Dartmouth for All
Dartmouth has a rich and evolving history as a diverse community, even as our understanding of diversity has matured. Since our earliest days, the College has understood that students learn a great deal from one another. A student body that is economically, ethnically, culturally, and intellectually diverse enables students to question their own assumptions and gain new perspectives. As a result, our community, our conversations and discussions, in and out of the classroom, are more stimulating and engaging.
Many of my predecessors made significant efforts to make Dartmouth a more heterogeneous and inclusive academic institution. President William Jewett Tucker recognized that the College needed to expand its geographical base beyond New England. When the College moved to a selective admissions process in the 1920s, President Ernest Martin Hopkins and the Board of Trustees insisted that the College give preference to men from west of the Mississippi River and from the south. Mr. Hopkins, a financial aid recipient himself, also appreciated the importance of economic diversity. The importance of diversity was a theme of President John Sloan Dickey in the 1960s and was emphasized by President John Kemeny when he opened the doors to coeducation, rededicated Dartmouth to its founding mission, and committed the College to the education of Native Americans and other students of color. Presidents David McLaughlin and James Freedman maintained this commitment. In recent years the Board has emphasized our institutional promise to diversity by expanding our statement of nondiscrimination to include sexual orientation and gender identity and expression.
My vision of Dartmouth is of a rich and diverse community committed to a sense of shared purpose and values. This is the heritage of American society at its best, and our students provide leadership in meeting this challenge. Diversity at Dartmouth is about more than the number of students, faculty, or staff who identify as members of a minority group. It is also about different backgrounds, experiences, and views of the world. But none of this is simply about numbers or percentages. Representation is important, but we have a responsibility to make sure that all members of our community thrive, not just survive.
Dean of the College Tom Crady and his predecessors have worked with students to broaden the out-of-classroom experience to include engagement with multiple cultures and perspectives. For example, students have established new dance and music ensembles, organized celebrations of a wide array of religious holidays, and created a variety of organizations that reflect and share cultural traditions. The Dean of the College division works with students to respond to and learn from incidents of misunderstanding or intolerance. The Vice President for Institutional Diversity and Equity (IDE) Holly Sateia and colleagues in her office provide support to academic and administrative departments seeking to diversify applicant pools, and provide training to almost 5,000 people annually on topics such as cross-cultural communication, equal opportunity, and preventing harassment. A partnership between IDE, the Office of Pluralism and Leadership (OPAL), and the Tucker Foundation resulted in the Economic Equity Initiative to raise awareness about social and economic difference. IDE is also responsible for coordinating all-campus programs such as the Martin Luther King Jr. celebration that offers more than 20 seminars or events open to the Upper Valley and campus community.
While there are several offices whose work is focused on making Dartmouth a more inclusive and welcoming place, all of us share responsibility for achieving this goal. As an academic community, we must provide both the opportunity and encouragement for our members to explore complexities that are central to intellectual and community life, and develop skills necessary for societal leadership. We can all take pride in Dartmouth’s accomplishments in the area of diversity, but we must also remain focused on our aspirations.