May 13, 2005

Cool it.

Calls for President Wright's resignation are now in the air, how many hours after the Trustee election results were announced? The heretofore quiet blog Voices in the Wilderness has dropped all pretense of quietude, and one impudent young Dartmouth alum says it on Dartlog, to be echoed by other Dartloggers. When will the guillotine be wheeled in?

I'll just briefly dissect the charges:
Jim Wright, the author of the seminal work for the destruction of the fraternities, now says he supports them.
Maybe because the fraternities have become much more responsible, commendable institutions in the face of the Adminstration's challenge to them? Fraternities should die, anyway. (I'm in one.)

His administration has driven the athletic program to its worst record in memory, and his admissions director has badly embarrassed the college, our athletes and crippled our recruiting capability, but he now says he supports a strong athletic program.
Athletics really shouldn't be mentioned in the same sentence as "Ivy League," at least not in the post-1950 world. Women's sports look like they're doing just fine to me. How about revoking Title IX, cons?

His administration has spent millions trying to develop graduate Ph.D. programs in the arts and sciences towards developing a research university, which he now entirely repudiates.
It takes research opportunities in the sciences to bring the kind of professors you want to teach at Dartmouth. This is quite a simple point to grasp.

His administration has driven legacy admissions to half the rate of our sister institutions (for example Princeton's most recent class has 12% alumni children, whereas Dartmouth had 6%), but now says he now "welcomes these applicants" (a nice evasion: but does he admit them?).
Good. Legacies are the dumbest of the lot. Wright's still gotta provide lip service to nepotism, though, 'cause as of now it brings in the dough (a very mutable status quo, in my opinion).

After adopting policies regulating unwanted speech, he recently had his minions withdraw these policies (see [FIRE link]) In short, can an administration that had veered one way and now veers back in the opposite direction possibly have any further credibility? And can it possibly lead effectively?
Did you see the news? FIRE now gave us the green light. Should Wright never have let his thoughts on the issue evolve? Flip-flops are for weak-kneed liberals, right?

And to make the point most clear, look at the record of fundraising of this administration. Dartmouth is now lagging badly behind its peers in both its undergraduate program and facilities as a result of poor fundraising. All one need do is look at the facilities of our peers to see the evidence of this. The point would be proved if Alumni Relations would only get the college to publish the information it most surely has, comparing the rate of growth of both annual giving and capital giving from alumni sources at Dartmouth, as compared with our peers over the last ten years. I have no doubt that if this were published, the evidence would be clear. Will the college do so? Under Wright, we sincerely doubt it.
Last I heard, that capital campaign was doing pretty damn well, and our fundraising was not at all lagging behind that of our peer institutions when you factor in that Dartmouth is just a wee bit smaller than, say, Harvard or Yale or Princeton or Brown or Penn or Cornell or Columbia. In fact per-capita we at the top of the list, I believe. Can you show me a causal relationship between Wright's leadership and a decline in alumni giving? Maybe that 9/11 dip in the economy is to blame?? Or, better yet, the Clinton adminstration?
I hope you can see how weak these claims are. The statement made by the election of RoboZywick is significant already, though neither got a majority; can we hold off on the purge? Go start your own college with David Horowitz or something.

2 comments:

  1. I'm glad that readership of our little adventure in internet journalism isn't just frequented by those raving "cons" that you all at LGblog seem so terrified of. (A side note- has it ever occurred to a liberal that we "cons" -and I happen to be one of the secular libertarian types- might have benevolent intentions for the world with our takeover? Muse on that for a moment.)

    While I would admit that my clarion call for leadership change may be aggressive, however, I do find it highly appropriate. Personally, I have nothing against President Wright, on the occasions I have met and talked with him he seems reasonable, even likeable. However, I still think his performance record bears closer examining, and I'll be happy to play into your hands by choosing the points you have made.

    As far as fraternities go, it's hard to aruge that Wright isn't in full throttle retreat on this one. He has authored the Wright report, been part several committees (most pointedly the one created by former trustee McCulloch, an anti-fraternity crusader) and his first major policy attempt was "the end the fraternity system as we know it." Now, aside from some different party regulations, as far as I know, the fraternity system is little changed from pre-cooeducation, let alone the inception of the SLI. To whit- it is still single sex, it is still largely residential, and it still is the center of social life on campus. Should it be those things? That is a topic I would be happy to take up at length as there are good arguments on both sides. However, it is not central, frankly, to our discussion of Wright's effectiveness. An effective leader would be able to make people agree with him on this issue, and when virtually all of the money-donating alums are pro-fraternity, a president who is decidedly not is a significant problem.

    On athletics, I would refer you to Bill Wellstead's analysis of athletic performance at his blog, dartmouthathletics.blogspot.com. While there are bright spots - of late, both hockey programs and the women's lacrosse team leap to mind - but the overall record is dismal. Dartmouth is at best 6th in the Ivies over the past decade or so, and there is a case to be made that it is last. For space and time reasons, I won't get into why a strong athletic program is not only a worthwhile endeavor but also a cornerstone of a successful academic institution, there are many good arguments out there. In any case, if we're going to have one, why not have the best? Dartmouth aways did, until Freedman showed up. In general, your response on this question is wholely lacking and I'm losing interest in responding to it. For example, you throw out Title IX. I support title IX. Where did I ever, in that piece, argue that I didn't? And how does it affect having a good male athletic porgram? You (and many of your liberal co-bloggers) love to do this kind of straw-man throwing, and it is an embarrasment to your purported ability to reason. And what the hell does it mean that athletics shouldn't be mentioned with the Ivy league- that's idiotic, the Ivy league IS an athletic league, that's it!

    The research question, I would agree, has been badly distorted in this election. I also agree that we need research to attract good professors. It is simply a question of balance and trend lines. The balance and trends are currently not good. Classes are oversubscribed, at least partially, because academic resources are being scooped up by research departments, and the trend is going the wrong way, towards more, not less of this problem. At any rate, the research debate could be made moot- find a president who can actually lead effectively and Dartmouth could raise so much money that we could have prize winning researchers in every department who also taught four undergraduate courses a year because we paid them so well.

    Ah, legacies. The scourge of the liberal education. Being a legacy myself, I thank you for your compliment. I would ask you for your SAT scores, grades, and achievements back to your todler years, but you probably don't believe in merits like those, but that would be rude, sort of like calling all legacies "the dumbest of the lot." (Two can play the straw man game.) I would agree that legacy admissions are analogous to affirmative action programs in practice, ie, it allows a person that might otherwise be unqualified a spot because of circumstances beyond their control. However, as a practical matter, it is nothing of the sort. All respectable and enduring institutions protect their own, and the comparison I made, to our peer institutions, proves the point. In this case, I would make an argument I rarely we make- we should be more like Harvard (among many others) which is more diverse, yet admits close to twice the percentage of legacies. That is how you raise money, and it is how you build loyalty. (The money raising seems to be a theme here, doesn't it? Ahh, but why should I expect a liberal to understand such a mean, literal construct like money, they never do.)

    As far as FIRE goes, I did read it, and I'm not buying Wright's retraction for one second. I'm waiting until the next cry of hurt feelings goes up on the Hanover plain to see what happens. If I were a student I would feel no more safe from professorial retribution now than I did before FIRE changed its rating. Would you really argue otherwise? Ahh, but then, you probably never disagree with a Dartmouth professor, do you, or cared when one openly denigrated your religion, your values, or anything else. Doesn't that ever worry you? On the scale of wrongs in the world, I would agree that this intellectual intimidation pales in comparison to racism, bigotry, etc., but that is not an argument or excuse to tolerate it.

    I don't know how you heard that the capital campaign is going well. This money is a subject every Dartmouth student should educate themselves about. Fundraising has two parts- the capital campaigns (usually for buildings, endowed faculty chairs, and other single-use things, that's the definition of a capital improvement) and the Dartmouth College Fund, which raises money for continuing needs, like scholarships, athletic budgets and operating expenses. It is impossible to know how tha current capital campaign is truly going, unless you have sources I don't and you may, because the college (as is standard operating procedure for these things) does no make much detail public. My understanding is that they have raised $400 million of a goal of $1.3 billion. Every experienced person in the fundraising field I talk to says Dartmouth is, by anecdote and analysis of the available eveidence, way behind. Dartmouth needed a capital campaign years ago, but couldn't launch because of Freedman's unpopularity (a history lesson: despite what the college might tell you, Freedman was essentially pushed out for precisely that reason, his inability to raise money.). Now, Jim Wright is stuck behind the elephants of the hugely unpopular SLI, the free speech flap and the Zete episode, and the pathetic performance of the sports teams on his watch. Excepting the Haldemann center, he is DOA as far as raising the leadership contributions one would expect from a big capital campaign at a prestigious institution. Another troubling sign is the state of the Dartmouth College Fund I refer you to this link http://voicesinthewilderness.blogspot.com/2005/03/alumni-support.html at our site and subsequent posts (particularly Dick Ramsdens letter, written by a man who has decades of college fundraising experience) which I think make the point rather nicely. Jim Wright can't raise money. He is using money from the campital campaign to fund operations (no-no number one), is digging into the endowment at an obscene rate and it is rumored that he has even spent principle (a HUGE no-no), and he is purposefully covering his tracks by having the least transparent budget of any Ivy league school.

    On the whole, I find your arguments wholely unconvincing, at best. If you care to actually engage the topic I would welcome it, I might even use my name. As long as you're simply interested in throwing bombs, skewering straw men, and calling me dumb, to quote Mr. Wukoson, you can go fuck yourself, but then in the long run by failing to critically examine arguments and ideas, that is exactly what you are already doing, and I look forward to not hiring you when you graduate.

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  2. Well I'll respond to the more...colorful parts of your comment first. Because we love to entertain here at the blog, in addition to making perpetually vapid arguments. See especially my hilarious posts attempting to expose just a fraction of all the fallacies and misrepresentations of reality Joe Malchow has made in recent days.

    If intelligence has anything to do with a sense of humor, or being able to perhaps strain a few ounces of irony out of comments like my original ones, maybe I would not fare so badly against your thoroughbred, Nth-generation Dartmouth pedigree. Just a thought.

    And I thank you for your lack of interest in hiring me. Seriously. I think I'd rather go work as a slave labor in a third-world country. Would you or your corporation consider me then?

    Please, stick to your forte, enlighten us with your aguments, and take the Board Room insults back to Wall Street.

    It's clear you and I have different visions of what this College should be. And it's clear you guys made enough noise to persuade a solid minority of the alumni of this school that this vision was somehow good. I honestly doubt that Rodgers, Zywycki, and Robinson are the harbingers of a sustained revolution at Dartmouth. We'll see how well the majority rallies itself next time, having realized the stakes.

    And if some conservative revolution did happen at Dartmouth, it would indeed be an interesting experiment in the Ivy League. Something tells me your all-Greek College of Classics and Physical Education would implode as a top-tier academic institution.

    I have seen that graph of fundraising on your site before, and I'm aware of the dip in alumni giving that has occurred. I repeat my call for a demonstration that this dip was caused by the Wright adminstration, and I also reply that I'm not too concerned by the dip. Freedman and Wright institued significant and much-needed reforms at this college to bring it out of the Stone Age, and a certain amount of reaction -- yes, from the reactionaries -- is to be expected. I just hope more of the "silent majority" of non-Right wing alums realize what's going on and vote to stick behind the most important and positive reforms Wright has continued and implemented. Sure, the adminstration (and trustees) under Wright have made a few blunders, including the swim team fiasco and the way the SLI was mandated without more discussion. And students have expressed some discontent on these occasions. But we can all get past those moments, and learn from them, before resorting to extreme measures, yes?

    We'll weather the reaction by the stingy, withering bald men who have been trying to impoverish a progressive Dartmouth with their purse strings, and we'll produce new generations of leaders, granted entrance to the College on grounds of their merit and diversity, to take all their places on all the Board Rooms, and in turn give back bigtime to the good new Dartmouth.

    In fact, you better watch out for your own job.

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