Of the three goals College Provost Lee Bollinger set out to accomplish two terms ago when he came on board Parkhurst Administration, the one he is most passionate about is enhancing the College's intellectual life.
"It's the pursuit of knowledge that's the most exciting part of an institution," he said.
In his excitement to work on the institution's intellectual life, he realized he may have hastily committed himself to teaching too much too soon. This term he is teaching Government 60, a class focusing on the First Amendment. And in the Winter term, he was committed to teaching a senior seminar but later decided against it.
"I just felt that in the first year I shouldn't devote myself to teaching more than in the first term," said Bollinger, one of the country's leading First Amendment scholars.
Considering the raves of praise he has earned from students taking his class this term, some are sure to be disappointed by this curriculum change.
"Professor Bollinger knows how to make free speech issues newly relevant to me, and I think others in the class, by tying them directly to situations that could conceivably occur at Dartmouth," Jim Brennan '96 said.
"Incitement to rush the field and protests over ROTC policy are issues that are directly tied to our free speech rights, and he has weaved them directly into our class," Brennan said.
Todd Ianucelli '95 said the Socratic method used by Bollinger, and many law school professors, encourages students to come to class well prepared.
"The best thing about Bollinger's teaching is that he does not accept wrong or mediocre answers, as most professors do, but rather pushes the student to give more, to show his or her knowledge," Ianucelli said. "This method pushes the students to really want to do well."
Bollinger's underlying philosophy best explains his lecture style: "For me, the life of an intellectual is the best form of existence," he said. "Recognizing that not every student will share that view, nevertheless, I view it as our mission to communicate that and live that ideal for them while I'm here."
And for his students' praise, he has some to return.
"The quality of the students is very high, and I am very pleased by that," Bollinger said. He also noted he has been impressed by the seriousness with which research and scholarship are taken at the College.
Bollinger said the first goal he set for himself upon his arrival at Dartmouth was to learn as much about the College's structure, financial situation and values as possible.
The second goal was to identify his major assignments for this year, which included helping to find deans for the Amos Tuck School of Business Administration and the Thayer School of Engineering. Some of his other major projects are helping to shape the direction of the medical school and traveling to different fundraising events to help raise capital for the College, he said.
In working with his administrative colleagues, Bollinger also has earned high marks with them.
"He's done an excellent job. He's just been extraordinary in the way he's just taken to this place," College President James Freedman said, adding that Bollinger's openness, willingness to listen and capacity to absorb a lot of new information are among his best assets.
Economics Professor Jack Menge, who serves on several College committees with Bollinger, said the Provost's willingness to listen carefully before making decisions or judgments is appreciated by his colleagues.
"He is a very careful administrator who knows where to look for the information that he's seeking, and he knows what information is relevant to the question being addressed," Menge said.
Bollinger said that he hasn't really thought about what he wants to do after the Provost job. "I have much to learn and I enjoy what I'm doing, so for the foreseeable future I'm very happy to be in this position. What will come afterwards, I don't know."
He did admit that the thought of being the President of a university has crossed his mind. "I think that clearly, a purpose for doing this is to entertain the idea of being a university President," he said.