Pete Bleyler '61 knows
a lot about Darmouth and
learned still more attending
his first Alumni Council session,
November 29-December 1.
I live in Lyme, New Hampshire, 11 miles from Dartmouth, and I've been on campus frequently in the past 10 years. I've been fairly active with the Class of 1961 and the Dartmouth Club of the Upper Valley. I've also come to campus during Alumni Council sessions to catch up with classmates and other friends who were in town for them.
On Thursday, November 29, I came to campus as an Alumni Council member for the first time. Elected at Reunion last year as the new Classes of 1961 and 1962 representative for 2007-2010, I was participating in my first council session.
One of the first things I did was attend a two-hour orientation meeting with twenty or so fellow first-timers in the Wheelock Room of the Hanover Inn. (Because councilors serve a three-year term, every year about one-third of the council is new.) Over the summer and fall, I'd already been contacted by the outgoing '61-'62 representative and an Orientation Committee member, and I'd participated in a conference call with other new councilors--all part of a stepped-up orientation process. I wasn't sure how much more I'd learn in the orientation meeting.
Well, the meeting was great. The energetic discussion reinforced the importance of councilors' communication with their constituents--and that this communication is a two-way street. I also had the opportunity to see old friends and make many new ones. As it turned out, many old-timers on the council also showed up in the second half of the meeting, and introduced themselves as committee chairs and other council leaders.
Bright and early Friday morning, we all went to our committee sessions. I'm on the Student Life committee. A number of undergraduate and graduate students attended our meeting and discussed with us several issues they are dealing with, such as housing for graduate students, and shared information about student activities. Did you know there are over 200 organizations on campus, looking for students to participate? These include Greek houses as well as organizations run by the Tucker Foundation, the Council on Student Organizations, the John Sloan Dickey Center for International Understanding, the Nelson A. Rockefeller Center, and more.
The session continued with plenaries on Friday and on Saturday morning. They included presentations by senior administrators including the director of athletics and recreation, the provost, the dean of the faculty of arts and sciences, and the director of admissions and financial aid. Each gave me a better understanding of what's happening on campus, what issues are faced by the administration, and what's planned for the future. One of the interesting things I learned about a topic that's been raised by some alumni recently is that the faculty grew 3 percent per year from 2001 to 2006. The administrative staff increased 1.1 percent yearly in that time.
There was also a fantastic presentation by a student group who created a 3-D digital layout of Dartmouth that won a national competition sponsored by Google. The students included all 225 buildings in their digital display! They also developed 3-D presentations of the campus 100 and 200 years ago. Incredible. The students were invited to the Google corporate campus in California.
Saturday morning included a presentation by two members of the Dartmouth College Board of Trustees. This was followed by a meeting with four members of the Association of Alumni Executive Committee. Much of the discussion revolved around the lawsuit that some members of the executive committee voted to file in the fall against the College in response to the board's plan to expand by adding board-appointed trustees. Two of the panelists had voted in favor of filing the lawsuit, while the other two had voted against it. It was a lively discussion in which many councilors made comments and asked questions. Whether they supported or did not support the board expansion, most councilors expressed vehement opposition to the lawsuit.
All in all, the Alumni Council session was terrific. It gave me a lot to share about Dartmouth today with the Classes of 1961 and 1962, and I hope to hear a lot back. I'm glad I'm finally on the council.
by Pete Bleyler '61