Letter From the Dean, May 2020

Dear Families, 

This will be my final Speaking of Dartmouth message for this academic year. We are a little more than two weeks away from the last day of classes for spring term. Unlike previous springs, many of you have had a front row seat to see your incredibly capable and talented students at work. And while your students may feel far flung from their professors, deans, advisors, classmates, and friends, those of us who remain here in Hanover are still joining them through an increasingly inventive series of showcases and celebrations. 

Over the last two weeks, I have attended five thesis presentations in my home department of sociology - including such diverse topics as the experiences of domestic workers in Brazil, Greek Life on Campus, and the reproductive choices of Black women. In addition to being utterly impressed by the theoretical and methodological rigor that these young sociologists exhibited, I couldn't help but notice that the "audiences" for these presentations were extraordinarily large. 

When I scrolled through the list of audience members, I must admit I was pleasantly surprised. The audiences for these presentations weren't just the other senior thesis writers. Staff, faculty, first year students, young alums, parents, and long lists of "guests" had signed in. I learned later that many were actual participants in the scholarship being presented. In a moment that could have felt isolating and lonely, our students were surrounded not only by people who are on campus now, but also by many who have probably never set foot on the Dartmouth Green, or perhaps even the country. How amazing is that?

And that's just in sociology. Thesis and culminating experience presentations are happening in every department and program across campus. In fact, I had to miss one in Geography that was scheduled during the last sociology presentation. But, fortunately, unlike other years, it was recorded! So, even though I wasn't in the real-time audience, I will still learn all about the community kitchen that one of our enterprising seniors set up on campus this year to help students reconnect to their communities and cultures through cooking. 

And that's just a sample of what's happening in two academic disciplines, out of 40 academic departments and interdisciplinary programs. 

Despite the distance, despite the disappointments, our seniors are still learning, still creating, still educating, still entertaining…..

And we're all right here, continuing to engage, to applaud, and to celebrate their many achievements, their innovations, and their indelible Dartmouth spirit. 

Other programs in the next two weeks will highlight undergraduate accomplishments as well. On May 26th, the Hopkins Center Arts Awards will stream on YouTube at 4:30 pm, and Dartmouth Athletics will announce athletic year-end awards. Student Affairs will be honoring some of our outstanding leaders at the annual Student Life Awards on May 28, featuring the accomplishments of students involved in the Collis Student Center, Dartmouth Broadcasting, Forensic Union, Greek Life, Outdoor Programs, and Student Life activities. These events and more recognize the wide-ranging impact and contributions your students make in our community - even from afar. 

As Spring 2020 winds down, I think we're all finding the beautiful springtime a little bittersweet. If your student is feeling the loss of Dartmouth as much as we're feeling the loss of them, please encourage them to make full use of campus support resources as needed as we move into the exam period, and prepare for what lies ahead. 

With very best wishes,
Kathryn Lively
Professor of Sociology
Dean of the College