Mary Sue Coleman
Governor Hassan, Chairman Mandel and members of the Board of Trustees, President Hanlon, faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends of Dartmouth College.
This is a glorious day for Hanover and for higher education.
It is also a day of immense privilege for me, as there is no place that I would choose to be than here, on the Green, celebrating Dartmouth’s 18th president.
I first need to transport everyone here to Ann Arbor and the University of Michigan, a place Phil Hanlon called home for 27 years.
There is a strong Michigan contingent here today. We deeply admire Phil, and we miss him. He made it clear when he accepted the presidency that a Dartmouth alum had to succeed him as Michigan provost, so we turned to Dr. Martha Pollack, Class of ’79. The academic enterprise at Michigan remains in very good hands.
Earlier this month, in the span of four days, two remarkable events took place on campus back at Michigan.
The first unfolded at our business school, the Ross School of Business and a worthy competitor of the Tuck Business School. The school’s lead benefactor, developer Stephen M. Ross, furthered his legacy at Michigan with a gift of $200 million.
The gift is the largest in the history of the University of Michigan. It’s one of the largest in all of American higher education.
We brought out the marching band, confetti, and hundreds of students to celebrate this momentous occasion.
The second event took place about 80 hours later, on a beautiful Saturday night, when more than 115,000 people came together at Michigan Stadium. Imagine all the citizens of Hanover in one place, and multiply by 10, and there would still be seats to fill in Michigan Stadium.
The Michigan crowd that night was the largest in the history of college sports. We brought out the marching band, special effects, a jet flyover, Beyonce and thousands of alumni and students.
It was, in a word, colossal.
With each of these spectacles, Michigan’s school colors of maize and blue were everywhere. But blending yellow and blue makes green, and the Big Green of Dartmouth was very much a presence.
In fact, neither of these historic events would have been possible without the leadership of Edmund Ezra Day, Dartmouth Class of 1905. Professor Day came to Ann Arbor to be chairman of the Economics Department. But based on the time he spent here, as an instructor at the Tuck School, he had bigger plans.
Michigan’s economics department was housed in our literary college. Professor Day felt business education required its own place in the academy, and he led the successful movement for a new, separate business school at Michigan. He became its first dean. At the same time, and at Professor Day’s urging, there would be greater faculty oversight, more campus facilities for women athletes, and an extensive intramural program for all students to enjoy.
As I said, Edmund Day was thoughtful and thorough.
Which brings me back here, to the Green, and President Hanlon.
Just as Professor Day changed Michigan, so did Phil Hanlon. The very qualities that made him an outstanding professor and provost in Ann Arbor are perfect for leading one of the world’s great liberal arts colleges in the 21st century.
The academic enterprise at Dartmouth is in very good hands.
Phil is an accomplished mathematician, and his expertise is encryption. That means that he sees things that the rest of us cannot envision. And his vision has always been of an engaged and exciting learning environment for students and faculty.
His love of teaching and the liberal arts is unparalleled. He believes in an undergraduate experience that changes students’ lives: in small classes, with hands-on experiences, innovative technologies, and innovative remarkable teaching.
Phil himself is an effective, memorable teacher who taught undergraduate calculus while Michigan’s provost. I understand that he's continuing his connection with the classroom by teaching freshman mathematics here, where Dartmouth students will gain a fascinating perspective of their president.
This commitment to teaching may sound standard in the Dartmouth community, because Dartmouth excels at undergraduate education. But at a major research university like Michigan, it is an exceptional philosophy and practice. And Phil was our champion.
He will be just as supportive and creative about nurturing and expanding the learning opportunities at Dartmouth. A strong liberal arts education is the perfect skill set for the chaotic world that today’s graduates are entering.
As provost, his acumen for fiscal control and investment in the academic enterprise was every president’s dream. I have been a provost, and I know that we have several with us today. It can be a thankless job managing resources to support extremely bright people with extremely good ideas.
No state was hit harder by the Great Recession than Michigan. Over the past decade, our state support per student has dropped nearly 50 percent in real dollars. Fifty percent!
But composure is Phil Hanlon’s calling card. The man does not flinch. He steered the university through some of our most fiscally challenging years, all the while advancing academic excellence and impact.
This is profoundly critical in an era when higher education is threatened—threatened by waning public confidence and those skeptical of the value of our contributions. Phil Hanlon’s fiscal leadership is a potent antidote to that cynicism.
President Hanlon brings one more unique quality to Dartmouth. Public and private universities have different missions and obligations. It is one of the features of the diverse system of American higher education that sets us apart from other nations.
Phil carries with him the ethos of a public institution, one that will broaden the already-extensive impact of Dartmouth.
He believes fiercely in the power of scholarship and service to address the many challenges our world faces today. This is what great universities, private and public, advocate and, more important, accomplish.
I know the reach of Dartmouth will flourish under the leadership of President Hanlon.
As Dartmouth president, Phil Hanlon extends a rich Michigan legacy of producing college leaders. Edmund Day, the Dartmouth alum who made such an impression in Ann Arbor, would conclude his exceptional career with the presidency of Cornell University.
But before Michigan, these leaders had the distinctive experience of Dartmouth College. It is a place that celebrates teaching and learning. A place that embodies the infinite power of ideas. A place that builds leaders, sends them into the world and, on very special days like today, welcomes them home to do their most important work.