211th Session Committee Summaries

The 211th session of the Dartmouth Alumni Council opened with a luncheon meeting of the Nominating and Alumni Trustee Search Committee. The Alumni Liaison Committee and the Professional Development Committees met later that afternoon. First-year councilors attended an orientation session. Some alumni councilors participated in a roundtable discussion with students titled “Career Conversations with Students and Alumni,” sponsored by the Professional Development Committee.

In the evening, alumni councilors attended their opening reception at the Center for Professional Development, and later attended dinner at the Hanover Inn. The evening’s program was “The Hood Museum Expansion: A Case Study in Capital Project Development at Dartmouth”, which featured Juliette Bianco ’94, interim director of the Hood Museum of Art, and Lisa Hogarty, vice president of campus services, and was moderated by Bob Lasher ’88, senior vice president for advancement

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 opened with welcome remarks by Alumni Council President Jennifer Avellino ’89.

President Philip J. Hanlon ’77 greeted the councilors and thanked them for their important work in communicating with their constituents. He described how the fall term at Dartmouth is off to a good start, with the first-year students challenged by the academic rigor of their coursework and enjoying the traditions of Dartmouth Outing Club first-year trips, Dartmouth Night and the bonfire. He noted that Dartmouth’s MVP robotic football tackling dummy, a capstone Thayer School engineering project, received national coverage on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Hanlon had recently joined student leaders of the Dartmouth Outing Club for dinner at the Moosilauke Ravine Lodge, the renovation plans of which are off to a great start with the $5 million gift of George “Skip” Battle ’66. As he does every fall, the president is teaching an undergraduate course, this time on sports analytics, which involves applying statistical rigor to data and decision-making in sports.

Hanlon’s wife Gail Gentes ’77a has completed an inventory of experiential learning opportunities. This information will help inform a million-dollar initiative launched on this topic by the Dartmouth Center for the Advancement of Learning (DCAL). Gail is now focusing on pairing students with alumni for internship opportunities as the assistant director of Dartmouth for Life.

Hanlon spoke about the imperative to recruit excellent faculty to Dartmouth. As part of Dartmouth’s academic cluster initiative, groups of faculty will be hired across disciplines to take on the world’s great issues. The Society of Fellows, an interdisciplinary community comprised of postdoctoral fellows, are in their first term on campus. The diversity hiring initiative of faculty and staff is a crucial priority, supported by a $1 million budget. Mentoring and professional development are important elements of this effort.

There are two scholarship initiatives. The Byrne Scholars are named undergraduates who are eligible for enrichments grants to pay for independent study and special projects related to math. The Jack Byrne Scholars Program in Math and Society will also fund the John J. Byrne Jr. Prize in Mathematics and a faculty cluster of three professorships focused on decision science.

The King Scholar Leadership Program was founded by Dottie and Bob King ’57 in 2013 to support students from developing nations who are passionate about international leadership and global poverty alleviation. It was dramatically expanded this past spring.

Last January, President Hanlon announced his plan for Moving Dartmouth Forward, aimed at eliminating high-risk behavior and increasing inclusivity while strengthening the college’s commitment to teaching and learning. The proposed house communities will be important in the success of this plan because they are designed for increased social interaction combined with intellectual experience.

The president applauded the theme of the Council meeting, which was the financial model of higher education, and the fact that the council seeks to be more informed about the college’s finances. The present model of higher education is unsustainable, yet Dartmouth must operate in a very competitive environment. In order to create new offerings, we must reduce costs in certain areas, and will also need philanthropy to meet our goals. We need to be mindful of costs yet also shine. Dartmouth is distinguished by its commitment to broad knowledge, its focus on the liberal arts, its sense of place, and its adventuresome spirit.

“Dartmouth by the Numbers” was presented by Pam Peedin ’89, ’98Tu, Dartmouth’s chief investment officer; Rick Mills, executive vice president; and Mike Wagner, chief financial officer. Mike described how Dartmouth’s mission is our value proposition. People, facilities, and financial aid are the college’s biggest costs. Audited financial statements for FY15 have been placed on the Controller’s Office website.  82 percent of Dartmouth’s total assets are financial assets, and the endowment represents 65 percent of Dartmouth’s total assets. There are $400+ million of operating reserves, of which less than $30 million are unrestricted and undesignated funds. 75 percent of total net assets are restricted, with 25 percent invested in the physical plant. Dartmouth’s product is not priced to generate income, and we depend on the generosity of donors and endowment returns.

By one measure, the total annual cost per undergraduate student in FY15 was $117, 818, of which tuition, room and board, and mandatory fees covered $61,947. $55,871 was funded by sources other than tuition. Approximately 50 percent of all students receive financial aid, which averages 70 percent of tuition, room and board. The Dartmouth population showed an increase over the ten years between 2004 and 2014. The undergraduate population grew 5.2 percent and the graduate/professional population 23.6 percent, for a combined increase of 10.4 percent. Faculty grew by 18.3 percent, and staff increased by 6.2 percent, for a combined employee increase of 8.8 percent.

Since 2003, applications have risen 126.7 percent; gifts have increased by 88.4 percent; courses offered have increased 15 percent; and endowment funds have increased 14.4 percent. In the Class of 2019, 46.9 percent of students are receiving financial aid. There are more scholarship dollars available per student, with the average scholarship for the Class of 2019 covering 72 percent of the cost. The College is prioritizing resource allocation toward innovation and academic excellence. There is an annual reallocation of 1.5 percent of expenses, which has been a valuable and creative exercise.

Pam Peedin then led a discussion about Dartmouth’s endowment. The Board of Trustees’ Investment Committee and the Investment Office together have oversight responsibility for Dartmouth’s investment assets. The Investment Committee provides oversight, while the investment team provides day to day management of the portfolio by identifying investment opportunities that are consistent with the strategy and guidelines provided by the committee and monitoring the portfolio. The vision of the office is to be the expert investment resource for college stakeholders, provide exceptional stewardship of the college’s investment assets, and to be an industry leader and partner of choice for top quality managers. The purpose of the endowment is to serve as a permanent source of capital for the institution; maximize stable, sustainable support to operations in the form of an annual distribution from the pool which is derived from investment return on the assets; and afford the potential to create a margin of excellence for the institution.

The endowment delivers roughly one quarter of Dartmouth’s budget. In the last ten years, endowment distributions were between 20 and 32 percent of Dartmouth’s annual operating budget. Dartmouth’s investment objectives are to maximize the sustainable support to Dartmouth over time, enhance the purchasing power of the endowment by adding funds to the endowment through gifts, and generating investment return that exceeds payout plus inflation (8-9 percent). Dartmouth is a top-quartile performer over the long term. Philanthropy allows the endowment to grow programs, and increases the power of compounding.   

At lunch, Cecilia Gaposchkin, associate professor of history and assistant dean of faculty for pre-major advising, spoke about the function of a liberal arts education.

Next on the agenda was a Nominating and Alumni Trustee Search Committee update, provided by chair David Edelson ’81. He outlined the purpose and composition of the committee. The committee nominates candidates for Alumni Council positions; formally appoints councilors based on recommendations from class, affiliated groups, regions, etc.; and recommends candidates for the Alumni Council to nominate to the Board of Trustees. The committee is a cross-section of the Alumni Council composed of the president, the president-elect, the past Nominating Committee chair, one appointed councilor and six elected councilors. Eight Alumni Council-nominated candidates were elected to the Board of Trustees in the last five years. The committee continues to review lists of possible trustee candidates, and new submissions are welcomed from alumni. A vacancy could arise unexpectedly, so the committee needs to be prepared to move forward with the nomination and election process, and will meet four times this year. Councilors are encouraged to submit nominations for Alumni Council leadership and for the ALC. David explained the election process for Alumni Council President-Elect, and asked councilors to provide him with any feedback.

Dean of the College Rebecca Biron and Vice Provost for Student Affairs Inge-Lise Ameer presented “Residential Education in Action: Dartmouth’s House Communities”. Dean Biron reiterated President Hanlon’s vision of Moving Dartmouth Forward of fundamentally transforming residential life at Dartmouth with the planning of the house communities. The house communities will provide deeper academic engagement, with the involvement of the house professors as academic role models; a positive sense of community, with life-long house membership identity; and continuity with a home base and a sense of place. Students will receive their life-long house membership designation at matriculation, and the house communities will be composed of up to about 700 students, with approximately half in residence in any given term. First year students will continue to live together in first year halls and participate in house activities. Sophomores, juniors, and seniors may choose to live in house communities for continuity. They may participate in house programs but may choose other residential options such as live learn communities, affinity programs, off-campus apartments, and Greek residences.

The countdown is on to the opening in the fall of 2016. The house professors have been appointed and a student advisory group has been convened. Dean of the College Biron, Vice Provost Ameer, the house professors and Student Affairs are continuing the planning process for programs and facilities.  This winter, all non-graduating students will receive house membership designations in advance of the spring room draw process. There will be a series of events to celebrate this step. Next summer, the incoming class of 2020 will receive their random house community assignments in addition to a first year residence. House professors will move into their campus residences. In the fall of 2016, inaugural house community programs, activities, and new traditions will begin.

Working group discussions are taking place this fall, at the request of Dean Biron. They center on faculty involvement, student house leadership and kickoff event planning and identity building. The house communities will continue to have the guidance of community directors, as dorms do now, and house professors and students will be involved in support and planning.

Next on the agenda, Provost Carolyn Dever presented on the 50-year lifecycle of a faculty member. The provost is teaching undergrads at Dartmouth for the first time this term, and shared how much she is enjoying the experience. One of her primary responsibilities is recruiting and developing faculty. 56 percent of the Dartmouth faculty is housed in Arts & Sciences; 32 percent at Geisel, 7 percent at Tuck, and 5 percent at Thayer. 36 percent of the faculty have attained the academic rank of full professor; 21 percent associate professor; 23 percent assistant professor; and 20 percent are instructors. Across the total institution 61 percent of the faculty is male and 39 percent female. At the present time the race/ethnicity of 83.7 percent of the faculty is white, followed by 6.8 percent who are Asian, 3.2 percent Hispanic, 2.8 percent international, 1.6 percent two or more races, and 1.3 percent Black/African-American. Vice Provost for Academic Initiatives Denise Anthony is focused on ensuring the further diversification of the faculty.

The career phases of the faculty member include candidate, assistant professor, associate professor, full professor, and professor emeritus/emerita. Typically, assistant professors are hired out of graduate school and after six years are considered for tenure. At that time, he or she undergoes a very extensive departmental review by a committee, with external reviews involved as well. This is an “up and out” process, with those who are not granted tenure leaving Dartmouth to seek other opportunities. The next level is associate professor, where 6-10 years pass before a review to rise to full professor. Key attributes are success as a teacher, scholarly work, and broader contribution to the community. Tenure track jobs can have 100-500 applications, and the competition is intense. Once hired, young faculty members bear full teaching responsibilities, conduct independent research, and need mentoring, support and guidance. Often a new faculty member brings a spouse or partner who may need support as well.

The deans control budgets for faculty hiring. The size of recruiting packages can vary and depends on the department and discipline. The upfront investment to set up a laboratory can be several million dollars. The college must constantly re-recruit its best faculty. The provost is seeing more interdisciplinary candidates applying for positions.

Next, Vice President for Alumni Relations Martha Beattie ’76 introduced breakout sessions on the house communities. Councilors then broke out into small groups and considered three questions: What advice would you give our house professors for promoting the integration of academic and residential life? What kinds of programs and activities do you think would be the most productive and appealing to current and prospective students? Should alumni have a connection with the house communities and, if so, what roles might they play in supporting them over the longer term?

The Alumni Awards, Honorary Degrees, and Young Alumni Committees all met later that afternoon. A student-led campus tour of new buildings was also offered to alumni councilors.

In the evening, councilors attended the Alumni Awards Gala. The festive dinner program opened with a welcome from Jennifer Avellino and President Hanlon. Two alumni received the Young Alumni Distinguished Service Award: Michael J. Vidmar ’03 and S. Caroline Kerr ’05. Three alumni were honored with the Dartmouth Alumni Award: Ellie Mahoney Loughlin ’89; Ellis B. Rowe ’74; and Patricia E. Berry ’81. Brief films were shown of each recipient.

The Alumni Liaison Committee met for breakfast with trustees Bill Helman ’80, Emily Bakemeier ’82, Bill Burgess ’81, and Ben Wilson ’73.

Jennifer Avellino opened the Saturday plenary session, asking the chairs of the standing committees to report on the meetings held the day prior. Of note, Alumni Liaison Committee chair Lou Spelios ’95 reported on the recent Moosilauke Forum survey on social media usage conducted in partnership with the Alumni Liaison Committee (ALC). Lou urged alumni councilors to read the 2014-2015 ALC report to the Board of Trustees. Survey results showed that 80 percent of Dartmouth alumni use two or more social media channels, with Facebook remaining one of the most popular platforms. Alumni are more likely to follow their class pages than institutional pages from Dartmouth. We will strive to be more creative and innovative the way we share information, include young alumni perspectives, and partner in sharing information with special interest groups/classes.

Chair Bill Helman ’80, Emily Bakemeier ’82, Bill Burgess ’81, and Ben Wilson ’73 provided an update from the Board of Trustees. Ben Wilson spoke about President Hanlon’s strong vision of academic excellence. The planned expansion of the Thayer School is going ahead, and will demand greater resources. There is greater gender equity within the student body across the schools. The post doctorate fellows of the Society of Fellows are in their first term at Dartmouth. Academic clusters include the William H. Neukom Academic Cluster in Computational Science, the Jack Byrne Academic Cluster in Decision Science, and clusters focused on health care delivery sciences and globalization. Plans are being made to establish a graduate school of Arts & Sciences, and this will help foster the graduate student population.

The trustees are focused on strengthening and diversifying the faculty, with support from vice provost for academic initiatives Denise Anthony. Wilson thanked the alumni for their engagement in the Moving Dartmouth Forward initiative, and its six areas of recommendation. An external review will be conducted by a committee, headed by chair Larry Bacow, Tufts University president emeritus, and report to the Board of Trustees in November.

The house communities will commence with random assignments for members of the Class of 2019. Accomplished faculty will participate in organizing and programming. Students will be able to return to these residential spaces and create strong relationships.

Chief operating officer for advancement Ann Root Keith presented “The Impact of Philanthropy on Dartmouth’s Budget.” Ann gave an overview of the Advancement Division and its work. She then delved into a discussion about philanthropy. Nationally, education received 15 percent of charitable gifts in 2014, second only to religion. The top motivations for giving to education are belief in the cause; loyalty to the institution; high regard for the president, provost, dean, etc.; desire to make a difference; and commitment to giving back.

Changing demographics are bringing in the next generation of younger and more diverse donors. Larger gifts are favoring cross-discipline giving and mission-driven philanthropy. There are accelerating demands for technology, information management and online media. Donor advised funds are one of the fastest growing ways for donors to contribute to favorite organizations. There is a continued focus on market research and data analytics. Alumni giving remains the primary source of total private support to higher education, and dollar totals continue to increase, but participation rates are declining at most institutions of higher education.

Ann then talked about philanthropy at Dartmouth. The Dartmouth College Fund (DCF) was founded just over a century ago. Today it plays a significant role in Dartmouth’s annual operating budget. It totaled $54.6 million in FY15, including endowment income designated to the DCF. 43 percent of alumni participated. The Centennial Circle launched in 2014 with DCF gifts of $100,000 or more and now includes 130 women donors. 10 percent of Dartmouth’s college-only operating budget is covered through gifts from the DCF. The largest endowment fund at Dartmouth is the Edward Tuck 1862 Fund for Dartmouth. Established in 1899, it now distributes $6 million in unrestricted funds. Last year, $222 million was given to Dartmouth (cash) for all purposes.

Dartmouth’s most recent campaign, the Campaign for the Dartmouth Experience, received broad support from 70 percent of alumni, and raised $1.312 billion, providing $531 million for current use, $345 million for facilities, and $407 million for the endowment. Planning is now underway for the next campaign. Campaign fundraising requires early investment during the years before sustained philanthropic growth is achieved. Through a campaign, Dartmouth can affirm its institutional values; state the vision for new and timeless aspirations, and fund objectives that will define the next quarter century.

The open forum commenced, with an open discussion period for councilors and open microphone for alumni.

The meeting was adjourned.

An Executive Committee debriefing conference call took place on Wednesday, October 28.