Trustees Consider Future of Graduate, Professional Schools

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Deans discussed their vision of business, engineering, graduate, and medical schools.

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Baker Tower clock framed by fall foliage
(Photo by Eli Burakian '00)
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Deans from the professional and graduate schools discussed their vision for the future of their schools with the Dartmouth Board of Trustees at the board's November meeting last week.

Trustees met on campus for their Nov. 4-6 sessions, enjoying crisp late fall days in Hanover that included sharing cider and treats with undergraduate student leaders under a tent near Rollins Chapel and taking in several athletic contests.

"It was a wonderful weekend to be on campus and see so many students and community members enjoying all that Dartmouth has to offer," says board Chair Liz Lempres '83, Thayer '84.

The Next Decade for Graduate Education

Deans of the Geisel School of MedicineGuarini School of Graduate and Advanced StudiesThayer School of Engineering, and Tuck School of Business told trustees about long-term ideas for their schools.

"It was inspiring to hear from the deans and think about the future of all of Dartmouth," Lempres says. "There's already a lot of collaboration that goes on across the schools, and there could be even more. We're uniquely situated to increase our cross-school collaboration because of the proximity of the schools. We have a big opportunity here and we know that these kinds of collaborations also benefit the undergraduate institution."

Geisel Dean Duane Compton, who said the school has initiated a strategic planning process expected to conclude in February, told trustees that he sees the medical school continuing to increase its research and innovation, improve integration across the institution and with clinical partners, enhance its educational offerings, and continue to increase diversity among its students, faculty, and staff. 

"It's time to cast our view forward with a plan to build on areas of excellence and identify areas of growth," he said. "Our vision builds on our rich history of innovation and impact and capitalizes on the collaborative nature of our research and education environments."

At the Guarini School of Graduate and Advanced Studies, established in 2016 as Dartmouth's newest school, Dean Jon Kull '88 looks to support existing programs and develop distinctive new ones, "leveraging Dartmouth's historical emphasis on the liberal arts and our close association with the professional schools."

"We are committed to a future where Dartmouth is known as a premier destination for graduate and postdoctoral training, and is competitive in attracting the best scholars," said Kull. In addition to granting master's degrees in 11 programs and PhDs in 18 programs, Guarini supports 230 postdoctoral scholars across the institution, including the Society of Fellows.

The opening of the Center for Engineering and Computer Science in early 2022 will mean a doubling of the engineering school's footprint, says Thayer Dean Alexis Abramson. The new space will enable Thayer to grow its PhD and graduate programs, expand the school's capacity for research in biotechnology and biofuels, and facilitate interdisciplinary collaboration and innovation across engineering, computer science, energy, entrepreneurship, and the liberal arts.

"We are committed to continuous improvement in teaching and advising to ensure a rich, human-centered educational experience that attracts a broad audience," she said. "We will continue to embed more hands-on, real-world, project-based learning in our undergraduate courses, including a strong emphasis on design."

Tuck Dean Matthew Slaughter said the business school "aspires to become stronger in both impact and scale. We will make investments in existing and new programs that reinforce our personal, connected, and transformative value proposition for students."

"Our flagship MBA will be even stronger by having invested in expanding access, building leadership capabilities, and guiding career journeys—all to drive on our unmatched MBA experience. All our programs will continue to harness hybrid capabilities because students and organizations sometimes learn better this way and because technology innovations will help leverage our existing assets. Our offerings will remain rooted in our immersive base camp, and yet will be even more connected to the world through technology."

Year One: Financial Aid Commission

Trustees reviewed a report from the Presidential Commission on Financial Aid, formed in the spring of 2020 as Dartmouth was facing financial challenges at the start of the pandemic.

The report recommends that undergraduate financial aid be Dartmouth's highest fundraising priority and that the commission continues to assist the Call to Lead campaign's goals of preserving need-blind undergraduate admission, replacing student loans with endowed scholarships, and instituting need-blind admission for international students. Gaining the ability to offer need-blind admission for international students would make Dartmouth only the sixth U.S. institution to do so.

"I have profound appreciation for the work that all the commissioners have done, and continue to do, to champion this priority," said President Philip J. Hanlon '77. "Financial aid is at the top of our priority list in the Call to Lead fundraising campaign and we will remain committed to ensure the dream of a Dartmouth education to the most talented, promising students, regardless of their family's income."

The Hop, Library Storage, a Partnership on Well-Being, and More

  • Trustees toured the Hopkins Center for the Arts with Mary Lou Aleskie, the center's director, to familiarize themselves with the building's existing layout in advance of the renovation and expansion project now in the planning stages. The architectural firm Snøhetta is working with Dartmouth on the project, for which conceptual designs are nearing completion. The trustees are looking forward to moving to the next phase of design, with the hope of a construction start as early as fall 2022.
  • The board approved spending $18.7 million to build an approximately 20,000-square-foot library collections and services facility at 56 Etna Road in Lebanon, next to the existing storage facility.
  • Interim Dean of the College Scott C. Brown shared a written update with board members on Dartmouth's partnership with the Jed Foundation in this the first of a four-year program with the nonprofit, a national leader in mental health promotion and suicide prevention in colleges and universities. This year, Dartmouth and the foundation are establishing working groups from each of the schools, completing a self-study on existing policies and practices, and surveying students on mental health and well-being.
  • Board members heard from Dartmouth Archivist Peter Carini, who presented a refresher course on the votes and events leading up to Dartmouth's decision to admit women in 1972. The history lesson comes as Dartmouth looks forward to celebrating three 50-year milestone anniversaries in the current academic year.

In addition to the coeducation anniversary, the coming year will honor Dartmouth's recommitment to Native American education and the founding of the Black Alumni at Dartmouth Association. The anniversaries are part of Dartmouth's Year of Connections, which will feature events designed to promote connections among community members and to support the experience of students and faculty who have resumed in-person classes and other activities on campus as COVID-19 precautions remain in place. In addition to the traditional winter carnival, Green Key, commencement, and reunions, in-person events will be enhanced with virtual components to ensure that all community members, wherever they are, will be able to be part of the experience.