203rd Session Meeting Minutes

Committee chair Jay Miller ’82 opened the meeting and welcomed everybody.

Professor Andrew Samwick, director of the Rockefeller Center for Public Policy, gave a presentation on “Leadership Development & the Curriculum.” Professor Samwick has been thinking for some time about how to integrate leadership development in a systemic way. He joined the Dartmouth faculty in 1994, and in 2003 took a year’s leave to join the Council of Economic Advisors (White House) as chief economist. With so many great minds working on the council, knowledge certainly wasn’t the “scarce commodity in the room”; the constraint was how to use the political process to improve the economic environment. This theme has informed his work since he returned to the Dartmouth faculty; not just regarding the dissemination of knowledge, but how to get things done in terms of turning knowledge into effective outcomes. Professor Samwick noted that the United States needs to mobilize university graduates, and Dartmouth is uniquely positioned to do this, as is reflected in its mission statement. He said that leadership is “the process of influencing and organizing a group to mobilize its resources toward accomplishing an identified goal.”

Professor Samwick hired Barbara Kellerman, a Harvard professor and author of Leadership: Essential Selections on Power, Authority, and Influence, to teach a public policy class on leadership learning. She stresses communications, negotiation, decision-making skills and managing and mobilizing change. He emphasized that there are four elements within the teaching process that help develop leaders:
•    Rigorous environment in which to learn knowledge and skills;
•    Consequential opportunities to apply knowledge;
•    Critical and constructive feedback; and
•    Time to reflect on lessons learned.

The Rockefeller Center supports the following programs in and out of the classroom:
•    First-year fellows;
•    Policy research shop;
•    Vote Clamantis voter registration and turnout drive;
•    Leadership Fellows;
•    Minor in public policy leadership;
•    Exposure to best writing and reading in theory and practice of leadership
•    Three-course sequence with “Foundations of Leadership,” “Leadership in Civil Society,” and “Leadership in Political Institutions”;
•    A first-year writing seminar on foreign policy;
•    Internships in Washington, DC; and
•    Summer internship program matches students to alumni mentors.

The Policy Research Shop:
•    Supports the legislative process in New Hampshire and Vermont with objective, non-partisan research;
•    Fills in a gap in knowledge at the state level;
•    Gives students an opportunity to distribute research to legislators and participate in testimony before legislative committees; and
•    Tests the boundary of objective analysis.

The Rockefeller Leadership Fellows:
•    Is open to any seniors who have demonstrated leadership on campus (not just social sciences); and
•    Emphasizes philanthropy, running and managing a meeting, negotiation.

All these programs operate on a small footprint, but the commitment is time-consuming and intense. Rockefeller hosted the October 11 GOP Presidential debate, which became a leadership opportunity for the large number of students who worked on it. The public policy minor has increased from 60 to 500 students, largely due to course offerings in leadership development.

Professors Bruce Sacerdote ’90 and Tom Cormen gave a presentation on “Athletics and Technology in Pedagogy” to the committee. Professor Sacerdote said that students learn a lot from the athletic program: leadership, teamwork, value of hard work, time management. At the end of the day, these students keep their eye on the ball and will listen to authority figures and accept feedback. Athletes understand tradeoffs in life. Grades for athletes are in line with grades for non-athletes, and the student-athletes basically have a full-time job. Overall, they are raising the reputation of the institution, much as the Dartmouth Aires have done through the recent Sing-Off TV competition. It was noted that the coaches seem to like Athletic Director Harry Sheehy. Dartmouth is challenged because of the many intercollegiate sports we support. Athletes are totally integrated into the Dartmouth community, unlike some major public universities.

The committee meeting closed with a discussion about potential topics for the spring meeting.

The committee met twice during the Alumni Council Weekend. On December 1, the agenda included alumni leadership reports from Danielle Dyer ’81, ’89Tu, 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 2011–12 annual report, and a discussion about action items received. On December 3, the committee met with trustees Brad Evans ’64 and Annette Gordon-Reed ’81. Topics discussed included a recap of the 203rd Alumni Council meeting, feedback received from alumni, the 2012 Association of Alumni and alumni-nominated trustee elections, and current events on campus.

After introductions around the room, Athletic Director Harry Sheehy ’55a addressed the committee. Summarizing his first 15 months on the job, he said his priorities have included increasing resources for athletics with new fundraising endeavors, raising expectations of coaches, enhancing fan behavior, developing a strong relationship with the admissions and financial aid departments, and rolling out of the Peak Performance initiative. Sheehy said he is thankful for his strong staff and is continuously amazed by the passion of Dartmouth alumni.

Sheehy then provided an overview of athletics, which pointed out that there is still work to be done when it comes to winning Ivy League titles and included a fall varsity sports recap, an update on the state of Dartmouth football, and fall club sports highlights. He added that the committee can help by conveying alumni concerns to athletics leadership, informing the entire Alumni Council and constituents of important athletics issues and challenges, and informing alumni of ways to support athletics.

Deputy Athletic Director Bob Ceplikas ’78 then gave a presentation on admissions, financial aid, and fundraising. He stated that there is better communication and predictability with admissions, which puts Dartmouth on a level playing field with the other Ivies. In the last three years, there have been no athletic recruits denied at Dartmouth and admitted by another Ivy League institution. He reviewed the concept behind Academic Index, the pros and cons of the current financial aid situation, and major fundraising initiatives, including endowed coaching positions, facilities, annual giving to athletics, and the new staff dedicated to athletic fundraising.

There was a student-athlete panel that consisted of Sabrina Chiasson ’12, captain, women’s alpine skiing; David Rufful ’12, captain, men’s basketball; and Kate Desrochers ’12, captain, women’s ultimate Frisbee. The seniors spoke about their experience as student-athletes at Dartmouth.

This was followed by a coaches panel with Erin Lindsey, the new head coach of women’s volleyball, who led the team to an 8-6 Ivy record in her first year; and Bob Whalen ’79a, head baseball coach since 1989, who has led his team to three Ivy titles and four division crowns in the last four years. Lindsey and Whalen talked about their core values as coaches.

Derek Symer ’90, chair of the committee, opened the meeting and asked all of the committee members to introduce themselves.

The committee members reviewed the committee’s mission statement, which was revised last year. It was mentioned that, in addition to supporting Alumni Council communications, perhaps the committee could consider assisting with other alumni communications (for example, the webmasters’ and newsletter editors’ communications).  

Lynne Gaudet ’81 shared the Alumni Council communications metrics with the committee; there are 97 councilors with defined constituencies. A summary of the spring meeting was prepared by committee members Debbie Atuk ’04Tu and Sarah Jackson-Han ’88. It was emailed to all councilors. Fifty-five councilors sent out meeting reports following the spring meeting; 97 had sent them out following last fall’s meeting. There seems to be a drop-off in the spring because of the turnover of third-year councilors, so that is an area to improve upon. Of those 55 spring reports, 42 (76 percent) used the meeting summary prepared by the committee in some way. The committee and the Alumni Council leadership focused on trying to improve pre-meeting communications this fall. Last spring,18 councilors sent out pre-meeting emails. This fall, there was significant improvement, with 62 councilors sending out pre-meeting emails to their constituents.

Symer informed the committee that Steve Geanacopoulos ’74 will compose the Alumni Council meeting summary for the 203rd meeting.

Vice President for Communications Roddy Young made a presentation to the committee and asked for feedback about the College website and for their impressions of the Dartmouth Aires media campaign. The following comments were made:
•    It would be good to consider allowing public comments on various articles on the website.
•    More coverage of alumni achievements and profiles would enhance website content and engage more readers.
•    Young mentioned that he would like to integrate coverage of alumni between Dartmouth Alumni Magazine, the Public Affairs office, and the Alumni Relations office. There was a brief discussion regarding the utility of the alumni magazine among younger classes.
A conversation pertaining to ways to maximize the communications committee effectiveness followed. It was suggested that:

•    The Alumni Council automatically send out a standard meeting summary if a councilor had not communicated within several weeks following the council meeting (Note: The council president sends out the Communications Committee meeting summary to those undergrad classes and grad school alumni who have not received a communication within this timeframe);
•    The Alumni Liaison Committee mechanism for responding to councilor inquiries should be streamlined in some way;
•    The Communications Committee should utilize its Wiki site to communicate between meetings; and
•     The Communications Committee should consider helping to support the communications of classes, clubs, and webmasters in particular.

Enrollment and Admissions Committee

The agenda of the December 2 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 committee project aimed at using alumni constituents to enhance yield.
Dean Laskaris gave an update on Dartmouth’s early-decision pool, which continues to grow, with a 26-percent increase from the Class of 2012 to the Class of 2016. She also shared data regarding Dartmouth’s overlap institutions, which are increasingly national research universities as opposed to liberal arts colleges. Word clouds from the admitted student questionnaire were also shared, leading to a discussion of how applicants perceive Dartmouth and make decisions when accepted. Dean Laskaris also led a conversation re-capping the strategic plan discussion of the previous evening and how it connects with admissions.
Of particular interest to the committee was how the group could improve yield on admitted students. Members of the committee realized that significantly impacting the number of students we lose to our strongest competitors would be challenging, but a small, targeted pilot program could be effective. Some committee members who serve as district enrollment directors (DEDs) for alumni interviewing noted that this project would need to come from a distinct alumni group other than DEDs, given the interviewing demands on DEDs. An agreement was made to utilize committee members to reach out to targeted groups of admitted students. Communication from alumni does not simply need to be based on location, but also by constituency, interests, careers, etc. For the pilot program, the committee will focus on students who receive a likely letter, a yield communication that acknowledges prior to our notification date that Dartmouth is highly interested in the student. Committee Chair Tee Lotson ’82 will work with Joe Riley ’85 and Colleen Wearn ’06 to plan the next steps. Dan Parish ’89 and Isabel Bober ’04 will be the contacts in the admission office, and can provide student contact information beginning in mid-February.

The meeting was called to order by committee chair David Wagner ’99, who introduced the newly appointed dean of the College, Charlotte Johnson. Dean Johnson gave a brief summary of her journey to Hanover and opened the floor to questions. In learning mode, Dean Johnson asked for councilor input to better understand what, as dean of the College, she is stewarding. A general discussion commenced of what makes Dartmouth “Dartmouth,” and why our alumni have such a strong affinity for the College. It was determined that there is an amalgamation of intangible factors that creates an almost palpable energy on the campus and among its alumni. A combination of the College’s isolated location, formidable weather, and unchanging traditions establishes bonds among its undergraduates that are unbreakable. These bonds are renewed every time Dartmouth alums interact with one another or make their personal pilgrimages back to campus. Dean Johnson is excited about the openness of Dartmouth to reach outside of itself for the best ideas and to innovate. One example she cited is the Learning Collaborative on High-Risk Drinking that President Kim spearheaded to better understand drinking on college campuses and to lessen the harm it causes.

Following Dean Johnson were reports from both the Student Assembly (SA) and the Graduate Student Council (GSC). SA President Max Yoeli ’12 and Vice President Amrita Sankar ’12 gave a summary of the many SA initiatives and committees. SA initiatives have helped to further manage alcohol usage on campus, including installing sober monitors at parties and distributing pocket cards that explain student rights. Another SA initiative focuses on diversity and community affairs by providing funding for events that bring together disparate groups on campus. The focal point for SA thus far has been helping to introduce the new dining plan to students; literature has been produced detailing how the new dining plan and schedule work as well as tips on proper and effective usage. The GSC reported on its continued growth and efforts to unify the graduate student population into a cohesive community. Acting President Wesley Whitaker ’12MALS reported on an increase in funding for six of the 15 graduate student groups. The GSC is continuing to work on establishing both dental and vision insurance for graduate students. The GSC has also increased its communication and online presence by revamping its Facebook and Twitter platforms as well as developing an iPhone app. Other GSC initiatives include securing additional graduate student space, working with public transit to explore opportunities to adjust schedules to be more student friendly, and promoting events and gatherings to foster greater cohesion among the graduate student body.

The meeting concluded with a presentation from the Dartmouth Humanitarian Engineering program (DHE). DHE members Ted Sumers ’12, Alison Polton-Simon ’14, and Zach Losrodo ’10, ’11Th, gave an inspiring and motivational presentation about their experiences in Africa. DHE focuses on bringing sustainable and affordable technology-based solutions to communities in need. Their engineering projects aim to improve personal health, promote environmental sustainability, and enhance community well being. Recent projects have included Pico-Hydro, which provides small-scale, efficient energy to villages through hydroelectric turbines and cook stoves and introduces efficient stoves and cooking technologies to communities that still cook in homes with open flames. More information on DHE can be found on its website, www.thayer.dartmouth.edu/dhe.