Presidential Fellows support the administration

by Megan Clyne | 1/10/16 8:49pm

Stephanie Barnhart ’14, Holli Weed ’14, Aylin Woodward ’15, Maggie Kennedy ’09, Morgan Matthews ’15 and Tom Dexter-Rice ’15 are the 2015-2016 Presidential Fellows. Fellows are assigned to a sponsoring office based on their interests where they help senior administrtors carry out different aspects of the College’s mission.

The program, established in 2009 by former College President Jim Yong Kim, offers a “unique opportunity for talented graduating seniors and recent alumni” to assist with the college administrative process, according to the website.

Four of the fellows offered their insights into their own personal experiences and on the program itself.

Kennedy, on the health and well-being staff as part of a three-person team, said her job focuses on mindfulness and stress on campus. Part of her work is to help promote healthy habits for students, she said.

Kennedy was a member of the varsity women’s ice hockey team, which inspired her to promote health at the College, she said. Since she graduated a few years ago, she said she was inspired by her work after college to apply to the program. After graduation, Kennedy worked in a special education pre-school in addtition to coaching sports for the Loomis Chaffee School. She said these experiences inspired her to focus on health, which led her to this fellowship.

Kennedy works frequently with faculty and staff in her daily affairs, noting that she loves how each day on the job is different. Her biggest adjustment was sitting at a desk all day, given that her former occupation required her to be on her feet, she said.

She mentioned that she enjoys sharing an office, as it permits her to brainstorm new policy ideas with the other members of her team.

“We want to keep things relevant and not get stale,” Kennedy said.

Matthews works for the Dartmouth Center for the Advancement of Learning, where she is involved in evaluation and assessment work. She participaes in the experiential learning initiative and conducts literature reviews of experiential learning and the gateway initiative, an effort to make large introductory classes feel smaller by creating focus groups for students. She also evaluates the content on the center’s website.

Matthews said that she decided to apply for the program because she was always interested in the behind-the-scenes aspects of teaching.

When selecting a job, she said DCAL appealed to her because she wanted to learn more about why teachers “do what they do.” She said she found out she got the job last spring and she started work in June.

Matthews said, given her recent graduation from the College and direct involvement with students in the gateway initiative, that she does have a relationship with undergraduate students in her current position. Those relationships shift the focus from faculty to students and makes students feel more comfortable, she said.

As with Kennedy, Matthews said that a lot of the work she does happens at a desk. She does, however, get invited to many meetings on emerging issues.

“I never thought I would say this, but I really like going to meetings,” she said.

She has attended meetings for massive open online courses, which have provided a setting for her to get to meet other people and create connections.

As a communications fellow, Woodward is in charge of College President Phil Hanlon’s public speaking events including providing background research in addtion to managing visiting lecturers and scholars.

She decided to apply for the fellows program because she really enjoyed her time at the College and wanted to capitalize on an opportunity to be at a place she loves, she said.

“I wanted to give back to an institution that gave so much to me,” Woodward said.

She said that her job focuses on giving Hanlon as much information as he needs to make informed decisions.

She said she has enjoyed learning how the non-student aspect of the College works and said she gained more respect for all that goes on to make the College run smoothly.

“It’s a fantastic environment to grow up in professionally,” Woodward said.

Weed works in the communication department, where she is in charge of correspondence, speech writing with senior administrators and peer benchmarking.

She said she fell in love with higher education during her time as a student at the College and she wanted to have an experience that would both strengthen her candidacy for graduate school as well as be meaningful to her.

After her first year working with the program, she realized she wanted to gain more experience in finance, so she applied to work a second year in the operations and special fellows position.

She said that she has enjoyed being able to spend more time at the College.

“There’s nowhere I’d rather do this work than at my alma mater,” Weed said.

Though five of the six current presidential fellows are self-identified women, the fellows are otherwise an incredibly diverse group of people, Weed said.

“I would love to see others have the opportunity I’ve had,” Weed said. “This program has catapulted my professional aspirations to new heights.”