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Faculty Presidential Search Commitee Meeting

About 40 professors showed up for a meeting on the Dartmouth presidential search with Board of Trustee Chairman Ed Haldeman ‘70 and Trustee Al Mulley ‘70.

Among the criteria enumerated by various professors for choosing the next president were an academic background, the ability to express a clear vision consistent with the desires of Dartmouth, setting a good tone for Dartmouth’s academia, and retaining the highest quality faculty. One professor commented that the next president should not just be a Jim Wright replacement.

One particularly insightful line of commentary came from Professor Ivy Schweitzer of the English and Women and Gender Studies Departments, who spoke about the need for the next president to articulate a vision for Dartmouth. “We have the ability to be the top in liberal arts and the humanities,” Schweitzer said, and it is this superior liberal arts education that is what makes Dartmouth special and this vision that the next president should proudly articulate.

Professor Kevin Reinhart of the Religion Department spoke about considering whether the next president him or herself had an undergraduate liberal arts education, which Professor Reinhart said could be a decisive factor in understanding what the goals are here at Dartmouth. Reinhart also spoke in support of going outside of Dartmouth to hire the next president to gain a fresh pair of eyes, and that this candidate should be in the mold of a president like John Sloan Dickey in promoting an understanding of the world.

Professors also spoke about the need to create a climate the encourages, in the words of Colin Calloway of the Native American Studies Department, “true diversity.” He talked about the need to push candidates under consideration on the issue of diversity and the ability to consider how to treat free speech that might be insensitive to others. Following up Al Mulley responded that “Diversity that can be quantified is not enough” but that we must be “sensitive to the differences that can be understood.”

Computer Science professor Scott Drysdale began his remarks by saying that “the elephant in the room” is the trustee battles and election. The next president needs to put this to rest and get everyone to agree on what the mission for Dartmouth should be. Elaborating on this mission, Drysdale spoke about upholding the unique balance Dartmouth has struck between teaching and research, and that as much as we do not want to become a second-rate Harvard we also do not want to become a second-rate Williams.

Another professor spoke about “intellectual sustainability” and cultivating “superior effort, growth, and opportunity” towards the kind of liberal arts education that can play a role on the national academic stage. Another spoke about the need for “intellectual leadership” from the next president that does not interfere with particular departments (i.e. academic freedom) but has a broader idea of where the institution should go, perhaps a former faculty member or academic.

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