Op-Ed: From Vision to Action

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By President Philip J. Hanlon and Interim Provost Martin Wybourne

On behalf of Lynda Baker, Evelynn Ellis, Charlotte Johnson, Maria Laskaris, and Michael Mastanduno, we write as members of the senior leadership of the College and people who care deeply about Dartmouth. We want to share a message with the community: we hear your concerns about ensuring that Dartmouth is not only diverse in numbers, but also a place where all community members thrive. And we hear your desire to share your ideas with us and to engage with us on these and other important issues.

Dartmouth Hall

We couldn’t agree with you more. Diversity is one of the cornerstones of our academic community and, like you, we want Dartmouth to be a campus where our students gain the confidence and skills to work and lead in a global society. We believe that across our campus exist the talent, energy, and capacity to develop concrete ideas to make this a reality.

Recently, a presentation of the “Freedom Budget” document highlighted for us that we, as the administration, must engage the campus more effectively in current and future action to achieve our shared vision for Dartmouth. We want students, faculty, staff, and alumni—all of us—to think about tangible ways we can advance Dartmouth, including building a more inclusive campus. Because we are committed to keeping down the cost of attendance, thereby ensuring that a Dartmouth education is accessible to a socioeconomically diverse student body, we’ll also need to be strategic about our investments, focusing our resources on the most impactful activities that meet multiple objectives.

As the “Moving Dartmouth Forward” series, the Improve Dartmouth website, and the strategic planning process demonstrate, faculty, students, and staff are working together to develop creative, actionable ideas. Based on concrete suggestions we’ve received through these three forums, here are a few of the steps we’re taking:

  • The Office of Financial Aid will provide additional funds to help offset the costs of participating in Off-Campus Programs not previously covered by financial aid.
  • More than $30 million will be invested in the Society of Fellows program to bring recent post-doctorates to campus. Post-doctoral programs have been an effective tool for recruiting diverse faculty from other campuses. This was a recommendation from the Alumni Council’s Ad Hoc Committee on Diversity and Inclusion.
  • The E.E. Just Program, which supports the academic success of under-represented students in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields, will undergo a major expansion.
  • The Office of the President is sponsoring a three-year program project to help make Dartmouth Outing Club activities accessible to students receiving financial aid.
  • Dartmouth will provide $1 million in recurring funds to support the cost of hiring faculty who bring diverse perspectives to campus.

We can and will do more.

We will continue to host and support forums that welcome all ideas with open-minded consideration and respectful dialogue—in a way that does not disrupt campus activities—and provide everyone a voice and a chance to be heard. Early in the spring term, we will announce dates for specific “Moving Dartmouth Forward” sessions focused on creating a more diverse and inclusive Dartmouth. We’re also committed to positive action that will further strengthen the Dartmouth community. We will launch a website soon that will provide details regarding our efforts.

Our vision for Dartmouth is limited only by the energy and engagement we invest in it. Now is the time to make your investment by actively participating in campus discourse that encourages a continuous and healthy exchange of ideas.