New Councilor Information: A Primer on the Dartmouth Alumni Council
Please also consult the Alumni Council 101 Handbook, 2012–13 (pdf)
Alumni Council Structure
The Alumni Council is like the senate of the Dartmouth alumni body. The mission of the council is to sustain a fully informed, representative, and engaged exchange of information and sentiment between alumni and their College, and to enhance and inspire alumni involvement that furthers the mission of the College.
Attendance at semi-annual council meetings is expected of all members. It is understandable that members who must travel a great distance may not be able to be present every time, but should still aim to attend regardless. Prospective members should agree to attend all meetings.
At all times, the council should have a distribution of ages within its membership.
Membership is not an honor without obligations. Membership involves prompt and effective handling of committee duties, attendance at meetings, and readiness to serve the council in the member's local area and with his or her constituency.
Vacancies on the Alumni Council are filled on the basis of nominating the very best Dartmouth citizen who will add strength to the important work of the council.
Election to Council
Election to council is overseen by the council's Nominating and Alumni Trustee Search Committee and other organized alumni groups. Qualifications include:
1. Outstanding achievement and/or special qualifications;
2. Demonstrated active interest in Dartmouth;
3. Availability to attend meetings;
4. Ability to represent legitimate interests of alumni and to effectively report back to constituents on council work.
The Alumni Council elects a president and president-elect to one-year terms. The director of Alumni Leadership unit in the Alumni Relations office serves in an ex-officio position to assist on all council matters. These three officers and the chairs of each council committee sit on the Executive Committee.
President: The position of council president is held for one term of one year. Normally, but not necessarily, this position is held by a councilor serving his or her final year. As elected leader of the Alumni Council representing the alumni body of Dartmouth College, the president calls meetings and presides when the group is formally in session. The duties charged to the president are as follows:
- The council president presents alumni awards annually and may be called on to represent the College at various official functions, such as Dartmouth Night, dedications, inaugurations, and club events.
- The council president frequently serves on and appoints members to ad hoc committees of the Alumni Council.
- The council president is an ex-officio member of the council's Committee on Alumni Awards, the Alumni Liaison Committee, and the Nominating and Alumni Trustee Search Committee. The president is chair of the Executive Committee.
President-Elect: Serves in place and fulfills all duties of the president when necessary and is chair of the Orientation Committee and a member of the council's Executive Committee, Nominating and Alumni Trustee Search Committee, and the Alumni Liaison Committee.
Director of Alumni Leadership: The director of Alumni Leadership in the Office of Alumni Relations is an ex-officio member of the Alumni Council. He or she is an ex-officio member of the Nominating Committee, Executive Committee, and Alumni Awards Committee of the council.
The director's duties involve communication with members and serving as secretary of council ad hoc committees. The director is responsible for procedures in nominating and electing members to the Council. He or she also coordinates the selection of at-large members and members from the various groups electing to be a part of the council. The director suggests programs for meetings to the president of the Council and Executive Committee and plans, with the help of Alumni Relations staff, the semi-annual council meetings. The director is responsible for maintaining full records of the council, and is the principal liaison officer between the council and the College, providing continuity and staff experience to the many activities of the organization.
Composition of the Alumni Council
- Originally 25 members, the Alumni Council has been incrementally expanded over the years. Amendments to the council constitution were approved in November 2007, revising representation and increasing the size of the council to 125 members. Additional members will be transitioned into the Alumni Council between 2008 and 2010 that will result in the composition listed below.
- Alumni councilors typically serve for a single term of three years. Representatives of the undergraduate classes serve, nonvoting and ex officio, for a term of two years.
- All former members are invited to attend meetings; this custom was started by vote of the council in 1918.
Alumni Council Meetings
The full council meets in the late fall and late spring in Hanover. On occasion the council has held special or regular meetings away from the campus. To date these locations have been Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago, Minneapolis, and San Francisco.
In general, the Alumni Relations Office facilitates the council's work. Other offices are involved too -- Enrollment and Admissions, the Admissions Office lends assistance; Student Affairs, both the Athletics Director and DCAD staff are involved and the Dean of Students is consulted.
Committees of the Alumni Council
Much of the council's work is accomplished through committees. These committees are principally made up of and headed by council members. Sometimes the work of a committee may include one or more non-members of the Council from either the alumni body or some other source. For example, appropriate staff officers at the College can serve as committee secretaries to coordinate the work of groups and provide accurate information to committee members.
Committee meetings are held between sessions of the council as may be required. An outline of the functions of each of the operating committees is included below.
Academic Affairs Committee: The Committee on Academic Affairs serves as a principal interface between the faculty and the Alumni Council of Dartmouth College such that: a strong, ongoing relationship is established, alumni are kept informed about the curriculum and other elements of the Dartmouth academic experience, a platform is created for alumni to communicate with the faculty, and ways are explored for the faculty to benefit from the background and experiences of alumni and for the alumni to access faculty scholarship and other academic resources of the College. The committee consists of a minimum of six members of the Alumni Council, the chair of the Faculty Committee on Policy, the chair of the Faculty Committee on Instruction, the faculty representative to the Alumni Council, a representative of the Provost's office, the Dean of Graduate Studies and a representative of the Dean of the Faculty.
Alumni Awards Committee: The Alumni Awards Committee consists of seven former recipients of the Dartmouth Alumni Award and a staff member of the Alumni Relations Office (committee secretary). This committee seeks strong alumni candidates that meet the eligibility criteria for the Dartmouth Alumni Award and selects 4-8 alumni recipients each year to be honored for a combination of accomplishments in Dartmouth volunteerism, career and civic involvement.
Alumni Liaison Committee: The Alumni Liaison Committee consists of the president, the president-elect, and immediate past-president of the Council, the presidents of the Association of Alumni during their term on the Alumni Council, three current council members elected by the Alumni Council, and three members of the Association of Alumni elected by the Alumni Council. A representative of the Trustee Alumni Relations Committee may also serve on this committee. The committee gathers feedback from alumni on topics of interst and shares this information with the Alumni Relations office, the Board of Trustees, and the senior administration.
Athletics Committee: The Athletics Committee promotes the interests of Dartmouth alumni in athletics at Dartmouth, including varsity athletics, club sports, intramural athletics, physical education and recreation. Specifically, the Athletics Committee gathers and assesses information regarding the administration, management, resource utilization and financial support of athletics by the College, particularly the Department of Athletics and Recreation, as well as student participation in athletics; solicits input from the alumni body regarding the interests and concerns of alumni with respect to athletics at Dartmouth; consults with, communicates to, and advises the Department as to these interests and concerns; and communicates to the Alumni Council, to the administration and, as appropriate, to the alumni body the results of the committee’s work.
Communications Committee: The Committee on Communications focuses primarily on communication between councilors and their constituencies and between the College and its alumni. The committee meets regularly with the vice president for public affairs, and director of alumni communications. The committee reviews various tools used for reaching alumni, such as Dartmouth Life, the Internet, the World Wide Web, and the periodic use of surveys to analyze alumni opinions and attitudes about Dartmouth. The committee is responsible for producing: a summary of each council meeting within the month following Council with a wide distribution to the entire alumni body. The Committee advises and reports to the Council and its Alumni Liaison Committee on contemporary alumni perceptions of the College, fosters alumni awareness of the Council's activities and analyzes current communications issues at the request of the President, the Executive Committee or the Alumni Liaison Committee. This committee consists of the Secretary from the staff of the office of Alumni Relations and members of the Alumni Council.
Enrollment and Admissions Committee: The Committee on Enrollment and Admissions assists the Office of Admissions in organizing alumni/alumnae enrollment volunteers and interviewers throughout the United States and the world. The committee also serves as a sounding board for the Admissions and Financial Aid Offices on issues of broader concern, such as general admissions and financial aid practices and nationwide trends. The committee consists of members of the Alumni Council and an Associate Director of Admissions (Committee Secretary).
Executive Committee: The Executive Committee consists of the president, the president-elect, and the chairs of the other standing committees of the Council. The committee is chaired by the president. This committee sets the agenda for the council and plans and designs Council meetings in consultation with the Alumni Relations Office. It is also empowered to act on council business in between meetings, and is the final authority on strategic matters.
Honorary Degrees Committee: The Committee on Honorary Degrees seeks strong alumni candidates for the award by canvassing the alumni body. It then forwards 3-5 names to the College Committee on Honorary Degrees which makes the final decision. The committee consists of a staff member of the Alumni Relations Office (committee secretary) and members of the Alumni Council.
Nominating and Alumni Trustee Search Committee: The Nominating and Alumni Trustee Search Committee consists of the president, the president-elect, the immediate past chair of the Nominating Committee, a Council member appointed by the Committee for a term of three years, and six other council members elected for terms of three years by the council. The Nominating Committee makes two nominations for the president-elect, each vacancy for at-large representatives, and other positions specified in the Alumni Council constitution. Importantly, it also makes nominations for alumni trustee as provided in the constitution.
Student Affairs Committee: The Committee on Student Affairs monitors and reports on all aspects of student life at Dartmouth College to both the Alumni Council and, through the councilors, to the alumni body. At each of its meetings, the Committee has the unique opportunity to meet with, and have extensive dialogue with, several student leaders from both the undergraduate and the graduate student bodies regarding current “hot topic” campus issues. Recent issues explored have included: fostering and maintaining alumni-student connections; social spaces on campus, and athletics. Leaders from the Student Assembly also report out and join the discussion at each committee meeting.The Committee consists of a representative from the Dartmouth College administration (committee secretary), and members of the Alumni Council.
Orientation Committee: The Orientation Committee plans and oversees the orientation of first-year alumni councilors. Responsibilities include establishing direct mentor roles for new councilors, updating orientation materials and methods, and monitoring the effectiveness of current orientation programs. The committee is chaired by the Alumni Council president-elect and consists of council members.
Young Alumni Committee: The Committee on Young Alumni collects information and makes recommendations on programs for young alumni to further attract their interest and participation in Dartmouth alumni activities. The committee consists of a staff member from the Alumni Relations Office (committee secretary) and members of the Alumni Council.
Young Alumni Awards Committee: The Young Alumni Awards Committee consists of five former recipients of the Young Alumni Distinguished Service Award and a staff member of the Alumni Relations Office (committee secretary). This committee seeks strong alumni candidates that meet the eligibility criteria for the Young Alumni Distinguished Service Award and place strong emphasis on Dartmouth volunteerism when selecting 1-2 recipients each year.
Special Committee Studies
A few examples of the importance of ad hoc committee studies to the council follow:
- A committee study to determine policy on alumni affiliation of World War II Navy students resulted in a number of these students being absorbed as non-graduate alumni members of the war classes.
- In 1946 the council undertook a thorough survey of all Dartmouth fund-raising activities. This led to the creation of the Development Program by joint action with the trustees.
- In 1952, as a result of study by an ad hoc committee, a plan for making Alumni Awards to recognize exceptional volunteer service to the College was established and today over 400 alumni have been honored.
- In 1958, a major project shared in by the council created a study Committee on Alumni Relations (CAR) functioning under the Trustees' Planning Committee. The president of the council nominated members of the 14-personed group to TPC. Several members of the council served in this important work including its chairman, Guy P. Wallick '21 of San Francisco . The committee undertook a full review of alumni relations with recommendations to the trustees for strengthening the two-way relationship between the College and the alumni. Many of the CAR recommendations, which appeared in six volumes, were put into effect. These volumes are widely acclaimed as the definitive manual of alumni relations. Ten years later a follow-up study was conducted by the council under the direction of N. Page Worthington '33 of Baltimore, resulting in a national award to the council and, more importantly, another round of new ideas and creative approaches to alumni programming and service activities.
- A 14-member study committee, chaired by Dudley Orr '29, and including former and current councilors, trustees, students, administrators and professors, recommended that Dartmouth become a coeducational institution.
- A study committee on Indian symbolism recommended rejecting the continued use of the Indian symbol at the College.
- In 1980-81, a special study committee chaired by Stan Smoyer '34 and J. Blake Hering '53 recommended changes in the Alumni Council constitution to reflect the addition of class representatives to the council.
- In 1987, a committee study of the alma mater, requested by President David T. McLaughlin '54 resulted in a new version of "Men of Dartmouth" to reflect coeducation. That new version has been generally adopted and is sung at all College functions.
- A committee on class dues and the Alumni Magazine developed education programs to assist classes in maintaining strong treasuries to cover the cost of the Alumni Magazine and to fund class projects and reunions.
- In 1990 an ad hoc committee to study the function and organization of the council made a number of recommendations, including establishing a College Relations function within the council to serve as a conduit for alumni concerns to the Board of Trustees and the president, and vice versa; replacing the old system of regions and districts with a new system of metropolitan and regional representatives, with provisions for direct elections of those representatives; and adding one council representative from each of the first three classes out, thereby increasing the size of the Alumni Council by three (bringing the total to 101). These recommendations were adopted by the council and incorporated into its constitution in 1990.
- In March 1990 the council sponsored a Forum in New York City to which all alumni were invited to express their views on proposed changes in the method of nominating alumni trustees.
- In 1994, an ad hoc committee studied the purpose, structure and organization of the Alumni Council and changes were made to the size, representation and committee make-up of the council.
- In 2000, the Alumni Council and the Association of Alumni created a joint committee to study the governance relationship between the two organizations and the alumni trustee nomination process.
- In 2003, the Alumni Council, at the request of the Dartmouth Alumni Magazine Editorial Board, established a task force to study the magazine's business model and to make recommendations on class dues and the funding of the magazine.
- In 2007, an ad hoc committee studied the structure of the Alumni Council and changes were made to the size, representation, and committee make-up of the council.