Alums visit College to view change
The Alumni Affairs Office earlier this month invited a small group of alumni and parents of alumni to participate in the Horizons program, spending a weekend exploring how the College has changed since they were directly involved.
"The program provides a way for alumni to see the qualities that existed at Dartmouth when they attended but expressed in terms of today's teaching agenda," said John Hays, director of development at the Alumni Office.
The Alumni Office sponsors the Horizons program three times each year. Members spend several days getting acquainted with parts of the College they may not otherwise see.
Members of the fall Horizons program attended an admissions workshop where they evaluated College applications from members of the class of 1997. They also spoke with Green Key students about their experiences at Dartmouth, sat in on classes and attended presentations at the Thayer School of Engineering, the Hopkins Center for the Performing Arts and the Hood Museum.
"Hopefully when people attend Horizons programs they leave with a better understanding of Dartmouth College as it is today and respect what it is the College is attempting to achieve," Hays said.
Hays said the people invited have a "direct interest in the College." Participants either served as a class officer, volunteer time to the College or make substantial monetary contributions, he said. College researchers and guidance counselors sometimes participate as well, he added.
Although it is possible for the Parents' Fund to recommend that the Alumni Office invite certain parents to participate, Horizons is "not a solicitation program," said Janet Terp, assistant director of public programs at the Alumni Office.
Established in 1962, the Horizons program has served as a way for the College to "share information and hear responses and reactions from participants," Hays said.
"It is important for people to know what Dartmouth is about," Hays said. "The program provides true conversation, not a briefing, in a short amount of time with a small group of people."
Paul Young '43, who served as the College Treasurer under John Kemeny, the College's 13th president, participated with his wife in Horizons for the second time this fall.
"All people involved with the Horizons program gained a positive view of the College," Young said.
College President James Freedman met with Horizons members during their visit to discuss the direction the College is taking under his leadership. During this session, alumni raised concerns about the continuation of need-blind admissions practices, the lack of an age limit on Dartmouth professors and the role of commercial sponsors of College athletics.
"Freedman was forward looking and positive. He has learned on the job a great deal since he took over Dartmouth College," said Wyvill Fitzhugh '35, who participated in the Horizons program for the first time this fall.
After returning to the College this year, Fitzhugh said he thinks attitudes toward women have improved since the early 1970s when his daughter was one of the first females to spend an entire year at the College.
Young also said he sees changes in the students at the College compared to those he knew when he was a student himself. "The student body has changed intellectually since my time. Now it is much smarter," Young said.
Young said he was impressed with the Rassias method of teaching languages that includes drill five days each week, language lab and an emphasis on speaking the language. He said he had to memorize vocabulary and learned how to write and read a language rather than how to speak it when he attended Dartmouth.
The Horizons program has been extremely successful and is very popular with alumni, Hays said. Each year 120 to 160 people participate in the programs, and few turn down the opportunity to attend, according to the Office of Alumni Affairs.
The next Horizons program is scheduled for January and only alumni planning reunions for the upcoming year will be invited, Hays said. The program provides them with a "current sense of Dartmouth College" before they start planning their reunions, he said.