Writing in The Wealth of Nations, economist Adam Smith quietly introduces the world to a novel type of fiscal litmus test. About halfway through his magnum opus, he observes with cheerful pithiness that “the health of any community can be discerned simply and truly by the quality of its homeowners.” Simply put: should society’s most impressive structures rest safely in the hands of the most worthy, then the nation’s integrity remains intact, and its future is secure. Should, however, its mansions and palaces be occupied by the mundane – by the legions of middlemen, bureaucrats, and apparatchiks of a new elite – then its days are numbered and its former greatness is doomed to the ash-heap of history.
While this historic warning may seem a tad heavy-handed, a careful look at the current state of the College’s affairs proves it not only relevant, but downright prophetic. It would appear that in the last few decades, a radical and far-reaching change has swept through the campus, altering the way Parkhurst approaches its goal of educational excellence. Once upon a time, Dartmouth seemed to emphasize the values of efficiency and affordability in contexts other than admission packet platitudes. Administrations used the interest from the school’s endowment and the generosity of its donors to develop a world-class curriculum, keep tuition costs low, and, above all else, fill the homes of Hanover with legions of accomplished professors and a paucity of bureaucrats.