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>  News Releases >   2004 >   December

Letters from President James Wright and Dean of Admissions Karl M. Furstenberg

Posted 12/21/04

Dear Members of the Dartmouth Community,

I am writing to update you on the recent situation you may have heard about concerning a letter Dean of Admissions Karl Furstenberg sent to Alfred Bloom, the President of Swarthmore College, in December 2000.

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That letter was a lapse in professional judgment, as I told Dean Furstenberg at the time. The views he expressed are not mine and are not those of this institution. I made this clear in a letter to President Bloom in January 2001. I very much regret the hurt that the dean's statements have caused within the Dartmouth community. He has asked me to convey his apologies and I have enclosed a letter (below) from him.

Over the years, our athletes have been, and continue to be, outstanding scholars, student leaders, and participants in service and other activities. And they have gone on to have distinguished careers in business, the professions, and community service. I know literally hundreds of student athletes whom I have taught in my history classes, including at least two current Dartmouth coaches. They and thousands of others over many years all do us proud by living the lives they live.

One of my greatest joys in serving as Dartmouth's president is working with our students. They are among the very best students in the country; they inspire faculty with their academic accomplishments, and they energize all of us with their activities outside of the classroom. At Dartmouth we educate the whole student -- and we first admit the whole student. Our individualized approach to admissions looks with great care at each student's academic record but also considers other attributes including athletic or artistic ability, leadership potential and extracurricular interests, service activities, racial and ethnic background, geographic location, whether a relative has attended the College, and whether the student overcame particular hardship or challenges.

Dartmouth is a place that values and helps to develop leadership skills and encourages our students to challenge themselves. By heritage and purpose Dartmouth stresses the importance of community and belonging, collaboration, tolerance, mutual support, and friendship -- teamwork, in short. These qualities mark our approach to our overall learning environment, and they are also well symbolized and developed in athletic competition. Our coaches are first and foremost teachers.

We are interested in what students can contribute to the education of their classmates -- and to the education of us all. And we are interested in what they contribute over a lifetime. We have an intercollegiate athletic program because athletic competition, like many other aspects of a strong liberal arts program, teaches our students lessons that are often not learned elsewhere.

The Admissions Office does not determine Dartmouth's ambitions. Rather Admissions is charged by me and the Trustees to admit a class that will meet our ambitions. Dartmouth historically has had one of the strongest student bodies in the country -- and this continues to be the case. Any assessment of Dean Furstenberg needs to take into account his broader record of accomplishment -- look at the students he has admitted. I am confident that the sentiments he expressed in the letter have never influenced his admissions decisions. Over the past fifteen years he has admitted classes that have been among the most talented in the country. He has strengthened the academic profile of the class while also increasing its diversity. He has increased the number of students coming from low-income backgrounds. He has honored our commitment to legacies and others who provide continuity and support for the traditions of Dartmouth. And, importantly, he has admitted thousands of incredibly strong student athletes.

As a result of the partnership between the Admissions Office and the Athletic Department, Dartmouth's intercollegiate program is as strong as it has ever been. As most of you already know, the College offers one of the most comprehensive intercollegiate athletic programs in the country, with nearly 1,000 of its 4,300 undergraduates playing at the varsity or junior varsity level in 34 sports, in addition to the many club and intramural sports. Approximately 80 percent of Dartmouth undergraduates participate in some form of athletics.

Nationally, critics have raised legitimate questions about athletics, and, we all know that there have been excesses at some schools. Dartmouth is not among them. Through my work as a member of the NCAA Division I Board of Directors, including service on the Task Force on Reform from 2001 to 2003, I have come to understand that the institutions in the Ivy League, through the standards we impose and the care with which we oversee them, have developed a model of intercollegiate athletics that serves our students well and preserves the historic place of athletics at our schools. This is a model worth emulating.

Director of Athletics Josie Harper and I are committed to recruiting a strong football coach who will restore Dartmouth football to the position it has historically had in the Ivy League. It needs to be clearly understood that the recent difficulties of the football team cannot be attributed to the Admissions Office -- our football coaches have always received a great deal of support from admissions. I have regularly told potential football recruits and current players they should be proud to wear a green jersey that represents the best winning record -- still -- in the Ivy League. Karl Furstenberg, Josie Harper, and I are prepared -- eager -- to work with the new coach to protect and to extend this winning tradition.

I regret the frustration and concern this episode has created, and I offer my sincere commitment to work together to move our College forward with an athletic program that is stronger than it has ever been.


James Wright

Letter from Dean of Admissions Karl M. Furstenberg

Dear Members of the Dartmouth Community,

I am writing to apologize to all of you and express my deepest regret about the remarks I made in my personal letter to Swarthmore President Alfred Bloom in December 2000. I made a mistake. While I cannot take back what I said four years ago, I want all of you to know that the sentiments expressed are not an accurate reflection of my views on intercollegiate athletics. I value athletic competition and those who engage in it. I, myself, was an intercollegiate athlete and know the demands of such activity in a rigorous academic environment.

There is, and has been for many years, a very close working relationship between Admissions and Athletics. This involves working collaboratively with coaches to identify and recruit the best student athletes who will be successful in all aspects of their lives at Dartmouth. I, and many others, have worked hard to continually improve this cooperation and to maintain open communication.

Once again, I want to apologize to members of the Dartmouth community for my comments of four years ago. I have met with the coaches to apologize in person to them and plan to do the same with the student athletes when they return to campus in January.

I feel privileged to work at Dartmouth and with President James Wright. As the Dean of Admissions, I am more committed than ever to working with Athletic Director Josie Harper in recruiting a strong student body that includes the best student athletes.

Thank you.

Karl Furstenberg
Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid

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