014 was our annus horribilis with a 14% decrease in applications and 11.5% admissions rate.
This could be the year that Brown leapfrogs over Dartmouth in the U.S. News rankings. Last year Brown had some kind of reporting glitch, and took a lot of flak from students and alumni for a 16th place ranking (below Cornell). You can be sure that Brown is doing whatever it needs to do to make a good showing this year.
Just speculating, but maybe the College had some advance warning, given the departure of Maria Laskaris. This allows her to leave “on her own terms” prior to the onslaught.
Gird your loins.
Addendum: As this space never tires of pointing out, Brown beats us hands down in spending wisely and conservatively.
In past posts, we have noted the ostensible Asian quota in the Ivies, with all of the schools having clustered their Asian enrollments in the 14-18% range since 2003. However no such homogeneity exists as regards Jewish enrollments, according to figures in the Spring issue of Hillel Magazine:
The College does particularly poorly:
One looks in vain for a pattern here. Jewish students don’t seem to be bunched at urban schools: New Haven and Ithaca are hardly culturally vibrant metropoli; and Princeton is a quick train ride away from the Big Apple (the world’s second largest Jewish city after Tel Aviv). And while Princeton has a certified kosher dining facility, as do all of the other Ivies except Dartmouth, its percentage of Jewish students is scarcely higher than the College’s.
Are these statistics no more than legacies of long-ago discrimination? The Valley News reported yesterday on the controversy about kosher dining that we discussed last week, and in the article, Rabbi Edward Boraz, the executive director of Dartmouth College Hillel, noted that, “Strictly Orthodox Jews [at Dartmouth] could be counted on both hands.” This looks like a job for Provost Carolyn “Diversity” Dever.
Addendum: After signing the Dartmouth kosher dining petition, Economics Professor Eric Zitzewitz commented:
We tried to hire an assistant professor a few years ago who kept kosher. Our [lack of a] kosher dining situation did not make a great first impression, and he ended up taking a different job. It’s not just smart students we are missing out on …
Addendum: One would think that if the Deanery can organize the monthly visits of a hair-cutting specialist catering to African-Americans (here and here), the College could find a way to accommodate the dietary needs of observant Jewish students, too.
Addendum: A long-time reader writes in:
In the late 50s when I was applying to colleges from a top N.J. prep school, my adviser told me bluntly not even to try Princeton, Brown and “especially Dartmouth” because of their strict quota system with Jewish students. He further told me, even then, that Penn, Columbia and Cornell would be “open”. I think that if you check the numbers year by year, you’d find that when Freedman came in, the percentage rose from 6-8% to 12-13%.
The travel world is mourning the passing of Keith Bellows ‘74, until recently the editor of the National Geographic Traveler:
Keith Bellows, a visionary journalist, author, and globetrotter who was editor-in-chief of National Geographic Traveler for 17 years, died Saturday after a long illness. He was 63.
Bellows, who was named a vice president of the National Geographic Society in 2000, stepped down from the magazine last October. Under his stewardship, Traveler, which is the world’s most widely read travel magazine and has 17 international editions, won several dozen international awards, including a 2012 Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism gold award for its website….
Bellows, who was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo and was a Canadian citizen, attended schools in Scotland and four other countries. He graduated summa cum laude from Dartmouth College, where he studied English and environmental studies.
Payscale’s 2015/2016 report on median average salaries for college graduates is out, and the results are mixed. Joe Li at the Daily Pennsylvanian has taken the data and rendered it easily intelligible with some pretty good graphics.
Here’s how the Ivies do against each other as regards salaries in their first five years after graduation (note: alums with only bachelors degrees):
The military academies (West Point, Anapolis, the Coast Guard) top the ranks as far as starting salaries go, along with the science-based schools (MIT, Caltech). In the overall rankings, the Ivies are far down the line: Harvard (#30), Princeton (#32), Penn (#36), Yale (#37), Columbia (#38), Cornell (#39), Brown (#56) and Dartmouth (#64). Of course, the number of Ivy grads who start work immediately — as opposed to going to professional or grad school — is limited; if one takes into account all alumni (including those with professional degrees, etc.), the College jumps to 33rd position.
In mid-career money (10+ years of experience), the College catches up from its last-place-in-the-Ivies standing (again, bachelors degree-holders only), moving into fourth place:
Overall the Ivies do better as the liberal arts cream rises substantially with time, though the tech schools still dominate: Harvard (#3), Princeton (#8), Penn (#10), Dartmouth (#26), Cornell (#32), Brown (#35), Yale (#46), Columbia (#46). Curiously enough, we are only in the 33rd slot when all alumni are counted (not just those with only bachelors degrees).
Among Ivy alumni who say that “their work makes the world a better place,” the College’s alumni appear to be the unhappiest bunch in the Ivies by quite a ways:
I wonder why our alumni score poorly by this metric. That said, none of the Ivies is anywhere near the top of the heap in the “workplace meaning” rankings.
Keep in mind that all of the above charts reflect median averages: half of a school’s graduates do better than the median and half do worse. Just how much better or worse is anyone’s guess. You can be sure that there are only a few multi-million dollar incomes in mid-career among West Point’s alumni (among talented officers who decided that they preferred the private sector to being shot at, I guess), but how about among alums from the Ivies or a place like Stanford? In our entrepreneurial, high-tech world, I expect that the Top 20 schools produce a good many Top 1% graduates.
What Payscale should really do for us is show the distribution of incomes: what percent of alumni are in various income quintiles, for example, say <$50k, $50k-$100k, $100k-$150k, $150k-$200k, >$200k, or perhaps even use a finer gradation if the company has enough data (not a sure thing). Given the broad range of abilities these days among students at many of the schools in question, a single median average or a mean average figure hides as much information as it reveals.
Ah, the lives that they led, these Dartmouth alumni from the Greatest Generation. On February 4, 1943, Ed McMillan ‘41 found himself plummeting down over the North African desert after his B-17 Flying Fortress had been destroyed on his first mission by German flak and a Focke-Wulf 190 fighter. Before he pulled the ripcord, he promised God that if he made it out of the war alive, he would devote himself to “being of help to other people.” He then spent more that two years at the POW camp near Berlin from which Great Escape was launched. He received a Presidential Citation for his support of escape activities there.
After VE-Day, Ed returned by ship to New York on May 29, 1945. His fiancé Betty Thomas, an officer in the Women’s Army Corps, arranged for him to be the first liberated prisoner off the boat. A picture of their embrace made the cover of the New York Herald Tribune, and they were married nine days later.
In 1946, Ed was hired by founder Charles Merrill of Merrill, Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith (think of the bull), a stock brokerage that at that time focused on individual investors. Twenty years later, eight years after Ed had become the firm’s youngest General Partner, he transformed Merrill Lynch by spearheading its move to work with institutional investors as they began to invest in stocks (institutions had previously focused on bonds and mortgages).
As he had promised himself during the war, in 1970 Ed retired early from Wall Street. He was only 50. He then earned an MBA from Boston University, and for the next 18 years he taught business to mostly under-privileged students at Bunker Hill Community College, and he worked with many charitable organizations.
As an alumnus, Ed was the President of his Class, served on the Alumni Council, was President of the Class Presidents Association, and he co-founded the College’s “Is There Life After Dartmouth” career training program. He received the Alumni Award in 1979.
Addendum: Ed had been a great believer in the YMCA since the Swedish Y brought books, sports equipment and musical instruments to his POW camp. Several years ago he made a large donation to his local YMCA. In this engaging video he describes some of the salient moments of his life and the role of the Y in it:
How I long for the day when I’ll be able to report on interesting innovations in education at the College, as I get to do about any number of aspects of Tuck (and, no, Phil, changing to a house system that copies Harvard and Yale does not count). The folks at the end of the Mall are on a roll, and as the education there gets better, so do the students and their feeling about the school — and their off-the-charts, post-graduation giving rates. A virtuous circle.
Poets & Quants has a write-up of incoming Tuckies’ annual, before-their-first-year-begins trip to Silicon Valley:
The Tuck School has put a new twist on the Silicon Valley pilgrimage, starting a Technology Boot Camp for its MBA students — before they even begin school. Earlier this month, the 37 incoming MBA candidates arrived in the the Bay Area for the second annual Tuck boot camp. Last year, the new Tuckies visited Google, Open Table, Zillow, Electronic Arts, and a small startup called Boost Media. This year, they got inside Google, Facebook, and startups in energy-tech, weather-tech, and lending-tech.
So, why bring MBA candidates on a career-development trip before classes even start? Mathias Machado, Tuck’s associate director of career services and a 2009 Tuck MBA, created the program after accompanying Tuck MBA candidates on one of the school’s Global Insight Expeditions, to Israel. “I came out of that and I said, ‘That’s pretty cool - if we can do something like that for different industries that people would be interested in, that would be cool.’”
As Silicon Valley draws more MBA’s, Tuck has nimbly responded to the changing climate. Methinks that Tuck might have been inspired by the College’s Freshman Trips — a Dartmouth innovation that used to be written up as something that set the College apart from other schools. It still does, but what will be the follow-up act?
Waiting for the dog days of August and the quiet end of the summer quarter, the administration has announced that Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Maria Laskaris ‘84 will leave the Dean’s post to become, uh, Special Assistant to the Provost for Arts and Innovation. She worked in the Admissions department from 1987, mostly under controversial “King Karl” Furstenberg, until she became Dean in 2007. Here is the note that she sent to alumni representatives:
I write to share news of a professional transition. Beginning in September, I will begin a new chapter in my career at Dartmouth working closely with the Provost as special assistant to the provost for arts and innovation. I am very excited about this new opportunity to work closely with Provost Dever and campus leaders on strategic planning and communication efforts that highlight the College’s broad-based vision for arts and innovation. The arts, in particular, played a central role in my time as a Dartmouth student, from my four-year work study job in the costume shop to performing with the Dartmouth Glee Club and serving as the group’s business manager for two years, and studying and performing with the Hopkins Center Youth Ballet (the precursor to the Dartmouth Dance Ensemble). As a member of the College and Upper Valley community, I have been a passionate and active volunteer and advocate for the arts.
It has been an extraordinary privilege to serve the College as dean of admissions and financial aid since 2007 and to count you among the many wonderful colleagues who give so generously of your time to volunteer with us as we seek to bring to Dartmouth students who embody our highest aspirations for and whose talents and potential both enrich and inspire us.
Director of admissions Paul Sunde will assume the role of interim dean of admissions and financial aid, effective September 1. Paul brings a deep knowledge of the substance of our work and an exceptional commitment to the values that guide our work. I know that he will provide strong leadership over the course of this next year to ensure that the important work of the office continues uninterrupted.
Thank you for your support of the office and our work. I know that Paul and the entire McNutt team looks forward to your continued partnership.
Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid
And here is the Dartmouth Now announcement.
A graduate from the Class of 1984, Maria is in her early 50’s, so we can assume that she did not freely make the choice to move from being Dean of Admissions to becoming a Special Assistant. And we might even assume that she looked for an equivalent job at another college and was not successful in her job search (it must be tough out there for people from the school that gave the world Jim Kim and Carol Folt, not to mention a string of other administrators on a downward trajectory).
Laskaris’ unremarkable eight-year term as Dean — in the sense of showing no real innovation — illustrates the peril of hiring longterm assistants for a top job. Jim Wright loved to play it safe in that way, and Provost Carolyn Dever is showing similar tendencies (here’s looking at you Inge-Lise).
All that said, we are left with the question of just who is going to replace Maria. Let’s hope that Phil chooses someone creative, original and energetic. Let’s also hope that Phil provides Maria’s replacement with a better, scandal-free product with which to entice future applicants.
Addendum: A business-savvy alumnus writes in:
Do you think she took a salary reduction…and is this a new position or a replacement of a current salary/expense? No respect for tuition payers.
The quality of the College’s kosher dining facility has come around again on the guitar. You see, we supposedly have a kosher area in FoCo called The Pavilion, but it isn’t really all that kosher. Jared Westheim ‘08 complained about the sloppy practices there in an article in the now-defunct Dartmouth Independent in 2005, and I wrote a post about the problem in 2012. Here’s an excerpt from that piece:
The Pavilion started off well enough in 2001, with kosher products being supplied by a leading Massachusetts purveyor and the kitchen supervised by well regarded Orthodox Rabbi Halbfinger of the Vaad Harabonim of New England. At the time, the facility was certified Glatt kosher, the highest standard of ritual cleanliness. But, as is often the case at the College, a round of budget cuts — the same one in 2002 that almost led to the demise of the swim team — saw a change of supplier and supervisor, with low-cost Rabbi Saffra of Tablet K contracting with the College. Saffra’s reputation for a lack of rigor is compounded by the infrequency of his visits to Hanover.
As a result of poor practices and oversight in the Pavilion, a good many Conservative and Orthodox Jewish students won’t apply to the College. In fact, Dartmouth (along with Princeton) does not even make the list of the 2013 Top  Schools Jews Choose; all of the other Ivies are there. And according to the Heart2Heart website, the College is the only Ivy not to offer Glatt kosher meals.
The administration has known about the problem for many years, as one of Dartblog’s Baker Tower Irregulars reports:
During the Spring of 2013, amid concerns from within the Office of Admissions regarding the low number of applicants from Jewish day schools, the College invited about 20 college guidance counselors from Jewish day schools to visit the campus and learn about Jewish life. The visit included a panel of Jewish students fielding questions from the guidance counselors, discussing some of the struggles of being an observant Jew at Dartmouth. I spoke on that panel, and when I mentioned the small size of the Jewish community at Dartmouth, several of the guidance counselors explained that parents are unwilling to let their children apply to, let alone attend, Dartmouth, due to its lack of properly supervised kosher food.
Folks, we are getting deep into core values here. A large cohort of the highest quality students won’t apply to the College because we can’t get our act together and provide them dining facilities that meet their religious concerns. Why is that? Cameron Isen ‘18, Mayer Schein ‘16, Eliza Ezrapour ‘18, and Matthew Goldstein ‘18 are working with the administration to improve kosher dining. Here is Cameron’s comment on the current state of negotiations:
We have explicitly asked administrators on several occasions why Dartmouth is unwilling to change the certification. They have not directly addressed the question; however [President Hanlon’s Chief of Staff] Laura Hercod has stated in email, “It’s Dartmouth’s understanding that we are providing foods that comply with kosher laws.” As I have mentioned, we have on several occasions explained to David Newlove, Lisa Hogarty, and Hercod that mainstream Conservative and Orthodox Judaism doesn’t hold Tablet K as a reliable hechsher, since it relies on supervisory leniencies that are not commonly accepted by a significant portion of kosher observant Jews. The most prominent of these leniencies is Tablet K’s apparent belief that proper daily oversight by a sabbath-observant mashgiach in a meat kitchen is not fundamentally crucial to the integrity of the food.
As a remedy Dartmouth has offered us “triple-wrapped” frozen kosher meals with the Orthodox Union certification, which seems to imply that they understand the quality of supervision that we are seeking. However, according to DDS’ own nutritionist, these meals are generally high in sodium and total fat, and they are not sufficient for a college student’s diet without other dietary supplementation (which we have not been offered).
We do understand that Orthodox Jewish students are small in number at Dartmouth (mainly, because they can’t eat here), but we are hoping to show the school through our petition on change.org that the Dartmouth community — and people outside of Dartmouth — value the Jewish students who wish to observe the laws of kashrus. We still hope to see a positive resolution. The petition has received 467 signatures so far.
There you have it. A group of concerned students is once again mounting a charge to get the College to change its ways. They are not asking for something new or unfeasible; they only want kosher dining to return to the level of observance that existed when it was introduced to the College in 2001. Here is a link to their on-line petition:
Is there no money in all of Dartmouth to pay for an appropriate level of dining for Conservative and Orthodox Jews (and Muslim students, too)?
Brown Dining offers two Kosher/Halal meal plan options for observant Jewish and Muslim students. The Kosher/Halal Flex 20 plan combines the best features or our weekly and Flex plans. It provides 14 meals per week and a block of flex meals. The Kosher/Halal 14 plan provides 14 meals per week without the flex meals.
There is a section of the Ratty designated for Kosher and Halal meal service so that students can adhere to dietary laws while dining with friends in the Ratty. Additionally, you’ll enjoy all the benefits of Weekly meal plan participation, including meal credits, guest meals and FlexPlus Points.
Chef Daren Bulley at Divine Providence Kosher Catering supplies complete Glatt Kosher luncheons and dinners Sunday through Friday lunch. Our food reflects our commitment to exceptional quality with an emphasis on sustainable foods. Kosher vegetarian items are provided. All meals are prepared under the supervision of the Vaad HaKashruth of Rhode Island with a mashgiach tmidi present at all times. Sabbath and holiday meals are served at Brown Hillel.
It would seem to this observer that the College should be able to find a way to offer its students the same kosher dining options as Brown and all the other Ivies provides to their undergrads.
Addendum: A professor writes in:
In addition to providing less-than-satisfactory kosher dining, Dartmouth is holding required Freshman advising on the first day of Rosh Hoshana. The work-around for observant Jews is to get advising the Saturday before. I’m not kidding. The message, intentional or not, is clear!
Addendum: An an alumnus adds a comment:
I have raised this issue at Dartmouth several times over the years. Although I do not keep kosher, I have pointed out to the College that the current certification is such that Conservative and Orthodox Jews who keep kosher are not comfortable dining there. Most recently I had a conversation with Maria Laskaris, who is aware of the problem with respect to applicants but cannot seem to address it.
To me, the fundamental issue is one of integrity: Dartmouth is holding itself out as providing something it does not, in fact, provide. All of the other Ivies, and most of our peers such as Duke, provide recognized kosher dining that meets the standards of kosher observance. I, too, have been told, “it’s good enough for Dartmouth; the food itself is kosher,” That misses the point. Kosher is like being pregnant, you either are or you are not.
I applaud the students who have initiated this dialogue with the administration, and I do not understand why the administration is not willing to correct the Pavilion’s deficiencies by providing real supervision, especially since the College is being misleading and deceptive, in my view, with regards to its claims as to the availability of kosher dining.
Every year researchers at Shanghai’s Jiao Tong University produce the Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU). In 2015, as always, most of the the Ivies have done well:
Brown doesn’t make the Top 20 list; it is ranked in 75th position this year. And the College? It now figures in the 201-300 category, along with Florida State, Louisiana State, Northeastern, and other similar schools.
Of greater concern is that we have been slipping over time in this index. From 2003-2009 we were ranked 102-150; then from 2010-2013 we dropped to the 151-200 level; since 2014 we have been in the lowly 201-300 area.
Addendum: Information on the methodology behind the research-oriented ARWU can be found here.
Gabrielle O’Donoghue’s May 15 piece in The D about Dartmouth Dining Services starts well:
There are few things on this campus that incite more animosity and complaints than Dartmouth Dining Services. As many of us already know, good ol’ DDS is ripping us off — and not just a penny here and a penny there. DDS makes millions in yearly profits, as recorded in auxiliary income reports and by DDS director David Newlove’s unfortunate LinkedIn profile.
Then O’Oonoghue shows herself to be a cut above the paper’s usual reporters because she did real research into DDS’s pricing:
At the West Lebanon Walmart, a Chobani Greek yogurt costs just one dollar, compared to three dollars at the East Wheelock Snack Bar. Being the bargain hunter I am, I compared food prices for 10 common items including a quart of milk, Vitaminwater, Lean Cuisine, Stouffer’s, strawberries and a few others on campus to those at the local Walmart. The results are nauseating. On average, those 10 items are almost three times more expensive to purchase on campus than off.
However, O’Donoghue did not go far enough and put DDS’s pricing policies into the proper perspective. You see, there are fairly standard profit margins applied in the food service business. At my Upper Valley health club, we have a small snack bar at the front desk. We sell a range of snack items over the counter at a profit margin of 50%: that is, we sell them at about double what we pay for them, the standard markup for over-the-counter food service. At a typical Hanover restaurant, one with waiters, table cloths and table service, the cost of food is typically one third the total cost of a menu item; the rest covers overheads and some profit for the owner. Thus a sit-down restaurant sells food at triple its cost, as it should, given the cost of cooking, serving, and maintaining an elegant premises in comparison to a snack bar.
So how is it, as Gabrielle reported, that DDS can get away with selling items at triple the cost of the same items at Walmart — the latter is certainly selling at a price higher than DDS pays for the same goods from a local wholesale supplier? Obviously DDS’ margin of profit is greater than that of a pretty restaurant, one with table service. There is only one answer, and Gabrielle provided it: “good ol’ DDS is ripping us off.”
Of course, if the exaggerated profit margins were going to the College’s general fund, we might consider the transaction a wash. But you and I (and DDS’ overpaid staff) know that this is not the case. Besides, with half of the College’s students receiving financial aid, do we really want to gouge them when they buy yogurt?
Addendum: DDS is but microcosm of the College (and increasingly the world): an overpaid, inefficient bureaucracy serving a very poor product at high prices — and thereby limiting the good things that an institution (and a country) can do. Rather than providing efficient service, the administration’s real concern in running DDS is protecting fat compensation packages, a aspiration that this 1982 FedEx ad (somewhat) laughingly parodies:
Depending on who you talk to, Anthony Princiotti, the director of the Dartmouth Symphony Orchestra and a violin instructor at the College for 23 years (and conductor of the the New Hampshire Philharmonic from 2000-2012), was either dismissed (according to rumors) or he has “decided to leave Dartmouth to pursue other opportunities and devote more time to his other conducting, performing, and teaching engagements” (according to an e-mail received from Director of Student Performance Groups Joshua Kol by members of the orchestra).
How to figure out what is going on? First off, the timing is curious; longtime people like Princiotti don’t retire/resign/whatever of their own volition immediately before the start of the music season at the College. And after 23 years, if the departure was voluntary, why did it not occur when students were in town, and an appropriate sendoff could be organized? These points are made in a Petition for Reinstatement that has now garnered hundred of signatures.
At the same time, if Princiotti was dismissed, the College is enjoined by the laws of employee privacy from saying anything about its decision. As Steve Nelson, head of the Calhoun School in Manhattan and the Valley News’ resident, self-admitted bleeding heart, recently wrote:
In personnel matters there is always an imbalance. Aggrieved employees are free to talk about, characterize or mischaracterize the circumstances of their termination with relative impunity, short of outright slander. Employers are constrained from providing any details, not because of arrogance or a climate of secrecy, but because potentially catastrophic legal consequences may result.
So we are left in a situation where it is hard to know just what occurred with Maestro Princiotto. It is well possible that he was fired for a specific cause that had nothing to do with the teaching and conducting that has made him popular with many students. Or perhaps he was fired capriciously. Frankly, I doubt the latter is the explanation. The College never fires anyone, if it can help it; the administration just brings in support for the underachieving person. That policy is one reason why the number of administrators grows each year.
The present affair is not unlike the recent controversial departures of Hood Director Michael Taylor and DEN Director Gregg Fairbrothers. We’ll never know what really happened behind the scenes in any of these matters. Only Taylor, Fairbrothers, Princiotti and the administration know, and they aren’t saying a thing.
August 14, 2013
Breaking: Of Crips and Bloods and Memories of Ghetto Parties
History repeats itself, first as tragedy and then as farce, or sometimes it just repeats itself. From the New York Times on November 30, 1998: At Dartmouth College, white students at a ”ghetto party” dressed…
June 25, 2013
Dean of the College Charlotte Johnson’s War on Students Part (2/2)
Part 1, Part 2 Today’s post again recounts the events that befell the Freshman. However, the content of the Hanover Police department report reproduced in this space yesterday is supplemented by information from my own…
October 18, 2009
When Love Beckoned in 52nd Street
We were at San Francisco’s BIX last evening, enjoying prosecco, cheese, and a bit of music. A full year of inhabitation in Northern California has unraveled to me no decent venue for proper lounging, but…
October 9, 2009
D Afraid of a Little Competish
So our colleague and Dartblog writer Joe Asch informed me that the D has rejected our cunning advertising campaign. Uh-oh. The Dartmouth is widely known as a breeding ground for instant New York Times successes,…
September 4, 2009
How Regents Should Reign
As Dartmouth alumni proceed through the legal hoops necessary to defuse a Board-packing plan—which put in unhappy desuetude an historic 1891 Agreement between alumni and the College guaranteeing a half-democratically-elected Board of Trustees—it strikes one…
August 29, 2009
Election Reform Study Committee
If you are an alum of the College on the Hill, you may have received a number of e-mails of late beseeching your input for a new arm of the College’s Alumni Control Apparatus called…