College gets new dean, provost

by Allison Robbins | 11/16/98 6:00am

James Larimore, assistant to the Provost at Stanford University, will become Dartmouth's next dean of the College in July 1999, President James Wright announced Friday.

The dean-elect, who attended the rally on the Collis Center porch Friday afternoon, said he was "impressed" with the student discourse he heard. "It seemed to be in an entirely constructive tone," he said.

Larimore, 38, served as assistant director of admissions at Dartmouth from 1983 to 1985. Since then, at Stanford, he has been residence dean, judicial hearing officer, resident fellow, assistant dean of students, director of the American Indian program, deputy dean of students and acting dean of students.

Larimore is currently completing a Ph.D. program in higher education administration and policy analysis at Stanford's School of Education.

Former Dean of the College Lee Pelton stepped down shortly after Commencement this year to assume the presidency of Willamette University in Salem, Ore. Dan Nelson, who had been senior associate dean of the College, has been serving as dean of the College since then.

In an interview with the Dartmouth Friday, Larimore said it is too soon to have formulated his specific agenda, feeling in some respects like he has "stepped onto a moving train." He said he wants to first "learn the priorities" of the campus by "spending time talking to students, faculty, and administration."

However, Larimore already knows he will have to "devote a significant amount of time to new housing."

When asked about the state of racial harmony on campus, Larimore said he has not been back at Dartmouth long enough to know, but the College "is a much more diverse place" than it was when he was here in 1985.

He said he feels "a strong sense of hope for what's possible here," and hoped Dartmouth could become a place where people can see each other as human beings rather than falling back on "locked ways of looking at each other."

Larimore said that while he identifies himself as a Japanese and Comanche male Texan, as well as an athlete and sociologist, he feels one needs to go "deeper" to understand "who [people] are individually."

Larimore co-founded the National Institute for Native Leadership in Higher Education and serves on its Governing Council.

In regards to Dartmouth's Greek system, Larimore said he will "have to explore with [the fraternities and sororities] what their priorities and goals are and challenge them to hold up to it ... If the College is going to have a Greek system, then it ought to have a good one," he said.

As dean, Larimore will inherit a recently revised alcohol policy enacted by Pelton. Larimore acknowledged that "alcohol policies have been a problem on campuses across the country" but added he does not want to be "an alcohol cop."

"We must acknowledge that Dartmouth is not a sanctuary from the law, but our primary response should always be guided by our mission as an educational institution," he said. Larimore also said he recognizes the existing "tension" between administration's role as a law enforcer and as an educator.

Faced with future controversy over the door locking policy, Larimore said he will wait until the safety report from the Office of Residential Life is released to come to any conclusion. The Residential Security Workgroup is currently conducting an internet survey about safety precautions on campus and will report its findings and recommendations to Nelson.

Larimore said he thought it was "a mixed blessing" when Pelton announced his resignation. He said "it seemed a significant loss for Dartmouth."

Student Assembly Vice President Case Dorkey '99, who used to serve as the Assembly's faculty liaison, said, "I worked with Dean Pelton a lot over the years, and I think he came to appreciate student perspectives and tried to encourage student input into the decisions he made. It is exciting to get a fresh perspective, but I hope the same element will be carried through to the new dean."

"I think that even though he's an outsider, it is a positive thing that he has strong connections to Dartmouth and is familiar with the institution," Dorkey said.

Student Assembly President Josh Green '00 said he has not yet met Larimore, but he thinks Larimore sounds like a "great guy."

"I am glad to know [Larimore] has Dartmouth experience, but I also hope he can bring some of what he's learned at other schools back to Hanover," said Green.

Although Student Assembly will elect a new president before Larimore's term begins next summer, Green said he "wants to do as much as he can to make [Larimore's] job easier" in advance.

The search committee contacted Larimore while he was in the process of finishing his Ph.D, and he said he was at first "apprehensive" about going through the application process.

Larimore said the size, location, and liberal arts tradition of Dartmouth and urgings from family and friends convinced him to return to the College.

Compared to Palo Alto, Larimore said it is "easier to meet and know your neighbors" in Hanover. He said he and his wife will miss the people and weather of California, but Dartmouth is "a great place to be."

Larimore attended East Texas State University as an undergraduate and obtained a master's degree in education from Stanford.

Larimore's sister Colleen graduated from Dartmouth in 1985 and also directed the College's Native American Program. His niece, Laura Duncan, is a member of the Class of 2001. Larimore's wife Karen will accompany him to Dartmouth.

Dartmouth's dean of the College is responsible for policy and activities relating to the First-Year Office, Upperclass Deans Office, the Office of Residential Life, the Office of Student Life, Safety and Security, Career Services, the College Health Service, the Outdoor Programs Office, the Athletics Department, the Native American Program, the Women's Resource Center and the Dartmouth Skiway, among others.