Reflections on Fall Term

To the Dartmouth community,

The close of the fall term offers a time for reflection. As Gail and I think about 2013, we cherish the warm welcome we've received from the entire community. I want to thank you for making us feel at home and I would like to share how these first months back in Hanover have informed my aspirations for Dartmouth.

There are many responsibilities that come with the honor of being Dartmouth's 18th president. From the outset, however, it was important to me that I find time to continue to do the work I love in the classroom. Teaching Math 11 this term reinforced something I never want to lose sight of as president.

Everything we do to further Dartmouth's ambition must be about the ways we impact the world through our core missions of teaching and scholarship.

On November 4, I spoke to the General Faculty about how I hope to make this great institution even greater and strengthen our academic enterprise at a time of rapid change in higher education. On November 18, I addressed the Arts and Sciences Faculty where I detailed the challenges and opportunities we, like all colleges and universities, face in student life. Both sets of remarks, which I invite you to read and consider, offer my best thinking at the moment about how we must position ourselves for a future that is even stronger than our past. I greatly appreciate the feedback that I've already gotten from the Dartmouth community and am excited about the work ahead.

Underlying any and all of our grand plans is a very real cost imperative. Every campus across the nation is contemplating a new and challenging future with potentially declining returns on endowments, reduced federal research funding, and real constraints on the costs that can be shouldered by students and their families.

At Dartmouth, we must commit to holding down growth in cost of attendance while maintaining the high quality of everything we do. We must prioritize programs of excellence and innovation, increase rigor in how we allocate resources, commit ourselves to strategic self-investment, and reach historic levels of philanthropy. It's a tall order, but one I am confident we will meet by working together.

During the past months, I have been inspired by my conversations with hundreds of students, faculty, staff, alumni, and parents. A commitment to Dartmouth and optimism about its future have characterized these many discussions with the talented members of the Dartmouth family.

Gail and I are filled with excitement about what the future holds. We wish you the happiest of holiday seasons and greatly look forward to working with you in the months and years ahead.

Phil Hanlon