208th Session Committee Summaries

The 208th Session of the Dartmouth Alumni Council opened with meetings of the Nominating and Alumni Trustee Search Committee and the Alumni Liaison Committee.

Later in the afternoon, councilors attended one of three dinner discussion groups with students on the topic of experiential learning. They chose from "What’s All the Excitement About? The Digital Arts Leadership and Innovation (DALI) Lab is changing the way students learn at Dartmouth" with Lori Loeb, research professor, director, digital arts minor, executive director, DALI Lab; "Global Policy Leadership in India" with Charlie Wheelan ’88, senior lecturer and policy fellow at the Rockefeller Center; and "Innovation and New Ventures at Dartmouth" with Trip Davis ’90, executive director of the Office of Entrepreneurship and Technology Transfer.

In the evening, councilors were invited to a screening of the Emmy-nominated A Passion for Snow in 105 Dartmouth Hall. 

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

Councilors attended select classes for the "Back to the Classroom" experience. The Honorary Degrees Committee and the Young Alumni Committee also met at this time.

Lunch featured a viewing of the video "Happy Dartmouth", starring Jake Gaba '16. It was followed by a student panel presentation titled "Experiential Learning: On and Off the Green," moderated by Dan Parish '89, director, Dartmouth for Life, and Leslie Kingsley, assistant director for experiential learning and advising.

The afternoon plenary session in 105 Dartmouth Hall opened with welcoming remarks by Alumni Council president Mark Davis '81, '84Tu. Davis reviewed the meeting schedule and procedures for the afternoon breakout sessions.

President Philip J. Hanlon greeted councilors and shared recent campus news. Joseph Singh ’14 and Jonathan Pedde ’14 were named Dartmouth’s 74th and 75th Rhodes Scholars. Shoshana Silverstein ’15 was chosen as a 2014 Harry S. Truman Scholar. Abbey D'Agostino '14, winner of seven NCAA Division 1 national championships in cross country and track, will compete for her eighth national championship in June. The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation selected black hole researcher Ryan Hickox as a recipient of a 2014 Sloan Research Fellowship. Health care innovator Jeffrey Brenner, an adjunct assistant professor at The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy & Clinical Practice, has received a 2013 MacArthur Foundation Fellowship.

This was a "roller coaster" year for Admissions. Early decision applications were up 6%, but regular decisions applications were down 14%. The yield surged from 48.6% last year to 54.6% this year. 1210 students have accepted the 1120 spots in the class of 2018. This class has the distinction of being the most academically talented and most diverse class yet at Dartmouth, and there is no need to go to the wait list. Hanlon congratulated Dean Laskaris and her team, and noted that accepted students were contacted through deliberate and targeted outreach.

Over the course of the year, President Hanlon met with 3100 students and to date has hosted eleven of twelve presidential club events involving 3,320 alumni, listening to the thoughts and aspirations of these students and alumni. The senior leadership team has been coalescing. Rick Mills is the new executive vice president and chief financial officer;  Bob Lasher '88 is the senior vice president for Advancement; Tommy Bruce is the senior vice president for Public Affairs; and Carolyn Dever is incoming Provost, joining the College in mid-June. Notable departures include Tuck School Dean of Business Paul Danos, who will step down in June 2015, and Dean of the College Charlotte Johnson, who has accepted the position of vice president for student affairs and dean of students at Scripps College. Provost Dever will conduct searches for these two key positions.

Over the next 10-12 years, President Hanlon envisions Dartmouth being a magnet for talent, attracting the best faculty and great students. Dartmouth will be a place of innovation, where problems are tackled and excellence is pursued. Discussion of student life should expand to include such aspects as artistic endeavors and business startups.

Hanlon discussed strategies to remain "best in class." Do not stray from the winning formula of students and faculty. There are many new IT platforms that will offer free education, and Dartmouth must innovate and emphasize experiential learning. To this point, the Innovation Center and New Venture Incubator will open in the Arts District in June. An inventory is being conducted of all the experiential learning that is going on around campus. The College will continue to promote foreign study programs, in which 64% of Dartmouth students participate. This year, Professor Charlie Wheelan '88 taught a course on Global Policy in India, and then traveled with the students to India during winter break. The College must take advantage of learning technology. Analytics can reveal how students are moving through the learning curve. Josh Kim has been hired by the Dartmouth Center for the Advancement of Learning (DCAL) to support the use of learning technologies. Dartmouth joined the edX consortium and is pursuing other partnerships. 

The College will enhance the impact of scholarship with the creation of the Society of Fellows. The first class of these top-ranked post-docs will matriculate next fall. A free-standing graduate school to house PhD programs and interdisciplinary graduate programs is being considered. The cluster hiring initiative is off to an excellent start with the gift of William Neukom '64, who has funded the first cluster in computational science.

Budgeting goals call for robust investment and innovation. A new budget process required all of the major units of the College to identify the 1.5% that they would reallocate to new initiatives. The growth of tuition has been slowed, with the lowest increase at 2.9% since 1977. To ensure this disciplined budgetary process, we must direct resources, prepare for the next economic downturn, and protect the buying power of the endowment. Dartmouth alumni are extraordinarily generous and the College is on target for one of the three best years in history in terms of giving.

The president turned to the topic of student life. There must be more options for community building, and a return to more dorm continuity is planned. This year, three living learning programs were launched, with over 800 student applications for 100 spots. Triangle House is under construction, which will foster a strong sense of community and well-being among LGBTQIA students, based on mutual accountability and respect. Intergroup Dialogue (IGD) engages Dartmouth students in staged difficult conversations, with a facilitator present. There has been a major overhaul of the judicial process for disciplining sexual assault. There will be a campus climate survey taken. Provost Dever will be focused on increasing diversity and inclusion, particularly in terms of hiring faculty.

Harmful behaviors, such as high risk drinking, sexual assault, and hate speech are harming students. These behaviors distract the campus from its mission. President Hanlon led a student summit to address these issues in April, which also included faculty, administrators and alumni. The College has entered a three phrase period for follow up. 1) Ideas are being solicited from the Dartmouth community on how to end these behaviors. 2) A steering committee has been appointed which will identify the best ideas. 3) These ideas will be brought back to the community, and recommendations will be presented to the Board of Trustees at their November meeting. The President thanked the Council for their efforts on behalf of the College and her alumni. 

Next on the agenda was Professor Barbara Will, chair of the Presidential Committee on Moving Dartmouth Forward. Will reiterated the issues and timeline put forth by President Hanlon in his remarks.  The committee has been charged with formulating solutions to harmful behaviors such as high risk drinking, sexual assault, and lack of civility. These are not unique behaviors to Dartmouth, but the College should strive to be a leader in combatting these issues. Alumni are asked to consider behaviors in all social spaces as well as online, and to submit their recommendations for solutions to the College by June 30 via an online form.  During the summer months, many experts will be consulted about solutions. The committee will come back to the community in the fall, before the final recommendations are proposed to the trustees. Alumni councilors can assist by disseminating information about Moving Dartmouth Forward to their constituents.

The councilors then broke into nine diverse groups and attended breakout sessions to discuss four major questions: What steps should Dartmouth take to reduce high-risk drinking among students? How can Dartmouth create a more inclusive campus social climate? How can Dartmouth eliminate sexual assault on campus? How can Dartmouth foster a stronger culture of civility and mutual respect?  These breakout sessions were facilitated by members of the Council executive committee. Suggestions were collated to be submitted to the committee, and displayed for review outside the plenary session on Saturday morning.

Michael Mastanduno, dean of the faculty of arts and sciences, provided an update on the faculty. Dartmouth undergraduates expect close interactions, not only for teaching and learning but also for independent study and research opportunities, and the College supports that access. President Hanlon is committed to ramping up research, but not at the price of compromising undergrads. The College remains committed to offering the full array of the liberal arts, and allowing students to pick from a wide selection of courses. The faculty will expand, due to the cluster hiring initiative, and this will be part of a future capital campaign.

Dean Mastanduno went on to describe the Society of Fellows. This group of young post-docs has finished their PhD's and is at a formative place in a young scholar's career. Post-docs bring an intellectual energy and best research with the latest methods, and can provide support to professors. The academy is an intergenerational enterprise, and this is an opportunity to strengthen who we are.

The dean touched on other topics. A new director was just hired for the East Wheelock Residential Cluster. There were many applicants for the position, demonstrating that there is faculty interest in being part of residential communities. Some students feel pressured to major in certain departments. The faculty's job is to show students how to balance the breadth and depth of academic offerings. The College must work to recruit and retain underrepresented scholars. 

Dean of admissions and financial aid Maria Laskaris '84 discussed admissions in a changing landscape. This "year like no other" saw a 6% increase in early decision applications, and a 14% decrease in overall applications. The quality and diversity of the pool held strong. The admissions team wanted to understand what precipitated the drop, and conducted a survey of non-applicants on 14 different topics, including: What matters most to prospective students? Why do students apply? Impressions of Dartmouth from those who advise students? Impact of broader national demographics?

The top reasons students didn't apply were: "I didn’t think I would be accepted;" cost; "I'm not like the typical Dartmouth student;" location; and the strong Greek Letter Organization system. Counselors mentioned cost and ROI, fit (complicated by location and misperceptions of student life), experiential learning, and career prospects. The landscape of higher education emphasized cost and ROI, rise of pre-professional studies and decline of liberal arts, less appealing smaller/rural location, and future student pipeline. 

Dartmouth students are of increasingly diverse backgrounds, with growing percentages of Asian or Latino descent or residents of the US south and west. In the narrative about Dartmouth, we need to make location an asset. The perception is that cities offer more opportunities, such as internships.

New yield initiatives were introduced this spring. Dual goals were to ensure admitted students joined the Class of 2018, but also to improve recruitment strategies going forward. Dimensions offerings were expanded, thus connecting to students on a grass roots level, and attendance rose from 800 students last year to 1300 this year. A national strategy was coordinated with Alumni Relations for yield events in metro areas. Student-to-student outreach expanded. Proactive communication with families included such topics as campus efforts to address sexual assault. The results of these efforts were exceptional, with the yield surging to 54.5% of students with academic and demographic markers of excellence. 19,296 students applied to Dartmouth's Class of 2018, 2,221 were admitted and 1,202 will matriculate. 94% are in the top 10% of their high school class, 11.2% are first generation college students, 18.4% rated athletes, and 12.6% are legacies. 37% percent are students of color, 51.2% are Caucasian, and 8.1% are international. There will be no need to go to the waitlist.

Recruiting is underway for the Class of 2019. Efforts are underway to maximize the campus visit experience. Within two days of their visit students are sent a survey, and that direct feedback goes to the admissions office and the tour guides. A new website and publications are being launched.  The office is reaching out to key feeder schools and community based organizations. An Admissions-Alumni Relations task force was formed this spring, bringing these offices together to look at how to involve alumni more effectively. The current Alumni Interview Program helps recruit and yield the very best students for Dartmouth, while also creating a valuable form of engagement for alumni.  51.4% of 2018 applicants were interviewed by 3,581 active interviewers and 241 program managers (DED's).

Next on the agenda was an update from Mark Davis on the work of the Nominating and Alumni Trustee Search Committee. Mark reviewed the committee's working agenda. He then presented the incoming councilors selected by their constituencies, who will join the Alumni Council on July 1, 2014 to represent classes, regions, affiliated groups, associations and faculty. As required by the constitution, Mark asked Alumni Council members to approve the selection of the two at-large representatives, the graduate and professional school representatives, the undergraduate representatives, the district enrollment representatives, and the Alumni Liaison Committee appointment. The motion was moved, seconded and passed unanimously. Mark then presented the slate of candidates for the Alumni Liaison Committee, Nominating and Alumni Trustee Search Committee, and president-elect positions. Councilors were given ballots to return by 10:30 a.m. Saturday.

Two resolutions had been submitted in advance of the meeting by unanimous recommendation of the Alumni Council Executive Committee. After extensive discussions over the course of the year about where the Council could have a significant impact, the Executive Committee targeted four areas of focus for improvement: communication, student experience, alumni service, and professional development. Two of these efforts to increase focus and results can fit into existing committee structures – Student Experience into Student Life Committee, and ‘increased and better’ Communication into Communications. The other two do not align easily with any committee structure, and the Executive Committee believes they are important enough, and can have a large enough positive contribution, that they deserve their own committees within the Alumni Council committee structure. 

The Alumni Service Committee will help to meet the need and demand of alumni for service in the communities in which they live, and serve as constructive resource for alumni, students, faculty, and administration who would like to be more involved in service opportunities. The Professional Development Committee will support the College’s efforts to encourage the full professional development and career growth of students and alumni throughout their lives. The committee will facilitate the creation of internships and other professional opportunities hosted by alumni for students, and work closely with the College’s Center for Professional Development and Office of Alumni Relations to create a culture shaped by mentoring, support, and collaboration among alumni in support of other alumni and current students 

The formation of a new committee is voluntary and open to all councilors, commencing after this council weekend. Rising 2nd and 3rd year councilors (as of July 1, 2014) electing to join one of these committees will transition off their existing standing council committee. From the pool of initial applicants, the chair of each new committee will be chosen by the Nominating Committee prior to June 30. The chairs will serve on the Executive Committee of the Alumni Council.

After some discussion, Mark called for a vote. A councilor requested the resolutions be voted upon separately, which was done. Both resolutions passed.

President Hanlon and Gail Gentes had invited the Council for a garden reception at their home, which was moved to the rain location (Top of the Hop) due to inclement weather. Following the reception, the evening dinner program opened with remarks by council president Mark Davis '81, '84Tu. The evening concluded with remarks by Nathaniel Fick '99, trustee and author of One Bullet Away: The Making of a Marine Officer. Fick spoke about his military experience in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The Alumni Liaison Committee held a breakfast meeting with trustee Bill Burgess '81 and President Hanlon. 

The Saturday plenary session was held in the Oopik Auditorium of the Class of 1978 Life Sciences Center. President-elect Lou Spelios greeted councilors.  Chairs of the Student Affairs, Communications, Academic Affairs, Athletics, Honorary Degrees, Enrollment and Admissions, and Alumni Liaison Committees presented their reports. The summaries of those committee reports will be posted online.

Lou introduced trustee Bill Burgess '81, who provided a trustee update. He complimented President Hanlon for his clarity of insight, and emphasized how important Hanlon's understanding of teaching and research is for the College.  Burgess applauded alumni for their wide involvement in such opportunities as presidential club events, entrepreneurship breakfasts, the Summit in April, and working directly with students.

Burgess talked about key issues, first touching on academics. He called Dartmouth "the greatest undergraduate teaching institution," but acknowledged models change and there is a need to innovate to maintain excellence. Examples of these efforts to innovate include:Dartmouth's partnership with edX, the nonprofit online learning platform; the switch to the Canvas learning management system; and an internal audit being conducted on experiential learning across the Dartmouth campus. 

The academic cluster initiative will build strength in focused research. The College received an anonymous gift of $100 million to support the president's initiatives. A $10 million gift from Wllliam Neukom '64 will fund a computational science cluster. The Thayer School will double in size, and there will be more collaboration between the undergraduates and the graduate schools.

On financial matters, the Board's goal is to ramp down draw from the endowment. Assets must be protected to create intergenerational equity. The growth of tuition has slowed from 5.9% in 2012 to 2.9% in 2015, the lowest increase since 1977. Each department has been asked to reallocate 1.5% towards an innovation. Federal dollars are declining, and research draws from the operating budget. The endowment allows flexibility for hiring and scholarship, but Dartmouth lags behind her peers on endowment per student basis.

The Board of Trustees fully supports the Moving Dartmouth Forward initiative.  Dartmouth is an academic and growth experience for students. Leadership can be demonstrated by example and collaboration, and alumni can offer adult mentoring and career advice.

Martha Beattie '76, vice president for alumni relations, spoke next about alumni initiatives. Presidential club events (PCE's), designed to introduce President Hanlon to alumni, were scheduled in 12 cities over nine months. Over 50,000 alumni received invitations, and 3320 attended. The Moosilauke Forum, a new alumni survey panel, was rolled out earlier this month, which will be comprised of councilors and a random sample of 2000 alumni. The Alumni Liaison Committee will be able to share this survey data on a variety of topics with the Board of Trustees.

Alumni internships for Dartmouth students will be coordinated by the Center for Professional Development and the Office of Dartmouth for Life. The council's new Professional Development Committee, approved during Friday's plenary session, will support these efforts.

The results of the breakout sessions to brainstorm ideas for Moving Dartmouth Forward were posted in the hallway for councilors to review. As alumni leaders, councilors can model appropriate behavior for students. Information about Moving Dartmouth Forward will be included in the post-meeting summary template for councilors to share with their constituents. 

The Admissions-Alumni Relations task force hopes to create a committee to oversee and develop the Alumni Interview program, outreach to prospective students and families, yield initiatives for admitted students and families, and communication with Admissions volunteers.  

Next on the agenda was deputy director of Athletics Bob Ceplikas '78, who spoke about Dartmouth athletics. Dartmouth offers 34 varsity Division 1 sports, involving 1,079 athletes (the Division 1 average is 19 sports involving 490 athletes). There are 33 club sports, involving 1,057 athletes; 22 intramural sports, with 5,200 participants; 55 fitness classes with 4,300 participants; and 80 physical education (a graduation requirement) courses offered per term. 2013-2014 club sport highlights included championship performances by men's rugby, women's rugby, men's water polo, triathalon, women's soccer, fencing, women's water polo, men's ultimate Frisbee, cycling, and figure skating. 

There have been important facilities investments in the last 15 years totaling $94 million. They include:Scully-Fahey Lacrosse Field; Boss Tennis Center/Gordon Pavilion; Blackman Football Practice Fields; Leverone Fieldhouse Renovation; McLane Lodge & Skiway Improvements; Hanover Country Club Renovation; International Squash Court Conversions; Corey Ford Rugby Clubhouse & Fields; Alumni Gym & Zimmerman Fitness Center; Resurfacing of Memorial Field & Track; Resurfacing of Leede Arena; Floren Varsity House & East Stands; Burnham Soccer Field & Sports Pavilion; FieldTurf™ installed in Scully-Fahey Field; Chase AstroTurf™ & Natural Grass Fields; Red Rolfe Field at Biondi Park; Thompson Arena Renewal; Memorial Field Lights; Basketball Upgrades; and Dartmouth Softball Park. The trustees have approved replacement of the west stands for Memorial Field, in which the brick façade will be preserved but everything else will be replaced. A top priority ahead is an indoor practice facility, which is under consideration for pre-campaign fundraising.

Competitive admissions and financial aid are key factors. Athletics and Admissions work efficiently within tight Ivy League recruiting restrictions, with timely communication and predictability. Financial aid factors include timely estimates of aid eligibility for top prospects and matching all better offers from other Ivies. Annual giving to Dartmouth Athletics has increased dramatically, from $500,000 in 1990, to $4.5 million in 2013. In 2013, five endowed coaching positions were announced, and five more new commitments were recently announced. A $20 million athletic endowment initiative is more than halfway complete.

The Dartmouth Peak Performance program helps develop comprehensive excellence. Dartmouth leads the NCAA Division 1 Academic rankings in graduation success rate (99%) and academic progress rate (26). Ceplikas introduced Abbey D 'Agostino '14, seven time national champion, 16 time Ivy League champion, and 12 time all-American. D 'Agostino reflected on her time at Dartmouth as a student-athlete.  She will race for her eighth national championship in June.

Tommy Bruce, senior vice president for public affairs, addressed the Council next. Bruce attended many editorial board meetings with President Hanlon, and noted how the president has established goodwill and appreciation in his relationship with the media.

Traffic to the College's news site increased 67% in 2013-2014, and there is a great deal of interest in what’s happening at Dartmouth. A news digest, VOX Weekly, makes its debut on May 22. The email publication, sent each Thursday to all students, faculty, and staff, will deliver news, photos, videos, events, and voices from and for the Dartmouth community. VOX Weekly is the next step in the upgrade of the VOX system that began during winter term. Further improvements are being planned to modernize and integrate Dartmouth’s campus communications channels.

The new digest will include news and feature items from the College's news site, Dartmouth Now, as well as stories, interviews, and photos from the graduate programs. It will highlight Dartmouth newsmakers mentioned in the media, upcoming campus events, and a photograph of the week—which will be crowd-sourced from VOX readers.

Bruce advised councilors will receive an email announcing the site after he concludes his presentation. He encouraged councilors to share news about the College with him.

The Open Forum commenced. Spelios announced the results of the election for new members of the Nominating and Alumni Trustee Search Committee and the Alumni Liaison Committees.  Jennifer Avellino '89 will be president-elect of the Alumni Council. Chris Nicholson '74 and Jennifer Tisdel Schorsch '87 were elected to the Nominating and Alumni Trustee Search Committee. Jack Steinberg '88 was elected to the Alumni Liaison Committee. Barry Caldwell '82 was appointed to the Nominating and Alumni Trustee Search Committee and Rob Leathern '97 was appointed to the Alumni Liaison Committee.

During the open discussion period for Councilors, discussion ensued about recent events on campus. Councilors expressed the desire for timely information to share with constituents.

Lynne Gaudet '81 thanked Mark Davis and Jennifer Avellino for their service as president of the Alumni Council and chair of the Nominating Alumni and Trustee Search Committee, respectively.

There was no old business. The meeting was adjourned.

An Executive Committee debriefing will take place on Tuesday, June 3 via teleconference.