The Dartmouth Alumni Council convened for its 188th annual meeting from May 20-22, gathering both in Hanover and West Lebanon. A new event kicked-off the weekend, in the form of a lobster bake hosted by the Council for the Class of 2004. Held in Leverone Field House, the event included both dinner and bands, and was very well attended (over 700 students). Council President Bill Dean took the opportunity to recognize four members of the Senior Class for their achievements and contributions to the College:
Leigh Heeter, John Turner, Meghan Fitzgerald and Erin Anderson.
Informal polling of Councilors indicated that the event was a great success and should be repeated in some form in the future with some modifications to improve awareness of the students of the Alumni Council's role.
After introductory remarks by President Bill Dean, Josiah Stevenson '57 was introduced as the chair of the Alumni Governance Task Force. Joe provided an historical background on the recent efforts to rectify governance issues between the Council and the Association of Alumni which culminated in the narrow defeat of the proposed constitution last December. A new committee has been convened, and the next meeting is scheduled for June 5 in Chicago. Joe shared his list of key issues, which include changes to the election of at-large councilors, reducing the number of alumni trustee candidates, all media voting (versus in-person), reviewing the representation of affiliated groups, representation of the post-50 year classes, and maintaining the integrity of the Association.
A key theme of this meeting focused on communication. Spirited discussions were held in the form of four breakout groups on several topics, which included 1) Dartmouth Communication to Alumni, 2) Alumni Communication to Dartmouth, 3) Council Communication with Key Alumni Organizations, and 4) Effectiveness of the Council Committee Structure. Reports from each group surfaced many constructive recommendations with both short and long-term implications:
1. Improving communication OUT from the College
a. Publications: Alumni Magazine and Dartmouth Life – progress made in reporting. Surveys to see what readers want.
b. “Speaking of Dartmouth” – Take more active role at developing this electronic resource.
c. Club/Class Newsletters
2. Sharing Alumni sentiment with the College
a. Looked at tactical and strategic approaches to communication
b. Difficulty with regard to taking opinions from Alumni to the College
c. Issues of “Alumni Relations” acting as a filter between Alumni and College – Lack of adequate funding of Alumni Relations
d. College doesn't want to hear the negative side of things
e. Need for “healing and reconciliation” of Alumni body
f. Solution: “Alumni Life Initiative” put forth by the Trustees in order to reinvigorate communication from the Alumni. This would require financial backing to support ongoing surveys and feedback.
3. How to Increase/Formalize linkage with Alumni Volunteer Groups
a. Better preparation of new councilors – Improve communication to councilors prior to their first meeting with “mentor” relationship with older councilors.
b. Active solicitation by councilors of feedback from volunteer groups
c. Responsibility of councilor to communicate back to designated groups.
4. What do the Alumni Council committees do?
a. Three types of committees
1. Action oriented committees (Nominating Committee)
2. Market Research committees (Alumni Continuing Education Committee)
3. Information gathering for conveyance to alumni (Athletic Committee)
b. Assignment to Committees – be on one committee with an action orientation, and a second committee with the market research orientation.
The Executive Committee will be reviewing the implications during the period before the next meeting in December.
Tyrone Byrd '73, Chair of the Nominating Committee, presented the slates for:
• New members for the Nominating Committee (slate of 4 to elect 2)
• Trevor Burgess '94
• Jonodev Chaudhuri '93
• Julie Cillo '92
• Allen Waxman ‘84
• New member for the College Relations Committee (slate of 3 to elect 1)
• Hans “Chris” Hjermstad '68
• Andrew Horne '87
• Beth Krakower ‘93
• Alumni representation:
• Charles Whelan '88 (Alumni Magazine Editorial Board)
• Noel Fidel '66 (Committee on Trustees)
• John Hatheway '48 (Hanover Inn Board of Overseers)
• At-Large Council representatives
• Cherie Holmes '79 (New Hampshire)
• Dorothy Hui '98 (New York)
• Yovany Jerez '03 (Florida)
• Arthur La France '60 (Oregon)
• Frank Long '77 (Arizona)
• John Reed '75 (Texas)
• Douglas Tyson '81 (Washington, DC)
• Nominating Committee Chair
• Andrea Lordan ‘86
• Undergraduate representatives for Class of '06
• Tremaine Tyson (New York, NY)
• Kristen Wong (Natick MA)
• Alumni Council President
• Karen McKeel Calby ‘81
• Richard Routhier '73 T'76
Tyrone also reported on new Class representatives, Regional representatives, and Association representation (Gift Planning Chairmen, Newsletter Editors, Club Officers, and Graduate Arts & Sciences Alumni).
Four undergraduates made presentations to the Council:
Jonathan Smolian ‘04
--Final presentation to the Council. Described his personal experiences.
--A few regulations have seemed inappropriate (classes, extracurricular, dining, housing). Less transparent than rules should have been.
--Need more guidance from the College in understanding options for programs, etc. Wonders about the effort to solicit class dues & gifts this early (i.e., senior spring).
--Did appreciate Alumni guidance, intends to keep in touch with these resources.
Julie Webb ‘04
--Main message is to communicate positive Greek experience (in the context of her personal experience). Joined a sorority largely to develop relationships with upper- class women. Mentor role, role models, guidance for class selection, etc.
--Sorority system gives "social space" to women, outside of context of dorms and traditional fraternity system. Social spaces controlled by different groups.
--Sorority provided community support for members in crisis or in support of activities of members. Size of most sororities is very large (positives and negatives).
--Wanted to leave us with positive story regarding the benefits of the system, recognizing some don't get the advantage.
Neha Kulkarni ‘05
--Focused on her efforts to install an Asian American Studies program.
--Other institutions have Asian American studies programs, Dartmouth does not.
--Dartmouth is developing a program; she described process under which the process is being conducted.
--Recent meeting of group has concluded to recommend Asian American studies minor program; described present three classes.
--Described her current classes in the area and how it has benefited her and her peers.
--Contrasted present programs (African American, Latin American, etc.).
--Strongly urged the adoption of positive steps; "change takes time, which is true, but, how much time?"
--1,100 plus student signatures collected on petition to the College for this purpose.
--Offered ways for Councilors to support the effort.
Matthew Oppenheimer ‘05
--Addressed the Academic Honor Principle; handouts with text.
--Belief that Dartmouth is overall doing a good job.
--Purpose of AHP is to instill trust and give student input.
--Described some particular cases. Suggested that the AHP is about pedagogy and not about policing.
--Sense among students: Intent; if you fail to do something but it is unintentional; should there be an element of intent in the application of the AHP?
--Dartmouth has justifiable pride in students and what they do. Students find some of the issues to be gray. Can they study together? Is it about fear?
Ann Duffy, the Council's representative to the Alumni Magazine editorial board and Chair of its Business Planning Task Force, spoke of the creation of the task force and its recommendations. A new business model is to be submitted to the Trustees and implemented within three years. Ann shared a set of recommendations and alternatives for funding:
-dues will continue to be part of funding but additional revenue sources will be critical
-plan to revise business model must be phased in over time
-pricing proposal to give classes incentive to stabilize and grow circulation
-develop paid subscriptions (partly through targeting parents and graduate school alums)
-build fundraising effort for DAM (effective at Brown, Harvard and Penn)
-increase the college subsidy (Dartmouth subsidy is roughly 10%, whereas other Ivies have subsidies of up to 35%)
-increase advertising subsidy
-develop long-term strategic plan
-institute regular reader feedback mechanisms
Alternatives to Funding
-dues and advertising
-institutional subsidy, dues, advertising
-advertising, paid subscriptions (Cornell model, which results in greatly lower distribution; @ Cornell only 10% of alumni get magazine)
The Council thanked Ann and the committee for their efforts.
Trustee Karen Francis '84 gave the Trustee Report, beginning with a reiteration of the commitment to the Dartmouth Experience, including the 8:1 student/faculty ratio and 44 off-campus programs. Karen noted the strong athletics program (and some recent successes in both hockey programs, figure skating, baseball and women's lacrosse). In the Arts, she pointed to 11 singing groups, 15 student publications and over 10 performance groups. Karen recognized the support for the Greek system, including a loan program for building improvements. She noted the 75-80% participation in the Tucker foundation, and shared issues recently discussed by the Trustees with students.
Committee meetings were followed by optional activities for Councilors, which included 1) tour of residence halls and Greek houses; 2) tour of the Rauner Special Collection in Webster Hall; and 3) Film Festival, "To Laugh or Not to Laugh: A Rendevouz with French film about the Holocaust," organized by Rebecca Loeffler '04.
At the Alumni Council dinner, John Engleman '68 and Ann Fritz Hackett '76 were recognized with Alumni Awards for their exceptional contributions to the College. Ann is the first alumna to be so recognized. President James Wright ‘64A addressed the Councilors about the uniqueness of the Dartmouth experience and the Dartmouth student. Some initiatives President Wright highlighted as examples of the commitment to the undergraduate education included:
• the Dartmouth Center for Learning,
• additional academic advising for students choosing a major,
• the development of a more extensive writing program, and
• increased compensation for faculty who excel in the classroom through teaching and mentoring.
Carrie Pelzel ‘54A, vice president for Development, provided background on the development and positioning of the Campaign for the Dartmouth Experience. Now in its “quiet phase,” the Campaign has a target of $1.3B and 60% participation, running through 2009. She noted that the Campaign Executive Committee has committed $140M to date, and a total of $337M has been received in gifts and pledges. The Campaign will have a stronger emphasis on face-to-face communication, and suggested that the Council can help by extending the outreach effort through existing activities and forums, and talking about the Dartmouth Experience.
After Committee Reports, the Councilors had the opportunity to ask questions of a panel of College administrators, including:
President James Wright ‘64A
Barry Scherr, Provost
Carrie Pelzel '54A, VP for Development
James Larimore, Dean of the College
William Walker ‘71A, VP for Public Affairs
Stan Colla '66 T86, VP for Alumni Relations
Q: Steve Waterhouse/Dominique Huneycutt:
Does the administration view alumni as positive force? How can we improve two-way communications?
JW: Absolutely looks at correspondence, DAM letters to editors, class newsletters, goes out into the street and try to understand what is on alumni minds. Critical to explain what it is the administration is doing--can't do a referendum on every issue, but would love to find better ways to increase communication. Committee meetings are very educational for administration over Alumni Council weekends. "We are hearing you…are you hearing us?"
WW: Very good discussion at Communications Committee -- in the context of that committee we can look at ways to enhance interactive communication between meetings.
Q: Bill Dean/Chris Hjermstad
Comment on perceived growth of budget towards administrative ends during budget slowdown.
BS: Budget reductions over last 2-3 years because of economic situation, while preserving core academic mission of Dartmouth. Federal laws, computing support, upcoming fundraising campaign, and other factors lead to the need to increase the area of administrative staffing. We are looking for ways to save within these areas as well, in tandem with cuts.
JL: Substantial growth in international office (due to federal regulations) 1 to 4 full time staff to keep up with this. Athletic compliance staffing increase and coaching salaries to be competitive.
Because of Student Life Initiative: looking at sense of belonging for students of color, gay and lesbian, and female/male -- increase in staffing in that area as well. Noted that in 1999 75% satisfaction rating of students compared with 85% this year.
Q: David Burke, Pam Schlobohm
Dorm social space, non-Greek alternatives and the status of the CFS systems.
JL: Several locations/spaces being looked at -- Maynard and Tuck Mall for residential clusters with significant amount of social space, for use by residents and groups. Planning for dining space. Taking on some renovation within Alumni Gym.
Empowering students to create the activities they want, rather than script it for them. Increase in performing groups, improv groups -- we need more stages for them to perform. Need for social and concert space.
Within CFS system, making CFS social space available to other organizations. A bit of a covert agenda -- non-members don't treat the (Greek) homes with respect, hopefully this will help.
Q: What is the College doing to enfranchise students to address younger class disconnection with Dartmouth?
JL: Student opinion absolutely counts--there isn't a faculty/administration bias. We have so much contact and so much interest, need to draw the distinction between being heard and having people do what you want them to do. We do listen, even if we can't feasibly do what the students always want in the immediate term.
Loyalty to Dartmouth begins when the student elects to apply to Dartmouth--bred through Freshman Trips, through contact with alumni. We look for opportunities to draw alumni into activities with students. Part of our capital campaign is to bring back alumni to talk with students about life after Dartmouth.
SC: Because of the affection for Dartmouth, we start from a position of strength--we try to build on that. Changing sense of what it means to be chosen by Dartmouth as the years go on. What has Dartmouth done for me--you need some distance to see this. Thursday night's dinner was a great way to increase this interaction and get some definition of what being a Dartmouth Alumna/ae means.
Other programs sponsored by alumni, like MBNA program on financial management (separate from the Alumni Credit Card), rights and responsibilities of alumni program, and trying to use newer forms of technology (career, InCircle, etc.) to stay connected.
CP: Great experience doesn't translate to the need to give back. Participation of senior class gift has been steadily going down. Students want us to increase the education about philanthropy, they want to be involved in conversations about Dartmouth's priorities, utilize student leaders to educate their peers. Disconnect between the passion for the place and a lack of understanding about why they need to invest back into the place.
SC: We're investing resources into this, in particular hiring a full-time assistant director who works with the senior class and young alumni.
Q: In your opinion how can we be reaching out more effectively to Dartmouth alumni (Question was addressed to WW)?
WW: We had a good discussion in Communications Committee about what we are trying to do. The competition for your attention is at an all-time high…we need to make sure our messages are compelling. We will explore through the Communications Committee--finding the best mix of conventional, personal, and interactive electronic communications. We need to focus on the issues that affect us. The campaign offers an opportunity to focus a spotlight on Dartmouth that we couldn't do otherwise.
Pretty good sense of how we view things from a factual basis…sometimes our positions on controversial issues are a bit unclear. We have to take into account the news media and how they present things. We need to find more complete ways to communicate without the news media filter (without abandoning the news media).
Create dedicated website from the e-newsletter “Speaking of Dartmouth” to present all issues. Importance of word-of-mouth and what people like the Alumni Councilors do.
Floor was opened for questions:
Q: John Engelman
Why is only 2% of the campaign dedicated to athletics?
JL: Dartmouth has over the past years has made a significant investment in athletics, with football practice fields, ski lodge, golf course, tennis center, etc. Two highest priorities are competition soccer field and renovations to Alumni Gym. It is a pretty significant piece of what we are doing. The athletics portion of the campaign has a $22 million goal versus $8m for the Will to Excel campaign.
CP: After Will to Excel the fundraising focus was on athletics (over $40m). So take that into account.
Q: David Bracken: Can you comment on the CFS system, perhaps give a grade?
JL: Phi Delt re-recognized by college, sororities performing at a high level. Men have some high performing groups, some mid-level, and some struggling. We are working on helping out houses that are struggling (Chi Heorot, and Bones Gate). Overall grade is in the B+ range.
Q: A. Waxman: Health issues/stress issues coming into college
JL: Some students need special support -- one of the reasons we need attention paid to facilities (social space, recreational events) and teach them how to chill out.
Tyrone Byrd presented the results of the elections, including:
Jonodev Chaudhuri '93
Julie Cillo ‘92
College Relations Committee
Hans “Chris” Hjermstad '68
By voice vote, Karen McKeel Calby ‘81 was elected Alumni Council President and Rick Routhier '73 T'76 President-elect.
Results for the Alumni Trustee election were presented, with T.J. Rodgers '70 of Woodside, CA being elected. This is the first time a petitioner has won election in over two decades. 52% of the voting was done by Internet, and 48% by mail. 29% of the voters chose more than one candidate, and participation was 24%, up from 20% in 2003.
The following resolutions were submitted and approved by acclamation:
That the Alumni Council expresses its deep appreciation to Tyrone Byrd '73 for his leadership as chair of the Nominating and Alumni Trustee Search Committee.
T-Bird, you guided the committee through the important and arduous process (5 meetings between August and November!) of producing a slate of three candidates for Alumni Trustee from a long list of qualified nominees. Testimony of your success and leadership was the outstanding slate of candidates presented by your committee. The success this year of a petition candidate in no way diminishes our appreciation for your passion and vision as you lead the Nominating Committee in its work; rather, it acknowledges the integrity of the overall process, which you have championed.
We understand the great sacrifice of time and energy that your job as chair required, and we appreciate not only the sacrifice, but the enthusiasm, willingness, grace, and constant good humor with which you made it.
That the Alumni Council extends its immense gratitude to Bill Dean '89 for his outstanding service to Dartmouth College through his role as President of the Alumni Council.
Your volunteer service to Dartmouth took off when you came onto the Alumni Council in 1999 as a class representative following your 10th reunion. Commuting from your job at General Mills in Minneapolis, you quickly earned the respect of your peers and became chair of the Young Alumni Committee and the Communications Committee. At the same time, you started interviewing prospective Dartmouth undergrads back in Minnesota. As president of this august body, your unstinting commitment to Dartmouth has been monumental. That commitment has involved untold hours travelling from Minneapolis and communicating via telephone and email. Your initiation as president-elect came during an intense period of discussion on the future of alumni governance and the Alumni Council's own role. As president, you have focused on having Councilors understand all the positive things that are happening at Dartmouth RIGHT NOW, and on making sure that Councilors take on the responsibility of communicating effectively with their constituents. The notion that “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” has also motivated you to make sure that our Council meetings include FUN activities, and we thank you for that!
Your legacy to the Council is leading by example the practice and ideal of volunteer participation and service to Dartmouth.
You have dedicated yourself to maintaining good relations with alumni, students, College administrators and trustees. Your hard work between Council meetings has included monthly teleconferences of the Executive Committee, meetings with the Nominating Committee and the Committee on Alumni Organizations, sessions with the College Relations Group and the Board of Trustees, presentations of the Alumni Award and a key role at Homecoming Weekend. You have encouraged an air of openness, tolerance, and respect. You have done all this with enthusiasm and pleasure, even as your climb up the corporate ladder at GM has you travelling constantly. You are rising so quickly that we can barely keep up with the change in your phone numbers!
As you hand over the gavel, may our memories of your leadership continue to inspire Councilors and all alumni for years to come.