222nd Session Committee Summaries

Thursday, May 13

The 222nd session of the Dartmouth Alumni Council was held virtually due to COVID-19 restrictions, the third virtual meeting of the Council in its 108-year existence. Alumni Council President Rachel Bogardus Drew ’98 opened the meeting with a greeting and a preview of the meeting agenda. She applauded the efforts of the councilors and their committees in a very challenging year. She described how there had been opportunities to gather sentiment and share information virtually over the course of the year, such as a special session held for councilors in April with senior administrators to address hot topics. The Council continues to be a mechanism for taking the pulse of the alumni body.

Chair Alec Casey ’88 shared an update from the Alumni Liaison Committee. He detailed sentiment that councilors had received from their constituents in advance of the meeting. The most prevalent topics were academics, athletics, and student life. Council leadership employs this sentiment to inform programming and shares it with the Board of Trustees. He encouraged councilors to continue engaging with their constituents across platforms, and to share feedback with the ALC.

Increasing financial aid is one of the top areas of focus for the Council this year. Councilor Hadley Mullin ’96 reported from the Presidential Commission on Financial Aid. She explained that there are elements of Dartmouth’s financial aid package that are not as generous as the College’s peers. As Dartmouth’s student body continues to become more diverse, the aid per capita and percentage of students in need will continue to increase as well. Dartmouth’s sources of revenue include tuition and philanthropy. The full cost of a Dartmouth education is $140,000, while the discounted price to students is ~$80,000. All students are recipients of the generosity of the community. The Council viewed an uplifting brief video featuring several alumni who had been financial aid recipients.

Pablo Stern ’01 Th’01, chair of the Professional Development Committee (PDC), reminded councilors of the call to action issued by Vice President for Alumni Relations Cheryl Bascomb ’82 to help members of the Class of 2020 and 2021 find jobs. This pandemic year has made it difficult for young alumni and graduating students as they enter the work force. He urged councilors to ask their constituents to post a job or internship for the ‘21s on Dartboard: post an opportunity for the ‘20s on Dartmouth Connect and the Dartmouth College Alumni LinkedIn group: and offer expertise via Dartmouth Connect and the Dartmouth College Alumni LinkedIn group.

Rachel Drew spoke about the last Council priority for the year, which is increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion within our alumni communities. In the fall, the Council held a joint session with VOX participants to brainstorm what would help the leaders of classes, clubs, groups, and the Council to foster more inclusive spaces for all alumni. A series of interactive sessions was developed to hear from alumni volunteers who have had success in this with their alumni communities and share ideas across our organizations. There have been two sessions held this spring: one focusing on communication, the other focusing on programming. The third session in the series will focus on volunteer recruitment and is scheduled for June 3. The ideas and suggestions shared during these sessions are being collected by the Alumni Relations team, which will organize them and make them available to all alumni volunteers. 

Cheryl Bascomb thanked the Council for their leadership during this difficult year and emphasized how great it is to see progress on Council priorities and initiatives. She pointed to the progress the College is making toward returning to more normal operations.

This second admissions cycle of the pandemic brought a 33 percent increase over last year’s applicant pool—a record number, resulting in a 6 percent admit rate. The Class of 2025 is broadly diverse—the most diverse class in Dartmouth’s history—in terms of racial, socioeconomic, and international diversity. Admitted students come from all 50 states plus Washington, DC; Puerto Rico; Guam; and 68 countries. Fifty-one tribal nations and other indigenous groups across North America are represented. Seventeen percent are first generation college students. Forty-eight percent are Black, indigenous, and people of color. All viewpoints and voices must be valued.

Beginning last spring, alumni groups, individuals, and organizations expressed a desire to be more involved in diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging work. Alumni Relations created virtual content that included racial justice programs as part of virtual reunions; provided DEIB training session to Volunteer Week participants; and included racial justice in plans for content streams, in podcasts, and in the Great Issues, New Perspectives series. We have made measurable progress in developing alumni programming on race that features Dartmouth BIPOC faculty or that focuses on racial equity. Seven events focused specifically on race/racial justice, and two addressed it indirectly, and featured 13 BIPOC faculty speakers and 28 BIPOC alumni speakers. Further,  alumni organizations created ~75 events addressing racial equity or social justice. The Admissions Ambassador program worked with the Admissions Office and leaders of the Black community to increase the yield of Black accepted applicants using virtual admitted student events and parent events. We added a program targeted to veterans, and 100 percent of veteran applicants interviewed with 12 young alumni veterans.

Bascomb highlighted the variety of digital engagement that has allowed our alumni and parent communities to come together. Alumni Relations created “live” digital content, recorded events, podcasts, recorded lectures, volunteer events, and web resources. Great Issues/New Perspectives, one of the programs under the banner of Dartmouth NEXT, is a virtual forum that offers free, live-streamed, and pre-recorded programming for a multi-generational, global audience. Each Great Issues/New Perspectives program showcases Dartmouth faculty and a Dartmouth-related guest expert. In June, the new series Short Talks on Big Ideas will highlight a wide range of Dartmouth’s teacher-scholar faculty and their research. 

Next councilors attended PINE Online, a virtual gathering where they networked with fellow councilors and met Council leadership candidates.

Friday, May 14

Councilors gathered for an Alumni Council lunch and social hour, hosted by committee vice chairs.

Friday’s plenary session kicked off with “New Initiatives to Create a More Inclusive and Welcoming Campus” featuring Philip J. Hanlon ’77, President; Matt Delmont, Special Advisor to the President and Sherman Fairchild Distinguished Professor of History; Mary Coffey, Professor of Art History; Justin Anderson, Vice President for Communications; and Shontay Delalue, Senior Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer.

President Hanlon described how diversity, equity and inclusion are of paramount importance as we look to educate and cultivate the next generation of leaders at Dartmouth. In his first address to the faculty in November 2013, he noted that to be successful in today’s increasing diverse and global society, our graduates need the ability to work effectively with people from very different backgrounds and perspectives. Decades of research shows that a diverse community performs better at many aspects of research and knowledge creation. Dartmouth has rolled out three interrelated initiatives— Moving Dartmouth Forward, Inclusive Excellence and the Campus Climate and Culture Initiative—which lay out concrete actions.  These actions included steps aimed at improving the student social scene, support for recruitment and retention of underrepresented faculty, and structures that build community among BIPOC staff.  

Matt Delmont serves as special advisor as we look to significantly improve the recruitment, retention, and success of BIPOC faculty. Justin Anderson and Mary Coffey are currently leading a working group that is reviewing iconography across campus to ensure that it is fully consistent with our values. Shontay Delalue will oversee efforts to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion across campus.

Hanlon shared some of the more significant steps taken to promote faculty and staff diversity over the past several years. The diversity recruitment fund, administered by the Provost’s Office, has reached expenditures of over $4 million annually. This fund helps deans support the cost of hiring faculty who add to the diversity of their departments and programs. Dartmouth is now employing a faculty-led team to help identify talented candidates from under-represented groups for each faculty search. With the help of a grant from the Mellon Foundation, several post-docs for new PhD's have been created in disciplinary areas where faculty of color are highly represented. These post-docs are structured so that they can lead to tenure-track faculty positions. Fifteen existing faculty lines— three per year for each of the next five years— will be dedicated towards a cohort hiring program across the institution for BIPOC faculty and faculty who study racial justice, systemic racism, and inequality. Arts & Sciences and Geisel have initiated searches for this initiative this academic year, while other schools will begin in the 2021-22 academic year. In recruiting Shontay Delalue, the College has built out the Office of Institutional Diversity and Equity, expanding its personnel and programmatic funding and elevating its reporting line to the president.  

Senior Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer Shontay Delalue addressed the Council. She thanked the Council for the warm welcome and explained her work will focus on such points as increasing recruitment and retention, the demographic shift of the student body, and empowering faculty. She is excited to be part of Dartmouth and to help align diversity and inclusion efforts with the work currently going on. She steps into her role on July 1.

Next the Council heard from Matt Delmont, the Sherman Fairchild Professor of History, an expert on African American history and the history of Civil Rights. The strides Dartmouth is making in increasing financial aid is helping increase the diversity of the student body, which was 25 percent people of color in 2000, and 45 percent today. There are also more students who are first generation or from low-income families. Over the past few years progress has been made in BIPOC faculty recruitment. Preliminary ideas shared during alumni gatherings such as Volunteer Engagement Week helped refine efforts. An early-career faculty fellow program has been established to help this cohort receive mentoring and support. An accelerator fund helped translate ideas into pilot programs. An institute was created as an investment in recruitment and retention. A pilot project for tribal services and solutions has been established. The mission to increase faculty of color across the institution is vitally important. 

Next, Justin Anderson and Mary Coffey talked about the creation of the iconography working group. Professor Coffey is co-chair of the 12-member group, which was created this past winter and is charged with developing recommendations for an inclusive process of outreach and consultation regarding the placement, presence, and official recognition of campus iconography. These recommendations will articulate guidelines for decision-making, promote historical accountability, and align with the core values and aspirations of the institution. Input from people, groups, and organizations will be essential, and is being gathered from the public via an online form.

Next on the agenda was a report from the Nominating and Alumni Trustee Search Committee. NomCom chair Karyn Wienski Calcano ’87 Tu ’91 thanked the alumni councilors who ran for leadership positions. She outlined the purpose of the committee: to identify, recruit, and attract the best alumni to serve on the Board of Trustees, in Alumni Council leadership positions, and in other critical alumni leadership roles. The composition of the Nominating Committee is purposefully representative of the alumni body, composed of the president, the president-elect, the past Nominating Committee chair, one appointed councilor, and six elected councilors. 

The committee met several times this past year, in putting forth one alumni-nominated trustee candidate, and its working agenda also includes consideration of Alumni Council leadership roles, the Nominating Committee slate, the Alumni Liaison Committee slate, and the president-elect slate; the Alumni Council at-large appointments; affirmation of class, club, and affiliated group councilor appointments; and affirmation of appointments specified in the Alumni Council constitution. The Council acknowledged the appointments of the undergraduate representatives, graduate program representatives, and affiliated group representatives. Calcano called for a vote to approve the Alumni Liaison Committee at-large members and the Alumni Council at-large representatives. She then presented the nominated slates for the president-elect, Alumni Liaison Committee, and the Nominating Committee. An electronic voting process enabled councilors to vote virtually, and councilors were reminded to cast their votes, with the election results to be announced later in the plenary. Calcano reminded the Council that while there is no alumni-nominated trustee vacancy anticipated this year, the NomCom welcomes recommendations of outstanding alumni and maintains a strong pipeline of candidates.

“Learning Together: Student-Faculty Research at Dartmouth” featured a panel of students and their faculty mentors. Ruth Craig, Professor Emerita of Pharmacology and Toxicology, and E.E. Just Scholar Princilla Minkah ‘21 presented their research on historic epidemics, in particular the 1918 flu pandemic.

Brendan Nyhan, Professor of Government, was joined by Margaret Doyle '22, Nicolas Berlinski '21, and Gabrielle Levy '22. This group has been working together for over two years to examine the effects of exposure to widespread voter fraud after an election.

Next, many of the Council’s standing committees reported on their work, including Academic Affairs; Alumni Service; Enrollment & Admissions; Honorary Degrees; and New Alumni Engagement. The Alumni Liaison Committee, NomCom, and Professional Development Committee all reported in other sessions.

A session titled “Why Is All Covid-19 News Bad News?” highlighted the research of Bruce Sacerdote ’90, Richard S. Braddock 1963 Professor of Economics, and his student Ranjan Sehgal ’22. Their research focused on the bad news bias of reporting on COVID-19 in the U.S. media.

The open forum commenced. Trustees Caroline Kerr ’05 and Daniel Black ’82 fielded questions from the Council, along with Cheryl Bascomb. This was followed by a special announcement. President Hanlon and board chair Laurel Richie ’81 revealed Dartmouth had received a transformational $20 Million gift from Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe '81 and John Donahoe '82 that addresses national STEM diversity gap and honors legacy of Dartmouth alumnus E.E. Just. This gift will strengthen to strengthen efforts to draw more underrepresented groups to the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. 

Next Council president Rachel Drew offered a warm tribute to Laurel Richie in recognition of her dedicated work and close relationship to the Alumni Council.

Council President-Elect Laurie Shapiro announced the Alumni Council leadership election results. Chitra Narasimhan ’92 was elected president-elect of the Alumni Council. Kalina Newmark ’11 and Sarah Choi ‘97 were elected to the Nominating and Alumni Trustee Search Committee. Soyeun Yang ‘16 was elected to the Alumni Liaison Committee (ALC), and Munir Haddad ’93 was appointed to the ALC from the alumni body. 

The meeting was adjourned.

Meetings of the Academic Affairs, New Alumni Engagement, Alumni Liaison, Alumni Service, Enrollment and Admissions, Honorary Degrees, Nominating and Alumni Trustee Search, and Professional Development committees met virtually at various times.