207th Session Committee Summaries

The 207th session of the Dartmouth Alumni Council opened with meetings of the Nominating and Alumni Trustee Search Committee and the Alumni Liaison Committee. First-year councilors attended an orientation session. 

Later in the evening, councilors attended dinner, during which council president Mark Davis ’81, ’84Tu presented a slide show celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Alumni Council. Afterward, councilors viewed a student panel titled, “A Sense of Place: Bringing the Upper Valley Into the Classroom,” moderated by Bruce Sacerdote ’90, Richard S. Braddock 1963 Professor of Economics and faculty representative on the Alumni Council. 

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

The morning plenary session opened with welcome remarks by council president Mark Davis ’81, ’84Tu. Councilors watched a short film, designed for presidential club events, introducing President Philip Hanlon ’77.

 President Hanlon delivered his first address to the council. He congratulated the council on the celebration of its 100th year anniversary.

In the year since accepting his appointment, President Hanlon has spoken to hundreds of alumni, students, and faculty. His vision of the dual mission of the College is to educate students and better the world through knowledge. Dartmouth’s most strategic asset is the successful preparation of leaders. The College is recognized for excellent undergraduate teaching. (The president noted he spent time earlier that morning hosting office hours and teaching a section of math.)

Hanlon emphasized that Dartmouth must stay at the forefront of teaching and learning. This is a period of change in the world, where the workplace is more volatile and nimble. With increasing diversity both domestically and globally, different backgrounds and perspectives abound. Information technology will have a profound impact on the way we teach and learn. Information is quickly available through the Internet, and knowledge is more easily obtained as well. The key value Dartmouth adds is wisdom, the confidence to take risks and learn by doing. Hanlon stressed experiential learning, in which Dartmouth is a leader. 

The College has a thirst to upgrade how it is impacting the world through scholarship. Hanlon announced that an entrepreneurship center for students will open in January. The center will provide space to gather, staff assistance, startup funds, and Tuck business basics training and host visiting alumni entrepreneurs. The Society of Fellows, a new postdoc program, will allow early-career graduate students to interact while being mentored by senior fellows.

Hanlon plans to hire clusters of faculty around issues of impact. An example might be the worldwide issue of clean energy, for which a solution will involve engineering, chemistry, and policy. The president cited the Dartmouth Center for Health Care Delivery Science and said he envisions 10 centers with a similar impact.

One challenge is affordability. The cost of higher education is rising on an unsustainable track, and Dartmouth must find a way to address this. Another challenge is student life issues, including binge drinking. Brief Alcohol Screening and Intervention for College Students (BASICS) is helping reduce incidents. The number of medical transports for intoxicated students has been reduced. Dartmouth is a leader in this initiative, started by President Jim Kim. Sexual assault is a concern. Jen Messina ’93 was hired by the College as an expert in this field. She has said that the only effective approach is bystander training. Both the Dartmouth Bystander Initiative and Mentors Against Violence provide tools that allow others to intervene. This is a complex problem, and Hanlon is energized by the idea that Dartmouth could create a model that could make a difference.

Next on the agenda was a presentation by Martha Beattie ’76, vice president for alumni relations, and Jean Romeo, director of market research. Beattie highlighted the organizational chart of the Alumni Relations Office and introduced Romeo, explaining other colleges and universities are creating this type of market research position as well. 

Romeo shared her job description. “The director of market research’s objective is to better understand the needs, feelings, and perceptions of Dartmouth’s alumni and parents and to provide valid, reliable data to the leadership of alumni relations and development to help them make more informed decisions, develop more effective strategies, and raise more financial support and alumni and parent involvement. This position will provide strategic guidance in alumni and constituent relations, communications, and fundraising and be charged with delivering critical market insights to inform Dartmouth’s alumni relations and development efforts. " 

When Romeo arrived on campus in 2012, the Dartmouth College Fund had just completed an online survey. She took a "deep dive" into the data and investigated differences by gender and class year across three areas: impressions of Dartmouth, emotional attachment to Dartmouth, and level of engagement/support. Also soon after arriving, she standardized Advancement surveys on one online survey tool, ensuring that all surveys have the same "look and feel" (which is important because they are a touch point with alumni and represent the Dartmouth brand). Romeo also gave examples of other projects she has been involved with, including in-depth volunteer research among Alumni Relations and Development volunteers. She found some interesting differences in motivations to volunteer for Dartmouth between the two types of volunteers. She concluded her presentation with a brief overview of research projects that are on the horizon, including an alumni sentiment study (which she would like to pre-test among the Alumni Liaison Committee before deploying to the larger alumni body). Other projects include gathering insights to guide program development for Dartmouth Alumni Travel and Dartmouth for Life. 

Midday, the Alumni Council hosted a luncheon with students. Immediately afterward, the entire council gathered for a group photo on the steps of Dartmouth Hall.

The afternoon plenary session in 105 Dartmouth Hall opened with Charlotte Johnson, dean of the College. Dean Johnson provided an update on advising. The new Student Advising Center opened in the Ross Suite of the Berry Library. Undergraduate deans and resources are housed in the same place. The office is partnering with select faculty advisors to pilot the 360 Advising Program for the classes of 2016 and 2017.

Dean Johnson described facilities improvements, including the Collis Café, TV lounge, and 8-Ball Hall; Sarner Underground’s 24-hour student social space; and Robinson third-floor renovations for centrally located health promotion and residential education suites. In community developments, the Class of 2017 experienced DOC trips welcoming activities, “Your Class Your Words,” and intergroup dialogues. Roger Woolsey, the director of the Center for Professional Development, is leading a change in philosophy in the four-year approach to career preparation. Social options on campus are expanding with Collis Late Night and campus social options. These nonalcoholic events at peak consumption hours help students socialize in a variety of settings.

On the topic of health promotions and risk reduction, the dean described BASICS. This is a prevention program for college students who drink alcohol heavily and have experienced or are at risk for alcohol-related problems. Using a harm-reduction approach, BASICS aims to motivate students to reduce alcohol use in order to decrease the negative consequences of drinking. It is delivered during the course of two one-hour interviews, with a brief online assessment survey taken by the student after the first session. On the topic of sexual assault awareness, facilitated dialogues are taking place during orientation. There is a new live-in advocate and coordinated support from the Sexual Assault Response Team (SART).

Amanda Childress of the Health Promotion and Wellness Office spoke next. She stressed that many sexual assault prevention programs are not effective, and that people must be invited to be a positive part of the solution. The Dartmouth Bystander Initiative was designed by Jennifer Sayre ’93. A social marketing campaign helps spread awareness, as well as offering overview talks. Last summer, 500 students participated in the overview talks, with 150 participating in leadership training.

Mike Wooten, director of residential education, introduced living-learning communities. There are 14 current programs with enhanced curricular connections. There are proposals for three new pilot programs in the arts, entrepreneurship, and science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).

During the next presentation, councilors learned about "Dartmouth by the Numbers." Pam Peedin '89, '98Tu, chief investment officer, provided an update on the Investment Office and the endowment, discussing the role of the investment office and investment committee in managing Dartmouth's assetsand reviewing the investment goals, strategy and performance of the endowment.  She explained that the mission of the Investment Office is to provide exceptional stewardship of Dartmouth’s investment assets of over $4.5 billion in aggregate, including the endowment as well as several other shorter term investment pools and the defined benefit pension plan.  The Investment Committee and the Office work together, with the Investment Committee setting goals and broad strategy for the endowment and with the Investment Office managing the portfolio day-to-day and sourcing, researching and monitoring investment opportunities. 

The primary long-term investment return goal for the endowment is 8-9% per year, which allows the endowment to maintain purchasing power after providing for the annual distribution to operations and adjusting for inflation.  Dartmouth’s endowment has succeeded in meeting that goal, generating  an annualized return of 9.4 percent for the 15 years ending June 30, 2013 and outperforming the 4.2 percent average annualized return for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Stock Index over the same period.  Dartmouth's endowment rate of return also compares favorably with the broad universe of peer colleges and universities, ranking in the top-quartile of the Cambridge Associates Universe of Colleges and Universities. 

Richard G. Mills ("Rick"), executive vice president and chief financial officer, provided a view into Dartmouth from a financial perspective, with some discussion of change over time.  Mills discussed both sources and uses of funds at Dartmouth and highlighted President Hanlon's goals to continue to develop the greatness of Dartmouth while addressing the very real and pressing problem of affordability and access in higher education.  Mills mentioned that part of how this might be accomplished is through finding efficiencies in operations that allow increased investment in core academic activities aimed at teaching and scholarship.  Specifically, Mills described President Hanlon's request of the campus to build budgets from last year's activities with modest inflators in a few areas together with a request to identify 1.5% of expense that could be re-deployed to fund new initiatives.  Mills touched upon the role of philanthropy in Dartmouth operations as both endowment and as current-use giving.  Mills also noted that while all of higher education has entered a period of change and challenge, he felt Dartmouth was well positioned to respond and emerge strengthened in many important areas. 

Later in the afternoon, the Alumni Awards Committee, Young Alumni Committee, and Honorary Degrees Committee met. Alumni councilors also participated in optional programs. “From Prints to Photography: Highlights from the Hood Museum of Art” was presented by Katie Hornstein, assistant professor of modern European art. Matt Purcell, director of the Office of Project Management, led a tour of the Black Family Visual Arts Center.

In the evening, councilors attended the inaugural Alumni Awards Gala. Following a reception at the Top of the Hop, the evening dinner program opened with a welcome from Mark Davis and President Hanlon. Four alumni were honored with the Dartmouth Alumni Award: Donald Berlin ’54, Kenneth Johansen ’60 62Th, R. Bradford Evans ’64, and Peter Frederick ’65. Two alumni received the Young Alumni Distinguished Service Award: E. Kristina Brock ’01 ’02Th and Jethro Rothe-Kushel ’03. Film clips were shown of each recipient.

The Alumni Liaison Committee met for breakfast with President Hanlon and trustees Steve Mandel ’78, Emily Bakemeier ’82 and Sherri Oberg ’82, ’86Tu.

The Saturday plenary session was held in the Oopik Auditorium of the Class of 1978 Life Sciences Center. President-elect Lou Spelios ’95 greeted councilors. The session began with a presentation by Bob Lasher ’88, senior vice president for advancement. Lasher explained that both alumni relations and development are under the umbrella of the Advancement Division. In FY 2013, the DCF set a new gifts record of $51.9 million dollars. The three graduate schools set fundraising records as well.

Lasher then talked about presidential club events for 2013-14, which will introduce President Hanlon’s vision for Dartmouth in locations across the United States and in London. The message is “All In for Dartmouth,” and the goal is to have 15,000 alumni attend these events. In terms of social media, Dartmouth leads the Ivy League in Facebook followers, while we need to increase our presence on Twitter. The College wants to support these efforts.

Justin Anderson, assistant vice president for media relations, spoke about Dartmouth in the news. Media coverage of Dartmouth rose from 300 media hits in September 2011 to more than 500 in September 2013, with 5 percent being negative. Stories pertaining to Dartmouth in the past month appeared in the Washington Post (climate change), The New York Times (fact-checking and political behavior), the San Francisco Chronicle (translational research grant), and The Wall Street Journal (Hanlon inauguration).  

Next, Spelios introduced trustees Mandel and Oberg, who provided an update from the Board of Trustees. As chair of the Board of Trustees, Mandel said his goal has been to improve communication between the board and the alumni. He outlined elements of the board’s agenda. President Hanlon is focused on experiential learning and wants students to engage in subjects in a hands-on way. An effort is under way to organize academic focus around issues in an interdisciplinary manner and hire faculty in clusters to support that goal. Technology should be used to enhance the experience of students. Dartmouth students receive the best undergraduate teaching, according to proven constructs.

Mandel addressed fiscal issues. The affordability issue continues to be a concern. In terms of budgeting, every department will be asked what could be eliminated from programs before new initiatives are introduced. Tuition should remain comparable to peer institutions. Endowment distribution tends toward 5-prcent spending. Energy-wise, the campus depends on fuel oil, as piped gas does not extend into the Upper Valley. The College is committed to need-blind admissions, and financial aid extends to international students. Campus buildings are being examined as part of capital renewal and space utilization is under scrutiny.

One of Dartmouth’s strengths is community, although there are still issues with student life. High-risk behaviors must be addressed. There are bulges in term enrollment. More themed residences will be established, extending to academic interests. Branding and marketing are important. The board has committee goals and progress is measured. Oberg, head of the board’s Audit Committee, discussed risk-management systems at Dartmouth.

Next on the agenda, Roger Woolsey, director of the Center for Professional Development, spoke. The name of this office has been changed as the previous name, Career and Employment Services, was considered too limiting. An external review that partnered with groups and used analysis and research, indicated that challenges faced by the office include accessibility, preparedness, outreach, perceptual error, and technology. Additional considerations include student self-esteem and belongingness.

Changes under way include the development of some signature programs and resources and the introduction of a professional development accelerator, resume guide, immersion trips, a virtual career fair, and December Bridge program at Tuck. Additional changes to technology and media include access to DartBoard, Dartmouth Professional Alliance, Customer Relations Management Widget, and Cloud: Work and Live. Woolsey plans to introduce himself to alumni clubs and create opportunities for alumni mentoring and internships.

After a short coffee break, Jennifer Avellino ’89, chair of the Nominating and Alumni Trustee Search Committee, provided an update. She outlined the structure and membership of the committee. The committee nominates candidates for Alumni Council positions, formally appoints councilors based on recommendations from class affinity groups or regions, and recommends candidates for the Alumni Council to nominate to the Board of Trustees. Eight Alumni Council-nominated candidates were elected to the Board of Trustees in the last four years. The committee continues to review lists of possible trustee candidates, and new submissions are welcomed from alumni and reviewed, as a vacancy could always happen unexpectedly. Councilors are encouraged to submit nominations for Alumni Council leadership and for the Alumni Liaison Committee. 

Next, S. Caroline Kerr ’05 and Janine Avner ’80, co-chairs of the Ad Hoc Committee on Diversity and Inclusion, presented the committee’s final report. The mission of the committee was to support the College’s aspirational vision for the workforce of the future by 1) increasing the diversity of the workforce through recruitment and retention of staff and faculty of color (both national and international) and other underrepresented populations and 2) determining what structures, resources, and best practices were needed. The report was posted online on Monday, October 28.

Chair of the Alumni Liaison Committee (ALC), Marty Lempres ’84, reported on the 2012-13 ALC Annual Report, completed in September. The ALC held a conference call with the Board of Trustees’ Advancement Committee in early October to discuss the findings. The report was communicated to the alumni on October 22 and posted online. During this council session the ALC met twice, including during a breakfast with trustees and senior College leadership.

The open forum commenced. Reports of the Student Affairs, Communications, Academic Affairs, Athletics, Honorary Degrees, Enrollment and Admissions, Alumni Liaison, and Young Alumni committees were presented by the chairs. The summaries of those committee reports will be posted on the Alumni Council website.

During the open discussion period for councilors, Association of Alumni (AoA) president John “J.B.” Daukas ’84 explained a proposed constitutional amendment. At the suggestion of a number of alumni, the AoA Executive Committee is proposing amending the association’s constitution to eliminate the requirement of alumni-wide balloting for uncontested elections. Alumni-wide balloting would still occur in trustee and association Executive Committee elections in which two or more candidates are running for the same seat. By way of background: Dartmouth alumni trustee elections are overseen by the AoA Executive Committee, pursuant to the terms of the AoA constitution and association bylaws. Dartmouth’s AoA constitution provides for alumni-wide balloting in all trustee elections. (Alumni elect a nominee for each open alumni-nominated seat. The nominee is then presented to the Board of Trustees for them to vote on the nominees' election to the board.) A number of alumni have questioned the sensibility of incurring the costs and effort of alumni-wide balloting in uncontested elections. The cost of an election is approximately $70,000. In addition, many alumni have complained about receiving communications encouraging them to vote in uncontested elections. The proposed amendment would in no way affect the ability of alumni to run for trustee or association Executive Committee seats by petition. The petition process will remain unchanged. The association Executive Committee is also proposing a change to the constitution to clarify that the Executive Committee may send ballots to alumni via email (and not in hard copy), unless an alumnus has asked to receive a paper copy of the ballot. In recent elections, 70 percent of alumni have voted electronically. This change is merely intended to reduce costs, while allowing alumni who wish to receive paper ballots to continue to do so. Finally, the association Executive Committee is proposing amending the constitution to reflect the name changes of Dartmouth’s medical and business graduate schools.

The AoA Executive Committee has voted to present this amendment to be voted on by alumni in an election that will run from late February through mid March. Pertinent information will be sent out to the alumni body in late November.

There was no old business.

The meeting was adjourned.

An Executive Committee debriefing and retreat took place on Saturday, October 26, and Sunday, October 27.