211th Session Meeting Minutes

Chair David Van Wie ’79, ’84Th opened the meeting. Councilors introduced themselves around the table. David reviewed the mission of the committee, ensuring that alumni are kept informed about the curriculum, and emphasized the liaison aspect of the committee’s charge related to alumni lifelong learning.

Meg Ramsden, speaking on behalf of committee secretary Robin Albing who could not attend, introduced the concept of Faculty Awards. The rationale for presenting this award includes: generating goodwill and increasing interactionbetween faculty and alumni, to the benefit of both groups;; recognizing faculty contributions to alumni lifelong learning; revitalizing a program which existed in the past; and keeping in step with recognition efforts at peer institutions.

The selection process will entail presenting a list of Alumni Relations-nominated faculty to the committee for review at the fall meeting. Committee members will then be emailed a ballot with a fuller description of each candidate. The 6-8 names that receive the most votes will be sent to the provost and academic deans for feedback, and then Alumni Relations will make final recommendations.

Criteria for the Faculty Award include the scope of contributions to alumni (programs with which faculty have been involved); breadth of contributions; and status as a current faculty member. The award would be presented at the spring Alumni Council meeting, at a time to be determined by the Alumni Council Executive Committee. The recipient would be seated at a reserved table with his or her guests. The presenter is still to be determined, but suggestions included the Alumni Council president, the chair of the Academic Affairs Committee, or an alum who had a particularly wonderful experience with that professor, to add a personal touch.

The committee considered a list of nominations. Discussion ensued about how the faculty might feel about this type of recognition. It was suggested that alumni councilors might also ask their constituents for nominations for 2017. Another councilor asked if a “rising star” award might be a good way to motivate young faculty. There are many faculty who might want to be considered for alumni programming, and awareness of opportunities and process must be spread. There has not been a general call for volunteer presenters, and some topics and academic material might not translate to the wider population.

The question was raised whether this is achieving the full purpose of the committee’s mission, which includes encouraging engagement of the faculty. Dartmouth faculty tends to think of alumni as former students. Meg will bring the committee’s feedback to Alumni Relations. Overall the idea of faculty recognition was well-received. Engagement with lifelong learning helps alumni be part of the campus community. Perhaps diligence in maintaining relationships and mentoring could be included in the criteria as well.

Next on the agenda, Denise Anthony, vice provost for academic initiatives, provided an update on the academic cluster initiative. The faculty clusters, as part of President Hanlon’s academic vision, will extend Dartmouth’s impact on the world by enabling interdisciplinary collaboration and research at the leading edge of discovery while building on areas of existing strength and potential for growth. These academic clusters will each include three faculty members, with at least one being a distinguished professor, plus two additional professors, teaching in a minimum of two different departments/schools. Each cluster will be funded through $15 million in new resources if by December 15, 2015 there is $10 million from one or more donors for three faculty positions, which will be matched by $5 million in funds from the president’s office for ongoing activities.

Proposals were submitted from faculty. Nine academic clusters were identified in Round 1 in 2013-2014, and in Round 2, 2014-2015, five more have been identified. Five clusters have been funded so far, including the Neukom, Levy and Byrne clusters. Dan Rockmore, the William H. Neukom 1964 Distinguished Professor of Computational Science and Director of the Neukom Institute for Computational Science, shared his own experience as part of the Neukom cluster. The hiring committee must approach candidates with an eye to how they will be accepted by other interdisciplinary departments. Professors must have multiple appointments to connect with departments and advise students. The clusters are provided with funds to integrate resources and support activities such as seminars, visiting lecturers, etc. The clusters are a designation, a signal that the college is interested in these world problems. It will take about five years to build these clusters. Students are integrated through such programs as the Sophomore Science Scholarships, the James O. Freedman Presidential Scholarships, and the Women in Science Program. As Dartmouth attracts top faculty, they will also attract high caliber students, creating a spillover effect.

Next there was a discussion of potential future agenda topics. They included creation of the graduate school for Arts & Sciences; a panel of graduate and undergraduate students describing their experiences working together, mentoring, researching, etc.; the role of academics in the house communities; and potential alumni involvement.

The Alumni Liaison Committee met twice during the 211th Alumni Council meeting. The committee held their first meeting on Thursday, October 22. Chair Lou Spelios led a debrief of the September 30 conference call with the Board of Trustees’ Advancement Committee. There has been a rapid increase in the amount of communications sent to the Alumni Liaison Committee. The committee has focused on a strengthened effort to reach alumni in a variety of ways, including prompts in the post-meeting template, through the Moosilauke Forum survey, and on social media platforms.

Next on the agenda was the recent social media survey conducted by the Moosilauke Forum. Key takeaways about alumni engagement with Dartmouth on social media include: content must be relevant to alumni; content must make them feel good about Dartmouth through nostalgia or College or alumni accomplishments; posts must be concise and short; and photos should be a focus. There was discussion about making a brief video of the Alumni Council spring meeting. ALC members Lou Spelios, Jack Steinberg, and Jennifer Avellino will work with the Alumni Council’s Young Alumni Committee to identify possible additional outreach via social media platforms. 

Jennifer Avellino provided an overview of the 211th Alumni Council meeting and schedule. Sue Finegan provided a report from the Association of Alumni (AoA). 

Lou Spelios reported that the ALC has received 239 emails to date this year.  At this same time in 2014, the ALC had received 194 emails, and in 2013 the ALC had received 183 emails.  There has been a steady increase in email feedback over the last several years from alumni.

Lynne Gaudet discussed the 2015-2016 ALC report. Committee members agreed that the current format of the annual report seems to work well. 

The Alumni Liaison Committee held a breakfast meeting on Saturday, October 25th with trustees Ben Wilson, Emily Bakemeier, Bill Burgess, and chair of the Board of Trustees Bill Helman.

Jennifer Avellino provided an overview of the 211th Alumni Council meeting, noting that the theme focused on the financial model of higher education and the philanthropy that supports it. In particular, the Alumni Councilors enjoyed participating in breakout sessions on Friday afternoon in which they provided feedback to three questions that focused on the new house communities.  Jennifer also mentioned that the Alumni Council’s Alumni Service Committee has selected May 7, 2016 to be the date for the second annual Alumni Day of Service.

Lou Spelios extended his appreciation for the participation of the Board of Trustees’ Advancement Committee during the conference call that took place between them and the ALC on September 30th to discuss the ALC 2014-2015 annual report. During that call, Advancement Committee chair David Hodgson shared a very helpful update on the Board of Trustees.

Lou reported on the Moosilauke Forum social media survey that was recently completed. The ALC collaborated with the College’s Communications department and Jean Romeo on this effort. The results indicate that Instagram is a great opportunity to explore; Facebook is heavily used, but near the saturation level; and each social media platform has its own “personality”. Jennifer mentioned that throughout the Alumni Council meeting, various class representatives said that they were posting Alumni Council related items on their class Facebook pages. Also, Communications chair Jack Steinberg noted that he was working with two of the young alumni councilors, Alexandra Roberts and Hoi Ning Ngai, to live tweet during the sessions. Jack, Jennifer and Lou met with the Alumni Council’s Young Alumni Committee on Friday afternoon to gather feedback from them about possible social platforms to explore. The information gathered was substantive and the Young Alumni Committee will hold a conference call with the entire ALC to continue the discussion following this weekend. During the spring meeting, we also hope to produce a short video (similar to the one that was just produced about the DEN program in San Francisco) with some of the 212th Alumni Council meeting highlights.

The Alumni Service Committee debriefed new and visiting members regarding last year’s Day of Service, 2015. It was announced that the 2016 Day of Service will be held on Saturday, May 7. All agreed that the longer lead time for planning this year will be beneficial.

A general communication will be sent before the end of the year

All registration will go through iModules5

 A link will be provided to a survey that people can fill out if they are interested in coordinating a project or interested in volunteering.

The clubs will be used as “hubs” broadly communicating opportunities in their areas. They will receive names of people who are interested in their area.

We will revisit the mission at the spring council meeting.

The meeting included Theresa Ellis, Director of the Center for Service, who gave a status update on the new Center for Service. As of July 1, the Center for Service is a stand-alone center, and has three people staffing it. She hopes to hire four more people by January. 

Theresa is spending her time on-boarding her new hires; interviewing for future hires; and preparing for the upcoming campaign (building the business case for support); and developing new programming.

The mission of the Center is to prepare students for a life of purpose; whether it be in the social sector or in the area of corporate responsibility.

Some top priorities for the Center include:

Providing access for students who want to volunteer in the Upper Valley by creating an online searchable database for students.

Continuing to scale current programs such as Summer Enrichment at Dartmouth and Big Brother/Big Sister.

Continuing to partner with Rocky and the MLDP program to develop more field training programs for leadership roles.

Providing support to students who are interested in starting a non-profit venture or social sector ventures.

Partnering with the Center for Professional Development and providing exposure to current programs.

Strengthening and understanding alumni networks and the Ivy Plus communities.

Mapping faculty research interests and how they relate to the Center

Conducting a community needs assessment—what do you really need from Dartmouth College?

Piloting two immersion trips

We will invite Theresa to our spring meeting to talk further about how the Alumni Service Committee can support their priorities.

The Committee will meet once per month for the next several months, and more often as we get closer to the Day of Service.  At our next meeting, scheduled for November 16, we will outline a timeline and communication plan for the Day of Service.

In their first meeting as chair and vice chair, Russell Wolff and Martha Gerhan welcomed everyone and thanked the attendees for coming.

Harry Sheehy and Bob Ceplikas talked about such points as the success for many teams, huge Homecoming attendance at the football game; DP2; number of sports at Dartmouth (35 compared to the national average of 19); and capital campaign progress.

About DP2, Harry said, “There’s a better chance of reaching your potential at Dartmouth than any other place in the country—we lead the nation in graduation success rate and academic progress rate.”

In response to a question, Harry also said that at Dartmouth there’s plenty of room for the non-athlete. “We want to sell health and wellness; what it means to set up a healthy life.”

Russell and Martha spoke about the following three areas:

Dartmouth on the Road: There may be more opportunity to engage alumni and parents during away athletic events. Russell asks, “How are we helping get the word out?”

DP2:  Alumni—even alumni who never played a sport—may be able to play an even bigger role in networking with our students and young alumni. Russell says, “One of the greatest gifts we can give to the College is to mentor a young person.”

Philanthropy:  The work of the athletics committee should make people more connected to the College and more likely to provide philanthropic support.

Working Session on DP2: Potential Alumni Involvement—Drew Galbraith ‘64a, Donnie Brooks

Drew Galbraith Galbraith and Donnie Brooks gave a presentation about alumni involvement in DP2.  Drew said the goal is to find areas where alumni can help a program and still allow the staff to serve the students. One potential area is for alumni to provide expertise or speak on leadership. Regarding a potential topic, Drew asked, “What were the things that shaped the type of leader you are, in your family, community, and line of work?”

Drew also spoke about the increasingly important DP2 area of mental wellbeing. “Students need to know that asking for help is OK—it’s not a sign of weakness,” he said.

Donnie spoke about how students make connections with alumni. He said there are great electronic tools there—the Dartmouth career network, the new Dartmouth Circles—but the person-to-person is still crucial. “Wherever you are, class or group, it’s great to let student athletes know what you do for a profession,” he said. “When alumni speak, that’s gospel to these students.”

Martha stressed that the committee doesn’t want to “parachute in” and suggest initiatives that aren’t sustainable.

Three students participated on a panel presentation and spoke about their experiences at Dartmouth, thanking alumni for their support. Topics included how DP2 has benefitted them, Dartmouth’s facilities, and the friendships they made.  They also talked about their next steps after Dartmouth—Jack Connolly ’16 will be working at a growth equity firm in Waltham; Kathy Dzienkowski ‘16 is applying to work for Teach for America; and David Berg ’16, a Dartmouth ROTC participant, will commission as a second lieutenant. 

The meeting adjourned and the committee took a tour of Memorial Field’s new West Stands.


Committee chair Jack Steinberg ’88 welcomed the new committee members and introduced Justin Anderson, vice president for communications, for his presentation. Justin was accompanied by Diana Lawrence, director of media relations, and Erin Supinka, social media manager. Justin focused his presentation on media coverage. He shared the success story of how the Mobile Virtual Player (MVP) developed jointly by Thayer School of Engineering and football coach Buddy Teevens ’79 made it to the Late Night Show with Stephen Colbert andthe impact of Dartmouth’s presence in the media. Dartmouth’s media coverage since last year has seen a remarkable increase, thanks to the Office of Communications’ strategy of expanding the faculty outreach, building partnerships (OpEd, Sirius, Morning Joe), and working more closely with the local AP reporter. A lot of work is also being done on the social media front to expand reach, increase engagement, align content to Dartmouth’s key messages, and utilize analytics to shape content. Justin shared that Dartmouth’s Instagram account was ranked 2nd best in the world by Hubspot.com, a marketing software platform based in Cambridge, MA.  Erin Supinka agreed to advise the Communications committee on the Alumni Council’s use of social media.

Katie McKay ’16, editor of The Dartmouth, presented about the coverage by her newspaper of campus events over the last few months. She engaged the committee members in a discussion about a wide range of topics, including the Moving Dartmouth Forward initiatives, the AAU (Association of American Universities) Survey and the Clery Act data results, and the recent incidents around Columbus Day and Native American students on campus. The committee was impressed by her use of data in reporting on these topics. Katie ended on a positive note about how she noticed a shift from thinking that Dartmouth is the best to how we can make Dartmouth a better place for everyone.

Jack will work with Cheryl Abbot ’96, vice-chair, and Olivier, to schedule a conference call to brainstorm ways the committee might be of service to the Alumni Council on communications issues this academic year.

Committee Chair Kim Buresh ’90 opened the session with a welcome and a preview of the meeting. She then asked councilors to introduce themselves.

Paul Sunde, director of admissions and interim dean of admissions and financial aid, and William Corbett ’10, senior assistant director of admissions, provided important updates. A policy change going into effect this year is that admissions for international students is now need aware rather than need blind. This change will align the international population with the College’s overall enrollment goals by enabling Admissions to strategically and sustainably recruit a larger cohort of international students while continuing to enroll a group that is geographically, culturally, and socio-economically diverse. It is important to note that Dartmouth will continue to meet 100% of need for admitted students, both international and domestic.

Paul Sunde also talked about a new application platform called The Coalition for Equity, Access and Success. This grew from the collaboration of more than 80 (and growing) public and private colleges and universities that are committed to affordability, access and success for students from diverse backgrounds. The application provides a free platform of online tools that will encourage self-reflection and long-range planning with the goal that students from under-resourced backgrounds will begin to think about college at a younger age and start the planning that is needed in order to be competitive in highly selective schools’ applicant pools.

William Corbett covered the realignment of the SAT. The test is evolving to be more based on high school curriculums and will use words in context (no more “SAT” words) and remove the penalty for guessing.  The College Board has partnered with Khan Academy to provide free, personalized SAT preparation online.

Meg Lysy ’99, director of the Admissions Ambassador Program, gave an overview of the Alumni Relations/Admissions partnership. The Enrollment and Admissions Committee had helped build the case for this position to be created and it was gratifying for the group to see their efforts rewarded. Meg presented a few key “lessons learned” from last spring’s Moosilauke Forum survey on interviewing and how the program was addressing these challenges.  One key take away was that prospective volunteers, particularly young alumni, worried that the alumni interviewing program was too much of a time commitment. Therefore an effort has begun to publicize the fact that alumni can interview a student in one hour – from setting it up to writing the report. Another piece of feedback was that interviewers didn’t understand how the reports were being used and didn’t feel well equipped to answer questions. The new program has focused on increased training and communication to all volunteers.

Ideally, the alumni interviewing program will include more ways to be involved than just interviewing. Alumni could be involved in recruiting students, working with high schools to staff college nights and other college readiness activities, and helping with yield efforts or mentoring once a student is at Dartmouth. The rollout of the brand “Admissions Ambassador Program” will be ongoing but the thrust of the focus is based on feedback generated from the Moosilauke Forum Survey.

In hopes of reaching more students than ever for an interview, Class of 2016 students are interviewing prospective students as part of a virtual “Skype” district. The focus for this district is candidates with an APO address (military abroad), some rural students and local Hanover area applicants.

The open session generated many insightful questions, including how international students view Dartmouth and whether the fact that Dartmouth is a college rather than a university impacts their impressions. The discussion also covered the transfer process at Dartmouth and how transfer students can be a great gateway to students of lower socio-economic status as well as veterans. Dartmouth is part of the Posse veterans program and will be bringing its first group of 10 veterans to campus through the Posse program in the fall of 2016. A good suggestion was made that training should be offered as to the best way to conduct a Skype interview most effectively.

In closing, Kim Buresh encouraged all committee members to sign up to interview the Class of 2020.

On Thursday afternoon, the Professional Development Committee gathered at the Center for Professional Development (CPD) with representatives from the Athletics Committee and the Alumni Service Committee. Roger Woolsey, director of the CPD, shared data from the Class of 2015’s Cap and Gown Survey, which is administered at the time of graduation.

86 percent of graduating seniors responded to the survey, with 85 percent of respondents indicating that they had confirmed plans for employment, graduate school or a fellowship after graduation. 

89 percent of students had held at least one internship or research position during their undergraduate careers. 

The biggest area of concern for the CPD and the committee members came in outcome data broken down demographically, showing a gap in the results for under-represented populations, first-generation students and students with high financial need. The Committee will look to partner with the CPD and the Affiliated Groups over the next year to address these concerns. 

Roger also discussed the significant progress that has been made by the CPD in engaging more students over the past year. Student contact with the CPD has increased by 67 percent over the past year, and the new Professional Development Accelerator program is now in its second year with over 850 students in the Class of 2019 enrolled (300 of whom have already completed their first milestone one month into the program). 

Roger updated the Committee on the implementation of Dartmouth Circles, a new interactive online platform available for employers who do not recruit heavily on campus that can be used for talent identification and recruitment of Dartmouth students. 20 employers are now using Dartmouth Circles, and promotion to the student body begins next week. 

Thursday’s meeting concluded with the Athletics, Service and Professional Development Committees sharing ideas about how to best connect alumni and students to enhance career opportunities. The Dartmouth Circles platform may provide some opportunities for our committees to connect students and alumni with shared interests. 

On Friday,the committee heard a quick update from Gail Gentes ’77a and Dan Parish ’89 on career initiatives coming out of the Dartmouth for Life program: 

  • Functionality and content updates are being made to the online Dartmouth Career Network, and promotion of the DCN will launch this winter.
  • The Dartmouth Peak Performance program will also be using a version of the online career network for their career advising program. 
  • The December Break Opportunities program was launched a bit earlier this year, and currently over 170 job shadows and projects hosted by alumni and parents are available to students.
  • The CPD and the Dartmouth for Life team continue to host “Off the Green” career immersion programs, with a biotech gathering to be held in Boston in early December. 
  • A career webinar series will be started up again this winter and promoted in conjunction with the career network. 

Most of Friday’s meeting was devoted to updates and reports from our four working groups. The highlights of our activities over the past year include: 

  • A successful resume review project pilot in September that saw 25 alumni volunteers review resumes for 37 students. The committee learned a lot from this first attempt and will apply the lessons learned to another resume review round in the spring. 
  • The committee has held three alumni-student career events over the past year – one at each alumni council meeting. Again, we have learned from these events and look forward to creating event better opportunities for alumni-student interaction over the next year at alumni council and during other times of the year. 

The committee discussed a number of initiatives for each working group for the coming year and is looking forward to a very productive time between now and our May meeting. 

Committee chair Laura Hicks Roberts ’85 opened the meeting and asked the committee members and guests to introduce themselves.

Following introductions, the Student Assembly report was presented by Frank Cunningham ’16, Student Assembly president, and Noah Manning ’17, Student Assembly Chief of Staff. Frank and Noah discussed the various programs the Student Assembly has focused on during the fall term which include:

  • Sexual assault prevention initiatives
  • Student wellness, including programs titled “I’m Here for You” and the production of a video titled “Stop Hiding, Start Talking” focusing on mental health
  • Fostering an inclusive community through various diversity initiatives

Frank showed the committee the video “Stop Hiding, Start Talking” that had been created by the Student Assembly.

Vice Provost for Student Affairs Inge-Lise Ameer and Dean of the College Rebecca Biron gave a joint presentation.  Dean Biron read the mission of Dartmouth College which is: “Dartmouth College educates the most promising students and prepares them for a lifetime of learning and of responsible leadership, through a faculty dedicated to teaching and the creation of knowledge.” She emphasized that Dartmouth integrates all elements of a holistic education. 

In the past, the Dean of the College basically handled everything except offering academic degrees.  Over a year ago, the provost spoke with various constituencies about how to best integrate academic life outside the classroom. Based on these findings, we have now shifted the administrative model. We are combining the academic focus with the student life focus. The Dean of the College and the Vice Provost for Student Affairs have offices located in the same suite due to the close work they do together. The Dean of the College focuses on the integration of academic life, while the Vice Provost focuses on student affairs and undergraduate social life issues. 

Dean of the College responsibilities include working with the house professors in the house communities; strategic planning for enrollment management, admissions, and financial aid; strategic planning for holistic advising, academic support and professional development; and leadership for diversity and inclusion efforts in the undergraduate academic experience. A component resulting from the Moving Dartmouth Forward efforts focuses on academic rigor at Dartmouth. Dean Biron is working with faculty and standing committees on different aspects of Moving Dartmouth Forward including addressing grade inflation, more time for students to transport between classes, more innovative courses (for example, fall term classes possibly including an integrated travel component at the end of the term).  They are considering some block courses during the summer term.  Academic engagement can also be integrated into the residential spaces.  They are interested in integrating, coordinating, and sequencing community building, for example, partnering with academic centers (Rockefeller Center, Dickey Center, Wellness Center) for leadership programs and community building cross-cultural initiatives.

Vice Provost Ameer said that her goal is to empower every student to maximize their potential.  She oversees approximately 300 student organizations. Her office also oversees mental health services, and the Center for Professional Development (which experienced an increase from 40% to 80% usage last year). Students have a lot of anxiety about careers. The Center for Professional Development is trying to get students to utilize their services earlier in their time as students. 

During the fall term, the following actions (related to the work of Moving Dartmouth Forward) have been implemented:

  • Citizen pledge adopted
  • Enhanced sexual assault education program
  • Safety app rollout
  • Greek Letter Organizations’ pledge period elimination in effect
  • Alcohol Management Program went into effect this week
  • Organizational accountability preparations for annual review

Dean Ameer mentioned the many ways that alumni are involved in a wide variety of Dartmouth programs:

  • Alumni are a major component of the Center for Professional Development
  • Alumni are an integral part of student support service like OPAL (for example, involvement with the Triangle House)
  • Alumni conduct enrollment interviews and are admissions ambassadors for Dartmouth College
  • Today, Dartmouth is asking councilors for their opinions about how alumni can be involved with the residential house communities. 

Brian Reed, Assistant Dean of Undergraduate Students, led a student panel presentation focused on Student Advising and Academic Support.  The following academic support services are provided:

  • Office of the Undergraduate Deans: The undergraduate deans provide academic and personal support for all undergraduates. Every student has an assigned dean.
  • Office of Student Accessibility Services: Accessibility Services works with more than 300 students with disabilities and provides guidance to students, faculty and staff in making classes, programs, services and activities accessible. 
  • Academic Skills Center: The ASC and Tutor Clearinghouse support all students in achieving academic success through learning strategies workshops, study groups, coaching, tutoring and other programs designed to maximize the academic experience. 
  • First Year Student Enrichment Program (FYSEP): The FYSEP program empowers first-generation students to thrive at Dartmouth. 
  • King Scholars Program: The King Scholars program supports exceptional students from developing nations in preparing to address global poverty.

An informative booklet, Explore, Engage, Excel: An Introduction to Academics at Dartmouth College was distributed to all of the committee members.