The Academic Enterprise
Dartmouth offers an unparalleled undergraduate education and exemplary graduate and professional programs. To say that we offer the finest educational experience is not merely presidential hyperbole. From our beginnings, the very core of the College’s mission has been the academic enterprise. Our success has depended on a vibrant, reciprocal relationship between faculty and students engaged in learning and in the creation of new knowledge and understanding.
Dartmouth’s faculty are distinguished scholars who stand at the forefront of their fields. In 2001, the faculty Subcommittee on Priorities said that “Dartmouth’s claim to distinction rests on the idea that it is a place where research and teaching meet in unique ways.” Faculty research and creativity enrich their teaching and the classroom experience of all our students. The Board of Trustees’ statement on academic excellence, adopted in 2007, makes this crucial aspect of the College’s commitment to the learning environment clear: “At Dartmouth, teaching and research are synergistic. Dartmouth needs both to achieve its goals.” Today we benefit fully from both.
The selective and strategic growth of our faculty has been at the top of my agenda and has been vigorously implemented in recent years through Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Carol Folt’s effective leadership. Over the past ten years, she, her predecessors, and I have worked hard to increase faculty numbers and to develop our strengths in critical areas. We have grown the Arts and Sciences faculty from 380 to 439 FTEs over the past decade and in the same period have moved the undergraduate student-faculty ratio from 10 to 1 down to 8 to 1. Over the course of the Campaign for the Dartmouth Experience, generous donors have endowed 19 new professorships and established 66 new endowment funds in the Arts and Sciences.
Our ambitions are high, despite the financial challenges of increasing both the faculty and the resources necessary for their support. This goal becomes even more challenging in the current economic environment. Determined to enhance our competitiveness in the market for the best people, we have doubled the funding for faculty professional development in the past five years, and, over the past ten years, we have met the goals for more competitive compensation that we set in collaboration with the Committee on the Faculty for the Arts and Sciences. The establishment of the Dartmouth Center for the Advancement of Learning in 2004 brought new support for pedagogical development in all fields, helping faculty incorporate digital technologies and make even greater use of “hands-on” learning in the classroom. Such support is partly why the Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education recognized the College as one of the best places to work for junior faculty, giving Dartmouth an exemplary rating on six of twelve categories. Provost Barry Scherr, the deans, and the associate deans have provided outstanding academic leadership, enabling the support of the faculty and our curricular programs.
In recent years, the faculties of the professional schools and graduate programs have also grown selectively larger and most certainly stronger, as the schools have further enhanced their own commitment to Dartmouth’s distinctive ethos of close faculty-student interaction. To ensure the breadth of faculty expertise, the Tuck School of Business (Tuck) has increased its faculty lines from 37 to 55 since 1998. Thayer School of Engineering (Thayer) has also expanded its faculty during the same period, from 36 to 46, in keeping with new strategic areas of focus. Dartmouth Medical School (DMS) offers its medical students extraordinary access to faculty, through an on-site faculty-to-student ratio that approximates 2 to 1. Across campus all Dartmouth students receive their education in an environment of collaborative student-faculty learning.
The outstanding quality of our faculty has been affirmed by a striking increase in research funded by federal and private sources at Dartmouth. Despite its small size, DMS ranks in the top 15 percent of U.S. medical schools in basic science research funding per faculty member, for example. In the Arts and Sciences, DMS, and Thayer, sponsored funding has nearly doubled or more than doubled in the last ten years.