Dartmouth Kicks Off Its 250th-Year Celebration

Following the campus-wide launch, landmarks around the world will light up—in green.

Let the festivities begin!

With speeches, music, and refreshments, Dartmouth launched its yearlong 250th anniversary celebration on campus with nine simultaneous kickoffs across the institution on Jan. 10. 

Starting at 4 p.m., members of the Dartmouth community gathered at locations across campus to share in the celebration. Livestreamed on screens across campus from the Dartmouth Library’s Baker-Berry hall, President Philip J. Hanlon ’77 joined 250th co-chairs Cheryl Bascomb ’82, vice president for alumni relations, and Donald Pease, the Ted and Helen Geisel Third Century Professor in the Humanities, to ring in the sestercentennial.

The theme is “Honoring Our Past, Inspiring our Future.”

“Welcome to the beginning of an incredible year,” Bascom said. “This is an opportunity to celebrate an enduring institution. It’s a look at our history to understand how it has informed where we are today and what we want our future to look like.”

Bascom announced “The Call to Serve,” a community service initiative with a goal of 250,000 hours of volunteer work by members of the Dartmouth community. “It will take all of us to make it happen,” she said.  

Pease described eight new academic courses and 20 symposia created for the sestercentennial, all rooted in the liberal arts, and all designed to foster reflection about how Dartmouth has grown and changed with the times and how it aims to shape the future as part of a global society.  

Over two and a half centuries, Pease said, “Dartmouth has become a world-class light in the firmament of higher education everywhere.”

In addition to the library, events were held at the Hopkins Center for the Arts, Thayer School of Engineering, Tuck School of Business, Geisel School of Medicine, Guarini School of Graduate and Advances Studies, Collis Center for Student Involvement, Leede Arena, and Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center.

In his remarks, President Philip J. Hanlon ’77 urged the community to see the sestercentennial milestone as cause for both celebration and contemplation.

“Our 250th is as much about our future as it is about our past,” he said. “It is a time for us to reflect on our evolution as an institution, on the defining moments—both trying and triumphant—that have shaped our campus character, and on our collective achievements as a community, including the work of brilliant minds who’ve taught here, and the bright young minds they’ve inspired.”

President Hanlon encouraged every member of the Dartmouth community to participate in the wide variety of  anniversary offerings, and in opportunities for community service. “Through them, you’ll find vibrant storytelling that will bring the history, heritage, and hallmarks of our beloved college to life,” he said.

This weekend, the celebration hits the road. On Jan. 12, CNN News anchor Jake Tapper ’91 and actor David Harbour ’97 will host “Greenlighting Day” in New York City. The city’s One World Trade Center, and other landmarks around the world, will be bathed in green light, and Dartmouth alumni and friends are being encouraged to show College pride by wearing green.

For a list of events, stories about milestones in College history, and archival photographs, visit the 250th website. Watch the speeches from the kickoff event below.

Charlotte Albright can be reached at charlotte.e.albright@dartmouth.edu.