Alumni Giving Advances Presidential Initiatives

Editor’s note: Dartmouth raised $310 million in the fiscal year ending on June 30, 2015, not $325 million, as the College previously reported. The $15 million difference is a result of a single donor commitment incorrectly posted in June and then moved to July 2015. Last year’s corrected amount of $310 million was a record amount for Dartmouth.

In a powerful affirmation of Dartmouth’s academic vision, alumni and friends set a new giving record for the College in fiscal 2015, with gifts and commitments topping $325 million. Support was broad-based, with 42.9 percent of Dartmouth alumni contributing to the annual fund—a level of participation that is matched by few of the College’s peers.

(Photo by Eli Burakian ’00)

In the fiscal year that ended June 30, new philanthropy to Dartmouth reached $325.4 million, 27 percent more than the new commitments to the College in fiscal 2014. The Dartmouth College Fund and the annual funds for two of the College’s professional schools also recorded best-ever fundraising years.

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“The remarkable generosity of our donors is strengthening our College in countless ways, most notably in our capacity to attract outstanding academic talent and to prepare our students to be leaders who will meet the world’s great challenges,” says President Philip Hanlon ’77. “Philanthropy benefits every Dartmouth student in some way, particularly through scholarships and other forms of aid. We’re committed to making sure deserving students who want to attend Dartmouth will indeed have that opportunity, regardless of their financial circumstances.”

Although Dartmouth is already recognized for its outstanding undergraduate programs and innovative schools of business, engineering, and medicine, President Hanlon has charted an ambitious course, embraced by the College’s board of trustees, to further enhance the learning experience for undergraduate and graduate students alike. To meet this, Dartmouth is attracting more world-leading scholars, expanding opportunities for experiential learning, launching innovative leadership development programs, and challenging students to think globally.

Making Dartmouth a Magnet for Faculty Talent

One important instrument for realizing this vision is the creation of interdisciplinary “academic clusters” that will gather leading faculty to focus on specific issues of international importance through research and classroom teaching. Three of the past year’s four largest gifts will create academic clusters—in applied mathematics, globalization, and health care delivery—each featuring three new faculty.

Each $10 million gift to create an academic cluster triggered a $5 million match made possible through a $100 million gift from an anonymous donor in early 2014; as this match opportunity remains available through the end of calendar year 2015, Dartmouth anticipates the creation of at least five more clusters in the coming months.

“Through its outstanding faculty, intimate size, and ability to collaborate across disciplines, Dartmouth is positioned to leverage the addition of key new faculty to have worldwide influence,” says Provost Carolyn Dever. “Each of our academic clusters is focusing on a topic of global urgency.”

In fiscal 2015, donors endowed 15 professorships for current or future faculty members. These professorships assist recruitment and retention by recognizing faculty for their contributions in scholarship and teaching. In addition, alumni and friends of the Tuck School of Business established a $10 million endowed deanship in honor of Paul Danos, who stepped down at the end of June after two decades as Tuck’s dean.

Scholarships and Experiential Learning to Attract Top Students

The largest cash gift of the past year highlighted Dartmouth’s role as an international community of scholars and learners with global impact. Dottie and Bob King ’57 made a $21 million gift to greatly expand the scholarship program they established in 2013 to support students from developing nations who are passionate about global poverty alleviation. Six King Scholars—from Burkina Faso, Jamaica, Kenya, Rwanda, and Zimbabwe—have already matriculated at Dartmouth, and four more will arrive in September.

In addition to eventually expanding the King Scholar Leadership Program to 24 students, the gift will offer experiential learning opportunities in international development, such as internships at nongovernmental organizations, coordinated by the John Sloan Dickey Center for International Understanding.

In honor of her late husband, insurance executive John J. (Jack) Byrne Jr., Dorothy Byrne committed $20 million to help Dartmouth attract topflight math students and professors. Her gift will recognize a cadre of undergraduates with demonstrated achievement in math as Byrne Scholars and provide those students with co-curricular opportunities in research and internships to explore their passions beyond the classroom.

Early gifts toward a proposed expansion of Thayer School of Engineering represented another investment in experiential learning. Hanlon has described Thayer as an exemplar in learning both in and out of the classroom, with students and faculty working in teams and collaborating across disciplines, tackling real-world problems.

Support for Moving Dartmouth Forward Community-Building

The College received several gifts, totaling more than $1 million, toward housing and student life programming, a cornerstone of Hanlon’s plan to transform residential life and an essential element of Moving Dartmouth Forward, the College’s overarching blueprint for building an even more cohesive community. Beginning in fall 2016, the College’s residential facilities will become house communities, each led by a house professor and supporting a variety of options for community building and social interaction. All undergraduate students will join one of six house communities.

With philanthropic support, the past year also saw the opening of four living-learning communities for students with particular interests. They included Triangle House, which provides an intellectual and cultural environment with particular regard to issues of special interest to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and allied people; and Dartmouth Entrepreneurial Network in Residence, which offers ways for students to be more deeply involved in the College’s entrepreneurial community.

Alumni reunions in June underlined the close-knit nature of the Dartmouth community with a record 4,900 attendees on campus, a 6 percent increase over the previous largest turnout, set in 2006. Events included dedication of the Class of 1965 Bunkhouse adjacent to Moosilauke Ravine Lodge, one of a series of new bunkhouses, to provide a getaway destination for students, alumni, and guests.

“For thousands of students, the lodge and bunkhouses have made for powerful first memories of Dartmouth, and many of us in the alumni community keep coming back to Moosilauke year after year,” says Stuart Keiller ’65, the bunkhouse project manager. “My classmates and I are proud to play a role in helping keep Moosilauke a magical place in the Dartmouth landscape.”

Philanthropy around reunions featured a $5.4 million gift from the Class of 1980 and intense competition among the classes of 1994, 1995, and 1996, with the Class of 1994 eventually establishing a new 20th reunion record with a $1.7 million gift. The classes of 1955, 1960, and 2010 also broke giving records for their respective reunion years, and, in a non-reunion year, the classes of 1953 and 1954 achieved participation rates above 80 percent. The Class of 1979 had more individual donors than any other reunion class, with 667 members of the class making gifts.

All Gifts Make a Difference

The Dartmouth College Fund notched its best year ever, setting its sixth consecutive record and raising $49.1 million in gifts. The fund supports a range of Dartmouth priorities, including financial aid for students, faculty salaries, and athletics. Underscoring the importance of giving at all levels to the fund, gifts of less than $250 totaled nearly $1.4 million.

“The cumulative effect of smaller gifts is immense,” says Bruce Miller ’74, chair of the Dartmouth College Fund Committee. “Every gift matters, and every gift improves the lives of Dartmouth students.”

Among those giving to the Dartmouth College Fund in fiscal 2015 were the 5,545 members of the Harold C. Ripley ’29 Society, alumni who have made a gift to the fund every year since they graduated. Total giving to the fund also included $4.2 million from the Parents and Grandparents Fund.

Other philanthropic highlights for fiscal 2015:

  • More than 220 alumni and friends joined the Bartlett Tower Society by including Dartmouth in their estate plans in the past year. In total, more than 1,600 living alumni and friends are supporting the College in this way.

  • Total annual giving to athletics—including the Friends Groups, Athletic Sponsor Program, and Athletic Director’s Fund for Excellence—exceeded $5 million in fiscal 2015, a 100 percent increase from just five years earlier.

  • Sixteen more women joined the Centennial Circle of Dartmouth Alumnae, with commitments of $100,000 or more each toward student scholarship. This raises the initiative’s membership to 132. The College hosted an inaugural event for Circle members in April.

  • The Tuck School of Business Annual Fund established a new giving record, $6.4 million, and exceeded 70 percent participation for the fifth consecutive year.

  • The Thayer School of Engineering Annual Fund raised $1.3 million, its best-ever performance.

  • The Fund for Geisel School of Medicine ended the year with $770,000 in philanthropic commitments.

  • The Senior Class Gift recorded a participation rate of 61 percent.

 “Alumni and parents have signaled through their investment that they believe in the academic course we are pursuing and are eager to see it realized,” says William Helman IV ’80, chair of the board of trustees. “These results give us the confidence to think boldly on behalf of Dartmouth and her students.”

Story updated on July 20, 2016.