Sense of Community

Photo of students singing

A distinguishing characteristic of Dartmouth is the sense of community that pervades the culture here. Our location in northern New England, this incredibly beautiful campus, and the spirit of collaboration that brings together faculty, students, staff, and alumni, all contribute to this feeling. Generations of graduates return to Hanover as if returning home, and they continue to care about what happens here with all the fervor and passion of family members.

Since my appointment in 1998, one of my top priorities has been to enhance the campus climate for students of color. Our community is more diverse than it has ever been - this year 33 percent of Dartmouth undergraduates are students of color compared to 20 percent just five years ago - and the sense of community is stronger than ever. Our residential community of learning - open, welcoming, collaborative, a place that values independence and cooperation, a place that enables friendships for a lifetime - is a compelling model for higher education. The Dartmouth experience must be a positive one for all members of our community. It is also essential that the Dartmouth community mirror the complexity and diversity of the wider society if we are to provide an educational experience that fully meets the needs of our students.

Photo of students on Dartmouth Green

Following the report on the Student Life Initiative, I established the World Cultures Committee (subsequently renamed the Committee on Institutional Diversity and Equity), which reported back in the early summer of 2001. In response to their recommendations, I appointed a Special Assistant to the President for Diversity and Equity and established an office of that name to provide direction to our diversity initiative across the campus.

Students learn a great deal from each other and need to learn how to live and work in a diverse environment. In 2003, the College filed an amicus brief in the University of Michigan admissions cases to support the right of colleges and universities to take race into consideration as one factor among many as they admit students. Dartmouth's individualized admissions process follows just such an approach. We were pleased to hear our process reaffirmed by the Supreme Court in the Grutter decision.

In the last five years, Dartmouth has made consistent and steady progress with respect to racial, ethnic, sexual orientation, and gender diversity in our faculty and staff. Within the Ivy League, Dartmouth has the highest percentage of tenured and tenure-track women faculty. Dartmouth also has one of the highest percentages for minority assistant professors in our peer group. Dartmouth's actual number of minority staff has almost doubled in this period, moving to more than 6 percent of our workforce. We can take great pride in Dartmouth's legacy and our recent work to meet our historic commitments to provide a welcoming and inclusive learning community for all students.

Posted 8 December 2003
Photos by Joseph Mehling '69

Posted 5 December 2003
Copyright © 2003 Trustees of Dartmouth College

copy; 2003 Trustees of Dartmouth College