Town reacts to President Hanlon’s retirement announcement

Business owners and town officials expressed their feelings about Hanlon’s administration and their hopes for his successor.

by Shena Han | 2/15/22 5:15am

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The College's decisions have historically implicated the town of Hanover, including through construction projects and business sales.

by Hannah Li / The Dartmouth

Businesses in Hanover have reacted to President Hanlon announcing his impending retirement from leadership at the College with optimism — hoping that a new administration will work to preserve and strengthen the relationship between the town and the College.

Traditionally Trendy owner Rocio Menoscal said that Hanlon’s administration was marked by the COVID-19 pandemic, and that the College’s social distancing, masking and quarantine regulations for students have kept Hanover safe. 

“Everything changed — [there was] nothing the administration could do,” she said. “I think that the administration, for us, is doing well.”

Menoscal, who has operated Traditionally Trendy since its founding in 1992, said she has observed previous administrations’ decisions negatively implicating local businesses. She explained that Dartmouth students used to have a short Thanksgiving break and a longer winter break later in the year, resulting in a sales surge for local businesses around the holidays. When those separate breaks were combined into one prolonged break a year before Hanlon took office, she said, “that was a big change that changed our business” as students were no longer on campus to contribute to sales revenue.

However, Menoscal reiterated that she is largely satisfied with the College’s policies.

Others expressed greater dissatisfaction with Hanlon’s administration, such as Records, Posters and Memorabilia New Hampshire owner Bryan Smith, who criticized Hanlon for, in his eyes, harming the community by prioritizing the College’s financial wellbeing over longstanding Dartmouth traditions. He cited the closures of Paddock Music Library, Kresge Physical Sciences Library and the Hanover Country Club under Hanlon as major losses for both the student body and the town as a whole.

“Good things happen because of where we’re located, but a lot of it also comes from traditions,” Smith said. “It breaks my heart in the last ten years that those traditions have been discontinued.”

On the other hand, some members of the business community said that they are satisfied with their current relationships with the College and hope that the next administration maintains channels of communication with the town. Executive director of the Upper Valley Business Alliance Tracy Hutchins said that Dartmouth is a member of the UVBA and has partnered with the organization to support various initiatives and events in the past, and she hopes that they continue to work together in the future.

“I think one of the things that the pandemic has [shone] a light on is that there’s a symbiotic relationship between the town, the businesses and the College,” she said. “I hope the good relationships continue, and I don’t see why they wouldn’t.”

Director of Hanover’s planning, zoning and codes department Robert Houseman added that the College has provided funding for projects, such as the addition of a new sidewalk on West Street, which have improved the safety of the community.

“I think the town benefits from the use of private facilities owned by the College, [and] I think the College benefits by having a healthy working relationship with the town,” Houseman said. “The issue for us is, how do we work forward as a collective and address the broader college town needs and wants?”

Smith proposed the formulation of a volunteer committee consisting of members of the business community, College administration and student body, all of whom could work together to host events and address community issues. This committee, he said, could bolster cooperation between Dartmouth and the town of Hanover.

Smith added that he spoke to interim Dean of the College Scott Brown and is hopeful that the next administration will work to bridge gaps between the town and the College. 

“I am encouraged that a new administration will be more sympathetic to the community, as this one has not been,” he said.

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