Financial aid packages to change

by Seth J. Hill | 10/20/98 5:00am

President James Wright announced major changes to Dartmouth's financial aid packages at a general faculty meeting yesterday.

Wright said the College will continue to decrease the loan component of awards for low-income students, including a new policy of no loans for freshmen coming from families below the $30,000 income level. Need will instead be met with more grants and scholarships.

These modifications were made in light of recent changes to financial aid packages at Princeton, Harvard, Yale and Stanford Universities.

"There is an arms race ... regarding financial aid," Wright said.

Students who are admitted to schools with better packages may choose those schools over Dartmouth, and the College's incoming classes may be less diverse as a result, he said.

In order to remain competitive, Wright announced increased allocation for financial aid of around 10 percent over the next four years with the help of increased alumni contributions.

In addition, international financial aid will be increased and asset measurement will be adjusted. The new policies should make Dartmouth competitive with any other school, Wright said.

Wright also discussed the budget and his goals for improving student life in his address to the faculty.

He said the effect of current market troubles on the College endowment should not be a major concern. The endowment is actually up four percent, although it is down 6.4 percent for the current quarter, and so the budget will not be affected, he said.

Many of Wright's new ideas require some significant spending, but he said he and the Board of Trustees discussed the College incurring some debt and using endowment funds.

Wright said increasing the size of the endowment to compete with other institutions should not be the purpose of donations to the College.

The College's searches for a new provost, dean of the College, vice president and treasurer and head of the Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action Office continue. The dean of Residential Life position will also be filled after the new dean of the College has been named, Wright said.

Wright discussed the continuing construction of facilities, and he said he hoped for facility improvements for Residential Life, the arts and life sciences. In addition, improvements are due for Thayer School of Engineering's office space and laboratories and the Amos Tuck School of Business Administration residences.

The lack of residence hall space and beds is a problem, Wright said. He said there is too much off-campus housing and not enough options on campus.

The future will bring a new complex just behind the East Wheelock Cluster and new, different forms of housing to attract students to remain on campus.

Wright also discussed a problem with the lack of living continuity because of the Dartmouth Plan. Changing rooms every 10 weeks does not create a strong living environment, Wright said, and he would like to explore options for more continuous living arrangements.

He reiterated many of the objectives he addressed at his inauguration last month, including improving Dartmouth's diversity, its out-of-classroom experiences and the relationship between research and liberal arts.

Wright outlined a plan to increase research and student-faculty interaction with "seed money" grants to initiate projects in the hopes that other grants can be found to continue the projects after they have started.

Wright emphasized his support for diversity and affirmative action, saying it is an "essential" part of the admissions process. He suggested recruiting minorities in California and other states where affirmative action has been diminished.

Wright discussed the lack of social options for students, especially with the loss of a social space due to the renovation of Webster Hall. The hall was once used as a medium-size programming space, and will reopen in December as the Rauner Special Collections.

Another problem, according to Wright, is that the "Greek system plays too dominant a role in the social system," and he would like to see more late-night alternatives.

In speaking to students, he said he found that they desired more activities after 11 p.m., such as the newly extended hours of the Collis Center. Wright would also like to extend the Alumni Gym's hours of operation.