Recent articles

We pointed out on June 27 that the College’s new questions on the Common App have increased yields by identifying people likely to come to Hanover, if admitted. However, though effective in increasing our yield, the policy turns out to have a secondary effect, as Inside Higher Education reports:

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So what’s our preference: show a higher yield for its PR value, or seek to attract a class of more meritorious students? Currently we lead the Ivies in the number of kids coming from 1% families (20.7%), and only Princeton has fewer students from the bottom 60% of family income (we only have 14.4% of undergraduates from this cohort).

Add to this data the fact that we offer financial aid to fewer students than any other Ivy (here and here) and you have the virtual certainty that Phil Hanlon and Carolyn Dever will bore us silly with talk of diversity and inclusion, but in reality Dartmouth will remain a school for rich folks, plus a small, token group of kids who are not from the wealthy classes.

Of course, a day without criticizing the bloated bureaucracy would be like a day without sunshine — so let’s note that admissions departments play lots of games, at least in private, to insure that preference is given to full-boat kids. After all, that extra money is urgently needed, right?

In the dog days of August, Phil Hanlon announces a new initiative to radically expand the size of the undergraduate student body. Don’t be fooled by any language in the press release about dispassionate investigation; this train is leaving the station — as we noted a couple of months ago:

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Commentary will follow on Monday, but let’s just review past enrollments courtesy of the Dartmouth FactBook:

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These figures reflect enrollments in the fall quarter, data that is slightly different from the College’s information. Undergraduate enrollment increased from 4,084 to 4,310 students between 2002 and 2016: a change of 5.53%. Grad student numbers grew from 1,539 to 2,099 over the same period of time: a jump of 36.4%. Say no more.

Addendum: An alumnus writes in preemptively:

You called it. Here we go…looks like Phil is rolling out the Michigan playbook. I can’t wait to see the development of Dartmouth Plan 2, to minimize capital required for expansion. No doubt, it will expand the academic calendar to include weekends. Sophomores will be required to take all their classes on Saturdays. And the instructional day will expand to run from 6 am to midnight. All students will be able to schedule the remaining days in infinite ways. For those in a rush, it will be possible to complete a term in 19 consecutive days.

Addendum: An undergraduate writes in:

I hate the idea of a larger undergraduate body. It will not just mean a less personalised and more factory-like approach to education at the College, but it will also mean that we could soon see the expansion of the Choates, by far the ugliest buildings on campus. Students will also face increased pressure to compete with lacking infrastructure i.e. the libraries. If Hanlon is truly determined that increasing the size of the undergraduate body will be a financially viable idea (and continue to cause a decrease in alumni donations), he first has to work on the infrastructure. The incoming class of 2021 might be sleeping in tents on the Green for all we know! Furthermore, most students who apply here choose to apply due to a limited number of things: the Ivy League status, liberal arts, the great outdoors, small class sizes, and the smallish undergraduate body size (as well as the focus on undergraduate education, an achievement which we were ranked #7 by US News). If you take away small class sizes and the small undergraduate body, you take away two fifths of the reasons to apply to Dartmouth.

Thank you for all that you do Mr. Asch. I hope that Hanlon hears you, but I believe that you are a voice crying out in the wilderness when it comes to the president. He is dragging Dartmouth down, and at the end of the day, he takes us down with him…

And an alumnus:

Just read your post about Hanlon wanting to increase the student body and had to laugh at this line (and I can’t believe you didn’t highlight “diverse”):

“The small size makes it more challenging for the College to enroll a new class that represents interests in a variety of academic disciplines outside the classroom and from diverse backgrounds.”

Rather than larger student body, why doesn’t Phil focus on a better student body? How? I am sure Phil would ask (or maybe he wouldn’t). Stop losing the top students to other schools. If he focused on the quality of the education (and professors), everything would take care of itself without having to admit more students.

Also, didn’t you just do a piece on Tuck being a small school that goes toe to toe with the bigger B-schools?

And another:

So if Dartmouth expands its enrollment by 15-20% the universe will be an immeasurably better place. What absurd, unmitigated hubris!! And a transparent lie. If Hanlon expects anyone to believe this nonsense, then he is manifestly unfit, even beyond the extensive evidence you have already provided, to lead.

And so on:

Very distressing to see today’s post about Hanlon’s plan to increase the size of the student body. I agree with the alum who wrote “looks like Phil is rolling out the Michigan playbook.” In fact, I can confirm first-hand that he is doing exactly that.

A few years ago, I showed up at Phil’s office hours to inquire about creating graduate-level courses as senior seminars, for students who wanted to be more competitive in applying to graduate programs. I asked him what the situation was at Michigan. His reply: “At Michigan, the undergraduates are a source of revenue.” Very disheartening that he is bringing that mentality to Hanover now.

A well-connected alumnus writes in:

Based on conversations with faculty, I think that what is holding them back from calls for Hanlon to be replaced is the concern that his replacement would be no better, and very possibly worse. The horrible Yale President Salovey was said to have been in the running for the Dartmouth job that went to Hanlon. [JA Note: Salovey was offered the top job at Dartmouth; he used our offer to pressure Yale into making him the University’s President.]

The management recruitment process is broken; the Trustees use an established firm [Isaacson, Miller] which yields up credentialed mediocrities whom the Trustees can’t be bothered to second guess.

Why they can’t just pick a known winner, like the head of Tuck or the Engineering School, is a mystery. Maybe they feel they can’t be blamed if things don’t work out if they used a name recruitment firm. Sad!

There’s an old cowboy saying: “If you do what ya’ always done, you’ll get what ya’ always got.” One would think that our Trustees would have learned their lesson by now. We’ve had a string of weak Presidents over the past two decades, and our ranking, reputation and fundraising continue to suffer.

Jim Wright was such a lackluster President that many people in Hanover vowed to never choose an internal candidate again. Jim Kim seemed a glossy antidote to plodding Wright; we soon learned that Kim was all flash and no substance. And Hanlon? No flash — and no substance either. Sheesh.

And the grad school deans? Thayer Dean Joe Helble is driving Thayer forward. He has vision and smarts. Dean Matt Slaughter at high-flying Tuck is the whole package, too, and he has the added advantage of having taught in the undergrad Econ department for eight years before moving down the hill. Geisel Dean Duane Compton has been in town for only four months, so he is something of a cipher right now, and besides, the med school is a mess in desperate need of sorting out. Both Helble and Slaughter would be a marked improvement on Phil, that’s for sure.

Addendum: If Brandeis can do it, so can we:

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For all the controversies Brandeis University President Frederick Lawrence endured over the past few months, the failures that ultimately doomed his tenure were more fundamental, insiders say: His fundraising just wasn’t good enough and his administrative track record was wanting.

Last Friday, Lawrence announced that this would be his last semester at the Jewish-sponsored, nonsectarian university in Waltham, Mass., outside of Boston.

“After careful consideration, and in close consultation with the Board of Trustees, I have decided to step down as President at the end of this, my fifth academic year,” Lawrence wrote in his announcement. “For the time being, I am looking forward to returning to full-time scholarship and teaching as a senior research scholar at Yale Law School.”

Although Lawrence was popular with many students and helped stabilize Brandeis’ finances in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, the austerity measures he imposed (even as his own compensation rose) made him unpopular among faculty members. All the while, his fundraising failed to measure up to his longtime predecessor, Jehuda Reinharz; he was seen as having made several administrative missteps and he stumbled through numerous controversies over the past year.

Perhaps some of our Board members should go to Waltham to see how to remove a President who is not getting the job done.

In the run-up to this fall’s Dartmouth-Brown game at Fenway Park, Football Coach Buddy Teevens ‘79 threw out the first pitch there on Monday:

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From the looks of things, Buddy threw a strike on the outside corner, but his foot left the rubber awfully early:

With virtually everyone on the football team graduating in four years, and his work on the MVP and the prevention of concussions meriting national attention, not to mention the DP2 program, Coach T is carving out a new role for a head coach. My thought runs to Daniel Webster’s pithy quotation, “Men hang out their signs indicative of their respective trades: shoemakers hang out a gigantic shoe; jewelers, a monster watch; and the dentist hangs out a gold tooth; but up in the mountains of New Hampshire, God Almighty has hung out a sign to show that there He makes men.” Buddy does, too.

Addendum: How does President Buddy Teevens sound to you. Maybe not serious, but anything is better these days than President Hanlon.

Phil Hanlon15.jpgAs ye sow, so shall ye reap, Phil Hanlon. Four years of ineptitude are being reflected in fundraising numbers so dismal that people all over higher education are talking. Rather than accelerating in the run-up to the formal announcement of the capital campaign, donations to the College are dropping precipitously.

Numbers at the Dartmouth College Fund are causing fundraisers to shake their heads, though the surprise is limited, given that at a springtime meeting between student leaders and DCF organizers, the students let the alumni muckymucks have it in no uncertain terms. They confirmed in words what the senior survey stated in numbers: Phil Hanlon and his administration are deeply unpopular.

Participation in giving by alumni dropped over the past year to about 39% — the first time in Dartmouth’s history that involvement has fallen to such a low level — from 42% and 43% in the two most recent years. In my day, the College and Princeton were neck and neck at about 70% giving; Princeton’s most recent figure was a healthy 56.8%. (The only major school to currently approach the old-time numbers is Tuck, where 70% of living alumni contribute money annually.)

Beyond the drop in giving by individuals, total giving is way down, too, by double digits below the year’s target according to several sources. The shortfall would be in the order of tens of millions of dollars.

The administration’s high-handed treatment of fraternities, AD in particular (here and here), seems to be motivating many loyal alumni to turn away from the College. One story making the rounds is that this spring Phil received an envelope with checks from ten of his Class of 1977 Alpha Delta brothers. Each one was for the same amount: $0.00.

Will the Trustees finally act, now that the numbers are clear? Certainly the Board has long received deeply troubling qualitative reports regarding the Hanlon administration. Today the Trustees can assess the results in incontrovertible quantitative form.

How can anyone not see what a disaster the current administration is?

Addendum: As a low-energy guy, Phil Hanlon is hardly an inspiring fundraiser. And he has little to share in the way of new ideas or initiatives when he talks about his plans for the College. That he has not fired his ineffective and much-disliked direct report, Senior VP for Advancement Bob Lasher, speaks volumes about Phil’s inabilities as a manager. He does not recognize talent, or its absence, and he can’t cut loose a failing administrator.

Addendum: The College’s sad results come against the backdrop of a stock market that hits new highs week after week (including yesterday). In addition, the capital campaigns of institutions like Harvard and USC have set all-time records in the past year; both schools surpassed their ambitious goals. Why not the College? You know why.

Addendum: An older alumnus writes in:

If the latest numbers on alumni giving aren’t the last straw, there may not be one. 39 freakin’ per cent! That’s unthinkable for anyone who was in Hanover in our time.

But regarding your suggestion that the Trustees defenestrate Phil: and then what comes next? After a three-decades-long parade of Freedman, Wright, Kim, (Folt), and Hanlon, you might reasonably ask if we can do any worse. The horror is that these same Trustees may be up to that challenge.

If this were a business or political organization, one of the first sources of candidates to succeed Phil would be promotion from within, especially when there appear to be two excellent leaders running the graduate schools of business and engineering. Nah — too rational.

Addendum: An alumnus writes in:

Not looking forward to being a head agent going into a Reunion Year in this environment. Our class participation fell 7%, almost entirely due to war on AD and SAE, against backdrop of placating #BLM, Duthu fiasco, etc.

Thumbnail image for Mark McPeek1.jpgProfessor of Biology Mark McPeek, who has already graced Dartblog’s Guide to the Stars, writes in:

Joe, I hope you are well. A new academic year is fast approaching, and the confluence of a few events today have made me wonder what a bunch of Dartmouth faculty and alumni might suggest as the primary text for an “as yet imaginary” Big Ideas course that incoming students might have to all take together. Hence, I thought of you and Dartblog.

This morning I was reflecting on the recent failures of the ACA repeal efforts by the US House and Senate, which made me think about what I’d force every single person in those bodies to read right now. As I was in the middle of that, I responded to the annual e-mail inviting me to lead first-year orientation sessions on various topics. This will be the second year that a group of faculty will speak to students during orientation on the topic of “What is a Liberal Arts education?” Dan Rockmore also told me that his new edited volume on “What Are the Arts and Sciences?” will be sent to each incoming student. However, as I understand it, Dan’s excellent book (the chapters of which were all authored by Dartmouth faculty) will simply be given to the incoming students.

All of these made me consider what one book I would not only give each incoming student, but in fact assign for every incoming student (and perhaps every congressperson and senator) to read and discuss as part of a campus-wide course (e.g., if we had a Big Ideas course in students’ first year), if I ran this place. For example, my son just graduated from Georgia Tech. Georgia Tech asked all in his incoming class to read “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” before arriving on campus, and they discussed the book as part of a campus-wide class on science, race, social policy, economic injustice, individual rights, intellectual property and ownership, and the conflicts that arise from clashes among these competing interests in students’ first semester on campus. (My understanding is that Georgia Tech chooses a different book each year.)

My choice would be Adam Smith’s “The Theory of Moral Sentiments.” As I’m sure you know, this is Smith’s treatise about the roots of morality, and it defines the philosophical underpinnings of what he would go on to write about in “Wealth of Nations.” However, most people across the entire breadth of today’s political spectrum have completely lost sight of the fact that the moral foundation of capitalism, as outlined in “The Theory of Moral Sentiments,” is self-restraint and caring for neighbors. I think folks on both sides of today’s political chasm would be shocked to compare their own assumptions about the foundations and workings of capitalism with the true moral and philosophical underpinnings of the economic system in which we live. Smith’s basic argument is that self-restraint and caring for neighbors define “the perfection of human nature” and by extension the perfection of society. This ultimately makes selfishness a virtue because the individual’s selfish motivations are for her/his own perfection as a restrained and virtuous citizen, and in so doing one sees her/his own economic well-being as a function of the well-being of others in the larger society (remember Smith’s admonition about the roots of “the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker”). How one moves towards these goals and fosters these values is the argument to be had.

I would be very interested to hear what list your readers would suggest if each were in charge of defining the one book that they think the incoming class should read and discuss as part of a campus-wide educational experience at Dartmouth, and hear a few sentences on their rationale for their choice. Perhaps you could ask such a question on Dartblog and collate the responses? I suggest this out of pure selfishness and simply for my own curiosity, but who knows - perhaps a groundswell might build someday to put something like this into the curriculum.

Also, with all those new students coming on campus in a few weeks, they might like some intellectual suggestions for reading outside class.

In any event, I think we all would welcome some intellectual discourse on the internet these days.

Best wishes,


Sing out, dear readers.

Addendum: Readers write in:

A professor at Tuck:

The Big Sort: Why the Clustering of Like-Minded America is Tearing Us Apart, by Bill Bishop. The book documents how Americans have self-selected into increasingly homogeneous communities, even as the country itself remains heterogeneous. Once you see the basic idea, a lot of what you see makes sense when viewed through that lens.

Honorable mentions to Bowling Alone (Robert Putnam); Letters to a Young Contrarian (Christopher Hitchens); In Defense of Elitism (William A. Henry III).

An older alumnus:

That last recommendation (In Defense of Elitism) from the Tuck professor was an excellent one. I would pair it with one by Peter Wood, president of the National Association of Scholars (NAS): Diversity: The Invention of a Concept. Hint: it takes a slightly different angle on the topic than our dear leader and carolinclusion & deversity.

about a decade or more ago, it dawned on me that jim wright had one of those pull-strings coming out of his back, and every time it was pulled, a voice would parrot, ‘diversity, diversity.’

A recent alumnus serving in the military:

In light of the post on big ideas. I would have everyone read Robert Nisbet’s The Quest for Community, written in 1953. Nisbet was a professor of sociology at Berkeley. Nisbet’s book is an account of modern Western society and the human desire for community and civic flourishing amidst the wreckage of the two great wars, totalitarianism, and the growing power of the centralized state. He writes: “The greatest single lesson to be drawn from the social transformations of the twentieth century, from the phenomena of individual insecurity and the mass quest for community, is that the intensity of men’s motivations toward freedom and culture is unalterably connected with the relationships of a social organization that has structural coherence and functional significance.” Also: “Economic freedom has prospered, and continues to prosper, only in areas and spheres where it has been joined to a flourishing associational life.” Nisbet connects economic, social, and moral flourishing together in a way that is suitable for any student of the liberal arts.

Another alumnus:

Joe: my suggestions:

Looking forward to what results from this idea. Thanks.

A dedicated reader:

For all students

Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning, original pub 1946 BUT … A zillion translations and editions including one published in 2017
For obvious reasons (see below) I like the two with intros by Rabbi Harold Kushner, that’s 2006 and 2014

(Rabbi) Harold Kushner, Nine Essential Things I Have Learned About Life
Author of bestseller, When Bad Things Happen to Good People, nearer the end of his life, distills his life experience

Matti Friedman, Pumpkinflowers: A Soldier’s Story of a Forgotten War . Book discussion I lead, retired academic and NOT Jewish, wrote for publication that this is one of the best three books he’s read about war, and then he led a discussion on it for friends of his.

And for Jewish students or Christian students interested in the real Judaism and how it impacted Christianity and any other students interested in the big ideas of how to treat other human beings in this life, it’s really about how to behave in this life so that if there is an afterlife, one’s “transcript” speaks to one’s essential menschlikeit, or humanity for a general audience

Ron Wolfson, The Seven Questions You’re Asked in Heaven: Reviewing and Renewing Your Life on Earth (yeah yeah sounds like self-help, but it isn’t, it’s about ethics and more)

Another young alumnus:

I remember being asked to read Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs, and Steel as an incoming freshman, with the understanding that it would be important for a lecture during Orientation. I got bored with the book, but pushed myself through to finish it, only to be quite frustrated when the lecture ended up having nothing to do with the book. The takeaway I had from that experience is that if you’re going to assign reading for incoming students, make sure that there’s programming to support it to make the students feel like the read was worth their while.

An older alumnus:

I know three books they should read:

The Fountainhead….Ayn Rand
The Constitution of Liberty…F.A. Hayek
The Radicalism of the American Revolution…Gordon S. Wood

An alumna:

I already gave What Are the Arts and Sciences to my ‘21 son. Granted, we are a geek family. He’s VERY excited and having a difficult time deciding what to study and this book has given him some perspective.

On the matter of required (or recommended) freshman reading, the ‘21’s were all sent a copy of A Man of the People by Chinua Achebe and instructed to read it before orientation week.

A happy alum:

Prof. McPeek asked for book ideas. I would suggest the poems of Robert Frost, especially “The Road Not Taken.”

Am recovering from quadruple bypass surgery. A day after I reached the hospital, a cardio surgeon said, “Technically, you were dead.” I rank these words as the most beautiful and uplifting I’ve ever heard as I had to be alive to hear them. It was an attack of arrhythmia from a previous heart attack 22 years ago. Was extremely lucky and glad I have a second chance at life.

A young alum:

I hope you’re well. As a regular reader of Dartblog, I saw the request from Professor McPeek for the book recommendation.

More than a book recommendation, I find his rationale for the “The Theory of Moral Sentiments” compelling. Not only have free markets been under constant attack since the financial crisis, but also the current responses in the world have steered towards populism and socialism. Thus, a critical discussion about the morality of free markets could be very useful for the incoming class. Free markets are a fundamental cornerstone of our civilization and embody the realization of true justice and fairness.

Nevertheless, I would be concerned whether the book would be engaging enough for the incoming class. I am quite sure some could critically engage with the book while others may still require the foundations of a liberal arts education to fully benefit from the analysis.

My recommendation would be a book which demonstrates how academic discussions can be carried out by “grown-ups” i.e. without name calling and retreating into partisanship. An introduction to academic discussions based on evidence and logical arguments. I hope this would encourage the incoming class to engage in discussions in an academic way throughout their studies and maybe the radical idea that you can disagree with someone philosophically (politically) and still cherish them as your friends.

An older alumnus:

If it’s not too late for a late entry in response to Mark McPeek’s readings solicitation, I would offer Jonathan Haidt’s The Righteous Mind. (I see you already have one entry citing Haidt’s The Happiness Hypothesis. I haven’t read that one, but I expect it’s also insightful.)

The great strength of The Righteous Mind is that (among other things) it defines a finite set of personal value dimensions that strongly determine our philosophical and political beliefs. So we are able to examine our own value structure relative to those with whom we agree or disagree politically.

And another:

I would recommend: “Ye Will Say I Am no Christian.” The Thomas Jefferson/John Adams Correspondence On Religion,Morals and Values. Edited by Bruce Braden. A fascinating back and forth between two of our founding fathers, particularly timely in today’s political environment.

And a longtime reader:

I’m a great believer in the ability of the finest books for children to touch truth and make it manifest in a way that the most scholarly, erudite works, despite their merit and value, cannot.

For students (and faculty) endlessly exhorted to repeat the mantra of diversity and inclusion, until their eyes roll back in their heads, a restorative:

The Animal Family by Randall Jarrell (1965; available in hardcover and paperback)

To me, the most profound examination possible of how to truly love the other as the other is; of what makes a family, and the nature of truth itself, in a book for the youngest but suitable, as they say, for all ages.

The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes, by DuBose Heyward (author of the novel Porgy and the librettist for Porgy and Bess; 1939)

Who knew an Easter fable could demolish misogyny and racism with nary a polemic, diatribe or stern lecture in sight?

Any fully adult person who is not brought to the edge of tears or a voice-stopping thickened throat by the last pages of these books is, I declare with head-shaking sorrow, a person so stone-hearted that we can only shake our heads in wonder that a pulse therein may be detected or respiration observed.

But sentiment is not the object here. Truth is, and prose as we might hope the young are, somewhere, still taught to write.

Addendum: My take on Professor McPeek’s question shies away from the social sciences. I’d recommend E.M. Forster’s A Room with a View. Beyond being a celebration of romantic love — some of the most glorious writing on the subject in my experience, and a topic that undergraduates need to think about more — the book has as its main theme the wrestling with and breaking free from social convention. Dartmouth is easily as ridden with unspoken social rules as was Forster’s Victorian England. If students would work harder on their inner lives, they would be both happier and better equipped to solve the world’s problems.

Mark McPeek Responds:

Just as I anticipated: a collection of excellent recommendations across a range of perspectives. I have a lot more reading to do. Also, given a few conversations I’ve had about this off-line, perhaps this might spark some reevaluation of educational goals both across disciplinary boundaries in the first year of a student’s time here and within majors once they get going full steam.

For folks out of town, it has been a cool summer in Hanover — so much so that the other day, when the daytime high was a brisk 63°, a friend asked me the question in the above headline. The lowpoint came on July 1 when 4.5 inches of rain pummeled the area in a short period of time. The downpour recalled 2011’s Hurricane Irene. My beloved swimming hole in Norwich was filled with gravel from the flooding, and its banks were covered with heaps of driftwood large and small:

Post-storm swimming holeC.jpg

Sisyphean dam-building has been suspended for the time being, awaiting the return of energy and enthusiasm.

Real Bagels1.jpgMontreal bagels are not doughy buns with holes in the center: they are a noble bread that has a flavor distinct enough that you know you are in the presence of greatness before your teeth are halfway into the first bite.

Having been boiled in honeyed water and then baked in a traditional wood oven — think of an Italian forno a legna pizza oven — a Montreal bagel has a large hole in the center, and the dough itself possesses an elastic quality. I’m a poppy-seed man myself; the darker flavor of poppies brings out a sweet perfume that the other traditional coating, sesame seeds, fails to evoke — at least, for me. About onion bagels and similar abominations, we will not speak

Below, in typical multicultural Montreal fashion, the team at R.E.A.L. Bagels at 4940 Queen Mary Road (just off Décarie Boulevard) works a production line that runs 24/7:

Real Bagels.jpg

I wonder if the Jewish population of Polish shtetls had better bagels?

Addendum: An outfit by the name of Myer’s Bagel Bakery at 377 Pine Street in Burlington purports to make Montreal bagels on U.S. soil. Has anyone ever paid them a visit?

Addendum: Bagels freeze extremely well. We always lay in a supply in the freezer in Hanover after we go home or when a friend heads up to Canada.

Addendum: A reader writes in:

Been at Myers several times. Good bagels, but not as light and flavorful as I remember at St. Viateur in Montreal. They’ve extended the range of “flavors” beyond the traditional plain, black and white I remember in Montreal.

So it turns out that the misbehavior for which the women’s swimming team is being punished (“the team would not be allowed to participate in the three intercollegiate meets scheduled during the 2017 fall term. The team will resume its competition schedule on Dec. 1, but will not be allowed to travel for training and will instead train in Hanover during the December break.”), was somewhat more elaborate than louche, provocative PowerPoint presentations. There was a fair bit of, um, acting out of a sexual nature, and rumor has it that some members of the men’s team assisted in the proceedings.

How to interpret such goings-on? On the one hand, we live in a world where the most graphic pornography is available on the internet at the click of a mouse. And yet we can all agree that a newly-arrived-in-Hanover, 18-year-old, female swimmer should be able to pick and choose her poison, and not be obliged to participate in extreme vulgarity as part of a team event. After all, a student brings with her a wide range of personal experiences. Besides that, she’ll have occasion to experience such things elsewhere, if she wishes.

The Hanover Police declined to charge swim team members under the NH anti-hazing statute, RSA Section 631:7:

RSA 631-7 Hazing.jpg

Without consulting the case law, I imagine that the physical/psychological damage hurdle was deemed by the Hanover Po to not have been met.

But the College considers NH law to be but a jumping-off point for its own rules regarding hazing. The Student Affairs Handbook contains language additional to the NH statue:

Hazing Student Affairs Handbook.jpg

Beyond that definition, the Office of Greek Life Handbook & Policies manual describes hazing offenses in far greater detail:

Hazing GLH1.jpg

Hazing GLH2a.jpg

By the College’s standards, hazing did occur, but we are left with a final issue: students inform me that almost every team, fraternity, sorority, and many clubs do similar things to one degree or another (with only a few exceptions). It seems that initiation rituals are hard-wired into the College’s students. The various minions in the administration chase after the malefactors, mostly in vain — unless someone steps forward from within a student grouping.

I am left with a larger question. Why?

I was under the impression that Dartmouth undergraduates had ceased to think obsessively about sex when the Class of ‘79 left town lo those many years ago. But, no. Not only is the topic on the members of the womem’s swim team’s minds, but they even do PowerPoint presentations about it — and get punished for doing so.

Swim Team Hazing Comp.jpg

I’ll do an in-depth look at the dirty deed — the PowerPoint, I mean — tomorrow, but note that both the NY Post and the Guardian have picked up the story.

At a minimum we can give Phil credit for nixing Carol Folt’s (and others’) harebrained idea of changing the College’s name to Dartmouth University, unlike certain other institutions who jump on any passing bandwagon:

Northern Vermont University Comp.jpg

Some people, I guess, place greater value on PR than history, tradition and identity. The College’s signature phrases — “It is, Sir, as I have said, a small college. And yet there are those who love it!” — are drawn from Daniel Webster’s peroration before the U.S. Supreme Court in the Dartmouth College Case (Trustees of Dartmouth College v. Woodward, 17 U.S. 518 (1819)), a precedent in the defense of private property and the sanctity of contract so weighty that a decade ago, when I visited the Old Supreme Court Chamber in the base of the Capitol, a sign indicated that the decision in the Dartmouth College Case was handed down there. No other litigation was noted. Recall that the state of New Hampshire had tried to take over the College and turn it into Dartmouth University.

Beyond that fact, the title college bespeaks Dartmouth’s longstanding, core commitment (though not for long, if Phil and Carolyn have their way) to the education of undergraduates over hordes of harried grad students.

Would a liberally educated person support a change from College to University? I think not. Perhaps a person with a marketing degree from Northern Vermont University would place inordinate weight on the short-term income benefit of a nomenclature change, and be oblivious to other considerations, but not someone who had spent four years at Dartmouth College. At least, for now.

Addendum: A professor of medicine writes in:

I enjoy your blog very much, and I agree with 99% of this morning’s article regarding holding the line on a name change for the college. I agree that history, tradition and identity are very important to any institution. I too am dismayed that JSC and LSC are changing to NVU.

But I have to take some issue your comment “Perhaps a person with a marketing degree from Northern Vermont University would place inordinate weight on the short-term income benefit of a nomenclature change, and be oblivious to other considerations, but not someone who had spent four years at Dartmouth College.” is elitist, and untrue. I think similarly poor and short-sighted decisions can be, and indeed are made every day, by people who have graduated from all sorts of schools, regardless of their ranking on the college league tables. And just by way of fact checking, Jeb Spaulding, the Chancellor of JSC actually got his degree in mass communications from the University of Vermont, not Northern Vermont University!

Phil Hanlon announced with some fanfare on August 2, 2016 that he would be blogging, but since then, though he promised one or two post per month, his output has been sparse. No readers? No ideas? What’s up? And to think that I was worried about competition.

In fact, after a total of six posts between August and February, Phil has not written a thing for almost six months:

Hanlon Blog.jpg

If Phil isn’t blogging, maybe he is busy raising money — though, on second thought, given the College’s disastrous fundraising results (where, oh where, is that capital campaign?), maybe he is not doing that. However, on third thought, maybe he is fundraising, and he is just not very good at it.

While we are on the subject of bloggers, my classmate Dean Esserman ‘79 has become the Police Foundation’s Senior Counselor, and he has started off a blog with a post about humanistic policing that you should read as a primer on how we should all think about police work:

Dean Esserman Blog Comp.jpg

Dean is as clear-eyed as it gets about policing, and he articulates the challenges facing present-day law enforcement in an enlightening way.

In their 2002 book, The Undiscipinables (available at Rauner), authors Sandra Gregg, Brian Reilly and James Tatum quote President Ernest Martin Hopkins regarding the origins of the senior fellowship program; Hopkins then goes on to talk about his overarching philosophy of education and its administration, too:

Hopkins Laws and Regulations.jpg

I think this is still another step towards untying somebody’s apron strings from around the waist of the Dartmouth undergraduate and turning him loose on his own sense of responsibility. We have had more laws and regulations and rules than were necessary to run a principality; and for 13 years now I have spent a large part of my time in knocking these down and getting rid of them… so far as my educational interest lies, my whole objective is to get the College recognized as a place where men are expected to stand on their own feet and, if they cannot do this, to take responsibility for falling down. … I prize this particular project because it is at least an eloquent gesture.

How bracing, in an era of safe spaces, special snowflakes and professional counseling for each and every student who feels challenged by social and work pressures, that a President can talk openly about responsibility, the educational benefits of failure, and the goal of having the College stand for specific values.

What if we could today have a President who unashamedly articulated the same themes? The world might sit up and take notice. Such language would be so distinctive that we wouldn’t need a slick slogan to point out that It’s Different at Dartmouth, as Jean Kemeny, wife of President John Kemeny (1970-1981) simply entitled her 1979 autobiography.

Furthermore, Hopkins offers us the model of a reforming President, one ready to hack away at the accumulated dross of the past with the goal of freeing up the College and its students so that they may achieve academic distinction. If Hopkins thinks that the Dartmouth of his day had “more laws and regulations and rules than were necessary to run a principality,” he would find today’s College filled with enough guidelines to administer a government agency. Is it too much to hope that Hopkins’ words inspire our next President (the current one seems incapable of inspiration).

Addendum: An alumnus writes in:

your post today inspired me to comment on something that has been a source of regret for some time. from the time I was an undergraduate (the stone age, circa 1965), I felt in my gut that dartmouth’s greatness stemmed directly from its distinctiveness—its location, its traditions (and the emphasis on them), its concentration on undergraduate liberal arts education, and the collegiality between students and faculty.

but over the decades, it was clear that many who came to hanover wanted to “transform” this college, one out of step with the postmodern zeitgeist, to take something singular and make it like every other elite bastion of academia. the penny dropped when james o. freedman lamented the fact that too many prospective students who applied to both dartmouth and H-Y-Pr were choosing the others. my immediate reaction was twofold: any high-school senior who applied to both dartmouth and harvard was an extremely confused puppy; and secondly, do we really want to have cadres of 18-year-olds dictate who and what we are?

we are (or were) who we are. we never tried to be like any other, but rather were happy in our own skin, so to speak. that’s not exactly consistent with diversity and inclusion, but so be it. those two values are a recipe for entropy and homogenization, and inevitably end up driving the institution to the level of insane asylum we see in higher education today.

B-School class sizes.jpgmbaMission’s Insider’s Guide to Tuck for the 2017-2018 year lays out the relative size of Dartmouth’s business school vs. the other majors. It then follows up with a complete review:

Tuck’s students typically have more work experience than those at other top programs, and of the Class of 2018, 100% entered with some level of full-time work experience (an average of five years). Although some top MBA programs have trended toward accepting younger applicants, Tuck’s small community environment actually benefits from its students’ depth of professional experience. In fact, an associate director of admissions at Tuck told mbaMission, “It would be very rare that we would offer deferred admission to a college senior.”

The school reportedly strives to maintain a small student-to-faculty ratio and, according to the Princeton Review, has one of the lowest—and some might say best—such ratios (11:1) among the top U.S. business schools. All of the school’s full-time faculty members teach in the MBA program and appear to maintain a balance between research and teaching. Tuck professors also stay active in the business community by holding advisory positions on boards and taking on consulting engagements, and this ongoing connection to the current business arena allows them to personally bring real-world experience into the classroom.

However, one thing we learned that Tuck students value most about the school’s faculty is the professors’ availability and approachability. A second year we interviewed shared that students commonly run into professors at restaurants or elsewhere around town and that faculty members are always very approachable. Another second-year student commented, “Professors are extremely accessible. You can go up to them, and they will invite you to their offices, or out for coffee or to their houses for dinner. Unlike at other businesses schools, a big divide between students and faculty does not exist at Tuck. … They often host events and are very much a part of the community.” He then affirmed, “Accessibility is the best part of Tuck.”

A fine performance for a small school lost in the wilds of New Hampshire.


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