VERBUM ULTIMUM: Constructive Consolidation

by The Dartmouth Editorial Board | 11/19/09 11:00pm

College President Jim Yong Kim will never be accused of sitting idle during his first five months in office Parkhurst Hall has undergone significant restructuring under his watch, much of it long overdue. While we have been apprehensive about some of the change mostly notably the unusual timing of former Provost Barry Scherr's decision to step down earlier this fall these rearrangements have represented significant steps toward addressing inefficiencies and redundancies that have plagued the College's central administration for years. Many of these inefficiencies were enumerated in a McKinsey and Company review of the College conducted four years ago.

That restructuring continued on Thursday, when Kim announced in an e-mail to campus that Adam Keller would be stepping down as executive vice president for finance and administration, and that many of his current responsibilities would now fall to senior vice president and strategic advisor Steve Kadish, who came from Harvard to Dartmouth with Kim ("Kim announces changes to admin. structure," Nov. 20). Keller will stay on as a senior advisor to the president and provost and will focus on the development of The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice, Kim said in the e-mail.

While the loss of yet another high-level administrator may again incite murmurs about instability in Parkhurst, the current economic climate and the goal of efficiency in general have made it imperative that the College search for ways to reduce administrative bloat. The changes announced Wednesday represent a step toward a more streamlined, less redundant, administration.

Redirecting Keller's focus to TDI, meanwhile, demonstrates that Kim is making real progress on one of the three "fronts" he outlined in his Oct. 9 e-mail to the Dartmouth community namely, pursuing "new initiatives that build upon the strengths of Dartmouth and produce revenue while addressing the evolving needs and potential of our students and of society."

We do have some reservations about the level of influence Kadish is about to assume he has, after all, only been at Dartmouth for five months. Still, prior to his arrival at Dartmouth, Kadish directed the global health equity division at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. From 2003 to 2006, he worked with an approximately $10-billion budget as Massachusetts' undersecretary for Health and Human Services ("Kadish executes Kim's vision," Nov. 5). It appears, then, that we can't quibble with his credentials.

As the College aims to implement what could be $100 million in budget cuts over the next two years, large-scale changes like those announced on Wednesday are likely to come with increasing frequency. And while it is unlikely Dartmouth or any institution will come out of the financial crisis in better shape than it was before, from what we have seen thus far, Dartmouth is heading in the right direction to weather the storm.