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When Economics Professor Danny Blanchflower is not forecasting the arrival of recessions and pushing iconoclastic views about interest rates, he is a happiness guru. With his colleague Andrew Oswald, he analyzes people’s feelings about their lives and what motivates them (including money and sex — surprise, surprise). Blanchflower and Oswald’s latest findings, as published in a NBER working paper, Unhappiness and Pain in Modern America: A Review Essay, and Further Evidence, on Carol Graham’s Happiness for All?, were reported on this week in a Washington Post piece: Not only are Americans becoming less happy — we’re experiencing more pain too. Here are the study’s two key graphs:

Blanchflower Study UnhappyA.jpg

Blanchflower Study HurtingA.jpg

Don’t worry. Be happy.

Addendum: The paper is forthcoming in the American Economics Association’s Journal of Economic Literature

Addendum: A longtime reader writes in:

Thank you for the post. The findings as presented in the paper appear to suggest that 1) US is unhappy and 2) this may be related to the fact that US is hurting.

Since the paper leverages pain survey study from 2011, I used percentages reported in it to calculate ranks for each participating country (US got the lowest 32 meaning high pain). Rank of 1 means the lowest pain.

As the second consideration is happiness, I used data for the same 32 countries from World Happiness Report 2017 available here: (Helliwell, J., Layard, R., & Sachs, J. (2017). World Happiness Report 2017, New York: Sustainable Development Solutions Network). Specifically, I utilized the 2014-2016 ranking of happiness data (Figure 2.2 and corresponding table) comprising the following components: GDP per capita, social support, healthy life expectancy, freedom to make life choices, generosity and perceptions of corruption. It should be noted that out of 155 countries, US is ranked 14 (Top 10%). This appears to disprove point 1). Rank of 1 means the highest happiness.

Regarding point 2), I calculated correlation between pain score and happiness score ranks for 32 respective countries (please see the attached). I observed statistically significant negative correlation i.e. countries ranked as “quite painful” are also ranked as quite happy. To me, this suggests that pain score is unlikely to be a reliable surrogate for the happiness and that there may be methodological flaws with the pain score metric in the first place (as in small sample size, reliance of self-reported aches and pains and being a snapshot of a single 4 week period in 2011).

It is also worth noting that US finds itself in a pretty good group of other countries with high pain/high happiness: Australia and Nordics: Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland (respective alpha-2 codes used). All 5/5 are in Top 10 happiest countries in the world.


Dr. Larry Johnson ‘75 writes in to suggest that the question of expanding the College be put to a referendum:

From: Lawrence Johnson
Date: Mon, Dec 4, 2017 at 6:25 PM
Subject: College Expansion Plans

Hi Joe,

Glad you are enjoying the cold hillwinds and waters of Norway. I’ve always felt that the true Dartmouth person has or should have a deep attraction to the far North. I have had the great fortune of hiking the glaciers of Iceland and when I did so, I felt that I was proudly carrying the Dartmouth flag within.

It’s great to see that the young New Zealand tennis star has chosen Dartmouth, all for the right reasons. No doubt that Hanlon and crew should take note that strongly influencing her decision was Dartmouth’s emphasis on undergraduate education.

The recent letter by your esteemed classmate Timothy Prager (Dartblog 12/1/17) rightly underlines the need for Dartmouth to be evolving with the times especially in terms of demographics. He lauded the mid-70’s administration for propelling co-education at Dartmouth, as do I — thank you President Kemeny. (Ahh-just seeing his name makes me happy!) Had Dartmouth not gone co-ed, Timothy notes that he and many others would have gone elsewhere.

Here it is critical to remember that the 1972 co-education decision did follow an undergraduate referendum which heavily endorsed bringing in women. (This was most strongly supported by the lower classmen, like me, whose girlfriends were far, far away and less so by upper classmen).

So I ask: why doesn’t this administration hold an undergraduate referendum regarding the proposed enlargement?

This would require the administration to articulate the plan for all to see; transparency is in everyone’s interest.

Undergrads’ ears are closest to the ground, and I would likely listen and likely follow their wishes, as they are the ones that would have to live longest with the consequences of the decision, whichever way it goes.

For that matter, why not an alumni referendum as well?

Best wishes and enjoy the Aurora Borealis,

Larry Johnson ‘75

A fine idea, to my mind.

Did you know that there had been a referendum on co-education? I didn’t.

Addendum: A member of the faculty writes in:

The proposal for a student referendum on the issue of the College’s expansion is a terrific idea. Here’s a twist:

Rather than the students waiting (in vain) for the Administration to ask them to vote on this issue, why doesn’t the Student Assembly organize a student referendum on the issue to take place on, say, January 31?

The SA could request that the Administration delay any formal decision on the matter until the students have had a chance to deliberate and vote. Of course, the vote would simply be advisory, but it would put the Administration in a tough position. Announcing a decision prior to the student vote would explicitly reject their input and views, which would be awkward. But if the referendum were strongly against, moving forward would also be painful for the Administration.

At a minimum, it would force the Administration to do a better job articulating the case for expansion. Smart suggestion by Mr. Johnson.

Addendum: An alumnus writes in:

Upon reflection, I couldn’t help but feel his proposal was a bad idea. The issue is too momentous to be put in the hands of the undergraduate body exclusively. I’m reminded of James O. Freedman’s lament that too many applicants to the College were choosing Harvard or Princeton instead, implicitly granting power over policy to a cadre of 18-year-olds with zero experience of higher education.

I wasn’t aware of the ‘co-education referendum’ (if indeed it took place), but I did know of polls of the undergraduate body that showed strong support for the cause. At the time, I was only six years removed from Hanover. My reaction was simply: Of course. Any young, testosterone-driven male forced to spend four years in quarantine from female companionship, and further, in a very remote location, would naturally favor relief from that condition. The outcome was the same as you’d expect from a proposal to replace mystery meat with filet mignon at Thayer hall (perhaps a bad analogy in the current environment).

The College, collectively, has four main constituencies (I leave out, perhaps unfairly, the parents shouldering very large tuition burdens): the Trustees and the administration they oversee; the faculty; the alumni; and the student body present in Hanover. All are affected by the issues and their outcomes that must be grappled with; therefore, all should be invested in those outcomes. Dr. Johnson’s contention that “undergrads’ ears are closest to the ground” is a rather thin reed on which to carry a question of this magnitude. As I said, they are the least experienced, and also the least exposed to a long view of the College and its well-being, which only comes with the passage of time. I’m not saying they should be excluded from weighing in, but they are only one of the stakeholders, with decidedly the least gravitas in the collective.

The most important task in organizing to oppose this execrable idea is to leverage the power of all three constituencies which are against it. The campaign to have alumni express their opposition in writing and the accompanying drying up of donations are both admirable and effective means to this end. By all means, give the undergrads a say as well, but only as one voice in the chorus.

It all comes back to the question: who will oversee the overseers? Pheckless phil would do well to hearken back to Gandhi’s apocryphal admonition: “There go my people; I must hurry to catch up with them, for I am their leader.”

OK, she didn’t go to the College as an undergrad, but we’ll happily put Tina Smith T’84 on Dartmouth’s impressive list of Senators, Congressmen, and Governors (most Governors in the Ivies; second-most Senators, and fourth-most Congressmen). Word from Minnesota is that Tina will soon be tapped to replace disgraced Senator Al Franken:

Tina Smith T'84.jpg

On November 10 we noted an embarrassingly biased poll sent out by the Moosilauke Forum, a tool that the administration uses to determine alumni sentiment. Here are its two leading questions:

Moosilauke Forum Poll re student body size excerpt.jpg

The Forum has now reported, at least somewhat, on the poll’s results:

Moosilauke Forum Response Summary.jpg

Note that among the 700 respondents, “some alumni” were not in favor of expanding the size of the undergraduate student body. No figure more specific than that, eh? You’d think that anyone who could count up 700 responses could also do a tally of the yays and nays. But no. Why be objective when one can slant a depiction whenever there is a chance?

Addendum: This type of behavior is one reason why people distrust Phil Hanlon.

Addendum: A student writes in:

Excellent as always. Sounds to me like the administration is more than welcoming to feedback and wants to be known for soliciting it. Whether it has any intention of listening to that feedback, I think you and I both know the answer to that.

I reminded my Dad the other day that there were classes in the computer science department, capped at maybe 50 people or so, that had wait-lists that were 2-3 times the size of the class! As part of a team project, I built an app that monitored the enrollment numbers during add/drop period and would automatically register you for the class you wanted when a space opened up. I never needed to use this app myself as I got lucky during my last few course selection periods. Needless to say, many others weren’t so lucky.

Now say we expand the student body by 700. What are we going to say to the young aspiring computer scientists matriculating? Congrats on getting accepted to Dartmouth, but, sorry, we don’t have any space for you in the classes you want to take — but I hear the English department has some great open classes! (I have the utmost respect for our colleagues in the English department. Many technologists and programmers could definitely benefit from taking a few more English classes :) It would be a shame for an individual to make it all the way to the Dartmouth and not be able to pursue their desired course of study.

Addendum: An alumnus comments:

Your student responder reminds us that John Kemeny’s great vision was teach the computer geeks in intimate collaboration with the English majors, at a time when few saw the potential.

As we saw last week, fundraising is in the doldrums — putting it charitably — and Phil’s phailure to bring in the bucks has had immediate consequences for spending all over Dartmouth:

  • The Athletics Department is looking at an 8% cut to its budget. This is an area of the College that is tightly run. For example, many assistant coaches make less money that scruffy dining hall dishwashers, and yet they are on the road for months at a time. Already some teams are only able to compete effectively because of the assistance of generous donations from “Friends of …” groups. Perhaps the Hanlon administration is banking on disaffected alumni riding to the rescue.
  • Seeing the golf course get the ax is hard to fathom when losses are in the area of $600,000/year in the context of a overall Dartmouth budget that had total expenses of $973,123,000 in 2017. Recall that Phil has added 243 people to the staff ranks since he arrived in town in 2013; that works out to well over $20,000,000 in extra payroll alone.
  • Although College spokesman Diana Lawrence denies that there is a hiring freeze in place for either undergraduate faculty or staff, members of the faculty that I talk to seem to think that there is a moratorium on hiring. Now I am all for controlling costs, but that means cutting fat, not eschewing the hiring of high-quality professors.
  • Finally, there is a looming scandal that is the talk of the professoriate: a top-ranked professor from another school was offered a position in Hanover, had her moving expenses from Europe paid for by the College, put a down payment on an Upper Valley house, and then was denied tenure as a full professor at the last minute in a move that smacks of cost-saving rather than a decision on the merits. This mess is going to hurt recruiting at the College for years, if details are released to the public.

How can Phil dream of expanding the College when in these flush times, with the stock market soaring, he can’t make ends meet without cuts that hurt the quality of a Dartmouth education?

NFL Films has come out with an alternately funny and informative video about the Dartmouth-developed Mobile Virtual Player:

Congrats again to the whole MVP crew, but especially to a pair of stellar members of the Class of ‘79: John Currier and Buddy Teevens.

Listening to your customers helps you figure out what’s important (I could have said “from the mouths of babes,” but not these days, that’s for sure):

Nina Paripovich Comp.jpg

What can’t Phil see the College’s true and unique strengths.

Addendum: By George, She’s Got It!

drysuit.jpgNorthern Norway is a fair bit less hospitable for swimming with massive sea creatures than the warm waters of Dominica, but it was worth a shot to go there and participate in the largest annual gathering of orcas (killer whales, for the politically incorrect) on the planet. Hundreds gather there each year in the winter months to feast on herring in order to fatten up for the rest of the year when hunting might be more difficult.

As an apex predator, orcas don’t much worry about other creatures in the water with them — even people — and there is no record of a human fatality in the open ocean at the mouth of an orca. That was reassuring to me, given that they can reach twenty-six feet in length and weigh over six tons. Their top speed is 35mph. Most impressive is the male’s dorsal fin; at as much as six feet in height, it towers over humans sitting in a boat.

To swim in 40° water with the big guys (and gals), one wears a dry suit, a rubber garment with latex gaskets around your throat, wrists and ankles — along with multiple layers of merino wool and fleece underneath. However, sitting in a small boat for hours as the crew attempts to find a feeding pod can turn a fella mighty cold.

We were not successful in swimming with Norway’s orcas due the presence of a great many humpback whales in the fjords this year. Normally pods of orcas will cooperate to corral huge numbers of herring into “bait balls,” and then stun bunches of them with tail slaps before eating them one by one. However this year, once a bait ball had been assembled, the humpbacks would move in and scarf up the whole thing with a big-mouthed gulp (the BBC describes the whole competitve process here). So the orcas changed their strategy and just mooched around in small groups, feeding on fish that they might happen upon. When we tried to get into the water with them, they would move off. A bait ball would have kept them close to one location:

Orca Ahoy.jpg

Addendum: One member of our party, Penn grad Kabir Teja, arrived with first-class camera gear and a drone. He produced a video about our trip:

He has some nice aerial shots of orcas starting at 1:28.

Midday Night.jpgThe endless dark in northern Norway weighs on a person right from the start of a visit. Look at the sunrise and sunset times on my iPhone screenshot to the right (taken on November 23). That’s not even two and a half-hours of sunlight — on those rare days when the sun is not obscured by clouds — and we still had almost a month to go before the solstice.

Other than Japan and South Korea, the world’s countries with the highest per capita suicide rate are all close to the poles. Correlation is not causality, but spend some time up there and you might not be entirely sure of that proposition.

Needless to say, amid the overbearing bleakness, people turn to drink, and the government has responded by forbidding the sale of alcohol after 8pm, even in supermarkets that stay open after that time. The beer shelving that I saw has a drop-down blind in front of it. And the inflated prices would make you think that Dartmouth Dining Services has the alcohol concession; but no, ferociously high taxes are to blame (not to mention the 25% value added tax on most goods, with only 15% being added to the price of food).

The small town of Sørkjosen lies just below the 70° latitude line, more than 3° above the Arctic Circle (“the northernmost point at which the noon sun is just visible on the northern winter solstice and the southernmost point at which the midnight sun is just visible on the northern summer solstice” according to Wikipedia). The pretty little port enjoys regular displays of the northern lights, but even shows as spectacular as this time lapse film just don’t compensate for the desolation, at least to this viewer:

The film shows about twenty minutes of heavenly display compressed down to ten seconds. Our boat is in the bottom of the frame.

Addendum: A friend sends in a true story:

A friend who was a documentarist was making a film in remote Alaska one January, when he met a team of Muslim filmmakers. They reported that they were observing the Ramadan fast that month. “What does that mean,” my friend asked? They replied, “We skip lunch.”

Addendum: A senior sends in a data-filled corrective to my gloom-and-doom sense of northern Norway:

Hope you enjoyed Norway. I did, however, have a bit of a bone to pick about your post. Having spent some time in Norway, and also having followed its political scene for awhile, I think the “doom and gloom” message might not have represented the full picture. I think, in short, that I have to respectfully differ, both in my own impression of the country and in my conception of its government.

My own impression of Oslo, where I spent most of my time, was that it was just about the best-run city I’ve ever seen — it seemed a bit like Boston, if Boston were well-run, and if everyone in Boston were richer, happier, and really loved modern architecture. Also, unlike Boston, the street plan makes sense.

Then there’s the matter of statistics. Norway has the third highest nominal GDP in the world (fourth highest in PPP). It has the highest human development index score in the world. It’s also highest in the GINI index. It’s maximum individual tax rate is only 23rd highest, while it’s minimum tax rate is 0 percent. It has a high VAT on food and drink in shops (25 percent or 15 percent), but a lower VAT on other goods (10 percent at most). The World Happiness Report? Norway is first on that, too. Its sovereign wealth fund also tends to help, since it puts its natural resource wealth into the world’s biggest ($1 trillion plus) rainy day fund. Its corporate tax rate is also a pretty respectable 24 percent. Norway also got full marks every year in the Freedom in the World index and was ranked 13th in the Cato Institute’s Human Freedom Index, taking the third place for personal freedom. (The U.S. was 23rd in that index, incidentally, ranked just 28th for personal freedom.)

Will Wilkinson of the Niskanen Center wrote an interesting article last spring in which he argued that Bernie Sanders was the best choice for libertarians in the 2016 election cycle because he was the only candidate who wanted to make the U.S. look more like countries in which citizens were “more free” (always subjective): the Nordic nations. (Wilkinson also observed, likely rightly, that Bernie seems not to understand that the Nordic welfare states are supported by some of the most aggressive free markets in the world, which was an obstacle to his point.) It’s not a bad point; there’s a lot to support the idea that, particularly in Rawlsian conceptions of freedom, Norway is amongst the freest countries in the world.

My point isn’t that there’s nothing distressing about 22-hour darkness or that there’s no reason to protest restrictive alcohol laws (of course, I live in Massachusetts, where legislation around alcohol is rather more extreme), but just that a “high taxes and everyone kills themselves” view of Norway seems like it’s leaving out some important information.

I’m also, I’d note, not an advocate of “just do what the Nordic countries do and everything will be hunky-dory” (though I find the scalability arguments to be eyeroll-inducing and ill-conceived). But certainly we have something to learn from countries that quantitatively are doing much better than ours in many ways.

My classmate and all around good guy, Tim Prager ‘79, believes that the College would be stronger with more students. Here is the note (later slightly edited by him) that he sent to Deans Smith and Biron:

Tim Prager letter.jpg

In summary, Tim believes that the College’s present student culture is almost toxic. Among his worries and wishes:

  • One where the student body did not reflect the demographic mix of the wider community? [i.e. lilly white New Hampshire]

  • One which had limited space for people of differing backgrounds, points of view, nationalities?

  • … mean-spirited misogynistic behaviour, a lack of empathy, an inability to treat people of different ethnic backgrounds and sexual persuasions with the respect they deserve and should expect?

Then, he asks a rhetorical question: “If I wanted Dartmouth to evolve, move forward, retain the qualities I valued but rid itself of the attitudes I reviled, how could it be done without alienating the traditional core of white American Alumni?”

Finally Tim conveys an uncertainty:if the ethos of the College as a place of exceptional teaching and learning is preserved…” If this initiative increases the rate of change at Dartmouth it must be a good thing. If it helps Dartmouth evolve and allows its students to experience a broader community of people who bring different ideas and experiences with them to the College it must be positive.” [Emphasis added]

Tim seems to think that increasing the size of the student body by 10-25% with students who disproportionately contribute to a diverse campus will change the daily life of undergrads. He evokes the example of co-education.

But is there any reason to believe in Tim’s sense of cause and effect here? Will a thousand more students lead to a more harmonious campus (let’s leave aside the accuracy of Tim’s depiction of present-day Dartmouth)? I am not convinced. Certainly co-education did not serve to tame the supposedly savage Dartmouth man. The litany of Lohsian scandals over the past decade are testimony to that assertion. The truth seems to be that women have adopted the College’s hard-charging ethos rather than calming down the men.

I have little sympathy for Tim’s utopianism. The expansion of the student body could well lead to no change at all in the student culture, yet we can be sure that the College’s faculty and infrastructural resources will be stretched. We can be sure that there will be less money per student as the endowment’s bounty is spread over more people. And we can be sure, as Professor Stephen Brooks said at a recent faculty meeting, that a Hanlon administration that has been unsuccessful in meeting the challenges facing the College today is equally ill-equipped to confront the innumerable additional problems that large scale growth will present.

In short, if all of Tim’s assumptions for success are fulfilled, he is willing to bet on Phil Hanlon’s plan to grow the number of students in Hanover. But what are the odds of that? Those of us in Hanover are not betting on Phil Hanlon at all.

Addendum: An alumnus writes in:

An extra ration of Kool-Aid for Mr. Prager.

Addendum: And another:

While Tim Prager’s aspirations for the College may be admirable, they are off base. Students today are flocking to big urban universities in record numbers (see Penn, Columbia, NYU, Berkeley and Boston University). I would contend that the “diverse” students that Tim Prager seeks to attract are much more likely to select one of those universities over Dartmouth. There is a self-selection process as to who will apply to a rural school like Dartmouth and (unlike co-education which opened the College to 50% of the population) there is absolutely no evidence that more students will apply to Dartmouth if we increase the size of the undergraduate population.

In fact, Dartmouth has struggled to reach 20,000 applicants for the past 5 years while all of the other Ivies have seen record applications in excess of 30,000. Expanding the student body will only make the College less selective, thereby impacting its US News ranking and resulting in a further decline in reputation and desirability. This will have a spiraling effect that the College can ill afford.

The College is at full capacity now and cannot accommodate additional students without a major expansion of facilities which will change the special character of the school forever. We need to focus on the qualities that make Dartmouth unique among the Ivies, which starts with our small size, close-knit community and strong emphasis on undergraduate education.

If we lose that focus, then we will become a middling university with no particular appeal to prospective students, diverse or otherwise.

Addendum: A close observer of the campus writes in:

I am not convinced that making a campus population larger so you can incorporate ever more “diverse” identities adds significantly to young people’s ability to understand and empathize with others. Those are primarily character qualities, not automatic byproducts of exposure.

Research shows that increased diversity can actually produce the opposite effect. Since “birds of a feather tend to flock together,” heightening the cacophony of perspectives and expectations naturally sends subgroups to their respective “corners”, where their subculture’s idiosyncrasies define the social ecosystem. That’s where people feel most at-home and relationships flourish most freely, especially when the social environment gets very complex.

Your classmate Tim appears to have a more current PC sensibility about these things, which is his prerogative. I am more of a classic “melting pot” guy, vs. the more current ideal of a “salad bowl” — where everyone is mixed together but retains a separate identity. That has its virtues, but you risk driving people into isolated enclaves and ghettos rather than bringing true unity out of diversity.

A highly experienced alumnus, a shaper of corporate strategy, shares his thoughts on Phil’s plan to bloat the size of the College:

I have serious concerns about what seems to be a forgone decision to expand the student body.

For some background, for 25 years I’ve been a strategy professional. For the last 10 years I led strategy formulation at a Fortune 50 company involving billions of dollars of investment and revenue. When making an investment decision, we would always consider the positive impact on the business and compare it to alternative investments.

To date, the Dartmouth administration has not made any case explaining the upside to the Collge except something along the lines of “bigger is better”. To justify this approach, Hanlon has mentioned other Ivy League schools growing their undergraduate population. Putting aside the undemonstrated leap that size has made these school better, it does not follow that size would help Dartmouth. What’s missing in the argument for growth is the benefit to the students and to the institution.

There’s a basic question that should be asked and answered — how will Dartmouth complete now and in the future? While I haven’t given enough thought to argue for a specific path, I do know that it’s important to deliver clearly differentiated value in a competitive market. Just getting bigger is not differentiation. So then what are Dartmouth’s strengths and points of difference? Here are some:

  • A smaller, more tight-knit student body
  • The opportunity to be taught by full professors rather than teaching assistants
  • Smaller class sizes (at least, that used to be the case)
  • A smaller, more intimate campus

The proposed student expansion will stress each of these value drivers and most likely dilute what made Dartmouth special in the Ivies.

While I suspect this request for comment is really just PR, I will give Phil Hanlon the benefit of the doubt and suggest you consider examining this proposal using the Value Innovation framework. It takes a customer-centric view of what’s important to customers and then encourages delivering value where it matters most. Simultaneously reduce investment in areas that do not. Merely matching your competitors does not drive differentiation, but it does drive up costs. I’ve attached a link to a seminal article written for the Harvard Business Review to help explain the concepts.

Based on what I understand about the intended expansion of the student body, I strongly advise against it. Instead consider focusing on Dartmouth’s strengths while simultaneously shedding costs that don’t help.

Addendum: I wrote an analogous post a couple of months ago based on my experience at Bain & Company back in the day. It’s hard to imagine a competent leader seeing any merit in Phil Hanlon’s reasoning about the College’s direction.

Addendum: A Dartmouth Club President shares a letter that he wrote to the administration:

I’ll be brief: Get rid of Phil Hanlon before he does more harm to the College.

As it stands now, Dartmouth remains the only college in the Ivy League dedicated to the undergraduate and the teaching of humanities. But this distinction is precarious at best, given the current lack of adequate infrastructure. Many dorms are shabby and need refurbishing. Parking is impossible for faculty and all others. Class size has increased, and many popular classes are not available to those who seek them. The administration’s multi-layering is staggering; it overburdening any chance of budgetary discretion.

Dartmouth is cited in the news frequently for embarrassing occurrences and scandals while Phil’s responses are weak and unconvincing. The undergraduate polls show disdain and displeasure with Hanlon and his administration while continuing to appreciate fine faculty. The faculty is dissatisfied with Hanlon and the administration. Nobody, students, alums, athletes or townspeople, wants to destroy our golf course, pine forest, observatory or to see us become a University with more layers of graduate school administrators.

Alumni reflect this displeasure by sharply reducing contributions to the College. The initial funding for the energy institute is stagnant and insufficient. Tuition has risen again despite our endowment-to-student ratio being rated the highest while our student out of pocket costs creep higher.

Phil Hanlon helped grow the University of Michigan from a walkable campus in an idyllic Midwest town to the current sprawling campus requiring bus transportation from one end to the other. Adding 750 student beds above the observatory will pollute our starry nights, thereby ruining ongoing and future scientific studies in Astronomy and Physics.

Students choose Dartmouth precisely because of its cozy rural atmosphere and its high quality teaching reputation, a place where students feel as family and support one another in a non-competitive way. Phil Hanlon has set out to destroy the College’s very essence, and should he succeed, Dartmouth will lose its appeal and sink to the level of other small universities with nothing positive to show for the effort.

Should that happen, I, for one, will withdraw support for Dartmouth.

From a College press release, Committee to Advise on Golf Course Future, today:

Dartmouth will name a committee to study the future of the Hanover Country Club, which is owned and operated by the College and has been losing members and operating at an average annual loss of almost $600,000 for each of the last four years.

Senior lecturer Charles Wheelan ‘88 will chair the committee, which will advise Executive Vice President Rick Mills. Mills will present a recommendation on the future of the golf course to President Phil Hanlon ‘77 and Dartmouth’s board of trustees in June…

From my perspective, I would like some help as I coalesce around some type of recommendation to the president and trustees,” Mills said. He added that he would like the recommendation to be broadly supported.

Dartmouth has no plans to sell the golf course property.

As part of a four-year effort, started in 2016, to redirect approximately $20 million from administrative spending to academic spending, the College has looked at non-academic areas with an eye toward identifying expenses that can be reduced or eliminated in order to reallocate the funds for academic priorities.

During the last four years, the country club has lost between $722,000 and $500,000 a year, for an average annual loss of $595,000. In addition, membership has declined; there were 551 members in the fiscal year beginning on July 1, 2012. That number had dropped to approximately 300 members in 2016…

Wheelan, a golfer, is the only committee member to be named thus far. The other members will be appointed soon by Mills. Mills says he will seek people who are in favor of keeping the golf course open and those on the other side of the issue, “people from all around who can actually sift through a bunch of material, both financial material and other things.” [Emphasis added]

The other side of the issue? From what I hear, only Phil is in favor of this supremely stupid move.

Addendum: Professor Charlie Wheelan is in Liberia with a student group at the moment. He won’t be back in town until December 11.

The Wall Street Journal understands that an important subset of students (and professors) will actively seek out a smaller institution for the sense of community that it can provide. How wise the Editors are in ranking the College #1 among small schools in the Northeast:

WSJ Small Schools Comp.jpg

The size of a college town is an important consideration for many prospective college students. For those looking for a rural or small-town experience, the Northeast is home to many top-tier options.

Dartmouth College, an Ivy League school based in Hanover, N.H., tops the list, with an overall national rank of 17th in the Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education College Rankings. The list of Northeastern rural or small-town schools includes seven that crack the top 100 nationally.

All of the top Northeast region rural and small-town schools also have relatively small student bodies. Dartmouth is the largest in this regard, with about 4,300 undergraduates enrolled. Bowdoin College of Brunswick, Maine, is the smallest, with roughly 1,800 undergraduates.

Many of the schools on the list are leaders in graduate outcomes, an important component of the WSJ/THE rankings that measures things like salaries, graduation rates and student debt.

Williams College in Williamstown, Mass., ranks highest in the group for graduate outcomes, at No. 9 nationally for that metric. Bucknell University of Lewisburg, Pa., is No. 63 nationally for outcomes but leads this group on the graduate-salary component.

Bucknell is far above the others based on a value-added analysis used in the ranking that compares predicted salaries—based on factors including students’ SAT scores and family income—and the actual outcomes for graduates. Only salaries of students who borrowed from the federal government are included in the analysis.

Find more about rural and small-town schools in the Northeast in the table below. The listing uses location designations from the U.S. Education Department’s Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System. The Northeast region is as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Analyze the full WSJ/THE college rankings at

—Dave Pettit (@pettitd)

Addendum: So let’s add 1,000 students!

Just as the College was #7 (or #8) in the rankings for most of the 1990’s, so is Tuck happily listed among the Top Ten B-schools. Poets and Quants did a meta-analysis — a sort of cumulate ranking of all the rankings — and Tuck is comfortably in the College’s old slot:

P&Q Meta Ranking Comp1.jpg

Not bad for a small school in New Hampshire.

An alumnus who was at the College in 1969, when Dartmouth celebrated its 200th birthday, writes in with a good question about the College’s Sestercentennial, the alma mater’s 250th birthday upcoming in 2019:

There seem to be an amazing lack of build-up to this celebration which begins in a little more than thirteen months.

For the Bicentennial there was tremendous build-up starting several years before.

Maybe Phil is failing again, or maybe there will be nothing to celebrate because Phil will truly fail and Dartmouth will totally collapse before we get to 2019.

Which is more probable? I am starting to fear the latter.

As we know, the Hanlon administration does not much like pomp and circumstance. Recall that Phil is the guy who downgraded Convocation from a serious ceremony, one that assembled the robed faculty for an exaltation of the College’s purpose, into nothing more than a content-free community barbecue. That said, perhaps one day in 2019 our President will see fit to organize a gathering on the Green with free gelato and a bouncy castle to celebrate Dartmouth’s greatness over the last quarter millennium. If he is not too busy.

Addendum: You’ll be happy to hear that at least the College’s Inclusive Excellence initiative is thinking forward to 2019. Here is its goal for the celebration:

In consultation with faculty, students, alumni and staff, Dartmouth will commission public projects on the historic treatment of underrepresented, marginalized and excluded groups as part of the College’s sestercentennial celebration in 2019.

Addendum: Lest I be considered harsh (moi?), there actually is a group charged with planning the Sestercentennial. Its steering committee has five members and its planning committee has twenty-four members, including a single member of the undergraduate faculty and a professor from Geisel:

Sestercentennial Planning Committee.jpg

Note that Co-Chair Martha Beattie ‘76 has, um, retired (great timing on that decision, Martha), and the last five Planning Committee’s slots have yet to be filled, even though names have been promised by the end of this year.

Addendum: By the way, if you are interested in the Vice President for Alumni Relations job, you can apply here.


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