215th Session Meeting Minutes

Chair David Silbersweig opened the meeting. Councilors introduced themselves around the table. David reviewed the mission of the committee: to keep alumni informed about academic affairs and to provide helpful alumni feedback, while emphasizing the importance of the committee as a liaison to alumni lifelong learning.

To highlight the intersection of lifelong learning, educational travel, and the use of technology/MOOCs, Professor Jeremy DeSilva, associate professor of anthropology and a paleoanthropologist specializing in the locomotion of the first apes (hominoids) and early human ancestors (hominins), presented to the committee. He spoke about his involvement with Dartmouth’s Lifelong Learning programs such as Back to Class and Dartmouth on Location, and his rich engagement with alumni. He has worked in the field with students at the Malapa and Rising Star sites in Africa, and has met with alumni there as well.  He described how these activities enhance his teaching and pedagogy in Hanover.

Meg Ramsden, filling in for committee secretary Robin Albing, who was not able to attend, next spoke about the Professor John Rassias Faculty Award. The rationale for presenting this award includes: generating goodwill and stronger ties between faculty and alumni, to the benefit of both groups; increasing faculty interaction with alumni to create stronger bonds back to the College; and the recognizing faculty contributions to alumni lifelong learning, in honor of Professor Rassias. Criteria for the Faculty Award include the scope of contributions to alumni (programs with which faculty have been involved); breadth of contributions; and status as a current faculty member.

The inaugural award was presented during a lunch at the spring meeting to Professor Steve Swayne, the Jacob H. Strauss 1922 Professor of Music; and Don Pease, the Ted and Helen Geisel Third Century Professor in the Humanities, chair of the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies Program, and professor of English and comparative literature.

The committee encouraged the idea of a broader cross-section of professors participating in alumni programs. Perhaps the committee could learn more about the process of how professors are booked for speaking engagements, or collaborate with clubs. While some topics and academic material might not translate to the wider population, a wider range of subjects and professors could be considered.

Next on the agenda was the program “Good Reads.” With the support of the Alumni Council and the Academic Affairs Committee, “Good Reads” was launched in 2009 as one of many ways to keep alumni intellectually engaged with Dartmouth faculty. Twice a year Alumni Relations posts faculty book recommendations on the Alumni Relations website and shares them with our alumni. It’s one of the site’s most visited sections, and is now searchable.  Meg Ramsden talked about the solicitation process, which is conducted in partnership with the Lifelong Learning office.

Chair Barbara Rollins facilitated introductions of new and returning members. She had distributed the Moosilauke Forum survey on service before the meeting, and shared some highlights, which included the following findings: alumni want to have impact in their community; alumni want to meet other Dartmouth alumni in their community; service is appealing to young alumni; service does engage people who might not have been involved with club activities; and awareness and communications around the Day of Service are key to this event’s success.

Councilors were grouped randomly for breakout discussions on subcommittees focused on mission and research, communications, and outreach.

Committee member Jennifer Hughes reviewed her ideas for future alumni-related service program support, such as a Reunion Weekend Service Project, partnership with Dartmouth’s Alumni Travel program, a Dartmouth Alumni Magazine interface, and adding resources to the committee webpage.

Action steps were set, including scheduling the next committee call as well as meetings to discuss technical needs and communications for the Alumni Day of Service, which will take place on Saturday, May 5, 2018.

The Alumni Council Athletics Committee fall meeting focused on building a better understanding of athletics and recreation at Dartmouth beyond varsity sports, as the committee plans to direct more attention to club sports. The committee heard from the director of physical education and recreation, including intramural and club teams, as well as a panel of current coaches and student leaders from club teams. Its two working groups are now active. The Dartmouth on the Road group aims to engage alumni in athletic road games and is excited to be building a new road map with the DALI lab; and the Dartmouth Peak Performance (DP2) group supports the varsity team initiative and strengthening alumni-student connections. The committee had a dessert networking reception with a dozen varsity and club athletes following its meeting.

Committee Chair C. Alec Casey ’88 opened the meeting and introduced new members of the committee. The committee considered proposed revisions to the committee charge, put forth by Vice Chair Carrie Fraser ’86, Th’87, to more accurately reflect the committee’s working in helping guide councilor communications. The committee reviewed metrics from the 2017 spring council communications and discussed goal setting for improved communications. Discussion centered around how councilors can more efficiently and effectively communicate with their constituents, with a focus on the pre- and post-meeting templates. The committee also discussed improved training for new councilors; how to deploy best practices in email communications; and how the committee can provide councilors with clearer expectations and guidance on customization. Kristin Maffei, social media manager for Dartmouth Alumni Relations, presented councilors with an update and highlights of how Alumni Relations is using social media and current efforts to partner with Alumni Council on social media efforts.

Ben Schwartz ’06, chair of the Enrollment and Admissions Committee, opened the session by welcoming all members and introducing guest speaker Dino Koff, director of financial aid. Dino began by expressing three key statements that define financial aid at Dartmouth.

The College guarantees to meet one hundred percent of a family’s financial need as demonstrated on the financial aid application. Additionally, Dartmouth offers free tuition for applicants whose gross annual incomes and typical assets are less than $100,000. The admissions office reviews applications need-blind. This allows the College to render decisions that are solely based on merit, regardless of a family’s ability to pay. The only exception is for international applicants, who are read need-aware. This international policy is in line with that of most of our peers.

While Dartmouth’s financial aid offers are competitive, Dino remarked that the College struggles to enroll middle income students. The financial aid team is going to more closely consider the financial aid applications for these students in order to be sure we are offering a competitive and reasonable financial aid award.

Finally, Dino discussed the importance of philanthropy in sustaining Dartmouth’s financial aid budget, as the percent and amount of federal money (Pell Grants, Supplemental Education Opportunity Grants, etc) and unrestricted money (funds from endowment) have been decreasing in recent years, while the amount of restricted funds has increased. It is these restricted funds that continue to sustain Dartmouth’s ability to enroll the best students, regardless of their ability to afford the tuition.

The session concludes by talking to four current students at Dartmouth. We heard about their path to Dartmouth, how alumni influenced the process, and about their experiences at the College to date.

Ben Schwartz ’06 closed the session by thanking the committee and encouraging them to keep the interesting dialogue and conversation going after the meeting.

After introductions, Chair Cuong Do ’88 Tu’89 opened the meeting with a discussion of a possible symposium on the future of work. Rog Woolsey, director of the Center for Professional Development (CPD), explained how the future of work was a topic of discussion at an Ivy Plus meeting and how he and his colleagues have been aware of the changing culture at many work environments as well as changes in training and actual job roles. 

Lynne Gaudet ’81, interim director of Dartmouth for Life, mentioned that the future of work is going to be a theme for some of Alumni Relations’ Dartmouth for Life programming this year. They are thinking of piloting a mini-symposium in Boston in the January timeframe (perhaps including a faculty member from the Tuck’s Center for Digital Strategies).

The committee brainstormed ideas for another symposium that would focus on the same topic, but could be held on the Dartmouth campus. The on-campus symposium would also include some faculty presenters and would have attendance open to students. All were enthusiastic about moving forward.    Discussion on this topic concluded with a discussion of timing (a spring date was favored) and which working group would organize it (the student engagement working group will take the lead).

The Professional Development Committee is organized into 3 working groups. Cuong gave a short explanation of the focus for each of the groups before councilors broke out in discussion groups by working groups. The three working groups are: student engagement; effort to diversify, create and fund student internships; and benchmarking – researching best practices at other schools.

For the second half of the meeting, the Student Affairs Committee joined the Professional Development Committee. This half of the meeting started with a presentation by Jean Romeo, Advancement’s director of market research, on the results of a Moosilauke Forum survey on student internships. This was followed by a short presentation by Roger Woolsey about work the Center for Professional Development is doing, especially in getting students involved early in career advising.

The meeting concluded with an open discussion about student internships led by Cuong and Molly Van Metre ’81, chair of the Student Affairs committee. Molly summed up the discussion as a glimmer of ideas. She encouraged committee members to email her and Cuong with their questions and ideas.

Chair Molly Van Metre ’81 opened the meeting and invited new members to introduce themselves and describe their expectations of their participation and contributions to the Student Affairs committee.

Molly shared some results from last year’s committee survey and invited the remaining committee members to share how their experience has compared to their initial expectations. Molly also announced that, given some overlaps in focus and interests, the Student Affairs committee will be joining with the Professional Development committee for the second half of the session.

Molly welcomed current Alumni Council president Jack Steinberg ’88. Jack remarked that he is hearing that the Student Affairs committee is craving to “do” something and noted that the Communications Committee was in the same place three years ago but has since developed into a committee with clear deliverables and defined responsibilities.

Jack welcomed Martha Beattie ’76, vice president for alumni relations. Martha shared some history of the Alumni Council and its committees as well as her vision for how the committees can support the work and goals of Alumni Relations.

Discussion amongst the whole committee ensued, with sentiment reflecting that members seek a chance to “do something”, have tangible deliverables that benefit Dartmouth and add value to the student and alumni experience.

Molly read the mission of the Student Affairs committee: “The Committee on Student Affairs monitors and reports on all aspects of student life to both the Alumni Council and, through the councilors, to the alumni body. At each of its meetings, the committee has extensive dialogue with several undergraduate and graduate student leaders regarding current ‘hot’ campus issues” and invited members to brainstorm on possible deliverable and outcomes.

It was noted that the committee needs clarity of mission. Does the committee exist to prepare students to be alumni or to enhance the student experience itself? Members also expressed a desire to create a better forum for communication between students and alumni.

The committee joined the Professional Development committee. Chair Cuong Do ’88 welcomed the group and provided an overview of the history of the Professional Development committee. Molly shared that the Student Affairs committee is on a mission of discovery, with an interest in moving from listening to delivering; to satisfying members as alumni but also being part of the “uplift of the student experience one way or another.” Recognizing some overlaps with the Professional Development committee, the Student Affairs committee was pleased to be able to join and share in the discussion.

The committees heard presentations by Jean Romeo, director of market research, and Roger Woolsey, director of the Center for Professional Development, about opportunities for alumni to engage with students, as well as internships, externships, and other opportunities for students and alumni connection.

The meeting was adjourned following brief Q&A, conversation, and a commitment by both committees to continue the discussion of how best to forge mutually-beneficial connections between alumni and students.

Chair Amber Bryant ’12 brought the meeting to order, introduced herself, and asked those in attendance to introduce themselves to the group.

Amber provided an update regarding the Lone Pine program.

Jon Scherr ’08 provided a history and an overview of the Class2Class program’s evolution, noting areas for improvement and areas for more discussion.

Jon and Amber reviewed the 2017 Class2Class program survey data with the committee. Jon followed by posing the following questions to the group.

  • What do we want our impact to be in each city?
  • What is the best programmatic manifestation of this goal?

The committee discussed various possibilities including goals, which are both social (welcoming current students to a city they may not be familiar with, and professional (facilitating introductions to alumni who can assist with career development).

Regarding the structure moving forward, the committee discussed partnering with regional young alumni chairs and class executive committees and decided to open this event to all current students and to all young alumni with a special focus on those 5 to 10 years out of college. The committee will consider hosting these events over the course of the same weekend depending upon volunteer schedules.

This conversation resulted in committee members volunteering to model engagement by acting as the “feet on the ground” developing events in their cities in partnership with young alumni chairs. Amber will coordinate the effort as the committee chair person.

Jeff Hafner ’02 shared information about Camp Granite, a young alumni gift drive to be held on March 16–18, 2018. He noted that the Dartmouth College Fund seeks four to five volunteers from each young alumni class to gather in Hanover for three days of outreach.

Nicole Losavio brought up the idea of a young alumni trip. A survey will be sent to key young alumni volunteers for feedback regarding possible destinations.

Amber brought up the idea of a Young Alumni Committee outing before the spring meeting to give members an opportunity to get to know one another a little better.