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Legacy and Vision

As Dartmouth's 16th president, I take pride every day in the accomplishments of the students, faculty, administration, and staff that make Dartmouth what it is. Founded in 1769, Dartmouth is one of the oldest colleges in the United States, as well as one of the most academically distinguished institutions in the world. With its selective and focused graduate programs and pioneering professional schools in medicine (founded in 1797), engineering (1867), and business (1900), and with its commitment to maintaining a preeminent undergraduate program, Dartmouth provides its students with a learning experience that is second to none.

Our intellectual energy, our sense of community and of values, our traditions, our diversity, and our location in a place of enduring physical beauty and intimate size define and enrich Dartmouth. We are committed across the institution to excellence in scholarship, teaching, and learning. Our faculty are acknowledged leaders in their fields, as well as devoted and enthusiastic teachers who work with and learn alongside their students. Dartmouth recruits faculty and students who can work independently, yet who value collaboration and sharing. The College is marked by close student-faculty interaction, by the engagement of senior faculty at all levels of instruction, by an environment that nurtures intellectual and creative curiosity, independence, risk-taking, and exploration. We prepare our students to think critically, to develop their leadership abilities, and to live fulfilling lives in a rapidly changing world.

The campus includes state-of-the-art facilities, and its scale and culture allow for close and creative collaboration across the schools. As a residential academic community, we have a historic commitment to providing a comprehensive learning environment where students can enjoy options and freedom and can assume responsibility for advancing our community’s values. We have a tradition of supporting an extensive range of outdoor, athletic, and recreational activities. Reaching beyond our historic campus, an outstanding array of international and off-campus programs connects us to the world, as do our widely recognized educational and research technology and information systems.

Dartmouth is unequivocally committed to diversity in the student body, the faculty, the administration, and staff. This commitment goes beyond issues of admission or recruitment to assuring that we have a culture that is comfortable with and takes full educational advantage of the differences of perspective and experiences within our community. The diversity of our community adds immeasurably to the education that our students receive.

We take pride in our graduates who retain lifelong relationships with the College and with each other, and who go on to have a significant and positive impact upon others and the world around them. Their lives embody the principle that learning is a never-ending process and a lifetime obligation. So too, Dartmouth must dedicate itself to a process of institutional self-searching and renewal.

While we acknowledge and celebrate our many blessings, we are also mindful of our need to meet the challenges of tomorrow. The landscape of higher education is ever changing and Dartmouth’s special niche is being pressured by excellent schools, both large and small, that seek to be more like us. We live in a time when many of the best — and wealthiest — American universities are recommitting themselves to strengthening their undergraduate programs. Meanwhile, the strongest, most competitive liberal arts colleges are moving to enhance research opportunities for students and for faculty. The world around us is also changing. Our students will graduate into an increasingly global world where information flows easily and seamlessly and where an appreciation of diversity is critical to our graduates’ ability to become leaders in society. Competition for the strongest faculty and the most talented students is intense. We cannot be complacent about our success.

Dartmouth has the intellectual reach and competitive strength of a great university, while possessing the soul of a closely-knit college community. In sum, Dartmouth enjoys the best of both worlds. Through the careful balancing of the characteristics that define us, we have a unique opportunity to define liberal arts education for the 21st century, raising it to a new level. It is incumbent upon us to develop a plan to support a strong faculty, to enhance the experience of our students, and to foster Dartmouth’s community of learning. We must carefully define our goals and aspirations in ways that build on our traditional strengths, stretch our imaginations, and make the most of our finite resources.

August 2002

© 2002 Trustees of Dartmouth College