Philip J. Hanlon ’77, PhD, Is Named 18th President of Dartmouth


The Board of Trustees of Dartmouth has elected Philip J. Hanlon ’77, PhD, as Dartmouth’s 18th president. President-Elect Hanlon, 57, serves as provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at the University of Michigan, where he is also the Donald J. Lewis Professor of Mathematics.

Hanlon will take office on July 1, 2013, and succeeds Jim Yong Kim, who was selected to serve as president of the World Bank in April this year. Carol L. Folt, the Dartmouth Professor of Biological Sciences, will continue to serve as interim president through June 30, 2013, when she will resume her role as provost. On January 11, Dartmouth will hold a welcome celebration on campus for Hanlon.

Philip J. Hanlon ’77 will take office as the 18th president of Dartmouth on July 1, 2013. (Photo by Maryanne Russell)

Announcing Hanlon’s unanimous election by the trustees, Board Chair Steve Mandel ’78 said, “Along with my fellow trustees, I am delighted to welcome Phil home to his alma mater. All of us are inspired by the exceptional qualities he will bring to the presidency as a world-class academic, an accomplished administrative leader, and a passionate scholar-teacher. Phil truly understands how great scholarship and research are essential to an undergraduate learning experience that produces leaders who can shape and change a world that is increasingly complex, diverse, and interdisciplinary. This insight, combined with his personal integrity, his strength of purpose, and his deep love for Dartmouth, makes Phil a terrific leader for this great institution as we build an ambitious academic future and look forward to our 250th anniversary in 2019.”

An outstanding academic leader and dedicated scholar-teacher

Hanlon earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Dartmouth, from which he graduated Phi Beta Kappa, and was awarded a doctorate from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in 1981. A University of Michigan faculty member since 1986, he has held administrative leadership positions for more than a decade. Appointed provost in 2010, he is the chief academic officer and chief budgetary officer of the university and is responsible for sustaining its academic excellence in teaching, research, and creative endeavors. The university has 95 departments ranked in the top 10 nationally and has $1.27 billion in annual research spending, second among all universities.

Hanlon served as associate dean for planning and finance in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts from 2001 to 2004, and as vice provost for academic and budgetary affairs from 2004 to 2010, when he was instrumental in putting in place measures to ensure that higher education remains affordable. As vice provost, he also led campus initiatives on multidisciplinary learning and team teaching at the undergraduate level and established new policies and processes designed to make more effective use of space and facilities.

As a mathematician, Hanlon focuses on probability and combinatorics, the study of finite structures and their significance as they relate to bioinformatics, computer science, and other fields. He is an expert on topics such as computational genetics and cryptology and built a world-class combinatorics group at Michigan that consistently ranks among the top five in the nation. He continues to teach first-year calculus at Michigan, where he has been honored with an Arthur F. Thurnau Professorship, the university’s highest recognition of faculty whose commitment to undergraduate teaching has had a demonstrable impact on the intellectual development and lives of their students. He also founded the Michigan Math and Science Scholars, a thriving summer program for high school students with a strong interest in these fields. Hanlon plans to continue to teach at Dartmouth, based on his strong belief that great universities are distinguished by their focus on preparing the next generation of leaders for a lifetime of impact and learning.

“I am humbled and thrilled to be asked to be the president of Dartmouth, the place where I grew up and forged lifelong friendships and bonds,” Hanlon said. “Dartmouth revealed to me the power that derives from the life of the mind. It gave me the confidence to pursue my academic dreams, along with the unshakeable conviction that there is no firmer foundation for success than a broad liberal arts education. Today, more than ever, higher education must produce citizen leaders with the creativity, entrepreneurial spirit, cultural awareness, and flexibility to make a difference in today’s world. Dartmouth has taken great strides toward meeting this goal through its strategic planning process. I am honored to have the opportunity to work with faculty, students, staff, alumni, and our Board to further Dartmouth’s leadership in higher education in ways that combine our traditional strengths with even greater academic excellence, scholarship, and global impact.”

Dartmouth President-Elect Philip J. Hanlon ’77 (second from left) with trustees (from left) Bill Helman ’80, search committee chair; Diana Taylor ’77, search committee vice chair; and Steve Mandel ’78, chair of the Board of Trustees. (Photo by Maryanne Russell)

Rigorous search process

Hanlon will be 18th in the Wheelock Succession of Dartmouth presidents since Eleazar Wheelock founded Dartmouth in 1769. He will be the 10th Dartmouth alumnus to serve as its president and the first since the 1981 to 1987 tenure of David T. McLaughlin ’54, Tuck ’55.

Hanlon’s election resulted from a rigorous and inclusive search process led by a Presidential Search Committee of 16 trustee, faculty, student, alumni, and staff representatives selected for their breadth of expertise and understanding of Dartmouth and the qualities required of its next president. The committee spent more than six months soliciting input from the Dartmouth community and identifying, reviewing, and interviewing a deep and talented pool of candidates.

“Phil is a world-class academic scholar and an outstanding teacher, committed to the value of a liberal arts education and with experience with highly ranked graduate schools and programs,” said Presidential Search Committee Chair Bill Helman ’80. “The decision was easy. I could not be more excited about Phil’s presidency.”

Vice Chair Diana Taylor ’77 said, “Dartmouth is at the heart of Phil’s remarkable life story, one inspired by faculty who challenged and nurtured him because they so loved what they were doing. He impressed everyone on the search committee not only with his passion for Dartmouth and undergraduate learning, but also with the sharpness of his vision for how to ensure that Dartmouth can excel in an age of unprecedented challenge and opportunity for higher education. I could not be more proud that a member of the great Class of 1977 will be leading our alma mater.”

A record of scholarship, service, and community

After obtaining his doctorate, Hanlon was an instructor of applied mathematics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a Bantrell Fellow in Mathematics at Caltech. He joined the University of Michigan in 1986 with a tenured position as an associate professor and was named a full professor in 1990.

Hanlon has earned numerous honors and awards for his mathematical research, including a Sloan Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Henry Russel Award, and the National Science Foundation Presidential Young Investigator Award. He is the author or co-author of more than 60 peer-reviewed research articles and studies that have been published in leading mathematics journals. Hanlon has held visiting positions at prestigious academic institutions in Europe and the United States, including the Isaac Newton Institute for Mathematical Sciences at Cambridge University and the University of Oxford, both in England; the Mittag-Leffler Institute of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences; the Institut des Hautes Études Scientifiques and the University of Strasbourg, both in France; and the Princeton Center for Communications Research.

Hanlon is a member of the Board of Directors of the University of Michigan Hospitals and Health Centers, and of the Bentley Historical Library at the University of Michigan. He serves on the editorial boards of the Journal of Algebraic Combinatorics and the Electronic Journal of Combinatorics and is a member and past chairman of the mathematics sub-panel of the National Security Agency Advisory Board, on which he served for 13 years until 2007.

“Phil is an exceptional leader with a passion for higher education and its critical role in society,” said Mary Sue Coleman, president of the University of Michigan. “As Michigan’s provost, he has steered the institution through some of its most fiscally challenging years, all the while advancing our academic excellence and impact. As a teacher, his passion for undergraduate education is palpable. As Dartmouth’s next president, his vision, experience, and deep integrity will elevate its already exceptional standing in higher education.”

Hanlon was born and raised in the small mining community of Gouverneur, N.Y. His wife, Gail Gentes, is the director of research and faculty support at the Ross School of Business within the University of Michigan and earned her MBA from Boston University after graduating from Wells College. They have three children, all in their 20s.

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