Voices in the Wilderness

A forum for discussion of all things Dartmouth.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

What is the money saying?

As follow up to Dick Ramsden's letter below, a guest contributor has forwarded the following piece and we republish it in its entirety:

Where Is All the Money Going?

From Fiscal 1998 to Fiscal 2002 Dartmouth’s expenses increased almost 50%, from $330 to $493 million. This represents a 14% per year rate of increase in spending. And during this period the size of the undergraduate population remained in all practical terms constant. So, where is the money going?

Did it go to improving undergraduate education or student life, or to something else? The anecdotal evidence recommends the latter, to wit:

1. Current construction notwithstanding, undergraduate housing is in poor repair and short supply. Dartmouth can no longer be said to be a residential college, as it once was, since it does not provide housing for a substantial portion of undergraduates. Even when the new dorms are finished, because of planned demolition of the Choate and River clusters, many undergraduates will still not be able to be housed on campus.

2. Undergraduate class sizes have risen, and many students cannot get into courses they need for their major requirements. See link here.

3. The athletics budget would appear to have been under constant pressure and not been sufficient even to maintain current programs.

· The swim team would have been eliminated but for separate funding provided by parents and alumni (thus reducing the athletic budget otherwise provided by College resources by the $250,000 per year required for the program).

· According to sources close to the new football coaches, Davis Varsity house is in poor repair and looks like it has not seen a coat of paint or carpeting in 20 years, and the weight training facility is the worst in the Ivy League.

So, if the annual operating budget has increased by $163 million in the 4 years from 1998 to 2002, where is all the money going?

During this same period, the number of graduate students in the arts and sciences increased dramatically (to over 600 now). Dartmouth built several facilities for graduate programs, including graduate student housing, and the website for Dartmouth’s graduate Ph.D. programs states that this is “an exciting time for graduate study at Dartmouth.” This would appear to be a guarded way of saying that the programs are increasing both in size and funding. As anyone involved with a research university can tell you, running graduate programs is a very expensive proposition.

It would, therefore, seem that Dartmouth is pouring money into building graduate Ph.D. programs in the arts and sciences to achieve the administration’s long-held goal of changing Dartmouth into a research university, while at the same time, stealing funds from the undergraduate budget.

The facts to support the foregoing conclusions are hard to come by because of the lack of transparency in Dartmouth’s reporting to alumni on budget matters. But, there is sufficient smoke in the anecdotal evidence to suggest that the fire is there. And the only way to get to the bottom of the matter is to elect Trustees devoted to candor and transparency in reporting these matters.