Mary Thomson Renner '82 was presented the Dartmouth Alumni Award by Tom Peisch '70, Alumni Council president, at the December 2010 council meeting.
Your father, Andrew Thomson ’46, could not really imagine his only daughter attending Dartmouth, but you felt differently. Coming from a family with three brothers, you knew you wouldn’t have any problem adjusting to the three-to-one male/female student ratio in 1978. Your initial visit to Dartmouth on your college trip was actually the first time you had ever traveled to the east coast from your hometown of Evanston, Illinois. While experiencing Hanover on a gorgeous fall day, the “sense of place” captured your heart, and you returned home to file your application.
As an undergraduate, you took full advantage of the many opportunities Dartmouth had to offer including studying in Sienna, Italy; organizing Dartmouth Winter Carnivals with the Winter Carnival Council; serving as president of Kappa Kappa Gamma; leading admissions tours; and joining the Cobra Senior Society. As a visual studies major, you spent many hours in the studio workshops, which culminated in an architecture project for your senior portfolio.
Upon graduation, it was back to Chicago where you launched a successful career in advertising at Leo Burnett Company, Inc. There was a significant “green” aura to the Leo Burnett atmosphere, as you were surrounded by many fellow Dartmouth alumni during your time at the agency. Recognizing your creative talents, you were then recruited by Young and Rubicam to work in their San Francisco office. Of course, that worked out quite well as a certain Tuck ’82 alumnus, who once caught your eye while attending Dartmouth, happened to be working in San Francisco at the time. One month after your engagement, your husband Peter Renner ’78, ’82Tu was transferred to Boston, so it was back to the east coast for the two of you. At that point, you decided to pursue an alternative creative endeavor by enrolling in culinary school and working in the catering business. One more entrepreneurial twist followed with the creation of your own children’s clothing business.
The arrival of your three beautiful daughters, Madeline, Sarah and Lindsey, shifted your focus to their activities and a wide variety of philanthropic service. This has included serving as a trustee on the New England Aquarium, and for Crossroads for Kids, which provides programming and college counseling for homeless and at-risk children in Boston. In addition, you have participated on the Dana Hall School Board of Trustees, teach Sunday school, are a member of the Trinity Church's Children's Ministries committee, and spend many hours volunteering at your children’s schools.
One of the primary benefactors of your volunteerism has been your alma mater. You have noted that Dartmouth had an extraordinary impact on your formative years, and you find it very easy to work on behalf of the institution to provide opportunities for today’s students. The breadth of your service to the Big Green is astounding and includes serving as class president, mini reunion chair, and reunion committee member; job development officer for the alumni club in Boston; alumni councilor; chair of the Young Alumni Awards Committee; enrollment interviewer for twelve years; and president of both the class presidents and class mini-reunion associations. One of your favorite responsibilities was the coordination of the Class of 1982’s 25th reunion book, as it provided you with the opportunity to reconnect with so many of your fellow classmates. In explaining the reason for these thousands of hours of selfless volunteerism, you recently commented, “The enveloping Dartmouth family has supported and sustained me throughout my life.”
Tonight you become one of a select few alumni who have been the recipient of both the Young Alumni Distinguished Service Award and the Dartmouth Alumni Award. Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “The greatest gift is a portion of thyself.” Mary, for all that you have given to your community, your alma mater, your family and society throughout the years, it is our great honor to recognize you this evening with the presentation of the Dartmouth Alumni Award.