The homecoming bonfire that will be lit on Friday is one of the many sparks that will make the Year of Connections burn brightly for the entire Dartmouth community. The yearlong celebration features events that will allow community members to connect and reconnect in many ways and also to support the experience of students and faculty who have resumed in-person classes and other activities on campus as COVID-19 precautions remain in place.
“This year, as we navigate through an uncertain but hopeful time, we want to strengthen the Dartmouth connections that define our community,” says President Philip J. Hanlon ’77. “We have much to celebrate and we look forward to connecting throughout this academic year.”
The Year of Connections, initially launched in June as a Year of Homecoming, will feature a variety of on-campus events in addition to the traditional homecoming, winter carnival, Green Key, commencement, and reunions. In-person events will be enhanced with virtual components to ensure that all community members, wherever they are, will be able to be part of the experience.
This weekend’s homecoming festivities will have special celebrations for the ’25s and the ’24s, whose experience of the tradition was curtailed last year due to the pandemic. Alumni are welcome to gather Friday night for Dartoberfest before the homecoming parade, which will include members of at least 20 varsity teams, and Dartmouth Night and bonfire on the Green. The traditional homecoming football game is set for Saturday, as well as contests in women’s rugby and field hockey. On Sunday, there is an equestrian show at Dartmouth’s Morton Farm.
As part of this year’s planning, a survey went to all returning undergraduates over the summer seeking ideas for how to rebuild community during and after the pandemic. Staff in the Division of Student Affairs and other areas are working with students and using the survey results to inform their work and planning. Other groups, such as the undergraduate Student Assembly and undergraduate class councils, the Collis Governing Board, and the Dartmouth Outing Club, will use the results to generate programming ideas and represent student interests. So far, the results have helped to shape orientation events for the undergraduate Class of 2025, special welcoming events for the Class of 2024, and other activities for the entire community.
The year will feature a special series of one-time programs designed to bolster connections after a long period apart and strengthen bonds for those who have not yet had the full Dartmouth experience on campus. Faculty and staff will participate in house community programs throughout the year. A special grant will offer undergraduates an unlimited opportunity to participate in the Take a Professor to Lunch program to encourage connections between students and Dartmouth’s teacher-scholars. There is also funding available for students to propose programs and events throughout the year.
“We are thrilled to be able to bring the student community together this year,” says Eric Ramsey, associate dean for student life. “In addition to new events that are specific to Year of Connections, we plan to continue some of the more popular experiments from last year, such as the light installation at the Bema, the outdoor fire pits, Collis outdoor concerts, and skating on Occom Pond. Our goal is to create as much opportunity as possible to promote a shared sense of community and connection and continue to support and foster student learning outside the classroom.
Several important anniversaries take place later this academic year as 2022 marks 50 years of co-education, the rededication to Native American studies, and the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Black Alumni of Dartmouth Association. Special celebrations throughout the year will mark these milestones with programs to foster reflection and connection among students, faculty, staff, and alumni and encourage participation of the entire community.
Fall Family Weekend, Oct. 22-24: This weekend is dedicated to welcoming parents and families of the classes of 2023 and 2024, who did not have the opportunity for a family weekend in the past two years due to the pandemic. Special programming will be scheduled throughout the weekend to welcome families into the Dartmouth community and introduce them to the liberal arts undergraduate program.
West End Festival, May 12–22, 2022: The festival will serve as the grand opening and celebration of the reimagined West End district, bringing together the new Center for Engineering and Computer Science, the Arthur L. Irving Institute for Energy and Society, and the Magnuson Center for Entrepreneurship, with Thayer School of Engineering and the Tuck School of Business. Two weeks of programming will include building dedications and a series of in-person and online programs featuring student, faculty, and staff achievement in innovation, design, problem-solving, and leadership.
Commencement 2022: Families and friends will be welcomed to celebrate the commencement of the Class of 2022 on the Green. Members of the Class of 2020 will also celebrate their own commencement on Aug. 5-7, 2022.
Undergraduate Reunions June 2022: Celebration of back-to-normal reunion events across Dartmouth. A special series of regional gatherings will convene reunion classes of the past two years for recognition and community.
A Full Year of Digital Programming: While the Year of Connections will have many scheduled in-person celebrations, it also will also feature favorite online events, including “Great Issues/New Perspectives,” the livestreamed series featuring alumni and faculty from a variety of liberal arts disciplines in engaging and open conversations; and “Short Talks on Big Ideas,” which explores faculty members’ academic passions. Should the need arise for increased caution at in-person gatherings during the year, all scheduled on-campus events will continue in a virtual format.
Editor’s Note: The Year of Connections takes the place of the Year of Homecoming announcement in June given the complications presented by the delta virus. While the entire Dartmouth community is included in this Year of Connections, the priority is to ensure that Dartmouth is able to maintain the on-campus and in-the-classroom experience for students and faculty, and for the staff who work with them.