• Councilors on the 198th Alumni Council

    Monday, June 1, 2009

SHess2Susan Hess '81: The History Class

When I walked into Professor Joseph Bruce Nelson's class, "Recent U.S. History," I was warmly welcomed. Professor Nelson, who's taught at Dartmouth almost 25 years, announced that today's topic was the Reagan revolution. He clearly articulated the goals and accomplishments of the Reagan revolution, while challenging conventional wisdom on the subject. Did Reagan's tax cuts spur the economy, or was it the increase in defense spending that greased the country's economic engine? Did government shrink from 1981 to 1988, or did it in fact expand? Were Reagan's economic policies the key to his appeal, or was it the fact that he stood up to the Soviet Union, "the evil empire"? It was very interesting, and given that Reagan was president when I graduated from Dartmouth, I congratulated myself on my choice of lectures. Then I had a more sobering thought: none of the undergrads in the room had even been born until after Reagan's presidency!

Susan Hess '81, who lives in Texas, is a Southwest alumni club at-large representative to the council.

PElias2Peter Elias '69: The Veteran Students Panel

This was especially interesting for me, as a member of the Class of '69, a passionate member of the peace movement and opponent of the Vietnam War, a participant in the Parkhurst events, and an opponent of the ROTC presence on campus. Hearing these student veterans, and talking with one of them afterward, I wished that as an undergraduate I'd taken the opportunity and had the wisdom to get to know and understand the students who were then active in ROTC and supported the war. It brought home to me how poorly I'd separated my feelings about the war from my judgmental feelings about people with whom I disagreed. It made me reflect on the fact that I owed Dartmouth a considerable debt for giving me the tools to come to better understand this.

Peter Elias '69, who lives in Maine, is the Dartmouth alumni Class Webmasters Association representative to the council.


Tracey Salmon-Smith '87: President-elect Jim Yong Kim's Address
The best part of the council session had to be listening to President-elect Kim's remarks. It's exciting to think that Dartmouth is poised to play an even larger role on the world stage under the leadership of Dr. Kim as its 17th president. In addition, his appointment shows the board of trustee's commitment to diversity. This is important to me, as the former president of the Black Alumni of Dartmouth Association, and to other alums of color. Dr. Kim seemed genuine about trying to understand alumni's love of Dartmouth. No one will forget his humorous stories about his discussions with alums and how speaking about Dartmouth sometimes brought happy tears to their eyes.

Tracey Salmon-Smith '87, who lives in New Jersey, chairs the council's Young Alumni Distinguished Service Award Committee and serves on the Executive Committee and Nominating and Alumni Trustee Search Committee.


Rick Silverman '81: Student-Councilor Discussion Group on the Arts
We had a very informative discussion, which touched on the broad range covered by performance and studio arts at Dartmouth. Students expressed a strong sense of support from the College in their artistic pursuits and said there are a lot of options available to them, despite Hanover's relative remoteness. We talked about how this variety fits into a strong arts program for both students pursuing arts careers and students who are casual participants in the arts. Limitations in physical space can present challenges for collaborative studio art efforts among students in disciplines located around campus and, at times, for rehearsals by performance art groups. As building projects go forward (some of which are now on hold), the situation is expected to improve.

Rick Silverman '81, who lives in Boston, is the chair of the council's Alumni Liaison Committee.