March 30, 2015
To the Dartmouth community:
Gail and I want to welcome everyone back to campus for the Spring Term. And to the Dartmouth family beyond Hanover, we join you in welcoming spring! After an unusually frigid winter in most parts of the country, the change of season is greeted with a special kind of joy this year.
This winter was notable for more than the weather. Much attention was paid to Dartmouth in January as we announced the Moving Dartmouth Forward Plan to address harmful behaviors and bias incidents on our campus. Though these issues are not unique to our campus, Dartmouth is providing national leadership by launching a comprehensive series of efforts to create a safer, more inclusive environment in which students can be active, around-the-clock learners.
Implementation of these strategies is now in the very capable hands of teams working in the Dean of the College’s office and the Office of the Provost. Additionally, an external oversight committee will evaluate our progress in following through on the plan going forward. We look forward to the ideas, energy, and dedication of every member of the Dartmouth community to ensure the success of our efforts.
But as winter turns to spring, it is time to turn a page.
The poet Anne Bradstreet wrote, “If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant; if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.” At its heart, Moving Dartmouth Forward is not only about ending harmful behaviors; it is about raising our academic sights higher than ever before. With reforms underway to eliminate the barriers and behaviors that have held us back, we can pursue with renewed vigor efforts to up our academic game.
Indeed, earlier this month I spoke with the assembled faculty in the Arts and Sciences about how to more energetically make use of the academic opportunity space. We spoke about tolerating greater risk, about strategies that will help us recruit and retain exceptional faculty, and about models for supporting innovation, bold thinking, and new perspectives in our teaching and research. We talked about the need to exercise greater discipline around resources, working with Dartmouth’s talented staff to make investments in innovation that will help us thrive in a rapidly changing, increasingly competitive higher education landscape. To summarize: we must be hungry, smart, aggressive, and forward-looking. And this applies, of course, not just to Arts and Sciences but across Dartmouth’s academic enterprise.
Just as I called on the faculty to think about big, bold ideas, I issue a similar call to our students—embrace intellectual risk, look beyond the boundaries of our campus, leave your comfort zone. In the words of Google co-founder Larry Page, “Always work hard on something uncomfortably exciting.” Now is the time to raise your game!
As spring renews the promise and beauty of the Hanover Plain, there is no better time to challenge ourselves. As we welcome the turning of a season, let us welcome the turning of a page at Dartmouth—a time to reach for academic excellence in a way we never have before.
I wish you a wonderful spring!
Phil Hanlon ’77
Last Updated: 3/31/15