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Trustee groups study academics, alumni relations

Two topical working groups organized by the Board of Trustees last year completed their tasks in September and reported to the board at its annual retreat. The completion of one of the projects has led directly to another, according to board Chair William H. Neukom '64.

"The board was impressed with the strength of the faculty and the vision behind Dartmouth's academic programs."

- Leon D. Black '73

One of the first groups, chaired by Karen Francis '84, explored the topic of alumni relations and communications. The other, headed by Leon D. Black '73, examined the College's academic excellence.

"The working groups are designed to address issues of timely and topical interest," Neukom said. "By working in conjunction with the standing committees (finance, governance and master plan/facilities), the working groups help to provide a comprehensive and current perspective for the board's oversight of College policies. The work done by the working group on academic excellence led us to appoint another group to examine graduate education at Dartmouth."

The academic excellence group addressed processes in the arts and sciences for managing faculty and curriculum, setting priorities, program assessment and long-term strategic planning. The group reviewed enrollment patterns, faculty governance, tenure review, teaching assessment, student satisfaction and overall strengths of the academic programs. Dean Carol Folt briefed the group on faculty evaluation processes; the universal course evaluation; the external review cycle for departments and programs; curricular issues, including course size, course capping, limited enrollments and oversubscription of courses; and changes in the academic advising structure.

"The board was impressed with the strength of the faculty and the vision behind Dartmouth's academic programs," Black said. "We were also pleased with the thoroughness of the tenure review process, the progress made on teaching evaluations and the annual faculty evaluation and the ways in which the deans plan to address the issue of course oversubscription and the allocation of new faculty hires."

A new working group, chaired by Trustee Michael Chu '68, has been charged to review the mission and structure of the graduate and professional schools' programs at the College. The group plans to complete its study in the spring.

The trustee alumni relations group took on the task of assessing the state of alumni relations and proposing goals to enhance alumni engagement. The group examined issues relating to communications, governance and alumni sentiment, and its members met with individual alumni and alumni groups, including Alumni Council members; class officers; Association of Alumni officers; members of the Task Force on Alumni Governance and the Dartmouth Association for Open Governance; alumni at club events in several cities; and the senior administrative officers in Alumni Relations, Development and Public Affairs. The committee endorsed a new business plan for the Dartmouth Alumni Magazine, which was implemented this fall to reduce the funding required by class dues.

"Alumni are an integral part of the Dartmouth community," Francis said. "We wanted to review as many areas as possible that influence alumni perception, involvement and overall satisfaction to be sure we are maximizing the Dartmouth experience after graduation. We were able to identify several areas to enhance, and actions are already under way. This experience has reinforced the importance of finding effective ways of connecting with alumni through the club and class officer system and reunions to achieve greater involvement of all alumni."

By WILLIAM WALKER '71A

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Last Updated: 5/30/08