Dartmouth in the World
The World’s Troubles Are Ours
At this year’s Convocation I shared some of my thoughts with the Class of 2012 about leadership for the twenty-first century. I reminded them that leaders are distinguished by an understanding of the richness of the human condition and a sense of responsibility—responsibility for self, for family and friends, and ultimately for others. As President John Sloan Dickey said, “There is nothing wrong with the world that better human beings cannot fix.” At Dartmouth, students, faculty, and staff work together to prepare leaders who will assume responsibility for making the world we live in a better and more humane place. This long-standing commitment is woven into the Dartmouth experience both in and out of the classroom.
In 1951, President John Sloan Dickey and the Board of Trustees established the Tucker Foundation in honor of Dartmouth’s ninth president, William Jewett Tucker. The Foundation supports community service opportunities, off-campus fellowships, and leadership programs. Working with the Tucker Foundation, students embrace the opportunity to help and learn from others. Over 1,000 students volunteer annually, providing about 40,000 hours of service. They volunteer in schools, help to feed the hungry, and work with the Special Olympics—to name just a few of their activities. We have one of the few collegiate chapters of Habitat for Humanity, where students have assumed leadership for both fund-raising and building houses locally. Thayer students formed Humanitarian Engineering Leadership Projects (HELP) Worldwide. HELP identifies a need in the developing world (power, clean water, etc.), creates an engineering design to address that need, raises funds, and builds the necessary infrastructure working with a local village. In summer and fall 2008, they worked on a microhydro installation in Rwanda and, prior to this, completed a project in Kenya.
Many students initiate and pursue fellowships and internships worldwide. Students have helped restore Jewish cemeteries in Belarus, the Ukraine, and Lithuania through a program started and overseen by Rabbi Edward Boraz; staffed refugee centers; and explored songs of peace and reconciliation in Rwanda. One benefit of the D-Plan is that students have several opportunities throughout the year to undertake full-time volunteer work or internships—many of these in the areas of medicine, education, and social services. We expect that even greater numbers of students will explore these types of experiences now that we have relieved one summer’s earning expectation for financial aid students. Interest in service extends beyond a student’s four years at Dartmouth. Over the last several years about ten percent of the graduating class has applied to participate in Teach for America, and over 500 graduates have served in the Peace Corps since the program’s inception. Dartmouth has been named as one of the top 25 Peace Corps producers among small schools. We have had a number of recent graduates who have gone on to serve in the military, and I am very proud of their contributions. No matter what careers they choose, Dartmouth alumni/ae invest time and resources in local, national, and international causes, creating new businesses or technologies in developing countries, providing resources to underserved populations, or serving their local communities in innumerable capacities. Dartmouth aims to foster and continue to nurture that ethos of service. This is our legacy and a defining value.
As president I have tried to have an impact on the higher education experience for students across the country. Working with the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) over the last several years, I helped to develop a new set of graduation requirements to hold schools accountable for the academic progress of athletes. We also developed a clearer set of academic values and standards needed in all athletic divisions. I am serving on the Commission on Access, Admissions and Success in Higher Education, a special group established by the College Board. Our report will be released in December of 2008. As a member of the Council on Competitiveness, I have joined with other university, business, and labor leaders to enhance the United States’ competitiveness in the global economy, and I am serving on a task force on initiatives in energy innovation and sustainability.
After visiting our wounded service men and women at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, I became interested in doing more to help our severely wounded veterans pursue higher education. Working with the American Council on Education (ACE), I helped to establish a program to provide educational counseling to veterans in our national military hospitals. Over the last year I also worked to support the passage of a new G.I. Bill that would more fully meet the financial needs of veterans returning to college. I have been pleased to welcome veterans to Dartmouth. They have added significantly to the richness and diversity of the community.
All of us at Dartmouth are incredibly fortunate to be part of a transformative learning experience. It has always been a part of the Dartmouth compact to extend this gift to others, and it is gratifying to be a part of a community that embraces this responsibility.