210th Session Committee Summaries

The 210th Session of the Dartmouth Alumni Council opened with councilors attending various classes for the "Back to the Classroom" experience. The Alumni Liaison Committee met that afternoon as well. The Professional Development Committee of the Alumni Council hosted an alumni panel presentation for students titled “From Diverse Majors at Dartmouth to Interesting Career Paths.”

Councilors attended one of three dinner discussion groups with students. They chose from “Tucker Foundation Alternative Spring Breaks,” moderated by Adam Knowlton-Young, program manager for service trips; the “Rockefeller Fellows Leadership Program,” moderated by Sadhana Hall, deputy director of the Rockefeller Center; and “Student Creativity and Entrepreneurship,” moderated by Maia Josebachvili ’05.

The Nominating and Alumni Trustee Search Committee met over dinner that evening.

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

The first plenary session met in the Cook Auditorium of the Tuck School of Business, and opened with welcoming remarks by Alumni Council president Lou Spelios ’95. 

President Philip J. Hanlon ’77 greeted councilors and shared his strategies to fulfill his academic vision.  One of the main missions of Dartmouth College is to prepare undergraduates to rise to leadership positions in their field of expertise. Because of Dartmouth’s tight community, faculty are thought leaders who partner with students who demand engagement. This institution has the liberal arts at its core, a profound sense of place, and an adventurous spirit.

In 10 years, President Hanlon envisions that Dartmouth will be a magnet for talent. The best faculty and students will continue to choose to come here and work together. They will take on the big issues that face the world, with a sense of risk taking and adventure. Dartmouth’s experiential learning initiative provides the skills that cannot be learned online. $1 million per year will be invested in the Dartmouth Center for the Advancement of Learning to create experiential learning activities. Academic enrichment grants, such as the Stamps Scholars program, create funding for experiential learning. The Stamps Awards are intended to give students maximum flexibility to design their own learning experiences through global and community service learning projects, internships, research, performance, and entrepreneurship.

The faculty cluster hiring initiative is well underway. Different departments will hire by topic, such as the Economics and Politics of Globalization, Breaking the Neural cCode, and Sustainability Science and Governance. Ten clusters will be established. Five scholars have been selected as the inaugural members of the Society of Fellows. More than 1,700 candidates representing all Ph.D. disciplines applied for the five postdoctoral positions. With the transformation in housing to the house communities, there will be greater intellectual growth and engagement. The demand for engineering courses has increased dramatically, from 70 majors 10 years ago, to 150 in the Class of 2014, and expansion is planned for the Thayer School of Engineering. A feasibility study is examining this. A campus-wide leadership program was recommended by the presidential steering committee of Moving Dartmouth Forward, and the president hopes to see this implemented.

“A Promising Partnership: Admissions and Alumni Relations” was presented by Maria Laskaris ’84, dean of admissions and financial aid, and Martha Beattie ’76, vice president for Alumni Relations. This year, 20,504 students applied to Dartmouth, a 6.3 percent increase in applications over last year. 2,120 students were offered admission (early and regular decision) for an overall 10.3 percent rate of admission. There has been a small amount of waitlist activity. The Class of 2019 now stands at 1,120, with a goal to reach a total of 1,135 students by June 30. This class will graduate during the College’s 250th anniversary. Dean Laskaris showed a film clip from the Today Show, following the application and acceptance of Erica Cabrera ’19.

Alumni interviews matter in the admissions process. 8 percent of applicants interviewed this year received an “outstanding” rating from their alumni interviewers. 27 percent of the applicants who received “outstanding” ratings were admitted.

The Admissions-Alumni Relations partnership aimed to increase the number of interviews that are conducted; improve training and communication; broaden volunteer roles and opportunities; enhance stewardship; and increase the level of volunteer satisfaction. The number of alumni interviews and interviewers increased this year, and the number of young alumni interviewers increased by 28 percent. The percentage of students who had a completed interview increased by 5 percent, and the number of districts completing 90 percent or above increased by 25 percent.

The Admissions Office increased training and communication. Seven new training sessions were developed in 2015. Two stewardship webinars were delivered during the year – a District Enrollment Director (DED) update in November and a Moving Dartmouth Forward update in April. Volunteers were subscribed to the online publication Dartmouth Now. Volunteer roles and opportunities were broadened. 35 College-supported admitted student events took place, including events in India, London, Tokyo, and Seoul. This reflected a 192 percent increase in events over 2014. Enhanced stewardship efforts included five regional DED listening tours, follow up with interviewers regarding specific decisions, thank you notes, and the Moosilauke Forum survey tool to provide alumni insight. Successful pilot programs included a virtual district, with interviews via Skype; new DED recruitment, which resulted in additional interviews; and an alumnae Women of Dartmouth: Empowered to Lead event at Dimensions.

The proposed structure of the new Admissions Advisory Committee calls for 20 members, supported by one full-time employee of the College. The committee will be asked to oversee and develop the Alumni Interview Program, outreach to prospective students and their families, yield of admitted students and their families, and communication with admissions volunteers.

Interim Dean of the College Inge-Lise Ameer provided a student-affairs update. President Hanlon has remarked that he wants to fundamentally transform residential life at Dartmouth. The Dean described the plan for the new Dartmouth house communities. There will be academic engagement, where house professors provide an academic role model, foster intellectual community and develop house identity; community, with lifelong house membership identity, common residential and program experience and deeper engagement with faculty, staff, and alumni house members; and continuity, as students will have a home base and a sense of place.

Each of the six house communities will be composed of ~700 students, with approximately half in residence at any given time. First-year students will continue to live together in first-year halls and will participate in their house activities. Sophomores, juniors, and seniors may choose to live in the house communities for continuity, or may choose other residential options such as live/learn communities, affinity programs, off-campus apartments, or Greek residences. There will be strong house student governance that will partner with house professors to promote community, develop programs, manage intramurals, etc. House programming budgets will support a wide range of activities including “feeds,” intramurals, concerts, field trips, new annual traditions, alumni events, house swag, experiential learning, and leadership development activities. Peer advising will be a large component of the house system.

Ameer provided an update on Moving Dartmouth Forward. Since a ban on hard alcohol went into effect in the beginning of the term, transports of intoxicated students to the hospital or Dick’s House have decreased significantly. Student leaders have been instrumental in supporting the ban in their own organizations. This spring, a climate survey sponsored by the Association of American Universities (AAU) was administered to students at Dartmouth, with a 42 percent response rate. Topics included knowledge and beliefs about social situations, perceptions related to sexual misconduct at Dartmouth, and personal experience with sexual violence. A Dartmouth community study will take place in the fall, led by Vice Provost for Academic Initiatives Denise Anthony. This comprehensive assessment of faculty, staff, and students views about the living, learning, and working environment will review current institutional policies, curricular opportunities, and programs; evaluate current conditions; establish a baseline for ongoing analysis; and develop strategic objectives to address challenges and build on successes.

Next on the agenda was the student panel “Great Issues and Global Citizens: The John Sloan Dickey Center for International Understanding,” moderated by Ambassador Daniel Benjamin, the Norman E. McCulloch Jr. Director of the Dickey Center. The Dickey Center brings students, faculty, undergraduate and graduate schools together to address the world’s challenges. The staff oversees a minor in internationalsStudies, a certificate in global health and courses focused on environmental change and security, and advises 400 students a year.  8-10 percent of first year students participate in the Great Issues Scholars Program. The War and Peace Fellows offer a multiyear opportunity to discuss the social, political, moral, and technological dimensions of international conflict and cooperation. This year the Center will host nearly 40 public events, and has featured guests such as Sarah Sewall, undersecretary of state for civilian security, democracy, and human rights; former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright; and Michael Flynn, the 18th director of the Defense Intelligence Agency. These visitors contribute to Dartmouth’s relevant policy information. Collaboration with the Thayer and Tuck Schools helps examine economies in emerging countries. Five postdoctoral students are conducting policy research. Student panelists included Logan Brog ’15, Freya Jamison ’17, Gurkaran Singh ’15, and Carla Sung Ah Yoon ’15, who described their personal experiences with the Dickey Center.

Lunch was served in the Ayres/Raether Atrium at the Tuck School of Business. After lunch, student guides led tours of the Tuck School of Business and the Thayer School of Engineering. The Alumni Council’s Honorary Degrees Committee and Young Alumni Committee both met during this time.

The afternoon plenary session met in Tuck’s Georgiopoulos Classroom. Bob Lasher ’88, senior vice president for advancement, moderated the panel “The Future of Professional Education at Dartmouth: A Conversation with the Deans.” Duane Compton, interim dean of the Geisel School of Medicine; Paul Danos, dean of the Tuck School of Business; and Joseph Helble, dean of the Thayer School of Engineering; spoke about current happenings at the graduate schools and how their programs intersect with and enrich the undergraduate experience at Dartmouth.

During Dean Danos’ tenure at Tuck, he conducted three “deep-dive” strategic reviews. Students at Tuck have access to thought leaders. The Bridge for college undergraduates program has been very successful and now runs sessions in the summer and during the December break. For the first time there will be a satellite location at Smith College.

The Thayer School is committed to the intersection between engineering and the liberal arts. Dartmouth students are required to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree in engineering first before continuing to a Bachelor of Engineering degree. Dean Helble explained that engineering is now the third-largest major at Dartmouth, with 100 graduates last year. Additionally, 48 percent of juniors who have declared engineering as their major are women.  The school is poised to significantly expand, with the eventual hope that its course offerings will touch all undergrads.

Dean Compton noted that Geisel medical students are fully immersed in experiential learning. The students come from a variety of backgrounds, from military veterans to venture capitalists, and help provide healthcare all through the Upper Valley. The medical school is integrated with the main campus and benefits from being near the engineering school and computer science department. Twenty-five percent of students declare an interest in a pre-health track. Because of their access to the medical school and its labs and research, they will have hands-on experience before applying to medical school.

Looking to the future, experiential learning may work into a blended program. Material will be reviewed beforehand, and brought to a group project. Technology will greatly evolve. Students may arrive at graduate school with a higher level of preparation. Curriculum may be crafted to graduate physicians who have the ability to more fully understand the complexities of the health system.  There is an emphasis on teaching at the undergraduate and graduate level at Dartmouth, as well as on collaboration and community. 

F. Jon Kull ’88, Rodgers Professor of Chemistry and dean of graduate studies, discussed forming a school of graduate studies at Dartmouth. Presently at Dartmouth there are 17 Ph.D. programs, 12 Masters’ programs, with a community of nearly 2,000 total graduate students (Arts & Science, Tuck, Thayer, and Geisel). There were 2,000 applications this year for graduate programs, with 300 entering students. 70 percent of the students are from the U.S. and 30 percent are international, with 44 percent women, and 56 percent men. The Council on Graduate Studies oversees programs in the Arts & Sciences, Thayer Engineering School, and Geisel Medical School.

Establishing a school of Graduate Advanced Studies would support faculty research, faculty recruiting and retention, educate and train future leaders, and support undergraduate research. Young scholars bring energy and enthusiasm, and can contribute positively to the campus. Dartmouth’s small size is an asset, and can support interdisciplinary work. This would also support the President’s Faculty Cluster Initiative. Our scholar-teacher model should be built upon. The current structure is not optimized for efficiency and policies are not standardized across Dartmouth (e.g. funding, budget, student support).

Provost Dever formed a faculty task force in October 2014 to address the issues that might arise during the transition from the current structure of the Office of Graduate Studies to an independent School of Graduate and Advanced Studies (GRAD). The task force followed these guiding principles: strengthen Dartmouth’s graduate and postdoctoral programs; maximize the operational efficiency and flexibility of the school; leverage Dartmouth’s distinct combination of teaching and scholarship, and be mindful of the impact of the proposed school on all areas of Dartmouth. They recommended that GRAD be established to foster postgraduate academic programs of the highest quality, catalyze intellectual discovery, and prepare a diverse community of scholars for global leadership. According to the proposed timeline, the Board of Trustees will discuss and vote on GRAD this fall.

Next on the agenda was an update from council president Lou Spelios on the work of the Nominating and Alumni Trustee Search Committee. Lou reviewed the committee's working agenda and nominating considerations for leadership positions of the Council. He then presented the incoming councilors selected by their constituencies, who will join the Alumni Council on July 1, 2015 to represent classes, regions, affiliated groups, associations, and faculty. As required by the constitution, Lou 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 representative, and the Alumni Liaison Committee (ALC) appointment. The motion was moved, seconded and passed unanimously. Lou then presented the slate of candidates for the ALC, Nominating and Alumni Trustee Search Committee, and president-elect positions. Councilors were given ballots to fill out and return by 10:30 a.m. Saturday.

Mark Davis ’81, ’84Tu gave a presentation on the work of the ALC, of which he is chair. He described the mission of the ALC, which is to support and advance the Alumni Council’s mission to sustain a fully informed, representative, and engaged exchange of information and sentiment between alumni and their College.  ALC members collect and synthesize alumni sentiment and communications to share with multiple College audiences and alumni. Emails received to date number 1,025, up from 778 at this point last year and 980 in total for the 2013-2014 Alumni Council year. The ALC added a prompt to the Alumni Council report template, soliciting responses about the living/learning communities. Additionally, an email from council president Lou Spelios and president-elect Jennifer Avellino was sent to all alumni after the announcement of President Hanlon’s Moving Dartmouth Forward plan, and received many responses.

The Moosilauke Forum conducts 12 surveys per year, which are sent to 2,500 randomly chosen alumni. The Alumni Council/ALC directs two of these surveys, which present the opportunity to improve dialogue with senior Dartmouth staff. A survey on the topic of professional development distributed in September 2014 helped the Professional Development and Dartmouth for Life teams recognize the desire for alumni involvement in these areas to remain high, but overall awareness and usage could be improved.

The second Moosilauke Forum survey focused on the Admissions interview program. 512 alumni took the survey, a 75 percent response rate. There are several key take-ways. The top benefit alumni perceive is providing information to the Admissions Office about the applicant. “Helping the applicant get to know Dartmouth” is a concept which resonates with many younger graduates. Everyone believes Dartmouth should conduct interviews. Many alumni are interested in getting involved and overall interest is higher among the younger alumni. The top reasons alumni don’t volunteer are awareness and perception of time involved. Their motivation to volunteer is to promote positive perceptions of Dartmouth and help applicants choose Dartmouth (being “Ambassadors”). They want to understand the time commitment (what does the interview report look like?) and how Admissions uses the feedback. The experience for existing volunteers can be improved though understanding how the Admissions Office is using their feedback. The “Ambassador” concept was well received and alumni are interested in getting involved other than conducting interviews. Younger alumni find the idea of spreading positive information about Dartmouth particularly compelling.

Using social media as another platform to engage alumni, the Alumni Council asked three questions on Facebook and Twitter about professional development, the Alumni Day of Service, and the 25th anniversary of the Women in Science Project. Combining emails, Facebook, Twitter and survey responses, the ALC has received over 2,600 alumni responses to date.

Davis talked about the ALC 2013-2014 annual report and described the structure of the content and appendices, as well as the email volumes by category and hot topics.

Following a reception in the Hayward Ballroom of the Hanover Inn, the evening dinner program opened with greetings from Spelios and President Hanlon. The evening concluded with remarks by Laurel Richie ‘81, trustee and president of the Women’s National Basketball Association.

The ALC held a breakfast meeting with President Hanlon and trustees Bill Helman ’80 and Laurel Richie '81.

The Saturday plenary session was held in the Oopik Auditorium of the Class of 1978 Life Sciences Center. President-elect Jennifer Avellino ’89 greeted councilors.  Chairs or vice chairs of the Academic Affairs, Alumni Awards, Alumni Service, Athletics, Communications, Enrollment and Admissions, Honorary Degrees, Professional Development, Student Affairs, and Young Alumni Committees presented their reports. The summaries of those committee reports will be posted online.

Avellino introduced trustee Laurel Richie '81 and chair of the board of trustees Bill Helman ‘80, who provided a trustee update. President Hanlon exhibits steadfast, calm, and forceful leadership. He is focused on raising the level of academic engagement, and his initiatives are taking shape. The Board of Trustees is incredibly diverse and yet cohesive. All information is sent in advance so the Board can focus on discussion at the meeting.

Much work is being done on behalf of President Hanlon’s Moving Dartmouth Forward plan, and progress is being made. This can be viewed on the Moving Dartmouth Forward website. Provost Dever has been an excellent addition to the campus. Richie is leading the communications effort to bring the president’s vision to life. In owning the elements of Dartmouth that make us unique, we can differentiate ourselves through community, focus on our profound sense of place and our adventurous spirit. Our mission is the fusion of liberal arts and research, and to live up to the challenge of President Dickey’s message: "The world's troubles are your troubles ... and there is nothing wrong with the world that better human beings cannot fix."

To fulfill Hanlon’s vision, construction of new buildings may be considered. The new housing plan will require another dorm to be built; Thayer will expand, and there are some unused buildings on the North side of campus that should be repurposed.  The D-Plan has created a long December break that can serve as an incredible asset. Students can use this opportunity to do an internship or extend a Dartmouth class with hands-on experience and travel. 

Increasing the diversity of the faculty is a priority of the board. Denise Anthony, vice provost for academic initiatives, is leading this effort with the guidance and support of Provost Dever. At every meeting, the trustees discuss diversity, along with the president’s greater vision for Dartmouth.  Affordability remains a key concern. The tuition increased 2.9 percent this year, the same as last, which was the lowest increase since 1977. The trustees are discussing how to reduce cost, by looking at such factors as facilities, efficiency, and better returns on the endowment.

Bob Lasher ’88, senior vice president for advancement, presented “Setting the Course for Dartmouth Philanthropy.” The Advancement division recently added the position of vice president for presidential initiatives and principal gifts, and offices in New York City and San Francisco are now fully staffed. There has been great progress to date regarding the academic clusters to address global challenges. Due to a matching mechanism stipulated by last year’s $100 million anonymous donation, every $10 million gift earns another $5 million.  $50 million has been raised to date, which will fund five clusters: Ice, Climate and Energy, Breaking the Neural Code, Health Care Delivery Science, Sustainability Science and Governance, and the Challenges and Opportunities of Globalization. Expansion of the Thayer School is one of the president’s priorities, and the planned Hood Museum expansion is moving ahead. The College has to date raised $1 million toward its commitment to raising $5 million over five years to support the new residential model of house communities. The Moosilauke Ravine Lodge and the Ledyard Canoe Club will be rebuilt to accommodate students, alumni, and the wider community. A capital campaign is in the planning phase.

Government professor Lisa Baldez, director of the Art and Science of Teaching at the Dartmouth Center for Advancement of Learning (DCAL), spoke about the Experiential Learning Initiative. There is a difference between being trained as a scholar and a teacher, and President Hanlon envisions a faculty who are supported in both arenas. DCAL is a center for faculty training in evidence-based practices of teaching and learning, and a conduit for significant resources. One of the recent efforts is the “gateway initiative,” which can make large classes feel like small classes though a variety of approaches.

Experiential learning is intentional, when applied academic knowledge lines up with cognitive science research. Many faculty are already engaged in this practice, and other courses are being redesigned to incorporate experiential learning. Starting this fall, faculty will have the option to make their course evaluations public, should they choose.

The Open Forum commenced. Avellino announced the results of the election for new members of the Nominating and Alumni Trustee Search Committee and the ALC and for the position of president-elect.  Russell Wolff ’89 ’94Tu will be president-elect of the Alumni Council. John Banks ’90 and Monica Claman Higgins ’86 ’90Tu were elected to the Nominating and Alumni Trustee Search Committee. Blaire Bernard ’97 was elected to the ALC. N. Troy Stewart ’07, ’13Tu was appointed to the ALC.

An open discussion period for Councilors took place.

No resolutions were submitted in advance of the meeting. Lynne Gaudet ’81 thanked Spelios for his service as president of the Alumni Council.

There was no old business. The meeting was adjourned.