Friday, August 31, 2007

Trustees on Wikipedia

An article on Dartmouth's Board of Trustees was featured tonight on the front page of Wikipedia under the "Did you know... From Wikipedia's newest articles" section. It was written primarily by Dylan Kane '09, and contains a well-footnoted history of the board, as well as a list of notable trustees.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Crady's Dissertation

After learning that Thomas Crady, the incoming Dean of the College, had recently written his Ph.D. dissertation about the use of alcohol in fraternities, I was interested in obtaining a copy. I was somewhat pessimistic about the chances of getting a hold of it, but it was surprisingly easy. Crady received his Ph.D. from Iowa State University this year, and his dissertation is entitled Written and unwritten rules: the use of alcohol by fraternities: a study of one college.

When I first heard about the dissertation, I was afraid that it was going to be staunchly anti-Greek and would be indicator of the future tightening of Dartmouth's alcohol and Greek policies. As a member of a fraternity, I think that Dartmouth's policies towards alcohol use are far too restrictive, as they create a bureaucratic nightmare for sorority and fraternity leaders. After reading his study and recommendations, I was somewhat reassured. Crady takes a pragmatic view towards the subject, and is focused on alcohol abuse, not alcohol use:
My philosophy may be characterized in the following manner: I do not believe that colleges and universities should ban alcohol from their campuses, and alcohol education programming should focus on responsible drinking rather than abstinence.
The study mainly used focus groups and questionnaires to learn about alcohol use on campus and the connection to fraternities. Crady compared the views and responses of Greek and not-Greek students.

At the end of his dissertation, Crady has a list of recommendations for college administrators:

a. Develop and implement strategies to evaluate the student and Greek letter culture to better understand the dynamics between the two groups relative to the campus culture. Since evidence exists that Greek culture may supersede institutional culture, it is important to examine this phenomenon on a regular basis to ensure that independent students are not isolated on their campus.

b. Examine, monitor, and compare the use of alcohol and drugs by Greeks and independent students both on and off campus. Given the evidence that alcohol plays a significant role in Greek systems, campus administrators should have an ongoing mechanism to determine the level of alcohol used by all students on their campus.

c. Assist Greek Letter organizations in emphasizing the positive aspects of Greek life. Many Greek letter organizations are developing and implementing impressive social justice and/or community service programs. These should be highlighted and reinforced on campus. Standards should exist for Greek letter organizations outlining activities they are expected to offer to the campus.

d. Provide Greek letter organizations with the resources and tools to accomplish their goals both on and off campus. Greek letter organizations should be fully supported by campus officials to ensure that resources are available to assist these organizations.

e. Develop positive and constructive interpersonal relationships with the leaders of Greek letter organizations on campus. Campus administrators should establish positive working relationships with Greek leaders before problems occur.

f. If Greek letter organizations are affiliated with national organizations, develop clear communication lines with the national organizations. These national groups are often excellent resources for local chapters particularly in the areas of liability.

g. Examine the pledging process to ensure that it does not conflict with the academic performance of students engaged in the pledging process. Emphasis should be placed on academics and no activities should conflict with the academic mission of the institution.

h. Resist the temptation to view Greek letter organizations as negative elements of student life and the campus culture. Resolve problems that arise quickly and efficiently while maintaining positive interpersonal relationships with students in Greek letter organizations.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Dartmouth falls in U.S. News rankings

Another story in a busy news day, IvyGate has published an embargoed press release from U.S. News & World Report about its 2008 university. The rankings, which were supposed to be released tomorrow, has Dartmouth falling from the 9th spot to the 11th. Last year, Dartmouth was in a tie with Chicago and Columbia, who remain in a tie for the 9th spot in the new rankings. Dartmouth is the only Ivy League school to fall in the rankings, with Penn moving up two positions to the 5th spot, and Brown moving up from 15 to 14, and the other universities remaining the same.

Comments on IvyGate have blamed the recent trustee election and the constitution debate for the fall in the rankings. I do not understand the details of how the ranking are determined, so I have no idea if it had any influence, but in a larger sense, I strongly disagree that the fight over trustees has hurt Dartmouth. Instead, questions about the direction of the school should demonstrate that it is a strong college. First, placing an institution under critical scrutiny ensures that decisions made are well thought through and that weaknesses are fully probed. Second, the fury of the debates demonstrates the passion that alumni have for the college. Historically, Dartmouth has been no stranger to controversy, but that has always strengthened the college - precisely why Boaz Allen Hamilton named us one of the most enduring institutions.

New Dean of the College

According to a Dartmouth press release, Thomas Crady, the vice president of student services at Grinnell College, has been appointed as the new dean of the college, and will start the position in January. Crady was one of the candidates named in a leak to The Dartmouth in February.


On the front page of The New York Times website, there was an ad tonight for

I've never heard of the group or website until now, but it's paid for by "The Committee to Save Dartmouth" which it says it is led by Andres Morton Zimmerman. The site says that it "will be running soon in major national newspapers." The website, which of course opposes the review of trustee election procedures, urges alumni to contact the trustees through its website and provides an optional form letter, quoted below:

Dear Dartmouth Trustees:

I′m writing to encourage you to abandon any future plans that will dilute the voices of Dartmouth alumni.

For over 100 years, Dartmouth alumni and alumnae have enjoyed the assurance of direct input into the selection of one-half of the Trustees. This is part of what we expect as members of the Dartmouth family. We deserve nothing less.

As Trustees, you represent all of the Dartmouth family. You hold the legacy of Daniel Webster, Salmon Chase, Ernest Martin Hopkins, John Sloan Dickey, and John Kemeny in your hands. Please do not take this responsibility lightly.

Over sixty thousand of us are depending on you to “set a watch, lest the old traditions fail.”

SaveDartmouth's "Lone oPine" page also quotes P. Diddy ("Vote or Die!"), which I think is pretty hilarious. As one of their terms of conditions, they also make people promise not to "root for Harvard." In the midst of epic alumni struggle, episode III (since I've been here), it's good to see that at least somebody is approaching it with the proper sense of humor.

Update: I was a bit slow on the uptake, but I realize now (twenty minutes later) that "Mr. Andres Morton Zimmerman," the supposed leader of the movement, is not a real person, but rather the names of three dorms in the East Wheelock Cluster.

The Dartmouth has also published an article about the advertisements via its website, and reports that the estimated cost of the ad campaign will be $300,000.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

American Council of Trustees & Alumni criticizes governance review

Dartlog, the Dartmouth Review's blog, has a story about a very interesting letter from Anne D. Neal, the president of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, criticizing the governance review process at Dartmouth. While Neal's opposition to the review process is not surprising, she unexpectedly focused on the role of the college president, which is believes constitutes a potential conflict of interest.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Student Leaders Meet Trustee

Tonight, I attended the 2007 Dartmouth Advanced Leadership Summit at the Hanover Inn. It sounds prestigious, and I got a very nice invitation in my Hinman Box, but for the large part it ended up being quite bizarre. It turns out the entire event was about Dartmouth finances, as it was sponsored by the Dartmouth College Fund. There was absolutely no discussion about student leadership or anything along those lines - instead it ended up being a very PR-friendly presentation about the Campaign for the Dartmouth Experience. There was a cute little video where the Dartmouth high-rollers spoke in loving terms about why they decided to donate money for new dorms. Not that I don't appreciate their philanthropy - because I very much admire alumni giving - but I expected something with more substance, as did everybody else in the room, who frequently looked like they were going to die. About 40 students attended, and they seemed to represent a wide range of student leadership across campus.

The video was surrounded by presentations by Carolyn Pelzel, the VP of Development, Adam Keller, the Executive Vice President for Finance and Administration, and Brad Evans '64, a trustee. It was the latter's talk where things got interesting. Evans explained the role of the Board of Trustee and how they approached their positions. He described the trustees as the "proprietors" of the college, and said that their sole constituency was current and future students. As soon as there was a lull in his discussion, he was confronted with an aggressive set of questions from the student leaders in the audience. Most questions were focused on the interaction between the Board of Trustees and the student body. One student asked why there was not a young alum or student on the Board of Trustees, noting that many of our peer institutions have student or young alumni representation. Evans responded that a position on the Board of Trustees was too valuable from a financial standpoint to give to a student or a young alumnus/a - that spots on the Board should be reserved for alumni who can donate large amounts of money to the college. He also noted that one of the major problems of petition candidate success was that they took spots away from large donors.

Evans was also asked whether the Board of Trustees to interact with students when they meet on campus, and whether they solicit student opinion. Evans seemed to stumble with his answer, saying that the Board did reach out to students but that he wasn't sure how they did. The crowd did warm up when he mentioned going back to Phi Delt, his fraternity, with other trustees and buying them a keg. Overall, the general atmosphere of the students seemed to be skeptical of the trustees' ability to ascertain what was really going on at Dartmouth, from the student perspective. Another student asked Evans about whether the success of petition candidates have had a tangible effect on the Board. He discussed T.J. Rodgers '70 as an example, and attributed FIRE's upgrading of Dartmouth's free speech rating to Rodgers' passion for the issue and willingness to push James Wright to take stronger stances in support of free speech. When asked if the Board of Trustees concerned themselves with developing issues facing students at Dartmouth, Rodgers responded that the Board was not interested in micromanaging the college and that if they disappointed with what was going on, they would simply fire the president.

Overall, it was very interesting to see a very direct interaction between student leaders and a trustee. Throughout the question and answer session, Evans was constantly on the defensive and there seemed to be a poignant dissatisfaction with the trustees that cut across partisan ideology.

Edit: Joe Malchow at Dartblog also covered the event.