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Dartmouth College Library Bulletin

Notes from the Special Collections



Over the years, there has been some interest in the Dartmouth community in citing comparative figures for undergraduate student enrollment and expenses, number of faculty, and College endowments and investments for the twentieth century.

Having been College Archivist for more than three decades and a reference assistant prior to that, I have had plentiful opportunity to respond to queries regarding statistics, whether as head counts, opinions, dollars and cents, products, or any number of other categories. Upon at least two occasions I recall spending some hours with the Alumni Recorder quickly counting names of alumni for whatever projects had need for those figures. How accurate our countings were we never knew. On certain occasions when collecting data, one is forced to rely upon only the accuracy of the original source material. Once data have been gathered it may depend on in whose hands they fall and to what use they are put that skeptics are free to rush in. Quotation books run for pages with passages citing well-known and not-so-well-known quotes on statistics, ranging from well-thought-out formulas to the witty, to the fatuous. May the figures which follow not be in the category of what one anonymous quotation reads, 'Any figure that looks interesting is probably wrong.' We all know such household cliches as, 'You may prove anything by figures,' and, 'Figures won’t lie, but liars will figure.' Mark Twain, in his Autobiography, stated:

    Figures often beguile me, particularly when I have the arranging of them myself; in which case the remark attributed to Disraeli would often apply with justice and force; ‘There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.'[1]

In 1893, William Jewett Tucker 1861 became the ninth president of Dartmouth College, issuing in a new era for the College. Professor Francis Lane Childs 1906 stated in his 1957 lecture, 'A Dartmouth History Lesson for Freshmen':

    Seventy-five years had passed since the Dartmouth College Case, swiftly, with little change except in the growth of the number of students, a moderate increase in the size of the faculty and the number of buildings, and some little advance in education. In 1893 the College was, however, still local, narrow, and ill-equipped. Then Dr. Tucker came. He was a man of vigor, of courage, and of vision, and under his leadership the College was transformed.[2]

In the last year of his predecessor’s administration, Samuel Colcord Bartlett 1836, the undergraduate enrollment numbered 315 men, 78 of whom were freshmen. The following year, at the beginning of President Tucker’s office, the freshmen enrollment increased to 120. By the academic year 1900-1901, total enrollment had reached 636 students, and 1,136 in the last year of his presidency, 1908-1909. The reputation of the College had improved and a broader geographical representation of students was found.

Doctor Tucker was succeeded by Ernest Fox Nichols in 1909. Nichols, a physicist and teacher, had taught at Dartmouth but left in 1903 to accept a professorship at Columbia. Enrollment for 1910-1911 was 1,145 and 1,414 during 1915-1916, the last year of his office. In June 1916, Ernest Martin Hopkins 1901 was elected the eleventh president. Mr. Hopkins, a businessman, had been briefly Secretary to President Tucker following his graduation. The war years of 1917-1918 saw enrollment drop to 992, but by fall of 1919, 698 freshmen were admitted, 1,673 to all four years. By 1920-1921 there were 1,815 men on campus. Leon Burr Richardson stated:

    It became very evident to the trustees that some step must be taken to control this inflow of students and to prevent the institution from being overwhelmed by the mere weight of numbers. A more efficient method than mere priority of application was urgently required for proper selection, from the horde who were applying for admission, of the men actually to be received.[3]

Thus, by 1930-1931 enrollment had increased by only 413 students. The Depression years of the 1930s saw an erratic course for enrollment with a figure at 2,359 for 1940-1941. The Second World War years brought disruption of orderly routine on campus. In July 1942 a Naval Training School (Indoctrination) was located at the College for one year. In June 1943 the Navy V-12 Unit arrived on campus, training more than 5,000 men during its existence. For each winter term of 1943 and 1944, civilian undergraduate students numbered approximately 240. Upon the retirement of President Hopkins in 1945, John Sloan Dickey 1929, a lawyer and Assistant Secretary of State, was chosen to succeed him. The immediate post-war years saw both a rise and fall of student-body numbers. Academic year 1946-1947 had 2,827 while 1947-1948 dropped to 2,761. Entering the next decade, the figure for 1950-1951 dropped again, to 2,612, then increased by only about 301 by 1960-1961. For 1970-1971, Dartmouth mathematician and professor John George Kemeny’s first year as President, 3,271 students were enrolled for fall term.

In fall 1972 two events occurred–the admission of women as baccalaureate candidates and the College's institution of 'The Dartmouth Plan,' year-round operation in four terms in which a portion of students would be off campus each term. That year, 3,412 men and women undergraduates registered for fall term. David Thomas McLaughlin 1954, a businessman, succeeded President Kemeny in 1981. Enrolled students, both off and on campus, as of fall 1981 came to 4,369 men and women. In 1987 James Oliver Freedman, lawyer, teacher, and university president, became the fifteenth president of the College. By fall 1991 the student body increased to 4,425. In September 1998, James Wright, historian, professor, and Provost at Dartmouth, was inaugurated the sixteenth president. At the present time, 3,803 students have indicated their intentions to be at Dartmouth this fall; 1,066 are of the Class of 2003.

Of student expenses over the twentieth century, the enormity of change in fees may be seen by comparing the year in which Doctor Tucker took office with the first year of President Wright’s tenure. Tuition per annum was $90 in 1893-1894, while it was $7,930 per term for 1998-1999. Room rent in 1893-1894 ranged from $10 to $25, while in 1998-1999 average rent was $1,349 per term; board was then $101.75 to $148, compared with a board plan as high as $900 per term for 1998-1999. Interesting examples of other charges under the Tucker administration were library and reading room dues, $6; fuel and light, between $15 and $25; washing, about $15; and laboratory fees, between $6 and $14. Students could take baths at the gymnasium and Sanborn Hall; however, a fee of 25� was charged for non-residents of Sanborn Hall.

Living arrrangements have varied through the century as they still do today, though most students did and still do live in dormitories and fraternity houses. The use of rooms in private homes has been a necessity or an alternative from time to time. Various dining arrangements and dictates as to where students would take their meals prevailed throughout the century. Eating clubs existed off campus for several decades. Commons or College Hall, later enlarged and renamed Collis Center, opened for dining in 1901 with seating capacity for 400. Thayer Dining Hall opened in 1937.

By 1930-1931 tuition per annum was $400, room rent $80 to $300, and board for freshmen $260. In 1960-1961 the College Catalogue cites tuition at $1,400 per annum, room rent $189 to $500, and board $500 for freshmen. The jump into the thousands of dollars for tuition was noticed in the 1970s. By 1980-1981 tuition was $2,025 per term, $5,089 in 1990-1991, and as stated above, $7,930 in 1998-1999.

In the first year of President Tucker’s administration (1893-1894) the faculty numbered 29. In 1928-1929 the full undergraduate faculty numbered approximately 215. Tenured and tenure-track faculty in 1968-1969 were 278 men and women, and in 1998-99 the number is 343–231 men and 112 women. It took close to 200 years for the college to allow even a slight representation of women on the faculty. For instance, between 1918 and 1964 only nineteen women could be counted. For the academic year 1970-1971 we count twenty-four women teachers. In April 1972, six months before Dartmouth was to go coed, a revised statement from the ad hoc Committee on Women Faculty was issued which reads in part:

    Following are the recommendations which were included in the report from the ad hoc committee on Women Faculty dated November 18, 1971, as amended by the Executive Committee at its meetings of February 28, March 13, April 3 and April 10, 1972:

    1. That President Kemeny state Dartmouth’s commitment to the recruitment, training, employment, and promotion of qualified women faculty members; and that the College make public, in all the media by which its policy is normally disseminated, that it is an Equal Opportunity Employer.[4]

Finally, in May 1990, a press release was issued by the Dartmouth College News Service announcing that 'Women Outnumber Men in 1990 Faculty Tenure Appointments at Dartmouth.'

In 1893, just prior to Doctor Tucker’s taking office as President, the endowment of the college amounted to $1,054,162. By 1900 the figure came to $2,251,173. The reason for the more-than-doubled amount in part was the addition of two funds which were not carried previously as combined endowment. By 1916, the last year President Nichols was in office, the endowment had increased to $4,184,586.66. By 1945, the last year of President Hopkins’ administration, the endowment had jumped to $22,208,454. Nineteen-seventy-one, President Kemeny’s first full year, brought the figure to $154,350,096, and seventeen years later, in 1988, the first full year for President Freedman, the figure stood at $570,616,000, a slight drop from 1987, which was $590,204,000. The annual report for 1997-1998 cites the endowment at $1,519,709,000.

The final set of figures herein is that of College investments. In the Dartmouth College Treasurer’s Report for the year ending 10 May 1894, investments, which include real estate, mortgages, stocks, and bonds, were cited at $1,076,622.30. From the Dartmouth College Financial Report as of 30 June 1931, investments totalled $15,835,343, and from the 1960-1961 Financial Report,total assets were $98,783,201.29. In the Dartmouth College Annual Report for 1998, total assets were $1,921,401,000.

Donald Huff, in his waggish book How to Lie With Statistics, [5] wrote:

    The secret language of statistics, so appealing in a fact-minded culture, is employed to sensationalize, inflate, confuse, and oversimplify. Statistical methods and statistical terms are necessary in reporting the mass data of social and economic trends, business conditions, 'opinion' polls, the census. But without writers who use the words with honesty and understanding and readers who know what they mean, the result can only be semantic nonsense.

Huff includes, in the front matter of the book, a quotation attributed to Sir Francis Galton (1822-1911), an English explorer and scientist and later in life a pioneer in the formulation of statistical methods:

I have a great subject [statistics] to write upon, but feel keenly my literary incapacity to make it easily intelligible without sacrificing accuracy and thoroughness.

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[1] Mark Twain, Autobiography (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1924), 1:246.

[2] Francis Lane Childs, 'A Dartmouth History Lesson for Freshmen,' Dartmouth Alumni Magazine 50:3 (December 1957): 20.

[3] Leon Burr Richardson, History of Dartmouth College, 2 vols (Hanover:Dartmouth College Publications, 1932), 2:769.

[4] The text of this statement can be found in the 'Faculty�Women' vertical file in Special Collections.

[5] (New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 1954), 8.

Last Updated: 5/3/12