Dartmouth launches 242nd year

by Sam Rauschenfels | 9/20/11 10:00pm

by Aki Onda and Akikazu Onda / The Dartmouth

An audience composed primarily of members of the Class of 2015 received remarks from College President Jim Yong Kim, Student Body President Max Yoeli '12 and Kul Chandra Gautam '72, the former assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations and former deputy executive director of UNICEF.

Gautam spoke about the Dartmouth experience, citing himself as an example of a student who took full advantage of his four years at the College. Gautam arrived in Hanover from an isolated village in Nepal in 1968 and said he was overwhelmed by the opportunities that Dartmouth provided.

"My village was five days' walk from the nearest bus stop," Gautam said. "To call [Dartmouth] remote seemed a little excessive."

Gautam encouraged new students to explore and profit from the extensive resources that Dartmouth provides.

"I urge you all to take full advantage of the boundless opportunities that this small college with a great president and a glorious history has to offer you," he said.

Gautam said his time at the College prepared him well for his work with UNICEF, where he became a leader in the global movement for universal immunization of children.

"It was no surprise that my Dartmouth education led me to work for the world's smallest and most precious beings," he said.

Gautam also emphasized Kim's work with global health issues in his address. "Very few" of America's great universities can boast of having a president with global health experience, Gauntam said. Like many of Kim's addresses, Gauntam's speech implored students to be altruistic and put their educations to use in public service.

"I urge you to prepare yourselves to help tackle some problems and say, Here we come!,'" he said.

In his speech, delivered first in the ceremony, Kim lauded Gautam for his work with UNICEF, during which time Gauntam saved almost 250 million lives by increasing the distribution of vaccinations in developing countries. The newly matriculated students can now enjoy a connection to Gautam and his accomplishments around the world as members of the same community, Kim said.

Kim who met Gautam prior to arriving at Dartmouth labeled Gautam "one of the most optimistic people" he knew.

"In his line of work, you do not become optimistic by looking at the evidence," Kim said. "Nurturing the optimism of your spirit is your task."

Kim welcomed new graduate students to the College in his speech, but he stressed the number opportunities afforded to undergraduate students at the College.

"At Dartmouth, you will have unparalleled access to faculty who are leaders in their fields," Kim said, adding that such individuals are responsible for making the College "so successful for so many years."

Yoeli, who emphasized the College's focus on undergraduate education, spoke about the definition of success to which many students subscribe as his greatest frustration at Dartmouth. Yoeli cited high participation in corporate recruiting as an example of how students' views of achievement are sometimes overly narrow and fail to include endeavors that are equally worthwhile.

"I implore you to stay true to yourselves, as cliche as that sounds," Yoeli said. "Dartmouth will force you to discover the values you hold rather quickly."

Yoeli urged members of the Class of 2015 to explore a wide variety of classes and organizations and always voice their opinions.

"You never know what opportunities may be hidden in unseen adventures," he said.