- Dartmouth College
By Rayza Goldsmith, Daily News Editor
Published November 29, 2012
University Provost Philip Hanlon will become the 18th president of Dartmouth College, succeeding former President Jim Yong Kim who left the position in April to serve as president of the World Bank.
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Hanlon was elected president by a unanimous vote of Dartmouth’s Board of Trustees on Tuesday, though an official announcement was not made until Thursday. Hanlon, who received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the college in 1977, will assume the presidency on July 1, 2013. Hanlon will replace Carol Folt, who has served as interim college president since Kim stepped down in April. She will return to her role as provost on June 30, 2013.
Hanlon said in an interview with The Michigan Daily he is thrilled to indulge his passion for undergraduate education at Dartmouth.
“It’s a very great opportunity,” Hanlon said. “Dartmouth is ranked in the top 10 in U.S. News (and World Report rankings), it’s ranked number one in undergraduate education by U.S. News. It is my alma mater, it’s an Ivy League institution, and it’s a terrific opportunity.”
Nevertheless, Hanlon said he’ll be sad to leave the University, where he has been a faculty member since 1986.
“I love the University of Michigan,” Hanlon said. “I have the greatest admiration for the place, I admire what it aspires to, I admire the success it has ... The people here at the University of Michigan are terrific and I’ll miss them very much.”
Hanlon said he is still unsure whether or not he will take time off before beginning his new position.
Dartmouth’s presidential search committee had planned on making a decision by the end of the calendar year, with the intention of having their selection assume the position on July 1, 2013.
In early November, Dartmouth faculty members told The Dartmouth, the college’s student newspaper, the next president would need to be someone who would not only emphasize academia to a greater degree than former presidents, but also someone who’s willing to address some of the problems plaguing the campus social scene.
Some expressed disappointment with Kim’s lack of willingness to address the more negative aspects of the school’s social scene. Some blamed the Greek system, in part, for the binge drinking, sexual assault and hazing that are reportedly common on Dartmouth’s campus, but all agree that the previous two presidents have not done an adequate job of addressing these problems.
Dartmouth English Prof. Ivy Schweitzer told The Dartmouth that the next president must be willing to encourage faculty to address the campus social scene.
“We have this kind of negative legacy from Kim about bystanders and the idea that we can’t do anything about it and can’t change the culture,” she said. “The president will have to deal with that because it just has to be changed on campus.”
Faculty also spoke to a desire for a president who would emphasize academia in a way previous presidents have not.
“I think Kim left a bad taste in a lot of people’s mouths about the corporatization of the institution,” Schweitzer said. “We seem to pay more attention to how the endowment is doing, how comparable our salaries are.”
This sentiment was reinforced in an e-mail sent to Dartmouth students on Thursday by Stephen Mandel, the chair of Dartmouth’s Board of Trustees, announcing the board’s selection of Hanlon for the presidency.
“Phil’s impressive experience as provost of the University of Michigan — with 95 departments in the top 10 nationally and $1.27 billion in annual research spending, second among all universities — means that Dartmouth will be in very capable hands,” Mandel wrote in the e-mail. “Phil truly understands how great scholarship and research are essential to an undergraduate learning experience that produces leaders who can shape and change a world that is increasingly complex, diverse and interdisciplinary.”
There seemed to be a consensus among faculty that the next president would need to understand the school’s idiosyncrasies, though they did not expect the president to come from within. Faculty also emphasized their interest in a president with experience in academia.
Hanlon fit the bill as an alum familiar with the college, but coming from a different institution, he has the potential to bring fresh ideas. His experience in academia and with administration also made him an attractive candidate to the board.
Hanlon acknowledged he will need to familiarize himself with “what’s going on with the Dartmouth campus,” but added he has a sense of what his job will be once he arrives.
“As with any college or university, there are two core pieces of the mission,” Hanlon said. “One is preparing leaders to go out and change the world and the other is to advance knowledge to try to better people’s lives. I’ll be wanting to work to advance both of those at Dartmouth.”
Former University President James Duderstadt said in an interview that Hanlon’s broad range of experiences made him a good fit for Dartmouth.
“Beyond the fact that he’s the alumnus, he’s had a very deep commitment to undergraduate education, particularly in the liberal arts, which is characteristic of Dartmouth College,” Duderstadt said. “He’ll also bring to the institution, which calls itself a college but it has many of the same attributes as the University of Michigan, with significant research activities, a major medical center and so forth, experience both from leading his department, and then being a senior associate dean of LSA and then finally as provost.”
Duderstadt added that he expects a primary responsibility of Hanlon’s to be fundraising, which will be somewhat of a change from his role as the University’s chief academic and budgetary officer.
“I’m sure that Dartmouth, like most universities, face significant financial challenges, although nothing at the level that Michigan faces right now,” Duderstadt said. “Most of his activity will be working with alumni, major donors and so forth.”
Hanlon, too, noted that he expects his responsibilities to shift as he transitions from University provost to president of Dartmouth.
“One of the big roles of the president at any college or university is fundraising, so that'll be a big part of my job, I’m sure,” Hanlon said.
University Vice-Provost Martha Pollack said in an interview that while she will “miss him terribly,” Hanlon will thrive in his new role.
“Phil is a very skilled leader,” Pollack said. “He can lead people to shared goals, he can foster in excellence and outstanding work, he has been able to implement fiscal discipline, and I think all of those skills will transfer perfectly to Dartmouth.”
Pollack noted that in his time as provost, Hanlon has successfully navigated the University through difficult financial times.
“He’s implemented a real fiscal discipline that’s very important across universities,” Pollack said.
Hanlon has been described by Pollack and others, including University Regent Katherine White (D–Ann Arbor), as passionate about undergraduate teaching and other academic pursuits. In an interview, White pointed to classes Hanlon taught this fall — including Calculus I and a course on the University’s budget process titled “The Challenge of College Affordability: Financing the University,” which he taught with Pollack — to demonstrate his commitment to improving undergraduate coursework.
“He’s very focused on the undergraduate educational experience and how to take that experience into the next century and make sure that the classroom is a place where students and faculty are engaged in discussions and problem solving in ways that are different from their standard lecture format,” White said.
White added that Hanlon has lived up to expectations.
“I’m very grateful for all the work Phil Hanlon has done for this University,” she said. “I wish him the best. Dartmouth is very lucky to have him. He inspires people. He has great integrity. That’s all you can ask for someone.”
In a campus-wide e-mail, University President Mary Sue Coleman praised Hanlon for his work in multiple roles at the University.
“As a teacher and Thurnau professor, his passion for undergraduate education is palpable,” Coleman wrote. “As provost since 2010, he has steered the University through some of its most fiscally challenging years, all the while advancing our academic excellence and impact.”
Coleman wrote that she will name an interim provost in “upcoming weeks.”
In his capacity as chief academic officer, Hanlon worked closely with the Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs, and developed a particularly close relationship with the Provost’s Advisory Committee on Budgetary Affairs, according to SACUA chair Kimberly Kearfott. Kearfott said Hanlon would prepare materials for the committee to help them understand University financial issues.
She said the working relationship between SACUA and Hanlon has been excellent.
“He’s been totally open, very transparent and very accommodating during my term,” Kearfott said. “It would be very hard to match Phil Hanlon’s activities during this academic year in that regard. The new provost should definitely be an academic committed to both the research and teaching enterprises who strongly supports faculty governance.”
Though Kearfott expressed content with her working relationship with Hanlon during her term as SACUA chair, the relationship between SACUA and Hanlon wasn’t without disagreement during his time as provost.
In April 2011, the body was outwardly opposed to Hanlon’s recommendation to extend the faculty tenure probationary period from eight years to 10 years. The change was ultimately approved by the University’s Board of Regents.
In addition to earning an undergraduate degree from Dartmouth, Hanlon graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the institution. He went on to earn a doctoral degree from the California Institute of Technology in 1981, before teaching applied mathematics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and serving as the Bantrell Fellow at CIT.
Hanlon made his way to the University in 1986, serving first as an associate professor, and then making his way up to professor in 1990, Arthur F. Thurnau professor in 1992 and D.J. Lewis Professor of Mathematics in 2001. Then from 2001-2004, Hanlon served as LSA associate dean for planning and finance before becoming vice provost for academic and budgetary affairs from 2004-2010.
He took on the position of provost in 2010, and as such has served as the chief academic officer and chief budgetary officer for the University.
Hanlon’s transition to Dartmouth will be informed by some significant differences between the two institutions. The University, known as a leading public research university, spent $1.28 billion on research in 2011, while Dartmouth expended about $202.7 million on research for the same fiscal year.
Dartmouth College was founded in 1769 and is a member of the Ivy League. The school has 4,194 undergraduates and 1,950 graduate students, numbers that pale in comparison to the University of Michigan’s 27,407 undergraduates and 15,447 graduate students.
However, both schools have performed well with respect to their endowments. Dartmouth’s endowment is valued at $3.4 billion, and it yielded a higher return on investment than any other school in the Ivy League for the 2012 fiscal year. The University of Michigan, meanwhile, with an endowment of $7.57 billion, ranked seventh in the nation for largest endowment, and ranked third among public institutions.
Hanlon said he is prepared to face the vast differences between the two institutions.
“Remember that I know Dartmouth,” he said. “I’ve been there, I’ve been part of that community. I know it’ll be different but I’ve always liked learning things. I’m always happiest when I’m learning new things. So I’ll be learning a new place, a new kind of environment and I’m kind of looking forward to that.”
—Editor in Chief Joseph Lichterman and Daily Staff Reporter Peter Shahin contributed to this report.
Follow Rayza Goldsmith on Twitter at @RayzaGoldsmith.