Gentes engages with community

by Taylor Malmsheimer | 8/1/13 10:00pm

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by Taylor Malmsheimer and Taylor Malmsheimer / The Dartmouth

"I think that's high praise, that they had taken the time to do that for their boss," said Wallace Hopp, associate dean for faculty and research at the Ross School of Business and Gentes' boss for her last two years as director of faculty support staff and research administration at Michigan.

Two months after Hanlon assumed the presidency in June, Gentes has not only found knitting shops but also engaged with hundreds of students through conversations and dinners.

Gentes, who worked for almost 20 years as an administrator at the University of Michigan, said she will no longer work on the management side of higher education, but instead hopes to engage with students in an academic capacity. She is particularly interested in facilitating action-based learning among students.

"Dartmouth has a lot of programs where students take what they learn in class and apply it to problems or complexities outside the classroom," Gentes said. "I'm working on defining a job where I would work in that area."

At the Ross School of Business, Gentes supervised over 25 employees and handled research-related finances, Hopp said. When Hopp assumed his role as associate dean two years ago, Gentes had already recruited a talented pool of faculty support and research administration staff.

"She left a much stronger group than she inherited," Hopp said.

Gentes also worked to mitigate the disconnect that often occurs between faculty and staff at an institution.

"We have a much better partnership between faculty and staff and appreciation on the part of the faculty for the staff," Hopp said. "That's Gail's doing."

Although she is still finding her niche on campus, Gentes said she hopes to partner with Hanlon in his role as president.

"I think I can help him hear things," Gentes said. "A lot of times we've had big groups, and he can't hear all the things that are being said. Then we can discuss what we've both heard."

Michael Zhu '14, who attended one of the dinners Hanlon and Gentes hosted at their home, said he was impressed by her support for Hanlon.

"What struck me the most is how interested she is in what President Hanlon is saying, even though she's probably heard this so many times," Zhu said.

Although most of her interactions with students have occurred alongside Hanlon, Gentes said she hopes to engage with students on her own. On Wednesday, she attended a dinner with a group of Link-Up students, unaccompanied by Hanlon. So many people hoped to meet Gentes that the dinner had a waiting list, Link-Up summer co-president Kelsey Stimson '15 said.

"A couple people mentioned that in contrast to previous presidents' wives, she's very much more in the spotlight and really tries to be in communication with the students," Stimson said. "She's present on campus and active alongside her husband."

Gentes said the students she has spoken with have been friendly and engaging.

"We hope they've been open as well," she said. "I think we've had some great discussions."

Gentes has also interacted with alumni and community members, joined a yoga studio in Lebanon and spent time perusing and borrowing books from Baker-Berry Library. She and Hanlon have dined at many restaurants in Hanover and spent time walking their two dogs, Mocha and Cassie, through town and Pine Park.

"I've been pleasantly surprised at the richness of the community," Gentes said.

Gentes grew up in Wellesley, Mass., with two sisters and a brother. She graduated from Wells College in Aurora, N.Y., which was then all-female. Gentes was a first-generation college student, but she said there was an expectation that she and her siblings go to college, especially since they grew up with Wellesley College in their hometown.

After graduating with a degree in American Studies from Wells, Gentes entered the Peace Corps and spent two years training teachers in Herat, Afghanistan. When she returned to the United States, she worked in the Boston area for a few years before receiving her MBA from Boston University's School of Management.

Upon graduating from Boston University, Gentes worked for five years at a consulting firm. During this time, Gentes met and married Hanlon, moved to California and had the couple's first child. She and Hanlon have two sons and a daughter.