198th Session Meeting Minutes 

Chair Greg Chittim ’01, ’03Th welcomed Lindsay Whaley, chair of the linguistics and cognitive science program and associate dean for interdisciplinary studies, who spoke to the committee about interdisciplinary teaching and the international studies minor. Professor Whaley was followed by Robert Resutek, an assistant professor at Tuck, who shared his experiences teaching the first undergraduate business course on accounting.

Greg Chittim then explained that committee members would soon receive a link to an online bibliography of reading lists recommended by the faculty who presented at the December Alumni Council meeting (Don Pease, Aine Donovan, and Chris Jernstedt). There was no further discussion on this topic.

The committee then elected Hugh O’Reilly ’86 as the vice chair.

The meeting closed with a gathering of ideas for future topics. Ideas include:

Update on Native American studies by the current chair, Bruce Duthu ’80;

What makes Dartmouth academics unique from other institutions;

Information on the Dartmouth Center for the Advancement of Learning (DCAL);

Dartmouth’s re-accreditation;

Academic integrity;

The status of visiting, adjunct, and non-tenure track professors, including how many classes each group is teaching;

Tenure process and the role of students and course evaluations;

Ethnic and regional studies;

Presentation by Mary Flanagan, professor of film and television studies and chair of digital humanities.

The committee focused on its efforts to improve the follow-up process for ensuring that councilors communicate with their constituents. The process was streamlined, and is now focused on only those who have not sent in reports, who now also receive emails prior to any follow-up calls. This has resulted in less outreach work needed from committee members and a faster, more improved response rate among councilors.

Karlyn Morissette, Web producer in Dartmouth’s development office, presented a report on the social networking service Twitter: how it works, how the College is using it, and how it might be useful to alumni and alumni groups. This was followed by a presentation from Sean Plottner, editor of Dartmouth Alumni Magazine, which won the 2008 CASE award for top alumni magazine in the country. The magazine is taking the publication online as well as working on creating a digital archive of past issues.

The rest of the meeting was devoted to a brainstorming session of possible ways to improve communications between the College and alumni, councilors and alumni, and among councilors themselves. Previous “good ideas that failed” were discussed, such as the largely unused ClubTalk bulletin boards and the use by Alumni Relations of the InCircle social networking tools (were they just before their time?). It was suggested that the College consider further ways of using interest in “specialty” areas, such as “friends” of various sports teams, to increase alumni involvement and participation. It was also suggested that Facebook could be a valuable means to facilitate communications between councilors when they are not in Hanover, and incoming chair Jon Murchinson ’91 and vice chair Sarah Jackson-Han ’88 were asked to further explore the idea.

1. Report of the Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid

Expanding upon her presentation to the full council earlier in the day, Dean Maria Laskaris ’84 reported that it was the most competitive year yet. With 18,132 applicants for the class of 2013, the acceptance rate was only 12 percent. Yield remains consistent with prior years at about 50 percent, apparently unaffected by several peer schools dropping early admissions programs and the uncertainty of the economy. Outreach programs such as “Dimensions” and “Discover Dartmouth” clearly are having a positive impact on matriculation rates. The class will be 51 percent female. The student body is more diverse than ever. SAT and ACT scores were as high as or higher than for past admitted students. Legacies continue to be admitted at a higher rate, although the majority is still denied admission. Following suggestions from the committee last year, Dean Laskaris sent personal letters to the alumni parents of denied and waitlisted candidates. This year the admissions office has been able to go to the waitlist and offer admission to approximately 70 more candidates, including some legacies.

2. Alumni Recruiting and Outreach

I-track continues to improve and facilitate the alumni interview process. With greater numbers of applications, the interview reports become more significant and useful to the admissions officers as they distinguish among thousands of excellent candidates. Several alumni groups are focused on recruiting low-income students to apply to Dartmouth. Stan West ’78 described a program in the Los Angeles area.  Mats Lemberger ’06 has been working with some members of the committee to develop better resources for alumni interviewers. The admissions Web site is being updated and should be completed by fall, when the next admissions season begins. Given the budget cuts that the admissions office must implement, the role of alumni in outreach activities is critical.

3. Leadership

Wylie Collins ’83 will chair the committee for 2009–10. Danielle Dyer ’81 will be the vice chair. Director of Admissions Recruitment and Communications Daniel Parish ’84 continues to serve as the admissions office liaison to the committee.

4. Action Items

The committee will continue to work with admissions to recruit and train alumni interviewers from the classes, clubs, and affiliated groups. The committee will be preparing and distributing to clubs and district enrollment directors an outline of how to work with the admissions office to develop candidate lists, find venues, and invite low-income students in their area to learn more about Dartmouth. Local follow-up and support for visiting programs such as “Dimensions” will be the key to making such outreach efforts successful.

The Honorary Degrees Committee conducted its fourth and final meeting of the year with 11 of 12 committee members present in person or by phone. The committee reviewed the list of individuals who will be receiving honorary degrees during the 2009 Commencement, including Dartmouth alumni Louise Erdrich ’79 and Dr. Raymond B. Johnson ’59. The committee then reviewed the 10 finalists who emerged following our last meeting to be considered for recommendation to the president for honorary degrees for the 2010 Commencement. Three were recommended for degrees, four were put on hold for future consideration, and three were archived.

The committee also discussed 11 new potential names for future consideration. Two had previously been awarded degrees, and the other nine will be further researched and discussed in a future meeting. The pipeline, particularly of those in the class of 1961, with their 50th reunion coming up next, needs to be further refined. There was also a good discussion about the attributes the committee seeks in recommending degrees, which include intellectual distinction, professional achievement, public service, and Dartmouth involvement. Additional attributes might include inspirational, aspirational, passion, enduring success, relevance and significance, character, and values. These were summarized in a presentation, which will be made available online, made by the chair to the Alumni Council in a plenary session on Saturday morning. Finally, the committee elected Louisa Guthrie ’79 as the new chair and Bob Charles ’87 as the new vice chair.

The first session of the meeting consisted of comments by Dean Tom Crady.

We next had presentations from representatives of the Undergraduate Student Assembly and the Graduate Student Council, followed by question-and-answer sessions.

The next item of business was an athletics update from outgoing Athletic Director Josie Harper and incoming interim Athletic Director Bob Ceplikas ’78. Following Josie’s and Bob’s remarks, a framed certificate of appreciation was presented to Josie by the committee on behalf of the Alumni Council.

We then heard from a panel of students, all members of the Hill Winds Society, on a variety of topics. 

The last 20 minutes of the meeting were devoted to committee business. The committee first decided that we should continue the past practice of selecting as vice chairs two first-year committee members, who will become co-chairs in their third year on the council. The committee then elected Axel Grabowsky ’60 and Susan Hess ’81 as co-vice chairs of the committee.