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Building on a Historic Legacy

New Dartmouth mission statement approved

Dartmouth's commitment to undergraduate education has endured for almost three centuries but, every now and then, even the most enduring institutions need to cast new eyes on what they're all about. In that spirit, President James Wright introduced the draft of a new mission statement to the College community in February. After receiving hundreds of suggestions, many of which were factored into the final document, the revised mission statement was sent to the Board of Trustees and approved at their April 2007 meeting.

Jim Wright, Virginia Whitaker, and Bill Neukom
Virginia Whitaker presents Samson Occom's copy of The Complete Duty of Man, by Henry Venn, as a gift to Dartmouth on May 19. President James Wright and Chair of the Board of Trustees William H. Neukom '64 accepted the book on behalf of the College. More than two centuries after Occom traveled to England and Scotland to raise the funds that were instrumental in founding Dartmouth, the College is building on its historic legacy to reach a new consensus on its mission and core values. Whitaker is the daughter of the late Henry C. Whitaker '37 and a descendant of Nathaniel Whitaker, who accompanied Occom on his travels in 1766 and 1767. (Photo by Joseph Mehling '69)

"The feedback to the draft we shared in the winter was substantial and helpful," said Wright in a message to the community in May. "We now need to work to advance this mission and to rededicate ourselves to meet its very high aspirations and to protect our core values and legacy."

The new statement, much more concise than its predecessor, reads: Dartmouth College educates the most promising students and prepares them for a lifetime of learning and of responsible leadership, through a faculty dedicated to teaching and the creation of knowledge.

That brief statement is only part of the story, though. Accompanied by a carefully developed set of core values and a summary of Dartmouth's historic legacy, the mission sets a tone that captures the excitement of the campus today, while honoring the traditions and legacy of the past.



Dartmouth College educates the most promising students and prepares them for a lifetime of learning and of responsible leadership, through a faculty dedicated to teaching and the creation of knowledge.


  • Dartmouth expects academic excellence and encourages independence of thought within a culture of collaboration.
  • Dartmouth faculty are passionate about teaching our students and are at the forefront of their scholarly or creative work.
  • Dartmouth embraces diversity with the knowledge that it significantly enhances the quality of a Dartmouth education.
  • Dartmouth recruits and admits outstanding students from all backgrounds, regardless of their financial means.
  • Dartmouth fosters lasting bonds among faculty, staff, and students, which encourage a culture of integrity, self-reliance, and collegiality and instill a sense of responsibility for each other and for the broader world.
  • Dartmouth supports the vigorous and open debate of ideas within a community marked by mutual respect.


Since its founding in 1769 to educate Native students, English youth, and others, Dartmouth has provided an intimate and inspirational setting where talented faculty, students, and staff—diverse in background but united in purpose—contribute to the strength of an exciting academic community that cuts easily across disciplines.

Dartmouth is committed to providing the best undergraduate liberal arts experience and to providing outstanding graduate programs in the Dartmouth Medical School (founded 1797), the Thayer School of Engineering (1867), the Tuck School of Business (1900), and the graduate programs in the Arts and Sciences. Together they constitute an exceptional and rich learning environment. Dartmouth faculty and student research contributes substantially to the expansion of human understanding.

The College provides a comprehensive out-of-classroom experience, including service opportunities, engagement in the arts, and competitive athletic, recreational, and outdoor programs. Pioneering programs in computation and international education are hallmarks of the College. Dartmouth graduates are marked by an understanding of the importance of teamwork, a capacity for leadership, and their keen enjoyment of a vibrant community. Their loyalty to Dartmouth and to each other is legendary and is a sustaining quality of the College.

Questions or comments about this article? We welcome your feedback.

Last Updated: 12/17/08