Dartmouth Innovation and Technology Festival Opening Remarks

President Hanlon welcomed thousands of students, alumni, parents, faculty, staff, and Upper Valley residents to the Dartmouth Innovation and Technology Festival, held May 12–14, 2022 to celebrate the grand opening of the West End District of campus.



Good morning, and welcome to the Dartmouth Innovation and Technology Festival. We're thrilled to have you with us as we officially celebrate the promise and potential of the newly expanded West End district of our campus! It's a place of leadership, innovation and collaboration, and we couldn't be more excited to share it with you.

Former Dartmouth President John Sloan Dickey once said, "The world's troubles are your troubles." That quote from the annals of our history still inspires our ambitions at Dartmouth today. And indeed, the challenges facing the world today are big and complex.

Climate change, lack of equitable access to healthcare, systemic biases and injustice plaguing our nation and many more in the world beyond: these are big, thorny issues. But by equal measure, the opportunities to advance the human condition have never been stronger. The promise of artificial intelligence, advances in biomedical sciences, unprecedented connectivity that is leading to new art forms and modes of political mobilization: all are powerful tools that we seek to harness every day on our campus.  Never in human history have we had greater capacity to imagine and enact a better way forward.

That's what the West End… this weekend…and, quite frankly, Dartmouth are all about.

As we tackle solutions to the thorniest issues of our time, we do so from a position of strength. Over the last decade, our success in attracting the very best talent – students and faculty alike – has soared. We have made the largest investment in the academic enterprise in the history of this institution, aimed squarely at the most pressing issues facing the world today. And we are marrying those investments with our long history of technological innovation and our core strength in liberal arts education.

In contemporary culture, the value of the liberal arts is sometimes called into question. It has been characterized, by some, as a relic, a thing of the past that doesn't prepare students for a turbulent, tech-saturated world where narrowly defined, specific skills are viewed as more valuable and relevant.

I could not disagree more. 

In today's landscape of technological, social and geopolitical transformation, graduates must be prepared to deal with complexity, diversity, and change. And there is simply no curriculum better suited to develop such abilities than one that offers a broad understanding of the world with mastery of at least one field, the capacity to think critically and creatively, powerful communication skills, an ease at working in teams, scientific literacy, the ability to engage the arts and humanities, and the development of principled leadership skills.

It makes the case, emphatically, for the value of the active, dynamic liberal arts education at which Dartmouth excels.

Here in the West End, we've created the cutting-edge infrastructure to support this marriage of talent, liberal arts learning, and innovation like never before, bringing diverse groups of people together across disciplines, schools and generations to do nothing less than change the world.

Over the course of this Festival weekend, you'll have an opportunity to tour our two spectacular new buildings here in the West End: the Class of '82 Engineering and Computer Science Center, and the Arthur L. Irving Institute for Energy Society. You'll also have the chance to hear from faculty and industry leaders about everything from electric cars to cryptocurrency. I hope you'll join us for as many of those events as you can.

But right now, I'm thrilled to be kicking things off with presentations from two outstanding leaders who are working from the policy and educational perspective, respectively, to drive innovation. First, we'll hear from Rob Portman, Senator from Ohio and proud member of the Great Dartmouth Class of 1978; and then, we'll welcome Dr. Freeman Hrabowski, President of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

Senator Portman has been a tireless advocate for American innovation throughout his terms of service, spearheading wide-ranging bi-partisan legislation on the topic.

The Advancing American AI Innovation Act passed into law last December is creating a Department of Defense pilot program to establish artificial intelligence data libraries relevant to the development of AI intelligence software and technology, ensuring private companies have access to accurate data so they can better meet DoD needs. In addition, the bi-partisan National AI Research Resource Task Force Act, also signed into law, has established a task force to develop a detailed roadmap for the creation of a national cloud computer for Artificial Intelligence research. Senator Portman has also proposed bipartisan legislation known as the Safeguarding American Innovation Act intended to crack down on the theft of intellectual property at federally funded research institutions and universities by China and America's other global competitors.

I'm eager to hear more from Senator Portman on this and other innovation-related policy work and the impetus behind it, and I'm sure you are, too. So please join me in welcoming Senator Rob Portman.


Thank you, Senator Portman, for sharing your insights with us today.

Approaching innovation from a different perspective is our next distinguished guest: Dr. Freeman Hrabowski, President of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

If anyone shares by firm belief that diversity drives innovation, it's Freeman. Throughout three decades of transformational leadership at UMBC, he's been at the forefront of expanding opportunities for minorities in STEM with proven results. His own research focuses on science and math education, with special emphasis on minority participation and performance. He chaired the National Academies' committee that produced the 2011 report, Expanding Underrepresented Minority Participation: America's Science and Technology Talent at the Crossroads. And the Meyerhoff Scholars Program he co-founded with philanthropist Robert Meyerhoff in 1998, which is designed to help more students major in STEM fields and become leaders in science and tech once they graduate, has become a national model based on program outcomes.

Freeman is one of the most passionate and dynamic educators I know. Under his leadership, UMBC has become an absolute powerhouse in math, science, and engineering. What's more, it has earned a reputation for being one of the most innovative schools in the country.

How did they do it? That's part of what we hope to find out from Freeman today.

Please welcome Dr. Freeman Hrabowski.


Thank you, President Hrabowski and Senator Portman for your distinct perspectives on innovation. And thank you to all of you in attendance for being here to share in this experience as we get the weekend's Innovation and Technology Festival off to a rousing start!

We've got more fantastic programming ahead, so I encourage you all to join us for as much of it as you can.

In the meantime, enjoy the weather and the new West End, and we'll see you at the next event.