Record Number of ED Admits/Students

Dec 18 2014

It would seem that the Admissions department has detected weakness in the number of applicants again this year, and in order to keep the College's precious yield figures in line with the other Ivies, the number of students admitted via Early Decision has climbed to an all-time high of 483.

Early Decision Admits 2006-2019.jpg

Of these students, The D is reporting that only about 148 are athletes; another 50 athletes have been told that they will be accepted with the pool of students admitted in April. Given that everyone in these two groups of athletes will matriculate, and that one can expect a continuation of the increased number of legacy and private school admits that began with the Class of 2014, our yield figures should be safe for the time being -- along with our increased tuition income.

The D also quoted Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Maria Laskaris as noting that "the admitted group of students will represent approximately 41 percent of Dartmouth's Class of 2019." That number can be interpreted two ways: that the admitted 483 ED students will be 41% of a class that will therefore number 1,178 students; or that the students from the ED group who actually matriculate -- usually about 3% less than those accepted -- will be 41% of a class that will therefore number 1,142 students.

Either way (I used the conservative figure in my chart below), the number of students in this year's freshman class will be similar to last year's entering class, which numbered 1,152 students -- the largest freshman class in Dartmouth's history:

Freshman Class Size 2006-2019.jpg

When Phil Hanlon was Provost at Michigan, he increased the size of the student body in order to compensate for reduced state funding of the university. He appears to be adopting the same strategy now in Hanover. Certainly the budget will benefit from extra tuition payers, but how will academic life improve when ever more students chase after already-oversubscribed courses and a limited number of dorm rooms?

Addendum: The College boasts that we had a record number of ED applicants this year. That's no surprise; the word is out there that we accept a larger percentage of students from our ED pool than any other Ivy. Look at this this table of last year's figures compiled by the Ivy Coach:

Ivy Coach Comp.jpg

In addition, the Daily Pennsylvanian compared the selectivity of the ED admissions cycle at the leading schools that have announced their results this year:

Penn ED stats.jpg

We don't look too good.

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EVP Rick Mills Outside the Envelope

Dec 17 2014

Phil's EVP Rick Mills is proving to be a surprise. To date all reports have been good regarding his attention to detail and seriousness, but the characteristic that has been even more pleasing has been his unrelenting honesty. At the Town Meeting that he held with Provost Carolyn Dever on December 4, he explicitly raised the issue of trust at Dartmouth. He went so for as to show the below claymation video:

Now why would an administrator raise a topic like this? The discussion was summarized as follows in the College's press release:

Mills says he hopes the meetings will help build trust among members of the College community.

"You don't get trust because you say 'trust me,' " Mills said. "You build trust and you earn trust over time." His aim, he said, is to unite around the idea that everyone at the College is working to make Dartmouth better.

Of course, Mills is hoping explicitly to build trust among the various constituencies at the College because there has -- for good reason -- been so little of it in Hanover over the past twenty years or so. The unholy trinity of Wright/Kim/Folt were unprincipled in their justification of decisions and initiatives, not to mention the conflicts of interest they allowed in multiple appointments to senior positions in the administration. I don't call someone a liar easily, but these three played fast and loose with the truth whenever it even minimally suited them. Phil Hanlon and his team are a happy, optimism-inducing departure from that course of conduct.

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Looking at the 2014 Accounts

Dec 16 2014

The College's 2014 accounts (for the fiscal year from July 1, 2013 to June 30, 2014) are a mixed bag, but they do contain hopeful signs. The original budget was Carol Folt's, but its administration was Phil Hanlon & Co.'s responsibility .

To start, total spending grew by only 2.1%, the lowest growth since before Jim Wright became President. With little fanfare, the College's expenses grew less than during any of Jim Kim's three supposed budget-cutting years.

Dartmouth Expenses 2002-2014.jpg

A sign that the credit does not all go to Carol is that the budget showed an operating surplus of $13.6 million (versus a slight deficit of $1.8 in fiscal 2013). It seems that the administration kept a grip on spending throughout the year.

However the Kim tuition gouge that began with the Class of 2014 contiinued to work its way through the College's classes. You will recall Kim markedly increased early admissions acceptances (ED applicants have no leverage to negotiate financial aid), admits from private schools (a wealthier demographic) and legacies (a group also more likely to pay full freight), along with tightening up financial aid so that we are the least generous of the Ivies. The end result of these policies is that fewer students at the College receive aid that at any other Ivy.

Net tuition receipts -- after deducting for financial aid -- grew by 6.2%, the highest growth in over a decade, save for Kim's 12.2% explosion in 2012. The 6.2% figure far outstripped the 3.8% increase in the tuition, room and board, that the Trustees had announced for the year. Obviously, the College is taking in more money from the same number of students:

Dartmouth Tuition 2003-2014.jpg

Although total salaries and wages grew by 5.25% (from $350.9 million to $369.4 million), spending on employee benefits fell -- that's right -- by 1.73% (from $124.6 million to $122.4 million). Why didn't I think of that?

Let's hope that these first inklings of fiscal discipline don't give way to the old profligacy, given the endowment's strong 19.2% increase during the past year. If Phil wants to formally announce that the rules of the game are changing in Hnaover, he might announce at the March 7-8, 2015 Trustee meeting that there will be no increase at all in tuition, room and board, and fees for the 20154/2016 academic year.

Addendum: The College's SEIU union contract comes up for renewal on July 1, 2015. Last time around, IP Folt gave away the store with wage hikes of 3%, 3% and 2% over the three years of the accord. Those raises were all above inflation for staffers whose total compensation is already approximately double what comparable workers make in the private sector in the Upper Valley. Thanks, Carol. As we have noted in the past, the College pays market wages to faculty members, and students and their families get gouged with sky-high tuition, but the support staff does better than fine, thank you. For whom is the College being run?

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