Finances, campaigns topic of Town Hall

by Kristine Jiwoo Ahn | 11/3/16 12:31am

Around 70 faculty, staff and community members gathered in Spaulding Auditorium yesterday for a town hall, where Executive Vice President Rick Mills and Senior Vice President for Advancement Robert Lasher ’88 spoke about finances and campaigning at Dartmouth.

During the question and answer session, Lasher and Mills addressed questions about College President Phil Hanlon’s plan for reallocating a portion of funding from nonacademic to academic areas within the next four years. They said this reallocation is necessary because the College’s primary revenue sources — such as increasing tuition, federal funding for research and endowment returns — are currently under significant pressure. This funding reallocation probably means that some current College positions will be gone in a few years, Mills said.

Lasher said that Hanlon’s push for an annual budget reallocation requires people to think about and assess what their departments are spending money on and, consequently, how to reduce inefficiencies.

Mills also discussed the United Way campaign, a nonprofit community-centric organization that supports 31 organizations throughout the Upper Valley. This year, Mills and the Dartmouth United Way team set a goal of raising $275,500 by December and attracting 200 first-time donors. He also reminded the audience of Dartmouth United Way’s new volunteer policy, through which College employees can take a day of paid time off to volunteer for a United Way-supported nonprofit agency.

“The new policy allows people in our community who may not feel like they can financially support the organizations to contribute in a different way,” he said.

Lasher then spoke about Dartmouth’s upcoming campaigns, which he said are meant to gather community values into a coherent mission. He spoke about the various aspects of campaigning that the administration needs to consider: purpose of funds, window of return, audience, integration or independence, goal size, participation and the role of major community-wide events such as Dartmouth’s 250th Anniversary in 2019.

“Campaigning is about telling a new story about your institution — where it’s coming from and where it’s going,” he said. “A campaign is an opportunity for individuals to act collectively and see the power of what we can all do together.”

Lasher noted that everyone has a different way to be philanthropic.

“Big donations aren’t the only contributions that count — service and expertise are just some of several others,” he said. “Each person has his or her own story with Dartmouth, philanthropic priorities and vision, so we really try to begin the conversation of how they want to impact Dartmouth.”

There will be three more town halls this school year to talk about more specifics of future advancement campaigns, along with other issues.

One audience member asked how Dartmouth will decide to approach, sustain or discontinue its investments if new investments do not generate adequate returns.

Mills responded, saying that assessing investments is complicated.

“Dartmouth theoretically makes investments for the purpose of education,” he said. “But since we’re an academic institution, the process of assessing investments is more complex and subjective.”

The next town hall is scheduled for 12 p.m. on Jan. 11 in Spaulding Auditorium.

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