208th Session Meeting Minutes

Chair Vin Pellegrini ’77 welcomed the group and attending councilors introduced themselves.

Vin reported that an update on the curriculum review is on the back burner until the new provost is in place and can take this on fully.

Vin announced that David Van Wie ’79 would be the new vice chair of the Academic Affairs Committee as of July 1, 2014. Brendan Connell ’87 will become the Chair of the Committee at this time.

Gail A. Gentes ’77a, Director of Action-Based Learning Programs shared a PowerPoint with the group to provide a baseline of understanding for the term Experiential Learning as it relates to the Dartmouth undergraduate experience. Gail has been at work since Fall 2013 to inventory and document all that is happening regarding action-based learning programs at Dartmouth.

Senior Lecturer Charles A. Wheelan ’88 spoke to the Councilors about his December 2013 ten-day visit to India with a group of undergraduates in a Rockefeller Public Policy Course. He shared a 5-minute film that showed the students in India and being interviewed about their experience. Wheelan explained that his trip is a marriage of a "First Year Trip with a Senior Seminar.” The lynchpin of the experience for the students is that they must deliver a white paper before the end of the trip. This assignment truly focuses the group. They take what they learn in the Fall seminar and work to put it into practice on this trip.

Charlie explained that this is a needs-blind class/trip. The students have to pay their round trip airfare but they can apply for aid from the College and from the Rockefeller Center. Cost should not be an issue for a student's participation. Three students who went on the trip participated in the Council meeting: Eric Yang ’14, Shoshana Silverstein ’15 and Ayushi Narayan ’14.

There were then questions from the Councilors for all of the presenters, including Why now? Why in the forefront? What is the gap?

Gail Gentes responded that you can get knowledge via technology these days but to gain wisdom you must take the knowledge and do things with it. This is where experiential learning comes into play. Wheelan added that you get the background in class and then you go out into the world to make sense of what you have just learned.

Vin asked the group to share thoughts for possible topics to be covered at the next meeting in Fall 2014.

The Committee thanked Vin for his good work as Chair of the Academic Affairs Committee.

The Alumni Liaison Committee (ALC) met in Hanover twice during the 208th Alumni Council meeting. Its first meeting was held on Thursday, May 15. Committee chair Marty Lempres ’84 opened the meeting. Committee members discussed feedback received from alumni through their alumni councilors to date and email volumes by category. Next on the agenda was a discussion about the format and timeline for the production of the 2013-14 annual report, which will be shared with the Board of Trustees and posted online for all alumni. It was decided that, in addition to the annual report, the committee will also provide the Board of Trustees Advancement Committee with short, quarterly reports throughout the year. President-Elect Lou Spelios ’95 reported the findings of the social media working group. Vice President for Alumni Relations Martha Beattie ’76 provided an update on the Moosilauke Forum, which is a research panel composed of approximately 2500 alumni who will participate in monthly surveys on a wide variety of topics. The first survey will be conducted in the summer. The committee concluded the meeting with a review of the agenda for their next meeting, which would take place on Saturday morning with President Hanlon and trustee Bill Burgess ’81.

The second meeting was held on May 17, with trustee Bill Burgess ’81 and President Hanlon. Alumni Council president Mark Davis ’81 Tu’86 provided a recap of the 208th Alumni Council meeting. The committee discussed the April Summit and the work of the Presidential Steering Committee on Moving Dartmouth Forward. They noted that councilors were pleased to have the opportunity to participate in breakout discussion groups the day before to discuss the issues being addressed by the Presidential Steering Committee and to provide the committee with their feedback and recommendations. A discussion followed about some of the feedback that resulted from the breakout groups. The committee discussed additional potential actions that councilors could take to support the work of the Presidential Steering Committee (for example, hold conference calls with the executive committees of their constituencies to gather more alumni feedback).  The meeting concluded with a discussion pertaining to high risk student behavior on campus.

The Athletics Committee, led by chair Mike Vidmar '03, met with Deputy Athletic Director Bob (Cep) Ceplikas ’78 and other members of the athletics staff over breakfast on Friday, May 16, 2014. Director of Athletics Harry Sheehy ’55a was unable to be present at the meeting due to his attendance at the first-ever appearance by the Dartmouth Softball Team in the NCAA Tournament in Tempe, AZ.

Cep kicked off the meeting with a general overview on "Dartmouth Athletics: The Quest for Competitive Excellence." He briefly described the broad scope of Dartmouth's athletic program, which is a source of pride and challenge. Brian Austin, Executive Associate Athletic Director, presented highlights of varsity sports this year with many bright spots across the board. Roger Demment, Senior Associate Athletic Director, did the same for club sports, again with many success stories. Bob then described the budget reallocation process and how it will impact athletics. Assistant Athletic Director Donnie Brooks gave an update on Dartmouth Peak Performance, with emphasis on two important areas, the BASICS and Dartmouth Bystander Initiative programs. In addition, Brian described Dartmouth's approach to "helicopter parents," and Richard Whitmore, Senior Associate Athletic Director, gave a facilities update.  Bob completed the presentation with updates on admissions/recruiting/financial aid; progress on the athletic endowment (now at $11.5 million toward its $20 million goal); other fundraising efforts; and the new format for Wearers of the Green inductions on Homecoming Weekend.

A panel of three very accomplished student-athletes described what brought them to Dartmouth, what they value most about their experience here, and the challenges of being a student-athlete. The students were:

Nejc Zupan ’14 (Kamnik, Slovenia):  Swimming and Diving – All-American, 4X First Team All-Ivy, MVP of 2013 Ivy Championship Meet, 2013 Watson Trophy Winner (Dartmouth's Best Male Athlete)

Annie Hart ’14 (Stillwater, MN): Cross Country Skiing—2014 All-American

Scott Brookes ’14 (Long Valley, NJ): Club Fencing—one of three captains/coaches of the team that won the 2014 National Championship and Coach of the Year Award

The students were both engaging and inspiring and the committee thanked them for all that they do for Dartmouth.

At the conclusion of the meeting, Mike turned the chairmanship over to Bob Mlakar ’70 and introduced Russell Wolff  ’89 Tu’94 as the new vice chair.

Committee chair Greg Chittim ’01 Th’02 opened the meeting. Lynne Gaudet provided metrics pertaining to Alumni Councilor communications. One action item that resulted from a Communications Working Group was a decision to shorten the meeting template. The template for the 208th meeting summary will be in short, bullet point form outlining the meeting highlights, and it will provide a link to the full minutes which will be posted online for alumni who are interested in reading more extensive information about the Alumni Council meeting. In addition, the 208th meeting template will include a link to the site where alumni can provide feedback to the Presidential Steering Committee for Moving Dartmouth Forward by the deadline of June 30.

Jonathan Goldstein, Executive Director of Communications for Alumni Relations and Development, provided an update on the work pertaining to the Alumni Directory. In October the College moved from Harris to iModules with a soft launch to troubleshoot. In January 2014, ADVANCE Web was launched. In February-March 2014, the College connected the ADVANCE database to iModules. In April, 2014 the College began to promote the Alumni Directory and Career Network to the wider alumni body. The early promotion included an e-mail to the dozen 2015 reunion classes. Jonathan outlined the planned rollout to the entire alumni body and the usage results to date. Looking forward, the College plans to assess the results from the first twelve classes they tested, send reminders this coming summer, and establish new patterns for outreach by increasing contacts (post reunions, Alumni Council, other close volunteers, special promotions).   

The committee elected Jacques Steinberg ’88 to serve as vice chair of the Communications Committee next year. Peter Elias ’69, the current vice chair, will become chair of the committee at that time.

Greg Chittim led a discussion about future activities for the committee. Committee members discussed whether or not they could assist with communications about events on campus. It was recommended that the committee consider serving as the main communicator to councilors, webmasters, presidents, newsletter editors, and secretaries with cutting-edge, helpful information (and prep information).

The committee joined the Alumni Council Student Affairs Committee to hear a presentation together by Gillian O'Connell ’15 and Esteban Castano ’14 about the "Improve Dartmouth" crowdsourcing site.  Students and other members of the Dartmouth community can submit recommendations to "Improve Dartmouth," which are posted online for students and others to vote on. Anonymity is not allowed, but posted comments with the name of the author are. The six student moderators take the most popular ideas and submit them to their “administrative partners” for consideration. The administrative partners then post a response on the website in agreement or an explanation about why the recommendation cannot be implemented. The moderators track the progress of the ideas that have been submitted.  They are also training future moderators of the site to guarantee its sustainability. They are also assisting the Presidential Steering Committee for Moving Dartmouth Forward to collect feedback and have set up a section of the site titled "Improving Dartmouth on the Ground.” It provides a forum for discussion about student social life and an opportunity for all members of the Dartmouth community, including alumni, to participate.

Chair Lisa Cloitre ’94, Tu’02 welcomed the group. After introductions, Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Maria Laskaris '84 provided an update on the admissions process and the Class of 2018. This year’s application process was marked by a 6 percent increase in early decision applications and a 14 percent decrease in overall applications. Despite the decline in general applications, this was the fourth largest pool of applicants to the College and one of the strongest and most diverse pools in the College's history.

New yield initiatives were introduced this spring to better connect admitted students and their families. Dimensions offerings were expanded, and attendance rose from 800 students last year to 1,300 this year. A national strategy for alumni-sponsored yield events was coordinated with Alumni Relations. Student-to-student outreach expanded, led by admissions interns. The yield for offers of admission was a very strong 54.5 percent. As of May 1, the Class of 2018 had 1210 members, well above the target.

Recruiting is underway for the Class of 2019. A new Admissions website and publications for prospective students are being launched. 

In order to support ongoing improvements to admissions efforts, an Admissions-Alumni Relations task force was formed in Spring 2014. This collaborative, cross-office effort reviewed current admissions processes, benchmarked efforts of peer institutions, and identified opportunities for greater and more effective alumni involvement. A key recommendation of the task force and its co-heads, Maria Laskaris and Martha Beattie, Vice President for Alumni Relations, is the creation of an Admissions-Alumni Relations Committee. This new committee would operate similarly to the Dartmouth College Fund Committee, and would continue to ensure Dartmouth’s recruitment and matriculation of the very best students through joint efforts of the Admissions Office and the College’s passionate and committed alumni body.

The meeting was called to order by JB Daukas ’84, Student Affairs Committee Chair.

Laura Hicks Roberts ’85 was elected to serve as the committee’s Vice Chair in 2014-2015. The current Vice Chair, Matt Hoffman ’82, will become the chair on July 1.

Dean of the College Charlotte Johnson, announced that this will be her last presentation to the Alumni Council as she will transition from her post as Dean of the College at Dartmouth to Vice President at Scripps College in Claremont, California. Johnson announced that, despite three years of constant administrative transition, the Office of the Dean of the College was able to cover a lot of ground. During her tenure we have seen the hiring of four new additional deans, which has helped to lessen the advising/mentoring load for undergraduate deans and significantly increase student contact. The advising 360 pilot program has been successfully implemented and has redefined the way students are advised before they declare their major in their sophomore year. The First-Year Student Enrichment Program (FYSEP) is in its 4th year and the College has observed a 0.5 GPA increase in First-Generation College students who are involved in the program versus those who are not. Dartmouth’s Career Services Office has a new Director in Roger Woolsey and he has rebranded the office as the “Center for Professional Development” (CPD). Woolsey believes that professional development and advancement should take place over all four years of a student’s college experience and should not only be addressed during senior year. The CPD has partnered with Alumni Relations to create a series of Career Immersion trips that aim to expose Dartmouth students and young alumni to careers/professions of interest with day-long workplace visits and panels.

Major strides have been taken in the area of student health and wellness. Dartmouth Cares launched a suicide prevention program and over 300 students attended a depression screening workshop. Four new counselors have been added to Dick’s House, which has cut down counseling wait times from 3-4 weeks to roughly 3-4 days. The Brief Alcohol Screening and Intervention for College Students program (BASICS) has proven to be a success with alcohol-related medical transports, seeing a decrease from 36 to 7 in a calendar year. Dean Johnson attended a White House meeting focused on the reduction of sexual assaults on college campuses. The meeting showed that Dartmouth is on the cutting edge of sexual misconduct prevention and have the top three suggestions already in place.

Casey Dennis ’15 and Frank Cunningham ’16 made a presentation on behalf of the Student Assembly. They decided to run for Student Assembly (SA) leadership offices about four months ago while they were both on off terms in Washington, D.C. Dennis and Cunningham saw SA as the ideal body of student leaders to “Take Back Dartmouth.” Dennis and Cunningham have taken on the work of reuniting a campus that has been fractured by the media and external forces. They are firm believers that “Everyone Bleeds Green Together” and that every voice, opinion, and perspective on Dartmouth’s campus matters and is valued. Over the next year they hope to rebrand SA and have it serve as an organization that is truly representative of the student body. Dennis and Cunningham hope to restructure SA and have four committees to address student issues and concern. The four committees will encompass public affairs, diversity and community, student affairs, and academic affairs.

Esteban Castano ’14 and Alex Leach ’14 spoke to the committee about Dartmouth Roots, a student group that helps to implement ideas to help improve Dartmouth. To date, Dartmouth Roots has helped to optimize commons spaces in dorms, proposed new upgrades to Sarner Underground, and launched the website ImproveDartmouth.com. ImproveDartmouth is a crowdsourcing website used to focus student opinion on pressing issues on campus. Users are able to vote up or down on an idea and the most voted-on ideas bubble to the top. Ideas and initiatives that garner the most student support are shared with a committee of administrators who assess its feasibility and when viable, will implement them. ImproveDartmouth.com requires individuals to log in and post ideas with their name and class year associated with it. Knowing that some of the most radical and useful ideas may not be well received, Dartmouth Roots has also created the website Improve Dartmouth On the Ground, which functions in the same way as Improve Dartmouth but allows community members to post anonymously.