Thursday, February 7, 2008

The College Town

Tomorrow's New York Times travel section profiles Hanover and the wonders (and popularity) of its small town environment.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Wright is Retiring

In a blitz this morning from Ed Haldeman, chair of the Board of Trustees, James Wright announced he was stepping down as president in June 2009:

February 4, 2008

Dear Friends,

I am writing to let you know that I have informed the Board of Trustees of my intention
to step down as President of Dartmouth in June of 2009, following commencement and
reunions. By that time, I will have been at Dartmouth for 40 years as both a faculty
member and administrator - having served as Dean of Faculty of Arts and Sciences, as
Provost, and, since 1998, as the 16th President of the College. It has been an extraordinary
experience that I shall always cherish, and a true privilege about which I feel a profound
sense of humility.

At this moment, I am filled with rich memories - memories jarred by the quick passage
of time and marked by the good fortune I feel. They are memories of the students in my
history classes with whom I have learned, the faculty colleagues who bring to this
College a remarkable commitment to teaching and research, the dedicated staff and
administrators who daily contribute to the strength of Dartmouth, alumni and alumnae
whose loyalty and support of our College are legendary, and this current generation of
students who daily energize me - and Dartmouth - anew. I am continually inspired by
memories of Presidents Dickey, Kemeny, McLaughlin, and Freedman. And, I am grateful
to the Trustees with whom I have served; they are remarkably generous and selfless
contributors to the work of the College.

But between now and June of 2009, I do not intend to dwell on memory - as enjoyable as
that is. There is still much to do. Over the next months I will work to achieve the goals of
the "Campaign for the Dartmouth Experience"; advance our pending capital projects;
grow our faculty and support their priorities; implement our Sophomore Summer
initiative; help Dean of the College Tom Crady and our students address the need for new
social spaces; help recruit the Classes of 2012 and 2013 - and position Dartmouth to
continue enrolling and educating the most talented students in higher education. Finally,
Susan and I hope always to maximize our time with current students, sharing in their
aspirations, being inspired by their accomplishments, and cheering their artistic and
athletic endeavors.

By June 2009, I believe we will have made substantial progress on many of the strategic
priorities I think most important for Dartmouth. And, as much as I enjoy serving
Dartmouth in my current role, I believe that every institution can benefit from periodic
new leadership and fresh ideas. I am announcing my decision now in order to provide the
Board with ample time to organize and pursue a search for my successor. I will not be
part of the search process but I stand ready to do whatever the Board requests to assist
with recruiting Dartmouth's 17th President.

Beyond June 2009, I plan to spend much of my time continuing my work supporting
wounded veterans and encouraging returning servicemen and women, to whom I feel a
great sense of gratitude, to pursue higher education. I intend to reacquaint myself with the
study of history, and will take some time organizing my papers and archives as well as
pursuing some writing projects. Susan and I will also take the time to catch our breath,
enjoy some travel, and spend more than fleeting moments with our seven grandchildren.

For now, Susan is in the midst of an exciting schedule of visitors invited by the
Montgomery Endowment, which she directs, and is completing thirty years of service to
Dartmouth working with students and encouraging their dreams.

Of course during this time and forever more, Susan and I will do whatever we can to
advance the work of this College on the Hill. That is a story that has no end and a
commitment that has neither conditions nor boundaries.

Thanks to so many of you for your personal friendship, energy and encouragement. Over
the next 16 months and for the lifetime that will follow, Susan and I look forward to
continuing to work with you and expressing our appreciation for all that you do.


James Wright


February 4, 2008

Dear Members of the Dartmouth Community,

Jim Wright has informed the Board of Trustees of his intention to step down as
Dartmouth's President in June 2009. For Jim, this will mark a total of 11 years as
President and 40 years at the College, which also included distinguished service as a
Professor of History, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, and Provost.

Throughout that time, Jim has been a tireless advocate for Dartmouth. Jim's passion and
vision have helped Dartmouth build on its rich and unique heritage to remain the pre-
eminent undergraduate liberal arts college in the country, while becoming an even more
vibrant and diverse community of learning and scholarship.

Jim's leadership has strengthened Dartmouth in many ways. He spearheaded efforts to
enhance the student and academic experience - strengthening interdisciplinary studies,
expanding off-campus programs, keeping Dartmouth at the forefront of using technology
in the classroom and expanding both undergraduate and professional school faculty. His
commitment to undergraduate education helped significantly lower the student-faculty
ratio and raise student satisfaction to an all-time high.

During Jim's tenure, Dartmouth attracted a record number of applicants. The class of 2011 is
one of the most talented and diverse in Dartmouth history. Jim also made it a personal
priority to ensure that Dartmouth could attract superb students without regard for their
financial means by more than doubling the amount of money we spend on undergraduate
financial aid.

As anyone walking around campus can attest, Jim also presided over a dramatic
revitalization of our facilities. More than a billion dollars will have been invested in new
and renovated buildings during his presidency. This has included nine new dormitories as
well as spectacular new academic centers, social spaces, and sports facilities.
Finally, Jim has worked tirelessly to ensure that Dartmouth has a strong financial
foundation on which to continue pursuing its mission. Jim and Susan's constant travels for
Dartmouth have helped the College to double both our annual fundraising and the
College's endowment, which now stands at $3.75 billion. The progress in this area was
highlighted by two recent milestones: December proved to be the best month of
fundraising in Dartmouth's long history, and in January, the College announced that we
had raised more than $1 billion toward the $1.3 billion goal of the "Campaign for the
Dartmouth Experience."

It won't surprise anyone who knows Jim that he still has much he intends to accomplish at
Dartmouth. His ambitious goals for the remainder of his presidency include the successful
completion of the capital campaign, further expansion in the size and quality of the faculty,
breaking ground on the new dining hall to replace Thayer, the Class of 1953 Commons at
the McLaughlin Cluster, the Visual Arts Center, and the Class of 1978 Life Sciences
Center, and a variety of initiatives to continue enhancing the student and academic

Finding the best possible person to build on Jim's legacy at Dartmouth will obviously be a
top priority for the Board in the coming year, and we will discuss the search process at our
next meeting in March. I will provide you with more information on the search process
following the board meeting, but I can assure you that hearing the views of faculty, staff,
students, and alumni will be a critically important part of the search process.

Both Jim and Susan - who herself has served Dartmouth for nearly thirty years, including
in her current role as the Director of the Montgomery Endowment - have enriched
Dartmouth and generations of students in countless ways big and small. On behalf of the
Board and the entire Dartmouth community, I want to extend my thanks and appreciation
to Jim and Susan for all they have done and continue to do for Dartmouth and its students.
Jim's tenure is not over - and his legacy has not been written - but both are as strong and
vibrant as Dartmouth is today.


Ed Haldeman '70

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Financial Aid Changes

Dartmouth announced changes today to its financial aid policies:
1. Free tuition for students who come from families with annual incomes below $75,000
2. Replacing loans with scholarships
3. Need-blind admissions for international students
4. Junior leave term with no earnings expectation

Monday, January 14, 2008

Beta & AZD

So, Beta Theta Pi (or the now local version of it) is coming back to campus next fall and Alpha Xi Delta, which has been renting Beta's house for the last ten years, is now homeless.

I have no problem with the general notion of Beta's re-recognition, and certainly not with the desire of its alumni to see it return, but the college's handling of the situation has been terrible.

The administration's decision to reinstate Beta violates two major policies of the college. First, there are clear rules for the recognition of Greek organizations:
The following recognition policies and process apply to all new or returning organizations…Returning organizations are those who 1) once existed at Dartmouth and closed for non-disciplinary reasons; or 2) once existed at Dartmouth but as the result of disciplinary action were closed for a period of time with the opportunity to return at a future date clearly articulated as part of the disciplinary action.

Second, the college does not allow new or returning Greek organizations to receive recognition without a national affiliation. After being de-recognized at Dartmouth, Beta national revoked the chapter's charter. Today, Beta national is dry and so if Dartmouth Beta wants to rejoin, presumably they would need to follow those rules. The college is allowing Beta to be re-recognized therefore in clear violation of its rules mandating that fraternities be nationally affiliated. The Dartmouth article had the following:
Sipple [co-chairman of the Beta Board of Trustees] said that while the alumni group’s ultimate goal is to rejoin with Beta national, they are prepared to work with future members to determine if affiliation with a different national organization would better suit the needs of the group. It is College policy to only allow the addition of national fraternities and sororities to campus.
Does anybody believe this? Clearly, Dartmouth's Beta chapter is not going to go dry. And if they affiliate with another national, what really would be the point of re-recognition? They won't be Beta anymore. I would bet anybody that in ten years time Beta remains unaffiliated.

But what is the real problem with the administration breaking their own rules? First, CFS policies represent a sort of unofficial contract between the college and Greek organizations. If a house breaks them, they face probation and de-recognition. It is therefore very hypocritical for Dean Redman to claim that there is no problem with the college's disregard for their policies.

Furthermore, two years ago, a group of women organized in the hopes of forming a seventh sorority, what today is now thriving as Alpha Phi. They petitioned the college to allow it to form temporarily as a local sorority, promising to affiliate with a national as soon as an acceptable national organization was found. The same administrators who waived the rules for Beta this week refused to do so for the women. And this came at a time when a seventh sorority was desperately needed. The college is willing to be flexible with its rules for its disgraced fraternity but not to do so for the group of women who were well-intentioned and addressing a greater campus need. The lack of consistency - and integrity - with these decisions is appalling.

We all know it's about the money of course. But shouldn't the college stand on principles?

Hart on Obama

Longtime Dartmouth Review contributor and former college professor Jeffrey Hart wrote an op-ed in The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette about the inspirational qualities of Barack Obama. Perhaps more than any article I have read before, Professor Hart captures exactly what it is that fueled Obama's sudden rise to the top of national politics. Predicting an Obama presidency, he is also unrestrained in his praise:

Barack Obama is inspirational but he also possesses good political judgment. This provides a factual basis for his inspirational call for hope.

For example, when he was in the Illinois legislature in the Fall of 2002 when President Bush was trying to sell the war in Iraq, Mr. Obama reasoned as follows:

I know that even a successful war against Iraq will require a U.S. occupation of undetermined length, of undetermined cost, with undetermined consequences. I know that an invasion of Iraq without a clear rationale and without international support will only fan the flames of the Middle East and encourage the worst, rather than the best, impulses in the Arab world, and strengthen the recruitment arm of al-Qaida. I am not opposed to all wars. I'm opposed to dumb wars...

William F. Buckley Jr. many years ago defined conservatism as "the politics of reality." With his realism about Iraq, Mr. Obama to that extent qualifies as a conservative.
Thanks to Dartlog.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

No Decision Yet

The Dartmouth has a "web update" article up about today's hearing regarding the Association of Alumni's lawsuit. The Grafton County Superior Court judge decided to take the case under advisement and says he will issue a ruling soon.

Student Check-In

Dartmouth has a bizarre "check-in" system for students. Basically, at the beginning of each term, students need to go to "Bannerstudent," a centralized website for information like course schedules and the like, and officially register that they are here for the term. But for the check-in, there are two deadlines. In this term for example, the actual deadline for checking in is January 15, but if you don't do it before January 9, students are fined $50.

What's really annoying, however, is that the Upperclass Deans only send out an email reminding students about checking in after the deadline. Couldn't they send out the email before students get fined $50? Of course not, that wouldn't be beneficial for the college fine money-making operation. Each term, the college must surely be making tens of thousands of dollars off of this, clearly exploiting students in the process. There is absolutely no reasonable explanation for why students should be fined in this case. And it's reflective of a much larger problem. The college uses fines far too frequently. For example, last winter (during all the ice and snow, and salt) I was almost fined for leaving my shoes by the door of my dorm room - and they weren't even in front of the door, they were underneath a closet-like area for jackets. The same extends to parking fines. While the typical fine in the town of Hanover is $20, fines on Dartmouth property are typically $50 or $100, and Safety & Security tickets student cars aggressively.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Dartmouth's Handling of Drug Infractions

Following up his articles about Dartmouth's alcohol policy, Joseph Asch '78 wrote an opinion article about Dartmouth's policy regarding drugs. According to Asch, whenever Safety & Security find drugs, even in the smallest quantities, they alert the Hanover Police about it, who then have the ability to use a search warrant to discover the name of the student who possessed them. This differs from Dartmouth's policy during the Freedman administration which was to only notify the police if the quantity of drugs was large enough that drug trafficking was suspected. Asch concludes:

What could the Wright administration possibly be thinking?

Education should be the College’s goal, not delivering students to the local police and cutting off their financial aid. Can’t the administration find its way to an understanding that certain controlled substances in small quantities constitute a victimless offense by Dartmouth undergraduates? Couldn’t Safety and Security simply oblige students to destroy offending contraband and confiscate any drug paraphernalia that officers might find in the course of their rounds?

Of course I am not advocating that students descend into the hell of reefer madness. But why does the Wright administration come down so hard on students for an activity that is benevolently accepted at every other school in the Ivy League?

Dartmouth presents itself as acting in loco parentis. Well, we should ask just what kind of parents report their own children for a marijuana cigarette butt and a couple of pipes? And what kind of college administration, as its first reflex, turns its students over to the police and jeopardizes their present and future education?

I agree with Asch. Dartmouth has Standards of Conduct and a Committee on Standards to adjudicate offenses. Relying solely on internal measures should be appropriate in cases which involve minor quantities of drugs, just as Dartmouth does not call in the Hanover Police to arrest students every time Safety & Security come across a student who has been drinking. Whenever possible, Dartmouth should strive to have its students not be arrested.