Trustees Discuss ‘Big Ideas,’ Geisel’s Future


At its November meeting, the Dartmouth Board of Trustees discussed the importance of taking bold action on big ideas to position Dartmouth for future success. The board considered ideas with the capacity to transform intellectual life on campus while strengthening and expanding academic excellence and the College’s impact on the world.

Baker tower fall 2015

(Photo by Eli Burakian ’00)

The enrichment of students’ experiences around the globe, research by undergraduates, the continued evolution of Dartmouth’s new housing system, in-depth study of one or two significant topics of international import and urgency, and continued development of the College’s Arts and Innovation District were among the ideas.

“We want to capitalize on Dartmouth’s intimate scale and capacity for strategic integration to build on both the undergraduate experience and the impact of our scholarship,” says President Phil Hanlon ’77. “Our energies, partnerships, and resources should take full advantage of Dartmouth’s strengths and centers of excellence, in Hanover and around the world.”

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Board members expressed approval for the progress made on planning the future of the Geisel School of Medicine, and encouraged Interim Dean Duane Compton to continue moving forward. 

Compton discussed feedback he’s received from extensive, ongoing campus conversations, and how the community’s input has informed the evolution of the Geisel plan. These conversations will continue as the plan takes further shape and implementation begins, Compton told the board.

“This is a challenging process for our community, but it is necessary to build a future for Geisel where we are competitive, impactful, and able to create the most supportive environment for our faculty,” says Compton.

In keeping with the recent practice of hearing from experts on issues related to education, the board heard about the future of higher education from David Kelley, a best-selling author and founder and chair of IDEO, a design and innovation consulting firm, and from award-winning journalist and author Ron Suskind. Board members talked with Kelley and Suskind about the importance of constant experimentation, the lessons that come from failure, and the role of diversity in fostering creativity.

Also at the weekend meetings, members of the external Moving Dartmouth Forward Review Panel presented their first report on the status of the implementation of the Moving Dartmouth Forward initiatives laid out by President Hanlon in January 2015. 

“We are impressed by Dartmouth’s efforts to address a set of issues that affect almost every college in the nation,” says Tufts University President Emeritus Lawrence Bacow, who chairs the five-member panel. “While it is still early in the game, it appears that MDF is already making a difference. Other institutions should be able to learn from the good work being done by the Dartmouth community.” 

The report, which rates progress on specific goals as of Sept. 29, will be available on the Moving Dartmouth Forward website ( on Monday, Nov. 9.

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