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A recent analysis by the American Historical Association revealed that nationwide, the number of students who pursue an undergraduate degree in history has dropped precipitously in recent years. With only 5.3 history degrees awarded per 1000 students, the discipline is shrinking rapidly with no end in sight. Though the study identified several reasons for the sharp decline, Benjamin M. Schmidt, the analysis’ author, believes that most can be condensed into reduced receptivity to the holistic philosophies of a liberal arts education. Students and parents, he contends, are now looking for a faster and more profitable return on their investment into higher education than ever before.
This year, Dartmouth is celebrating its 250th anniversary. And at first, I thought it had absolutely nothing to do with me.
“Winter Carnival” was a low-budget Hollywood production set at Dartmouth that was released in the summer of 1939. It was an escapist romance movie that included a fleeing heiress, a heartthrob professor, plenty B-reels of ski jumps, ice sculptures and historically accurate newspaper headlines that exclaim “SMOOTH BABES INVADE CAMPUS.”
“From Gurgl and Obergurgl to New Hampshire comes Dr. Wolfgang Schlitz. Touring the White Mountains, he sees Mount Washington, famous for high winds, terrific storms, many climbing tragedies.”
Dartmouth enters a tumultuous time as it celebrates 250 years of world-class instruction this winter. The College grapples with a widespread culture of sexual assault, intense competition for prestige from larger research universities, divisive proposals to expand the student body, beleaguered traditions like the Homecoming bonfire and perennial questions of diversity. History is in the making — these are the times that will determine Dartmouth’s legacy and identity for generations to come.
Art is a medium that contains within it the passage of time. It is something that remains. A piece of art is how it was, how it has been since its creation. It is the same object seen by innumerable different sets of eyes, through myriad ages, and yet still the lift of the artist’s brush flicked up a peak of paint that rose above the canvas. The paint dried in its miniature topography and the action of an instant was preserved through time. Do you remember standing in a museum to view for the first time a famous piece of art that has been reproduced in countless photographs, on postcards, t-shirts and posters? Did you look closer and imagine the artist painting it, stroke by stroke? Did you retrace the line of their brush with your eyes and follow it up to a peak of dried paint?
Dartmouth’s history is a complicated one, and making the official record reflect the experiences of all students is difficult. Yet that is exactly what the Rauner Special Collections Library’s SpeakOut project has set out to do. The oral history endeavor, which Rauner has worked on since 2015 in collaboration with former Dartmouth LGBTQIA+ Alum Association president Brendan Connell Jr. ’87, aims to recording the experiences of LGBTQIA+ alumni. It was recently launched to the public, who can access the audio files digitally.
If you have ever been inside Rauner Special Collections Library, then you have gazed up at the four glass stories towering over that lovely, sun-lit hall, and probably wondered what they contain. Among other incredible things, the stacks at Rauner hold extensive archives from Dartmouth history: letters, memos, photographs and personal narratives from past students and employees of the College.
Following the publication last year of “Our Green Future: The Sustainability Road Map for Dartmouth,” a report calling for an increase in institutional efforts for sustainability written by a task force led by director of sustainability Rosi Kerr and environmental studies professor Andrew Friedland, College President Phil Hanlon announced plans to reduce the College’s carbon footprint. The move follows efforts by other higher education institutions to become more sustainable — Middlebury College went carbon neutral in 2016 and Stanford University announced in 2014 that it would divest from coal companies.
During an especially introspective stretch of time, my 15-year-old self jotted down several quotes that fell within the boundaries of what I perceived to be profound. One of the first to appear was the phrase, “The only thing I know is that I know nothing,” derived from something Socrates may or may not have once said.
A writer for The Dartmouth once joked that staffers only know two things about me: that I’m from Hawaiʻi and that I have consistently arrived late to campus each term. While the second point did not always happen by choice — some of my flights back to the east coast really did get delayed, guys — the first bit of information is certainly one that I conscientiously shared with everyone I met at Dartmouth.
College is weird. Part extended summer camp, part boarding school for semi-grownups, part elitist neoliberal institution, part academia machine, college means different things to different people, but no one really knows what it’s going to be like until they’re there. My first impression of Dartmouth was of miles and miles of trees. On the drive up, my mom and I felt like we were headed to the middle of nowhere — coming from dry, dusty southern California, I had never seen so many trees in my life. It felt like I was entering a different world.
I remember the first time Dartmouth felt like home. I remember the day — Jan. 3, 2015. I remember my outfit — a recently-bought wool sweater littered with pretzel crumbs. I remember where I was sitting — about halfway back the Dartmouth Coach in a window seat. I don’t remember the movie playing, but I do remember the screen was right above my head and I do remember the Coach’s headphone jack didn’t work.
As they prepare to graduate from Dartmouth, seniors might feel the need to make a lasting impact on the college where they’ve spent four years of their lives. That is the basis for the senior class gift, the yearly tradition of pooling money through the Dartmouth College Fund to contribute to financial aid for the College’s incoming class. The Class of 2018’s class gift will support financial aid for the students of the Class of 2022, half of whom will be receiving financial aid from the College. Students can donate any amount of money they choose, though a common donation is $20.18
When I was looking at colleges, I asked current students a lot of questions. Their responses were plentiful, varied and usually helpful. But when I asked Dartmouth students what stood out about their school and why they seemed to love it so much, I got one answer over and over and over again: they loved Dartmouth because of the people.
This year the men’s soccer teams will bid farewell to its three graduating seniors: Wyatt Omsberg '18, Matt Danilack '18 and Tyler Dowse '18, who have won four consecutive Ivy League titles over the course of their athletic careers . Their impact on the program has been immense, with the team finishing at the very bottom of the Ivy League in 2013 and finding itself at the top after their arrival in 2014 . This past season, the three seniors served as co-captains, finishing off their Dartmouth soccer careers without ever knowing what it’s like to be anything but the best in the Ivy League .
Dartmouth will award honorary degrees to six individuals at the upcoming Commencement ceremony on June 10. Each recipient will be awarded a Doctor of Humane Letters. The recipients’ professional experiences cover several industries, ranging from entertainment to public service to medicine.
As her sophomore year at the College came to a close, AnnClaire MacArt ’18 was considering a psychology major and an education minor. She graduates this weekend, nearly two years later, having completed a slightly different academic trajectory — an English major modified with religion.
Each year, Dartmouth’s theater department allows select theater majors to undertake an honors thesis. A selective process, only students who have completed at least five theater courses and who have an average major GPA of at least 3.4 or higher, along with an overall GPA of at least 3.0, are eligible to apply for the project. Those who are accepted are given the opportunity to sharpen their skills and enrich their knowledge in an area of interest through a written thesis or a full-length play. In the Class of 2018, there were four students — Claire Feuille ’18, Lela Gannon ’18, Virginia Ogden ’18 and Matthew Treiber ’18 — who presented their honors theses this spring. Senior Fellow Celeste Jennings ’18 also wrote and produced a play as part of her fellowship. Throughout the month of May, all five of the students premiered their projects in the Hopkins Center for the Arts, where they shared their works to audiences for the first time.