Admissions dean: “Each of you earned your seat in this historic College.”
What do a bee-keeping bagpiper, a Floridian whose family relied on their church for groceries, and a Brazilian shepherd-turned-preacher who taught himself English listening to Taylor Swift have in common? With 1,166 others, they are Dartmouth’s newest students, the members of the Class of 2022.
“Your identities are complex, and that’s really cool,” Lee Coffin, vice provost for enrollment and dean of admissions and financial aid, told the students on the second day of a week of orientation that takes place before classes begin on Sept. 12. “Each of you is impressive, talented, each of you earned your seat in this historic College. Go make some magic.”
Coffin, President Philip J. Hanlon ’77, and three other speakers welcomed the new students to campus during the Sept. 6 ceremony, held in Leede Arena. The students filed in to the strains of piped-in classical music, and ended the hour-long ceremony with arms linked, singing the alma mater as a class for the first time.
President Hanlon spoke to the students about being members of an intellectual community. He advised them to be open-minded, consider opinions different from their own, and be skeptical. Use reason and logic and expect to be pushed by professors to sharpen these skills, he said.
“Very quickly, I predict, you will come to realize that the search for truth is a team sport, most effectively done when ideas and opinions are exchanged in an open and respectful manner. And, importantly, you will learn something that has been backed up by decades of rigorous research—that the deepest understandings, the most effective analyses, the most accurate predictions are achieved by groups of people who bring diverse perspectives to the table, compelling reasons that diversity and inclusion are core to the success of our academic community and why Dartmouth is fully committed to the free and open exchange of ideas, conducted with dignity and respect,” he said.
“We have one more ambition for you as well. You need to be able to do more than just analyze the world. You need to be able to change it. And those, too, are skills you’ll develop in your time here.”
Coffin informed the students that their participation in the admission process had concluded as he officially “passed” the new class to Interim Dean of the College Kathryn Lively. “As dean of admissions,” he said, “I certify that each of these students has fulfilled the College’s entrance requirements and is prepared to begin study with the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Dartmouth College.”
Lively, a professor of sociology, asked students to look around the arena. “This is your class. These are the people who are going to come to define you in ways that you can’t even imagine,” she said, and urged the students to get to know each other, explore the campus, and take time to get to know faculty members.
“We are an intellectual community; both of those words matter,” said Lively, who is the house professor of South House, one of six communities in the College’s house system.
Jay Hull, the associate dean for the social sciences, made three points in talking to the new class: Choose your courses with care; move out of your comfort zone; and seek out your professors.
“Admission to Dartmouth is an extraordinary privilege that more than 20,000 applicants wanted this year and you have it. Don’t cheat yourself; make the most of it,” Hull said.
All the speakers had words of wisdom for the young adults just beginning their college careers, including Alumni Council President-Elect Alec Casey ’88, who looked far into the future.
“You will be a student for four short years, and one of us for the rest of your life.”
Susan J. Boutwell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.