Over 1,700 women raise $25 million for Dartmouth Hall renovation

by Emily Lu | 3/5/20 2:10am


The college paced its fundraising goal of $25 million for Dartmouth Hall renovations.

by Jason Romero / The Dartmouth

Dubbed “the most ambitious women’s fundraising effort” in school history, a community of women alumni, faculty and students has raised over $25 million to fund the renovation of Dartmouth Hall. More than 1,700 women donated through The Call to Lead campaign to fund the building. 

The Call to Lead is a $3 billion comprehensive fundraising campaign launched by the College in April 2018. According to campaign executive committee member Caroline Hribar ’00, one of the campaign’s goals is inclusivity. 

“Capital campaigns are really about setting the future course for an institution,” Hribar said. “It was really important to President Hanlon, the board and everyone on the campaign committee that every alum and every student at Dartmouth have the opportunity to shape that future.”  

There are three women-focused initiatives of the campaign — one of which is the restoration of Dartmouth Hall, which has not been renovated since the 1930s. The other two goals focus on gifts of at least $100,000 to Dartmouth’s annual funds and $1 million to The Call to Lead. 

“We started to think about something that would let all of the women at Dartmouth today and future know that all of us are there to support them,” Hribar said. “That’s how we arrived at Dartmouth Hall, which is physically and symbolically the heart of campus. What better place for us to lead this legacy of women coming together?” 

The donations to renovate Dartmouth Hall began after the goal was announced at a series of The Call to Lead campaign events throughout the country. However, during the Women’s Leadership Summit in November, trustee emerita Denise Dupré ’80 announced a $5 million match once 1,000 alumnae donated — and gifts to the project started pouring in. Hribar said that alumni spread the word through Facebook and email, and in less than a month, the goal of 1,000 donors was met.  

A key element of the Dartmouth Hall campaign focuses not on the size of the donations, but rather the number of women who donate. The building, once renovated, will include a wall of the names of everyone who donated, regardless of the amount. 

“Dartmouth Hall is really about celebrating the collective power of women, rather than traditionally in philanthropy, [honoring] the biggest gifts,” Hribar said. “What is making women philanthropy successful is recognizing that there is real power in women coming together, and giving women the opportunity to do things collaboratively instead of competitively.” 

The campaign hopes to have the building completely renovated by 2023, according to associate dean for the faculty of arts and humanities Barbara Will. It will also serve as a celebration for the 50th year of coeducation at Dartmouth; female students completed their first academic school year from 1972 to 1973.  

“The symbolism speaks volumes to how far women at Dartmouth have come,” Hribar said. “Being able to celebrate coeducation with women [coming] together to make their mark on the future of this campus is really wonderful.” 

While Dartmouth Hall currently houses the foreign language departments, renovations will bring the Leslie Center for the Humanities from Haldeman Center to the first floor of Dartmouth Hall. The changes are also focused on adapting and recognizing the needs of the student body. The College will equip classrooms with new technology and create elevators and accessible entrances to the building. They also plan to install air conditioning and heating.  

“Since the beginning of the College, it has served as the chief academic building on campus,” Will said. “Obviously as other parts of the campus have grown, Dartmouth Hall is no longer the chief academic building, but it still has that iconic status. Every student passes through Dartmouth Hall or takes a class [there] during their undergraduate career.” 

The basement auditorium, Room 105, has a particularly rich history as the principal location for guest lecturers. Students frequently gathered there for discussions and discourse in the past, and the renovations hope to reinvigorate 105 as a hub of activity. Will said that architects plan to bring in natural light and are working to allow visitors to see down into the room when they walk through the front doors.  

Will said that the women donating to Dartmouth Hall’s renovation are doing so to honor the College’s past, as well as its future. 

“Female donors are contributing to a building that’s going to become the 21st-century embodiment of teaching, learning, scholarly work and research,” Will said. “These are women who are supporting not just Dartmouth’s past but also Dartmouth’s future. It’s really making a huge statement about how women are at the center of a Dartmouth education.”  

While the $25 million mark was met in early February, the renovation campaign is extending its goal to 2,500 female donors by 2023.  

“My personal ambition is that we get as many women as possible to be a part of this with a gift of any size, whether that be a gift of $1, $10 or $500, or more,” Hribar said. “I just love the idea of all students coming in and seeing the collective power of the women of Dartmouth.”

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