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If you haven’t given some serious consideration to why the liberal arts are important, then the Admissions department might have made a mistake in admitting you. Time to catch up:

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St John’s College is not your ordinary school:

St. John’s is a coeducational, liberal arts college with no religious affiliation. The college was founded in 1696 as King William’s School and chartered in 1784 as St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland. A second campus opened in 1964 in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The college’s first graduate program was founded in 1967 in Santa Fe.

St. John’s distinctive liberal arts curriculum and educational practices have long given it a highly respected place among American colleges and universities. Its strong commitment to collaborative inquiry and to the study of original texts makes St. John’s College a particularly vibrant community of learning. Through close engagement with the works of some of the world’s greatest writers and thinkers—from Homer, Plato, and Euclid to Nietzsche, Einstein, and Woolf—students at St. John’s College grapple with fundamental questions that confront us as human beings. As they participate in lively discussions and throw themselves into the activity of translating, writing, demonstrating, conducting experiments, and analyzing musical compositions, St. John’s students learn to speak articulately, read attentively, reason effectively, and think creatively.

Addendum: There are many excellent reasons to study broadly at the College. Here’s one Dartblog stab at a justification — Why the Liberal Arts? To Make Money! — to add to your list.

We have nothing but respect for Hany Farid’s work — which is why we chose to accord him a place in the Guide to the Stars — but his internal response to Friday’s post about his departure from the College for Berkeley smacked of currying favor, rather than a scientist’s search for unvarnished truth:

Hany Farid Responds.jpg

Hany omitted to note his participation in the delegation of professors that read the riot act to Phil Hanlon in 2016. A faculty member needs to be pretty wound up in order to confront an institution’s President. And for Hany to describe his departure after nineteen years at the College as the result of a “complex blend of personal and professional opportunities” is to use many words to say very little, if anything.

Even though this space might seem to Hany to be an “awful venue,” at least he had the rigor, if not the precision, to refer to Dartblog’s “unforgivable pattern of, at times, unfair and untrue criticism of the College.” [Emphasis added]

Yes, Virginia, we don’t always get it right; at times, we do make mistakes. Though not very often. And can something be a “pattern,” if it only occurs at times?

Hany, thanks for not throwing all sense of the truth overboard.

We wish you luck in California. We’ll miss you, and the College will be much the lesser for your departure.

Addendum: On March 2, Hany was named a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.

The Golf Course Advisory Committee will be holding a Public Forum tomorrow (Monday, April 9th) at 6:30pm in Moore Hall B03. Come hear an update on the fate of the course and talk to the members of the Committee:

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We are getting ready to build a second childcare center, and next week our contractor will clear another two-acre lot for us in Centerra. I’ve been tramping through the land for a year now, both to take measurements and, also, to get a feel for the space. At one end of the property, what seems to be an old wagon track runs through the woods. Two ruts in the ground go in parallel for about forty yards, before they are erased by sitework done over the years by our first childcare project, the Marriott, and the Grafton County Courthouse:

Lot 5 Track.jpg

The lot has been forest for at least 70-80 years, probably since the farm there was abandoned when the federal government mandated that all dairy farms have refrigerated bulk tanks to store their milk. That rule was the last straw for a good many farmers, hence the name “bulk tank farms” to describe so-abandoned pieces of land. Stone walls delineate the former pastures in every direction, too, as they do throughout New Hampshire and Vermont.

How many farmers and travellers went down that dirt road, either on foot, driving carts pulled by horses or oxen, or on tractors? They compacted the earth to such an extent that nothing could grow on it, and so the road stayed visible in the forest like an ancient Roman byway. Next year it will be gone, and the memories that it evokes will disappear forever.

Matthew Heineman ‘05 (who was nominated for an Oscar for his documentary Cartel Land) has a five-part series on Showtime that deals with the opioid epidemic. Watch the trailer:

Listen to an interview with Matt:

Heineman is a thoughtful guy, as evidenced by an extensive interview in Salon:

The extreme closeness of Heineman’s work is his calling card, and as anxiety-provoking and crazy as it looks, when he and his fellow producers insert themselves into these very different lives and situations, it serves to humanize the opioid epidemic in ways headline news cannot.

But when asked about how he’s able to coax interviews out of dangerous thugs with little regard for human life and walk away unscathed, Heineman simply credits the extensive contacts he and his team have cultivated over the years.

People like John, he explained, take part in “The Trade” for a reason. “They believe that by showing what this drug has done to them, what this drug has done to their family, what this drug has done [to the] community, that perhaps they can help thousands of others who are going through similar situations.

“That’s the common denominator of why people take part in documentaries, especially people who are in such dire straits. They want to be heard,” he added. “They want to be listened to so that people can understand what they’re going through and also so that hopefully with other people who are going through similar situations, it can help them.”…

“My job and my goal with this series was to really humanize the issue, to allow you to have a visceral, experiential journey into the lives that are affected, that are trapped in this horrible cycle of addiction, this horrible disease,” Heineman said. “To allow people that might not necessarily engage with the topic to have an entry point and a way to empathize and understand what is happening.”…

Heineman added that documentaries are the best way to cover sprawling stories like this. “As traditional media is obviously being disrupted, as there’s less money invested in long form investigative journalism, as foreign bureaus are shrinking or being eliminated, I think we are going to rely more and more on documentary filmmakers and citizen journalists to shine light in dark corners of the world.”

Addendum: The Vineyard Gazette offers a thorough profile of Matt and The Trade.

The Green today at 3:45pm:

Hanover Snow April 6, 2018.jpg

Hany Farid.jpgThe word in Hanover is that a great many professors are shopping their resumes around academe — such is their despair with the Hanlon administration. The first to hit the road is Professor Hany Farid — the “father” of digital image forensics — who was the subject two years ago of one of this space’s Guide to the Stars. He’ll be decamping to Berkeley soon. Farid has made an international name for himself analyzing doctored photographs, and employing the internet to track down users of kiddie porn and purveyors of extremist ideologies.

Farid was part of a group of professors who went to see Phil Hanlon in 2016 to plead for more effective administration policies. Phil listened politely, promised to think seriously about the faculty members’ concerns, and then, of course, did nothing at all.

Addendum: As a matter of policy, the administration does not announce the departure of professors to other institutions. If you hear of other faculty members leaving for more salubrious climes, please let me know.

Wouldn’t it be nice is we weren’t always at the bottom, or close to it, of each and every ranking of Ivy schools?

Penn Finaid 2018 Comparison Comp.jpg

As always, Brown is on the move.

Addendum: Did someone change the College’s name to Dartmouth University and not inform me?

Actress, producer, writer, author and all around Hollywood whirlwind Mindy Kaling ‘01 will be this year’s Commencement speaker:

Mindy Kaling.jpg

Read the College’s press release here and the Valley News’ story.

Back in the day at Bain, we’d occasionally laugh that our job as management consultants consisted of “Proving the Obvious to Idiots.” More often than not, the strategy that was needed to set a division of a conglomerate on the right path was obvious to us in the first week of work, just as it was evident to the smart, junior executives at the client itself, people to whom senior management never listened.

So it went with the Task Force report on growing the College. What was obvious to students, faculty, staff and alumni — but not to Clueless Phil and the Trustees (in concert soon at a venue near you) — was also evident to the talented thinkers on the Task Force who studied the question in detail. Their report is a model of serious research, clear thinking, and tight writing:

Task Force on Scale Comp.jpg

At the College, the rule has often been that the person naming the members of a committee also simultaneously determines its conclusions. Not this time around. That’s for sure. In fact, the report really can be read as a cogent description of the State of the College. Let me give you a quick summary: BATS — Bursting At The Seams.

One has to ask just what infrastructure at the College today is not either insufficient in size, in need of complete renovation, or requiring updating, or all three: the report cites classrooms, laboratories, faculty offices, academic gathering areas, dormitories, dining facilities, parking lots, libraries, the academic Testing Center, the Hopkins Center and its performance spaces and workshops, and the buildings housing student support services (is there anything left?).

The report further notes that to keep up with the needs for classroom space alone, if the student body were to expand by 25%, a number of classrooms equivalent to those in the Life Science Center and Moore and Kemeny Halls would need to be built. Not to mention that about 1,000 additional beds would be required in the dormitory inventory.

Most telling was the observation that other schools (Yale, Rice, Princeton, Stanford, etc.), when planning an increase in their undergraduate student body, first conducted a thoroughgoing renovation of their infrastructure over the course of two capital campaigns — a period of a decade or more. Today Brown, Harvard and Brandeis are seemingly engaged in such a lengthy and costly program of renewal, too, prior to examining the feasibility of expansion.

The report’s findings are so glaringly obvious that one has to ask what foolishness (what fool?) led to the contemplation of expansion in the first place. Anyone at all close to the day-to-day life of the campus can easily see that the College has deferred too much maintenance and renovation to allow anything more than a catch-up investment program at this time. May that effort begin as soon as the administration gets its financial house in order.

Addendum: According to the report, all of Dartmouth’s academic departments pushed back vigorously against Phil’s expansion proposal. No deference there. The faculty should learn from this exercise of power.

Addendum: The report is salted with interesting data: for example, there is virtually no correlation between student body size and diversity — whether that of first generation or underrepresented minority students.

Addendum: A source indicates that the report that has been publicly disseminated is the same as the one distributed to the Trustees.

The decrease over the past year in the non-Geisel support staff was only 25 people — from 2724 to 2699 — but let’s thank heaven for small mercies. After all, the increases from 2010-2016 totalled 509 staffers (plus their offices, computers, travel, diversity training, etc. ad nauseum ad infinitum), including 63 new bodies last year:

Non-Faculty Staffing 2004-2017.jpg

Of course, some areas did better than others. Certain sections of the administration added people: Advancement (+6: from 214 to 220), Dean of A&S (+8: from 309 to 317), Thayer: (+1: from 126 to 127) and Tuck (+8: from 175 to 183) — though Tuck returned to its 2015 staffing levels, so resources there seem to have been re-allocated.

The decreases came in the Office of the Executive Vice-President (-10: from 794 to 784), the President (-5: from 226 to 221) and the Provost (-33: from 880 to 847), though, as you can see above, on a percentage basis the declines were slight.

Let’s hope that now that the administration sees that it can cut staff, the initial goal should be a return to 2010 levels. The bloat is still enormous, and Phil only knows that cash is short because fundraising is so weak.

On March 26, we reported that under their new contract airport workers in the New York City area would be paid — by 2023 — virtually the same salaries that Dartmouth’s unionized workers earn today. We went on to note that the cost of living in New Hampshire is significantly below that of New York. A few readers asked for more information on the cost of doing business in the two places.

As part of research for a business problem, I commissioned a brief study by the Economic Research Institute, an organization that gathers comparative wage and salary information.

First we looked at the compensation paid for a business manager for food and general merchandise. New Hampshire turns out to be the low-cost locale among all the Ivy cities and towns:

IVY COL1.jpg

And the quality of life in New Hampshire is even better. Below are the salaries that a manager has to earn in order to live equivalently in the various Ivy locales:

Ivy Col2a.jpg

Though salaries are lower in the Granite State, a person’s dollar goes a lot further. In short, the College enjoys the best of both worlds: it can pay most of its employees less than the other Ivy schools, and yet people working for the College can live a materially richer life. What a shame that we don’t take advantage of this fact to generate a surplus for our students.

Dartmouht Admissions Webpage1.jpgWe’ve been critical for a long time of the Admissions Office webpage — a high school effort at coding that in both its layout and content did not do the College justice. The graphics were shoddy, the emphasized features of Dartmouth life were questionable, and the writing, well, let’s just be grateful that the Admissions Office has now come up with an alternative.

The new page is responsive: it looks similar across platforms. But I can’t say that I see any clear and attractive message in its image-rich, word-poor presentation. Here are the five splash screens that seek with a single word, I guess, to communicate something important about Dartmouth (not Dartmouth College, of course).

Do the terms Analysis, Global, New, Collaborative and Green reel you in to discover more about the nation’s best (only?) research college?

Dartmouht Admissions Webpage Comp.jpg

Beyond the central pages there are warrens of blogs, professor profiles, and endless dropdown menus to be mined ad nauseum. Take a look. What do you think?

Fortunately for everyone, the phrase Distinctly Dartmouth is nowhere to be found on the site, but at the same time I can’t find much of anything on it that is distinctly Dartmouth. My fear is that everyone in the administration had their say, and the result is a hodgepodge.

Addendum: Good for the site for resurrecting the use of “the College” to refer to Mother Dartmouth. Capitalization was a common practice decades ago, as this 1975 letter from Nelson Rockefeller shows, and in this space, I have long used the same formulation. Here’s a representative paragraph from the new Admissions department website:

Dartmouth Admissions Website The College.jpg

Let’s hear it for self-confidence.

Addendum: Though the site has a Study Around the World section about the College’s many LSA/FSP programs, it fails to note that our 43 programs are staffed by Dartmouth faculty — a unique number in higher education, as far as I know. Most institutions of higher learning boast that their students have access to hundreds of off-campus programs, without telling you that almost all of them are run by other schools. Admissions should try to emphasize the things that make the College unique.

Addendum: My father always said that advertising campaigns that won awards for their ground-breaking innovations almost never sold any product.

More snow? Really?

April Fools 2018.jpg

A little known program has bounced back against that Hanlon administration. As part of the College’s frantic attempts to raise money, various Dartmouth buildings were offered to alumni under buy and lease back plans. In this way, money was freed up for investment in the endowment or to fund staff salaries and benefits. However, a group calling itself the Loyal Sons of Dartmouth, LLC has purchased Parkhurst Hall, and in its first move, it has evicted President Phil Hanlon from the premises.

Dartblog has obtained a copy of the New Hampshire form eviction notice that was served on Phil today:

Hanlon Notice to Quit.jpg

It is clear that Phil is incapable of fixing the above-stated non-compliance.

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