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The Dartmouth
June 20, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

After year of planning, Society application deadline nears

The Society of Fellows, a program that will bring post-doctoral students to Hanover for research, teaching and mentorship, will close its application period for the inaugural class of fellows next week. The first group is expected to start next fall.

The program will have five or six post-doctorate fellows, program director and religion department chair Randall Balmer said. The program aims to boost cross-department collaboration and interaction with undergraduates, interviewed faculty leaders said.

Last month, the College announced the appointment of seven professors as mentors, who will in turn select the program’s participants after the application period ends on Oct. 15.

English professor Donald Pease, a faculty mentor, said that the program was created to promote post-graduate research and cooperation between departments.

Undergraduates will have more research opportunities and will be able to connect with recent graduates, Pease said.

Pease added that the senior thesis, while allowing undergraduates to do graduate-level research, does not include the same type of mentorship that the Society of Fellows could provide.

Dean of the faculty Michael Mastanduno said that the program will augment undergraduates’ educational opportunities.

“What you want is an intellectual environment where undergraduates will learn from various people of various stages,” Mastanduno said.

Mastanduno said he hopes that within five to 10 years the program will have reenergized undergraduate learning at Dartmouth.

Engineering professor William Lotko, a faculty mentor, said he will call the program a success if it leads to results that would not have been possible without collaboration between the fellows and their departments.

Lotko has experience with a similar, NASA-funded program for newly-minted Ph.D.’s called “Visiting Young Scientist.”

Lotko pointed to the example of David Murr, a former “Visiting Young Scientist” who designed a successful class at Dartmouth, worked at the U.S. State Department and received a faculty position at Augsberg College. This case was a “win-win” situation, Lotko said, noting that Murr and the program both benefited from the relationship. He said he hopes the Society of Fellows brings similar success.

Mastanduno, who chose the program’s faculty fellows along with Provost Carolyn Dever, said he sought to select highly accomplished professors with a “very broad sense of the liberal arts.”

The program is estimated to cost $2 to $3 million annually, Michael Kiefer, newly appointed vice president for presidential initiatives and principal gifts, said in a previous interview.

Balmer said the program’s funding will come from the anonymous $100 million gift Dartmouth received last April.

Once accepted, the new fellows will receive a monthly stipend of $4,600 and $4,000 annually for program-related costs, a total of $59,200 per year plus benefits.

During the selection process, Balmer said the program’s faculty fellows will emphasize diversity, scholarly accomplishment and potential. Tuck School of Business marketing professor and faculty fellow Peter Golder added that he will look for applications with strong communication skills and academic records.

The program’s other faculty fellows are biology professor Kathryn Cottingham, Geisel School of Medicine professor George O’Toole and history professor Pamela Crossley.

In addition to postdoctoral fellows, the program will also bring in visiting fellows for stays of one week to a term.

Harvard University and Princeton University have similar programs, with Harvard’s dating back to 1933. Also called the Society of Fellows, Harvard’s program aims to allow its participants to freely explore their academic interests for three years on campus, with a starting salary of $70,000.

Princeton’s “Society of Fellows in the Liberal Arts,” established in 1999, promotes interdisciplinary approaches to teaching. The program’s newest class brought in five fellows, selected from an 821-person applicant pool, who will each receive an annual salary of around $80,000 salary across their three years at Princeton.