Trustees Discuss Diversity, Enrollment Growth, Construction

In Hanover for their fall meeting, trustees hosted a reception for student leaders.

Dartmouth trustees discussed ways to support and enhance the College’s academic mission, heard updates on the progress of two committees, and reviewed campus facilities projects at the group’s meeting in Hanover on Nov. 2-4.

Keivan Stassun, chair of the external review committee of Dartmouth’s Inclusive Excellence initiative, engaged board members in a discussion of the committee’s findings. The committee, appointed to help Dartmouth evaluate its efforts to promote diversity and inclusion, released its report in June, highlighting progress made in the first year since adoption of the action plan for Inclusive Excellence.

Board members talked with Stassun about the importance of better professional development, more opportunity for leadership, and the creation of a culture of constructive feedback as ways to promote faculty success.

Social scientist Scott Page, the Leonid Hurwicz Collegiate Professor of Complex Systems, political science, and economics at the University of Michigan, shared a thought-provoking and inspiring presentation of his research showing that cognitive diversity improves outcomes in some situations, outcomes that include decision-making, problem-solving and prediction. Page highlighted the gains to be realized from inclusion in the workplace, adding that it is critical to foster conditions that attract scholars and staff who have diverse backgrounds and perspectives.

“Dartmouth’s capacity to advance its dual mission of education and research depends on the full diversity and inclusivity of this community,” said President Phil Hanlon ’77. “This goal is not just the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do. It will strengthen our community and improve its productivity and academic outcomes.”

The co-chairs of the Task Force on Enrollment Expansion presented an update on work exploring the opportunities and challenges of increasing the size of the undergraduate student body. Rebecca Biron, dean of the College, and Elizabeth Smith, dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, informed board members about the task force’s work in progress—consulting key stakeholders on campus, developing peer comparisons, and, now, reaching out to the entire Dartmouth community for input on how a larger student body would affect their work.

In August, President Hanlon charged the task force with developing a hypothetical implementation plan for modest growth of the undergraduate student body (between 10 percent and 25 percent) should trustees decide to make such a change. The implementation plan should seek to advance Dartmouth’s academic mission without creating an economic burden. With 4,310 undergraduates, Dartmouth has the smallest undergraduate population in the Ivy League. The College has not structurally modified the size of the student body since going co-ed in 1972, while all its Ivy League peers have expanded in the past two decades.

The work of the task force is the first step in a robust process to engage a wide perspective and garner insight on expansion from faculty, staff, alumni, and other critical stakeholders. The task force will deliver its plan to Hanlon in mid-March, at which point informed discussions will take place before the board makes a final decision.

“Our charge is to look at how—not whether—to expand enrollment. We want to collect insight and deeply consider how aspects of the Dartmouth experience could be preserved and possibly even enhanced if a decision were made to enlarge the student body,” said Smith. “We are early in the process of collecting input from a wide range of community members.”

The board heard an update from KPMB Architects, designers of the Arthur L. Irving Institute for Energy and Society building. The College intends for the building to be a hub of collaboration for students and faculty as Dartmouth works to produce the next generation of human-centered energy experts. Board members approved funding $6.5 million to complete the design phase, with a specific focus on modifications to the building’s exterior. The funding comes from gifts and capital renewal reserves.

Other capital projects were discussed, including ongoing renovations to Dana Hall and the Hood Museum of Art, site investigation work for additional undergraduate student housing, and preliminary design proposals for an enhanced rowing training facility.

Board members were joined by student leaders at a reception on Friday evening at the Hanover Inn.

Trustees met with student leaders at a reception Friday evening at the Hanover Inn. (Photo courtesy of Laura Hercod)