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New Dartmouth president outlines vision

Dartmouth College should consider actively branding itself as a place where experiential learning – or learning by doing – is a key part of the academic experience, the Ivy League school’s new president said in his first major address to faculty.

Speaking Monday night in Hanover, President Phil Hanlon outlined his vision for Dartmouth’s next decade and previewed his priorities, including offering more opportunities for students to develop wisdom through active, rather than passive, learning. With the internet making information a free and public good, the college’s value lies in providing students with the skills to operate successfully in the world, he said. That includes the ability to think critically and the confidence and creativity to innovate, he said.

“You don’t get that by sitting in a classroom and having someone talk to you. You learn that by doing – by trying, by failing, by being coached, by trying again,” he said.

Dartmouth should build on its existing experiential learning projects, Hanlon said, such as the Policy Research Shop at the college’s public policy center. And it should consider requiring every student to complete an experiential learning project, such as composing and performing a creative work or starting a company or social venture. The project could become part of Dartmouth’s “brand,” he said, much in same way that Princeton is known for requiring every student to complete a senior thesis.

Hanlon, who was inaugurated in September as Dartmouth’s 18th president, also described his goals of increasing the size of the faculty, expanding the engineering school and exploring the creation of a freestanding graduate school. At the same time, he said Dartmouth will keep its tuition rates flat in “real terms,” with the cost of attendance tracking more closely to inflation.

Dartmouth is the smallest of the eight schools that comprise the Ivy League, with about 4,200 undergraduates. The total cost for tuition, room, board and mandatory fees increased to just over $60,000 this year, though the college meets 100 percent of demonstrated need in financial aid and offers free tuition for students whose family income is less than $100,000 per year.

Hanlon plans a separate address focused on student life Nov. 18.

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