Three hundred alumni, parents and friends of Dartmouth gathered in New York on Saturday, Nov. 13, to launch the Campaign for the Dartmouth Experience, the most ambitious fundraising drive in the College's history. Converging on Manhattan from across the country, they came to learn how the $1.3 billion that will be raised during the campaign will advance teaching and scholarship, enhance residential and campus life and sustain the commitment to financial aid that makes a Dartmouth education accessible to all qualified students regardless of their ability to pay.
"The campaign will guarantee that future generations of talented students will receive the same quality of education that has historically distinguished Dartmouth and will cement our leadership role in the world of higher education."
- President James Wright
Noting the historic significance of the effort, President James Wright spoke about a similar milestone event in Dartmouth's history - one that challenged alumni to commit their support for the College at a crucial turning point.
"A little over one hundred years ago, on a cold February night, Dartmouth Hall burned to the ground," he said. "When news of the loss reached alumni in Boston, they quickly rallied to the cause and within 24 hours ... they had called for a meeting to raise the money to rebuild.... Within a year they had done just that.... Today, we are here to make that same commitment to generations of new Dartmouth students. The campaign will guarantee that future generations of talented students will receive the same quality of education that has historically distinguished Dartmouth and will cement our leadership role in the world of higher education."
Funds raised during the campaign will support four key areas: the academic enterprise ($736 million), residential and campus life ($187 million), financial aid ($146 million), and annual support for the student experience ($244 million). Priorities within these areas were identified through a strategic planning process that culminated in a plan presented to the Board of Trustees by President James Wright in 2002. He said the need for increased investment is driven by Dartmouth's commitment to offer the finest student learning experience anywhere.
Peter Fahey '68, Th '69, a co-chair of the Campaign Executive Committee, drew applause and laughter when he recalled that "two years ago, Dartmouth launched the nucleus phase of this campaign. It occurred not long after one of the biggest stock market declines of this century. More than a decade ago, Dartmouth launched its last campaign, The Will to Excel, after another market cataclysm. We may not be smart in our sense of timing," he said, "but we certainly are brave."
Fahey then announced that $457.5 million had already been raised toward the campaign goal. "That represents over one-third of our goal and is exactly where we wanted to be today," he said.
Joining Fahey and Wright on the podium were trustees Bill Neukom '64 and Brad Evans '64, the second co-chair of the Campaign Executive Committee. Neukom, who was recently elected Chair of the Board, is the former lead counsel for Microsoft Corp. and now heads the Seattle law firm of Preston Gates & Ellis. Evans is a managing director of Morgan Stanley and Fahey is a retired limited partner of Goldman Sachs.
"We're here today to celebrate Dartmouth's purpose and to see firsthand how it is meeting that purpose," Neukom said. "We'll hear from faculty, students and alumni on how the College is confronting some of the issues affecting us all."
"Great Issues" was the thread woven through all of the morning's events, chosen to honor the innovative course that was a hallmark of the Dartmouth experience for almost two decades. "In 1947, President John Sloan Dickey launched the Great Issues course to help prepare our students to lead. In that spirit, today we invite you to participate in ... the global conversations that affect us all," said Wright.
Faculty, students and alumni then had the opportunity to participate in one of 10 different discussions tackling issues ranging from medical ethics and self-censorship in the arts to brain development in adolescents. Prior to the discussions, Professor of History Kenneth Shewmaker and Rhodes Scholar Heidi Williams '03 offered their perspectives on great issues.
Shewmaker said the Great Issues course was meant to prepare seniors intellectually to deal with the challenges they would face after graduation. Noting that the Cold War issues that faced Dartmouth graduates in those decades were no longer matters of concern, he said, "it is striking how many of the topics then still seem to be relevant now." Shewmaker said the Great Issues course was only one aspect of Dickey's legacy at Dartmouth. Others include the Hopkins Center, the Tucker Foundation, foreign study programs and public service internships. "Many Americans want no more of the world than for it to go away and leave them alone," observed Shewmaker. "But, as President Dickey stated: 'The world's troubles are your troubles.' That message is as relevant in 2004 as it was 58 years ago."
In her remarks, "Great Issues: A Look Ahead," Williams said one of the most pressing subjects facing her generation was how we define our communities at a time of rapid political, economic, technological and cultural change. "The experiences and people of Dartmouth inspired me to integrate my teaching, my research and my commitment to public service in a way that I hope will make it possible for me to make at least some small progress on some of the great issues of today," she said. "And for that, I can't thank the Dartmouth community enough."
Neukom emphasized that the Campaign for the Dartmouth Experience would ensure that the College would continue to be able to help talented students engage fully with the world and with their communities, however those communities are defined. "The campaign is a direct investment in preparing Dartmouth students to do work that makes a difference in classrooms, labs, studios, clinics and boardrooms, from local communities to international arenas, in virtually all disciplines," he said.
Wright and Neukom credited the campaign's early success to the generosity of the College's alumni, parents and friends, the leadership of Russ Carson '65, who co-chaired the early phase of the campaign, and the work of the Campaign Executive Committee. "The Dartmouth experience lived for us and lives today because previous generations made investments that resulted in a singular living and learning environment that attracts exceptionally talented young people," Evans and Fahey said in a news release announcing the launch. "We must maintain and enhance that experience for future generations."
By LAUREL STAVIS
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Last Updated: 12/17/08