Skip to main content

Vox of Dartmouth, the College's newspaper for faculty and staff, ceased publication in February 2010. For current Dartmouth news and events, see:

· Dartmouth Now
· Periodicals
· Events Calendar

Gifts Total $63 Million

Commitments by Class of 1978 and Williamsons support life sciences, student experience, and medicine

Two major gift commitments, from the Class of 1978 and from Susan and Peter Williamson ’58, will move the College, Dartmouth Medical School, and the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center substantially forward in supporting Dartmouth’s priorities through the Campaign for the Dartmouth Experience. These gifts bring the total raised in the campaign to $919 million as of Sept. 30, 71 percent of its $1.3 billion goal realized over 70 percent of the campaign time line. The $1.3 billion fund-raising campaign is the most ambitious in Dartmouth’s history.

A national model for “green” building

Setting a new standard for Dartmouth class-driven philanthropy, the Class of 1978 Reunion Giving Committee, led by Bill Daniel, Elissa VonHeill Hylton, Steve Mandel, and Barbara Dau Southwell, has committed to meeting two goals by the time of its 30th reunion next June. They will raise the $40 million necessary to name the College’s new life sciences building and contribute at least $3 million in unrestricted gifts supporting the student experience through the Dartmouth College Fund. This commitment comes on the heels of the class’s record-setting 25th-reunion gift in 2003.

life science buildingA view of the Class of 1978 Life Sciences Center. The Class of 1978 Reunion Giving Committee has committed to raising $40 million towards the cost of the facility. (Illustration: Bohlin Cywinski Jackson)

The life sciences facility is a top priority in the Campaign for the Dartmouth Experience. The Class of 1978 Life Sciences Center will be a national model of sustainable design, expected to consume one-half of the energy of the best-performing laboratories currently in use in the United States. At 174,500-square-feet, the facility will have spaces devoted to undergraduate- and graduate-level teaching and research, including classrooms, teaching and faculty laboratories, and offices for the Department of Biological Sciences. Among its notable features: a 6,000-square-foot greenhouse, a 200-seat auditorium, a two-story atrium for “science in sight” gallery displays, a third-floor sorghum and grasses green roof to help keep the building cool, a storm water management system that will reuse one million gallons of rain water annually, and a state-of-the-art energy management system.

“The ’78s have done it again,” says Dartmouth President James Wright. “Their latest plan for investing in the College raises the bar. When they meet their goals next June, they will have set a new record for a 30th reunion gift through the Dartmouth College Fund and supported one of our top academic priorities. The life sciences are a pillar of the liberal arts. The Class of 1978 is not only extraordinarily generous, but farsighted in enabling the work of students and faculty in these critical fields.”

Four years ago the class raised a record-setting $14.4 million reunion gift. Nearly half the total was given for unrestricted current use, which is essential for the College to stay responsive to student and faculty needs during a given fiscal year. The previous fund-raising record, held by the Class of 1951 at its 50th reunion in 2001, was $6.46 million.

“The generosity and loyalty of our alumni are legendary,” says Charles “Ed” Haldeman Jr. ’70, president and CEO of Putnam Investments, and the chairman of Dartmouth’s Board of Trustees. “So are the good-natured rivalries between classes. Alumni engagement enables Dartmouth to continue a mission that was first begun in 1769: to provide one of the finest student experiences anywhere. We’re grateful.”

The life sciences has developed in the past decade as an umbrella for all disciplines that study life. These include the traditional and emerging fields of biology, biotechnology, ecology, environmental studies, proteomics, genetics, neuroscience, and medical imaging. Scientific advances that affect all living organisms increasingly occur at the intersection of these and more than a dozen other fields, with implications for public policy, law, ethics, and religion.

“In thirty years as a biologist I’ve witnessed a revolution,” says Carol Folt, dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and professor of biological sciences. “New areas of study have transformed biology into a web of connected fields as diverse and dynamic as the most intricate biological systems on our planet. The new life sciences hold promise for unraveling pressing concerns affecting the human condition and our quality of life.”

The Class of 1978 Life Sciences Center will be constructed on the site currently occupied by Strasenburgh, Butler, and the Medical Modular Laboratory building, to the northeast of the Vail-Remsen complex. Its north wing will be allocated largely to classrooms and teaching labs, the east wing to faculty laboratories and administrative facilities, with faculty offices distributed between the two wings. Generous amounts of common space will facilitate interactions. The signature element of the teaching wing will be the two-story atrium featuring displays from sources such as the College libraries, the Hood Museum of Art, and the Department of Biological Sciences.

Williamson gift makes history for Dartmouth medicine

Peter and Susan Williamson have made a $20 million gift commitment to Dartmouth Medical School (DMS) and Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center (DHMC). Their gift, the largest to the medical school and the medical center, will help support those institutions’ highest priorities.

WilliamsonsSusan and Peter Williamson ’58 are supporting DMS and DHMC with a $20 million gift commitment. (Photo by Jon Gilbert Fox)

Peter Williamson ’58 is a professor of medicine in neurology at DMS and the founder and director of the Epilepsy Program at DHMC.

“I believe in the excellence of Dartmouth medicine and its ability to truly transform medicine. Susan and I feel this is exactly the right time to make a contribution of this magnitude to support the academic mission of DMS and hope this will inspire others to contribute as well,” he says.

Williamson is chair of the Transforming Medicine Campaign for DMS and DHMC, part of the Campaign for the Dartmouth Experience. His $20 million gift commitment brings the total raised for the  Transforming Medicine Campaign to $190 million toward its $250 million goal.

“Peter Williamson has committed himself to Dartmouth, and Susan Williamson has been a full partner in the family’s philanthropic work at Dartmouth, in the local community, and more broadly,” says President Wright. “This is a transformational gift for Dartmouth medicine and accelerates our ability to advance knowledge quickly and for the benefit of us all.”

Stephen Spielberg, dean of Dartmouth Medical School, says, “Through their generosity, Peter and Susan have given us tremendous power to capitalize on our greatest strengths.”

“This is a magnificent gesture from an individual who is sincerely passionate about medicine,” says Thomas A. Colacchio, president of the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Clinic, speaking on behalf of the Office of the Presidents at DHMC.

The Williamsons have been generous supporters of Dartmouth and DMS over the years. They committed $1 million toward the creation of the Alexander Garden Reeves, M.D. Professorship in Neurology in 2004.

Williamson is a world-renowned neurologist and epilepsy expert. After 20 years as director of the Yale Epilepsy Program at Yale University, he returned to Dartmouth in 1991 to establish the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Comprehensive Epilepsy Center. In 2002, the American Epilepsy Society awarded him the
J. Kiffin Penry Award for Excellence in Epilepsy Care.

Susan Kettering Williamson is a 1959 graduate of Skidmore College and has served on its Board of Trustees since 1973. She received the Dennis B. Kemball-Cook award for exemplary service at Skidmore and an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters in 1998. In 1999, the Surrey Williamson Inn on the Skidmore campus was named in her honor.

The Williamsons have four children: two are Dartmouth graduates, Debbie (Class of 1981) and Doug (Class of 1985). Doug is also a 1993 graduate of DMS.

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

Last Updated: 12/17/08