Voices in the Wilderness

A forum for discussion of all things Dartmouth.

Monday, March 21, 2005

A "Curmudgeon" President

The recent Booz Allen, & Hamilton report naming Dartmouth College as one of "the world's most enduring institutions" has been hailed by the current Dartmouth administration, as well as many alumni, as a testament to Dartmouth's strengths. However, it is important to note that the report makes no reference to Dartmouth after the Kemeny administration of the 1970s.

This is the money excerpt, which refers to a watershed incident in the 1870s:

"Fed up with a curmudgeon [ed. - !] president who thwarted good will efforts to raise the educational level of the institution, Dartmouth's constituencies of undergraduates, alumni, faculty, etc. prepared a bill of particulars and summoned the president to answer the charges of neglect. Faced with this earnest consensus of informed critics who were loyal to the college, the derelict president resigned.
Under the new president, Dartmouth College went from a floundering, financially weak institution of about 300 students over the next 20 years to an enrollment of more than 2,000, a robust endowment, and a national reputation as the most prestigious undergraduate college in the United States. What made this self-reform especially remarkable is that it took place precisely during the decades when advocates of the creation of new, large universities were predicting the death of the liberal arts college. Not only did Dartmouth College defy those odds, it dared to create a special institution that did not follow the conventional wisdom of university building that dominated the era."

James Wright should certainly share the pride of Dartmouth alumni at this special distinction, but he and others should take careful note: Dartmouth is most certainly NOT "a university in all but name." The spirit of alumni across the generations knows better.