Hope and Action

To the Dartmouth community,

With a new year upon us, MLK Day on the horizon and our nation's newly-elected President and Vice President about to take office, I want to take a moment to reflect on the historic events we've witnessed over the past year. I also want to emphasize our role in shaping the future of our community and our country as we look to achieve racial justice and the anti-racist Dartmouth culture we desire.

For all of us – and for the Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) community, in particular – the last year has seen some of the most tragic and triumphant moments in our nation's history. We suffered tremendous loss of life and staggering economic fallout as a result of the global pandemic, yet celebrated the most rapid vaccine development in modern times. We witnessed deplorable acts of violence against people of color, yet saw Kamala Harris become the the first woman, the first Black American and the first South Asian American to be elected vice president in U.S. history. And on January 6, in a span of less than 24 hours, we witnessed a horrifying and deadly insurrection in the heart of our nation's Capitol that not only threatened our democracy but placed racial inequities and anti-Semitism in full view; at the same time, we watched Raphael Warnock – a pastor at the historic Atlanta church in which Martin Luther King Jr. preached – and Jon Ossoff make history in Georgia as the state's first Black and first Jewish senators, respectively, to be elected to the U.S. Congress.

The stark contrast between these moments makes it difficult to know whether to feel despondent or hopeful. At Dartmouth, we will forever remain hopeful. And since there is no hope without action, I want to share some of the latest actions we are taking to advance diversity, inclusivity and equality in our own community.

One of the most significant ways in which we can accelerate progress toward our goals is by expanding the already impressive teaching and scholarship done by Dartmouth faculty on the topics of racial injustice, systemic racism and inequality. Therefore, I've asked our Deans to commit 15 faculty lines (three per year for each of the next five years) towards a cohort hiring program across the institution for BIPOC faculty and faculty who study these issues. These scholars will bring a richer and more diverse set of perspectives to our scholarly work and help ease the mentoring burden that falls disproportionately on our existing BIPOC faculty. Arts & Sciences and Geisel have initiated searches for this initiative this academic year, while other schools will begin in the 2021-22 academic year.

In addition, we are implementing more substantial leadership training than ever before as we look to increase representation of BIPOC individuals on the Dartmouth senior leadership team. To energize the internal pipeline of faculty and staff prepared to assume leadership positions, we've joined our IvyPlus peers in launching an ambitious leadership training program for faculty, and continue to strengthen the LEADS training program for staff. We've also added a new staff award to the Lone Pine Awards program to recognize exceptional efforts to support diversity and inclusion on our campus.

Perhaps most importantly, we've designated financial aid as our top priority for the remainder of the Call to Lead Campaign to ensure that every student can fully engage in the extraordinary range of learning and leadership experiences Dartmouth offers. The urgency of this need has been elevated by the broad-based financial hardships that so many Dartmouth families have experienced in the wake of COVID-19. In response to this challenge, I created a special Presidential Commission on Financial Aid last May to help us achieve three bold goals: to fortify and expand our extraordinary commitment both to need blind admissions for all students, including international students, and to meeting each accepted student's full demonstrated need; to eliminate undergraduate Dartmouth loans; and to raise the minimum annual family income that will provide full tuition scholarship from $100,000 to $125,000.

You can read more about these initiatives, as well as many others that Matt Delmont and I and others across campus have been working on over the last six months, in tomorrow's Dartmouth News

As this work progresses, so does our search for Dartmouth's inaugural SVP and Chief Diversity Officer. With the search committee having recommended an impressive pool of finalists, I'm hopeful that we'll soon be able to announce the person who will assume this important leadership position.

All of the actions we've been taking as part of Moving Dartmouth Forward, Inclusive Excellence and the Campus Climate and Culture Initiative (C3I) are having a measurable effect. And I hope each of you will join me in taking every opportunity available to deepen our understanding of the issues and systemic barriers faced by BIPOC students, faculty and staff and members of the broader BIPOC community and become part of the solution. Participating in the robust slate of programming being offered as part of our 2021 MLK Day Celebration, aptly themed "Hope and Action," is a great place to start. The full events calendar can be found at https://www.dartmouth.edu/mlk/.

Despite the historic challenges of this past year, this is a moment of exceptional opportunity for Dartmouth. I look forward to harnessing the extraordinary intellect and resolve of our community as we continue to take action toward a better and more just society for all.


Philip J. Hanlon '77