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Dartmouth's 'True Endowment'

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Annual State of the College address

Dartmouth is "good and strong" despite a worldwide economic crisis, President James Wright said in his last annual "State of the College" report to the general faculty on Oct. 27.

President Wright cited the strength of the faculty and his "tremendous confidence in the future of the college." (Photo by Joseph Mehling '86)

"The true endowment" of Dartmouth, Wright said, is "the overall strength of the College and its capacity to meet the changing needs of a changing world." He said that work is "focused and healthy."

"A historian who joined Dartmouth in 1969 as a faculty member, Wright reviewed 10 years of institutional progress during his presidency and  compared the College he joined in 1969 with the one he leads today.

"The Dartmouth that I came to in 1969 was a school with 3,200 male undergraduates, with probably fewer than 10 percent students of color and some 90 international students, the majority from Canada and Western Europe," he said. Today, he said, "Dartmouth is a far richer, less homogeneous place, one that operates around the year and around the world and one whose affiliated schools have become exceptional professional schools."

Looking at the activities and achievements of the various components of the "true endowment" during his presidency, Wright noted:

  • All four faculties of Dartmouth-arts and sciences, business, medicine, and engineering-have grown stronger in a variety of ways and have launched exciting initiatives, many of them interdisciplinary in nature. "The strength of the faculty and the programs summarized ... give me tremendous confidence in the future of the College and allow me, despite some economic pressures, to affirm that the state of the College is strong," said Wright.
  • The College "has worked closely and positively with the coed/fraternity/sorority leadership so that today their role in the community is far stronger and more positive than it has been in the time I have been here. We have worked with them and with other student leaders to create a stronger and more inclusive community." The student body overall, he said, is "committed to learning; they assume responsibility for the College; and they will make a difference in the world."
  • Alumni continue to be "the living endowment" that Dartmouth President Ernest Martin Hopkins described, providing $40-plus million last year in the Dartmouth College Fund (the equivalent of $800 million of unrestricted endowment); serving as the key contributors to the $1.1 billion raised overall so far by the Campaign for the Dartmouth Experience; and providing service and advice to Dartmouth students, graduates, and programs. Wright said alumni "keep the Dartmouth brand alive and well in the broader world." 
  • The institution has maintained "a lovely campus, one that is inviting and human in scale and one that seeks to have facilities that enable the strongest faculty and the strongest students to do the strongest work."
  • A "remarkably committed" administrative team of officers and staff "protect and advance the other components of the endowment-the students, faculty, alumni services and development, plant, and the financial support system. They provide an operations and service culture that cares deeply about Dartmouth."

Wright concluded that "Great and enduring institutions, as we are, survive these downturns better than most-as we shall. We will do this by remembering the component parts of the true endowment of Dartmouth. These are what we must protect."


To read the address, click here. To listen to a podcast with Wright, click here

Suggestion Box: Operating Efficiencies

Executive Vice President of Finance and Administration Adam Keller and Provost Barry Scherr have asked Dartmouth employees to identify opportunities to improve operating efficiencies in light of the worldwide economic crisis.

During a meeting with about 180 faculty and staff members in Collis Common Ground on Oct. 24, Keller projected revenue shortfalls this year, and in upcoming years. No layoffs are planned at this time, Keller said.

Endowment is one of Dartmouth's largest sources of revenue, representing about 36 percent for the current fiscal year. Other sources of income include tuition and gifts to the Dartmouth College Fund. While Dartmouth's endowment grew by over $1 billion in the period between July 2004 and June 2007, during the last fiscal year endowment distributions exceeded the sum of endowment earnings and gifts. The same is expected for fiscal year 2009. During the first quarter (July through September), the endowment return was negative: approximately -6 percent.

Keller has asked deans and vice presidents to work with their staffs to identify operating efficiencies. Please share your suggestions and questions. Click here to email your suggests or click here to submit them anonymously online. 



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

Last Updated: 12/17/08