Alumni Council News May 2015 Clarke

 My summary report from the 210th Meeting of the Dartmouth Alumni Council


May 14-16, 2015


Read the full minutes of the 210th Council Session but, if you do, please send me your questions and answers by return email.

During the current academic year, Dartmouth has focused on ways to foster a social life on campus that is safer, healthier, and more inclusive – as exemplified by President Philip J. Hanlon ’77’s release in January of his response to the findings and recommendations of the Moving Dartmouth Forward task force.

As energetic work continues on that front– you can find an update on where things stand here. It is clearly too soon to tell about the program’s success. President Hanlon spoke to us about the efforts he was leading to draft the next chapter in Dartmouth’s nearly 250-year-old story.

Enhancing the Academic Experience

The President made clear that a prominent theme of his tenure would be enhancing the academic experience for Dartmouth undergraduates in particular.

In building upon Dartmouth’s history as a haven for “deep intellectual engagement” with “the liberal arts at its core,’’ Hanlon said he has sought to expand opportunities for undergraduates to pursue “experiential learning” – where hands-on work in a student’s subject of interest enhances what he or she might absorb in a more traditional classroom setting.

He spoke to us, for example, about academic enrichment grants that are awarded annually, including through the Stamps Scholars Program.

Hanlon also described the coordinated hiring of “clusters” of faculty from various disciplines, all with a common set of interests. These and other academic initiatives are intended, he said, to buttress Dartmouth’s mission of preparing its undergraduates to rise to leadership positions in their field of expertise, as they seek to tackle the world’s most pressing problems armed not only with knowledge but with a penchant for “risk-taking and adventure.”

A Question for You

The leadership of the Alumni Council– along with the Alumni Liaison Committee (ALC), which seeks to solicit and synthesize a range of alumni feedback for the Board of Trustees – has asked that I pose a question to every classmate:

How would you describe to someone who had never visited Dartmouth – such as a prospective applicant – what differentiates Dartmouth’s sense of community, and its sense of place, and the role they play in the educational experience? Are there reflections from your own time on campus that you would share?


Please send your question responses to me, Bruce Clark, by return email, ideally by July 1. I will forward all responses to the ALC, which will incorporate them into its report to the Trustees. If you want to include questions the ALC has committed to try and answer them for you.

Other Highlights from the Council Session

What follows are some other things we heard during the Council sessions:

  • In a joint presentation entitled “A Promising Partnership: Admissions and Alumni Relations,’’ Maria Laskaris ’84Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid, and Martha Beattie ’76Vice President for Alumni Relations, spoke of various ways that the admissions office is seeking to draw on the time and talent of alumni. The story of one applicant for the Dartmouth Class of ’19 from the Bronx was featured prominently this year on the “Today” Show, and you can view that segment here
  • The affordability of a Dartmouth education remains a front-burner concern of the administration. Bill Helman ’80Chair of the Board of Trustees, told us that Dartmouth’s undergraduate tuition increased 2.9 percent this year, which was the lowest increase since 1977. Helman also said that the Trustees looked at cost comparisons with other institutions on a “net of aid” basis as well as on a gross cost basis.  
  • The Interim Dean of the College, Inge-Lise Ameer, said that Dartmouth continued to move toward a reorganization of residential life in which some dormitories would be grouped as communities of houses. There will be six house communities in all – each composed of about 700 students, about half in residence at any one time – with an emphasis on continuity (sophomores, juniors, and seniors can choose to live in the same house community for all three years), faculty engagement, and academic and other programming. Learn more about this initiative. There was no discussion of the Dartmouth Program's destructive impact on continuity. 
  • The John Sloan Dickey Center for International Understanding has become a hub for bringing together students, faculty, undergraduates, and graduate students to address the world’s hot-button problems – with as many as one in ten first-year students participating in its Great Issues Scholars program. You can learn more about the broad offerings of the Dickey Center here.
  • The three graduate schools at Dartmouth – the Geisel School of Medicine; the Tuck School of Business; the Thayer School of Engineering – continue to not only bolster their offerings to graduate students, but to create opportunities for undergraduates. In a panel with each of those schools’ deans moderated by Bob Lasher ’88Senior Vice President for Advancement, we learned that engineering is now the third most popular major at Dartmouth – and that 48 percent of juniors who have declared engineering as a major are women.
  • Bob Lasher also shared the progress made to date on fundraising intended to supportthe mission laid out by President Hanlon. Through the generosity of Dartmouth alumni,he said, funding has been received for four of the ten potential academic clusters. The College has also received sufficient donations to support the initial year of the new residential model of house communities. Alumni who took a freshman trip or spent time paddling the Connecticut will be pleased to learn that the Moosilauke Ravine Lodge and the Ledyard Canoe Club are being rebuilt. The Hood Museum is also being renovated and expanded. 
  • If you have questions about items in this summary or on other topics please send them to me by return email.And please take a moment to respond to the question above.

I will see the Reunion attendees in 10 days. I look forward to your questions and answers.


Bruce Clark