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Celebrating the Dartmouth Experience

Heidi Williams '03
Heidi Williams '03

"I grew up in a tiny town in rural North Dakota, populated by a mix of Norwegians, Germans, and Native Americans. Diversity meant that a Lutheran girl was marrying a Catholic boy from Minnesota," said Dartmouth graduate Heidi Williams '03, a mathematics major and Rhodes Scholar who is now with the National Bureau of Economic Research in Cambridge.

Speaking at a November 13 event in New York to celebrate the launch of the Campaign for the Dartmouth Experience, she recalled how her undergraduate years in Hanover broadened her horizons. "Dartmouth's courses, people, and institutions pushed me to grapple with some of the issues facing us today," she said.

Williams was asked to share her views on "great issues"-the broad theme of the day's events. She said the greatest challenge facing her generation was the question of how to imagine community in the face of globalization. "In so many ways, Dartmouth was the place that gave me the opportunity both to struggle with such great issues and to find my own small way of trying to make progress on them," she said.

The learning environment that supported Williams in her intellectual journey is the environment the campaign will support and enhance. With a goal of $1.3 billion-the most ambitious fundraising drive in Dartmouth's history-it will advance teaching and scholarship, enhance residential and campus life, and sustain the College's historic commitment to financial aid (see story below).

"Today, we are here to make [a] commitment to generations of new Dartmouth students," said President James Wright at the event. "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." Wright was joined by members of the board of trustees and the campaign executive committee.

"We're talking about making a significant investment in the College to ensure we continue to offer the finest educational experience in the country," said board chair William H. Neukom '64. Former trustee and co-chair of the campaign executive committee Peter Fahey '68, Th'69 announced that $457.5 million of the goal already had been raised and thanked trustee Russell L. Carson '65 for his leadership as co-chair of the campaign's nucleus phase.

"Philanthropy has long played a critical role in the life of Dartmouth," said trustee R. Bradford Evans '64, who will now work with Fahey as co-chair during the campaign's public phase. He explained that annual giving and endowment income account for more than one-third of the College's operating budget. "Therefore," he said, "virtually every student benefits from the philanthropy of current and prior generations of Dartmouth supporters."

The campaign launch celebration also included remarks by Professor of History Kenneth Shewmaker, who shared his perspective on the Great Issues course created by former Dartmouth President John Sloan Dickey in 1947. The remarks by Shewmaker and Williams set the stage for ten panel discussions in which faculty, students, and alumni tackled today's great challenges, ranging from medical ethics and self-censorship in the arts to brain development in adolescents.

Shewmaker noted that the Great Issues course was a hallmark of the Dartmouth experience for almost two decades. "[It] prepared seniors intellectually to deal with the challenges they would face after graduation," he said. "Dickey called the liberal arts the 'liberating arts,' and that is what a Dartmouth education continues to offer."

In a panel titled "Breakthrough!" Tillman Gerngross, associate professor of engineering at the Thayer School, described how Dartmouth enabled him to follow an unorthodox path that led him to discover potential therapies for disease treatment by converting sugar in yeast cells. "Dartmouth allows me to think outside the 'buzz'," he said, referring to the unique ways the College encourages him to teach, question, and collaborate with students and faculty colleagues.

Jaime Mazilu '05 described undergraduate work with Gerngross that led to an honors thesis and an internship usually available only to graduate students. "Dartmouth stands apart from other schools of its caliber because of the balance of teaching and scholarship offered to undergraduates," she said.

In the "From Kosovo to Nicaragua to Belarus" panel, Stuart Lord, Virginia Rice Kelsey '61S Dean of the Tucker Foundation and associate provost asked, "What kind of person are we graduating at Dartmouth? How do we know they will make the right decisions in their communities, their businesses, their families?" Answers came from students and faculty members who travel beyond the campus to make a difference in the local community and in the world.

Other panels focused on ethics at a time of rapid medical advances, the power of digital technology to alter images, how the teenage brain is organized, why successful executives make devastating mistakes, the state of the economy and its effect on the arts, personal choice and environmental outcomes, and the responsibilities of highly placed diplomats in times of international crisis.

The discussions echoed what Williams said earlier in the day: "The experiences and people of Dartmouth have inspired me to integrate my teaching, my research, and my commitment to public service in ways I hope will enable me to make at least some small progress on some of the great issues of today. And for that, I can't thank the Dartmouth community enough."

To learn more about the strategic planning effort that serves as the foundation for the campaign's priorities, visit

By Laurel Stavis

Campaign Imperatives

Funds raised during the Campaign for the Dartmouth Experience will be directed to four strategic imperatives, including the academic enterprise ($736 million), residential and campus life ($187 million), financial aid ($146 million), and annual giving ($244 million).

Academic Enterprise. At the heart of the Dartmouth experience is the College's commitment to undergraduate teaching. Students enjoy close working relationships with faculty who are preeminent scholars in their fields. The scale of the community encourages intellectual collaborations that provide students with opportunities to be involved in work directed at solving some of society's greatest challenges. Funds raised in support of the academic enterprise will enable Dartmouth to recruit and retain more faculty members, resulting in smaller classes and more opportunities for independent student work. Programs that address foundational skills that students need to realize their full potential, such as the Writing Program, will be enhanced. Similar investments will be devoted to new classroom, laboratory, and performing-arts spaces.

Residential and Campus Life. A Dartmouth education is the starting point for a lifetime of close friendships. Nurtured by a diverse community on a campus unrivaled in natural beauty, the Dartmouth experience is closely linked with the physical characteristics of northern New England. The campaign will invest in programs that support the opportunities Dartmouth's location provides. New residence halls and dining facilities, renovation of athletic facilities, and support for extracurricular programs, including the Tucker Foundation, will enable all Dartmouth students to take full advantage of opportunities the campus offers.

Financial Aid. Attracting the most talented students, regardless of their financial situations, is a key factor in maintaining Dartmouth's competitive strength. The College's ability to admit students without regard to their ability to pay and meet their full demonstrated need ensures a vibrant and pluralistic community where students learn to lead in a complex world. The goal of the campaign is to increase that portion of the financial aid budget supported by endowment, thereby relieving pressure on the College's operating budget.

Annual Giving. Dartmouth's endowment has grown significantly over the past decade yet is still small compared to peer institutions. Unrestricted gifts from alumni, parents, and friends cover nearly 10 percent of the College's annual operating budget. These are not discretionary funds; they underwrite the current student experience. Annual gifts support the College's financial aid commitment and virtually every aspect of undergraduate life. Sustaining the strength of the College's annual giving programs is one of the highest priorities of the campaign.

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Last Updated: 7/24/18