At 250, Dartmouth Reflects on Its Past and Future

News subtitle

Events include science lectures, an archaeological dig, and historical re-enactments.

Collis Building on the Dartmouth campus
(Photo by Robert Gill) 

The calendar of events celebrating Dartmouth’s 250th year is filling up fast, as initiatives from every part of the College are still being added to the yearlong commemoration.

“There’s something for everyone in our lineup,” says Cheryl Bascomb ’82, vice president for alumni relations and co-chair of Dartmouth 250. “The whole campus is really coming together to plan creative, engaging ways to look broadly and deeply at Dartmouth’s past and future.”


The Call to Serve challenges the Dartmouth community to give back through volunteer opportunities, with an anniversary goal of 250,000 collective volunteer hours in 2019. 

As part of the ambitious initiative, which calls on students, faculty, staff, and alumni to log their hours of community service, May 4 has been set aside as the Alumni Day of Service. Participants have already been logging their 2019 volunteer work on a website that also helps them find, support, and organize projects.

“Dartmouth people do so much in our communities, and this is our way of encouraging people to organize special projects to do with others, or acknowledge all that they are doing already—from coaching youth sports to doing pro bono legal work to serving on a town planning committee,” says Bascomb. “The tracking is well underway, and we encourage others to add their hours to our running tally. It takes only a few minutes to be counted, and it’s such an important way to show the impact of what Dartmouth people are doing all over the world. It’s an ambitious goal and we need everyone’s help to  reach it.”

Learning and Ideas

A TEDx Conference called “Living Bridges” will be held April 13 in Spaulding Auditorium at the Hopkins Center for the Arts, celebrating “the resilience and patience of pioneers and the cultures that grew from just the seed of an idea.” Registration is open.

Coming April 26 to the Hanover Inn near the Green (where livestock used to graze): “Cows, Land, and Labor: Local Farming in a Globalized World,” a multidisciplinary discussion of the ethics of consumption, market, and land management. And on May 21 and 22, Native American Studies students and faculty will consider indigenous ways of growing and consuming food at a “Food Sovereignty” Conference. 

On June 3-18, under the supervision of Professor of Anthropology Jesse Casana, students will literally unearth history behind Dartmouth Hall, with “Digging Dartmouth: Archeological Excavation,” accompanied by lab open houses.

The same week the College digs up its past, it will take an inspirational look ahead with a June 15 presentation by the Deans of the college and the graduate and professional schools, “Envisioning Dartmouth’s Future in the 21st Century.”

Wish you could take that great science class again? Check out the Celebration of Sciences Lecture Series. Distinguished speakers throughout the year include Mark Kasevich ’85, Alexis Templeton ’93, Martha Pollack ’79, Paul Matsudaira ’81, Fiona Harrison ’84, and Nobel laureate Barry Sharpless ’63. Dive into “The Discovery of Coronium.” (Coronium is the line in the spectrum of the sun’s corona famously observed by Hanover-born Charles A. Young, Class of 1853.)

A different sort of pioneer who attended Dartmouth in the 18th century, John Ledyard made his own dugout canoe and paddled the Connecticut River before setting himself bigger navigational challenges across the globe. October will bring the Ledyard Rivers Conference, featuring Ledyard biographers Jim Zug ’91 and Bill Gifford ’88. And the Ledyard Explorer Series of alumni trips will follow his expeditionary itineraries around the globe. 

On a more somber note, Dartmouth will re-examine a darker chaper with “A Vexed Relationship to the Institution of Slavery,” the title of a November symposium.

At Dartmouth as at other institutions, the late 1960s were a turbulent time.  On Friday, June 7, during the ’69 reunion, there will be re-enactment of the 1969 takeover of Parkhurst by students protesting the Viet Nam War and the presence of ROTC on campus. In August, a symposium will consider “1969: The Afterlives of ‘The Year Everything Changed.’”

Scholars will consider the integration of formerly underrepresented groups at “From Dartmouth Alum to Faculty of Color: How the Liberal Arts Helped Diversify the Professions.”

Other symposia in the works: “Dartmouth in the World Economy 1769,” LatinX Art at Dartmouth, “Dartmouth History with the Military,” “Samson Occom and His Circle,” “Filmmaking at the Hop,” “Dartmouth’s Historical Relationship with the Jewish Community,” “Celebration of Languages at Dartmouth,” and “Celebrating 100 Years of Women on the Dartmouth Faculty.”

Arts and Exhibits

To jog visual memories of life on a changing campus,  Dartmouth Library has launched a series of special projects and anniversary exhibits. On display now in the Baker-Berry Library: On Solid Ground, curated by Rauner Special Collections Library Head Jay Satterfield and College Archivist Peter Carini, about “the spaces that make up Dartmouth,” and “Limits to Power: Daniel Webster and the Dartmouth College Case.”

The landmark Supreme Court case preserving Dartmouth’s status as a private institution is the focus of one of several podcasts being added to the Library’s retrospective series, “Hindsight Is 20/19.”

Salba Maheen ’20 has won the library’s competition to design a commemorative bookplate. Some may want to place it on the inside cover of Dartmouth Undying, a new book telling the Dartmouth story through a collection of essays and photographs. The book, edited by David Shribman ’76, trustee emeritus and executive editor of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and writer Jim Collins ’84, a past editor of Yankee Magazine, is available here.  

Music will help ring in the sestercentennial. On May 25, the Dartmouth Symphony Orchestra will present a work commissioned for the anniversary and inspired by the murals by José Clemente Orozco in Baker-Berry Library. In the fall, the Dartmouth College Wind Ensemble will perform another work, by composer Oliver Caplan ’04, that will highlight special places at the College.

The Hood Museum’s exhibition, “Art for Dartmouth: Celebrating the 250th,” is slated for September through December, and an Oct. 24 conference, “The New Now: Art, History, and Museums,” will feature Dartmouth graduates who have made important contributions to the art world.

Celebrations and Events

Alumni are planning other ways to recognize historic turning points at campus reunions, homecoming, and other special events in locations all around the world.  

Stay up to date on the still-developing 250th initiatives by checking the events listing, and connect with the Dartmouth family through Dartmouth Alumni, as well as on Facebook and Instagram. Tag your photos #Dartmouth250 to share your favorite Dartmouth memories, whether newly made or cherished from long ago.

Charlotte Albright can be reached at

Charlotte Albright