Re: Prophecies

As of the Dartmouth Club of Long Island meeting last weekend, a representative of the Office of Alumni Relations was still offering the #2 behind Princeton ranking. He said the College’s goal was to rebound back above 50% and approach the top.

The SLI is at play here in two different ways. First, it is unpopular within itself. Second, it contributes to a larger issue of what Dartmouth is or may be. I’ve been discussing Dartmouth as a brand since my freshman year, though not as a brand solely as a relative measure of prestige. Dartmouth simply need not be all things to all people. The SLI and campus expansion are signs of a school confused about its identity. When students apply to Bob Jones University, they know what they’re getting. When they apply to Indiana University, they know what they’re getting. When they apply to Dartmouth, they are applying to Darvard University or Cal-Hanover or something. I remember being told by an administrator, “You’re going to Dartmouth at a very important time. What you do will shape this place. It is a great opportunity and responsibility.” Or something to that effect. If not Ye Olde Dartmouth, I just want a little stability.

Another issue that may be at play in the recent alumni giving drop or will at least be a challenge in the near future may be the commitment to (ethnic) diversity. Last year an active alumnus at a top prep school who is involved in the school’s fundraising told me that ethnic minorities at the school were not pulling their weight in terms of alumni giving. Affirmative action acceptees, or since many argue you can’t pinpoint such acceptees on the individual level–ethnic minorities, strictly by the numbers, give less money and less often.