October 26–28, 2017

Chair David Silbersweig opened the meeting. Councilors introduced themselves around the table. David reviewed the mission of the committee: to keep alumni informed about academic affairs and to provide helpful alumni feedback, while emphasizing the importance of the committee as a liaison to alumni lifelong learning.

To highlight the intersection of lifelong learning, educational travel, and the use of technology/MOOCs, Professor Jeremy DeSilva, associate professor of anthropology and a paleoanthropologist specializing in the locomotion of the first apes (hominoids) and early human ancestors (hominins), presented to the committee. He spoke about his involvement with Dartmouth’s Lifelong Learning programs such as Back to Class and Dartmouth on Location, and his rich engagement with alumni. He has worked in the field with students at the Malapa and Rising Star sites in Africa, and has met with alumni there as well.  He described how these activities enhance his teaching and pedagogy in Hanover.

Meg Ramsden, filling in for committee secretary Robin Albing, who was not able to attend, next spoke about the Professor John Rassias Faculty Award. The rationale for presenting this award includes: generating goodwill and stronger ties between faculty and alumni, to the benefit of both groups; increasing faculty interaction with alumni to create stronger bonds back to the College; and the recognizing faculty contributions to alumni lifelong learning, in honor of Professor Rassias. Criteria for the Faculty Award include the scope of contributions to alumni (programs with which faculty have been involved); breadth of contributions; and status as a current faculty member.

The inaugural award was presented during a lunch at the spring meeting to Professor Steve Swayne, the Jacob H. Strauss 1922 Professor of Music; and Don Pease, the Ted and Helen Geisel Third Century Professor in the Humanities, chair of the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies Program, and professor of English and comparative literature.

The committee encouraged the idea of a broader cross-section of professors participating in alumni programs. Perhaps the committee could learn more about the process of how professors are booked for speaking engagements, or collaborate with clubs. While some topics and academic material might not translate to the wider population, a wider range of subjects and professors could be considered.

Next on the agenda was the program “Good Reads.” With the support of the Alumni Council and the Academic Affairs Committee, “Good Reads” was launched in 2009 as one of many ways to keep alumni intellectually engaged with Dartmouth faculty. Twice a year Alumni Relations posts faculty book recommendations on the Alumni Relations website and shares them with our alumni. It’s one of the site’s most visited sections, and is now searchable.  Meg Ramsden talked about the solicitation process, which is conducted in partnership with the Lifelong Learning office.