A familiar figure on the Dartmouth campus and among alumni, Dan Parish '89 began his work as Dartmouth’s first-ever director of a new Dartmouth for Life initiative in October 2012. He came to the Alumni Relations office after working for 14 years in Dartmouth admissions. Dan majored in history modified with education at Dartmouth and spent time running in Pine Park, hiking, and serving in a number of student leadership roles. He lives in Lyme, NH, with his wife, Ellen Parish '92, and their children. We asked Dan about his new role in an interview in his office in Blunt Alumni Center.
What’s the new Dartmouth for Life initiative?
The College should add value to alumni over the course of their lifetime, and my specific charge is to develop programming that will help alumni as they think about professional development, career growth and change, their family life, health and well-being, personal finance, and other areas. The beauty of this is that we’ve got great alumni and great faculty and staff who are experts in all of those areas—and we can tap into that expertise to more effectively share knowledge with each other.
What have you been working on?
I’ve been helping with a lot of research and listening to people. We have conducted interviews with 40 to 50 alumni to get ideas about what works—what we do already and what we can do better—and we used those interviews as a basis for launching a survey. We’re analyzing that survey now, and so far it’s been really helpful in identifying areas of great interest and priorities that will drive our planning over the next six to twelve months.
The other thing I’ve been doing is what I call “planning programs within programs.” I’m working closely with [vice president for alumni relations] Martha Beattie and our other directors on planning the Greenways celebration of coeducation, alumni continuing education and travel, on programming for Dartmouth on Location events, Reunions, club events, and Speakers Forum. It’s been really busy and productive, and we’re brainstorming some great programming.
What’s the alumni response been like?
Most people have the reaction that I had, which is “this is great and we’re excited that Dartmouth is doing this.” Alumni are pleased to share their talent with other alumni, and that’s promising. Also, there’s a sense that Dartmouth would be a good delivery vehicle for content on career change, professional development, health and well-being, and other things. There’s a willingness to receive information from Dartmouth about these topics.
Are other schools doing this?
Other institutions are doing similar types of projects and this same kind of work—often in career services—but they compartmentalize it more. I haven’t seen another institution that defines it as broadly as Dartmouth does.
Will you be working on career programming?
Yes, and I’ve already been working closely with Dartmouth’s Career Services Office. One example occurred prior to the longer break between the fall and winter term. With the help of Career Services, we connected alumni with students interested in projects or internships. The early returns are that it was a fulfilling experience for both groups. So now the question is, that was a good pilot, how do we scale that up, how do we formalize it? It’s a good example of the potential that’s in place.
How do you see the Dartmouth Career Network working with career sites such as LinkedIn?
We’d like to not only add better functionality and content to the Dartmouth Career Network, but we also plan to link it directly to LinkedIn, to take advantage of the community that already exists there. We want to have a system so that if you update your information in LinkedIn, you can export it to the Career Network, and if you update your information in the Career Network, you can export it to LinkedIn.
[More than 12,000 have joined the Dartmouth alumni group on LinkedIn; more than 24,000 are on the Dartmouth Career Network.]
Have you found your experience in admissions to be helpful as you tackle this new challenge?
Yes. I know the College well so that’s been an asset. I worked closely with about 7,000 alumni volunteers who were alumni interviewers, and I worked with 200-300 district enrollment directors, so knowing those people and being able to ask for their help and their opinions has been very helpful.
What’s a better building, Blunt or McNutt?
I still have a view of the Green, so I’m happy.