The meeting began with a presentation from Brian Pogue, director of graduate studies and professor at the Thayer school. He reviewed the state of graduate studies at Dartmouth and offered comparisons to peer institutions. The committee posed a number of questions about:
• the possibility of online programs at Dartmouth
• Pogue’s thoughts re: university vs. college
• the performance of PhD students compared to those at peer institutions
• the growth of graduate programs
• cooperation between career services offices at the College and professional schools/graduate programs
The committee also discussed the possibility of publishing book lists/recommended reading lists from faculty so that alumni could read these, but the committee did not come to a resolution. The primary topic of conversation shifted to alumni access to actual class materials. The MIT and other university open courseware seemed of interest, but the faculty in attendance indicated that it wouldn’t work well for many classes. The faculty also mentioned that it isn’t as simple as acquiring a reading list from syllabi, since much of this material is academic and journal-oriented.
Roberta Moore then mentioned ACE on Audio, which many councilors hadn’t heard about until we introduced it in Alumni College at Reunion lectures councilors attended earlier in the day. The committee members seemed excited and interested in ACE on Audio. It will be publicized more heavily.
Possible topics for the next meeting include:
• faculty recruiting, the tenure process
• outlook for academic programs – long-term academic planning review
• writing and rhetoric
The committee met twice during Alumni Council Weekend. On December 4 we met to discuss alumni feedback received during the fall; the format and production timeline for the 2008–2009 ALC annual report; and the presentation the committee would make to the entire Alumni Council on December 6. The committee met with trustees Ed Haldeman ’70 (chair), Jose Fernandez ’77, and Al Mulley ’70 on December 6. Topics discussed included recent alumni feedback received by the committee; the presidential search; the Alumni Council Ad Hoc Committee to Support Greek Letter Organizations; and the College budget.
The committee meeting began with a recap of plans implemented during the past year and a half, including encouraging councilors to communicate with their constituents; the development of tools to help them to do so; and the follow-up process that had members of the committee check in with councilors for updates on their efforts. No phone follow-up was made this fall, but an email to councilors who had not reported revealed the importance of following up with retiring councilors. The effort to spread the word about the Association of Alumni elections had somewhat depressed follow-up after the May meeting.
Jon Murchinson ’91 followed with a short preview of the presentation about the Dartmouth YouTube channel that he was giving in the plenary session the next. The channel had its “soft launch” this fall, and much content is still to be added. Already the Hopkins Center is using the channel for arts-related videos linked to the Hop’s Web sites. This could be a remarkably easy way for class and club Webmasters to add Dartmouth-related video content to their Web sites without the burden of hosting bandwidth-heavy material.
David Spalding ’76 outlined the College’s Alumni Council communications plan designed to reintroduce alumni to the council and to encourage them to relay any concerns or comments to their Alumni Council representative. With the theme “Here to Hear You,” ads have been placed in the alumni magazine and online in the “D,” and postcards have been mailed out and are available as inserts for newsletter editors. While the College has done no overall survey of alumni sentiment in the past couple of years, recent focus groups conducted with uninvolved alumni showed that 85 percent of them thought they received the right amount of information regarding the College, 8 percent too little, and 7 percent too much.
Further conversation on effective communications practices for councilors followed. Some members cited the value of concise reports with embedded links for those who wish to read more detail about certain topics.
Admissions Office Recruiting and Outreach
Admissions officers traveled extensively this fall to meet guidance counselors and prospective applicants. Efforts were made to focus on under-represented groups, including bringing talented students to Hanover to visit the College. The financial aid initiatives of 2007 are having a positive impact on recruiting economically disadvantaged candidates. The population of African American students at Dartmouth compares favorably to our peers. While Dartmouth has lagged in Asian American applicants, dramatic progress has been made over the past decade. There was a significant rise in the number of female applicants for early decision, and they comprise the majority of the pool. College budget cuts in light of the current economy, however, will challenge the Admission Office’s resources to continue these efforts.
Alumni Recruiting and Outreach
Most alumni support of the admissions process is led by the district enrollment directors and local clubs. Admissions officers made an effort to meet with alumni during their fall travel to conduct workshops on admissions and interviewing. They are also working with Alumni Relations to find other ways to conduct admissions workshops. The interviewer Web site is being updated.
Committee Action Items
Alumni can best support the Admissions Office by conducting candidate interviews and follow-up communications, including delivering T-shirts to accepted candidates and hosting receptions. For 2009, the committee intends to:
• Work with Admissions to develop new alumni interviewer training tools
• Work with classes to recruit and train interviewers
• Work with affiliated groups to recruit and train interviewers
• Design a program for clubs to promote applications and visits to Hanover by economically disadvantaged candidates
The committee meeting focused on the topics of alcohol use and policies on campus; a report on the fall athletics results and student-athlete anecdotes; and current affairs on campus. This session featured presentations from dean of the College Tom Crady, director of Athletics Josie Harper and senior associate director of Intercollegiate Athletics Brian Austin, the Graduate Student Council, and the Undergraduate Student Assembly. Additionally, we had student panels on the topics of alcohol, social spaces, and athletics.
Tom Crady shared his observations from his first year at Dartmouth and reconciled them with his experience at and interactions with other institutions. He has found that Dartmouth has drinking rates and alcohol use similar to peer institutions; the current alcohol policy is confusing and not well understood; the Committee on Standards (COS) is seen as draconian; and fraternities control most of the student social spaces, with very different rules than national sororities, causing gender inequity. His recommendations to deal with these issues include (1) a revised COS policy, including that first-time alcohol offenses are treated educationally, not judicially; (2) an updated alcohol policy that lifts many restrictions and pushes more responsibility to the organizations hosting parties; and (3) removing the restriction that sororities must be associated with a national house.
Members of the student panel (Rem Browne ’09, Miesha Smith ’09, Ann Rittgers ’09, Frances Vernon ’10, Jeremy Seidling ’09) spoke about their experiences on campus and took questions from the committee. Through this discussion we found that college alcohol policy and New Hampshire alcohol law were not well understood by most undergraduates, though student leaders tend to know these rules and laws much better than the general student body. Students find their own scene on campus, and non-drinkers find social lives outside of Greek life, which does overshadow the rest of campus life. The Good Samaritan policy is widely used and students do not fear repercussions when seeking help for a student who has had too much to drink.
Josie Harper and Brian Austin spoke about campus athletics. Some important points included that 80 to 85 percent of the student body participates in athletics or outdoors programs, we have great new facilities with the Biondi baseball complex and Floren Varsity House, and there are 34 varsity and 34 club sports. Dartmouth athletics are stronger than ever, though some programs are in a building phase, such as the Dartmouth football team (0-10).
Members of the student panel (Andrew Dete ’09, football captain; Shannon Bowman ’09, women’s ice hockey captain; Kate Schmidt ’09, figure skating captain) spoke about life as a student-athlete, their interactions with their teams, and how athletics enhanced their Dartmouth
experience. Andrew spoke passionately about sharing the disappointment with the 2008 football season on the field, but highlighted his strong bonds to the College and his teammates. Shannon talked about her excitement for the upcoming winter campaign and how amazing it is to share the ice with national and international stars. Kate spoke about the legacy of women’s figure skating at Dartmouth (five straight national titles!) and how that helped seal her decision to come to Hanover.
Brad Demay ’10Adv spoke as president of the Graduate Student Council (GSC), which represents 700 arts and sciences graduate students. The GSC addresses concerns of the graduate student body, including housing, social events, and transitions to the Upper Valley. The primary focus of the GSC this year is to obtain better health care for students. Specifically, the group would like to obtain dental and vision coverage, which many peer institutions provide in some form.
Molly Bode ’09, Student Assembly president, and Nafeesa Remtilla ’09, Student Assembly vice president, reported on SA, which provides services to and advocates for undergraduate students. This year SA is primarily concerned about President Wright’s announcement that the College would reduce its operating budget by $40 million. SA wants to ensure that student voices are heard in the process. To this end, SA is collaborating with Palaeopitus and class councils to gather student input on what undergraduates feel is essential to their Dartmouth experience. Two examples of services that the SA introduced this year are Bruno Books (used textbook online search engine) and Zimride (online carpooling board).
The committee will reassess the current economic climate, alumni needs, and resources available to Career Services (CS) before sending out a survey to examine how alumni utilize that office. Skip Sturman, CS director, and Karen Whittet, assistant director, shared details on alumni utilization: The number of unique contacts with alumni have increased from 18 to 25 percent this year. About one-third of CS resources are dedicated to graduate and professional school advising, areas primarily utilized by alumni. CS has also seen a change in the quality of calls from alumni, many of whom have lost or are concerned about losing their jobs. The increase in contact, however, has not been met with any increased resources dedicated to alumni – CS members currently provide these services of their own accord.
The committee will send an email to all councilors to forward to their constituents regarding the current services available to alumni and ways in which alumni can support CS resources for alumni.