October 22–24, 2015
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.