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Inauguration: 'Deliver on the Dream'

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“Aspire to change the world,” was the charge President Jim Yong Kim delivered to students in his Inaugural address. Taking on the world’s most pressing problems, he said, will require both “passion and practicality: Either without the other will be inadequate to tackle the challenges we face today.”

Inauguration processionalPresident Jim Yong Kim at the start of the Inauguration processional, led by the Korean Traditional Performing Arts Association. (Photo by Joseph Mehling ’69)

Dartmouth formally inaugurated global health leader Jim Yong Kim as the 17th president of the College on September 22. More than 5,000 people attended the ceremony, which was held on the Green on a mild first day of autumn.

The ceremony also marked the Convocation for the 1,094 members of the Class of 2013, the most selective and diverse class in the College’s history. President Kim told students, “Your generation must dream, dream more ambitiously than any who have preceded you. But just to dream is not enough. You must deliver on the dream where previous generations have fallen short.” He urged students to lead by pursuing not only “practical disciplines such as engineering or economics” but also the arts and humanities.

“I’ve spent most of my adult life trying to tackle social problems around the world—but I came to Dartmouth because I’m convinced that those of you gathered here today will achieve far more than I ever could,” he said. “Helping you do that is now my mission in life.”

Frances Vernon '10Student Body President Frances Vernon ’10 spoke at the Convocation and Inauguration ceremony, advising members of the Class of 2013 that “Dartmouth should not be a stopping point, but a stepping-stone that will take you far and you must take far.” (Photo by Joseph Mehling ’69)

Frances Vernon ’11, president of the student body, was among the 11 speakers at the event. She greeted those newly arrived at Dartmouth, saying, “President Kim and the Class of 2013—welcome to the finest college in the world!” She asked that all members of the community set high expectations and standards for themselves. “You’re not only here to hold up the mantle of Dartmouth, but to raise it even higher.”

President Kim emphasized that “the heart of this College has always been inspired teaching” and received a round of applause when he called for a return of the “Great Issues” course established by John Sloan Dickey, Class of 1929, at Dartmouth in the 1950s. “Let’s revive the Great Issues course to give today’s students a shared intellectual foundation for taking on the most challenging problems of our time,” he said.

Following the ceremony, the Dartmouth Gospel Choir took the stage on the south end of the Green to kick off the Community Celebration. Guests enjoyed international foods and an entertainment lineup featuring 142 student performers in 11 ensembles. Click here for more facts and figures about Inauguration.

“The student performers’ efforts to be part of this moment of Dartmouth history were inspiring,” says Marga Rahmann ’78 of the Hopkins Center, who coordinated the show. “Most had to work quickly to bring together their performances. They were supported behind the scenes by dozens of staff members. The collective effort surpassed anything I’ve seen in my 32 years at Dartmouth.”

wentworth bowlPresident Emeritus James Wright transfers the Wentworth Bowl to President Kim, symbolizing the Wheelock Succession. (Photo by Joseph Mehling ’69)

A full house packed Spaulding Auditorium the day before Inauguration for a panel discussion on “Leadership for Social Change.” Panelist Jeffrey Immelt ’78, CEO and chairman of GE and a Dartmouth trustee, said his dream is that students embrace the world’s problems through “real thinking, real curiosity, real innovation, to really drive social improvement, and do it while thriving economics take place at the same time. And that’s possible.”

The panel also featured Paul Farmer, co-founder of the nonprofit Partners in Health; Ed Haldeman ’70, chair of Dartmouth’s Board of Trustees and CEO of Freddie Mac; Michael Porter of Harvard Business School; Ruth Simmons, president of Brown University. It was moderated by Professor Sydney Finkelstein of the Tuck School of Business.

“Dartmouth and the Performing Arts,” a pre-Inauguration event in Moore Theater, showcased accomplished alumni and student performers. Produced by Paul Lazarus ’76, the performance included a reading of Theodor Giesel ’25’s (Dr. Seuss) The Lorax by Buck Henry ’52; a solo of Dartmouth Undying by Jennifer Leigh Warren ’77; and dance company Pilobolus, which was founded at Dartmouth in 1971. Rachel Dratch ’88, formerly of Saturday Night Live, kept the laughs coming as the emcee. Student improv comedy troupe the Dog Day Players provided additional entertainment for those who gathered in Alumni Hall to watch a live video feed of the show.

Suril Kantaria ’13 of Glastonbury, Conn., summarized the events leading up to his first day of classes saying, “It’s wonderful that we have a president who says that nothing is impossible—that if there are roadblocks, you get around them. Students feel like they can do anything they want, and that’s exciting.”

Last Updated: 1/7/10