Members of the Dartmouth Board of Trustees discussed the future of higher education and Dartmouth’s place in it, progress on institutional efforts to enhance diversity and inclusion, and the national mental health crisis at their annual March meeting this past weekend. They also approved operating and capital budgets and set tuition at Dartmouth’s schools for the next academic year.
President Philip J. Hanlon ’77 told trustees that the Dartmouth community has been flexible and resourceful throughout this challenging winter, supporting in-person learning and extracurricular activities in the second year of making adjustments because of COVID-19.
“I’m proud of our faculty, staff, and students for their creativity, hard work, and understanding this winter,” he said. “We are looking forward to living in a more open environment, as the threats posed by the pandemic continue to recede thanks in large part to the effectiveness of the vaccine and the extent to which our community is vaccinated.”
Moving Dartmouth Forward on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Senior Vice President/Senior Diversity Officer Shontay Delalue talked with trustees about the Office of Institutional Diversity and Equity’s (IDE) review of progress made on the campus-wide initiatives aimed at creating a more welcoming, inclusive, and equitable environment—Moving Dartmouth Forward, Inclusive Excellence, and the Campus Climate and Culture Initiative—and the next steps IDE is taking to build on the success of those initiatives. IDE is developing a strategic plan to be shared with the community this spring in engagement sessions and finalized and launched in the fall.
In addition, she explained that IDE has been reorganized to have two areas of work, one being diversity and inclusivity, the other being equity and compliance. On the equity and compliance side, Delalue explained the creation of a new policy addressing discrimination and harassment and providing a process to address such reports. Faculty, students, and staff will be invited to listening sessions in the spring to provide input on the policy, which last month was provisionally approved by senior leadership.
Trustee Chair Liz Lempres ’83, Thayer ’84 and other board members lauded IDE’s progress since Delalue’s arrival last summer and thanked Delalue for her hard work.
“One of the board’s strategic initiatives over the last two years has been to create a more welcoming and inclusive Dartmouth for all of our community members,” said Lempres. “Shontay is leading the coordination of that effort on campus, and it is inspiring to see her already driving change after less than a year in Hanover.”
Mental Health Challenges Nationally
Daniel Isenberg, a UCLA professor of health policy and management, spoke with board members about research produced for the Healthy Minds Network, which focuses on adolescent and young adult mental health and formed the basis of a survey Dartmouth students took as part of the Jed Foundation’s JED Campus project.
Isenberg said college students nationwide were experiencing an increase in depressive symptoms prior to the pandemic that have grown more acute over the last two years, and that the need for additional mental health staff is happening at institutions across the country. The pandemic, he said, has caused additional financial stress, taxed mental health resources on campuses, increased feelings of loneliness, and shown that students of color were more likely to have had a family member or close friend die because of COVID-19. On the positive side, the rise in well-being programs in colleges and universities nationally reflects the willingness of an increasing number of students to seek help.
Board members also heard about Dartmouth’s ongoing work with the nonprofit Jed Foundation, which started the Dartmouth-JED Campus project at Dartmouth in the fall of 2021 as part of an effort to address many of the increased mental health needs highlighted by Isenberg’s research.
Jed representatives visited Dartmouth last month to review undergraduate mental health policies and procedures and will return next month to meet with representatives of the graduate and professional schools. The effort will result in production of a strategic plan to be shared with Dartmouth senior leadership this spring.
Board members also heard from Interim Dean of the College Scott C. Brown, who reviewed the range of mental health services and initiatives on campus. He said Dartmouth has expanded its counseling staff and is also trying out virtual offerings to address well-being. One such effort involved working with Geisel School of Medicine students, and another used an online wellness module that will continue to be tested.
“We have much to be proud of, and yet there is still more progress to make,” Brown said. “A well student body is not the responsibility of one office or service, it is the work of our entire campus community.”
Lempres thanked the presenters and observed that “it is crucial to understand the national context around mental and emotional well-being as we address the challenges at Dartmouth. There is much to learn from the latest research and innovative approaches happening elsewhere. We are not alone in trying to get this right.”
Capital and Operating Budgets and Tuition
Board members approved tuition and fees as well as an operating budget of $1.3 billion for the 2023 fiscal year, which begins on July 1.
The total undergraduate tuition, fees, and room and board will be $80,304, up 2.9% over the current year. Thayer School of Engineering will have the same 2.9% increase, with tuition rising to $60,687. The Tuck School of Business and Geisel will not increase tuition, which will remain at $77,520 for Tuck and $67,532 for Geisel.
Trustees also approved spending $135 million in financial aid to undergraduates, as Dartmouth continues to enhance its commitment to socioeconomic access. The annual amount of financial aid provided to undergraduates has grown by 55% from 2015 to the current year, a period that also saw the smallest rate of increase in undergraduate tuition since the 1950s.
The capital budget of $96.4 million, which includes funding from a variety of sources, was also approved. Capital spending pays for construction, renovations, and other big-ticket items and this year includes $48 million for renovation and construction of the Andres and Zimmerman residence halls and Brace Commons social space. An IT and facilities project called Connected Campus, which includes upgrading building access systems to be more flexible, secure, and mobile-friendly, will receive $500,000. Smaller projects include $4.4 million for interior renovations at the Hanover Inn, $2.7 million for renovations to Rollins Chapel, and $4.1 million to replace the roof of the Vail/Remsen building.
In addition, a $394.6 million endowment distribution was approved, which includes $41.7 million to be added to the Infrastructure Renewal Fund. The fund is available for renewal projects including energy upgrades to the hot-water heating conversion, renovations of residence halls, and technology upgrades.
In Other News …
Provost David Kotz ’86 and Executive Vice President Rick Mills, who are leading Dartmouth’s response to COVID-19, said they are reviewing guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the state of New Hampshire to determine how and when Dartmouth may loosen restrictions while continuing to protect those most at risk from the pandemic with a focus on avoiding severe illness and hospitalizations.
Hanlon told board members that later this month athletics will release a comprehensive plan designed to safeguard equity and inclusion in Dartmouth sports and ensure Title IX, Ivy League, and NCAA compliance.
And board members held separate sessions to explore the changing landscape of higher education and the importance of free speech on college campuses.
Board members heard Hanlon’s reflections on the future trajectory for Dartmouth. Looking 25 years out, the president said that while there will be many changes in higher ed—growth in online courses, certificate and hybrid degree programs, and a need for new sources of revenue—the high-touch, residential experience offered by Dartmouth and its peers will still be in demand.
”We will continue to be highly selective in attracting global talent and will be focused on developing high-level intellectual skills,“ Hanlon said. ”The residential component will remain, along with the co-curricular and extra-curricular activities that make the Dartmouth experience so distinctive and valuable."