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The Announcement of the Arthur L. Irving Institute of Energy and Society

September 16, 2016

Good morning! I am delighted to welcome you all to this celebration of my good friend, Arthur Irving, and his family, whose passion for and commitment to Dartmouth – and to the field of energy – has been unwavering and profound.

I first met Arthur and Sandra in the summer of 2013, when Gail and I traveled to Two Pines, their lake home deep in the North Woods of New Brunswick. Since that time, our relationship has grown into something truly special: a remarkable friendship.

Dartmouth recognized Arthur with an honorary degree in 2010 and the citation read at that event speaks to his business acumen, his love of the rivers and woods of the Canadian north, the actions he has taken to conserve wildlife and preserve the environment and, above all else, his dedication to his family. Sadly for me, I was not the sitting Dartmouth President when Arthur received his Honorary Doctorate so I did not have the privilege to confer his degree. But I have to admit, I’ve got something even better to announce today!

On this truly historic day for our campus, it is my great pleasure to announce the creation of the Arthur L. Irving Institute for Energy and Society at Dartmouth, made possible through an extraordinary lead gift of $80 million from Arthur and Sandra Irving; their daughter, Sarah; Irving Oil and the Arthur L. Irving Family Foundation. Please join me in showing our appreciation for this historic and lasting investment in Dartmouth.

Meeting the energy demands of the future in a way that sustains our planet - few challenges are more consequential. The importance of this challenge – the promise and perils of energy - cannot be overstated. Gail and I witnessed both sides of the global energy challenge, first-hand, on two trips this summer: one to Peru, where access to abundant, affordable, reliable energy has fueled steady economic growth for over two decades, helping significantly lift the standard of living for millions of Peruvians, … and on another trip to Greenland, where the impacts of climate change on the environment and on Native cultures are so evident.

Not long after I became President, I asked our campus to be aspirational. I asked us to consider our strengths, and think about where we could have outsized impact for a College of our size…where our propensity for interdisciplinary collaboration is a strategic advantage…and where our scope of work could be amplified with the right focus, infrastructure and investment. The challenge of energy rose to the forefront.

I remember some of our earliest conversations involving the Provost and our Deans of Thayer, Tuck, the Dean of the Graduate School and the Dean of the Faculty. From those early discussions, it became eminently clear that Dartmouth has a distinct role to play in promoting understanding of the global energy system and its impact on environment and people, and driving change in the intelligent production, supply and use of energy. And from those conversations, the idea of this institute was born.

The ambitions of this Institute will be to understand today’s global energy system in all its complexity, and help design a sustainable global energy system for our future. The Arthur L. Irving Institute for Energy and Society at Dartmouth will approach the issue from all perspectives, applying a liberal arts approach to solutions that look not just at science, or engineering, or policy, but at the impact of energy-related decisions on all our major human systems: environmental, societal, geopolitical, and financial.

The institute will connect, mobilize and empower Dartmouth’s current strong base of talented faculty across Arts and Sciences, the Tuck School of Business, the Thayer School of Engineering who are already working on – and deeply engaged in – this issue. Together, these scholars offer a sweeping set of perspectives.

In true Dartmouth fashion, the work of this Institute will deeply involve students – undergraduates and graduate students alike – involving them in research and innovative learning experiences so that they can begin to master the intricacies of the energy challenge and its impact on societies and cultures. Through its work with Dartmouth students, the Institute will help prepare graduates who approach the challenges and opportunities of energy and society with the sensitivity, leadership and the integrative systems thinking required of this complex global issue.

The institute will be housed in a new LEED-certified facility to be built here at the end of Tuck Drive, with a formal opening expected in 2020. This building will be a gathering point on campus for all individuals with an interest in energy and society, a place of integration pulling the campus together across disciplines, across academic generations and across the basic to applied research spectrum.

If I had to pinpoint a single value shared by Dartmouth and those who are making the launch of the Arthur. L. Irving Institute for Energy and Society at Dartmouth possible, it is visionary leadership.

I am delighted that this institute, in name, will honor such a visionary leader in Arthur Irving, a man who understands the complexities of the world’s energy ecosystems as well as the transformative power of a Dartmouth education like no one else.

On behalf of everyone at Dartmouth, I want to express my sincerest gratitude and appreciation to the Irving family – Arthur, Sandra and Sarah – and to Ian Whitcomb and Irving Oil, for providing Dartmouth with this foundational and transformational gift … allowing us the full academic freedom to explore energy and its impact on society in all its complexity.

Your willingness to so boldly put your faith in Dartmouth and our ability – through our faculty, our students and the research and learning that happens on this campus – to positively impact the world, means the world to us.

Last Updated: 9/16/16