Alums pay big bucks to travel world with College

by Jessica Chen | 11/9/04 6:00am

Some alumni are willing to pay a pretty penny to recreate their Dartmouth experiences -- especially when it's a question of transporting the experience to exotic locations around the world.

The Alumni Continuing Education and Travel program offers a variety of land and cruise trips to destinations worldwide. The chief catch: The trips are led by Dartmouth professors, who draw on their area of expertise to provide relevant cultural and historical background about the location.

Trips currently underway include voyages to Patagonia starting at $6,295, to Spain from $1,295, and "Ancient Kingdoms by Private Jet" -- for a hefty $31,950.

A subsidiary of Dartmouth Alumni Relations, the for-profit program partners with companies, such as Alumni Holiday International and Academic Arrangements Abroad, which provide the travel arrangements. Most of the trips are significantly more expensive than similar packages available on discount websites, since participants pay for high-class services and accommodations.

The College generally targets such programs toward older alumni, who are able to pay the extra expense associated with a worry-free package vacation, said Chris Coleman, the program's assistant director.

For most participants, though, cost is not a problem. Complaints are usually derived from inefficient planning by the travel company, or aspects of the trip over which no one has any control, such as weather, Coleman said.

Carolmae Encherman and her husband, Robert Encherman '42, have traveled on a number of Dartmouth-sponsored trips throughout much of Europe. She said the trips are well-planned.

"They really take care of you very well," she said. "They always do everything pretty first class -- and take you to an extra place that's kind of unusual."

Having traveled extensively on her own as well, Encherman said the Dartmouth trips provide a different experience altogether.

Henry Nachman '51 Tu '55 and his wife Amy Nachman agreed, citing the presence of Dartmouth professors as the reason for their continued participation in College-run trips to Russia, Alaska, the Great Plains, Canada and the Mississippi River.

"The major advantage is the faculty," said Henry Nachman, "They make the trip. And if you want to go with faculty, you have to pay for it."

Professors accompanying the trips receive an honorarium, but their presence does not raise the price of the program significantly, Coleman said.

Dartmouth's Continuing Education Program also covers professors' travel expenses, providing a clear draw for the faculty members.

For the Enchermans, a large part of the trip's attraction was the Dartmouth atmosphere.

They were able to participate in three separate trips with another couple, also from Hanover, and now meet with them for lunch every week.

On the other hand, many alumni have said that the presence of other Dartmouth alumni does not really make much of a difference.

"I could go to a reunion in Hanover," Henry Nachman said, explaining that he and his wife are able to be sociable in any situation, and do not really need Dartmouth trips to provide the occasion.

Dartmouth Continuing Education and Travel also offers other programs, including its annual summer Alumni College program, which usually features classes centered around a different theme each year.

This past summer, the program featured classes ranging from "The Gilded Age in Northern New England," exploring historical Victorian areas near the Dartmouth campus, to "A Loaf of Bread & Thou," and exploring the history of bread.

"[The courses] are very fascinating," said Henry Nachman, who also participated in a course that explored the expedition of Lewis and Clark from a Native American point of view. "You learn things that you can't get out of a book," he said.

Newer and less popular programs featured by Dartmouth Continuing Education are the Faculty Chalk Talk, a pre-football game lecture series offered in the fall, and the Alumni Club Seminars, seminars offered in conjunction with regional alumni clubs.

While Dartmouth alumni participate in large numbers, the programs, like Dartmouth-led trips, are open to parents and siblings of Dartmouth students and alumni, as well as "friends of the College."

Advertise your student group in The Dartmouth for free!