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More Hopeful Words About Hanlon

An alumnus who has followed the College closely for many years shares my hopefulness about Phil Hanlon ‘77’s Presidency:

One thing that jumps out about Hanlon to me is his repeated reference to the purpose of a liberal arts education to produce “citizen leaders” — a phrase that connotes an understanding of the virtues of a well-rounded education that refines judgment and mind, develops character and personal responsibility, and prepares each of us to be leaders in the bedrock virtues as citizens of a constitutional republic. A far cry from Kim’s technocratic vision in which he was completely bewildered by the importance of the humanities and social sciences and the true importance of the liberal arts. Would it be boastful for me to claim that Hanlon seems to embody what we think is best about Dartmouth alumni — smart but well-rounded, intelligent but not pedantic, accomplished but not self-absorbed? What a change from the past 30 years of outsider leadership.

Over the years I have heard repeatedly from alumni that the College has shied away from educating “the whole (wo)man” in favor of, to coin a phrase, “creative loners.” Jim Kim’s initial lip service to educating leaders seemed an indication that he might restore Dartmouth’s earlier, broad-ranging liberal arts emphasis. Of course, as with most of the glib fellow’s ideas, there was no follow through. Let’s hope that Phil Hanlon understands the corrosiveness of words without action, and that he works hard to give today’s students confidence and intellectual breadth.


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