205th Session Committee Summaries

The 205th session of the Dartmouth Alumni Council opened with meetings of the Nominating and Alumni Trustee Search and Alumni Liaison committees. There was also an orientation session for first-year councilors led by president-elect Mark Davis ’81, ’84Tu, and tours were offered of the Black Family Visual Arts Center. The theme of the Alumni Council session was the “Year of the Arts,” with the opening reception held in the Kim Gallery of the Hood Museum. The dinner and program, in the new Grand Ballroom of the Hanover Inn, featured remarks from Michael Taylor, director of the Hood Museum, and Jeffrey James, director of the Hopkins Center.

The morning started off with meetings of the Academic Affairs, Athletics, Communications, Enrollment and Admissions, and Student Affairs committees.

The first plenary session opened with remarks from Alumni Council president Marty Lempres ’84, who provided an overview of the upcoming 205th Alumni Council program schedule and highlighted notable Dartmouth updates that had occurred since the Alumni Council met in May 2012.

Next on the agenda was a student panel presentation titled “The Student Athlete Experience,” which was moderated by Harry Sheehy ’55a, director of athletics. The student panel consisted of Tyler Melville ’14 of the men's basketball team, Courtney Bennett ’13 of the women's lacrosse team, and Simon Greenberg ’13 of the men's rugby club. Sheehy opened with an update on the state of the athletics program. He shared with the councilors that Dartmouth has 34 varsity sports, 35 club sports, 20 intramural sports, 55 fitness classes, and more than 80 physical education courses per term. Last year there were 11 top-three Ivy finishes for varsity sports teams. He also talked about the impressive growth in annual giving to Dartmouth Athletics (totaling more than $3.5 million) and outlined the future facility priorities of a new indoor practice facility, an expanded sports medicine facility, and the replacement of the West Stands of Memorial Field. He also provided an update on the Dartmouth Peak Performance initiative, which is proving to be invaluable with its holistic approach of supporting student-athletes’ academic, athletic, and personal lives at Dartmouth. Sheehy then introduced the panelists, who shared with the council their experiences as athletes and specifically the values and skills they have acquired as athletes at Dartmouth.

Next on the agenda was a presentation titled “The Cost of Higher Education” by David Spalding ’76, the senior vice president and senior advisor to the president. In his report, Spalding put into context the current educational landscape, and shared data that supports the difficult fact that college tuition continues to outpace median family income and the cost of medical care, food, and housing; but also explained what Dartmouth is doing to make its education affordable. As far as productivity and quality in relation to cost, he pointed out that any increase in productivity would negatively affect the preservation of quality. Furthermore, when examining the price behavior of higher education within the right comparison group—with physicians, legal services, and dentists—the workforce of colleges and universities is comprised primarily of highly educated, highly skilled workers, which means increasing wages. Therefore, the rising prices can be attributed to the relatively slow productivity growth (preserving quality) and expanding “people costs.” Spalding also compared the cost of private vs. public colleges, noting the recent drop in average annual percentage increases of private and the increase in public four-year institutions; a drop in average state appropriations for higher education and public aid; and a dramatic increase in private, nonprofit four-year aid. The per annum cost of a Dartmouth College education for each student is approximately $107,000; the “sticker price” is $58,000; but the average net price after aid is a little more than $20,000. Additionally, a recent study showed that within the state of New Hampshire, Dartmouth has the lowest average student debt at $18,712, compared to the N.H. average college student debt of $31,048. Finally, Spalding talked about the continually rising cost benefits of attending college, and while “MOOCS” (massive open online course) are being examined, they aren't going to replace the classroom experience at Dartmouth.

The next portion of the plenary session was an update from the chair of the Nominating and Alumni Trustee Search Committee, Pete Frederick ’65. In his presentation, Frederick provided an overview of the committee’s work, including its purpose, composition, and guiding principles, and an explanation of the rigorous vetting process of all the nominees put forth by alumni. After a description of the candidate, Frederick announced that the committee selected Mitchell Kurz ’73 to run for trustee of Dartmouth College and introduced him to the podium, where Kurz  addressed and answered questions from the Alumni Council.

Mitchell Kurz ’73
Kurz is a leading education advocate who serves as treasurer of the Harlem Children’s Zone and academic dean of the Bronx Center for Science and Math. A retired president of Young & Rubicam, he also led Wunderman Worldwide, which he built into the world’s largest database marketing firm. Mitch graduated Phi Beta Kappa with majors in economics and psychology, lettered in lacrosse, and was in Alpha Theta. He received his MBA with honors from Harvard and holds a master’s in mathematics education. He serves on the Tucker Foundation Board of Visitors. Eighteen of his students benefit from Summer Enrichment at Dartmouth (SEAD); five currently attend Dartmouth.

Kurz was also available at the luncheon following the plenary to meet and further converse with councilors.

Following lunch, Marty Lempres opened the second plenary session with the vote on the 2013 alumni-nominated trustee candidate. After discussion, the Alumni Council voted unanimously (81 in favor) to approve Mitchell Kurz to run for the open alumni-nominated trustee seat.

Next on the agenda, vice president for alumni relations Martha Beattie ’76 reviewed with the council the several initiatives to identify meaningful engagement opportunities for alumni. Homecoming was a great success, and this year more than 4,000 people attended Dartmouth Night and the Bonfire and 10,400 people attended the Dartmouth-Harvard Homecoming football game. During Homecoming weekend, there were also 14 class mini-reunions (with 400 to 600 attendees), Black Alumni of Dartmouth Association’s 40th reunion (with more than 200 attendees) as well as several other programmatic offerings by Alumni Relations. Beattie also discussed the new program, Dartmouth for Life, which will be focused on education, collaboration, and planning throughout alumni’s lives. Dan Parish ’89, a former director in admissions, will be leading this effort, which will include career mentoring and counseling, career-based panels, on- and off-campus seminars, life-stage planning, and online education. She also talked about the Dartmouth on Location program, which combines Dartmouth’s faculty with regional events, and plans to continue to grow these offerings. Beattie also noted the decision to fund the Dartmouth Alumni Magazine, allowing classes to look at new ways to engage without the burden of the magazine subscription, particularly with class projects, communications, connections, and class-level contributions to the Dartmouth College Fund. Beattie provided an update on 2012 Reunions, where there was new programming added in an effort to bring everyone across classes together. Attendance records were set, with nearly 65 percent of attendees rating these reunions their best ever. Starting next year, all post-30th reunion classes will have their reunions clustered, and reunions will be scheduled for weekends, as opposed to being held mid-week. Finally, Beattie touched upon the remodeled Hanover Inn. She has received both positive and negative reviews from alumni; however, most can agree the upgrade was sorely needed. Beattie will continue to collect feedback to share with the management of the inn.

The plenary session concluded with a presentation by Charlotte Johnson, dean of the College. In response to the feedback from alumni councilors, Dean Johnson focused on harm-reduction initiatives, specifically in regards to drinking, hazing, and sexual assault. The dean of the College’s mission is to positively impact student success by building an inclusive and responsible community, enabling student-faculty interaction, and leveraging inclusivity and diversity. High-risk behavior directly creates a barrier to success. A Harm Reduction Initiative was introduced in 2010 to address high-risk drinking, hazing, and sexual assault on campus. Additionally, in 2011, the Dartmouth College Health Improvement Project was created, which is a team of 18 students, staff, and faculty who work to reduce harm from high-risk drinking at Dartmouth—and continuously measure processes and outcomes in collaboration with 31 institutions in the National College Health Improvement Project. Another one of the initiatives is Dartmouth’s implementation of Brief Alcohol Screening and Intervention for College Students (BASICS), which has shown to reduce alcohol use and harm from alcohol in repeated randomized clinical trials, and consists of an assessment of alcohol use and an individual session with a trained BASICS provider. Dartmouth started using this program in September 2011, and undergraduate advisors now refer students engaging in risky alcohol use to BASICS; this year all varsity athletes will participate in BASICS thought the Peak Performance program. 

As far as hazing reforms, students, faculty, and administrators have carefully considered the definition of “hazing,” and through new and enhanced hazing policies, the dean’s office is raising awareness, holding new member education sessions, offering immunity to those who report hazing, providing a “fresh start” amnesty policy, implementing a safety hotline, working with Safety and Security to engage in random walk-throughs of facilities, and increasing accountability. With respect to sexual assault, a comprehensive program has been implemented that incorporates best practices in the areas of education, prevention, counseling, support, and the judicial response

Following the plenary, three faculty lectures were offered to councilors: 1) “Music, Mind, and Creative Thought” by Michael Casey ’92AS, the James Wright Professor of Music and chair of the music department; 2) “Building Green” by Karol Kawiaka, senior lecturer of studio art; and 3) a viewing of Undue Influence with Ford Evans, director of the Dartmouth Dance/Theater Ensemble, and T. Peter Hackett ’75, the Avalon Professor of the Humanities and theater professor.

Following the lectures, meetings were held for the Ad Hoc Committee on Diversity and Inclusion, Young Alumni, and Honorary Degrees committees.

A reception was then held at the Top of the Hop, followed by dinner in Alumni Hall. The dinner program consisted of the presentation of the Dartmouth Alumni Awards to Leigh Garry ’84, Tom Daniels ’82, and the family of Roger Aaron ’64, ’65Tu. Councilors were entertained during dinner by the Gospel Choir, and the evening concluded with remarks from President Carol Folt ’78a. Her address to councilors emphasized Dartmouth’s strengths across disciplines, including the arts. She highlighted the Year of the Arts at Dartmouth, corresponding with the 50th anniversary of the Hopkins Center and the opening of the Black Family Visual Arts Center. She also commemorated the 40th anniversaries of the Black Alumni of Dartmouth Association, the Native American Studies Program, and coeducation in the arts and sciences. Finally, President Folt provided an update on the Strategic Plan, noting that the goal has been to articulate a compelling and aspirational vision for Dartmouth at its 250th anniversary in 2019. This synthesis was targeted to be made available for community comment in November 2012, but after discussion with senior academic leaders, the timetable has been adjusted slightly to Winter Term 2013; better aligning the strategic planning process with the presidential search, and engaging Dartmouth’s next president and trustees in considering specific implementation plans and identifying priorities for Dartmouth’s future.

The Alumni Liaison Committee held a breakfast meeting with President Folt and Steve Mandel ’78, chair of the Dartmouth College Board of Trustees.

President-elect Mark Davis ’81, ’84Tu, opened the morning plenary session. Davis introduced chair of the Board of Trustees, Steve Mandel ’78, who provided an update. Mandel broke his comments into four main topics. 1) On the status of the presidential search, the process is in the late stages of conversation with a limited number of candidates for president; an announcement will be made near the end of this calendar year or in early 2013. 2) The Strategic Plan is broad-based, highly inclusive, and contains a broad vision that will permit specifics to be identified by the appropriate College constituencies. Mandel noted the importance of obtaining feedback from the next president, which will produce a minor but necessary delay in the final work product. 3) Regarding harm reduction, the board has tasked Dean Johnson and President Folt with reducing harm and changing social norms through education and sanctions and with a student-led effort. 4) On the campus master plan, the board is also engaged in a master planning process for the physical campus. Even with future growth, it will remain a walking campus with open spaces.

Next, there was an update on the Alumni Council’s Ad Hoc Committee on Diversity and Inclusion from co-chair Janine Avner ’80. In her report, Avner shared the mission of the committee, which seeks to support the College’s aspirational vision for a workforce of the future and contribute to two of the outcomes sought by the Strategic Plan’s Workforce of the Future working group:
1) Increasing the diversity of our workforce through the recruitment and retention of staff and faculty of color (both national and international) and other under-represented populations; and 2) Determining what structures, resources, and best practices are needed toward this end.
She also shared the committee membership (comprised of alumni, faculty, and administrators), goals, and the deliverables, which will culminate in the form of a written report and will take approximately two years to complete. In the meantime, the committee will continue to report its progress.

Mark Davis announced the open forum portion of the plenary. There was no new/old business. During the open microphone session, there was conversation among councilors regarding alcohol abuse and sexual assault. Committee chairs then provided reports on the Academic Affairs, Athletics, Alumni Liaison, Communications, Enrollment and Admissions, Honorary Degree, Student Affairs, and Young Alumni committees.

The final presentation was made by Danielle Dyer ’81, ’89Tu, chair of the Alumni Liaison Committee (ALC). Refreshing the council on the committee’s work, Dyer reviewed the ALC’s formation, mission, and objectives. The committee’s primary goal is to gather alumni feedback, help councilors address action items, and produce an annual report of the Alumni Council.

The meeting was adjourned.