Trustees Discuss Projects, Planning to Support Priorities

Board members approved planning funds for the Dartmouth Hall renovation.

During its fall meeting, the Dartmouth Board of Trustees advanced key projects and allocated resources designed to support the academic mission across the institution, including the approval of $400,000 in funding to proceed with planning and feasibility studies for the renovation of Dartmouth Hall.

“On the threshold of our 250th anniversary, it seems only fitting to reaffirm the College’s commitment to the centrality of the liberal arts with a significant upgrade to the traditional home of the humanities,” President Philip J. Hanlon ’77 told trustees, who were on campus for meetings on Sept. 13-15.

“As one of the most historic buildings on campus, Dartmouth Hall remains—and must continue to be—a place of transformative learning,” the president said.

The renovation of Dartmouth Hall is a key initiative in the Call to Lead Campaign. The Dartmouth community—led by alumnae and widows of alumni—is rallying to raise $25 million toward the renovation of the iconic building and support the vital role it plays in a Dartmouth liberal arts education.

Through the restoration initiative, the College intends to improve learning spaces throughout Dartmouth Hall to ensure that the building can meet the needs of faculty and students in the 21st century. As part of the planned construction, the College will restore some of the structure’s historic elements, overhaul the building’s systems, and upgrade its energy efficiency.

Residential Housing and Future Planning

Following three public information sessions over the summer and consultation with community members, Executive Vice President Rick Mills recommended the site for construction of a new undergraduate residence hall. The trustees agreed to move forward with schematic design and evaluation work for a 350-bed undergraduate facility at the intersection of Crosby and East Wheelock streets, one of three locations under consideration. The property is currently the site of three tennis courts and the house community social space informally known as “the onion.”

As part of the Call to Lead campaign, the residence hall project will advance the goals of the Moving Dartmouth Forward initiative announced by Hanlon in 2015 to strengthen the residential experience and enhance the academic environment. The new building will integrate all facets of student life—from social and athletics to learning and recreation—helping Dartmouth continue to lead the way among peer institutions in strengthening community, continuity, and intellectual interactions among students.

The other two sites under consideration were land on the west side of College Street, between Dana Hall and the McLaughlin cluster, where Gilman Hall was razed earlier this year; and property on the east side of College Street, across from the McLaughlin cluster, where a small parking lot and the Dragon Society building are located.

“As we consider the growth and evolution of our institution, we will continue to review College property on campus and in the wider Hanover-Lebanon area,” says Mills.

That review will include a master planning project building on the existing campus master plan and the recently commissioned west end master plan, Mills told trustees. The College will issue a request for proposals to qualified firms this fall and will engage the community in development of an updated master plan.

The plan will provide a framework for supporting the academic mission of the College while making short-term decisions with a long-term perspective. It will integrate existing planning work and provide the basis for planning and communication with faculty, staff, students, and the broader community.

Trustees also authorized a two-step process to identify and select a development firm to work on a planned graduate-housing project. The project aims to provide 250 or more additional beds for students in multi-unit housing in proximity to campus. A request for qualifications will be issued this fall to evaluate bidders’ financial strength, capabilities, and conceptual proposals. Selected teams will then move to a request-for-proposals phase in the winter, in which bidders would provide detailed planning and financial proposals.

Hanover Country Club

The trustees also authorized staff to explore the possibility of partnering with an external management consortium and entering into a long-term lease for the operation of the Hanover Country Club, home to the Dartmouth golf course. The course, which is owned and operated by the College, has been losing members and operating at a significant annual operating loss for the last four years. The property also needs substantial capital investment.

Following their meetings on campus on Friday, board members traveled to the Moosilauke Ravine Lodge for a strategic-planning retreat.

Susan J. Boutwell can be reached at [email protected].