Address to the Faculty of Arts and Sciences

[This winter] I've joined you in navigating the disruptions of COVID and the difficulties of hybrid teaching, as I'm joining Michael Herron in teaching a class this term. I want to thank you for your creativity and your persistence through all of this. I've gotten a ton of input from students, parents and alums who are truly thankful for your efforts, and I know the trustees, as well, are deeply appreciative that you're willing to mount classes and lead the way in-person.

It's great to see the student experience returning to something closer to normal outside of class, as well. We have a main stage production of "Rent" going on. That's the first main stage [production] in three years, I believe, and if you haven't been to it, it's great; you should definitely go. We had 1200 students do the Polar Plunge during Winter Carnival. That shatters the prior record of 800, so students were hard at it during Winter Carnival. Athletics are back in full. So the students' experiences—I know, much to their delight—are returning to something that's more [akin to] what it was historically.

And, as usual, there is much to report on by way of recognition of your great work—that is, faculty awards, and let me just mention a few.

  • Assistant Professor of Music César Alvarez won the Kleban Prize for Musical Theatre, recognizing the most promising lyricist in American musical theater, [which is a] really big deal;
  • Professors Mona Domosh and Frank Magilligan were named Fellows of The American Association of Geographers for career contributions made to the field, so congratulations to you;
  • Congratulations, as well to Professors Yi-Hsin Liu in Physics and Astronomy, Jeremy Manning in PBS, Ina Petkova in Mathematics, and Bo Zhu in Computer Science, who were named recipients of very prestigious [National Science Foundation] Career Awards;
  • Melody Brown Burkins, Director of the Institute for Arctic Studies and Adjunct Professor in the Department of Environmental Studies, has been appointed the UArctic Chair in Science Diplomacy and Inclusion for the next five years; again, [this is] a pretty big deal. Congratulations, Melody;
  • Susannah Heschel, the Eli M. Black Distinguished Professor of Jewish Studies, received an honorary doctorate from The University of Lucerne [and also participated] as a panelist at the Martin Luther King Day commemorative service at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, which was Dr. King's home pulpit;
  • Professor Amit Chakrabarti was recognized with the Test of Time Award by the IEEE Symposium on the Foundations of Computer Science for having introduced the concept of information complexity some 20 years ago.

That's a sample of how your work is being recognized. I think it demonstrates the extent to which your outstanding scholarly and creative work is appreciated by your peers across the country. So congratulations to all of you, and my apologies for any recognitions that I might have missed on that list.

There's also leadership news, of course. I am delighted that Elizabeth Smith has agreed to reappointment as Dean of the Faculty. She has been a strong advocate for faculty interests and a leader in our ongoing efforts to build academic excellence. Congratulations and thank you, Elizabeth.

I am equally delighted that Dave Kotz has agreed to the role of Provost. He had done an outstanding job in two stints as interim provost, including one during these very uncertain pandemic times. Dave, congratulations to you. Thanks to all of the Arts and Sciences faculty who served on the search committee for the Provost and on the reappointment committee for the Dean of the Faculty.

As you probably know, several weeks ago I announced my intention to step down from the President's role at the 10-year mark in June of 2023. And any of you who have been listening to me since I started will know that this is not a surprise. I've said all along that 10 years seems like the right amount of time.

What makes this [a little] easier is that I am so proud of all that Dartmouth has accomplished over the last eight and a half years. And I say that with recognition that it takes an entire community to move an institution forward, and that really begins with the faculty. So kudos to all of you. While it's been heartwarming to receive so many notes of gratitude over the past several weeks, I really need to thank all of you for your outstanding work that has propelled the excellence and standing of Dartmouth forward over these last eight and a half years. We've really accomplished a lot, so thank you.

And I want you to know that I'm not finished yet. There's still important unfinished business that I want to get done in the year ahead. I want to talk a little bit about that, and I want to talk about five priorities for the time I have left as President.

First of all is a strong finish to the capital campaign. The Call to Lead has accomplished so much already. It's brought $3.15 billion to campus coming from generous contributions from more than 92,000 separate donors. But despite all that, there are a few items that are really important and remain only partially funded.

One [priority] is financial aid. We have a lofty goal of $500 million for this campaign, and what remains is about $100 million, which would include elimination of loans from our financial aid packages entirely and subvention relief. So that's important.

[In terms of] The Hop, we have an inspiring renovation and expansion planned. It's really a beautiful vision. It is partially funded, and I want to get the rest of that funding in place.

We rolled out several DEI initiatives last spring. Those are, again, partially funded, and I want to try to complete the funding of those, particularly for the Early Career fellowships and the Center for Black Intellectual Life. So that's part of the strong finish of the campaign.

The other part of the strong finish for the campaign is that I want to embark on a year of gratitude. I want to be on the road with others in campaign leadership, thanking all of those who have contributed, and that includes many members of the faculty here. So that's number one on my priority list: a strong finish to the campaign.

Second, I'm excited to lead the recognition of three milestone 50th anniversaries that we have this year. Fifty years ago, the Dartmouth community enacted three visible markers of our collective commitment to diversity. One was co-education, of course. Second was the recommitment to education of indigenous peoples, including the founding of Native American Studies. And the third was the formation of BADA, the Black Alumni at Dartmouth Association. The work ahead for the year is to recognize these anniversaries in a way that celebrates how far we've come while noting how far we still have to go. So that's number two, the recognition of three milestone 50th anniversaries.

The third thing on my remaining priority list is to support a thoughtful review of the placement of the undergraduate college within the administrative structure of Dartmouth. The goals here are to empower Arts and Sciences to have greater autonomy, ability to set priorities, and benefit from your own positive actions; to make sure that Arts and Sciences is guaranteed to benefit from revenue increases and efficiencies of operation that you undertake; and to align decision-making, priority-setting and resource allocation across all the units that support the undergraduate experience.

Dave Kotz and I have asked Dean Smith to lead this effort. I know that she will want to include many of you in thinking about this. I expect every Arts and Sciences committee will have some stake in thinking about these questions, and I know that the first steps, the early steps will include looking at practices of peer institutions.

We want to be deliberate, we want to be thoughtful, so I'm not expecting that we will have any decisions made by the time I leave. But what I am seeking, by the end of the 22-23 academic year, is a proposal for our revised administrative structure, governance practices and budget model. One possibility is that the proposal will be to keep it just the way it is, it's perfect. But the proposal might be, here are ways we can improve and make Arts and Sciences an even stronger unit. So that's number three [on my remaining priorities list].

Number four on my priority list, I want to put in place a comprehensive response to the reviews currently underway in Athletics. We have three reviews underway in Athletics: a Title IX review, a business practices review, and an NCAA compliance review. They're actually just finishing up, and we expect to publish a response to these reviews sometime in the middle of March this year.

And then finally, I want to stand up a new unit to develop and launch new activities aimed at diversifying and expanding our revenue sources. You heard me talk about this before as something, I feel, that is really important for the long-range success of Dartmouth and its long-range future.

We have a new muscle; we have all tried online teaching at this point. And so that gives us an opportunity to think about [the following]: can we offer scalable educational programming that is a benefit to the participants and strengthens Dartmouth's visibility, footprint on the world and financial positions?

I expect that when we look at this, we will create activities that complement and financially support our current degree offerings. But in no way do I want to compete with or compromise our current offerings, which are awesome, and I think we all realize their power. So in the undergraduate space, I would expect that we might develop certificates, but not degree programs.

On the other hand, in the masters space, I think there is room for expansion of hybrid or online masters programs and degrees. We're experimenting with that in the Masters for Health Care Delivery Science, and I know that there are a couple of other like degrees being proposed at this time.

As I've said before, I really think this is imperative for Dartmouth's long-term fiscal health. Our current mix of revenue generating activities are sponsored research and residential high-touch degree programs. I think, with those two kinds of activities, that cost will ultimately always grow more quickly than the revenue can. Our current budget projections, which are stable, show us in the black at least for the next five to ten years. I worry that they will over time degrade without new revenue-generating activities. So I think this is really an important thing for the future of the institution. Matt Slaughter is chairing the search for the inaugural leader of a new unit that will be focused on this, and so that is my fifth priority.

So these are the five things that I want to get done before June of 2023: a strong [finish] to the [Call to Lead] campaign, celebrate our three 50th anniversaries, support a thorough review of the placement of Arts and Sciences within the administrative structure, put in place a comprehensive response to the Athletics reviews, and then stand up a new unit to think about how we encourage, support and generate new revenue sources.