The 219th session of the Dartmouth Alumni Council opened with a luncheon meeting of the Nominating and Alumni Trustee Search Committee. The Alumni Liaison Committee (ALC) met later that afternoon. First-year councilors attended an orientation session with Council leadership. All councilors were invited to the Alumni Council opening session, led by Alumni Council President C. Alec Casey ’88 and Vice President for Alumni Relations Cheryl Bascomb ’82.
In the evening, alumni councilors attended their individual committee meetings in various locations around campus.
Council representatives of the affiliated groups met for coffee and conversation.
The Council came together over breakfast to discuss FY20 initiatives. Alumni Council President Alec Casey reviewed the Council mission and makeup and posed two questions: Is the current make-up of the Alumni Council optimal? Are there changes we should consider making alumni representation more effective while maintaining our current size? Are the current committees maximizing Alumni Councilor engagement while providing benefit to Dartmouth? Should we consider updating the committees and their mission? A survey will be sent out to the councilors to solicit input into the process. President-elect Rachel Drew ’98 joined Alec in a call for Councilor volunteers to staff two task forces. The history of committee changes will be of interest, as will how our institutional peers engage volunteers.
The proposed process is as follows: In August 2019, the scope, process, and deliverables of the task forces were finalized with Alumni Relations; in September, the initiative was presented to the Alumni Council Executive Committee. Outreach to the Council took place in this session. The selection of task force members, with a goal of 10 members each, would take place in October, and the task forces would then convene for kickoff. The task force will determine what additional outreach and information is needed during the months of November and December. Meetings to develop proposals and recommendations will take place from January-March 2020, and findings and recommendations will be presented to the Council for approval in May at the 220th Council meeting.
The task force chairs are the Council president (representation) and president-elect (committees). The makeup of the task force includes Alumni Relations, Executive Committee volunteers, other councilors, and other volunteers. A proposal will be presented at Alumni Council in May. While councilors will drive the task forces, Alumni Relations will play a critical role in aligning proposals with College priorities and assuring continuity. In May, the Council will vote on proposals if changes are recommended. Next, Vice Provost for Enrollment and Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Lee Coffin offered a Dartmouth Admissions update. This year saw a record number of applicants to Dartmouth, with 21 applicants per seat. He touched on several topics of interest to alumni. The recent decision in the Harvard lawsuit means that Dartmouth will continue to use a holistic review process, which evaluates multiple sets of factors, including academic achievement and intellectual engagement. Legacy applicants, athletes, and other factors are also considered. The recent Varsity Blues scandal has raised questions about merit, fairness, and privilege. The College Board has added an environmental dashboard called “landscape,” drawn from census and College Board data. There were 3,380 applications for the Class of 1966, and 23,650 for the Class of 2023. There is massive demand for limited seats. Dartmouth has had record yields three years in a row and has not gone to the wait list in three years.
Next on the agenda, Dean of Libraries Sue Mehrer discussed the future of Dartmouth’s libraries. She spoke about how scholarship is evolving with the ever-increasing possibilities created by technological advances. Where previously the library was the provider of books, journals and electronic content, it is now expanding its role as a partner in the research process, data analysis, visualization, and management; as well as an expert in traditional and digital preservation, digital forensics, and scholarly publishing. Established programs are keeping pace with new pedagogical approaches. The proposed re-design of Berry Library aims to connect students and faculty with the breadth and depth of the College’s collections. The vision is to create environments that tap into centuries of knowledge as well as just published content; that cherish deep scholarship; and that foster interdisciplinary collaboration. The Berry Library was built in a transitory era. When completed in 2000, the iPhone did not exist and only 2.5 percent of the population had broadband internet connection. Since then, technology has evolved. The dean showed photographs of how the community is using the current spaces. The Call to Lead capital campaign proposes a rethinking of the Berry Library Experience; mapping programming needs; and developing design responses. Slides showed photographs of the assets and challenges of the current space, alongside renderings of the proposed renovations.
Community input on programming needs calls for the Berry experience to create opportunities to inspire, create, test, gather, reflect, and discover. A proposed option is to “stack” the floors into the workshop, fireside, the nexus, ideas lab, teacher/scholar, and the lookout. A connecting stair would be added to improve access and flow. Seminar spaces would be created for effective collaboration, along with visible research services support. There is a need to build for adaptability. The collections will never be completely digitized, and part of the goal of the redesign is allow more access to the diversity of the books and materials.
Next on the agenda was a Nominating and Alumni Trustee Search Committee briefing, provided by chair Laurie Shapiro ’95. She outlined the role of the Alumni Council, which is to sustain a fully informed, representative, and engaged exchange of information and sentiment between alumni and Dartmouth; enhance and inspire alumni involvement that furthers the mission of the College; and to contribute to Dartmouth’s governance by nominating qualified candidates to serve as alumni-nominated trustees. The committee nominates candidates for Alumni Council positions; formally appoints councilors based on recommendations from classes, affiliated groups, regions, etc.; and recommends alumni candidates for the Alumni Council to nominate to the Board of Trustees. The committee is a cross-section of the Alumni Council composed of the president, the president-elect, the past Nominating Committee chair, one appointed councilor, and six elected councilors. This year’s members include Alec Casey ’88, Maxine Mauricio ’93, Laurie Shapiro ’95 (chair), Tee Lotson ’82, David Silbersweig ’82, Eric Taylor ’84, Laura Mattson ’89, Jo Golub ’98, Rachel Drew ’98 and Beth Cook ’94.
The Board of Trustees has ultimate responsibility for the financial, administrative, and academic affairs of the College. The Board’s responsibilities include fiduciary responsibility, appointment of faculty and officers, purchase and disposition of property, awarding of degrees, and approval of new programs and initiatives. It is comprised of eight alumni-nominated trustees, 16 charter trustees, and two ex-officio members (the President of the College and Governor of New Hampshire). Four of the eight current alumni-nominated trustees will rotate off the Board of Trustees in 2020 and 2021.
Shapiro described how Dartmouth needs to attract the strongest trustee candidates, given the enormous complexity of the institution, financial challenges of the higher education model, increasingly global nature of the College, competitive environment for talent and resources, and the critical role of higher education today. The Nominating Committee’s objective is to conduct a process that is broad-based, open, and inclusive; thorough and rigorous; respectful and discreet; and independent.
Trustee candidates should demonstrate the following qualities: broad service/passion for Dartmouth; demonstrated ability to govern; responsible fiduciary; strategic and critical thinker; ability to work with complex concepts; demonstrated courage of conviction, respect and integrity; outstanding leader of organization/profession; constructive and collaborative participant (previous board experience is important); and ability to enrich and add value to the Board. In addition, the committee considers diversity of all kinds.
In June, Dartmouth alumni were invited to share trustee recommendations. Later in the summer the Alumni Council voted to nominate one candidate for each of the three vacancies. All nominations were thoroughly reviewed, researched, and vetted by the Nominating Committee. Hundreds of alumni have been considered in the past years. Background checks and pre-referencing were conducted through multiple sources on multiple prospects.
In 2014, Dartmouth alumni passed an amendment to the Association of Alumni constitution which eliminates the requirement of alumni-wide balloting if there is an uncontested slate. The deadline for petition candidates is December 20, 2019. If the slate is contested, an election will be held in February and March, with the results announced at the Association of Alumni annual meeting on March 18, 2020. The Board of Trustees will then vote to seat the candidates.
During the winter, the NomCom will identify, vet, and recruit councilors to serve leadership positions; a two-candidate slate for President-Elect; a four-candidate slate for two positions on the Nominating and Alumni Trustee Search Committee (to be elected by the Council); a three-candidate slate for one position on the Alumni Liaison Committee (to be elected by the Council); one at-large representative to the ALC selected from the alumni body; and two at-large representatives to the Council selected from the alumni body.
The Alumni Council luncheon featured presentations by Dean of the College Kathryn Lively; Dartmouth’s Chief Financial Officer Mike Wagner; Vice President for Institutional Projects Josh Keniston; and Director of Sustainability Rosi Kerr ’97. Dean Lively provided an update on the house communities. Their design is meant to provide intellectual engagement, a stronger sense of community, and to create more consistent housing around the “D” plan. House community members are now living by dorm. Activities include dinners, programs with speakers, “House Cup” contests, and off-campus trips. The creation of the house communities moved at a quick pace. Satisfaction is often linked to the quality of housing. The houses are not meant to replace the Greek system.
Chief Financial Officer Mike Wagner provided an update on finance. On the revenue side, the FY20 budget showed 2.5 percent growth over FY 2019 at $1,092M ($ in millions). On the expense side, the FY20 budget was $1,083M ($ in millions), which is a 2.1 percent growth over FY 2019. President Hanlon’s goal has been to slow the rate of growth of tuition, room, and board. The endowment distribution rate in FY19 was 7.5 percent, second in the Ivy League. The size of the endowment rank 16th nationally and supports such areas as financial aid, building maintenance, the Hopkins Center for the Arts, and the Hood Museum of Art. New initiatives in the budget since 2013 include academic clusters, faculty salary commitment, the Irving Institute for Energy and Society, the Guarini School of Graduate and Advanced Studies, undergraduate scholarships surpassing $110M, academic initiatives funding, increased plant renewal funding, Moving Dartmouth Forward (including creation of the house communities and house professor houses), and funding experiential learning.
10-year budget scenarios include lower investment returns; higher interest rates, inflation, campaign and post-campaign philanthropy; the Green Energy Project; 2020 facilities in service (Dana, rowing, indoor practice facility, utilities extension phase I & II, West End enabling); 2022 facilities in service (Thayer C/S Building, Irving Institute); ITC infrastructure investment and phase I network; and residential facility renewal planning.
Josh Keniston spoke about the planning and process summary behind the Dartmouth Green Energy project. Goals adopted in 2017 were to achieve 50 percent renewable fuel by 2025 and 100 percent by 2050; reduce Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions by 50 percent by 2025 and 80 percent by 2050; achieve a carbon-negative energy system by 2051; 20 percent increase in distribution system efficiency by 2030; and to upgrade aging infrastructure. Three key components were to complete in-building conversions of steam to hot water; convert the distribution of steam to hot water; and to consider energy generations from options including wood biomass, solar, heat pumps, geo-exchange, and liquid biofuels. Hot water will be flexible and more efficient. The campus has 5.5 million square feet of buildings to be heated. An advisory group is being formed to study energy generation options.
Rosi Kerr described how the overlap of student experience and operations drive the sustainability effort. Some examples are the sustainability sale held on move-in day for the first-year students, and the Dartmouth Bikes program. The Dartmouth Organic Farm hosts programs that reach 2,200 students per year. In 2018, Dartmouth’s energy consumption was 72 percent no. 6 fuel oil, 26 percent electricity, and 2 percent solar. Much of the operational impact at Dartmouth, at least as far as greenhouse gases and climate change are concerned, come from our energy consumption and most of that comes as a result of our need to heat our almost 6 million square feet of built space. Because the steam heating system is old and must be replaced, this creates an opportunity to examine other technologies.
The second plenary opened with a session titled “Young Alumni and the Call to Lead.” Vice President for Development Andrew Davidson and Whitney Flynn ’07 TU’16 talked about the campaign progress as of October 1, 2019. Campaign commitments to date stand at $1.871B, while bequest expectancies to date stand at $317M. Also, 223 out of 250 endowed scholarships have been funded, with commitments of $152.1M. All gifts matter in participating in the Call to Lead, and 57.5 percent of undergraduate alumni have made a gift during the campaign. 53.3 percent of undergraduate young alumni have contributed, and 244 women have made annual gifts as part of the Centennial Circle. A total of 70 women have made gifts of $1M or more, with a goal of 100, and 111 entrepreneurial alumni signed up for the Dartmouth Founders Project. There has been a 322 percent increase in giving among international alumni, compared to the last campaign. Furthermore, 92 percent of all current alumni councilors and 85 percent of young alumni councilors have participated in the campaign. Funds are at work in such areas as the King Scholars, the Rockefeller Center First-Year Fellows, the faculty clusters, and the Thayer CS building under construction. The mission for the Young Alumni Campaign Advisors is to cultivate the next generation of Dartmouth alumni, inspire leadership commitments, and increase participation in the Call to Lead and Bartlett Tower Society.
Next on the agenda was “On the Road with the Stretch: Learning How the Earth Works.” Edward Meyer, earth science off-campus program director; Marisa Palucis, assistant professor of earth science; and Carl Renshaw, chair and professor of earth science, presented. They were joined by two students, Mary Tobin ’20 and Max Bond ’20. This is the 54th year of “the Stretch,” the Department of Earth Science’s off-campus program, which is one of the oldest programs on campus. The professors and students start their ten-week journey in British Columbia and study different topics such as glaciology, geophysics, mapping, and hydrology in locations ranging from Yellowstone to Arches and Zion National Park. The term concludes in the Grand Canyon. Students learn to collaborate, focus on diverse topics, and collect data, and enjoy a sense of adventure. This program receives strong support from alumni.
The Council heard an update on the Board of Trustees from chair Laurel Richie ’81. She thanked the councilors for being ambassadors for the College and trusted advisors to the institution and the Board. President Hanlon’s senior team is fully staffed with accomplished leaders. The cluster initiative is seeing strong outcomes and 13 faculty have been hired into the Society of Fellows. Thirty faculty members have recently been recognized with external awards. The Call to Lead campaign recently crossed the $2B mark. Dartmouth is celebrating its 250th year with celebrations on campus and on the road in 12 cities across the U.S. A global summit in London recently kicked off a series which continue to Hong Kong, Lima, and Toronto.
Much strategic work has been done through the campaign, some fully funded and realized, some not yet (such as the renovation of Dartmouth Hall and Berry Library). The Board is focused on executing with excellence, in collaboration with undergraduate students, graduate students, faculty, and the community. The Council followed up with questions such as how the campus can become “greener,” defining the success of the house system, and how to make the campus safer from sexual assault.
The Alumni Awards Committee, Honorary Degrees Committee, and Young Alumni Committee all met later that afternoon.
In the evening, councilors attended the Alumni Awards Gala. The festive dinner program opened with a welcome from Council President Tee Lotson ’82. Two alumni received the Young Alumni Distinguished Service Award: Nathan Bruschi ’10 and Kyle Polite ‘05. Three outstanding alumni were honored with the Dartmouth Alumni Award: James Wooster III ’59 TH’60 TU’60, Russell Wolff ’89, and Veree Hawkins Brown ’93.
The ALC met for breakfast with Chair of the Board of Trustees Laurel Richie ‘81, along with trustees Ellie Loughlin ’89 and S. Caroline Kerr ’05.
Alumni Council President-Elect Rachel Drew ‘98 opened the Saturday plenary session. She introduced President Phil Hanlon ’77. President Hanlon set the context for his remarks by explaining that when he arrived on campus in 2013, Dartmouth faced some challenges: it was under investigation for civil rights issues, the levels of research funding had dropped, and faculty salaries had slipped. The charge from the Board to Hanlon was simple. It was important to build on Dartmouth’s profound sense of place and what differentiates Dartmouth. The establishment of the Moving Dartmouth Forward Plan in 2015 included several measures to create higher expectations of college students while strengthening Dartmouth’s commitment to teaching and learning. The other two pillars in this plan are Inclusive Excellence and the Campus Culture and Climate Initiative. Through these initiatives, the house communities were launched, the unified sexual misconduct policy was created, and department climate reviews are taking place. Dartmouth is part of a 40-college collaborative to stem sexual misconduct, and there are external advisory groups to review the work being done on campus.
Hanlon introduced greater fiscal rigor to the campus. Every year, each department is asked to reallocate 1.5 percent of their budgets. The endowment payout has been reduced. In 2018, Dartmouth was restored to R1 status, based in part on research expenditures. Funds have been redirected to make faculty salaries more competitive; in the U.S. News ranking of average faculty compensation, Dartmouth has moved from #16 in FY14 to #5 in FY19. The compound annual growth rate of expenditures went from 6.3 percent in FY11-FY13 to 1.7 percent in FY13-FY19 (referred to as “the Hanlon effect” by his staff).
The scope and ambition of the Call to Lead has allowed for new investments. Dartmouth is a magnet for talent (an example being the FYSEP program) and discovery (Thayer expansion, the Arthur L. Irving Institute for Energy and Society). Dartmouth has just come off its most selective admissions cycle, and the yield has increased dramatically, from 50 percent for the Class of 2019 to 64 percent for the Class of 2023. Faculty members such as Marcelo Gleiser and Eric Fossom have been awarded numerous prizes. A total of $1.4M has been added to increase the competitiveness of faculty salaries.
Both the community and alumni support Dartmouth through alumni interviewing, attending events, engaging with activities, and donations. There are visible signs of transformation on campus, from the newly renovated Hood Museum of Art to the West End. The funds raised by the Dartmouth College Fund were $164M in 2013 and rose to $329M in 2019. This is amazing support and the College needs to make sure they are stewards of these resources. Dartmouth is still a work in progress, and the Council plays a crucial role in mobilizing these efforts and keeping their constituents engaged.
In the next session, Laurie Shapiro presented the alumni nominated trustee candidates. The Alumni Council voted unanimously to approve all three candidates: Susan Finegan ’85, Odette Harris ’91, and Gregg Lemkau ’91. The approved slate would be announced to all alumni on October 21 via email and postcard.
The chairs and vice chairs of the Council committees reported on their meetings.
The open forum commenced, with an open discussion period for councilors and open microphone for alumni.
The meeting was adjourned.
A debrief will be scheduled for the Executive Committee