Verbum Ultimum: Missing Mentorship

by The Dartmouth Editorial Board | 4/7/13 10:00pm

This weekend, the College celebrated 40 years of coeducation with the Greenways conference ("College Celebrates Coeducation," Apr. 8), welcoming alumnae back to campus for a series of panel discussions on career and life experiences. It was a rare and wonderful occasion, with speakers who are leaders across the fields of business, science and technology, media, arts, politics and academia. Yet it failed to provide the mentorship and personal connections to undergraduates, who obviously would have benefitted from interacting with alumni.

In no part of the weekend was there College-scheduled time specifically for intimate, less structured conversations between current students and alumnae. These are the women who arrived four decades ago to find an uninviting college environment, and channeled their education and experience to create their own paths and careers. In the midst of a passionate national debate on women's role in the workplace and the balance between family and work, Greenways had the potential to foster deeper relationships and career advice through smaller, more intimate settings for discussion. The panels gave insight into the professional world, yet there was a missed opportunity for those who may have wanted something more.

There are few official avenues currently in place that directly connect students with female graduates. Strong, ambitious, future-oriented undergraduate women seek to take advantage of and should have access to the incredible resources that these alumnae have to offer. With this lack of an established network of women, Greenways could have set the foundation for building more connections. Many student organizations held their own events this weekend, inviting panelists to speak with their members about their professional and life choices. We wished that the College had done more to leverage the presence of so many intelligent and successful alumnae for the broader undergraduate community.

Meanwhile, the College's promotion of Greenways to undergraduates was lackluster. Aside from an email from Interim President Carol Folt last term and another from the President's Office at the start of spring, there was a dearth of buildup to the weekend's many events, with little of the excitement and pomp we saw surrounding the Hopkins Center's 50th anniversary and the Year of the Arts. If the College aimed to use Greenways to make an enduring impact, why was it not communicated more actively to campus? In addition, the weekend's packed schedule limited opportunities for greater audience participation. With just a single day of panel discussions and eight held simultaneously, the most that any person could have attended was two.

This past weekend rightfully commemorated the College's progress over the past four decades. Though there was much to be gained from the programming, undergraduate women were ultimately left with little lasting connection to our visiting, greatly accomplished daughters of Dartmouth.