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What qualities have always made Dartmouth special? We can talk about outputs, as an economist might: alumni loyalty; widespread love for the College among students, staff and faculty; bonds between friends that last for life; mutual support among acquaintances and strangers alike for people who have spent time in Hanover. But a discussion of outputs gets us only so far: description is not analysis; this information doesn’t explain how such a state of affairs came to be.
We can also look at inputs: what is it about Dartmouth and Hanover that lead us to the fierce affection that marks the College? Of course, we can only speculate. The organic development of a society is infinitely complex; understanding one is difficult and we make changes at our peril. That said, in looking at the development of human relationships, and the web of friendships and love that members of the Dartmouth community consistently develop, we can see some special sides of the College.
The isolation of intellectual Dartmouth in flinty New Hampshire causes people to look inward to the institution, something that is not always a good thing — provincialism is necessarily limiting — but living on an island campus can cause people to focus on their own world with a greater intensity than they might otherwise do in a big city school. Needless to say, students don’t define themselves by the entire institution; they can’t be close friends with 4,000 other undergrads, or even the 1,000 members of their own class. By necessity they limit their circle of relations.
So how are friends made at Dartmouth? I’ve argued endlessly that for many years dorms were a locus of fruitful social interactions. One tended to make friends with the people who term after term lived across the hall from you, who played on the same dorm intramural teams as you, or who you saw on the stairs over and over again. That successful option ended when the College terminated dorm continuity in the mid-1980’s.
In addition, students make friendships in their extra curricular activities, whether it be The D, or the symphony, a capella groups, theater or endless clubs and other activities, but those groups don’t have residential homes, so if relationships are to persist, friendships needed a place to exist outside of Robinson Hall or rehearsal and meeting rooms. The same proposition is true of sports teams; where can teammates whose bonds were created in training and competition go to just be together, to share the happiness of unforced companionship?
Self-evidently, especially after the demise of the dormitories as functioning communities, Dartmouth’s fraternities became the center of most students’ social lives. Fraternities and sororities have never been more popular at Dartmouth than today, and I think that it is a fair bet that if the administration had not impeded the creation of more sororities over the past decade, even more students would be Greeks today.
The popularity of Greek houses makes sense. The houses have never been based on social class or geographic origin or religion or race (with only one exception). They seem to be organized by characteristics like teams sports, or shared interests, or the perceived personal qualities of members. Most importantly — a characteristic possibly unique to Dartmouth — the houses and their events are open to everyone on campus.
Yet last week, even as 67.4% of upperclassmen are members of Greek houses — and one must respectfully assume that they joined their fraternities and sororities for rational reasons — The D and others called for the abolition of the Greek system. In advocating for the end of the world as we know it, no proposals have been put forward for structures that might replace a system that students endlessly vote to support with their time and energy. Sure Phil and the gang talk about a housing plan that mimics Harvard: freshman dorms and then a house system. But will that setup work when so many students head off during sophomore year on one of Dartmouth’s foreign programs? In such a system, the residential bonds of freshman year are broken at the end of first year, and it is hard to imagine anything valid being rebuilt in the multi-building clusters. Besides, at Harvard, the house system doesn’t get the job done, as evidenced by the tepid support of Harvard alumni for their school in contrast to Dartmouth alums, not to mention the exclusive, elitist final clubs that fill the social void in Cambridge.
Most of my close friends at the College and I were GDI’s — we had our close-knit dorms to sustain us — but I would counsel that the College take care in thinking about ending the Greek system. Doing so tampers with a core element of the student experience at the institution, and the move could have myriad unexpected consequences. As the College slides in the esteem of potential applicants, the rankings, and its own students, we should make sure that efforts to improve Dartmouth don’t destroy the features that have made it great over the centuries. We could end up as the bottom-of the-bottom-tier Ivy for students who didn’t get into their first-choice school — a place with nothing distinctive about it save for a beautiful campus. We might be heading there already.
Addendum: Several readers have advanced the argument that abolishing the Greek system is analogous to the College’s move to co-education a little more than forty years ago. Not a valid comparison to my mind. When Dartmouth went co-ed, that change had been made with success by most other institutions of higher learning. And while there was great resistance in the College community, the opinions of negatively inclined alumni and students did not encompass the whole spectrum of interested parties — such as women. Today the rationale for abolishing the Greeks is that doing so will diminish any number of social pathologies from hazing to sexual assault and binge drinking. Yet evidence is never advanced that schools without frats, or schools that abolished their frats, do not suffer from these ills. Why not? Because such schools are afflicted with them every bit as much as Dartmouth.
Further to yesterday’s post about the Spanish Flu pandemic, we saw the below health warning last week at the Kosi Bay border crossing between Mozambique and South Africa. The outbreak of the disease is centered in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, on the other side of the African continent, some 5,000 miles away.
Note the admonition at the document’s end that “Prevention is Better Than Cure” — immediately after the bullet point stating that there is no treatment for the disease.
As Ebola threatens the world, it is worth recalling America’s last great epidemic of an easily spread disease: the 1918 avian-derived Spanish flu pandemic, which killed 675,000 Americans. Estimates of the total number of deaths around the world now range between 50,000,000-100,000,000.
A military installation near Boston, Camp Devens, was hit especially hard, as a doctor there observed:
“These men start with what appears to be an ordinary attack of la grippe or influenza,” wrote Dr. Roy Grist, a Camp Devens physician, to a friend, “and when brought to the hospital they very rapidly develop the most vicious type of pneumonia that has ever been seen. Two hours after admission they have the mahogany spots over the cheekbones, and a few hours later you can begin to see cyanosis extending from their ears and spreading all over the face, until it is hard to distinguish the colored men from the white… . It is only a matter of a few hours then until death comes… . It is horrible. One can stand it to see one, two, or 20 men die, but to see these poor devils dropping like flies… . We have been averaging 100 deaths per day… . It takes special trains to carry away the dead. For several days there were no coffins and the bodies piled up something fierce.”
At the College, the death toll was limited to five students (see four above), one faculty member (30-year-old Government Professor Eldon Evans), and ten soldiers from the local army detachment. However so many people were stricken — 325 in all, at a time when there were about 400 men in each class — that Alumni Gym was converted into a sick ward, and College Hall (now Collis) became a convalescent center. Classes were cancelled from October 1-14, and Dartmouth Night was postponed. To avoid the contagion that came from close contact between people, students were kept out of doors for nine hours per day.
October 1918 was the deadliest month in American history, with 195,000 Americans dying, out of a total population of 103,208,000. (1918 was the only year in the 20th century when the national population fell.)
The virus ended its ravages almost as quickly as it began. Experts still debate as to whether treatments so improved that people recovered rather than dying, or whether the disease mutated quickly to a less lethal strain.
Addendum: A reader writes in:
In Marblehead one percent of the population (70 people) died. The virus hit in waves, down one month, up the next - evidence of the mutation.
Hardest hit state was Alaska……it hit remote areas worst - no immunity. And it also hit young people more than the old and usually vulnerable lot.
10X deaths in the USA as in the Great War.
The Wall Street Journal article describing Harvard’s largest ever donation — $350 million for the School of Public Health from the family of Gerald Chan, a Harvard-educated investor — contained an interesting nugget of information:
A review of 208 private universities rated by Moody’s MCO 0.00% Investors Service over 10 years shows a distinct tilt toward the haves. Schools with more than $1 billion in total cash and investments received 67% of total gift dollars in 2013, up from 62% in 2003. Meanwhile, universities with less than $100 million in cash and investments received a declining share—less than 3% of total gift dollars…
A survey of more than 800 public and private schools by the National Association of College and University Business Officers between 2010 and 2013 shows a similar trend. Schools with endowments of more than $1 billion saw their average gifts rise 41%, while those to schools with endowments of under $25 million rose 33%…
Dominating the list of recipients of single donations of nine figures in the last three years are familiar names: $350 million to Cornell; $350 million to Johns Hopkins; $250 million to Yale; $225 million to the University of Pennsylvania; $150 million to Harvard and $100 million each to Dartmouth and Georgetown.
The rising fortunes of the wealthy universities are due to several factors, including the growing use of large-scale data analytics, which give college fundraisers a clearer picture of not only who has the capacity to give but who has the desire. That information makes large capital campaigns increasingly efficient and boosts the advantages of wealthier schools that produce wealthier alumni. [Emphasis added]
I disagree with the use of the term “wealthy” in the last sentence quoted above. A better phrasing would be as follows: “the best schools attract the smartest students, and by giving them a fine education inside and outside of the classroom, they are the most likely to achieve great success in the world.”
Poets & Quants and Payscale have looked at the twenty-year earning history of MBA-holders from the major schools. Though Tuck finishes eighth in the ranking, take note that its graduates earn the second-highest average starting salary today:
A note on methodology:
The numbers are conservative. They do not include stock-based compensation of any kind, the cash value of retirements benefits, or other non-cash benefits, such as health care. The estimates are for base salary, cash bonuses and profit sharing in today’s dollars over a 20-year period from from 1994 to 2014. They are not a projection of future earnings. But the estimates show that the MBA degree-despite all the second-guessing over its value since the Great Recession-is one of the surest paths to a lucrative career.
In response to Monday’s post, we’ve received a number of e-mails defending research, and even citing research grants as a net revenue producers for colleges and universities:
For example, most research on campus is done with federal grants, and these come with tight budgets that you cannot exceed. So this notion of the College coughing up an extra 10-20% is farfetched to say the least. In reality the College makes a lot of money from these grants - 62% overhead to be exact, and even higher in the med school.
Regrettably, the notion that grants financially support other parts of an institution of higher learning is just plain wrong. In an FAQ paper prepared by the Association of American Universities and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities in October, 2013, the figure of 20% was advanced as the share of research paid for by universities themselves. The study notes that many types of grants (monies from the Gates Foundation and other private foundations being an example) come with no contribution to overheads, and that even the overhead allocation from federal grants does not cover the full cost of research. This assertion has been confirmed to me by senior educational administrators.
Thus, when Jim Wright said that “Dartmouth is a research university in all but name,” what he was really saying is that he had decided to re-direct funding away from the undergraduate program towards graduate students, their buildings, laboratories and stipends. Methinks that Phil Hanlon and Carolyn Dever are saying the same thing when they announce a significant new structure to support graduate education.
The only thing that Dartmouth needs less now than more grad students is a law school. Just how many unemployed people do we want to contribute to the labor market?
Using data from the National Science Foundation’s Survey of Earned Doctorates, Slate’s Jordan Weissmann adduces the odds of a newly minted Ph. D. getting a job — any job — after nine or more years of post-secondary education. Not to put too fine a point on Weissmann’s numbers, his piece is entitled, “The Unending Horror of the Humanities Job Market, in One Chart.”
Weissman contributes an introductory comment:
Then again, job is a tricky word here. When the NSF asks students whether they have a definite commitment from an employer, it doesn’t differentiate between short-term or part-time jobs and stable, permanent work. In other words, it tosses together adjuncts and teaching fellows along with graduates who end up in the tenure track—meaning the real market might be even a bit worse than this graph lets on.
Note that a postdoc position, the most likely job category for doctorate-holders, pays between $40,000-55,000/year, a figure that is approximately 15%-55% more than an uneducated cook helper earns at Dartmouth. The below chart comes from an article in The Atlantic that has another happy title: “The Ph.D Bust: America’s Awful Market for Young Scientists—in 7 Charts.”
The Atlantic piece also notes the extraordinary crash in the academic job market over the last forty years. It seems hard to believe that in 1973, 55% of Ph.D. holders went straight to tenure-track jobs; today only 15% do so.
Given the decades-long glut in the market for doctoral degree holders, just why is it that Dartmouth wants to invest in its Arts & Sciences graduate programs?
Addendum: In the early 1980’s, 40% of my class at the Yale Law School had earned doctoral degrees. Even then they had turned their back on the field that they loved.
When highly educated World Bankers start distributing leaflets calling for brief work stoppages, you know that Jim Kim is under pressure. Our former President is now held in contempt by many people in Washington (and Hanover). Is he on the way out?
The Class of 2011 Orator, Dartblog’s Kathleen Mayer ‘11, wrote a tough piece about Kim on March 27, 2012 that seems to be making the rounds of World Bank staffers.
Veterans Day is November 11 and the Marines were founded on November 10.
Tickets can be purchased by clicking here.
In an open letter in the Boston Globe, twenty-eight members of the Harvard Law faculty have denounced Harvard’s new sexual assault policy — a policy similar in most respects to the rules Dartmouth recently put into place. Herewith the gravamen of their concerns:
This space’s own commentary parallels the Harvard Law prof’s views.
Addendum: In a related Globe article, civil libertarian and renowned litigator Alan Dershowitz said of Harvard’s policy, “This is an issue of political correctness run amok.”
I am sure that he is gassing on about things of which he knows little or nothing, but at least he is doing so in a Dartmouth tie. The other day the NYT published this picture of Jim Kim at the IMF’s recent annual meeting:
To cite alumni of recent prominence, did Hank Paulson ‘68 and Tim Geithner ‘83 wear Dartmouth ties when working as Secretary of the Treasury? Only on rare very occasions according to Google Images (Paulson, Geithner).
However the time for levity is over for Jim Kim. The Times ran a lengthy profile piece on him this week that mixes a great deal of unverifiable puffery about Kim with pointedly critical comments from insiders at the Bank. Our former President really knows how to work the media — perhaps his only real skill.
However in Washington the World Bank staff is close to open revolt. Kim is holding another town meeting today to try and calm anger at the mess that is the result of his consultant-driven re-organization of the institution. More than a few people at the World Bank have come to recognize that in regards to Jim Kim, there is no there there. He was purportedly booed at last week’s town meeting; who know where things will go today?
The Dartmouth faculty did not have the nerve to bring a no-confidence vote to the floor of a faculty meeting, even though most professors are protected by tenure. Will World Bank staffers find the courage to openly call for Kim’s resignation, even though many could be sent home to countries where the quality of living doesn’t measure up to their lives in Washington?
The old adage states that it is easier to row with the current than against it. Should the College put resources towards reinvigorating undergraduate education (#11-but-falling) or should we invest in our various graduate programs? Let’s look at how they stand vs. the other Ivies according to U.S. News:
An ugly situation. Other than Tuck and the primary care section of the Med School, nothing that Datmouth does outside of undergraduate education is anything other than worst-in-show in the Ivies (okay, okay, Earth Sciences is second-to-worst). Is there any reason to think that an investment of money, time and effort will change that situation.
If you ask a Bain consultant which areas of an enterprise merit investment, the answer that you would get is simple: spend resources where you have a strong chance of real return on your efforts. Trying to drive our small, mediocre graduate programs to the top of their respective fields is a poor bet. Why do we think that we might succeed in the competitive world of higher education? Do we have a group of extraordinarily faculty talents who inspire confidence, as John Kemeny did when he was given carte blanche by John Sloan Dickey to build the College’s Math department in the 1950’s? If such professors are there, Phil and Provost Dever should point them out. I don’t see them.
Sharp-eyed readers will wonder why the College’s much-praised Economics department does not appear on the above list. That’s easy. Econ has no graduate program, and for a good reason, about which we have already written:
The highly regarded Economics department is already there to show the College how it can be done. Econ has no need for grad students. The question has been discussed over the years in Silsby, but the faculty’s conclusion seems to be that it would take twenty years of hard work to develop a first class graduate program. Why do so? The effort makes no sense when the same energy applied to the education of today’s undergrads gets them admitted into the best economics graduate programs and B-schools in the country.
A close observer of the College writes in to comment on Phil’s plan to develop a graduate student center. Lots of food for thought here:
Expanding the A&S graduate program — by number of students — and building the facilities necessary for faculty research in the natural sciences and medicine has been where all of the presidents since Freedman have been diverting the College’s resources, as evidenced in its rising debt levels and increasing endowment payout percentages over this period.
The relative disinvestment in the undergraduate program is striking; for example, one would expect that all of those new A&S graduate students would have instructional jobs supporting the undergraduate program, but the number of undergraduates has barely budged (up 5%) while the number of graduate students is up by almost the same number of bodies and by roughly half again in percentage terms (up 50% since 2000).
In all of this, it is important to remember that A&S graduate students typically get a stipend (salary), health insurance, and free tuition, so they probably cost the College about $40,000 each on an annual basis (admittedly, a guess). At the same time, the College’s tenured faculty aren’t teaching the courses that these graduate students are teaching.
And the research that these graduate students are helping the faculty to do actually costs the College real money (a rough rule of thumb is that a $1.0 million NIH grant costs about $1.1 million to $1.2 million to run, so you lose 10% to 20% on every grant you receive).
These efforts go a long way towards explaining why the College has become more heavily indebted and chronically cash short over the last 20 years. Freedman, Wright, Kim and Folt all apparently chose not to tell the alumni about — or get their support for — where the money and investment was going, effectively quietly playing a game of *…you bet your College….* in an effort to transform Dartmouth into a Harvard on the Connecticut.
I have no idea where the Trustees were in all of this. Why the faculty seem to think that they need a dedicated graduate school facility is beyond me.
Note especially the observation that research grants do not cover the cost of the research that is done. The College’s 2013 financial accounts list “Sponsored Research Grants and Contracts in the amount of $181,517,000. If the actual cost of this work is 10%-20% beyond this figure, then the rest of the College is kicking in between $18 million and $36 million each year. Is this the best use of our money?
Addendum: An alumnus who was both an undergrad and a grad student writes in:
Having been both an undergrad, as well as an A&S graduate student at Dartmouth I think I have some insight regarding this matter. I don’t agree with increasing the size of the College’s graduate programs, and I agree that a loss of focus on undergraduates has clearly, and detrimentally, occurred. However, there is a need for a separate space for A&S graduate students. There is also a definite need for *some* A&S graduate students, as there are certain departments, especially in the sciences, where graduate students are necessary to support research (that research also often incorporates undergraduates).
The fact of the matter is that being an A&S graduate student at Dartmouth today is depressing. While the professional schools have their own spaces and cultures, A&S graduate students feel like second class citizens. As an undergraduate, I actively resented graduate students on campus using my resources while not being immersed in my culture. I then got to feel that resentment first hand as a graduate student where one is forced to blend-in to a place that offers few socially mature outlets (at least on campus).
Individual A&S graduate programs are too small to actively maintain their own vibrant spaces or social scenes. There needs to be a place on campus where a Biology PhD student will regularly and actively run into a Computer Science masters student. If we’re going to have A&S graduate students at all (and we do need to) then let’s offer them the dignity of a place to call their own, just as the professional schools enjoy.
As an aside, the “close observer” who wrote in about the cost of graduate students doesn’t take into account that some masters programs are cash cows (MALS for example (and perhaps tragically/notoriously)). I’d like to see some charts and real figures of the actual costs (including revenue from graduate student research grants). I suspect his hyperbole is a bit overblown.
We are big fans of Paris’ Vélib public bike program. You buy a subscription, go to a stand (there is supposedly one within 300 yards of any point in the city), swipe your card to retrieve a bike, and then pedal away. A smartphone app lets you locate a stand and find out how many bikes are in it, and how many free spaces are left for you can drop your bike.
The system as it is conceived is wonderful, but it has two major problems: the bikes take a terrible beating; it is not infrequent that you arrive at a stand and half the bikes have flat tires, detached chains, bent pedals, worn-out brakes, and on and on. The other difficulty can be finding a stand with any bikes at all. Some areas of town have a constant bike deficit — like our area of the 16th — and others have such a surplus that it is hard to find an open space at which to drop off a bike. Hence the hard-working souls, like the fellow in the picture below, who use purpose-build bike carriers to bring Vélibs from surplus areas to deficit zones.
Over the years Dartmouth has experimented with free bike programs — though not ones that involve unlocking and locking bicycles that are associated with individual users’ ID cards. In short order most of the bikes have ended up in the river or the forest. I am not sure that a Vélib program would work at the College, unless it used thousands of bikes. Too many kids go in one direction at a time for the system to provide reliable transportation. And then there is the little matter that snow lies on the ground for four months or so each year.
One hell of a football game. Look at how the team fought back from deficits all afternoon:
Harvard and Princeton are still to come, but it is nice to feel hopeful in the middle of October. We have a team with a lot of heart — and a talented QB!
Addendum: Here’s the College’s press release, and the Valley News’ report, which noted that Dartmouth kickoff man Riley Lyons ‘15 made three tackles in the game and possibly injured his shoulder. And in a departure from recent sorry tradition, even The D had a story out about the game within hours of its conclusion. Do I sense budding enthusiasm in Hanover?
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)
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 interviews, a review of…
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…