A record-breaking number of families and supporters spent this past weekend in Hanover at the annual Family Weekend, reuniting with members of the Class of 2024 and the Class of 2027.
According to Kay Reynolds, associate director for family relations and engagement at the College, nearly 3,000 people participated in the weekend’s events, about 1,000 more than previous years. Programming included tours, open houses, informational sessions and community meals.
“We worked very closely with Student Affairs and other campus partners to plan the session,” Reynolds said. “We try to come up with a program which we feel would be of interest to the family members and supporters and their students.”
The planning process begins about six months before the actual event, and the date is often chosen a year in advance, Reynolds said. The College has historically held the event in the spring term, but for the past two years it has been held in the fall.
Reynolds said that the Family Weekend Cookout and the conversation with Dartmouth President Sian Leah Beilock and Trustee Todd Sisitsky ’93 P’25 were some of the highlights from the weekend.
Dean of the College Scott Brown led the Family Welcome Reception on Friday, and said he appreciated the opportunity to include parents in the Dartmouth community.
“What I think makes Dartmouth such a transformative, intensive and intimate community is the ways in which students interact with each other,” he said. “They’re doing incredibly wonderful things in and out of class, on and off campus. For me to be able to welcome folks into that is very special.”
For Brown, Family Weekend is about recognizing the role families and supporters have held and continue to hold in their students’ educational careers.
“They’ve done their job, which means that their students are independent and have taken the next big step to come into a place like Dartmouth,” Brown said. “But that doesn’t mean that parents and families stop caring. We want to help them understand what the [college] process is like, give them the confidence that [their student] is in good hands.”
Claire Mann ’27 spent the weekend with her parents, catching up over shared meals.
“I think Family Weekend is about coming back to what grounds you,” Mann said. “I was having kind of a hard week, and then they came, and I remembered who helped me get here and what I’m doing this for.”
Mann’s parents, Laura and Marcus Mann, flew from their home in Colorado to attend Family Weekend. Laura Mann said she particularly enjoyed the conversation with President Beilock and the session “What We Wish We Had Known,” where parents of the Class of 2024 shared their advice to parents of the Class of 2027.
“We had a great time,” Marcus Mann said. “It was fun to familiarize ourselves with the campus and understand, to a certain extent, our daughter’s day-to-day routines. It was really cool to be able to immerse ourselves in the environment.”
Although the Mann family appreciated all of the programming, Laura Mann said she wished there had been more opportunities to connect with other families.
“We were so busy trying to make sure we attended as many things as we could, so we could be connected to this school,” Laura Mann said. “But as far as connecting to people in the community, I would say we left with not as much of that as we would have liked.”
Marcus Mann suggested “regional breakouts” as a potential way to connect families new to Dartmouth with people in their area.
Eleanor Clark ’24 also spent the weekend with her family, saying that she enjoyed the positive energy on campus and the opportunity to see everyone with their families.
Clark appreciated the opportunity to introduce her parents to the campus community, particularly since Family Weekend was canceled her freshman year due to pandemic-related restrictions.
“[Dartmouth is] such an awesome place, and we live it every day,” Clark said. “But it’s hard to communicate that to our parents sometimes without showing them. I think it’s really cool to be able to bring them here and [give them] a glimpse of the Dartmouth experience.”