Chitra Narasimhan ’92

President, 2022-2023

June 2, 2023

In late May, the Alumni Council gathered virtually for its 226th meeting. The goals for the Alumni Council this year were as follows: to give councilors a 360-degree view of the Dartmouth experience today; to reflect on the progress made over the last ten years under President Philip J. Hanlon ’77’s leadership (which we focused on in the fall); and to understand how the College is positioned as we welcome President-elect Sian Leah Beilock to office later this month.

A highlight of our time together in May was the incredible opportunity to hear directly from President-elect Beilock on Dartmouth’s strengths and opportunities for the future. President-elect Beilock shared her views on topics such as mental health, trends in higher education, DEI, and free speech. Many councilors said they felt energized by her remarks and were excited to see what a strong leader she will be for Dartmouth.

These key themes carried throughout our council meeting:

Commitment to Mental Health

Mental health remains one of the largest areas of interest and concern for alumni. Provost David Kotz ’86, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Medical Education Matthew Duncan, and JED campus project manager Katie Lenhoff shared an update on the JED campus partnership with recent findings and recommendations. They emphasized that addressing mental health concerns on campus is a priority for Dartmouth’s senior leadership, including the Board of Trustees. Through the formation of working groups and an all-Dartmouth steering committee, the College is developing an all-Dartmouth Strategic Plan for student mental health and wellbeing for release to the community in September 2023. Many councilors informed me they are pleased with Dartmouth's overall commitment to this critical issue and would like to see Dartmouth continue to prioritize its work here.

Global Dartmouth

Barbara Will, vice provost for academic initiatives, spoke about the importance of a global education for Dartmouth undergraduate and graduate students, and presented a nine-month initiative she has led to map Dartmouth’s considerable global assets, while also outlining some challenges to consider. Councilors shared the importance of study abroad programs to the Dartmouth experience, as well as the need to support international students in Hanover. Will’s work is still in early stages and will be shared with President-elect Beilock as she begins to look at Dartmouth’s path forward on a global scale.

Toward Equity: Aligning Action and Accountability

Dr. Shontay Delalue, senior vice president and senior diversity officer, and Chloe Poston, associate vice president for strategic initiatives, guided councilors through a conversation on Toward Equity: Aligning Action and Accountability, a three-year institutional DEI strategic plan for Dartmouth that features clear accountability and metrics for success. Delalue and Poston gave an overview of the plan’s foundational elements and guiding principles. I encourage everyone to read through the plan to better understand Dartmouth’s focus in this regard. Of the plan’s 15 actions, the one most specific to alumni was to “expand and formalize existing mentoring programs into an initiative that connects alumni with students from underrepresented groups.” Alumni Relations will share more with the alumni community as this mentoring initiative takes shape. In the meantime, sign up here for Dartmouth Connect in preparation for the initiative.

Free Speech at Dartmouth and Beyond

Dartmouth’s commitment to free speech was addressed by President-elect Beilock and Trustees Caroline Kerr ’05, Elizabeth Mahoney Loughlin ’89, and Chair Elizabeth Cahill Lempres ’83 TH’84 during the open forum. Beilock reiterated that higher education is an arena meant for competing views and that campuses should be enabling what she referred to as brave spaces, not safe spaces, that invite people to speak their mind or practice their skills in uncomfortable situations. On the intersection of free speech and DEI, Beilock stated that the two do not work against each other; and she emphasized the importance of belonging as a foundation for constructive dialogue. Delalue also spoke on free speech and DEI, emphasizing a core question: How do we as a society help people engage in difficult conversation when they don’t agree?


Trustees also commented on housing and the challenges finding swing spaces to house people while dorms or housing units are being updated, repaired, or built. They reiterated that housing for undergraduate and graduate students, as well as faculty and staff, is a top priority for Dartmouth leadership and the Board of Trustees.

Alumni Council Leadership

The Alumni Council also voted for several new leadership positions on the council, and I’d like to congratulate the following people:

  • President-Elect 2023–2024: Cheryl Shepard ‘90
  • Alumni Liaison Committee 2023–2026: Gina Lam ‘92
  • Nominating and Alumni Trustee Search Committee 2023–2026: Bruce Danziger ’83 and Nahoko Kawakyu-O'Connor ’99

Your Feedback is Important!

Please continue to share your thoughts with Alumni Council by emailing your councilor or completing the Alumni Liaison Committee’s online form. Every message received is read, and the feedback drives our agendas for future meetings and updates to our fellow alumni.

It has been my distinct honor to serve as president of the Alumni Council, and the true gift has been getting to know so many wonderful alumni across the decades as we serve Dartmouth together. The council will be in amazing hands next year with Alex Barnett ’07 at the helm!

For Dartmouth,

Chitra Narasimhan ’92
Alumni Council President, 2022-2023