Laurie Lewis Shapiro '95

Laurie Lewis Shapiro ’95
President, 2021-22

Earlier this month, the Alumni Council convened virtually to hear the latest from Hanover and share your feedback with Dartmouth’s leadership. Although we would have loved to be on campus, we had the next best thing as we were able to spend time with campus leaders, students, and faculty. I write to share insights from our conversations and invite you to read the meeting minutes.

The Student Experience

Vice Provost for Enrollment and Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Lee Coffin offered insight into a historic period for college admissions and how Dartmouth has moved through turbulent times successfully. The Class of ’25 shattered every record in the most selective year in Dartmouth’s history with a 6.17% admit rate and a yield rate just over 70%. Lee attributes this to the enduring quality and appeal of the College.

Attracting the most talented students is a point of pride but supporting them once they matriculate is a priority. Interim Dean of the College Scott Brown and members of his team shared that the fall term is going well with low positivity rates for COVID and in-person classes and social activities in full swing. Our conversation with him focused on student mental health, and we learned about expanded mental health resources designed to make care easier and safer to access. In addition to increasing counseling clinical staff by 50% and hiring additional suicide prevention specialists, Dartmouth has partnered with the JED Foundation to assess the mental health needs of the community and implement strategies to support emotional well-being.

Academic Excellence

A meeting highlight was hearing from Professor Bruce Stanton, PhD candidate Lily Charpentier, and Sam Neff ’21 about their research in development of new therapeutics for cystic fibrosis. Their research team, composed of undergraduates, graduate students, and faculty, is one of nine academic clusters: cohorts of scholars focused on questions that cut across disciplines, departments, and schools. The clusters help attract talented faculty to Dartmouth, support world changing research, and are a pillar of President Hanlon’s academic vision.

President Hanlon shared progress against that vision. He updated us on Dartmouth’s three-part plan for academic excellence, which includes bringing together a diverse and talented group of students, faculty, staff, and alumni; giving them the support they need to excel; and creating programs and facilities that draw these talented people together around important world issues. Several metrics support advances made in these areas. On the student front and echoing Lee Coffin’s presentation, admissions yield has risen dramatically and academic credentials for students are the highest they have been. Dartmouth is expanding its global reach with 14% of the student body coming from countries outside the US. Student outcomes—job placements at the time of graduation—are up significantly. Dedicated efforts to recruit and retain diverse faculty are paying off. BIPOC faculty now comprise 25% of the faculty, up from 17.5% in 2013. Research done by Dartmouth faculty is on the rise and being recognized, and Dartmouth’s membership in the Association of American Universities is helping to attract top faculty, postdocs, and graduate students.

Also critical to academic excellence are diversity and belonging. Senior Vice President and Senior Diversity Officer Shontay Delalue, who joined President Hanlon’s leadership team in July, shared perspectives from her first months at Dartmouth and goals for the year ahead. She has reorganized the Office of Institutional Diversity and Equity to create a more cohesive approach to diversity, equity, and inclusion on campus. Her immediate focus is on capacity building, data, promoting positive stories and communication, building community, and assessing progress on three major initiatives (Inclusive Excellence, Moving Dartmouth Forward, and the Campus Climate and Culture Initiative).

Year of Connections

Finally, for alumni, our separation is over! In-person events are back, and it was a true pleasure to be in Hanover for Homecoming and see so many of you on the Green. Cheryl Bascomb ’82, vice president for Alumni Relations, updated the Council on Dartmouth’s plan for a Year of Connections. As part of this effort, Dartmouth will commemorate three important 50th anniversaries in 2022 for coeducation, the establishment of the Native American Studies Program (now the Department of Native American and Indigenous Studies), and the founding of the Black Alumni of Dartmouth Association. These transformational developments during the presidency of John Kemeny laid the groundwork for a more welcoming, diverse, and inclusive Dartmouth community. I hope you will join the Council in commemorating the anniversaries and celebrating our Black, Native American and indigenous, and alumnae communities.

Thanks for reading and for staying connected to Dartmouth, and I hope you are heartened by the campus focus. As always, please continue to share your thoughts with the Alumni Council by emailing your Councilor or the Alumni Liaison Committee

For Dartmouth,

Laurie Lewis Shapiro ‘95
Alumni Council President