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Monday’s Faculty meeting had an underlying contentiousness that bodes ill for Phil Hanlon and the College’s leadership team.

Non-Recording Option: A little more than 90 members of the College’s 607-person Arts & Sciences faculty turned out for the faculty meeting on Monday, where they voted down proposed changes to the Non-Recording Option. As we have noted, currently students can designate a grade that they will find acceptable in a course, and if they achieve it or better, that grade is recorded on their transcript (though the course does not count for their major). If they do not make or exceed their target grade, they earn only an NRO designation. Students can elect to take a course NRO at least once per term.

The proposal before the faculty was for a new NRO system whereby students could earn no more than a grade of Satisfactory in a course, unless their grade was a D or an E — the latter grades would appear in their transcripts. They could only use the new NRO election three times in their careers.

The faculty voted against the proposal by a margin of 51-40. The chief arguments voiced in favor of the change were that students should not be allowed to set their own grades, and that students often slacked off unconscionably in a course once they determined that their target grade was out of reach. Other professors argued that the proposal took away all incentives for students to work for a high grade, and would lead to even less effort by undergraduates taking a course NRO.

Economics Professor William Fischel noted that the only course in the College’s most popular department where students could elect the Non-Recording Option was Economics 2 (“Econ for Poets”). Once again, Econ shows that toughness will attract serious students.

Stephen Brooks.jpgFaculty Compensation: Professor of Government Stephen Brooks made a witty, pointed and well argued presentation about how faculty compensation in Hanover has failed to keep pace with that of our peer schools. His directness led me to think that he was on the edge of calling for the creation of a faculty labor union — no shrinking violet this IR specialist. Brooks pointed out with a slide that the College was even now falling behind in the compensation race with the schools with whom we compete for faculty (and often losing therefore in head-to-head efforts to attract top-quality professors to Hanover):

Brooks Presentation May 23, 2015.jpg

In addition, Brooks noted various Trustee resolutions and specific promises made by Jim Kim and Carol Folt (of which Phil Hanlon is aware) to keep salaries competitive — promises that have been broken. The faculty unanimously passed the following resolution:

MOVED: The Arts and Sciences faculty requests that the Provost ask the Academic Affairs Committee of the Board of Trustees to reaffirm, and to address, the April 1999 Trustee directive regarding compensation strategy which states that it is “important for Dartmouth College to provide competitive compensation to its faculty.” More specifically, this directive specifies that Dartmouth should follow a:

“strategy aimed at improving Dartmouth’s relative standing within its peer group. This new strategy termed “migration toward the mean” would attempt to move each rank (i.e., assistant professor, associate professor, full professor) at Dartmouth closer to the mean of the comparison schools. It is clearly recognized that there will be yearly fluctuations due to hiring and promotion patterns that will cause Dartmouth to gain and lose ground. But, the overall long-term trend….should be toward the mean of the comparison institutions.”

Capital Campaign: Multiple administration speakers announced that the capital campaign was indeed underway — though it was still in the quiet phase. Of course, no ambitious total goal has been announced, so confidence must be lacking on some level. That makes sense. Large donors have to be unnerved right now by the College’s endless troubles, and until Bob Lasher’s Development office can get a good read on donor interest, we won’t hear about the campaign’s final goal. The College’s previous campaign, which barely achieved its goal of $1.3 billion, ended on December 31, 2009 — a long time ago.

Tenure Standards: In a sop to the 106 faculty members who have signed an open letter, Dean Mastanduno has announced that the COP would engage in a review of the tenure-granting process at the College. Two professors (Music Professor Steve Swayne and Professor of German Irene Kacandes) voiced support for Aimee Bahng, but Professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences David Bucci and Professor of Anthropology Sergei Kan stated that the system of checks and balanced integral to the tenure process was working as intended.

The open letter letter also notes concern over the role of Academic Analytics in the CAP’s deliberations. At a forum in Collis yesterday, Phil Hanlon stated that information from Academic Analytics was not used in reviewing professors who are up for tenure. He verified that the College did have an ongoing relationship with Academic Analytics, but he was unsure just how the service’s data was used and by whom (you would think that Phil would have better prepared himself for this forum).

Jewish Studies: The College’s Jewish Students Program received permanent status in a unanimous vote, and in presenting the case for the Program, Religion Professor Susannah Heschel placed particular emphasis on Dartmouth’s close ties with faculty at several Israeli universities. Here’s to you, BDS supporters.

Addendum: Although she is ostensibly the College’s chief academic officer, Provost Dever sat in the third row of the faculty section rather than at the head table with Phil Hanlon, Dean Mastanduno and other committee members. She said nothing at the meeting. I have yet to hear a positive comment about Dever from a member of the faculty — and some profs have said, surprisingly enough, that she is the object of particular opprobrium in the Humanities (Dever is a a scholar of gender studies and 19th-century British literature and culture).

Addendum: Discontent with Phil and Carolyn is running deep. There is talk in more than a few places of a no-confidence vote within a year.

Professor of Music Emeritus Jon Appleton comments on the evolution of tenure decisions at the College:

Jon Appleton2.jpgThe uproar over the denial of tenure to Assistant Professor Aimee Bahng might be seen as a return to rigor in the process of promotion and tenure at Dartmouth, something that has been in decline, spectacularly in the Humanities Division, for the last five decades.

When I joined the faculty in 1967, there were annual reviews of faculty by department chairs and the Associate Dean. Publication and teaching evaluations were the primary criteria for evaluation. A renewal of the three-year initial appointment was not nearly automatic as it is today.

Objectivity in promotion and tenure decisions is difficult in the tightly knit community that is Dartmouth, where collegiality is highly prized. As the number of positions in the humanities declined over this period, the focus of new faculty efforts became not the quality but quantity of publication. New faculty sought student approbation by lowering grading standards because they knew their students might have input into the promotion and tenure decisions.

Fortunately, there is still a degree of confidentiality in the process. When the Committee Advisory to the President makes a recommendation concerning promotion and tenure, the Committee’s members are privy to information that none of those protesting the denial of tenure to Assistant Professor Bahng have seen: confidential letters from distinguished peers, honest student appraisals, and the requirement to actually read some of the published work. I wonder how many people among those protesting this decision have in fact read this material?

Tenure is thus granted through the experienced judgment of a diverse group of women and men, who themselves have made significant contributions to their fields and to the College.

President John Kemeny recognized and sought to reverse the “old boy” hiring practices of the earlier Dartmouth faculty by limiting tenure to “two per ten per decade” — meaning that in every decade only two of every ten faculty in a given department should be granted tenure.

Since that time, and especially since the reign of James Wright as Dean, Provost and then President, these standards were relaxed. The perusal of the publication records of current senior faculty reveals a majority who have done very little since they were granted tenure. These are professors for whom the sinecure of tenure was more important than work in their own disciplines.

Addendum: Jon Appleton is the Arthur R. Virgin Professor of Music Emeritus. He served on the faculty from 1967 to 2009. Additionally he has held appointments at Stanford University, Keio University (Japan) and is a fellow of the Guggenheim and Rockefeller foundations.

Addendum: Another member of the faculty writes in:

I assume you are aware that “unanimous department votes” are not always as unanimous as they appear. Those in the minority may vote with the majority to avoid the possibility of word getting out that they voted against the tenure of a likely future colleague. Having a colleague who knows that you voted against him/her can make for a very unpleasant work environment.

Thus, rather than voting in the minority, those not supporting the “unanimous” department vote may signal their views to the CAP, who is then left with making an unpleasant or unpopular decision. Most faculty know this, and I think there are quite a few faculty (myself included) who are not at all roiled by CAP decisions to overturn unanimous department votes.

Addendum: Yet another member of the faculty has a thought:

I do think something is broken in the tenure system if someone comes up for tenure with a book in press and only four articles. It’s the fault of the Associate Dean, who is supposed to meet with junior faculty each year and make tenure requirements clear, and also the department chair, who should do the same thing.

The other problem is one of quality: a person may write brilliant articles on a narrow topic, but the question should be, what has this person contributed to the field (English, Government, History, etc.)? We have to ask an even tougher question: Is this someone who might one day earn a Guggenheim?

Addendum: One of my favorite student correspondents writes in to note that composer and Music Professor Paul Moravec was denied tenure twice (in 1993 and 1995) amid controversy, and he went on to win the Pulitzer Prize in Music in 2004.

Today’s faculty meeting at 3pm will address more completely the issue of revising the Non-Recording Option. If the proposed changes are approved, students will be obliged to meet a minimum standard of work in order to receive a grade of Satisfactory — or risk having a D or E listed on their transcript (with its GPA-busting consequences) — and they will only be able to do so three times in their academic career. That development is of real moment for students; why has The D not addressed its substance? After all, it was on the faculty agenda two weeks ago.

Other aspects of the meeting are equally interesting (here are the faculty’s complete materials). On April 26 we reported on the latest AAUP data concerning faculty salaries (our Associate and Assistant Professors and our Lecturers are paid considerably less than the faculty at the other other Ivy schools, though our Full Professors earn more than equivalent faculty at Brown and Cornell). Economics Professor Eric Zitzewitz reported similar figures at a faculty meeting last June, and the Committee on the Faculty (COF) will again observe today that the College is not keeping pace with its peers.

Note particularly that the gap in salaries opened up during the period of the Kim budget cuts (see the red arrows that I have added to the chart). Jim Kim was especially proud that his budget exercise did not involve layoffs of the impossibly bloated support staff (actually it did not involve any decreases in the budget either; spending rose each year under JYK). What a textbook example of cutting bone to save fat:

Faculty Salaries 2000-2016.jpg

The Committee on the Faculty did a calculation that I was preparing to do (I’m kicking myself for being scooped). After noting that at “Dartmouth compensation is currently 6.8% lower than the average level of compensation for the US News Top 20 schools (the group of institutions that COF regards as the most reasonable peer comparison),” the COF commented:

The Committee on the Faculty estimates that it would take $5.4 million in total compensation to close the gap between Dartmouth and the US News Top 20 schools (when we look at assistant, associate, and full professors separately and the resources it would take to close the gap in all three ranks). Faculty compensation is a relatively small part of Dartmouth’s overall budget: the $5.4 million needed to close the current compensation gap only constitutes 0.6% of Dartmouth’s current operating expenses ($891 million). Assuming that our standard raise pools will keep pace with our peers, if Dartmouth were to try to close this compensation gap over a five-year period, it would require adding an additional 1.2% to the raise pool each year (or adding 2% each year if we opted for a three-year plan for reducing the gap). [Emphasis added]

Such a request is circumspect, to say the least. Look at the College’s year-on-year total spending increases over the last five years: 2015: + $38.3 million; 2014: +$17.8 million; 2013: +$59.5 million; 2012: +37.5 million; 2011: +$21.2 million. In 2010 the College’s expenses totaled $717.1 million; in 2015 they were $891.4 million. Of that overall increase of $174.3 million over a five-year period, it is astounding that $5.4 million could not have been found to keep faculty compensation level with competing schools. But then, as the recent Class of 2016 petition noted, the College’s top priority still seems to be to feed the staff beast. During this same five-year period, the number of non-faculty staff members increased by 441 people — and the number of Arts and Sciences faculty grew by 46.

Of course, in keeping with this space’s promotion of quality, I agree that we should give raises so that our average pay is competitive with the other Ivies — but using the pitiless law of averages, we should allow a large gap between our top performers and mediocre faculty members, many of whom are professors favored by Jim Wright, scholars who never should have been given tenure in the first place.

Finally, the meeting materials reproduce a May 13, 2013 evaluation of the College’s popular and rigorous Jewish Studies Program. The review is included because Jewish Studies is up for a vote on its continuation. Read through the report with some care. The subtext is clear: Dartmouth has a program that is working extremely well for students and faculty; why is the administration starving it when a little more money would enable Jewish Studies to become one of the College’s top academic initiatives?

Jewish Studies. Faculty salaries. Kosher dining. Decrepit dorms. Need-blind admissions for international students. The refrain is always the same. The administration has no money, except to pay the ever-burgeoning non-faculty staff.

We’ve written about Burgundian winemaker Dominique Laurent in the past. He has the heart and soul of an artist, the mind of an entrepreneur, and he makes wines that sing.

When Dominique could not find oak barrels that did his grapes justice, he started his own cooperage to produce what are now known as his Magic Casks. Made of staves of oak sourced from France’s renowned national forests, his barrels are 50% thicker than traditional ones. He lets the staves sit outdoors for about three years to cure in the heat and snow of Burgundy; then, after being fashioned into barrels, they are lightly charred. The “toast” must be just right: too light and the barrels will impart green tannins to the wine; too heavy and the overbearing vanilla of New World chardonnays will come to the fore:

Barrels in Burgundy.jpg

Dominique’s wines show hardly any oak character (or if they do, only in the first blush of their youth), but the use of oak futs allows the developing wine to breathe during its élevage — the pre-bottling, in-barrel phase when the hand of man takes grapes and turns them into wine. The result is an almost unique richness and generosity of flavor.

There are few high-tech shortcuts in the manufacturing of barrels. Each one is produced by artisans who sense the particular qualities of each one. The coopers make decisions about fit and toast all along the production process:

Addendum: As regards the use of oak in winemaking — now often replaced by stainless steel tanks or enamel-lined cement vats — the oft-quoted remark of Burgundian winemaker Jean-Marie Guffens-Heynens sums up the state of affairs up well: “There are no over-oaked wines, but there are many under-wined wines.” By which he means that unless grapes are ripe and suffused with the minerals that come from low crop yields and vines with deep roots, a wine will always risk being overwhelmed by the use of new oak barrels, even ones made by Dominique Laurent..

Referring in the plural to “recent decisions to overturn unanimous department tenure votes are gravely concerning, indicating that even the best people cannot overcome a flawed process,” a petition is circulating among the faculty that questions the fairness of the tenure-granting process at the College and the use of private metrics provider Academic Analytics to compile quantitative data about faculty research:

Faculty Petition May 2016A.jpg

The American Association of University Professors has issued a caution on the use of data from Academic Analytics.

To date 67 professors have signed the petition.

Addendum: Displeasure concerning Provost Carolyn Dever has reached a high pitch, and dislike of Phil is not far behind. The tenure decisions in question are a catalyst for upset faculty members.

Addendum: It seems that there is some confusion as the whether the College actually used the services of Academic Analytics. I am trying to get to the bottom of the question.

Addendum: I have now confirmed that the College has an ongoing contract with Academic Analytics, but the extent to which it is used in the tenure evaluation process is uncertain.

An alert reader pointed me to a piece from late last year in Mother Jones about diversity in college faculties as measured by race and gender. In racial diversity, the College seemingly does not do well compared to the other Ivies, and, um, everyone:

University Faculty By Race.jpg

Note: The “Other” category “includes individuals who are Native American, Pacific Islander, multiracial, or declined to report their race.” The “declined to report their race” section might be a joker in the deck: it can skew a school’s rank in an important way.

Stanford, which lies in the penultimate position at the bottom of the histogram, seems to have fewer Black and Hispanic faculty members as a percentage than the College, but the Farm earns a better ranking (if having less Whites can be deemed “better) by virtue of having a high number of Asian and Foreign professors on its faculty.

As for gender diversity, we have more women on the faculty than all of the other Ivies except Yale and Columbia:

University Faculty By Gender.jpg

How sad that magazines don’t rank schools on their number of top scholars or what percentage of courses are taught by tenured faculty (as opposed to adjuncts, etc.) or how diverse the faculty is in terms of ideology (Republicans vs. Democrats vs. Marxists vs. Libertarians) or religious affiliation (how many born again Christians do we have in the Religion department?). Phil and Carolyn are not the only people endlessly obsessed with skin color and gender.

Addendum: The College’s Annual Report on Faculty Diversity from January used data provided by the Consortium on Financing Higher Education to compare the percentage of Underrepresented Minority Faculty in Hanover to numbers at other schools:

URM Faculty.jpg

Note too bad results. It looks like we are in the ballpark, though moving in the wrong direction, as regards full professors, and as a percentage we have far more underrepresented minority associate and assistant professors than our peers. However, as we pointed out above in contrasting the College’s results with Stanford above, these figures do not include Asian and Foreign professors.

Martin Wybourne2.jpgAs Provost Dever continues to weed out all of the men from the staff of her office, she is doing so without even a nod to graciousness. In the below e-mail announcing a search for a new Vice Provost for Research, the outgoing Vice Provost, Professor of Physics Martin Wybourne, who also served as the College’s interim Provost for two years during the Folt administration and then under Phil Hanlon until Carolyn came to town, doesn’t even merit a thank you. In fact, he isn’t even named. While Wybourne will continue in the position (which he attained in 2004) for a year after his replacement arrives in Hanover, Carolyn can only bear to refer to him as “the current incumbent”:

Dever Vice Provost Research1.jpg

Upon Wybourne’s departure and after his undoubted replacement by a woman, the only male in the Provost’s Office (not counting the Presidential Fellow) will be the Institutional Official for Animal Care and Use, close-to-retirement Bio Professor Roger Sloboda (whose h-index of 24 tells you that he does not spend much time in Parkhurst):

Provost Office.jpg

Carolyn is the Invisible Provost, and most members of the faculty believe that she is in Hanover only to punch her ticket Kim-style, before moving on to the presidency of a research university. I’d say that she has reached her Peterian level of incompetence here, but then, given Carol Folt’s ascent to the Chancellorship of UNC at Chapel Hill, anything is possible in the untethered-from-reality world of higher education.

Addendum: An alumnus writes in:

Your piece this morning about the search for a new Vice Provost for Research reminded me that Martin Wybourne has been and continues to be a terrific asset to Dartmouth in the various key roles he has had in the Provost’s office over the last 15 years. He most assuredly deserves our respect and our thanks for his dedication and his service to the College — as well as mention by name in Carolyn Dever’s e-mail to the faculty.

In addition, the transformation of the Provost’s Office to a now nearly-exclusively female-dominated domain reminds me of the male purge that occurred in the Dean of the College Office in 2009 and 2010 when a number of highly-experienced male employees were forced from their positions — reportedly to the point where the General Counsel’s Office expressed concern that the College might have some potential liability for employment discrimination.

All of this, of course, is all the more interesting in light of Phil’s statements to the faculty about his clear priorities for the next Dean of the Faculty. I can’t help but wonder if Dartmouth is at — or is fast approaching — the point where male candidates for senior administrative positions at the College will need to be given preference for diversity reasons.

Aimee Bahng.jpgWhat does it take to get tenure at Dartmouth? The other day I used a term that we should hear more often to describe our special niche in higher education: research college. Members of the faculty need not only be excellent scholars, but unlike professors up for tenure at a research university, they must be fine teachers as well. How those two factors are weighed is open to debate, but there is no disputing that research always receives greater emphasis. That is as it should be, as I wrote in a piece in The D a little more than a decade ago:

If you give the subject a moment’s thought, you can’t have first-class teaching without research. Place yourself in the position of the College. When Dartmouth grants tenure to a faculty member, it faces several challenges in justifying a 30-plus-year commitment to its permanent employee.

How can the College ensure that the professor’s teaching remains vibrant for this extended period? How can Dartmouth guarantee that the professor imparts to students the notion that any intellectual field has an ever-evolving understanding of its subject?

Some of us, though only rarely at Dartmouth, have faced the bleak task of taking a course with a faculty member for whom the flame has gone out. With research in the distant past, teaching has become no more than the repetition of old lecture notes.

There seems a broad consensus that English Professor Aimee Bahng is a devoted teacher. The loyalty she has engendered has led several thousand people to sign a petition in support of her request for tenure. And the English department unanimously recommended that Bahng become an Associate Professor, with the virtual guarantee of lifetime employment. However the department’s recommendation was turned down at the level of the CAP, the College’s Committee Advisory to the President, though the petition says that the decision is being appealed.

By way of background, tenure is granted to a member of the faculty only after the successive approvals of the tenured members of a department or program, the CAP, the President, and the Board of Trustees — though in practice the latter two will not go against the wishes of the CAP. Everyone seems to agree that there should be oversight of an academic department’s determination; in a small school where professors in a department have been working and socializing together for six years before an assistant professor comes up for tenure, there will always be an emotional tug one way or another in a tenure determination. The CAP is there to offer dispassionate supervision of tenure decisions, especially ones relating to (un)popular professors. The committee safeguards the College’s interest in granting tenure only to the most qualified candidates.

So what happened to much loved Aimee? The Committee Advisory to the President seems a serious set of people: Dean of the Faculty and Government Professor Mike Mastanduno, Government Professor John Carey, Biology Professor Kathryn Cottingham, Professor of German Studies Gerd Gemünden, Professor of Film and Media Studies Amy Lawrence, Economics Professor Nina Pavcnik, and Professor of Environmental Studies Ross Virginia. For folks who believe that gender and race are destiny, that’s Dean Mastanduno and six members of the faculty: three men, three women — all white.

In addition, as is traditional at the College (though Jim Kim tried to shirk the responsibility), the President and the Provost sit in on tenure deliberations at the level of the Committee Advisory to the President. One is left to wonder about their role in the Aimee Bahng tenure decision. Many professors in Hanover believe that the two feel disdain for the College’s present faculty, leading them to want to raise the standards for granting tenure at Dartmouth to a higher level. At the same time, both Phil and Carolyn seem obsessed with diversity. Would they argue against an Asian professor?

In the end, Bahng’s tenure decision must, at least ostensibly, turn on the quality of her research. Her CV is quite lengthy, but with her first book still in the works, and only a limited number of articles appearing in lesser journals, on its face Bahng’s scholarly output appears limited. Curiously enough, in the current heated debate, I have heard from faculty who have classified Bahng’s research as being at the very top of her field, and others who see it as less than mediocre. I am in no position to judge.

Additionally, Bahng is a member of the Steering Committee of the Gender Research Institute at Dartmouth, and in her capacity there she invited Jasbir Puar to the College — a Rutgers professor whose work and campus presentations have been repeated characterized as anti-Semitic. Though tenure is a system designed to protect the intellectual freedom of professors to be bold and controversial, in practice the granting of tenure can be used by an administration to weed out faculty that are deemed undesirable. Did Bahng’s judgment, or lack thereof, in inviting Puar to the College count against her?

Finally we should ask if the CAP made its decision in light of the steady decline in the number of English majors at the College and in the nation (Source: the McPeek Report on grade inflation) — a drop in Hanover of more than 50% over the last 25 years:

English Majors 1990-2015.jpg

Does the College want to make the decision to grant lifetime tenure to a faculty member in a field that is clearly on the wane, especially given that the quality of Bahng’s scholarship is open to debate.

Needless to say, Phil and Carolyn and the people on the CAP aren’t talking about what went into their decision, but the issue has landed the College in the press once again. Inside Higher Education and the Huffington Post both have run extensive stories on Professor Bahng’s tenure fight, as has the Valley News.

Addendum: Take a look at some of what Professor Bahng might grittily refer to as her scholarly production: Speculate This! and Specters of the Pacific: Salt Fish Drag and Atomic Hauntologies in the Era of Genetic Modification.

Addendum: An alumnus writes in:

I agree with your take on the tenure issue wholeheartedly. While I’m not in a position to opine on the quality of her CV either, my sense is that the CAP probably got it right and that her department is to blame for not setting high enough expectations and then mentoring her to meet them.

What is sad and makes me angry about this situation is that the people on the CAP are getting a lot of flak — essentially being called racists — and that committee includes a professor from one of my favorite classes as an undergrad and another that I know well personally and have an incredible amount of respect for (Amy Lawrence and Nina Pavcnik). Both are women and are shining examples of scholarship, class and successful female professors at the College. None of the people on the committee deserve the ugly rhetoric being tossed about so casually here.

Andrew Lewin ‘81 has carefully reviewed the merits of the Class of 2016 leaders’ petition, and he has concluded that he will not be contributing to the Dartmouth College Fund until the administration gets its priorities in order. He was a longtime member of 1769 Society:

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How many other alumni will come to the same conclusion? Perhaps a great many already have? Will Phil now delay the capital campaign until 2018 — his fifth year as the College’s President?

The petition advocating thoroughgoing reform for the College that was authored by leading members of the Class of 2016 (and one ‘17) has had over 10,000 hits on Dartblog in the 36 hours since it was posted. I have received numerous laudatory e-mails from alumni, students and faculty members, and even administrators who see the waste all around them.

No word, of course, from any Trustees. They were last seen toasting Dartmouth’s continued success with Phil Hanlon and Carolyn Dever.

The petition itself on has received 1,096 signatures as of this moment. Sign it here, please.

Dartmouth’s valedictorian and salutatorian awards used to be a more solitary achievement. Daniel Fehlauer and J. Brooks Weaver, graduating seniors in the class of 1997, were the first co-valedictorians crowned by the College. Fehlauer, a Physics-German Literature double major, and Weaver, a Physics-Religion double major, each finished their academic careers in Hanover with a 3.99 GPA.

Nearly 20 years later, I’m not sure which is more quaint: that Dartmouth’s valedictorians could have less than a perfect 4.0 GPA, or that there were only two of them. As I documented three years ago in this space, the grade inflation scourge has made a mockery of the College’s top honors. In recent years, every June has brought a new record in the number of valedictorians and salutatorians:

Valedictorians and Salutatorians.jpg

Last year, the College honored 12 students in total, including eight salutatorians with 3.99 GPAs. If 2016 follows the recent trend, we will likely have even more. Luckily, in 2014, the administration ended its longstanding tradition allowing each valedictorian a chance to speak at Commencement. Otherwise the graduating class might soon be sitting out on the Green all day listening to speeches.

Addendum: In May of last year the Ad Hoc Committee on Grading Practices and Grade Inflation presented its full report to the faculty. Among the document’s highlights was a summary of the evolution of grading at the College between 1974 and 2014 — and a prediction regarding the number of valedictorians and salutatorians 38 years from now:

Grade Inflation 1974-2014.jpg

The odds that grading standards have become tougher since 2015 are, uh, low.

Senior Class President Danny Reitsch ‘16, Senior Class Treasurer Michael Beechert ‘16, the Moderator of the Palaeopitus Society Robert Scales ‘16, the Vice President of Student Assembly Dari Seo ‘16, and Junior Class President Elisabeth Schricker ‘17 have drafted a petition to the Trustees and administrators regarding the future of the College.

As Dartmouth declines with a new scandal each week, our ranking drops, and we fail to keep pace with the other Ivies in admissions, here is a cogent analysis and set of proposals regarding our future. I strongly encourage you to read the entire document and then sign the petition:

Class of 2016 page1.jpg

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Let’s hope to see more against-the-grain courage from students in the coming years. Dartmouth needs all students, alumni and faculty to do their duty.

Addendum: A recent graduate writes in:

I felt compelled to write after your most recent post re: Student Leaders Speak Out. These students hit the ball out of the park. They’ve eloquently summed up what has been 10 years of frustration for me and what I expect must be a large portion of the alumni body. As the College gears up for a capital campaign, Phil and Co. must take these concerns to heart or I fear they will be very disappointed by the results.

Let’s make news in the right places, not in the realm of student life debacles, glorified babysitting and administrative bloat. Let’s see some concrete, positive steps towards world-class faculty recruitment and retention, the best undergraduate education in the world, and making this institution truly affordable. Until I am confident the College is allocating it’s resources towards these goals, I will not give a dime.

The President of the Dartmouth College Republicans, Michelle Knesbach ‘17, appeared on Fox’s On The Record with Greta van Susteren to discuss the vandalism of the Republicans’ Blue Lives Matter display in Collis:

Addendum: Dartblog has learned that this evening, as a result of the Blue Lives Matter scandal, 1,891 American high school students crossed the College off the list of schools to which they will be applying in the fall.

Phil Hanlon8.jpgThe D covered the details of the May 9 faculty meeting effectively (there will be another one on the 23rd), but it didn’t note one observation (what students might refer to as a self-call) made by President Hanlon. After he commented on fundraising for faculty clusters, experiential learning, Moving Dartmouth Forward, the creation of a School of Graduate Studies, the Society of Fellows, the undergraduate houses, the promotion of diversity, and the possibility of some other “big plays” (“possibly a major institute to study global energy systems or possibly a major institute on brain behavior, or the arts and innovation district with focus on the creative mind or some few, big investments like that”) Phil said:

What it probably feels like is a moment of great opportunity, dizzying forward motion and change, and that’s because it is. That’s the kind of moment it is right now at Dartmouth. And this forward motion, let me say very clearly, this is in no way a statement that we are not good enough right where we are.

Hanlon also noted the success of fundraising by the College in the ramp-up to the long-awaited capital campaign.

What to make of such talk? First of all, Phil seems to have a PR posture that involves him talking up aspects of his administration as great successes in order to cover up weakness. “Dizzying forward motion?” Who on the faculty would agree with that statement? And who among students (who seem now to have turned angrily against Hanlon)? And as for fundraising, almost three years into Hanlon’s Presidency, shouldn’t the campaign have begun by now? It would have, had Phil received sufficient commitments to go from the “quiet phase” to a full-blown public campaign.

A more telling point: a call came from the floor at the meeting for a count to confirm that there was a quorum — were there the 75 required professors present to hold an official meeting? In fact, 80 faculty members were present, the lowest number in recent memory, according to one source. I’d say that professors are voting with their feet. Plodding Phil Hanlon may speak of his successes, and the out-of-touch Trustees may applaud him, but students and faculty see him as yet another member in a line of failed Dartmouth Presidents. After three years, I do, too.

Anthropology Professor Sergei Kan has written to the head of the Dean of the Faculty search committee and to 490 of his fellow professors asking that the next Dean come from the ranks of the College’s professors, as has been traditional, and not from another school:

Kan Letter re DoF.jpg

Kan has a well deserved reputation for being outspoken — which, in the Dartmouth context, means that he says what he and a great many people think, but which few people have the courage to say. Bravo, Sergei!

Addendum: I sense a rumbling, ever-deepening discontent with Phil and Carolyn.

Addendum: See the Dean of the Faculty search committee letter in the extended:



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