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Faculty Provide Presidential Search Feedback to Trustees

For his spirited remarks about Dartmouth, Professor of Computer Science Scot Drysdale received applause from the audience of the 40 or so faculty members at a recent presidential search forum hosted by Trustees Ed Haldeman '70,  Al Mulley '70, and Provost Barry Scherr. "Dartmouth was the only place, and this was thirty years ago, that said we care about teaching, we care about research, and we mean it," said Drysdale. "I don't think there's anybody that combines those as well as we do." Mulley responded, "There's no disagreement on the board about what you said."

Faculty input group
Scott Drysdale speaks at the May 9 faculty open forum on the presidential search. Photo by Tilman Dette ′10
The May 9 meeting in 105 Dartmouth was the fourth open forum held by Haldeman, chair of the Board of Trustees, and Mulley, chair of the search committee for the College's 17th president. In addition to hosting forums for staff, students, and alumni last month, Mulley and Haldeman have met with groups of faculty and held a range of individual conversations-formal and informal-with members of the Dartmouth community.

They held a fifth forum at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center on May 16, and they are collecting feedback on the board's website. "We're committed to working as hard as we can to get input early on the process," said Haldeman, who also thanked Mulley for "putting so much of his time into this important process."

Colin Calloway, chair of the Native American studies program and the Samson Occom Professor, recommended that a candidate be committed to diversity in "genuine" ways. "It's too important a topic for the candidate to just give a nod to," he said. Candidates should be pressed on how they actually see diversity looking and working, said Calloway, and-at the request of Haldeman-he said a potential question for a candidate would be "How would you respond to an incident that is offensive in a timely manner?" Mulley said, "That will be a good conversation to have with a candidate." 

Faculty input lady
Susan Ackeman ′80 (above) and Colin Calloway (below) speak at the May 9 faculty open forum on the presidential search. (Photos by Tilman Dette ′10)

Candidates should also be asked to "articulate a vision" for the College for the next 10 years or more, said Ivy Schweitzer, professor of English and chair of the women's and gender studies program. Schweitzer also said the College should strive to gain recognition for its strengths, such as study abroad programs and educational outreach. "Not everyone knows what we're really good at," she said. Chair of the Department of Religion and the Preston H. Kelsey Professor in Religion Susan Ackerman '80 also stressed that a new president should have a clear vision and be able to "help us in the arts and sciences determine what a curriculum in the 21st century looks like."

Also addressing a modern issue, Benoit Cushman-Roisin, professor of engineering at Thayer School, said he hoped the next president could lead efforts to make the College more environmentally sustainable. "We need this to come from the top," he said. Associate Professor of Religion Kevin Reinhart, meanwhile, noted that the president should have a keen understanding of international issues. "As the world is changing, we should look at someone with demonstrated concern for the rest of the world, similar to President [John Sloan] Dickey," he said.

Faculty input man

David Nierenberg, the Edward Tulloh Krumm 1943 Professor, said at the medical center forum that he hoped Dartmouth's next president would be someone who believes in the "net value" of Dartmouth's graduate programs. Nierenberg is also a professor of medicine and of pharmacology and toxicology. Dan Longnecker, professor of pathology emeritus, expressed his hope that the search committee would consider scientists as candidates. Mulley said that he and Haldeman had heard similar comments at other meetings, and he assured the medical school audience that it would be necessary for the next president to understand Dartmouth's distinctiveness.

At the faculty meeting, John Winn, professor of chemistry, said he hoped the next president would continue the "openness and transparency" between the faculty and administration that was established by President James Wright. Winn also said that, "interdisciplinarity and the lone scholar both have a place at Dartmouth." John Watanabe, associate professor of anthropology, suggested that the new president should be a scholar so he can easily relate to the faculty. "Having someone who has been on a faculty ... and is willing to engage faculty is very important. We are concerned deeply about educating our students." 

Noting that the next president "could affect me for years, decades," Assistant Professor of Mathematics Alex Barnett said he wanted Dartmouth to maintain the welcoming tone set by President Wright and Susan DeBevoise Wright. "We need to continue this tradition," said Barnett, who added that setting an inclusive tone is especially important for retaining a young and diverse faculty. As the meeting came to a close, Drysdale seemed to capture the sentiment of many of the faculty members when he said to Mulley and Haldeman: "Good luck!"

By STEVEN J. SMITH and SUE KNAPP

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Last Updated: 6/12/08