Supporting Our Community

A message to the Dartmouth community from senior leadership about mental health and well-being.

Dear students, faculty, staff, and undergraduate families,

We are a community in mourning. We are grieving the loss of friends and family members and yearning for the lives we enjoyed before the COVID-19 pandemic began. The challenges we have faced have often seemed overwhelming and relentless. The promise of widespread vaccination gives us hope, yet many of us are also exhausted and anxious.

Prior to the onset of the pandemic, the growing mental health crisis had been of critical concern nationally, and especially for those of us who work in higher education. The pandemic has exacerbated many problems, but foremost among them has been mental health. On this critical issue, we must do more to support our community.


Starting this evening, in response to suggestions from Student Assembly, we are adding a second nurse to the on-call staffing at Dartmouth Health Service to take incoming calls and answer questions. The increased coverage will minimize the chance that calls will be routed to voice mail when any student contacts the health service for support. Two new counselors and a student wellness coordinator will also be added to our health service as soon as possible to expand mental health services for students. All three positions will enhance our campus-wide mental health and wellness outreach efforts for our undergraduate, graduate, and professional student communities. The two counselors will extend our suicide prevention training and clinical capacity for individual therapy. The student wellness coordinator will join the team in promoting awareness, culture change, and skill-building, particularly in our residential communities.


Beginning today, Dartmouth is relaxing its COVID-19 policy to allow all students to host in their dorm room two guests who also reside on campus, which will allow for approximately 3 feet of distancing. Thanks to the efforts of our community, more than 50% of students, faculty, and staff in the area and accessing campus have been vaccinated. Students can gather indoors and outdoors informally in groups of up to nine people and may schedule formal gatherings for up to 25 individuals. We encourage you to reach out to one another and make plans to get together.


A candlelight vigil for the entire Dartmouth community will be held next Tuesday, May 25, at 8 p.m. on the Green. That night, Baker Tower will go dark, with the exception of the green light. From 5 to 10 p.m. that evening, the Baker bells will chime every hour in memory of each of the four remarkable undergraduate students who were lost to us this year and to recognize the losses of others. College Chaplain Daveen Litwin will collaborate with students who wish to be involved in the planning of this ceremony.


Undergraduate students who are concerned about their ability to meet their academic obligations through the end of the term have two new options. 1). The deadline to elect the non-recording option (NRO) has been shifted to June 2, the last day of classes. 2). The deadline to request an Incomplete, following the normal process, has been extended to 4:30 p.m. on Friday, June 11, for all non-graduating students. (Students with pending Incompletes are not eligible to graduate.) Students should consult with their undergraduate dean and their faculty members about possible Incompletes.


In addition to making these important changes, we will be working with the nationally recognized JED Foundation to launch Dartmouth's participation in their four-year signature JED Campus Program. JED, a nonprofit that works to protect emotional health and promote suicide prevention for teens and young adults, will guide us through a comprehensive process of systemic and enduring change. Consistent with JED principles, we will promote "support for emotional well-being and prevention of suicide and serious substance misuse ... as a campus-wide responsibility." Moving forward, we will build the interdisciplinary campus team of students, faculty, and staff, including senior leadership, to guide this process and to conduct our institutional baseline assessment. In the fall, we will launch the full four-year initiative, including administering the JED student survey, to be repeated in year four to assess our progress.

One of the hallmarks of our small, close-knit community is our capacity to care for one another. Please take a moment to reach out to someone you may not know well and ask how they are doing, think about how you can make another person's burden a little lighter, and make a point of giving a friend or colleague the encouragement they need to manage a difficult day. We are Dartmouth, and we are here for each other.



Philip J. Hanlon '77, President

Joseph Helble, Provost

Alexis Abramson, Dean, Dartmouth Engineering

Duane Compton, Dean, Geisel School of Medicine

Jon Kull '88, Dean, Frank J. Guarini School of Graduate and Advanced Studies

Kathryn Lively, Dean of the College

Matt Slaughter, Dean, Tuck School of Business

Elizabeth Smith, Dean of the Faculty