A Pivotal Year

In addition to our continued efforts to better support the scholarship and teaching ambitions of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, two big initiatives will remain front and center this year, Dean Elizabeth F. Smith wrote in a message to faculty and staff. 

Dear colleagues, 

It was a joy seeing so many of you at our fall Arts and Sciences reception. Celebrating the start of a new academic year together exemplifies our greatest strength as an institution: the sense of community we share here at Dartmouth. 

With the inauguration of Dartmouth's 19th and first elected female president since its founding 250 years ago, the academic year is off to an exciting start. 

In addition to our continued efforts to better support the scholarship and teaching ambitions of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, two big initiatives will remain front and center this year. 

Arts and Sciences Future Exploration

I want to thank the many Arts and Sciences faculty and staff who took part in working groups or participated in discussions over the past year about this incredibly important initiative. As President Beilock announced over the summer, your work laid an essential foundation and brought to the fore crucial questions which we need to address.

Six new task groups were formed to build upon this work. A draft proposal for a new Arts and Sciences entity is expected to be shared for input with the broader community this winter. These task groups will then finetune a proposal that will go to President Beilock, and subsequently, the Board of Trustees, by the end of the academic year.

I am grateful to Provost David Kotz and Professor Nina Pavcnik, in her new role as special adviser to President Beilock, for taking the lead on project management. My stepping back as project leader enables me to focus on serving as an advocate for the Arts and Sciences. Thanks to David and Nina's day-to-day coordination of the project, I am devoting my time and energy to leading three of the task groups and serving on the Steering Committee.

Dartmouth Dialogue Project

I am happy to report that we will launch the Dartmouth Dialogue Project this fall. Its primary objective is to create a community that fosters respectful and open exchange of ideas by providing its members with the skills to listen actively to different perspectives and engage in constructive and inclusive dialogue. 

The Dartmouth Dialogue Project will offer a cohesive suite of curricular and co-curricular offerings that provide our students, faculty, and staff with intentional training in the development of essential collaborative dialogue skills, including active listening, self-awareness, managing emotions, recognizing mis- and disinformation, and constructing a respectful well-reasoned argument.

Elements of this plan are already in practice at Dartmouth in individual classrooms, centers and institutes, and Student Affairs. I've spoken with a number of you and others across campus, and I'm heartened by your excitement and enthusiasm for participation.

As part of this year's launch, plans are underway to bring guest speakers to campus, including 
Marc Brackett, founding director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence and author of the New York Times best-selling book, Permission to Feel. Stay tuned for more details about his visit and the Dartmouth Dialogue Project!

Supporting Faculty and Staff

Faculty, supporting your scholarship and creative projects remains a major priority. 

As we announced in May, with funding from the Sherman Fairchild foundation we increased the Burke Award for pre-tenure faculty and created a mid-career award for faculty in the first eight years post-tenure. This allows us to raise our annual professional development fund levels for all. 

Additionally, for the first time in decades, we increased our annual chair stipends and we have provided an additional sabbatical credit for those serving a full term as chair.  
These updates and others will be clarified in our newly revised Faculty Handbook, which will be made available this month. These updates include a number of revisions intended to provide greater clarity and better support for faculty throughout their careers.

Many of you have requested additional staff to support your work, and I'm thrilled to share that I am working with President Beilock to find the resources that will allow us to bring more staff to the Arts and Sciences. Maria Anderson, our chief finance and operations officer, has begun an assessment of current staffing levels so that we can address our most urgent needs. 

Speaking of staff, I want to emphasize that we have incredibly talented and hard-working staff in the Arts and Sciences. 

Maria led a staff survey in the spring and identified several ways we can better support staff, including with programming related to professional development and career advancement. We very much look forward to working with Sarah Lester, Dartmouth's new chief human resources officer, to develop some of these professional opportunities. 

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

We've made great strides in increasing the diversity of the faculty. But there is still much work to do in terms of retention and ensuring that all feel welcome and included.

I am delighted to share that we will be working closely with Chloe Poston and Nick Davis, senior director of inclusive culture in the Division of Institutional Diversity and Equity, to support our departments and programs in developing strategies to foster equity and inclusion. We also anticipate offering professional development opportunities to department and program chairs to support their leadership. Stay tuned for more information. 

I'm truly grateful for senior advisor Michelle Warren and the four associate deans for their commitment to fostering a diverse and welcoming environment as an essential component of faculty recruitment, professional development, and retention.   

Presidential Inauguration 

Next Friday, Sept. 22, Dartmouth's first elected female president, Sian Leah Beilock, will be inaugurated. I know we are all eager to hear President Beilock's address and learn about her vision for her presidency, and I hope you're all planning to attend or livestream the inauguration ceremony

This feels like a pivotal time not only for Dartmouth, but for the country. We might feel overwhelmed and discouraged by the seemingly relentless natural disasters, political unrest, and racially motivated violence. But now is the time to be clear about who we are as a community, and what we believe in now and for the future.  

I wish you a fall term filled with the joy of collaboration, creativity, and community. 

With gratitude,

Elizabeth F. Smith
Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences