Dinners Symbolize Shared Ownership of ‘Dartmouth’s Future’

Under the banner of "Our Community, Our Future," a set of simultaneous dinner meetings took place on April 16, providing a forum for faculty, students, and staff.

(Photo by Joseph Mehling ’69)

The dinners, organized by the Office of the President, are a continuation of talks, both formal and informal, conducted over the past six months. They have considered intellectual growth, strategic planning, campus climate, and other subjects.

Two more rounds of dinner sessions are planned for the evenings of April 22 and May 2. A summary from the discussions will be shared with the community in the future.

"I really enjoy my conversations with students and I try to create as many opportunities as possible to learn directly from them what matters most to them. It became so clear to me this year just how fortunate the president, deans, and other leaders are because we have the opportunity to meet with so many more students than most people on campus," says Interim President Carol L. Folt.

"Our hope for these dinners was to engage faculty, students, and staff across the school in the same type of expansive and meaningful conversation we have been having, and to share ideas about ways to enhance Dartmouth’s capacity for creative learning, inclusion, respect, and discovery," Folt adds.

Michael Taylor, director of the Hood Museum of Art, says, "I was thrilled to participate and found the student-led discussions to be inspiring and illuminating, especially when they spoke about issues that concerned them."

"It is not often that you are invited to the President's house for dinner and the discussion is led by a student," says Associate Athletic Director Anne Hudak. "The atmosphere invited all present to participate in the conversation. I felt a true sense of community when I left."

Up to 20 faculty, staff, and students are expected to attend each of the evening's discussion groups, with each dinner moderated by one or two students.

"As a moderator, I was truly impressed and heartened by the thought and enthusiasm that characterized our dinner discussion. It was obvious to me that all those folks care deeply about the Dartmouth community and its future," says one of the moderators, Gina Greenwalt ’14.

Deborah Nichols, the William J. Bryant 1925 Professor of Anthropology, adds, "Although our group did not reach a consensus on all aspects, students, faculty, and administrators had overlapping perspectives on the importance of intellectual curiosity, engagement, and diversity."

"The evening reminded me yet again that keeping the lines of communication open and buzzing makes a huge difference, not only in how we imagine the future but also in how we understand the present and past," says Professor of Music Steve Swayne.

Dean of the College Charlotte Johnson says the discussions "symbolize our shared ownership of Dartmouth's future."

"We are all responsible for a community that is intellectually vibrant, inclusive, and forward thinking," she says.