Dartmouth '05s recently celebrated a renewed tradition: the Daniel Webster Senior Dinner. Originally called Sing-Out Dinner because it followed a senior sing-along, the tradition began in 1903 when William Jewett Tucker, class of 1861, was Dartmouth's president. It continued intermittently until the early 1980s and was revived this year by President James Wright and his wife Susan.
The first in the series was on April 18, and more followed on April 26 and May 2, 9, and 10. Organizers hoped the dinners would instill a sense of continuity between alumni, soon-to-be-alumni, and the College.
Peggy Epstein Tanner '79, one of several alumni speakers, shared her memories of Dartmouth and her best wishes for the graduating seniors.
President Wright reminded the students of what he had said at their convocation four years ago, the same greeting he extends to every incoming class. "You have become a part of Dartmouth, and Dartmouth has become a part of you. You will never be the same ... but by your presence here ... [Dartmouth] has been changed. Each class leaves its own impression on the College, and, in that way, Dartmouth remains a vibrant, living institution."
He also noted that consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton recently recognized Dartmouth as one of the world's "ten most enduring institutions" [for more on this story, see Dartmouth Life February 2005]. Defined as one that "has changed and grown in unswerving pursuit of success and relevance, yet remained true through time to its founding principles," Wright observed that, "for over two and a third centuries, we have endured because of a single-minded attachment to our central core mission: to provide the best education possible to our students in a world marked by change. More pointedly, institutions do not deserve to endure unless they stand for something-are anchored by values and are marked by the capacity always to be relevant to the needs of society and by the passionate commitment to be successful. Institutions endure because across generations those responsible for them wish for them to endure ... Now you assume a responsibility to ensure that Dartmouth continues to endure, and deserves to endure."
Wright stirred the room with an image of today's seniors returning for their first reunion in five years, saying, "If we stand then on the Green together and look around, if we go together to the back row of a class, if we walk down Webster Avenue or visit the Hop or the Alumni Gym or Berry Library, if we join a group of '13s for lunch, you will say, 'Yes. Yes, this is Dartmouth.' And they, in turn, will say to you, 'Yes. This is Dartmouth.'"
By GENEVIEVE HAAS
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Last Updated: 5/30/08