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Good morning! I can't think of a better way to spend a Saturday morning than with all of you up here at the Lodge. I am seeing it for the first time today and must say that it is stunning, paying homage to the past while paving the way for the future!
It's quite emotional to see the work that's gone into this place over the past year, and to think about the special place it holds in the hearts of every one of us connected to Dartmouth. Generations of Dartmouth students have forged lifelong bonds here at Moosilauke; they have studied, reflected, and grown, and have come to appreciate, through the challenge and beauty of the outdoors, that there are forces more powerful than oneself.
Those are just a few of the reasons why Gail and I have made it a point to ascend Mount Moosilauke every year since I've been back as President.
This is a moment to reflect on what constitutes the heart and soul of Dartmouth. Our close-knit community based on deep intellectual engagement; our commitment to the liberal arts delivered by true teacher-scholars; our profound sense of place deep in these North Woods; and, of course, our adventuresome spirit. Nowhere do these four characteristics intersect more powerfully than at Moosilauke.
Last spring, I had the pleasure of speaking to the members of my class – the Great Class of 1977 – on the occasion of our 40th reunion. In my remarks that night, I talked about how it wasn't just the good times we shared that made our Dartmouth experience so memorable and helped to shape the people we'd become. Our bond to each other and the college arose just as powerfully from the challenging, the difficult, the uncomfortable times we shared.
In my case, it was an ill-advised winter hike up this very mountain with Dave Voss and Oleh Haluszka my junior year. As soon as we reached the summit, we encountered a white-out, got separated from one another and spent a terrifying and harrowing few minutes desperately trying to find each other and the path back down.
Indeed, every experience we have at Dartmouth – big and small, inspiring and downright ugly – not only brings us together, but teaches us something about ourselves and each other.
Moosilauke is the site of so many of those moments. It is a classroom unlike any other. A laboratory for life. I mean, where else can you relish in the personal accomplishment that comes from successfully hiking The 50 and take equal pride in learning how to fix a toilet?
Yes, both are among our students' favorite Moosilauke memories. What can I say? Sometimes, it's the little things that stay with us the longest.
I hope you'll make it a point to go online and listen to a some of the oral histories that have been contributed by alumni from across the generations as part of the "Sharing the Mountain" initiative developed by students at the start of this project.
You'll hear from Put Blodgett '53, about how he and his son bushwhacked in the woods near the Lodge one summer to find the then-overrun Gorge Brook Trail.
And from Jim Baum '61 about how he met his future wife at the Inter-Collegiate Outing Club Dance held here at the Lodge some 50-plus years ago. He was quick to point out that she had a boyfriend at the time, but that he promptly put an end to that.
And from Roger Gilmore '54, who recalls sitting in awe as John Sloan Dickey addressed he and his fellow first-years on the importance of a liberal arts education, only to be spooked by the haunting tale of Doc Benton a short while later.
And from Rosi Kerr '97, who I'm proud to say now serves as Dartmouth's Director of Sustainability, about how she and her fellow croo-mates bonded in front of the fire while watching the mice take to storing corn and beans in their boots after closing the lodge to the public for the winter.
There are so many lessons that come from outdoor experiences. It's where we gain confidence and independence, learn about commitment, perseverance, and courage. It teaches us planning, organization, and problem-solving skills, and provides unprecedented opportunities for leadership. These are the essential outcomes of a liberal arts education.
But perhaps more than anything, the outdoor experience – and this Lodge, in particular – has a way of bringing people together. Fathers and sons, husbands and wives, teachers and students, croo-mates and friends.
Which brings me to our gratitude to the countless people who came together to make this redevelopment a reality. Not all of them could be with us today, but quite a few of them could.
So, let me begin by giving special thanks to Put Blodgett from the Great Class of 1953, and the members of the Moosilauke Advisory Committee, who have been staunch advocates for the lodge for so many years. Your energy, passion and persistence were instrumental in getting us to this point.
I'd also like to thank the representatives of the Classes of '65, '66, '67, '74, '78, and '84 who supported the glorious bunkhouse projects. If you haven't had a chance to see them, be sure to make it a point to do so before you leave today.
And we certainly couldn't have done any of it without the faculty, students, and alumni who provided critical feedback during the planning process, and who contributed to the project in so many ways, whether through generous financial support, or through volunteering their time to construct the bunkhouses and complete the landscaping here just a few weeks ago.
And of course we all owe deep appreciation to the workers whose commitment and craftsmanship are so clearly evident in every detail of this Lodge.
We're so grateful to all of you for your parts in ensuring that Moosilauke is a treasured part of the Dartmouth experience. Please join me in giving them a big round of applause.
But there's one family to which we owe a special debt of gratitude.
Skip, Daniel, and Emily Battle – it is through your leadership, generosity, and pioneering spirit that we were able to undertake this historic redevelopment of this most sacred spot. Not only did you recognize that the outdoor experience at Dartmouth shapes character and builds strength – physical, emotional, and intellectual – in immeasurable ways, you also led the charge in rallying generations of loyal alums with your initial $5 million challenge to ensure that our beloved Moosilauke Ravine Lodge would remain a shared experience for generations to come.
On behalf of everyone at Dartmouth, thank you for all you've done to honor the Moosilauke tradition and elevate this iconic representation of our truly special setting to the stature it deserves.
Between Moosilauke, Ledyard, and all of the varied clubs that comprise the DOC, it should come as no surprise that earlier this year, Money magazine ranked Dartmouth among the 10 Best Colleges for People Who Love the Great Outdoors. It's a point a pride for our institution, and certainly one to be celebrated. I can think of no better way to celebrate that pride than with the dedication of our beloved Moosilauke Ravine Lodge today.
Thank you all, again, for being here today, and for your support in all its forms. Enjoy the majesty of this mountain and the lodge, as I know Gail and I and the entire Dartmouth community will for many decades to come.