Hanlon Praises Community for ‘Rising to This New Challenge’

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The talent of students, faculty, and staff means “we are starting from a position of strength,” the president says. 

portrait of President Hanlon
In a message to the Dartmouth community on March 22, President Philip J. Hanlon ’77 praised students, faculty, and staff for rising to the challenge of sustaining the excellence of the Dartmouth experience in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by Robert Gill)

On Friday, President Philip J. Hanlon ’77 saw his co-workers for the first time in a week and realized how much he has missed them.

“After just a week, it was such a joy for me to see the faces and hear the voices of the people who have become so much a part of my daily life. In that moment, I realized how isolated I had been feeling. And I expect that many of you are feeling that way too,” President Hanlon wrote today in an email to faculty, students, and staff about seeing his colleagues in a virtual online meeting of the Office of the President staff.

He urged members of the Dartmouth community to check in with co-workers and friends, to have patience and “empathize before you criticize,” and to “strive to stay as positive and productive as possible.”

Much has changed in the last week at Dartmouth as faculty get ready to teach spring term courses remotely, most students have returned home and will begin online classes on March 30, and many employees are working from home.

“Fortunately, we are starting from a position of strength,” Hanlon wrote, praising faculty, students, and staff.

“Faculty, you are among the best educators in the world. The wisdom that you will put into course content, the insight you’ll include in your lectures as leaders in your fields, the skill you will bring to constructing assignments and group projects, the care you will offer students as they consult with you—all of these things will add to the power of the virtual learning experiences you will offer.”

He applauded students as “exceptional learners” who are already well-versed in the technology they’ll use to learn remotely. And he thanked staff for the dedication and creativity have they have shown in supporting the changes that are taking place.

“This is a challenging time for all of us, and we are doing our best to adapt to this new reality. Every one of us is faced with learning to do familiar tasks in entirely new ways: from teaching and learning, to the work we do for Dartmouth, to how we care for our families and even shop for groceries. It takes mental and psychological energy simply to adjust to this new way of living.”

“I know that all of us—students, faculty, and staff—will strive to stay as positive and productive as possible, and to deliver the very best work we can, given the circumstances. So, let’s not be too hard on ourselves or on one another. Let’s rise to this challenge together, with the creativity, compassion, and resilience that is now, and always has been, at the heart of our Dartmouth community,” Hanlon wrote.

For the latest information on Dartmouth’s response to the pandemic, including questions and answers for faculty, students, and staff, visit the COVID-19 website.

Susan J. Boutwell can be reached at susan.j.boutwell@dartmouth.edu.

Susan J. Boutwell