2015 State of the College Address


Welcome everyone, to the Fall 2015 meeting of the General Faculty. Michael and I taught our last class for the term this morning and I know some of you have class tomorrow, but the end of the term is upon us. Today at this meeting we have a full and very substantial agenda.

As you know, it's customary for the President to deliver a "state of Dartmouth" address at this meeting.

Following those remarks, which I will begin momentarily, we will transition immediately to a motion proposing change to the language in the OFDC.

After that we're going to consider the motion on the proposed School of Graduate and Advanced Studies.

Then if time permits, I will come back and gladly open the floor to questions/comments on my opening remarks, but I do want to make sure that we don't cut any of these discussions short.

So, let's get started!

Events of the last weeks, on campuses across the nation, including ours, remind us that bias and discrimination in their many forms remain stark challenges to communities across the nation.

As I highlighted in my message to campus last week, the stakes are particularly high for college campuses. The foundation of any academic community is open and respectful exchange of ideas and perspectives. To accomplish this, every person must feel welcomed, included and feel safe.

That's one of the primary objectives of the Moving Dartmouth Forward initiative. The Citizenship Pledge, signed by all students prior to matriculation, promises a personal commitment to that end. And creating a safe, inclusive environment for living and learning is one of the greatest promises of the new house communities system.

But along with inclusivity, must come diversity. The value of a diverse community in advancing our core missions of discovery and education, has been clearly proven. But Dartmouth's Affirmative Action Report for the past year, compiled recently by Evelyn Ellis and her team, demonstrates how far we need to go in diversifying our faculty and staff.

I know I speak for myself, for Provost Dever and for the Board of Trustees (and I know for many of you) in saying that the diversity of our faculty and staff falls far short of where we want it to be, where we need it to be, and it must improve.

It's important to note that there have been some successes over the past year – I do want to note that – with increased faculty diversity in Geisel, Tuck and Thayer. But institution-wide, our faculty and staff diversity is simply not progressing.

I recognize that there are challenges to building diversity. It's not easy work, and for that very reason, every member of the Dartmouth community must be committed to recruiting and retaining faculty and staff who are under-represented in their fields and outstanding in their work. With will and focus, we can be successful.

At my first meeting of the General Faculty two years ago, on November 4th, 2013, I highlighted the need to build greater diversity within the faculty and promised that this would be one of the key priorities of the new Provost.

And indeed, a year later, at this meeting a year ago, Provost Dever rolled out her plans and goals to this group. I want to invite Carolyn up for a moment to remind us of what she said a year ago and talk about what's worked and what hasn't worked.


Thank you, Phil.

I want to share a quote from a Yale professor, commenting on recent events at her campus:

"Our students' aim isn't to suppress the free expression of their classmates, but to press the university that recruited them, and that they chose, to provide an academic environment where they're afforded respect. When young students of all backgrounds join a community where they'll compete academically with the brightest minds in the most intellectually and culturally rich environment possible, some of them wind up finding a campus that sends mixed messages about race despite its stated commitment to diversity, inclusion and, yes, providing a safe space."

You can easily substitute "faculty" or "staff" for "student" in this quote and for many campuses, including our own, the mixed messages are not just about race.

Many of us have spent hours listening to community members describe their experiences across campus – just yesterday I spent time with the LatinX student community. The pain they feel, not just around a catalyzing incident, but on a daily basis, is palpable. It's both distracting and exhausting. This dissonance between what they expected and what they experience is fundamentally changing their educational experience. And they are not alone in this. Unfortunately, this is familiar to many faculty and staff of color, too.

And, candidly, our students are tired of telling us about their pain and weary of coming up with ideas and suggestions. They are frustrated that despite our stated commitment to providing an academic and professional environment where each person can thrive, what they find here makes them doubt our commitment.

Academic excellence requires that we also be diverse and inclusive. We can only achieve our mission if we both successfully recruit diverse individuals and create the systems and cultures that make it possible for each of us to be full participants wherever we sit.

Let us remove any doubt that we are committed to being a campus that's safe, welcoming, and deeply engaged in addressing issues of equality and intolerance both for the benefit of our own community, and for the world more broadly.

Last fall, I promised to move quickly to address these issues. Let me briefly share with you some of the initiatives coming from my office, led by Vice Provost Denise Anthony, and then return to what more we can do.

Let's start with our efforts to develop the pipeline and recruit and retain talent. Last year, I shared that as of 2012 minority/international faculty representation had stalled at about 17.5% - with no significant or meaningful growth in these numbers in more than a dozen years.

I set a goal to move us to 25% over the next five years. At current faculty numbers this would mean hiring approximately an additional 30 minority or international faculty. This is an ambitious goal. But it is also achievable.

Every faculty opening we have is a precious opportunity to move this needle. We want to find exceptional teachers doing innovative and significant work in their fields. At the same time, we need to identify candidates from under-represented groups and those who would enhance a diversity of perspectives on campus. This is not an either/or proposition. It is a both/and proposition.

The full resources of the provost's office are behind this effort. I want to reiterate that we should not let financial resources be the thing that holds us back from hiring opportunities. We made a pool of recurring funds available to assist with the recruitment of faculty. In the last two years these funds supported approximately 6 new hires across the institution, including the professional schools. By and large, faculty are leaving these resources to support new faculty recruitment on the table.

Dartmouth also sought and received a one-year grant from the Mellon Foundation for a variety of initiatives, including:

  • Funds to help us establish relationships with top-minority producing programs and young scholars of color.
  • A pilot to help us think about how we can provide better support to search committees as they recruit for talent. Michelle Warren is working with us and the office of the dean of the faculty of arts & sciences on this effort.
  • Developing a pilot formal mentoring program for assistant professors and providing funds for junior faculty to engage in peer networking and mentoring, such as writing groups or conference attendance.
  • And DCAL is developing workshops to help faculty learn how to disrupt implicit bias in the classroom. This is something that both faculty and students have recommended and asked us to provide.

Other activities of our office include:

  • Increased support to the Employee Resource Networks through the Office of Institutional Diversity and Equity.
  • Sponsoring a Leading Voices in Higher Education speaker series focused on building and sustaining inclusive environments for teaching and learning.
  • And, we're sponsoring three faculty workshops with the National Center for Faculty Development & Diversity next month.

Denise Anthony has met with many community members to talk about her role, to get ideas, and to better understand challenges. In June she met with the Board of Trustee's Academic Affairs Committee – and she'll meet with them every year going forward. She's also given updates to the deans and the COP. A public report on our office's activities will be available early in the Winter term.

And as you know, in the spring we launched the Dartmouth Community Study to identify current institutional efforts that positively impact the campus climate and challenges faced by members of the community. Rankin & Associates, national experts on campus climate, will spend the next several months analyzing data from the campus survey we just concluded. Their final report will be shared with the entire campus in late April or May.

But we can't and won't wait until the Spring to do more.

President Hanlon and I will be meeting with each of the deans in the coming weeks to talk about what more we can do in each of the schools to make progress towards our goals. And we look forward to sharing those plans with you.

As provost, I'm committed to making sure diversity and inclusion remains a top priority for all the work of the provost's office and I've asked each of the deans to make this a priority for their work, too. To enable us to take action, the president and I have dedicated resources and we will advocate on behalf of the best ideas you come up with to bring even more resources to the table.

Last year, I asked for your partnership in these efforts. You, as faculty, have a great deal of power. You have the power to be a change agent in your classrooms, your labs, in your conversations with students and with each other, and—most definitely, within search committees.

Our students, your faculty peers, and many of our staff have not asked the institution to step up – they're asking you.

Let me underscore that we urgently need to do more not just because we care, but because it is directly related to our academic mission. So, I ask you to make this a priority in all of your work. This year, I ask you to find ways that you can make a tangible difference—and then ask me, Denise, your deans, and President Hanlon to support you in that work.

I know you can and I believe you will. Thank you.


Thank you Carolyn.

These important objectives of inclusivity and diversity, they're part of a bigger picture – a work-in-progress – an even more ambitious Dartmouth, even better that the great institution we have today – a College poised to deliver impact to the world, through the leadership of our graduates and the scholarship on our campus.

Together, we've imagined a Dartmouth that is:

  • A magnet for talent: a destination for some of the best minds in the world
  • A campus that's academically energized by big ideas, bold efforts and intellectual risk-taking;
  • A place where students are full partners with faculty in the business of changing the world.

Virtually everything we're pursuing is integral to advancing this vision for Dartmouth, broadening its impact and achieving its full potential.

At my first meeting with this group on November 4th, 2013, I talked to you not only about this vision, but about strategies to get us launched in that direction. Among these, I said we would:

  • Emphasize experiential learning;
  • Grow our faculty in clusters around areas of academic or world challenge;
  • Increase the quality and impact of young scholars on our campus through a Society of Fellows and a Graduate School to support higher quality graduate programs;
  • Even more effectively leverage Dartmouth's outstanding graduate and professional schools, building on their strength and integrating them with the rest of campus and in particular our undergraduate mission.

On that note, I want to welcome our newest dean, Matthew Slaughter, who began in July as the dean of the Business School – 10th dean of the Tuck School of Business.

This afternoon, I want to thank you, because the hard work is paying off.

In experiential learning, for instance, The DEN Innovation Center is a notable achievement, going from concept to open doors in about a year – an amazing pace at an academic institution – serving more than 1,100 students with the help of 77 alumni in its first successful year of operation. Meanwhile, Lisa Baldez is leading a new $1 million per year initiative through DCAL to seek out, incent and advance the quality and quantity of experiential learning opportunities across and beyond our campus.

Experiential learning is an important point of integration between the Arts and Sciences and the graduate schools with programs like the Paganucci Fellows in Tuck, courses like Engines 12 and 21 in Thayer, and abundant undergraduate research opportunities in Geisel labs. And, of course, who could not have been proud of our engineering students when the dummy, developed as part of a capstone research project, was tackled on national TV by Stephen Colbert donning a Dartmouth football helmet!

Moving from experiential learning, let me talk about faculty clusters. This initiative maintains its momentum and interest across the enterprise. Four clusters have been funded and named thus far:

  • The Neukom Cluster in Computational Science;
  • The Byrne Cluster in Decision Science;
  • The Levy Cluster in Healthcare Delivery Science;
  • And an anonymously-funded cluster in globalization and human wellbeing in societies around world.

Our stretch goal, you may remember, was to create – at least in the first year and a half – ten clusters at Dartmouth utilizing the two-to-one matching program from the $100 million gift. If successful, that would turn $50 million of that gift into $150 million for faculty expansion. We're working hard to complete this goal by the end of this calendar year, so stay tuned for news between now and January.

Meanwhile, this term, we welcome to campus the inaugural class of the Dartmouth Society of Fellows. I hope you'll join me in welcoming these outstanding post-docs, learn about their work, engage them in your own, and make their presence here something that takes their work and ours to a higher level. The senior fellows are currently recruiting next year's class of eight fellows, and we expect eight to be the steady state. They're three-year positions, so we're going to have 24 in total on campus within a few years. I think they're going to make a huge impact on the energy on this campus.

In our efforts to fully integrate students in the intellectual life of campus, we've taken the bold step to leverage their residential experience through the House communities system.

I do believe that the creation of the House communities will be seen as the most transformative piece of Moving Dartmouth Forward and I'm grateful and proud that faculty have stepped forward to lead this effort. The six communities will open their doors next fall and provide a permanent home base for generations of students to come.

They're lead by six faculty members from across multiples schools who've been appointed house professors, while a seventh serves as faculty director of the McLaughlin Cluster, where the living learning communities will be located. I want to thank Ryan Calsbeek, Ryan Hickox, Jane Hill, Kathryn Lively, Craig Sutton and Dennis Washburn, who together with Sergi Elizade will collaborate with students, faculty and staff to envision the system that works best for Dartmouth.

Switching gears, challenges and opportunities abound within academic medical centers across this nation, including Geisel.

On the one hand, there has never been a more exciting moment in health care and medicine! Fantastic technological breakthroughs are allowing us to understand the inner workings of the brain, devise genetically based therapies and use new sensor technologies together with mining of patient data to imagine new modes and systems for delivering population health.

The training of health care professionals needs to be re-vamped for this new world: not just our MD curricula but with new degrees for health care leaders. All these promises are being met at Dartmouth.

But this is also a time when every single revenue stream feeding academic medicine is shrinking in real terms and some in absolute terms.

Much thought, much work has gone into planning a sustainable future for the Geisel School of Medicine in the face of these realities. The Board of Trustees expressed approval earlier this month for progress made on planning the future of the medical school, and encouraged Interim Dean Compton to continue moving forward.

The transformation of Geisel that Duane and his faculty are discussing will not be easy and will present hard choices. We continue to value the input of all faculty, and ask that you continue offering it because it's so important that we get this right at this moment. I would ask that each of you consider how you might support Duane and the Geisel community as they undertake this transformative and necessary effort.

These are but a few of the initiatives currently underway at Dartmouth. They simply build on the outstanding work that you the faculty do, day in and day out, educating our students and advancing human understanding through your scholarship and creative work.

But your work needs support – your rocket needs fuel. And in this time of tuition restraint and a federal budget that has little room to enact expanded research budgets, philanthropy has never been more important. So I want to bring you up to speed a little on that front.

In my remarks to you on November 4th, 2013, I made a promise that we would see an historic investment in the academic enterprise at Dartmouth over the next ten years. And I'm pleased to report on how that is taking shape.

Amazingly, we ended fiscal year 2015 ahead of 2014, despite 2014 having the $100 million gift. We topped out at $310 million, a 21% increase over the previous year, and a large all-time giving record at Dartmouth.

This success was achieved through record or near-record levels of support through all the schools, and centrally, equally meaningful was the broad support of our alumni as measured by philanthropic support. Approximately 43% of our alumni made gifts – a vote of confidence in our direction and our financial discipline. And this participation rate is matched by few universities, in fact, only one that I know of – even amongst our Ivy plus peers.

I'd also like to highlight the Centennial Circle, which is an amazing initiative. It's an initiative that began with the audacious goal of having 100 women alumni each give $100,000. I'm pleased to say we are currently at 136 members of the Centennial Circle and growing.

So what's been achieved through all this support? A great deal that will help us in our efforts to attract and retain exceptional students and faculty, and achieve the totality of that vision I talked about earlier.

We secured more than $25 million in financial aid endowments, some of which included enrichment grants to support exceptionally motivated students.

We tripled the number of newly endowed professorships to 15 for current and future faculty. In addition, alumni and friends of the Tuck School endowed the deanship in honor of Paul Danos.

Gifts have continued to advance the presence of post-docs on our campus through new endowments for scholars in international relations and security.

New gifts will start to build important facilities for teaching and experiential learning, and research, such as the Thayer School of Engineering building and the Hood Museum of Art.

And alumni have come forward to play their part in moving Dartmouth forward, underwriting new initiatives in experiential learning and support for the programming in the first year of the house community system.

Finally, unrestricted current use giving through the Dartmouth College Fund set its sixth consecutive record, raising $49.1 million in gifts. If you think about that number, that's the equivalent of $1 billion in endowment. It's really quite remarkable.

Of course, all this success has not happened by accident! It's required skill, hard work and teamwork by many of you, as well as individuals, including the Provost's office, the deans and their development teams, plus the entire Advancement organization. I do have to highlight and single out Bob Lasher, who leads all this with amazing skill.

The best thing I can say is, we're just getting started!

Now, let's turn to the future. The vision is clear, the initial strategies I've outlined are clear, they're underway, they move us closer to that vision. But what comes next? What's phase two after we've filled the clusters, after we've completed the Society of Fellows, as we advance experiential learning, what comes next?

In "Phase Two" what I see is that Dartmouth makes a few "Big Plays" – by that what I mean is a focused effort on a small number of bold ventures to address a select set of great issues that the world faces.

Efforts that bring the campus together across disciplines – the entire campus – and across academic generations by building on a distinct formula: a combination of faculty expertise; student passion; and alumni commitment. And I expect that such an effort will be fueled by investments not measured in the tens-of-millions of dollars, like the initiatives I was just talking about, but in the hundreds-of-millions of dollars.

I know this is possible. But what might it look like? What is an example of an area where Dartmouth has the foundation, given the right investment, to make a big play?

Together let's imagine one. And I choose this not because it's what we're going to do, but as a thought experiment.

By 2050, a quarter of the world's working age population will live in Africa. How the nations and regions of Africa develop between now and 2050 – economically, in terms of access to health care and education, in establishing ethical leadership, effective government and the rule of law–this will have huge implications for how they take advantage of that immense human resource.

Already Dartmouth has a strong foundation of expertise and interest in questions of development. For instance, Tuck Professor Emily Blanchard is studying how globalization influences educational decisions in poor countries. Geography Professor Susanne Freidberg is researching how global supply chains affect producer livelihoods. Music Professor Ted Levin is working on cultural development and the protection of cultural heritage assets, while Geisel Professor Lisa Adams leads global health activities in a number of developing countries.

Beyond faculty, many students and staff are working in development throughout the world. Groups like the Dartmouth Humanitarian Engineers (DHE), and programs at Dickey and Tuck, and across the whole institution.

Alumni are engaged. This year, Bob and Dottie King made a generous $21 million gift to expand the King Scholars and brings their total investment in the program to $35 million, while other generous alumni continue to support YALI, the Young African Leaders Initiative – both innovative programs aimed at building leadership capacity in the developing world. Dickey has been tasked to lead the next generation of that throughout Africa.

So in this area, in the study of Development of Emerging Nations, the ingredients I mentioned are all there for a big play: a compelling opportunity for the world, a strong base of faculty expertise, student passion and interest and alumni commitment. Could this be an area where Dartmouth should make a big play?

And, of course, we could talk about other examples – equally compelling. The global energy system, health care delivery science, the brain mechanisms and how they lead to brain functions – we could imagine these possibilities together.

Two years in, I'm more convinced than ever that an ambitious vision really is possible for this institution. I'm heartened by the fact that we're beginning to see our best efforts paying off, and I'm excited by the fact there is so much yet to do.

So, to answer the question I'm here to answer today, the state of the college is a work in progress. Important work. Inspiring progress.

But at its heart, a great university is about people, and talent, and that means you.

I could not ask for a faculty of colleagues more talented, or better suited to fill in the brush strokes that will bring this work to life.

And for that, I thank you.