Dever approves plans to split the Tucker Foundation

by Erin Lee | 5/6/15 7:57pm

Tiffany Zhai/The Dartmouth Staff

Provost Carolyn Dever recently approved plans for two new centers — the Dartmouth Center for Service and the William Jewett Tucker Center — that will continue the work of the Tucker Foundation following the Board of Trustees’ approval to split the foundation last June. Dever proposed new mission statements and outlined preliminary plans for the organization of each center at the end of the winter term, Tucker interim dean Theresa Ellis ’97 said.

Tucker is currently in the process of finalizing the split, which includes settling legal matters related to the distribution of Tucker’s endowment, she said. Administrators hope to complete the process by the end of the calendar year, though no clear date has been established, she added.

“We are eager to get the last legal bits finished,” she said.

Tracy Dustin-Eichler, the Tucker Foundation program officer for local community service, said that because Tucker has been a single organization for over 60 years, its endowment will need to be split between the two new centers. The timeline for creating the new centers depends on how long the legal process takes to finalize the new endowment plans, which could happen as early as June or take until the end of the year, she said.

Ellis said that thus far, the plan for the proposed new centers has not encountered any obstacles and has received generally positive feedback.

Dustin-Eicheler said that the initiative is still in its planning stages and is currently evolving.

“Though the vision has been released, the actual articulation of those visions into concrete programming is still in process,” she said.

The William Jewett Tucker Center will focus on spirituality and religious life, while the Dartmouth Center for Service will support public service and social activism, according to a statement released by the Board last summer. Dustin-Eichler noted that a permanent name for the Center for Service is still being determined.

Dustin-Eichler said 1,200 students volunteered in local service through Tucker last year, totaling about 40,000 hours with more than 25 service organizations, which is generally consistent with previous years. She added that students also participate in fellowships, leave-term opportunities and internships offered by Tucker.

Kieran Sim ’17, student director of public relations, said Tucker serves as an “umbrella group” on campus that coordinates the activities of many different local and student organizations. He said he believes the split will allow the foundation to better serve the local community.

“I always found it quite interested that the Tucker Foundation was a collective amalgamation of both religious life and service, and I felt like students could be very involved in one side without aligning with both,” he said. “I think the split makes a lot of logical sense. Though they can be related, fundamentally they serve different functions.”

Ellis said the two new centers will allow students to access new resources and interact with leaders fully invested in either religion or service.

“It will make it possible for each focus to have the full attention it deserves,” she said.

In fall 2013, then-interim provost and current vice provost for research Martin Wybourne convened a task force that recommended dividing Tucker.

Soon after the Board’s announcement, one working groups for each center was formed to conduct research and gather feedback. Ellis is leading the Center for Service group and Tucker religious and spiritual life director Rev. Nancy Vogele is leading the other. Both groups are comprised of faculty, students, Tucker Board members and alumni.

Sim said student members of Tucker’s staff were invited to a forum last fall to offer suggestions and provide feedback.

Ellis said that after legal matters are resolved, Tucker will initiate searches to find directors for both centers. Ellis said that as interim dean of Tucker, she will leave her position once new leaders are hired for the new centers.

Dustin-Eichler said that the split will allow both centers to concentrate on their specific purposes.

“I think it’s an opportunity for both centers to shine a light on what is unique to their mission,” she said. “It’s an opportunity for the Tucker Center to fully embrace and promote spirituality on campus and an opportunity for the Center for Service to think about new ways to promote civic engagement and service leadership.”