Letter from the Dean, January 2021

Dear Families, 

I hope that all of you are well, and that the New Year has opened up a renewed sense of possibility and opportunity. As the days are getting longer in the Western Hemisphere, and new innovations on the vaccination occurring almost weekly, there is a lot to look forward to.  

You've heard me say before that our mission is to educate the most promising students for a lifetime of learning and responsible leadership. Across backgrounds, perspectives, and life experiences, many have been inspired this week by the renewed focus on a deep commitment to our common humanity, and to participating in something larger than oneself - engaging everyone who is willing to participate in promoting a willingness to seek understanding, to find common ground, and to create needed change. More than ever, we need to support our students in developing critical thinking skills and leadership qualities that will enable them to make positive contributions to the communities of which they are a part.  

In addition to their experience in class, we are working in a variety of ways to help students develop, apply and reflect on their abilities to practice leadership skills - including the abilities to listen to different perspectives, communicate constructively when opinions diverge, understand their social identities and those of others, practice teamwork and collaboration, tolerate ambiguity, and seek mutually beneficial solutions. This month, I want to showcase several examples of our leadership development programs - all of which are offered virtually this year.  

*DLAB: This week, through the Dartmouth Leadership Attitudes and Behaviors program known as DLAB, 117 first-year students began an eight-week program of small group meetings with 24 upper-level student facilitators to broaden their understanding of themselves and to connect their values to their Dartmouth experience. Co-sponsored by the Collis Center and the Rockefeller Center, the program provides a foundation for leadership development activities throughout their entire undergraduate experience. As one of last year's participants reflected, "Sometimes, different values can result in varying interpretations of the same action, and this is important to keep in mind when leading others and also reflecting on your own decisions." 

 *Foundations in Social Impact: This term, the 37 first-year students in our full-year Foundations in Social Impact leadership development program are working on group consulting projects for the Norris Cotton Cancer Center.  Building on fall workshops on critical and design thinking, identity and diversity, these students are developing project management, team dynamics, and problem-solving skills. Later this term, alumni working in the social impact sector will work with them on project reviews, and in the spring they'll be finalizing their projects and recommendations for presentation to Norris Cotton staff.  

 *Rockefeller Global Leadership Program: Designed to help upper-level students "learn how to lead by creating a climate of respect", RGLP engages a diverse group of students seeking to develop intercultural leadership competencies. This term, 22 students are participating in weekly in-depth discussions, scenario act-outs, and case studies - including a focused experiential learning session on dealing with ambiguity. Applications for the spring RGLP session are due in February.  

Students also develop leadership skills through involvement in student organizations and participation in campus topical and other programs. Since the first day of the term on January 7th, nearly 200 student organization meetings, programs and engagement opportunities have been featured on the daily campus listserv for all undergraduates - from virtual ballet classes, political organization meetings and the Student Wellness Center 15-day mindfulness challenge to Martin Luther King celebration events, DALI Lab project management workshops, virtual Greek rush and student governance organization sessions. The multiple pathways available, and opportunities to develop new student organizations and programs, all contribute to developing students as lifelong learners and responsible leaders.  

All my best, 


Kathryn Lively 

Dean of the College 

Professor of Sociology