Report from the May 20-22, 2010, 200th Alumni Council Meeting

Report from the May 20-22, 2010, 200th Alumni Council Meeting

By Brooks Clark '78

 

This report is meant to complement the wealth of information--about this council meeting and alumni affairs in general--available on the Office of Alumni Relations Web site at www.alumni.dartmouth.edu.   If you haven't already, it's a good idea to save this address among your "favorites." 

 

The Elevator Talk

 

 Alumni Council meetings provide council members with lots of information.  Here is a 20-second summary (see below for details on each item):

*              As a result of the economic downturn and the endowment decline equal to 19.6% from a performance standpoint in 2009, Dartmouth faced a $100 million gap between its income and its planned spending.  The board of trustees and President Kim decided to make the tough cuts -- $50 million last year and an additional $50 million this year  so the College can start building for the future.  Most universities decided to take a gradual approach to getting their spending in line.  Among our peer institutions, only Stanford and Dartmouth took the "cut now, grow later" strategy.  Few of the cuts were to faculty or to the academic programs.  Most were made in administration and operations.

*              Unexpected result: some alumni saw the effectiveness of the cuts and felt confidence in giving large gifts for important projects.  One was a $35 million anonymous gift to establish the Dartmouth Center for Health Care Delivery Science, building on the success of the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice's study of health care delivery issues.  The new center will draw on the undergraduate and graduate schools of Dartmouth to find multidisciplinary answers to the challenges of the skyrocketing costs of health care.

*              Dartmouth had a record number of applicants, admitted only 11.5 percent of them, and had a record yield of accepted students who said, "Yes, I'm coming."  This means the entering class stands at 1,161.  Why the yield?  Three factors:

                1. U.S. News & World Report named Dartmouth first in commitment to undergraduate teaching among national universities

                2. A larger number of applicants accepted in early decision

                3. An effective "Dimensions" weekend was held in April for accepted students, complemented by a successful Facebook page, through which members of the Class of 2013 offered their thoughts to the accepted applicants on why they might like Dartmouth.

*              Alumni interviews of applicants are more important now than ever, not only in the selection process but also in building the brand.   Please volunteer to do interviews in your area.  For more information, visithttp://www.dartmouth.edu/~interviewers/.

*              The Campaign for the Dartmouth Experience raised $1.3 billion.  A remarkable 70 percent of alumni participated, with a total of 65,259 donors. 

*              Thirty-two percent of alumni voted in the spring trustee election.  Some 71 percent voted online. Morton Kondracke '60 ran unopposed, and John Replogle '88, who was opposed by Joseph Asch '79, won  the contest for the second trustee vacancy.

*              Dartmouth students raised more money for Haiti than any other student body in the country, and the funds were used effectively because of President Kim's unique position as a founder of Partners in Health.

*              Acting Athletic Director Bob Ceplikas '78 has a vision and plan for improving W-L records of Big Green teams, notably the football team and the men's basketball team.

*              During the Alumni Council dinner banquet, President Kim gave a fascinating presentation about the history of the Alumni Council.   This was followed by Dartmouth Alumni Award presentations to Martha Beattie '76 and Dr. Rick Silverman '81.

*              Alumni involvement strengthens fraternities, sororities and co-ed organizations, which are vibrant parts of the Dartmouth community.  The ad hoc Committee to Support Greek Letter Organizations presented their final report which is posted online at http://alumni.dartmouth.edu/default.aspx?id=1465

*              Alumni can send their thoughts to the trustees through the Alumni Liaison Committee atalc@alum.dartmouth.org .  (Please put your topic in the subject field.)

*              Note that the alumni magazine is now available online at  dartmouthalumnimagazine.com .  This is also where obituaries will be posted.  There will be more room here for longer obits and pictures, and the obits can remain on the Web site forever.  The magazine also has a Facebook page -- http://www.facebook.com/DartmouthAlumniMagazine -- where you can keep up with posts from the DAM staff.

 

 

 

Meeting with Students    

    Members of the Alumni Council met with groups of students.

    One of the groups discussed Social Media and Communications, which featured a student-produced documentary video showing what happened when Ann Rockwell '11 was cut off from texting and e-mailing for five days.  Rockwell, who is majoring in creative writing and theater, went from sending and receiving hundreds of texts and emails each day to zero.  During her five-day experiment, she had noticeable withdrawal pains. She did not know how to rendezvous with friends or take care of their problems.

     Council members contrasted the new world of constant communication with the days of the single pay phone down the hall as the way to touch base with home and erasable boards on doors as the key information conveyances among students. 

     The discussion went on to ask whether students playing card games and looking at Facebook on laptops are truly able to focus on the material being presented in the classroom?    One answer: most of it is posted on the Blackboard system (in which each class has a home page) anyway. 

 

David Spalding '76 becomes Chief of Staff to President Kim

    After nearly five years as vice president for Alumni Relations, David Spalding '76 has been named chief of staff to President Kim.  Patsy Fisher '81 will be the acting vice president while a search firm looks for the next vice president for Alumni Relations. 

 

The Impact of the Campaign for the Dartmouth Experience by Vice President for Development Carrie Pelzel '54a 

    Vice President for Development Carrie Pelzel reported that the Campaign for the Dartmouth Experience raised $1.3 billion.  A remarkable 70 percent of alumni participated, with a total of 65,259 donors.  

     Among many other important things, this made possible 18 new professorships.

     In her ongoing advancement of the Dartmouth Experience, Pelzel, an adopted member of the Class of 1954, stressed the importance of building the reputation of the College, which involves asking, "What are meaningful engagements with students, alumni and parents that contribute to building relationships?"  

     Some examples include the good works by the Tucker Foundation and the Summer Enrichment at Dartmouth (SEAD) program.

 

Tom Daniels '82 on the Trustee Election

    As chair of the Alumni Council's Nominating and Alumni Trustee Search Committee, Tom Daniels '82 reported that the recent trustee election for two vacant alumni-nominated seats on the board drew the highest turnout ever.  Thirty-two percent of alumni voted in the election.  Some 71 percent voted via the Internet.  Morton Kondracke '60 ran unopposed, for the first vacancy and John Replogle '88, who was opposed by Joseph Asch '79, won the contest for the second trustee vacancy. 

 

The Budget Cuts and Moving Forward

    Senior vice president and strategic advisor Steven Kadish reported on the budget cuts and numbers.   As a result of the economic downturn and the endowment decline equal to 19.6% from a performance standpoint in 2009, Dartmouth faced a $100 million gap between its income and its planned spending.  The board of trustees and President Kim decided to make the tough cuts--$50 million last year and an additional $50 million this year­so the College can start building for the future.  Most universities decided to take a gradual approach to getting their spending in line.  Among our peer institutions, only Stanford and Dartmouth took the "cut now, grow later" strategy.  Few of the cuts were to faculty or to the academic programs.  Most were made in administration and operations.

      Unexpected result: some alumni saw the effectiveness of the cuts and felt confidence in giving large gifts for important projects.  One was a $35 million anonymous gift to establish the Dartmouth Center for Health Care Delivery Science, building on the success of The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy & Clinical Practice and drawing on Tuck, Thayer and the arts and sciences to find multi-disciplinary answers to the challenges of skyrocketing costs of health care.   From the center Web site at http://www.dartmouth.edu/~tdc/: "The joint commitment of the College and its affiliated medical center will facilitate research, education--and very importantly-- implementation in clinical practice to improve the care patients receive."

     President Kim noted that he is seeing comments from people around the country asking, "Why didn't we think of that?"

 

Carol Folt '78a on What's New in the Arts and Sciences

      Provost and biology professor Carol Folt talked about the Great Issues Forum that will be piloted this summer.  Echoing the "Great Issues" classes of the first half of the 20th century, the sophomore class will have a shared intellectual experience and debate world issues as they hear a variety of speakers.

      After the tragic earthquake in Haiti, Dartmouth students raised more money than any other student body in the country, and that money was used effectively because of President Kim's unique position as a founder of Partners In Health, the story of which was described by Tracy Kidder in his book Mountains Beyond Mountains.  "The night of the earthquake," said President Kim, "I was up most of the night, and in the morning we were ready to take steps to help."

      In the days after the earthquake, Partners In Health was the main medical provider able to continue operations, and it set up the first dialysis unit in the country.   

 

Enrollment and Admissions

      As Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Maria Laskaris '84 told the council as a whole, Dartmouth had a record number of applicants  18,778  of whom 2,165 were admitted, for an 11.5 percent rate of admission.

      The happy surprise of the 2010 admission season was the "yield."  In recent years, about 49.5 percent of those accepted chose to come to Dartmouth.  This year, that percentage jumped to 55, with a slightly larger-than-expected freshman class of 1,161.   Laskaris pointed to three contributing factors:

1.            Some of the increase was the result of the larger group of students admitted early.  For those 400 or so, the yield is basically 100 percent. 

2.            The yield may also have gotten a bounce from U.S. News & World Report's astute placement of Dartmouth at No. 1 on its "Commitment to Undergraduate Teaching among National Universities" list.  "What we do is teach," said Laskaris, "and we do that better than anyone."

3.            The admitted applicants seemed to respond to a successful "Dimensions" weekend in late April and to the Class of 2013's social media outreach (e.g., a Facebook page)  in which this year's freshman class explained to next year's potential freshman class why Dartmouth is the place to be. 

 

As of late May, the Class of 2014 was 51 percent male and 49 percent female. 

Fourteen percent are legacies; 37 percent are U.S. students of color (The Class of 2014 will be the second most diverse class to matriculate at Dartmouth). Eight percent are international; 10 percent are first-generation college students; 47 percent are receiving scholarships that average about $35,000 each.    

      Laskaris noted that, even though the number of applicants has nearly doubled since 2005, her staff "remains committed to a thorough and individualized review process."  Each application gets at least two readings, and Laskaris reiterated that alumni interviews do matter:  "They put a personal face on who this individual is."  

      To illustrate exactly what an 11.5-percent admissions rate means, Laskaris displayed a graphic of 100 figures, with 11$DF of them shaded in.  You find yourself looking at the vast number of those unshaded figures and comprehending how many there are.   

      As a practical matter, this brings home three points for alumni interviewers:

1.            We have that many more interviews to do,

2.            We interview many remarkable applicants who would have gotten in just five years ago.

3.            In practical terms, of the young people we interview, 8.5 out of 10 will not be admitted.  

      As director of admissions recruitment Dan Parish '89 told the Alumni Council in December, it's more important than ever for alumni in all parts of the country to sign up to help with interviews. The interviews are important not only for telling applicants' stories in a personal way but also for telling Dartmouth's story.  Call it a "marketing opportunity" or "corporate outreach."  The alumni interview is an opportunity to introduce applicants, including the 8.5 out of 10 who won't get in, to the uniqueness of the Dartmouth approach to the college experience.  

      It's also a worthy goal to make the interview itself a developmental opportunity for applicants, some of whom are new to the intimidating experience of sitting down with a stranger and talking about achievements, aspirations, the life of the mind and the exchange of ideas all in an hour.   (Even Dartmouth seniors can use polishing in the art of schmoozing: alumni councilors took part in a speed-networking exercise arranged by the Career Services office.) 

      To volunteer for alumni interviewing, please visit http://www.dartmouth.edu/~interviewers/ and click on the "Sign up for Interviewing" link on the right-hand side of the page.  If you have any questions, please contact Kathy Nichols in the admissions office at (603) 646-3368.

 

Report from Trustees Al Mulley '70 and Sherri Oberg '82, Tu '86

     Sherri Oberg '82, Tu'86, who became a trustee in September 2008, talked about her role on the board, her perspective on closing the budget gap of $100 million, how well-run the College is financially, and the balancing act of how much to draw down from the endowment.

      Oberg serves on the Governance and Alumni Relations Committees, she chairs the Health Sciences Committee, and she is a freshman parent and wife of a coach (Curt Oberg '78).

      On closing the budget gap, she reiterated that Dartmouth had decided to act quickly, bring down its spending, and cut $100 million in planned growth.

     "We had a re-set after the downturn," she explained, "and there was value in bringing in someone from the outside in Steve Kadish and Linda Schneider."

      "We didn't smooth it out," explained Dr. Al Mulley '70. "Most institutions decided to go down gradually over five or 10 years.  We decided we're going to do it now.  Among our peer institutions, only Stanford and Dartmouth decided to take the pain now so we can be in a position of strength later."  Mulley noted, as others had during the weekend, that running the news about cuts has made people more willing to give.      

     Oberg and Mulley noted the board's support for the educational strategy of the College "to educate someone for today's world who can synthesize and integrate all the information they're getting."   Echoing provost Carol Folt's vision, this involves integrating all parts of the College and leveraging  all of the elements of the more powerful liberal arts education.

     Mulley noted that President Kim's diverse background helps him implement the strategy of integrating disciplines.  He cited the Dartmouth Center for Health Care Delivery Science as a great example. "It will use the Dartmouth Institute, Tuck, Dartmouth Medical School, Thayer and the liberal arts to cut across the disciplines and find answers.  It's a huge opportunity, not just for Dartmouth, but for society."

 

Athletics

     Acting athletic director Bob Ceplikas '78 gave a detailed presentation about the vision and strategic plan for Big Green athletics.  Last year 13 out of 34 Dartmouth teams finished in the top half of the Ivy League.   "Is that where Dartmouth should be?" asked Cep.  "Absolutely not."

    Ceplikas noted that they will not eliminate any teams or programs.   

    The women's teams tend to be strong, but some men's teams  notably basketball and football  are looking for stronger win-loss records.  Improvement is coming about through action in four areas:

1.            Facilities have had $85 million in renovations and improvements, including the new baseball stadium, new football field house, and new lacrosse and soccer fields.  Up-to-date facilities help to attract top recruits.

2.            Admissions and financial aid.  The Ivies have a complicated academic index to ensure that recruited athletes reflect the student body as a whole.   As the only NCAA Division I conference that does not offer athletic scholarships, the Ivy League always has the challenge of recruiting athletes who can get scholarships from schools like Stanford, Duke, and Northwestern.   The Athletic Department has an excellent working relationship with the Admissions Office.  One indicator, said Cep, is that "this year we did not have a single recruited athlete who was rejected by Dartmouth and accepted by another Ivy League school," which is frustrating to coaches when it happens. 

3.            Funding.  From $5.6 million in 1990, the athletic department budget grew to $8.9 million in fiscal year 1999 and to $18 million in 2009.  In past years the reliance on the endowment has gone up from 5 percent to 18 percent.  The costs of a successful athletic program continue to rise, and the Development Office is beginning a program to draw more contributions from alumni.  In the past, Dartmouth has been last in the Ivies in athletic fundraising.  To change that, they've created positions for a managing director of athletic fundraising and an associate athletic director of external relations.  "We don't want this to detract from regular giving to the College," said Cep.  "The College is the product that we sell to recruits, so we want to support alumni giving in every way.  But we believe we can inspire alumni to give to athletics on top of their regular contributions by showing that they can get real value in their contributions to Big Green sports."   They are hoping to increase support for athletics by about $2 million a year and increase the athletic endowment by 50 percent.   One money saver is the decision to stop printing media guides, relying completely on the Web site.

4.            Coaches.  Dartmouth has excellent coaches with fantastic career records, who can attract top student-athletes.  Right now Dartmouth is sixth in the Ivies in endowed coaching positions

        "With inspirational leadership from President Kim and Dean Spears," Cep concluded, "with highly supportive partnerships with Carrie Pelzel, Maria Laskaris and other key colleagues, and the extraordinary generosity of alumni, we're on the verge of an exciting new era for Dartmouth teams and student athletes."

 

Committee to Support Greek Letter Organizations: Final Report

     J.B. Daukas '84 , chair of the Ad Hoc Committee to Support Greek Letter Organizations, submitted the committee's final report.  The report is posted online at http://alumni.dartmouth.edu/default.aspx?id=1465"Fraternities, sororities and co-ed organizations are vibrant, varied, and important forces in student life today," reads the report, "benefitting members and nonmembers alike."  Some 60 percent of eligible students are members of Greek letter organizations (GLOs). 

     The challenges facing GLOs include the poor physical condition and cleanliness of many houses and the difficult problems of unhealthy drinking and behavior.  

      Many houses able to maintain regular upkeep are those with ties to alumni.  For example, Zeta Psi, recently re-started after being closed for a period of years, had a capital campaign run by alumni like T. Weymouth '79 and Hunt Melville '78 through which the house was completely renovated and, by the grace of the College, reopened.

     Cleanliness and upkeep are problems at most houses.

    One recommendation is to hire a professional cleaning service on a weekly basis.  "Wow, the place looks great!" exclaimed a brother at one fraternity after seeing the results of a real cleaning.  Here again, alumni involvement can help guide the actions of the GLO members.

     The sororities are on average twice the size of the fraternities, so it would be great to continue adding sorority houses.

      The problems associated with alcohol for GLOs, for the College and for institutions across the nation, are not so easily solved.  And in many cases the 21-year-old drinking age and anti-drinking measures can make matters worse.    

       No one in the country has an inside track on finding any magical solutions.  As with Prohibition and the Drug War, severe punishments and police crackdowns tend to make things worse  driving up binge drinking and edging students toward dangerous situations.   So it may be that progress will come from counterintuitive thinking and initiatives such as counseling and education.