202nd Session Meeting Minutes

After a brief introduction by Hugh O’Reilly ’86 and introductions around the room, the Academic Affairs Committee heard from Cecelia Gaposchkin, PhD, assistant dean of Dartmouth’s faculty, and two students about academic student advising. Dean Gaposchkin told the committee that each student is assigned a faculty member during his or her freshman fall term to assist the student with course selections and the overall transition to college academics. However, she indicated that while the student-advisor matchings are made based on each student’s indicated interests, they still suffer from an inevitable “blind date” problem, and the relationships often do not develop very far. The students and other faculty members in attendance agreed with this assessment. Over time, most of these relationships are superseded by a more natural relationship with a faculty member more often affiliated with the student’s major. She also mentioned that each student was also assigned a dean, but that each dean was responsible for more than 800 students, making it difficult to develop any true bond between the student and the assigned dean. Dean Gaposchkin then fielded a host of questions from the committee members and a lively and refreshingly open and candid discussion ensued, with the dean frequently asking the students and other faculty members in attendance to weigh in.

The committee then heard from Inge-Lise Ameer, EdD, associate dean of student support services in the dean of the college division, where she oversees the undergraduate deans, the Office of Pluralism and Leadership, the Academic Skills Center, student accessibility services, career services, and premed advising. She is in the process of gathering information using student and faculty interviews and focus groups to develop a plan to simplify how these services are viewed by the students and how these services can be better utilized and coordinated. Again, Dean Ameer answered a number of very good questions from the committee with informative and candid answers.

Finally, the committee heard from Laura Braunstein, PhD, English language and literature librarian for the College, who talked about the Dartmouth Center for the Advancement of Learning and new teaching technology at Dartmouth. She demonstrated the “Blackboard” electronic learning management system, which was very interesting and well received by the committee.

As a final order of business, Patrick Martin ’73 was elected vice chair of the Academic Affairs Committee.

There being no other committee business, O’Reilly adjourned the meeting. 

The committee met twice during Alumni Council Weekend. On May 19, members met to discuss the meeting they had with the board of trustees’ Alumni Relations Committee on April 7 in Hanover; the format and production timeline for the 2010–11 Alumni Liaison Committee (ALC) annual report; and the recent elections for the Association of Alumni Executive Committee and the two alumni-nominated vacancies on the Board of Trustees. The committee met with President Kim and trustees Bill Helman ’80 and Peggy Tanner ’79 on May 21. Topics discussed included a recap of the meeting the ALC had with the board of trustees’ Alumni Relations Committee on April 7 (including some discussion about recent College webcasts), an update on the 202nd Alumni Council meeting, the recent elections for the Association of Alumni Executive Committee and the two alumni-nominated vacancies on the board of trustees, and the 2010–2011 ALC annual report. Tom Peisch ’70 will chair the committee in 2011–12.

Harry Sheehy ’55a started off the meeting with a brisk resume of the athletic department’s major current objectives and initiatives.

The “Peak Performance” initiative intends to bring together in a meaningful manner all factors that teach and foster not only athletic skills and prowess but also prepare student-athletes for life after Dartmouth. Appropriate coaching is the basis of this process, but help and advice from faculty advisors, nutritionists, sports psychologists, career advisors, to name only a few, must also be integral parts of the “Peak Performance” mix.

A $20 million fund-raising drive is under way to endow coaching positions. Dartmouth at this time has the fewest endowed coaching positions in the Ivy League.

Our competitive profile must be improved, Sheehy insisted, and it will be one of his major concerns. In the 2010–11 season, Dartmouth won a mere two Ivy League championships, for example, compared to Princeton’s 15 and Yale’s seven. Penn, Harvard, and Cornell each had four; Columbia and Brown, none. There is an indication, though, that we may have turned the corner. In 2010–11, Dartmouth finished in the top three in the Ivy League 12 times. The results in previous years were considerably worse: 2009–10, three times; 2008–09, eight times; 2007–08, four times; and 2006–07, six times.

And Sheehy wants to improve sportsmanship—not of the Dartmouth athletes, though; they are doing just fine—but rather of the fans.

In response to a question, Harry also commented on the state of “amateur” Division I sports. He believes that too much money has caused much of college athletics to spin out of control. To pay a basketball coach in excess of $30 million during five or six years is simply incompatible with the concept of amateur sports. And now the Big Ten is even discussing officially paying its student-athletes.

Brian Austin, executive associate AD, gave a thorough and detailed rundown of varsity athletics of the late winter and spring. The highlights in the winter were men’s hockey, ECAC Final Four; women’s hockey, ECAC finalists, NCAA tournament; and men’s and women’s skiing, third place at NCAA Championships. In the spring the following were standouts: women’s lacrosse, Ivy champs and NCAA bid; women’s tennis, Ivy champs; baseball, fourth straight division title; women’s crew, NCAA participation; and men’s lightweight crew, second at Eastern Sprints.

Roger Demment, senior associate AD, reviewed club sports and added a few comments about intramural and other athletic activities. Highlights for the winter were: figure skating, second at Nationals; women’s water polo, New England champs and 10th at Nationals; and fencing (foil), 16th nationally. In the spring, the noteworthy teams were cycling,second at Easterns; endurance racing team, third (of 217) in Cape Relay; men’s rugby, only invited Ivy to USA 7s on NBC; women’s rugby, qualified for Division I Nationals.

The full stats for fall, winter, and spring varsity sports as well as the highlights for club sports can be accessed at www.dartmouthsports.com. Particularly noteworthy here are the many student-athletes named to All-Ivy or All-Conference teams, among them committee member David Dowd’s daughter Grace ’11 in women’s rugby.

Chris Wielgus ’79a, head coach of women’s basketball since the inception of the program, provided a glimpse of why she is Dartmouth’s winningest coach. She and her teams have produced 12 Ivy League championships, participated in seven NCAA tournaments, and claimed 381 victories and 80 All-Ivy players. Her approach sounds simple and probably is, as long as one doesn’t mind constant and minute attention to the basics and details and to the immense work load that that implies. She creates a culture that revolves around winning (but on her thoroughly ethical and fair terms), an overwhelmingly strong work ethic, strenuous yet fastidious recruiting, and motivating the players by permitting them to learn both on and off the court. This culture, moreover, needs to be reinforced at a minimum every year and totally recreated in many years as the seniors leave and the first-year students arrive. Wielgus is constantly on the lookout for new and better ideas to help her players in many different ways. To reduce the stress on their bodies, for example, particularly when injured, the women do a portion of their workouts in the pool. And not at all a new idea: No drinking during the playing season!

John Kemp Lee ’78, adjunct assistant professor in the studio art department and accomplished sculptor, and Jeffrey Taube, professor of psychological and brain sciences, discussed and answered questions about the concept and practice of faculty advisor to athletic teams. Both (as well as 40-plus other faculty members) are informally available to student-athletes to advise on a wide array of topics. They concentrate, though, on time management and appropriate intercourse with professors. For obvious reasons there is an emphasis on working with freshmen. For specific academic matters, the faculty advisors heavily utilize the outstanding Academic Skills Center (which is available to all students, not only athletes). It is interesting to note, Taube commented, that the heaviest users of the center are not the students in need of remedial help, but rather the students that already perform well academically.

Finally, the committee elected a vice chair for this coming year: Paul Elmlinger ’80. Norm Sylvester ’58 will take over as chair of the Athletics Committee for 2011–12.

Sarah Jackson-Han ’88, chair of the committee, opened the meeting and Lynne Gaudet ’81, director of alumni leadership, reported the following metrics, as outlined by the standardized meeting agenda that was approved at the fall committee meeting:

  • The 201st Alumni Council meeting summary had been completed by Debbie Atuk ’04Tu and distributed to all councilors. Jackson-Han and Atuk will work together to compose the 202nd Alumni Council meeting summary.
  • Ninety-seven out of 106 councilors who have an identified constituency sent out a 201st post-meeting report; 95 percent of the councilors used the prepared summary in some fashion within their report
  • Eighteen councilors sent a pre-meeting notice before the 202nd Alumni Council meeting.
  • The vast majority of councilors are communicating via emails to their constituencies. In addition, there are approximately five to six class representatives who include their reports in their class newsletters as well as sending it out via email.

The committee will be involved with the orientation session for new councilors once again next fall. The committee will continue to report during the Saturday morning plenary (with the other council committees), but the Executive Committee might also want to consider asking the Communications Committee to make a presentation regarding new media communications (Facebook, Twitter, websites, etc.). The Communications Committee might also want to consider creating a subcommittee to design a survey that could be conducted with SurveyMonkey and would poll alumni councilors regarding communications with their constituencies.

Michael Backman, director of information resources, made a PowerPoint presentation providing an update on alumni relations technical services. He said that alumni relations would be moving to iModules, replacing Harris, and would work on templates in July and August.

Diana Lawrence, director of alumni relations communications, made a PowerPoint presentation about blogs.

The committee elected Jay Benson ’90 ’96Tu to serve as vice chair of the committee. Derek Symer ’90 will be the chair.

The agenda of the May 20, 2011, 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 results of the informal survey of the alumni interviewing process of our peer institutions.

Update from the Dean: Dean Laskaris highlighted the continued competitiveness of Dartmouth’s application process. While the College offered admission to 2,178 students, this was after more than 22,000 applications were reviewed by Dean Laskaris and her staff, resulting in a 9.7-percent admission rate. This year topped last year as the most competitive year the College had ever experienced.

The Alumni Interviewing Process: The committee segued from Dean Laskaris’ report into a presentation of the results of the informal survey conducted by several members of the committee on the alumni interviewing process used by several of Dartmouth’s peer institutions. The survey focused on the alumni interviewing process at Princeton, Harvard, Columbia, Brown,Georgetown, Duke, University of Chicago and Colgate. While far from a scientific survey, it did reinforce many of the same process elements in use at Dartmouth: 

  • Nearly all interviews are conducted by alumni and off campus
  • Purpose of the interviews is as much about “selling” the applicant on the school as they are about finding out substantive information about the applicant
  • Some sort of structure is in place to identify, support, and organize alumni interviewers
  • Limited (if any) training for interviewers
  • Most have only basic communications between college and interviewers

 Unlike Dartmouth, most schools are using some form of electronic interviewing mechanism (e.g. Skype) to meet with students who are in remote locations or for whatever reason are unable to meet in person. This is an area where Dartmouth could begin to experiment in the use of non-traditional interview mechanisms. The College did compare particularly favorably in its communications with alumni and its structure/training material shared with interviewers. At the next meeting of the committee, the group will begin to identify further opportunities to strengthen the alumni interviewing process and structure.

Leadership: Finally, Danielle Dyer ’81, ’89Tu passed the committee chair baton to Vice Chair Tee Lotson ’82, and Rob Kugler ’67, ’13P was elected the new vice chair.

The agenda included the following items.

1. Update on student life from Sylvia Spears, acting dean of the College:

  • Greek letter organizations on campus;
  • Dartmouth Health Improvement Program initiatives: SEMP revisions, Green Team, mini grants, Safe Ride program, Harm Reduction program, additional weekend programs, initiatives regarding sexual assault; and;
  • National College Health Improvement Program.

2. Update on new dining plans by David Newlove, director of dining services: Transition from a la carte dining to a hybrid “all you care to eat” (AYCTE) program and flex-dollar program with emphasis on the AYCTE component; created a 20-meal-per-week plan with cost that fits into the financial aid package; still fine-tuning the meal plan number for upperclassmen.

3. Sustainability panel with students Laura Coyle ’12 and Nick Devonshire ’11 moderated by Rosi Kerr ’97, director of sustainability, discussed student-initiated sustainability programs (Big Green Bus, Pop-Up Bike Shop, internship programs, Earth Week, DOC trips) as well as the Sustainable Living Dorm.

4. Update from Graduate Student Council President Marcella Lucas with handout (handout also provided by the Undergraduate Student Assembly).

5. Election of our vice chair for the next academic year: Lou Spelios ’95. 

There were several items on the agenda:

1. Senior Vice President for Advancement Carrie Pelzel discussed the work done by the Young Alumni Committee on career services, the future of career services for alumni, and the development of a Dartmouth for Life/Life Skills program. She noted that the office of career services will look into supporting alumni once a new director is hired. This hire will be a priority for the new dean of the College. Within the Office of Alumni Relations, a new position will also be created to support alumni in other life skills such as finances and to strategize on how to keep Dartmouth alumni engaged throughout their entire lives.

2. After Pelzel, the floor was opened and the YAC discussed a variety of topics:

  • The Class of 2010 is compiling a list of perks and discounts available to classmates from a variety of sources.
  • The Alumni 101 booklet, which was originally drafted by the YAC, was being updated for this year and should be reviewed every year by the committee.
  • The cohort of young alumni between 10 and 15 years out is not generally targeted by events or services offered by the College; it may be beneficial to segment the young alumni population into two or three groups: students to five years out, five to 10 years out, and 10 to 15 years out.   

3. After open discussion, the committee discussed the election of a new vice chair and the responsibilities of an alumni councilor. Amanda Brown ’07 was chosen to be the new vice chair of the committee by a unanimous vote.

4. The committee will address the following at its next meeting: transportation back to campus, communications around alumni involvement and perks, and the needs of the different young alumni cohorts.