Fiscal Irresponsibility at Dartmouth, the college responds

Dartmouth College has responded to Joe Asch’s article accusing it of fiscal irresponsibility in connection with the massive rise in administrative expenditures over the past ten years (an increase of 130 percent from 1998 through 2006 followed by a 40 percent increase in 2007). Dartmouth does not dispute these numbers, which come from its own reports; nor, in my opinion, does it adequately explain most of this massive spending spree (it does, though, explain the 2007 increase as a result of a change in the reporting system).

Dartmouth states: “Our faculty, academic programs, facilities, student body and alumni body have also grown — as have governmental regulatory and reporting requirements.” But these increases are modest; the rise in administrative spending (quite apart from 2007) is anything but.

The College also glosses over the problem students encounter in getting into courses and the related lack of adequate course offerings for students attempting to complete their course requirements. Consider the History department. In the Winter 2010 term, it will offer 15 courses, and only two in European history (there are also two relating to Islam in Africa and two on “popular struggle” and wars of “liberation”). By contrast, in the Winter 2007 term, the History departmentt offered 20 courses and four on Europe.

Joe Asch did not invent the problem of over-enrollment, etc. My daughter, who on balance is very happy at Dartmouth, experiences it consistently. In fact, she was warned about it by a professor in one of the “over-subscribed” departments when she visited Dartmouth in the spring of 2006.

I’d feel better about Dartmouth if it took the position that its focus in recent years was on building dorms (something it did very well) and will now shift to building up its faculty. Unfortunately, the college opts for denial.

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