213th Session Committee Summaries

The 213th 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. Some alumni councilors participated in a roundtable discussion with students titled “Career Connections: Speed Networking with Alumni,” sponsored by the Professional Development Committee.

In the evening, alumni councilors attended their opening reception and dinner at the Hanover Inn. The evening’s program was “Dartmouth’s House Communities: They’re Here!,” which featured Kathryn Lively, professor of sociology; and Dennis Washburn, Jane and Raphael Bernstein Professor in Asian Studies; and was moderated by Mike Wooten, senior assistant dean of residential life. After a presentation about the concept, design, and launch of the house communities, councilors posed various questions to the house professors.

The morning began with meetings of the Academic Affairs, Alumni Service, Athletics, Communications, Enrollment and Admissions, Professional Development, and Student Affairs Committees.

The first plenary session opened with welcome remarks by Alumni Council President Russell Wolff ’89, Tu’94. He introduced Lee Coffin, vice provost for enrollment and dean of admissions and financial aid. Coffin spoke briefly to about his new role, and plans to present to the entire Alumni Council at the spring meeting.

Inge-Lise Ameer, vice provost for student affairs, provided an update. Earlier this fall, a fire broke out in Morton Hall. While no one was injured, the building incurred damage and the residents moved into temporary housing. Students will remain in this housing for the rest of the term as the building is repaired. Personal items lost to the fire have been replaced. Faculty have worked with the affected students to adjust academic schedules. The vice provost expressed her gratitude for the generous and immediate support of the community, alumni and parents.

The Center for Professional Development (CPD) has seen fall recruiting more than double. Activities this fall have included a fall employer fair and a graduate and professional schools fair. New programs include a women’s professional circle for sophomores. Alumni donations have helped extend outreach. Cap and Gown statistics compiled by the CPD list the top fields of employment chosen by the Class of 2016 as: finance (28 percent of reporting students); consulting (23 percent); technology (13 percent); health & sciences (seven percent); education (six percent); and law, government/military, manufacturing/engineering, arts/media, and sports/recreation (less than five percent each). In terms of total compensation, 16 percent reported starting salaries less than $39,999, 31 percent will earn from $40-69,000, 36 percent will earn from $70,000-89,000, and 18 percent will earn over $90,000.

Other opportunities on campus are available through the Dartmouth Center for Service, which  welcomes all students seeking ways to enrich their education through volunteerism, intensive service, immersive experiences, exposure to social entrepreneurship, and other innovative programs.

Next, Jay Davis ’90, director of the First Year Student Enrichment Program (FYSEP), along with Alexis Castillo ’19, presented on first-generation programs at Dartmouth. The emphasis of the program is on building community, norming struggle, and embracing belonging for those who are first in their family to go to college. This pre-orientation program is designed to help students thrive academically as well as outside of the classroom. The eight-day program takes place between first-year trips and orientation, and helps students learn about the resources available to them. This fall, eight different faculty members worked with the new students. 30 upper class graduates of the program become mentors for 72 first year students. The number of adults involved as mentors is expanding. This year, 60 mentor/mentee pairs worked together, a significant increase from 18 in last year’s pilot program. A working group on the Dartmouth campus is helping make the student experience more equitable.

Some FYSEP students attended the IvyG conference at Harvard. IvyG is an organization that strengthens and empowers the first-generation college student network by convening communities of students and administrators, sharing and building best practices of support, and advocating for change. It is sponsored by top companies that are actively recruiting these students.

At the conclusion of the plenary, alumni councilors broke into two groups to tour the house community social spaces, then returned to Alumni Hall for lunch and a faculty panel titled “Diversity of Political Thought in America and at Dartmouth.” Moderated by alumni councilor Jennifer Avellino ’89, the panel featured Andrew Samwick, the Sandra L. and Arthur L. Irving ’72a P’10 Professor of Economics and Director, Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences; Sonu Bedi, associate professor of government; and Leslie Butler, associate professor of history.

The second plenary commenced with “Communities for All: A Conversation with Alumni Leaders,” featuring Martha Gerhan ’83, Adrienne “Tee” Lotson ’82, Steven Tseng ’95 Tu’01, and Melanie Pastuck ’11. The panel was moderated by Victoria Gonin, deputy director of alumni relations. Participants discussed how their respective communities work to support alumni and current students, as well as continuously seek to broaden inclusion and engagement and build leadership. Collaboration between these communities supports success.

Next on the agenda were remarks by President Philip J. Hanlon ’77, and Michael Mastanduno, dean of the faculty of arts and sciences. President Hanlon greeted the alumni councilors and spoke about the house communities, experiential learning initiatives (as illustrated by the Dartmouth Center for the Advancement of Learning and the Dartmouth Entrepreneurial Network), the Inclusive Excellence initiative, and the creation of the Arthur L. Irving Institute for Energy and Society. The implementation of the house communities strengthens both the academic and social experience by enriching the undergraduate learning experience.

President Hanlon went on to discuss how the Dartmouth experience integrates a close community, a sense of place, and an emphasis on the liberal arts. The combination of creativity, judgment, and responsibility leads to a deep, substantive lifelong engagement. President Hanlon pointed out the importance of the panel on diversity of political thought in America and at Dartmouth, which the councilors heard earlier in the afternoon, and thanked the councilors for continuing to connect with their constituents.

Dean Mastanduno spoke next. Dartmouth continues to position itself as both a liberal arts college and a premier research institute. We have a research faculty committed to the liberal arts and undergraduate teaching excellence. Dartmouth is well-positioned by its small scale, experience, and commitment. Our students should be broad and deep thinkers, and be taught how to think, not what to think, by identifying issues, considering solutions, testing them, implementing them, and communicating them. They will need to acknowledge the overload of information, and understand how to best navigate through it. As the economy changes, students and graduates should be nimble in preparing for the job market. As the College grows increasingly diverse to more accurately reflect the world’s populations, students must reflect those differences and engage with those different from themselves.

The dean emphasized three points. First, students today actively engage in their education, and must be given opportunities to do independent work. Second, they want access to professional schools and laboratories, and to take courses such as accounting, marketing, and strategy. Third, students want access to and a relationship with faculty. One way the faculty has responded to this demand is by taking advantage of Dartmouth’s winter break and extending courses by two or three weeks, for example to study public policy in India or Ireland, or ocular cell biology through a visit to the Aravind Eye Clinic in India.

The Alumni Awards, Honorary Degrees, and Young Alumni Committees all met later that afternoon.

In the evening, councilors attended the Alumni Awards Gala. The festive dinner program opened with a welcome from Russell Wolff and President Hanlon. Two alumni received the Young Alumni Distinguished Service Award: Maia Josebachvili ’05 and Shounak Simlai ’05 Th’07. Three alumni were honored with the Dartmouth Alumni Award: Philip C. Kron ’60, Tu’61; Charles E. Haldeman Jr. ’70; and Margaret N. Sommerfeld ’90. Brief films were shown of each recipient.

The ALC met for breakfast with trustees Bill Helman ’80 and Caroline Kerr ’05.

Alumni Council president-elect Jack Steinberg ’88 opened the Saturday plenary session. Chair Bill Helman and Caroline Kerr provided an update from the Board of Trustees. Kerr emphasized how the board is supportive of President Hanlon’s strong vision of academic excellence. Kerr reminded the group of how the Council called for the creation of the Ad Hoc Committee on Diversity and Inclusion, and subsequently issued a report in 2013. This focus on diversity and inclusion is extremely important and makes sound business sense. Extraordinary progress has been made as part of the Inclusive Excellence initiative, and Kerr recommended alumni go the website’s dashboard to view what’s been accomplished.  

The College’s collaboration with the professional schools is extremely important. One of the strengths of the College is its small size, which allows it to be nimble. The newly created Irving Institute is a good example of scaling resources. In November, the trustees will hear a progress report from the external review panel on the Moving Dartmouth Forward initiative. It is essential for Dartmouth to attract and retain excellent faculty and staff of diverse backgrounds. We face strong competition from our peers.

Next on the agenda was a Nominating and Alumni Trustee Search Committee update, provided by chair John Banks ’90. He outlined the purpose and composition of the committee. The committee nominates candidates for Alumni Council positions; formally appoints councilors based on recommendations from class, affiliated groups, regions, etc.; and recommends 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. Eight Alumni Council-nominated candidates were elected to the Board of Trustees in the last six years. The committee continues to review lists of possible trustee candidates, and new submissions are welcomed from alumni. A vacancy could arise unexpectedly, so the committee needs to be prepared to move forward with the nomination and election process, and will meet four times this year. Councilors are encouraged to submit nominations for Alumni Council leadership and for the ALC. Electronic voting for these positions will be implemented in the spring. There was a brief discussion to explain why the Nominating Committee has put forth only one candidate for alumni trustee in past elections. 

Catherine Craighead Briggs ’88, chair of the Dartmouth College Fund Committee (DCFC), updated the Council on the committee’s initiatives. Dartmouth is the second Ivy to offer texting as a way to donate, with the goal being to drive participation among younger classes. The Centennial Circle of alumnae, launched during the 100th anniversary of the fund, was created as a way to increase women’s leadership giving with gifts of $100K. Camp Granite is a new fun training session for class agents who are less than 10 years out of Dartmouth, meant to engage and recruit DCF agents, as well as increase participation. Through these efforts of these young alumni, gifts made in March rose 388%. The Dartmouth College Fund (DCF), the DCFC and the Alumni Council are closely connected, as the Alumni Council created the DCF after Alumni Hall burned down in 1904 to fund the new building.

The Dartmouth College Fund is composed of 24 volunteers. Goals for FY17 include increased participation, training, agents and partnership with Alumni Relations’ class activities unit. Alumni can help by asking classmates to get involved with their classes, whether by hosting a local mini reunion, serving as a DCF agent, or organizing an event around the Alumni Day of Service May 6.

Jack Steinberg asked the chairs of the standing committees to report on the meetings held the day prior. As part of this session, ALC chair Jennifer Avellino ’89 reported on the recent Moosilauke Forum survey on alumni perspectives on staying informed and engaging with the administration conducted in partnership with the ALC. Survey results ranked Dartmouth Alumni Magazine the top source of information for alumni about the College, as respondents feel it provides a comprehensive overview. Among those who cite Council communications as an important source of information about the College, two themes emerged on why this information is valued: 1) it provides an inside perspective and 2) it highlights issues that are important to the institution. Alumni are most likely to feel their “voice” is shared with the College through class officers. Awareness of Alumni Council is relatively low, especially among alumni who graduated within the last 10 years. Many have read a Councilor report, but 53 percent of younger alumni get their news of the college from social media.  Avellino urged alumni councilors to read the 2015-2016 ALC report to the Board of Trustees.

In the panel “Competing Beyond Our Differences,” Jack Connolly ’16, Ashli Cook ’18, Joseph Cook ’18, and AnnClaire McArt ’18 discussed their experiences as students, athletes and community members at Dartmouth.

The open forum commenced, with an open discussion period for councilors and open microphone for alumni.

The meeting was adjourned.

An Executive Committee debriefing session took place that afternoon.