The Latest Posts

The D seems in decline, but every so often there is a bit of writing and editing that gives me real delight. Look at the way writer Parker Richards ‘18 has juxtaposed statistics with administrative spin:

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Congratulations, Phil! Only 48 reported rapes. “We are incredibly fortunate that Dartmouth is a safe and secure environment and community.”

Addendum: Of course, the subtlety here is that “reported” rapes does not necessarily mean actual acts of sexual violence, but still.

Addendum: These statistics come from the College’s 2014 Annual Security and Fire Safety Report.

My classmate Buddy Teevens ‘79 will appear on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert ‘86 on Thursday:

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He will be describing the College’s new MVP motorized tackling dummy, a great innovation:

Ummm, Buddy, don’t forget that we are playing undefeated Yale on Saturday.

Addendum: Stephen Colbert’s Dartmouth roots are the stuff of legend.

One hears a lot about diversity at the College, but beyond skin color, gender and possibly national origin, the term does not mean a lot, save for the occasional visit by a provocative thinker. Slate’s Emily Yoffe falls in the latter category, and she will be in Hanover on Thursday:

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Give Yoffe credit for swimming against the tide of received opinion. Her 2013 Slate DoubleX column entitled College Women: Stop Getting Drunk was beyond controversial:

… a misplaced fear of blaming the victim has made it somehow unacceptable to warn inexperienced young women that when they get wasted, they are putting themselves in potential peril…

Let’s be totally clear: Perpetrators are the ones responsible for committing their crimes, and they should be brought to justice. But we are failing to let women know that when they render themselves defenseless, terrible things can be done to them… That’s not blaming the victim; that’s trying to prevent more victims.

If female college students start moderating their drinking as a way of looking out for their own self-interest — and looking out for your own self-interest should be a primary feminist principle — I hope their restraint trickles down to the men.

In a more recent Slate column, Yoffe focused on the apparent flaws in the Campus Climate Survey on Sexual Assault and Sexual Misconduct, in which the College did not fare well. Her article was headlined: The Problem With Campus Sexual Assault Surveys: Why the grim portrait painted by the new AAU study does not reflect reality, and it was of a piece with other efforts like Stuart Taylor’s in the Washington Post: The latest big sexual assault survey is (like others) more hype than science; Ashe Schow’s in the Washington Examiner: New sexual assault survey suffers same problems as others; and Naomi Schaefer Riley’s in the New York Post: The myth of the college ‘rape culture’.

These authors point out numerous flaws in the survey, such as “response bias”: a small sample size (19.3%) and the likelihood that victims would answer the survey with greater frequency that students who did not feel that assault was an important campus issue. They noted the issue of definitions: for example, unwanted, though fully clothed, contact during dancing would be counted as a form of assault. And the lack of the use of the term “rape” or “sexual assault” in the questionnaire — which lead to incongruous results, as when Yale women who experienced what they described as “forced penetration” responded, “I did not think it was serious enough to report [to Yale or the New Haven Police],” 65.4% of the time.

Needless to say, Yoffe will expand on these issues in her talk on Thursday.

Addendum: Yoffe, a 1977 Wellesley College graduate, has character. Here’s how she responded to the question, “When did you decide that you wanted to become a journalist?”

In junior high, I had an English teacher who said, ‘You’re too smart to be such a terrible writer. When you get to high school, take a journalism elective.’ I took it, and I really liked it. The movie Love Story was the movie of the day, so I went to see it, and we had to do a review. I wrote a scathing review, while everyone around me is being washed away [with emotion]. Unbeknownst to me, the teacher passed it off to the school newspaper, which I never even read. They printed it, and all of a sudden all these people started coming up to me, saying, ‘You are SO mean.’ I decided on the spot, this is for me.

She reminds me of renowned Washington socialite Alice Roosevelt Longworth (1884-1980) (TR’s oldest child), who is supposed to have said, “If you haven’t got anything nice to say about anybody, come sit next to me.”

Here’s how it is in Admissions these days: the word seems to have arrived in McNutt that the College will never accept more than a maximum of 2,100-2,200 students to fill the freshman class. In that way, our yield looks passably good as compared to the other Ivies. But given our endless series of scandals, and the overall odor of decline that has attached itself to the College for a couple of decades now (thanks to Jim Wright and his successors), we have had to play multiple games in order to make this number work: an ever higher number of early decision admits, more legacies, private school kids and donors’ children, and when all else fails, increased recourse to the waitlist when we can’t fill the class with that limited number of admits.

As we have reported in the past based on data from the federally mandated Common Data Set, at Dartmouth an applicant has a better shot at being admitted from the waitlist than at peer schools (Columbia does not share its CDS):


And our use of the waitlist has been rising over time:

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Last year’s waitlist numbers were a strange anomaly: we took nobody off the waitlist at all. My speculation is that Admissions changed tack and played the Tufts Syndrome game in refusing admission to candidates who were clearly good enough to get into HYP and other top schools, and also accepting kids for whom the College was a reach. How could it be otherwise, in the year after our total applications number dropped by a headline-making 14%, and nothing of note hit the press that was positive about the College?

However this year, we are back onto our rising waitlist trendline, as recently departed Admissions Director Maria Laskaris graciously described to me several weeks ago:


In total, 129 students were admitted from the waiting list this year; of that group, 99 are enrolling in the Class of 2019 and two have postponed their enrollment to the Class of 2020.

This is the largest number of students admitted and enrolling from the waiting list in recent memory. After the unexpectedly high yield on the Class of 2018 and the subsequent over-enrollment in the first year class, we decided to admit fewer students to the Class of 2019 through the regular decision process and to use the waiting list to reach our target class size of 1,120.

[Emphasis added]

Let’s ignore Maria’s rationalization and just look at the numbers: the 129 admits off the waitlist is alarmingly higher than the record of 91 admits in 2011. And even though a quarter of the waitlisted-then-accepted students decided not to matriculate, waitlisted students will still constitute a record 9% of the incoming class — up from the 8% average between 2011-2013.

The College’s decline in the eyes of high school students and their college counselors proceeds apace. Fiddling at the margins regarding academic and social life, while hiring ever more staffers, is not going to turn things around. The waitlist numbers don’t lie. We are having trouble filling the freshman class with people who are getting into their first-choice school.

Addendum: In a couple of months, when the College announces that for the first time we have accepted over 500 early decision applicants, you can expect that the justification will relate to the “exceptional, unprecedented quality of this year’s applicant pool” — or some such nonsense.


Frank Gilroy Comp V.jpgFrank Gilroy ‘50 was a young soldier with the 89th Infantry in George Patton’s Third Army before he was a Dartmouth student and then a playwright. His division liberated the Ohrdruf concentration camp on April 4, 1945, a sub-camp of Buchenwald. Ohrdruf was visited by Eisenhower, Bradley and Patton, and the camp was known for a time in America as the symbol of German barbarity. Gilroy’s glimpses there of stacked bodies became the basis for one of his later plays, Contact With the Enemy (2000).

More important for Gilroy, his time in Europe was the beginning of his road to Dartmouth (from The Rattle of Theta Chi, Volume 55, Issue 2):

In the fall of 1945 on a brief leave from Army duties, he met several Dartmouth alumni on the ski slopes in Austria. The alumni, as one might expect, whetted the Gilroy appetite for higher education, and especially for Dartmouth. Gilroy returned to his base and wrote his first letter to Dartmouth. The late Dean of Admissions Robert C. Strong ‘24 answered with what Gilroy recalls as a “very nice, hospitable, generous note.”

Three or four more letters were written and answered. Gilroy also applied for admissions into the College — he had applied to 40 or more other colleges and universities, too. But he had a special feeling about Dartmouth, based in part on his correspondence with Dean Strong, and upon his discharge from the service in May 1946 he immediately took a train to Hanover — only to find that the man who had shown such interest in him had died. Gilroy was stunned. His one contact with Dartmouth was gone. He looked up Prof. Arthur Jensen in the English Department, a friend of a friend, and Jensen took him to see Edward Chamberlain ‘36, then acting Dean of Admissions. Gilroy recalls how he asserted his sense of having achieved a firm fix on life and how he stressed that he was looking for someone to take a chance.

He was well aware of the admissions pressures on the College that year — from its own students who had gone off to war and now wanted to return without delay and from others — even before the acting dean put the odds squarely before him. But Gilroy persisted. He submitted a short piece of prose fiction, an interesting piece titled “The Worn-out Windmill,” through the alumni interviewer, author and editor Dave Camerer ‘37. This found approval with Camerer. “That a youngster, trying to impress someone with his writing,” wrote Camerer to Chamberlain, “has seen fit to underwrite rather than overwrite — speaks volumes for the boy’s sense of proportion.”

Back in the Bronx the mailman did not make young Gilroy’s first weeks at home any too pleasant. Rejection after rejection from colleges of all descriptions, north and south and west, came in; then finally there was an acceptance from Davis and Elkins College in West Virginia. At about mid-summer with rejections from all but Davis and Elkins — and about to make his plans for traveling to West Virginia — Gilroy received notice of his acceptance by Dartmouth.

Parenthetically, that’s quite an admissions process: three or four personal letters from the Dean of Admissions, a face-to-face meeting with the Dean himself, the involvement of an alumnus to whose opinion attention was paid, and a courageous decision by the College — going against the grain of lesser schools — to admit a student who later won a Pulitzer Prize for Drama, a New York Drama Critics Circle Award and a Tony for Best Play.

At Dartmouth, Gilroy was Editor-in-Chief of The D, and he wrote numerous plays for the then-flourishing Eleanor Frost Prize Play Contest (in my day, too, I recall fraternities vigorously competing in the Interfraternity Play Competition). He played trumpet in a Dixieland jazz band and was a member of Theta Chi. His playwriting was such that the faculty pushed hard for him to win a College fellowship so that he could spend a year studying at the Yale School of Drama.

After Yale, Gilroy began his career writing for live television, a new medium wide open to young talent. He only returned to plays after five years writing scripts for TV. He broke through with an off-Broadway success, Who Will Save the Ploughboy, followed by his finest work, The Subject Was Roses, which has been translated into several other languages. It is still regularly performed.

After Roses, his reputation was set, and opportunities were offered to present more plays and to write and direct for the theater, television and cinema. But nothing Gilroy created ever had the impact of his early great work. Later in life, he lamented always being associated foremost with Roses.

Variety reports on Gilroy’s later work and professional activity:

The two-act “Subject Was Roses” debuted on May 25, 1964, at the Royal Theatre. Gilroy would go on to adapt the play for a 1968 film of the same name.

His other film credits include writing the screenplays for “Desperate Characters” starring Shirley MacLaine, “The Gallant Hours” starring James Cagney and “The Only Game in Town” starring Elizabeth Taylor and Warren Beatty.

Gilroy also wrote fiction, including the novel “From Noon Till Three,” would was adapted to a film in 1976. Charles Bronson starred, with Gilroy writing the screenplay and directing.

Gilroy previously served as president of the Dramatists Guild, and was feted by the Writers Guild of America East with a lifetime achievement award in 2011.

Of Desperate Characters NYT film reviewer Vincent Canby ‘45 wrote:

I describe all of this at some length because it reflects the quality of the film itself, which is full of the details of urban desperation, painfully and accurately observed at eyelevel, without exploitation or condescension. Yet I must confess that “Desperate Characters” left me, if not unmoved, then unenriched. It’s as if its cheerlessness had been bottled straight, without the additive that transforms recognizable experience into art.

I’ve not read Miss Fox’s novel, but I’ve been told that Gilroy’s adaptation is a model of fidelity, even to careful inconclusiveness with which it treats the future of the Bentwood marriage. In every respect, the screenplay is a vast improvement over Gilroy’s Pulitzer Prize-winning “The Subject Was Roses.” Its literary style, however, is similar, and it’s a style to which I, for one reason or another, find it difficult to respond.

His characters talk in great chunks of theatrical exchanges, and monologues, which not only deny the splendid accuracy of the situations and the settings, but also somehow make me suspicious of the integrity of the characters. This is especially true of the supporting characters, who are always telling us too much, remembering too many details out of the past, nudging us for sympathy and never letting us discover them at our own speed.

In drama, as in real life, people have to earn the right to bestow confidences, as well as to receive them. There is a dramatic license for just about everything, including Gilroy’s style of theater, a style that I associate with the more serious television writing of the 1950’s. It is not, however, for me.

Perhaps because they have more time on screen, and are less pressed to make their points quickly, the stars of the film come off best, which is not always the case in movies with lots of little character-specialty numbers. I have nothing but admiration for both Miss MacLaine, who seems to be as sweet and appealing as a woman at the end of her rope can be, and Mars, whose denseness and cruelty are obviously the eroded remains of decency.

“Desperate Characters,” which opened yesterday at the Festival Theater, marks Gilroy’s debut as a film director, and I have a feeling that the director has perfectly served the writer. That is to say that Gilroy has realized the movie he intended to make. I wish I liked it more.

Frank Gilroy was awarded an honorary degree by the College in 1966 (bottom photo above). He passed away at age 89 on September 12 in Monroe, N.Y. He is survived by his wife Ruth, to whom he had been married for 62 years; his three sons; and five grandchildren.

Addendum: Gilroy’s three boys have acquitted themselves well in the arts. Tony wrote the screenplays for the first three Bourne movies, and he wrote and then directed the fourth one, in addition to directing, writing and producing other movies. Dan directed and wrote Nightcrawler, which was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, and he has writing credits for half a dozen other films. John is a film editor whose work includes Michael Clayton, The Bourne Legacy, Pacific Rim and Nightcrawler. Tony went to BU, and Dan and John were members of the Class of ‘81.

Frank’s grandson Sam Gilroy was an ‘09.

Addendum: A Dartblog reader says that Frank has long intended to donate his papers to the College.

By a wide majority, the members of the SEIU have approved their generous contract with the College:

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Regrettably, students interested in kosher dining, international students, parents, faculty and other groups hamstrung by the College’s profligate ways were not invited to participate in this vote.

The cancellation of Convocation has come and gone, and reporting on it has been supplanted by the ending of need-blind admissions for international students, the College’s results in the AAU Campus Climate Survey on Sexual Assault and Sexual Misconduct, Susan Taffe Reed, another giveaway union contract, and so forth. Still, we might take a moment to consider the irresponsibility of replacing an important ceremony in College life with a barbecue, especially in light of the below admonition:

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True prudence is the humility to understand that human culture is infinitely complex, and we act as social engineers at our peril. Convocation was a group statement of values, a chance for the President and Provost to preach to the students of the incoming class about the expectations that Dartmouth has for them and about their responsibility as members of a scholarly community. Among the administration’s many mistakes this year, ending Convocation ranks high.

Addendum: One of the justifications given by Phil and Provost Dever for ending the formal Convocation ceremony is poor attendance by members of the faculty. Sadly, poor attendance by professors reflects their despair at the absence of leadership at Dartmouth. The President and the Provost have spent far too little time with the College’s faculty, especially the highest performing ones, and most faculty members are now resigned to more years of mediocrity in Parkhurst. They do their research, teach their classes, and choose not to waste time trying to participate in the lackluster public life of the College. Some of the good ones will leave for more supportive climes.

Addendum: An acclaimed member of the faculy writes in:

Joe, you nailed it. The place is falling apart — structurally, intellectually, and especially in faculty morale. Hanlon seems obsessed with raising vast sums of money to bring to Dartmouth what already exists (clusters of dynamic faculty who are internationally renowned). The message from Parkhurst is “none of you are good enough, we need to bring in real talent.” This is horribly insulting and demoralizing. Rumor has it that he feels Dartmouth faculty are overpaid and underperforming. It is therefore not surprising that many faculty have checked out or are checking out. Where is the intellectual leadership?

Addendum: And an alumnus shares his experience:

I very much enjoyed your post on the parable of Chesterton’s fence in regard to the abolition of Convocation. When I entered Dartmouth in the fall of 1956 (!), John Sloan Dickey delivered the Convocation address, and it made a powerful impression on me and others. Many of us really had no very clear idea of why were there, only that going on to college was what people like us were supposed to do.

The idea of being part of a community of learning was, believe it or not, quite new to us. The speech started us off with a certain enthusiasm and determination to make the most of our time at Dartmouth. I suppose these days young people are more sophisticated, and perhaps think “I am here to get an expensive credential that will let me go on to B school - what I learn along the way will be entertaining, but no big deal.” But perhaps a well conceived Convocation speech could help overcome such purely utilitarian attitudes.

Addendum: As does another one:

From John Sloan Dickey, some time between 1957 and 1960 (or perhaps at every Convocation?): “Your business here, gentlemen, is learning. Good luck to you, and we’ll be with you all the way.” Not a bad way to remember Convocation lo those many years ago.

JSD was President from 1945-1970. I’m told he spoke these words each year.

The College has come to an agreement with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the membership will soon be asked to vote on it. After a previous three-year contract that called for generous annual increases of 3%, 3% and then 2% in 2014-15 (for a total of 8.2% during a period when inflation was 3.8%), the new contract will only be for a term of two years, and the unionized staff will see an increase of 2.0% each year. The short term of the contract is due to the looming Obamacare tax on extravagant “Cadillac” healthcare plans, which could cost the College as much as $2.0 million/year beginning two years from now.

As usual, the College has caved in to the union. Let’s examine how badly:

— The Consumer Price Index rose by 0.8% over the past year, and given the rising dollar and the plummeting price of petroleum, we are probably looking at deflation before we’ll see higher inflation. To give the overpaid staff an increase beyond the rate of inflation is irresponsible. How so? Well, in the midst of a national debate wherein wages for fast food workers might rise to a level of $15/hour over several years in high-cost places like NYC and Seattle, the College is already paying unskilled dishwashers (the least paid union position) at least $17.12/hour in their first year of work. The rate will rise to $17.46/hour under the new contract. Janitors make more. (Don’t get me started on plushy benefits and long vacations. Under the new contract, anyone hired before 2011 will continue to receive entirely free health insurance.)

— The cost of the College’s compensation for union DDS and custodial workers is about double what local businesses pay people. The College should pay wages as set by the market. Dartmouth will want to pay enough to attract and retain workers, but no more — not when tuition is going to be $63,744 this year, the second highest in the Ivies, and when important institutional priorities (kosher dining, financial aid for international students) remain unfulfilled due to a shortage of funds.

— The College’s current wage levels for all of its workers are already far higher than MIT’s calculation of the living wage in Hanover. In fact, the wages paid to restaurant and custodial workers in Hanover easily surpass the living wage, too.

— A 2% raise is greater that that which many members of the faculty will receive in 2105/2016. Here is an excerpt from the College’s recent salary memo to faculty members:

2014-15 baseline raise: 1.5%
2015-16 baseline raise: 1%

For faculty members who demonstrated solid performance in scholarship, teaching, and service, we were able to set a baseline increment of x% for assistant, associate, and full professors. As in prior years, we continued to provide special increments for faculty who were reappointed (3%), promoted to associate professor (4%), tenured (4%), and promoted to full professor (6%). The remaining funds were then distributed on the basis of merit.

Generosity to unionized employees comes against a backdrop of the College failing to remain competitive over the past several years in compensation to the faculty, as Economics Professor Eric Zitzewitz laid out in a slide at recent faculty meeting. We are falling behind the other Ivies, the COFHE group, and the U.S. News Top 10 schools (which may be one reason why we are no longer in the U.S. News Top 10):

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If the administration keeps giving higher raises to the staff than the faculty, it won’t be long (probably about 75 years) before a cook helper in the dining hall will be earning as much as a newly hired, tenure-track professor in the Humanities. As things stand now, a cook helper without a high school education earns over half what a young Humanities professor takes home, and the prof has spent at least nine years after high school studying and teaching in several of the world’s finest universities.

Dartmouth shouldn’t be run like a business; we don’t need to maximize profit. But the school should not be run like a social welfare agency either. Let me remind Phil & Co. what the College really should be about, but isn’t yet: education.

Addendum: As we calculated several years ago, two cook helpers at the College who are living together would have a family income greater than 72% of all American families.

Addendum: One of my favorite student writers from past years sends in a note:

Ugh — things are never going to get better. In the event it isn’t hard enough to get top, young faculty to come to the Upper Valley, let’s make them feel like second-class citizens to the staff!

Susan Taffe Reed will not be the College’s Director of the Native American program after all. But she will remain on the payroll:

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Just what we need: another Dean of the College office bureaucrat. As we reported in April:

While we have hired 447 staffers since 2010, let’s look at how the faculty has grown. Since 2010 we have added only 35.8 professors to the teaching ranks — that’s 11.6 new staffers for each new professor…

Make that 448.

Addendum: The story has been picked up by AP and is in news outlets all over the country. Inside Higher Education and the Chronicle of Higher Education had reports as well.

Never a dull day in the press when it comes to the College, though it would be nice to see the national media depicting an efficient, innovative institution, rather than an administration that can’t seem to do anything right. The Journal summarized the Susan Taffe Reed mess yesterday in a piece that makes is clear that nobody at the College did the necessary homework before hiring STR:

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For the time being, Phil seems to be holding firm on the College’s hiring decision.

Addendum: Indian Country Today is having fun with the STR controversy:

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The Valley News is reporting that AD is suing the Town of Hanover in the New Hampshire Superior Court for the right to have its members continue to live in its house, despite derecognition by the College:

Alpha Delta, the former Dartmouth College fraternity, is suing the town of Hanover and its zoning board of adjustment over a ruling that keeps members from living in their house on East Wheelock Street.

After losing its ties with the college over revelations that 11 members had branded themselves with fraternity letters, Alpha Delta received notice from the town that it had also forfeited its status as a student residence. About 18 fraternity brothers living at 9 East Wheelock were ordered to move out.

Representatives for the attorney [sic] [fraternity] unsuccessfully argued to the Zoning Board of Adjustment that the mansion should be considered grandfathered as a student residence, as it has hosted students since before the town adopted its relevant zoning ordinance, they said.

After losing its final appeal to the board, Alpha Delta last month filed suit in Grafton County Superior Court to reverse the decision.

Valley News reporter Rob Wolfe ‘12 further writes that “Hanover Town Manager Julia Griffin, in an interview Tuesday, estimated the case could take at least a year to reach resolution.”

I would not give Hanover much of a chance in this proceeding, assuming the historical record is clear that AD brothers lived in AD prior to the enactment of the Hanover zoning ordinance. Grandfathered exceptions to the zoning laws are part of the day-to-day life of zoning in the Town. My own house has a porch that extends far into the standard setback area limiting building to portions of our lot 30 feet or more from the street. Nonetheless we were permitted to fully renovate the porch and make it part of a new structure when we built a house behind it.

Should AD prevail, the College could have an unregulated fraternity in its midst (i.e. no access by S&S), and an ongoing cat-and-mouse game might ensue. If the College banned students from living in the premises or from associating with AD, further litigation could result.

Once again, the administration has behaved maladroitly. Suspending AD because a minority of its members chose to brand themselves — an action that the Town of Hanover Police and the Grafton Country Attorney found did not contravene any laws — was a thin reed on which to base an absolute penalty for a fraternal organization. Once again, the Dean of the College’s office and the entire institution come out looking stupid. But then, we are getting used to that, no?

Jim Kim is a doctor, as he endlessly told anyone who wandered within shouting distance (his favorite narrative was his own life story), but he isn’t a manager or a leader, as we all learned to our regret. As President, his ever-trumpeted achievement was the Center for Health Care Delivery Science, which he put forward as a singular innovation, when it was no more than a copy of the Cambridge-based Institute for Healthcare Improvement. Of course, today Kim’s Center is no more, having been absorbed last year into the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice.

Kim’s second large goal was the “20x20” initiative, an expensive ambition to vault the Dartmouth Medical School — now Geisel — into the ranks of the nation’s Top 20 medical schools by 2020. Yesterday that idea was buried by Phil Hanlon in a town meeting that detailed the utter disarray of Geisel’s finances. As Rick Jurgens, the lead Valley News writer where numbers are involved, reported yesterday:

The top leaders of Dartmouth College used a town hall meeting Monday to unveil a reorganization “framework” for the Geisel School of Medicine that they said would reduce — but not eliminate — an annual structural deficit ranging from $26 million to $28 million…

Geisel, which has about 360 medical students with another 340 studying for other graduate degrees, had operating expenses of $250 million in the fiscal year that ended June 30, down from $275 million for fiscal 2013. Geisel is a part of Dartmouth College but gets some financial support — $6.5 million in fiscal 2014 — from the college’s affiliated medical system, Dartmouth-Hitchcock…

Implementing the scheme would trim $15 million a year from a deficit that is otherwise projected to range from $26 million to $28 million annually over the next seven years, [Interim Dean Duane) Compton said. Even the new plan would leave the medical school with an annual operating deficit that he rounded down to $10 million…

Provost Carolyn Dever at one point rounded up the existing deficit to $30 million annually.

These cuts come on top of others made by Compton last year, as Jurgens further noted:

Duane Compton, who took over as Geisel’s interim dean in July 2014 and then implemented a $10 million budget cut, a wage freeze and the layoffs of 18 employees…

Let’s parse those numbers a little: Geisel has a $26-$30 million deficit (depending on who was talking and when at yesterday’s meeting) in an institution that counts only 700 students. That’s a hole of $42,857 per student, based on 700 students.

And the budget for all of Geisel is $250 million — that’s 29.4% of the College’s total expenses of $853 million, even though Geisel students number only 6.7% of Dartmouth students (actually, only 422 students out of 6,298, according to the authoritative Dartmouth Fact Book — which would calculate out to a budget deficit of $61,611/student).

So where does all that money go? Mostly to funded research, if you must know. In 2014 the College took in $177.6 million in Sponsored Research, Grants and Contracts, almost all of which went to Geisel.

If anyone needs further proof that research does not pay for itself, Geisel should be the leading exhibit. People talk about funded research’s overhead allocation as throwing off money for a school’s general operations; as a rule, the opposite is true. Dartmouth’s undergraduates and the endowment have been supporting Geisel for many years. How else do you think that an operating deficit is plugged?

Needless to say, mismanagement, unfounded ambition and pie-in-the-sky budgeting were not cited as the reasons for the looming cuts. Compton blamed the feds:

Geisel’s financial ills are part of a nationwide epidemic, Compton said in an interview prior to Monday’s meeting.

“The revenue streams that have historically supported medical schools and academic medical centers are essentially flattened out for the past few years as expenses keep growing,” he said. “That drives the financial challenge. Almost every academic medical center across the country is facing this challenge.”

And in The D, Phil Hanlon pointed to the same reason:

Hanlon attributed the budgetary issues to a national trend of decreasing revenue streams for academic medicine. Hanlon said at the town hall that medical centers across the country are seeing a constraint in resources, citing the 50-percent drop in the National Institute of Health’s budget in inflation-adjusted dollars over the last decade as an example….

Curiously, while other medical schools are supposedly facing the same stresses, a quick Google search of institutions across the country did not turn up any evidence of huge deficits, budget cuts and impending layoffs. But then, maybe I missed something.

Addendum: The architect of Kim’s 20X20 plan was former Geisel Dean Wiley “Chip” Souba. He arrived in Hanover on October 1, 2010, announced the ill-thought-out plan on June 9, 2011, and signaled his departure from the Deanship on June 20, 2014. The D reported on the end of Souba’s term as Dean as follows:

College spokesperson Justin Anderson said that Souba’s decision was personal.

“It’s a big commitment,” Anderson said. “He served one full term and has decided he wants to focus on Geisel in other ways.”

Hahaha. Actually, Phil decided that he wanted Souba to focus on Geisel in other ways.

We’ll only know in May if Souba is still receiving his rich compensation package that last year amounted to $970,850.

Addendum: Lest you think that Jim Kim was incompetent only in Hanover, have no fear: the situation at the World Bank is also a “disaster,” as a former senior WBG leader told me a few months ago. Someone will write a book about Kim one day, and expose him for what he is and isn’t.

The Chronicle of Higher Education is reporting that the Common App now has a competitor in the form of a new admissions platform produced by an 80-college coalition — The Coalition for Access, Affordability and Success — which includes all the Ivies.


The new platform hopes to improve the college application process using functions made possible by modern technology:

Jeremiah Quinlan, who’s helped lead the coalition’s efforts so far, thinks the admissions process is overdue for innovation. “Technology has totally changed the back end of our process, but not the front end,” said Mr. Quinlan, dean of undergraduate admissions at Yale University. “This is really an ambitious effort to rethink the timeline and the inputs for students.”

The group intends to do that in three ways. First, the new application platform would enable students to complete a basic application form, just as they do on the Common Application. Colleges would be free to “personalize” any additional admissions criteria. So member institutions grouped under the same banner would maintain a good deal of autonomy.

Plans for the platform also include a “digital portfolio, where as early as ninth grade students could put their favorite essays essays, notes on extracurricular pursuits, thoughts on college — anything that might help them later on. The idea, Mr. Quinlan says, is to demystify the admissions process, encouraging students to think of college-planning over a long period of time, well before they must meet application deadlines.

The new system was not without its detractors:

One dean of admissions whose institution considered joining the new application platform had a much different take. “I’m not convinced about the true intentions of the coalition,” the dean, who works at an East Coast college, wrote in an email to The Chronicle. “How does creating yet another application, yet another hurdle, and yet another process for students and counselors to learn and manage, create access?”

The dean, who shared his thoughts on condition that his name not be published, said his college has opted not to sign up. The participating colleges, he wrote, are using their “money and power” to create an exclusive system: “The schools participating in this effort should not mask their intentions under the guise of ‘access.’ It’s a deceiving marketing ploy, but in the end, they will win. The elite colleges always do.”

Addendum: Inside Higher Ed reports on the new coalition, too.

Another feather in the feather-filled caps of the College’s Mathematics and Economics Departments. A friend there writes in about MIT Econ Professor Heidi Williams ‘03, one of this year’s MacArthur Genius Grant Winners:

In addition to being incredibly smart and doing path-breaking research, Heidi is also a super nice person, humble, and generous with her time. For example, when she visited Dartmouth last year to give a seminar, she spent time talking to students who are interested in pursuing a PhD in economics. I think the MacArthur Foundation made an excellent choice.

The MacArthur Foundation described Heidi as follows:

Heidi Williams is an economist unraveling the causes and consequences of innovation in health care markets. Williams combines finely grained empirical observations and custom-designed data collection methods to build entirely new datasets about technological changes in health care. In addition, her creative methods for determining causal inference, and keen understanding of regulatory law, biological science, and medical research, have allowed her to trace the interplay among institutions, market behavior, and public policy-relevant outcomes.

Leveraging the race to decode the human genome by private and public institutions as a model, Williams reveals how the timing and nature of intellectual property restrictions affect subsequent innovation. She presents convincing evidence that a non-patent form of intellectual property protection at the early stages of scientific research limited follow-on innovation on human genes, a finding that was cited in arguments submitted to a 2013 U.S. Supreme Court case on gene patents. In subsequent work, however, she and a co-author find evidence that patent protection on human genes has in fact not substantively hindered later research or product development, suggesting that the precise design of intellectual property policies is important in shaping innovation outcomes. More recently, Williams and colleagues have investigated institutional factors affecting cancer drug development. Drugs that treat late-stage cancers take a shorter time to develop, test, and bring to market than those for earlier stage cancers. Because patent protection begins at the time of filing, rather than when a drug is actually brought to market, late stage cancer drugs have a longer period of protection and offer more potential for profit. Their work provides compelling evidence that institutional factors such as the patent system create a bias against the development of drugs to treat early stage cancers.

Taking their findings on cancer drug development one step farther, Williams and her co-authors analyze policy measures for correcting this distortion in research priorities, including changes in how the effectiveness of a drug is established and in the timing of patent protection. Williams’s insights about market inducements for innovation and the implications of technological change in health care markets are informing institutional practice and public policy and sparking new lines of inquiry about innovation more broadly.

Heidi Williams received an A.B. (2003) from Dartmouth College, an M.Sc. (2004) from the University of Oxford, and a Ph.D (2010) from Harvard University. She has been affiliated with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology since 2011 and is currently the Class of 1957 Career Development Assistant Professor in the Department of Economics. She is also a faculty research fellow (since 2010) at the National Bureau of Economic Research. Her articles have appeared in the Quarterly Journal of Economics, American Economic Review, and Journal of Political Economy, among others.

The surprise winner of the recent Labour Party leadership contest, Jeremy Corbyn, has put together an economics advisory panel made up of some heavy hitters, including Joseph Stiglitz, Thomas Piketty and Dartmouth Economics Professor Danny Blanchflower:

Blanchflower Corbyn Team.jpg

Blanchflower became a household name in the UK, at least in households interested in business, when, alone among the members of England’s Monetary Policy Committee (the British equivalent of our Federal Reserve Board), he predicted the onrushing recession of 2008 at a time when other members were concerned about inflation and wanted to raise rates. He now writes regularly for the UK’s leading papers, especially The Independent, and he appears almost daily on Bloomberg (in early May he correctly predicted that the Fed would not raise rates this month). I enjoyed listening to him impress a room of investors two years ago at a prestigious conference n Paris.

Addendum: Corbyn’s full panel is composed as follows:

Mariana Mazzucato, Professor, University of Sussex
Joseph Stiglitz, Professor, Columbia University, recipient of the 2001 Nobel Memorial Prize in economics.
Thomas Piketty, Professor, Paris School of Economics
Anastasia Nesvetailova, Professor, City University London
Danny Blanchflower, Bruce V, Rauner Professor of Economics Dartmouth and Stirling, Ex-member of the MPC
Ann Pettifor, Director of Policy Research in Macroeconomics (PRIME), and an Honorary Research Fellow at the Political Economy Research Centre of City University

Addendum: Following his appointment, Danny was interviewed today on BBC2 about monetary poilcy. Note the Dartmouth background in the College’s TV studios.



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