Looking Under Dartmouth’s Hood

Just yesterday, Valley News published a delightful little piece on the Dartmouth budget titled “Engine Repair: Dartmouth’s Budget Turnaround.” While Valley News doesn’t want the College to implode (especially given that we are such a large part of the Upper Valley’s economy), they do complain vociferously about the dearth of information on the budget and the steps taken by Kim & Co. to close the budget gap.

While I also want more information about the inner workings of the somewhat mysterious and Goldberg-esque machine that is the College, I believe the article is somewhat misleading. Specifically, I am slightly troubled by their numbers. They describe the precipitous decline and modest recovery both in percentage terms – forgetting to note that a loss of 24% is far worse than a 10% gain. In fact, the endowment is still down about 23% from before the financial crisis. That’s far from rosy.

Although I may disagree with their presentation, I absolutely agree with them that more information is always good. Those of us who care about the College would like to understand the situation – and thus be better prepared to help or to offer advice. They also note that during the crisis, Kim shared much more information about the College, which inspired confidence in the Upper Valley and helpd the College through the difficult times. Why hasn’t he continued this policy of openness?

They close the article on a rather sombre note, discussing the inherent difficulties in running an institution where expenditures per student are two times tuition. Something is going to have to change…this recent article by the Most Hated Man on Campus (Roger Lott) correctly points out the excesses of financial aid. It does seem somewhat unsustainable to be handing out educations worth over a million dollars for free. But I’m just a freshman, what do I know?

–J.P. Harrington