50th Anniversary of Undergraduate Coeducation

President Hanlon's address on the 50th Anniversary of undergraduate coeducation at Dartmouth.

It's an honor to be here with all of you to celebrate 50 years of undergraduate coeducation at Dartmouth. The bold decision made by the Board of Trustees back in 1971 was, without a doubt, among the wisest and most consequential Board decisions in the history of this institution. This is a milestone worth celebrating, so thank you, Jennifer, and everyone involved for making this anniversary celebration so special.  

The announcement by President Kemeny of the Board's historic decision in a press conference with The Dartmouth, WDCR and the Tuck Tycoon was as dramatic a moment as they come. 

According to the coverage in this November 22, 1971 issue of The D emblazoned with the headline "DARTMOUTH TO ADMIT WOMEN," reactions to the news ranged from ecstatic to determined. The watershed moment was immediately characterized as "a significant turning point in our history," "a bold and innovative influence in education," "a courageous decision for the future of Dartmouth." 

Perhaps President Kemeny said it best: "We cannot claim to be the first on coeducation, but the overwhelming majority of the Board felt that this was the right time to make that move and, with very strong feelings, that this is a contribution that Dartmouth should make to civilization."

And there is no doubt that the world is better for it.

In just a few minutes, we'll hear from a few of the many Dartmouth women making their mark on their communities and on the world. Leading by example, these highly accomplished women are an inspiration, though when it comes to the universe of Dartmouth women making a difference and making us proud, they're just the tip of the iceberg.

This anniversary is a celebration of all of you – the women of Dartmouth who have not only brought so much to our Dartmouth community, but have done so much for our Dartmouth community over the last five decades. 

Having been here during those earliest days of coeducation, I can attest that the path for women at Dartmouth hasn't always been easy. Even today, we still have much work to do to make Dartmouth a place where women thrive and find friendships, happiness, and fulfillment in their educational experience.  But even in times when we've let you down, you've lifted us up.

So today, we redouble our commitment to that work and say thank you to all of you. The outsized legacy you've built over these past 50 years is a point of pride for us all.

At any given time, more than 4,000 Dartmouth alumnae are amplifying the work of the College through service to their alma mater – whether it's conducting admissions interviews, hosting internships, mentoring our students, or serving in a special advisory role in support of initiatives like Moving Dartmouth Forward or the Presidential Commission on Financial Aid.  I'm so proud of how Women of Dartmouth, an organization launched just seven years ago, has forged community across generations of women, all in service to Dartmouth…and there's no question that Dartmouth is the positive force it is in the world today because of your many unique contributions.

We are extraordinarily grateful for your philanthropy, as well. A recent national news story described Dartmouth's women's leadership in this arena as "a juggernaut, worthy of the attention of the entire field of higher education."  That distinction is enough to make any college president proud.  But what you've done with the grassroots Dartmouth Hall project, the new leadership that's emerged in the Dartmouth College Fund from the Centennial Circle, and the incredible effort to enlist 100 women to commit $1 million or more to the Call to Lead has manifested the power of women's philanthropy in all its dimensions and is a prototype for study across our nation.

And we are a far better institution today because of your leadership.

The alumnae story of leadership taking shape across our campus in governance will forever shape the institution we love and is setting the pace in higher education.

Noting that alumnae represent 33% of the alumni body:

Among the 12 advisory boards at Dartmouth, 40% of the members are women, and five of those boards are chaired by women.

Our Alumni Council is representative of the full alumni body and has been the proving ground of many talented Council presidents. Emily Bakemeier, who is here today, was the first woman to be elected Alumni Council president and has since been succeeded by many others, including the recent past, current, and incoming Alumni Council presidents, all of whom are women.

Ten years ago, there was only one woman amongst the 16 members of the Dartmouth Senior Leadership group.  Today, I have the good fortune of working alongside six talented women who are members of this team, including our Senior Vice President and Senior Diversity Officer, our Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, our Dean of Engineering, our General Counsel, my own Chief of Staff and Secretary of the Board of Trustees.  And of course, the CEO of the Dartmouth Investment Office, Alice Ruth '83, who you'll hear from in just a few moments. 

The Dartmouth Board of Trustees – comprised solely of men at the time of the decision to go coed in 1971 – is now a majority women and led by our incredibly talented Board Chair, Liz Lempres.  And I needn't remind any of you in this room that we are about to welcome in an extraordinary new president in Sian.

All of these achievements – in service, philanthropy and leadership – were likely unimaginable as the first class of admitted women arrived on campus in 1972.  But your impact and scope of influence is now clear and established. 

The question I invite you to consider over the course of this celebratory weekend is: If we could achieve so much in the last 50 years, what can we accomplish – audacious, just, and completely Dartmouth – in the next 50 years together?

I'm excited just thinking about it.

Thank you all for coming. Enjoy this time together.