Faculty say Folt will pursue Kim’s goals
By Amanda Young
Published on Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Although faculty members expressed generally positive views of Provost Carol Folt’s appointment as Dartmouth’s interim president, many said her role will primarily involve maintaining programs already in place and making Dartmouth seem attractive to candidates for the full-time position.
Folt’s familiarity with the College and experience as provost and dean of the faculty make her qualified for the position of interim president, according to former Associate Dean of the Faculty for the Arts and Humanities Katharine Conley.
“She knows this institution in and out,” Conley said. “She’s had extensive contact with every key person connected to the institution.”
Dean of the Tuck School of Business Paul Danos, who also serves on the Strategic Planning Steering Committee, of which Folt is chair, said Folt is “as qualified as anyone could be.”
“She’s done a marvelous job keeping all the various proponents of the strategic plan moving ahead,” Danos said.
History professor Walter Simons said that Folt, a former biology professor, is capable of addressing tension between the administration and faculty.
“What is important for the acting president is to ensure confidence of the faculty in the administration,” Simons said. “I think she can, in large part because of her knowledge of the College and experience in the administration.”
Other faculty members, however, expressed criticism of Folt’s tenure at the College.
A professor who wished to remain anonymous due to the nature of his comments said that Folt’s reputation as a micro-manager may hinder her effectiveness.
“Her administrative style is top-down, and she consults only after the fact on her own terms,” he said. “She’s not collegial in terms of administrative style.”
Numerous professors said they expect Folt to continue the initiatives started under College President Jim Yong Kim’s administration.
“Really trying to carry forward some of the things that President Kim started and completing the strategic planning process will be at the top of her agenda,” biology professor Michael Dietrich said.
It is difficult for interim presidents to implement new proposals, and Folt will likely focus on continuing processes already underway, according to film and media studies professor Amy Lawrence.
Folt will also face a host of student issues at the College.
“It’s hard to imagine how many balls you have to keep juggling for a job like president of Dartmouth,” economics professor Jonathan Skinner.
Chair of the women and gender studies program Annabel Martin said hazing, binge drinking and sexual assault, along with strategic planning, are especially urgent issues for the president to address.
“The strategic planning is key for the future of the institution but the culture of Dartmouth also needs to be addressed simultaneously because it is the environment in which students live,” she said.
Conley said that Folt cares “a lot” about students at Dartmouth, having fostered and maintained long-term relationships with students even after joining the administration.
According to the professor who wished to remain anonymous, however, student concerns are neither Folt’s interest nor strength.
“One of the students’ concerns with President Kim is that he didn’t get to know or appreciate the student role on campus,” he said. “I think you’re going to have the same problem with Carol Folt.”
Danos said he hopes that the strategic planning process will accomplish its goals over the next year.
Biology professor Robertson McClung said he hopes the fiscal concerns addressed by Kim will not return in another period of “budgetary belt-tightening.”
Folt should take advantage of the new Geisel School of Medicine endowment during her tenure as an opportunity for growth and change, according to McClung.
“Doing that in a way that enhances the rest of the institution represents a big opportunity, and I think something of interest to Folt,” he said.
Folt said she will not be a candidate for the Dartmouth presidency beyond the interim period.
The faculty “generally are willing to accept her as interim president but would be reluctant to accept her as president,” according to one of the professors who wished to remain anonymous.
A social sciences professor who wished to remain anonymous said that, by removing her name from the pool of considered candidates, Folt is expanding the potential list of external applicants.
“Had she kept her name in contention as president, she would be a very viable candidate, and because of this would scare off potential applicants who would view the saelection process as an inside job,” he said.
The original version of this article incorrectly stated that Katharine Conley is the current associate dean of the faculty for the arts and humanities when in fact she is the former associate dean of the faculty for the arts and humanities.