205th Session Meeting Minutes

The Academic Affairs Committee of Dartmouth’s Alumni Council had three agenda items, which were addressed by guest speakers:

1. The Interaction of Pedagogy and Scholarship in the Social Sciences and the Arts
Jonathan Zinman, associate professor of economics
Jeffrey Ruoff, associate professor and chair, film and media studies

Professors Zinman and Ruoff shared how their research and teaching are woven together so that student and professor are sharing innovative thoughts, experiences, and discoveries via regular academic collaboration.

2. Responding to the Shifting Demands of Popular Majors
Nancy Marion, George J. Records Professor of Economics, associate dean of the faculty for the social sciences
Meredith Braz, registrar, Dartmouth College

Professor Marion and Registrar Braz shared that timetabling classes is a delicate balance, and that Dartmouth and its departments are quite nimble in responding to student needs and wants — even when students change their minds and with the added complexity of away terms.

3. Career and Employment Services
Inge-Lise Ameer, associate dean of the college for student support services
Monica Wilson, acting co-director of career services

Career and Employment Services shared its goals for the coming years while also emphasizing its strengths as an office in assisting students with finding internships, developing job search skills, and finding work in a variety of fields.

The seven members of the Alumni Awards Committee met in Hanover on October 26 to start the process of winnowing down potential Alumni Awards candidates. Alumni from the Class of 1988 and older may be considered. We meet again in Boston in April and will select our winners at that time.

The committee met twice during the Alumni Council Weekend. On November 1, the agenda included alumni leadership reports from Marty Lempres ’84, president of the Alumni Council, and John “J.B.” Daukas ’84, president of the Association of Alumni. Additional agenda items included alumni feedback received to date, the identification of important alumni topics, the timeline and format for the 2012-13 annual report, and a discussion about action items received. On November 3, the committee met with president Carol Folt, Board of Trustees chair Steve Mandel ’78, vice president for Alumni Relations Martha Beattie ’76, senior vice president and senior advisor to the president David Spalding ’76, and chief operating officer and interim senior vice president for advancement  Ann Root Keith. Topics discussed included a recap of the 205th Alumni Council meeting, feedback received from alumni, the 2013 Association of Alumni and alumni-nominated trustee elections, and the strategic planning process (focusing on the Alumni Engagement Working Group).

After introductions of new members, director of athletics Harry Sheehy ’55a provided an update on the state of the program, facility priorities, recently hired coaches, academic rankings (Dartmouth ranks No. 1 in both academic progress and graduation success rate), club sports, and the membership of the new Dartmouth Athletics Advisory Board. Deputy athletics director Bob Ceplikas ’78 shared with the committee a 2012 fall season update for varsity sports and clubs, home game attendance figures, current marketing initiatives for home football games, and fundraising news. He also updated everyone on the subcommittee (of the Athletics Committee) that was formed to help promote away games, and future initiatives for the group. The senior associate athletics director for Peak Performance (DP2), Drew Galbraith, described the academic dimension of DP2, which consists of advising, study skills, and support from faculty and the dean of the College; the athletic dimension, which consists of sports medicine, strength and conditioning, nutrition, integrative health, sports psychology, and analytics/sports science; and the personal dimension, which includes leadership/team-building, wellness, career planning, and community engagement. Finally, there was a presentation and discussion with head coaches Bob Gaudet ’81 of the men’s hockey team and Amy Patton of the women’s lacrosse team, who shared outlooks on their teams’ seasons and described how their players are benefitting from DP2.


The committee thanked Steve Geanacopoulos ’74 for his work in creating past Alumni Council meeting summaries and for agreeing to create one for this meeting of the Alumni Council.

Lynne Gaudet ’81, director of alumni leadership, provided a report on the Alumni Council communications metrics. 

Committee vice chair Greg Chittim ’01 ’02Th and Bill Nisen ’73 gave a presentation about the online communications calendar they have designed for the Alumni Council that could include information about communications dates, council meeting dates, meeting agendas, important college deadlines (for instance, trustee elections) etc.

Jon Goldstein, director of communications for alumni relations and development, moderated a panel titled “Communications Best Practices among the Dartmouth Graduate Programs.” Panelists included Gary Snyder, associate vice president of health affairs communications and marketing; Derik Hertel, director of communications and marketing at the Geisel School; Gina Clark des Cognets, director of marketing and communications at the Tuck School of Business; Karen Endicott, director of communications at the Thayer School of Engineering; and Jane Seibel, director of graduate recruiting and diversity for the arts and sciences graduate programs.

Gina Clark des Cognets gave an extensive presentation about the Tuck School’s customized webpage, myTuck.
Jon Goldstein provided an update about the Dartmouth College website, which is being redesigned. The new website will be very clean, flexible, and fast. Within two weeks, alumni should see the imported “look” of www.dartmouth.edu.

Committee chair Rob Kugler ’67 introduced dean of admissions and financial aid Maria Laskaris ’84, who gave an informative update on admissions that generated many excellent questions. One question of note among the group related to Dean Laskaris’ indication that the majority of admitted students who choose to not enroll in Dartmouth cite the presence of a strong fraternity/sorority system as decreasing their interest in enrolling at Dartmouth. The committee was very concerned about the administration’s response to this data, which has now been present for two consecutive years. Dean Laskaris shared that various offices and areas around the College are aware of this trend, including the Board of Trustees, President Folt, Dean Johnson, and others, and continue to factor this information into ongoing discussions, including the strategic planning process.

Following the dean’s presentation, a very brief discussion on last year’s new initiative, the Yield Project, took place. Although the goal of the project, which was to contact applicants last year who had received “likely” letters from the College to encourage them to accept the offer, was admirable, the results did not show a large impact when compared to students not contacted through the pilot. Consequently, the committee decided to table the project for the time being. The next discussion, led by Dean Laskaris, focused on the values and characteristics of incoming students that admissions utilizes in the application review process. The committee was asked to comment on the attributes, offer new ideas, and discuss how and where the admissions office can look to learn about these qualities in applicants.
This led to a presentation by vice chair Lisa Cloitre ’94 Tu’02 of a new initiative regarding the creation of interviewer training modules that will be created in collaboration with the Admissions Office. Everyone felt there were opportunities around improving the training and delivery of such training for alumni interviewers. With the endorsement of the committee, Cloitre will form a small subcommittee to explore new options for training such as videos, podcasts, and webinars. Cloitre will report their findings and suggestions during the May 2013 meeting, with the goal of implementing new tools for the Class of 2017 cycle.

Honorary Degrees

The Honorary Degrees Committee conducted its fourth and final meeting of the year. 

David Spalding ’76, senior vice president of the College and senior advisor to the president, welcomed and thanked the committee. He discussed the process, timeline, and objectives of the College’s Council on Honorary Degrees and then left the meeting.

The committee discussed potential names for future consideration.

The committee met in New York City in July and Boston in September, and conducted interviews of finalist candidates in New York City in October. Members also held many conference calls throughout the summer and fall. In addition, the committee met in Hanover on November 1, during the 205th Alumni Council session, to prepare for the presentation of the alumnus it selected to recommend to the Alumni Council for the 2013 alumni-nominated trustee vacancy on the Board of Trustees. On November 2, Committee Chair Pete Frederick ’65 presented Mitchell Kurz ’73 to the Alumni Council as the Nominating Committee’s recommendation for this vacancy. Kurz was unanimously approved by the Alumni Council. Information about Kurz is posted on www.voxthevote.com.

The Student Affairs meeting agenda included presentations by dean of the College Charlotte Johnson, the Student Assembly, the Graduate Student Council (GSC), and undergraduates involved in national political elections.

Dean Johnson provided an overview of key aspects of her strategic process this year. The dean of the College is working on promoting student success and engagement opportunities. The office is concerned with the overall health of students on Dartmouth’s campus in an effort to make them as successful as possible.

Other important investments in the student experience have been through the offices of career services and student advising. After an extended vacancy, the office of career services has arrived at the end of a national search for a new director. Finalists were brought to campus the week of November 4, 2012, and a final offer should be made in the next month. An important characteristic that the College is looking for in a new director for career services is someone who is able to help students align their job options with their core values. Additionally, a new model for student advising called Advising 360 is being piloted that focuses not only on the academic aspects of advising but also on the student development and mentoring components. This new advising model is a collaboration between the dean of the faculty and the dean of the College.

Student Assembly president Suril Kantaria '13 provided a short report from that governance body. The Student Assembly is Dartmouth's undergraduate government. Their responsibilities include providing forums for students, conveying student opinion to administration and address policy issues through issue-based committees. This fall term the Assembly's focus was on building a more representative and diverse membership, assisting with the www.dartmouth.edu website redesign and addressing key issues on campus. For the long term, Student Assembly's focus is on developing a Peer-to-Peer (P2P) freshmen advising program and working with the administration to increase the number of non-Greek social spaces.

GSC President Julia Bradley-Cook GR’14 provided a short report from that governance body. The GSC is Dartmouth’s graduate student government, and the group works to strengthen Dartmouth’s graduate community through fostering community outreach, hosting social events, supporting/funding graduate student groups, and lobbying for graduate student interests. There are roughly 850 graduate students across 20 departments in the arts and sciences, with a total population of almost 2,000, including all students at the Tuck School of Business, the Thayer School of Engineering, and the Geisel School of Medicine. Currently the GSC is in the middle of a strategic replanning process. Members are simultaneously working on generating agency and participatory governance, increasing cohesiveness of the graduate-student community, and developing a Graduate Relief Fund, which will help to enhance the ability to support graduate students in times of need.

Colin Harris ’13, the president of College Democrats, and Esther Cross ’15, who covered the Republican and Democratic national conventions as a journalist, spoke to the committee about their experiences, the manner in which Dartmouth assists in providing political and public policy study, internship, and work opportunities, and the state of the 2012 campaign on campus. It is clear Dartmouth students remain quite fortunate in the face of many quality opportunities, which is further augmented by the quadrennial focus on the New Hampshire primary. Politically active students such as Harris and Cross work to increase campus engagement and to get out the vote on Election Day.

The following Young Alumni Committee 2012 topics were discussed:

Alumni Mentoring Program: Committee member Nicolas Russell ’00 has researched interest in mentoring among young alumni and the effectiveness and usage of the current Dartmouth Alumni Directory. Currently, there are no broad-based mentoring programs that connect alumni with each other or with students. As preparations are made to launch a new version of the online alumni directory, Nick will be working with the new director for Dartmouth for Life, Dan Parish ’89, to see how alumni-alumni or alumni-student mentoring can be fostered and encouraged.

Life After Dartmouth: David Tatkow ’01 reported on great progress on the Life After Dartmouth project. Dartmouth’s general counsel has given approval to use the Yale post-graduation guide as a template for the new Life after Dartmouth Handbook. The Dartmouth version of the handbook is nearing completion, although more alumni quotes are needed in various sections, specifically the cookbook chapter.

Dartmouth Discounts: Dan Parish ’89 and his office are researching alumni discounts and affiliation programs. Dan will work with committee members Allie Miller ’10 and Patrick McCarthy ’04 to integrate their research into the work being done as part of the Dartmouth for Life program.

Community: Derrick T. Smith ’07, assistant director of young alumni and students, provided a report on the Young Alumni of Dartmouth Activities (YADA). Smith has been in his role for a little more than a year and reported on his activity thus far. He is looking to revamp the YADA brand by increasing the number of young alumni events, forming a young alumni chair “committee”—which will consist of all young alumni chairs across the United States—and revisiting the types of programs that his office puts on. The committee provided Smith with feedback on ways to enhance the young alumni experience. Ideas included shuttle bus or carpool options from NYC or Boston during alumni weekends, live feeds and video conferences of on-campus events, and card access to campus facilities during major weekends.

The new director for Dartmouth for Life, Daniel Parish ’89, attended the meeting. He joined the Office of Alumni Relations in the fall of 2012 from the Dartmouth Admissions Office. Parish will be developing initiatives and programs that will engage alumni in lifelong learning and that will meet the needs and interests of alumni throughout their life. Dartmouth for Life programming will focus on professional development and career progression, personal growth, and health and well-being. Programs will connect Dartmouth alumni who are experts in their fields with other alumni, faculty, and current students.

The nine members of the Alumni Awards Committee had their first conference call of the academic year on October 4 to start reviewing and discussing potential candidates for the 2013-14 Young Alumni Distinguished Service Award. Alumni from the Class of 1998 and younger may be considered. Three or four more conference calls will take place this (fiscal) year as the committee narrows down its selection(s).