Tuesday, April 10, 2007


President Wright recently solicited input on Dartmouth’s mission and its legacy. The following are the words he chose to describe Dartmouth’s legacy:

“Since its founding in 1769, Dartmouth has provided an intimate and inspirational setting for distinguished faculty and talented students to come together in one of the finest academic communities in the world. Dartmouth faculty contribute [sic] substantially to the expansion of human understanding around critical issues. Dartmouth is committed to providing the best undergraduate liberal arts experience in the world and is enriched by excellent, historic professional programs in the Dartmouth Medical School (founded 1797), the Thayer School of Engineering (1867), the Tuck School of Business (1900) and the graduate programs in the Arts and Sciences. Together they sustain an exceptional learning environment that emphasizes independent thought, academic excellence, and the lifelong pursuit of learning.
Pioneering programs and continuing leadership in computation and international education are hallmarks of Dartmouth. The College provides a comprehensive out of classroom experience, including service opportunities, engagement in the arts, and strong athletic, recreational, and outdoor programs. Dartmouth graduates are marked by an understanding of the importance of teamwork, a capacity for leadership, and their keen enjoyment of a vibrant community. Alumni/ae loyalty to Dartmouth is legendary and their engagement is a defining and sustaining quality of the College.”

I have a few comments on President Wright’s notion of Dartmouth’s heritage (other than noticing the pedestrian prose that this statement exhibits):

!) How can Dartmouth’s traditions be enumerated with nary a mention of the primary purpose for which it was created (and to which it still somewhat aspires), that is, to educate Indians?

2) Dartmouth was an all-male institution until 1973. To me it is very strange, and perhaps telling, that President Wright seems to sweep this obvious legacy under the rug. Even though Dartmouth is now fully co-educational, clearly its roots and much of its alumni/ae body are males.

3) Dartmouth is therein boasted as having “continuing leadership in computation and international education” This may once have been the case, but I seriously question whether it still is. My profession has been in computers and I have not noticed much that Dartmouth has contributed to this field in the last twenty years. Also to my continued disappointment, Dartmouth is becoming famous for its dearth of students that are selected for international honors programs. Therefore President Wright’s braggadocio seems a little misplaced.

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