A Primer on the Dartmouth Alumni Council

If you're a new member of the Dartmouth Alumni Council, the following information will help you get started.

The Alumni Council is composed of representatives from constituencies within the alumni body. Its mission is to sustain a fully informed, representative, and engaged exchange of information and sentiment between alumni and the College, and to enhance and inspire alumni involvement that furthers the mission of the College.

Attendance at Council meetings is expected of all members. Membership on the Council is not an honor without obligations. Membership involves proactive and reactive communications with constituents, prompt and effective handling of committee duties, understanding and sharing Dartmouth news and priorities, and readiness to serve the Council.

Vacancies on the Alumni Council are filled by a diverse group of Dartmouth alumni who will bring important perspectives and add strength to the important work of the Council.

Election to the Council is overseen by the Nominating and Alumni Trustee Search Committee and other organized alumni groups. Qualifications include:

  1. Outstanding achievement and/or special qualifications
  2. Demonstrated active interest in Dartmouth;
  3. Availability to attend meetings;
  4. Ability to serve as an ambassador for Dartmouth, represent legitimate interests of alumni, and effectively report back to constituents.

The Alumni Council elects a president and president-elect to one-year terms. The most recent president serves as chair of the Alumni Liaison Committee. The deputy director of Alumni Relations serves in an ex-officio position on all Council matters. These three officers and the chairs of each Council committee sit on the Executive Committee.

President: The position of Council president is held for one term of one year. As elected leader of the Alumni Council representing the alumni body of Dartmouth College, the president calls meetings and presides when the group is formally in session.

The duties charged to the president are as follows:

The Council president presents alumni awards annually and may be called on to represent the College at various official functions, such as Dartmouth Night, dedications, inaugurations, and regional events.

The Council president is a member of the Alumni Liaison Committee and the Nominating and Alumni Trustee Search Committee. The president is chair of the Executive Committee.

President-Elect: Serves in place and fulfills all duties of the president when necessary and is chair of the Orientation Committee and a member of the council's Executive Committee, Nominating and Alumni Trustee Search Committee, and the Alumni Liaison Committee.

Deputy Director of Alumni Relations: The deputy director is an ex-officio member of the Alumni Council. He or she is an ex-officio member of the Nominating Committee, Executive Committee, and Alumni Awards Committee of the council. The deputy director's duties involve communication with members and serving as liaison to council ad hoc committees. The director is responsible for procedures in nominating and electing members to the Council.

  • Originally 25 members, the Alumni Council has been incrementally expanded over the years. Amendments to the council constitution were approved in November 2007, revising representation and increasing the size of the council to 125 members. In 2020, the council approved strategic revisions to the makeup of the Council, and the Council now numbers 120 members.
  • Alumni councilors typically serve for a single term of three years. Representatives of the undergraduate classes serve, nonvoting and ex officio, for a term of two years.
  • All former members are invited to attend meetings; this custom was started by vote of the council in 1918.

The full Council meets in the late fall and late spring, either in Hanover or virtually. Virtual special sessions may also be held.

Much of the Council's work is accomplished through committees. Sometimes the work of a committee may include one or more non-members of the Council from either the alumni body or some other source. For example, appropriate staff officers at the College can serve as committee liaisons to coordinate the work of groups and provide accurate information to committee members.

Committee meetings are held between sessions of the Council as may be required.

The Alumni Awards Committee consists of former recipients of the Dartmouth Alumni Award and a staff member from Alumni Relations. This committee seeks strong alumni candidates that meet the eligibility criteria for the Dartmouth Alumni Award and selects two to three alumni recipients each year to be honored for a combination of accomplishments in Dartmouth volunteerism, career and civic involvement.

The Alumni Liaison Committee consists of the president, the president-elect, and immediate past-president of the Council, the president of the Association of Alumni during their term on the Alumni Council, three current council members elected by the Alumni Council, and three members of the Association of Alumni elected by the Alumni Council. A representative of the Board of Trustees’ Advancement Committee may also meet with this committee. The committee gathers feedback from alumni on topics of interest and shares this information with the Alumni Relations office, the Board of Trustees, and the senior administration.

The Alumni Service Committee encourages and facilitates alumni engagement through volunteerism. The Committee works with local and regional clubs, classes, affiliated and shared interest groups, and unaffiliated alumni to support the planning and implementation of community service projects across the country and around the world. Members of the committee can expect to participate in the outreach and promotion of volunteer activities throughout the year, including the annual Dartmouth Alumni Day of Service. We seek new councilors who are interested in being part of this active group and furthering its mission of connecting alumni to address needs in their local communities.

The Enrollment and Admissions Committee serves as a sounding board for the admissions and financial aid offices on issues such as general admissions, accepted student yield, financial aid practices, and nationwide and international trends. The committee also supports the Office of Admissions in coordinating and assessing the alumni interviewing process throughout the United States and the world.

The Executive Committee consists of the president, the president-elect, and the chairs of the other standing committees of the Council. Chaired by the president, this committee sets the agenda for the Council and plans and designs council meetings in consultation with the Alumni Relations Office. It is also empowered to act on Council business between meetings and is the final authority on strategic matters.

The Honorary Degrees Committee seeks strong alumni candidates for the award by canvassing the alumni body. After a confidential deliberation process the committee shares their recommendations with the College Committee on Honorary Degrees, which makes the final decision regarding recipients.

The Lifelong Learning Committee The Committee on Lifelong Learning serves as a principal interface between the faculty and the Alumni Council of Dartmouth College. The committee affirms the strong relationship between the faculty and alumni and keeps alumni informed about the Dartmouth academic experience.

The Committee serves as a platform to facilitate the intersection of academic life at Dartmouth with programs and strategies that provide for alumni engagement. The Committee will work with Alumni Relations and College representatives to identify academic opportunities to enrich the lives of alumni as they in turn support the institution with their time and talents with the overall goal of creating lifelong connections between faculty, students, and alumni.

The New Alumni Engagement Committee focuses on opportunities for strategic engagement of new alumni as they enter alumni-hood. Through the work of the councilors, the committee identifies key working areas and deliverables each year and develops plans in partnership with Alumni Relations for supporting and connecting recent grads as they enter the alumni community.

The Nominating and Alumni Trustee Search Committee consists of the president, the president-elect, the immediate past chair of the Nominating Committee, a council member appointed by the committee for a term of three years, and six other council members elected for terms of three years by the Council. The Nominating Committee makes nominations for the president-elect, each vacancy for at-large representatives, and other positions specified in the Alumni Council constitution. Importantly, it also makes nominations for alumni trustee as provided in the constitution. The Nominating Committee welcomes alumni trustee candidate recommendations from alumni at any time.

The Orientation Committee plans and oversees the orientation of first-year alumni councilors. Responsibilities include establishing direct mentor roles for new councilors, updating orientation materials and methods, and monitoring the effectiveness of current orientation programs. The committee is chaired by the Alumni Council president-elect.

The Professional Development Committee works with the Center for Professional Development and the Office of Alumni Relations to help to generate program ideas designed to leverage alumni expertise in service to other alumni and students at Dartmouth. The committee identifies and solicits appropriate alumni to participate in professional development programs; shares information about professional opportunities serving students and alumni with constituents and current councilors; promotes college programs designed to encourage alumni to hire and mentor Dartmouth students; and plans and carries out on-campus career programming for students.

The Young Alumni Awards Committee consists of five to seven former recipients of the Young Alumni Distinguished Service Award and a staff member of the Alumni Relations Office (liaison). This committee seeks strong alumni candidates who meet the eligibility criteria for the Young Alumni Distinguished Service Award, placing strong emphasis on Dartmouth volunteerism when selecting two to three recipients each year.

A few examples of the importance of ad hoc committee studies to the Council follow:

  • A committee study to determine policy on alumni affiliation of World War II Navy students resulted in a number of these students being absorbed as non-graduate alumni members of the war classes.
  • In 1946 the Council undertook a thorough survey of all Dartmouth fundraising activities. This led to the creation of the Development Program by joint action with the trustees.
  • In 1952, as a result of study by an ad hoc committee, a plan for making Alumni Awards to recognize exceptional volunteer service to the College was established and today over 400 alumni have been honored.
  • In 1958, a major project shared in by the Council created a study Committee on Alumni Relations (CAR) functioning under the Trustees' Planning Committee. The president of the Council nominated members of the 14-personed group to TPC. Several members of the council served in this important work including its chairman, Guy P. Wallick '21 of San Francisco. The committee undertook a full review of alumni relations with recommendations to the trustees for strengthening the two-way relationship between the College and the alumni. Ten years later a follow-up study was conducted by the council under the direction of N. Page Worthington '33 of Baltimore, resulting in a national award to the council and, more importantly, another round of new ideas and creative approaches to alumni programming and service activities.
  • A 14-member study committee, chaired by Dudley Orr '29, and including former and current councilors, trustees, students, administrators and professors, recommended that Dartmouth become a coeducational institution.
  • A study committee on Indian symbolism recommended rejecting the continued use of the Indian symbol at the College.
  • In 1980-81, a special study committee chaired by Stan Smoyer '34 and J. Blake Hering '53 recommended changes in the Alumni Council constitution to reflect the addition of class representatives to the Council.
  • In 1987, a committee study of the alma mater, requested by President David T. McLaughlin '54 resulted in a new version of "Men of Dartmouth" to reflect coeducation. That new version has been generally adopted and is sung at all College functions.
  • A committee on class dues and the Alumni Magazine developed education programs to assist classes in maintaining strong treasuries to cover the cost of the Alumni Magazine and to fund class projects and reunions.
  • In 1990 an ad hoc committee to study the function and organization of the Council made a number of recommendations, including establishing a College Relations function within the Council to serve as a conduit for alumni concerns to the Board of Trustees and the president, and vice versa; replacing the old system of regions and districts with a new system of metropolitan and regional representatives, with provisions for direct elections of those representatives; and adding one Council representative from each of the first three classes out, thereby increasing the size of the Alumni Council by three (bringing the total to 101). These recommendations were adopted by the Council and incorporated into its constitution in 1990.
  • In March 1990 the Council sponsored a Forum in New York City to which all alumni were invited to express their views on proposed changes in the method of nominating alumni trustees.
  • In 1994, an ad hoc committee studied the purpose, structure and organization of the Alumni Council and changes were made to the size, representation and committee make-up of the Council.
  • In 2000, the Alumni Council and the Association of Alumni created a joint committee to study the governance relationship between the two organizations and the alumni trustee nomination process.
  • In 2003, the Alumni Council, at the request of the Dartmouth Alumni Magazine Editorial Board, established a task force to study the magazine's business model and to make recommendations on class dues and the funding of the magazine.
  • In 2007, an ad hoc committee studied the structure of the Alumni Council and changes were made to the size, representation, and committee make-up of the Council.
  • In 2013, an ad hoc committee on diversity and inclusion was established to examine Dartmouth’s opportunity to expand its existing efforts for diversity hiring and retention, as well as an opportunity to be a leader in this work. The committee reported their findings to President Hanlon.
  • In 2020, task forces on Council representation and committees recommended amendments to Alumni Council constitution. The amendments were voted upon and passed, which resulted in a slightly revised makeup and committee structure.