The 227th meeting of the Alumni Council took place in Hanover October 26–28, 2023. The meeting began on Thursday, October 26, with the opening session led by Alumni Council President Alexandra Garison Barnett ’07, who welcomed council members back to campus. Vice President of Alumni Relations Cheryl Bascomb ’82 gave an update on the work of the Alumni Relations team, including planning for President Beilock’s Welcome Tour events; continuing to provide virtual content for alumni; the launch of Dartmouth Connect, a career network with more than 5,000 alumni members; and ongoing efforts to improve information-sharing beyond email messages. The council then heard from Alumni Liaison Committee Chair Chitra Narasimhan ’92, who reflected on findings from the 2022–23 ALC Annual Report and shared the committee’s goals for the year ahead: to continue gathering information via surveys; to revamp the year-end report process; to enhance the advisory role of the committee; and to find better ways to communicate with constituents. Interim Chief Advancement Officer Ann Root Keith ’05a closed out the opening session by thanking the Alumni Council for its feedback to President Beilock and the senior leadership team. Keith also provided context for her new role. The previous position held by Bob Lasher ’88 has been split to allow for both the continuation of new strategies for Dartmouth and engagement with the president and Board of Trustees and also to focus on the day-to-day work of the Advancement Division.
Following the opening session, council members attended their individual committee meetings in Dartmouth Hall.
Friday, October 27, 2023
On Friday, councilors began their morning with Lee Coffin ’89a, Vice President and Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid, and Sandhya Iyer, Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary, for a conversation on “Navigating a Race-Neutral Admissions Landscape.” Moderated by Jack Steinberg ’88, the discussion outlined the complexities surrounding the recent SCOTUS decision that restricts the ability to use race as a factor in admissions decisions.
The council then heard from Elizabeth Smith ‘73a, Dean of the Faculty of Arts & Sciences, for an in-depth look at the Undergraduate Research and Advising (UGAR) program. Last year, 675 undergraduate students undertook research opportunities across all divisions, from the sciences to creative work in the arts. Dean Smith was joined by Associate Professor of Biological Sciences Mike Hoppa and Emma Hochberg ‘25, who shared their first-hand perspectives of the teacher-scholar model within the research process. Professor Hoppa described the importance of getting students involved in research early on, which helps to create a foundation for papers to be published, and for students to gain connections with each other and with faculty members. The UGAR budget last year was $1.3 million, 47% of which came from donor gifts. Dean Smith shared that demand from students outpaces currently available funds and they are actively working to increase fundraising to provide more students with access to research opportunities.
The council then enjoyed lunch and the presentation of the Professor John Rassias Faculty Awards. Councilors recognized the 2022 award recipient: Professor Matthew Delmont, Associate Dean of International and Interdisciplinary Studies and Sherman Fairchild Distinguished Professor of History. Professor Delmont accepted the award in person, and he spoke to the council about his research process and took questions from the audience. Following the session, councilors headed to Blunt Alumni Center to view the recently completed digital Alumni Awards display. When the group reconvened, the chairs of each committee gave brief reports on what their groups have been working on this year.
A highlight of the meeting for many was President Sian Leah Beilock’s address to the council, where she was welcomed with a standing ovation. President Beilock emphasized her statements following the October 7 Hamas attack on Israel and the ensuing war in Gaza, extending her support to the Dartmouth community and student groups and underscoring that anti-Semitism and Islamophobia have no place at Dartmouth. President Beilock then proceeded to discuss in more detail three key areas she outlined at inauguration: health and well-being, brave spaces, and interactions across generations. Following her welcoming remarks, Beilock left ample time for questions from councilors, which touched on a range of topics including athletic performance, leadership, housing shortages, Greek life, admissions, and international students.
Friday evening, councilors attended the Alumni Awards celebration dinner, where they recognized recipients of both the Alumni Award and Young Alumni Distinguished Service Award. This year’s recipients of the Dartmouth Alumni Award are Bill Burgess ’81, Rick Routhier ’73 TU’76, and Molly Sundberg Van Metre ’81. The Young Alumni Distinguished Service Award recipients are Elizabeth B. Mitchell ’10, Kalina L. Newmark ’11, Amanda B. Rosenblum ’07, and Ariel Xue ’08.
Saturday, October 28, 2023
Saturday morning started with a group brainstorm on how to engage more alumni in President Beilock’s welcome tour and initiatives, which generated many helpful ideas for consideration, including: how to reach alumni in more rural markets; ways to create more engaging, effective, and personal communications; challenges faced by international students in accessing career resources; telling both linear and nonlinear career journeys more broadly; and providing alumni with mentorship training tools.
Trustee Sue Finegan ’85 joined the council during the Open Forum question and answer session. Councilor questions focused on the size of the student body, housing, tuition costs, climate change, and fundraising goals, among others. After the Open Forum, Hadley Mullin ’96, chair of the Nominating and Alumni Trustee Search Committee, provided an overview of the committee’s work since the trustee vacancy announcement, conveyed the committee’s excitement for alumni-nominated trustee candidate Maia Josebachvili ’05, and highlighted the thorough review and consideration the committee gave to each of the 200+ nominations received. Maia then joined the council and took questions before leaving the room for the vote. The Alumni Council voted in an overwhelming majority to approve Maia’s candidacy.
To close the meeting, President Alexandra Garrison Barnett ‘07 allowed time for councilors to ask any lingering questions.
The meeting was then adjourned.