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Community Letter: Going Far Together

May 28, 2014

To the Dartmouth community:

As the end of the academic year closely coincides with the completion of my first year as president, I want to take a moment to congratulate our faculty, staff, and students for their many successes over the past year, and to thank our entire community for affirming for Gail and me that our return to Hanover was one of the best decisions of our lives.

It has been a year of learning and taking stock, of ambitions and bold aspirations. But most of all, it has been a year of inspiration, for we realize that the opportunities before Dartmouth are limitless due to the abundant talent and level of engagement across our community.

Dartmouth's faculty and students continue to inspire all that we do. This year has seen faculty members receive Sloan and Guggenheim fellowships and a prestigious MacArthur "Genius Award," among numerous accolades and honors.

Our graduate and professional schools continued to set the bar high nationally, with faculty at the Thayer School of Engineering recently recognized for exemplary work infusing entrepreneurial competencies into the curriculum.

The College produced our 74th and 75th Rhodes Scholars, a Truman Scholar, and one of the most accomplished athletes in NCAA history, while student art, performance, research and athletic achievements continue to generate endless energy and vitality across campus.

One of the most rewarding aspects of my first year has been in reaching out.

It's been my pleasure to meet with more than 500 faculty, 3,100 students, and many thousands of alumni and parents. From these discussions, many of our ambitions for the College began to emerge, and I can proudly report that in many ways we are making great progress.

As we strengthen our capacity for experiential learning, this summer we open the doors of our new Innovation Center and New Venture Incubator, where student creativity will flourish. We are embracing new learning technologies, will offer our first courses in the edX consortium next year, and are pursuing other partnerships, particularly with Khan Academy. We are set to recruit the first cohort of our newly formed Society of Fellows this fall. We have created seed funding programs to initiate new scholarship and risk taking among our faculty.

In April, we were thrilled to announce something that made Dartmouth history--an anonymous, unprecedented $100 million gift that will significantly move forward our plans to begin clustering faculty around areas where Dartmouth stands to make a profound impact. Just a short time later, we were also pleased to announce that the first of these clusters would be formed in computational science, thanks to a generous $10 million gift by former chair of the Board of Trustees Bill Neukom '64.

Such generosity from our alumni must be honored with fiscal rigor and discipline in our budgeting, and here too we are making significant progress.

We have required all major units of the College to identify 1.5 percent of their budgets to be reallocated to new initiatives. And we have also managed to hold down growth in the cost of student attendance. This year we put in place the lowest tuition increase since 1977--2.9 percent, while at the same time increasing the financial aid budget by 5.9 percent. When Carolyn Dever arrives in June to begin as our new provost, among her priorities will be working with our chief fiscal officer, Rick Mills, on processes that will ensure that our budgeting reflects the need to reinvest and "grow smart" in all areas.

The year has not been without its challenges. Like all colleges and universities, we have struggled with high-risk behavior and a campus climate that too often fails to live up to our thriving academic life and acceptable social norms. But I am heartened by the way we are galvanizing around a rejection of these behaviors and are acting to stop them. Dartmouth is taking a leadership role: Our April summit on high-risk and harmful behavior marked a turning point and our Steering Committee is currently crowdsourcing the best solutions for a way forward. The strategies found to be the most promising will be shared with the community for comment this fall.

Never has a year gone by so quickly. Already we are preparing to send the great Class of '14 into the world as their time as students draws to a close. As they will see over Commencement weekend in the faces of so many alumni who come to share in this enduring rite of passage and reunite with classmates, their role in helping shape Dartmouth's future is just beginning.

In my inaugural address last summer I shared one of my favorite bits of wisdom, an African proverb that says, "If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together." If anything, my first year in office has given me a deeper appreciation for the truth of this proverb, for together we have taken important steps toward our shared vision for Dartmouth.

For all we have achieved--and all we stand poised to achieve in the coming year--I offer my sincere thanks. Because of the commitment we share to this place we hold so dear, Dartmouth's future has never looked brighter.

Sincerely,

Phil Hanlon '77
President

Last Updated: 5/28/14