201st Session Meeting Minutes

The Academic Affairs Committee heard from Michael Mastanduno, dean of Dartmouth’s faculty, about faculty hiring, retention and promotion. Dean Mastanduno noted that there are approximately 400 full-time, tenured, and tenure-track faculty members, of which 75 percent (or roughly 300) are tenured. In addition there are approximately 225 visiting faculty on campus and between 25 and 30 new tenured and tenure-track faculty annually. Forty percent of the faculty members are women and 60 percent are men and 18 percent of the faculty identify themselves as a minority. There is an enrollment of 500 graduate students with about 80 earning PhDs annually. The annual budget for arts and sciences is $450 million, and there are roughly $30 million in grants awarded each year. In all, there are 2,000 courses offered each year. After presenting his overview, Dean Mastanduno fielded a host of questions from the committee members and a somewhat lively discussion ensued, with the dean frequently deferring to other faculty members in attendance. It seems the tone President Jim Kim has set at Dartmouth seems to be incredibly focused on the student experience and the quality of the professors and their teaching. Many questions centered on how professors are recruited, evaluated and retained (or not), and around how the overall curriculum of the College has evolved over time. The dean noted that he makes a point of trying to teach one class every year and that President Kim is 100-percent supportive of this effort and has considered teaching a class himself, as President Kemeny did in the 1970s and early-1980s.

Following Dean Mastanduno’s presentation and the ensuing discussion, the committee heard from three members of the Class of 2011 about their senior research projects. Ilda Bajraktari ’11, with the support of biology professor Mary Lou Guerinot, presented her work on plant seed engineering. Anise Vance ’11, aided by geography professor Richard Wright, then spoke about his project exploring racial identity formation and segregation in Hartford, CT. Kathryn Mammell ’11, with the guidance of classics professor Jeremy Rutter, then gave the committee an update of her project on women and flowers as ancient artistic symbols. The students were quite impressive and all three presentations were greeted with active question-and-answer sessions with the committee. There were a number of questions about the impact of the student projects on students’ career goals and how they perceived their projects in the context of a liberal arts education. Each student was asked what she was planning on doing immediately after graduation and in the next five years.

It was then noted that the committee would host the following lectures at 4 pm in the Rockefeller Center:

“Timely, Targeted, and Temporary: Three Years of Stimulus and Bailouts” by Andrew Samwick, the Sandra L. and Arthur L. Irving ’72a, P’10, Professor of Economics and director of the Nelson Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences, in Rockefeller 001;

“Succession and Stability in North Korea” by Jennifer Lind, assistant professor of government, in Rockefeller 002; and

“The Philosophy of Everything: Being Human in an Imperfect Universe” by Marcelo Gleiser, professor of physics and astronomy and the Appleton Professor of Natural Philosophy, in Rockefeller 003. 

The Alumni Awards Committee, composed of seven former Alumni Award winners (many of whom are past Alumni Council members), met with Lynne Gaudet and Sarah Sinclair in Hanover on October 29, 2010. We discussed numerous Alumni Award candidates who have come to our attention via alumni, administrators of the College, club and class organizations, and self- nominations. In order to be eligible for the award, alumni must be at least 25 years past their graduation year and they cannot currently be employed by the College, serving on the board of trustees or sitting on the Alumni Council. In deciding on award recipients, we look for long-standing and meritorious service to Dartmouth, with both career and community service as added dimensions. We have a gradual process of culling the names on the list, which often involves assignments to gather more information about particular candidates. By our second meeting of the year, which will be in the spring, we will have several awardees selected. They are notified on July 1, and we then begin the process of selecting appropriate venues for each award to be presented (for example, reunion, club event, Alumni Council meeting) during the 2011-12 year.  

The committee met twice during the Alumni Council Weekend. On December 2, the agenda included alumni leadership reports from Tom Peisch ’70, president of the Alumni Council, and John Mathias ’69, 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 2010-11 annual report; and a discussion about action items received. On December 4, the committee met with President Jim Yong Kim and trustees Brad Evans ’64 and Sherri Oberg ’82 ’86Tu. Topics discussed included a recap of the 201st Alumni Council meeting, feedback received from alumni, the 2011 Association of Alumni and alumni-nominated trustee elections, and current events on campus.

Axel Grabowsky ’60 opened the meeting by welcoming all participants and thanking Robert “Cep” Ceplikas ’78 for his outstanding stewardship as acting director of athletics and recreation for more than a year.

Harry Sheehy, the new AD, led off with remarks that amplified and added to the points he raised at dinner the night before and followed-up with a free-wheeling Q&A session. His immediate challenge, he said, is to both improve the success of Dartmouth’s teams and to make sports at Dartmouth as broad-based as possible while absorbing the decreases in the athletic budget, which are in line with the belt-tightening in all areas of the College. “[But] there is no excuse for mediocrity … and there must be excellence across [the entire spectrum of] sports,” he said. Sheehy intends to ensure that every athletic program, major and minor, has the opportunity to be successful. But athletic success is not the only measure — every coach must not only produce competitive teams consistently, but also teach life-long skills that transcend sports. He believes that Dartmouth is very fortunate that President Kim “wants an outstanding athletic profile” for the College. Sheehy also commented on the excellent relationship that the athletics department maintains with the admissions and financial aid office and, in particular, with its dean, Maria Laskaris ’84.

A panel discussion about the impact of athletics on student life, moderated by Sheehy, introduced six exciting and enthusiastic speakers: Martha Johnson Beattie ’76 P’07 P’09, currently coaching women’s crew while a coach is on maternity leave and a varsity rower as an undergraduate; John Carey, government professor and department chair and academic advisor to the men’s hockey and soccer teams; Katie Horner ’11, varsity women’s hockey captain and president of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee; Tim McManus ’11, varsity football captain; Tom Sheridan ’11, men’s rugby club president; and Yuhan Xue ’13, women’s club basketball and intramural athlete.

The overwhelming impression from the panelists is that the impact of athletics on student life is significant in spite of the many competitive demands on students’ time. The infectious enthusiasm of the student panelists was another overwhelming impression. Katie Horner talked about how well rounded Dartmouth’s athletes and non-athletes are and how much this is fostered by the College. The D Plan, she believes, is particularly helpful in that respect. She also commented on the pre-football-game BBQs last season, which apparently had a healthy influence on game attendance for football and other sports. Tim McManus persuasively asserted that the football program has been turned around and, while there is a ways to go yet, 2011 will see further significant improvement. Tom Sheridan said the rugby program is mostly student run and thereby provides many opportunities for independent learning and responsibility. He also pointed to the consistent — more than 50 years now! — success of the program. Yuhan Xue spoke about the importance of athletics to all students as a balance to academics, which is especially important to those who do not engage in organized competitive sports. Martha Beattie compared the impact of sports of 30 years ago and today and found little difference: athletics and their pursuit had a lasting effect on her life and is likely to have the same effect on today’s student-athletes. John Carey explained the many-layered functions of an academic advisor to a team and the importance of balancing academic and athletic success.

Brian Austin, executive associate athletic director for varsity sports, provided the varsity update. The highlights were the first winning football season in 13 years, women’s soccer second place in the Ivy League, men’s soccer reaching the NCAA Sweet 16, second place in the Heptagonals for the men’s cross country runners and fast starts for the men’s and women’s hockey teams, both already ranked nationally.

Roger Demment, senior associate AD for physical education and recreation, reviewed club sports. The highlights were men’s rugby’s 11th Ivy title in 14 years, women’s rugby’s invitation to the Nationals, men’s club soccer Ivy Championship and second place in New England, the New England championship for the club tennis team (coed), the Ivy League championship in men’s Ultimate, andsecond place in the inaugural Ivy Tournament for women’s Ultimate.

Richard Whitmore, the associate AD for facilities and operations briefly discussed the only two immediate projects in his area: an on-campus softball facility (modeled very much on the new baseball field) and a number of basketball-connected upgrades. Other projects in the pipeline are additional indoor practice facilities, expanded sports medicine areas, improvements to Thompson Arena, the replacement of the west stands of the football stadium, the Hanover Country Club clubhouse replacement and equipment room needs.

Ceplikas, now deputy director of athletics, brought athletic fundraising to the fore. In FY’09 Dartmouth was dead last in raising money for its football program. In December 2009, Ceplikas, then acting athletic director, explained our funding disadvantage, which expressed itself in recruiting (inability for coaches to travel extensively or bring promising high school football players to Hanover) and in lack of manpower, which tied up coaches with administrative work. Under Ceplikas’ aegis a dedicated crew of alumni did a remarkable job in FY’10 and outraised every one of our Ivy competitors.

There’s a new website of the Friends of Dartmouth Football at www.fodf.org. To see clips from the soccer victory over Notre Dame (ninth in the nation) go to www.youtube.com/watch?v=T0IDXpOTsAE. From there links take you to other athletic (and non-athletic) videos.  

The Communications Committee discussed the work that the communications subcommittee has completed over the last six months. The subcommittee held several conference calls and studied the committee’s mission and purposeful acts. A document outlining this work was circulated via email in preparation for the meeting so that the entire Communications Committee could review it beforehand. A summary of the purposeful acts outlined include:

  • Create a brief meeting summary for each council meeting for alumni councilors;
  • Include a key topics or major issues section within the meeting summary provided to councilors;
  • Conduct periodic councilor surveys or polls — internal to the council — regarding specific tools that work well/poorly;
  • Track metrics not within the Alumni Liaison Committee’s current scope (for example, how many councilors sent each of the four expected communications);
  • Address full council (at each meeting/once each year) to share metrics and give brief presentation on communication tools;
  • Participate each year in the orientation program
  • Provide training sessions for councilors;
  • Establish a means to safeguard council “legacy” of information; and
  • Review opportunities for improved communication with a scheduled frequency.

 The document proposed the following revised Communications Committee mission:

The Communications Committee shall 1) encourage and facilitate communication between and among members of the council and its respective constituencies regarding both the council’s activities and the College as a whole; 2) encourage and facilitate communication within the council itself by providing a) tools and resources to aid constituent discourse, b) metrics regarding successful communication practices c) training to improve the council’s overall accessibility to and from the alumni at large, and (d) a means to safeguard council legacy of information; and (3) regularly review opportunities to improve council communications broadly.

The document also outlined the means to accomplish the mission through a standardized meeting agenda. The Communications Committee unanimously approved the list of purposeful acts and the proposed mission.

Diana Lawrence, director of alumni relations communications, gave a presentation about Dartmouth and alumni relations online resources and tools. She also provided information about the Alumni Council Facebook group.

A discussion about various means of communications and tools followed. The committee agreed to discuss social media communications and options for the Alumni Council at the next Communications Committee meeting. The committee also decided to invite Mike Backman, director of alumni information resources, to make a presentation about alumni relations technical resources at the next committee meeting. 

The agenda of the December 3, 2010, meeting of the Enrollment and Admissions Committee focused primarily on two items: an update from Maria Laskaris ’84, dean of admissions and financial aid, and a discussion of the role of the committee.

Update from the Dean

Dean Laskaris highlighted that the department of admissions and financial aid is working on its communications and outreach efforts to prospective students to ensure that they are personalized, direct, inspirational, action-oriented, and interactive. This includes communications with alumni interviews for whom a live web-chat has been scheduled for January 11 at 8 pm EST. In keeping with recent trends, Dean Laskaris noted that the current applicant pool is expected to continue its rapid growth this year (it has almost doubled in the last 10 years) and that she and the other admissions officers are focused on growing the pool of candidates “consistent with the priorities of the College” and in attracting students for the “right reasons” (i.e. the students interests, passions, and ambitions are consistent with the College’s strengths). She also highlighted the “perception tracking” the department is doing with admitted students to identify if the students’ perceptions of the College during their application process matched what they found to be reality once they had matriculated. 

The Role of the Committee

The committee segued from Dean Laskaris’ report into a discussion of how the committee members could best serve the needs of the admissions team. This discussion focused primarily on the role of the alumni interviews in the admissions process, including the role of the interviewers themselves. Associate Dean Dan Parish ’89 emphasized the critical importance of the interviews as another insight into each candidate and urged interviewers to view their role as both “evaluator and advocate of the College.” At the suggestion of the admissions department representatives, the committee agreed to take on a research project to find out how other highly selective colleges and universities use alumni interviews and interviewers in the admissions process. Several committee members volunteered to contact various people they know who are involved with alumni interviewing for other schools to better understand their roles and processes. This will be the primary topic for discussion at the next committee meeting in May. 

The Student Affairs Committee met from 7:30 to 9:30 am Friday, December 3, 2010. There were several items on the agenda:

1. Dean of the College Sylvia Spears covered the recent reorganization of the dean of the College division, including the creation of seven associate dean and director positions within the division. Several of the associate deans and directors were introduced at the meeting. Dean Spears emphasized various goals of the reorganizational plan, one of which is to make the dean of the College office more user friendly and to eliminate duplication of services.

2. Professor Gregg Fairbrothers ’76 of the Tuck School of Business gave an excellent presentation on the Dartmouth Entrepreneurial Network (DEN), which he founded in 2000. The purpose of this program is to work with students, faculty, researchers, and alumni to support entrepreneurial initiatives by providing advice and resources for these individuals. He brought two student entrepreneurs with him who outlined their entrepreneurial endeavors and how the DEN helped facilitate their ideas.

3. Eric Tanner ’11, president of the Dartmouth Undergraduate Student Assembly, gave a report outlining the assembly’s activities, which included school spirit initiatives on “big game” days this fall, as well as input into the Ledyard swim dock closing this past summer. Marcella Lucas, chair of the Graduate Student Council, spoke about her organization’s role in improving the Dartmouth experience for graduate students, which includes health and dental insurance needs, social venues, etc. 

Shounak Simlai ’05, vice chair of the Young Alumni Committee, opened the meeting with introductions of each attending committee member.

After introductions, Zack Chestnut ’08 recapped the work that the Young Alumni Committee, led on this front by Zack and Phil Mone ’02, had done regarding alumni career services. In the last couple years, there has been outreach to numerous College administrators, research done on alumni career services at other institutions, a presentation given to other members of the Alumni Council, and the creation of a career specific webpage (“Alumni Career Central”) on the Alumni Relations website. Now, with the Class of 2009 Career Services Intern project and Senior VP for Advancement Carrie Pelzel’s noted attention to the subject, it is even more apparent that things are coming to fruition.

Zack then introduced Jen Murray ’09, the Class of 2009 project chair, to discuss the ’09 Career Services Intern. This intern will probably work 12 hours a week and be charged with finding jobs, posting jobs on Dartboard, and serving as a general resource in Career Services for alumni and students. Currently, only a quarter of jobs submitted to Career Services actually get posted to Dartboard, so there is a need for a position like this. Ideally, the intern would be a student who could work for at least two to three terms and would report to one of the Presidential Fellows (currently, Jen). The Class of 2009 is still in talks with career services, but hopes to have this project rolled out in the spring.  

Pelzel then presented on the role that the advancement division will play in alumni career services. She noted that some institutions run their entire career services operations through their advancement/alumni relations divisions. She did not think this a good idea because should a budget crunch occur, students and alumni would both suffer from any cuts to career services. Instead, Pelzel is creating a new position in the Office of Alumni Relations that should not be viewed as a job but as an enterprise. Hiring for this position will begin once a new Alumni Relations VP has been hired; the new position should be filled by the end of the academic year. With this knowledge, the Young Alumni Committee is tabling the topic of alumni career services until the time warrants its return.

Jane Parkin Kullmann ’01 and David Wagner ’99 then presented on the regional club experience for young alumni. Based on the metrics, young alumni are well represented in regional club leadership. Some young alumni do appear to have difficulty in transitioning from the College to the world. There should be more and better messaging targeted at young alumni to help facilitate their transition period.

Mikee Guzman ’06 then followed with the topic of getting young alumni back to campus. At the last Young Alumni Committee meeting, Guzman had talked about the option for young alumni to stay in open dormitory rooms. With budget cuts and the reorganization of the College, this option is no longer available. In lieu of this, Guzman contacted about 70 other alumni and asked if they would be willing to host alumnus/a in their homes. Of those 70 people, 80 percent would be willing to host. Another idea is for a pot of money to be collected by the College, classes, or clubs to be used by young alumni looking to get back to Hanover. Also regarding transportation, Dartmouth College just launched a rideshare program called Dartmouth Zimride for employees. Because it uses the College’s web authentication, alumni and students are also able to utilize this service. Finally, another underutilized opportunity for young alumni to return to campus is to help professors with presentations, panels, and classes. There are many young alumni who have become experts in certain fields either through further study or experience from their careers.

Currently, the topics to be discussed at the next meeting are the Dartmouth Zimride rideshare program and the succession of the Young Alumni Committee leadership. Forms were distributed for Young Alumni Award nominations and the meeting was adjourned.