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Dartmouth Announces Unprecedented $100 Million Donation

Dartmouth College has received $100 million from an anonymous donor, the largest gift in the college’s 244-year history.

Half of the money will support 30 to 40 new faculty positions over the next decade as part of what President Philip Hanlon is calling the “Cluster Initiative.” Instead of working exclusively in separate departments, the new scholars will teach both graduates and undergraduate students across under multi-disciplinary umbrellas such as  “sustainability” and “financial markets.”

Spokesman Justin Anderson says the donor wishes to have “an impact on the world.”

“So the idea is that we would cluster groups of faculty around areas that are of particular interest and important to society because figuring out the answers to these questions will impact all of us,” Anderson said. 

The other half of the historic gift will support academic programs also high on Hanlon’s agenda. For example, earlier this fall, he called for a free-standing graduate school, and an expansion of Thayer Engineering School.  The college hopes to double the $100 million through challenge grants. Currently, its endowment hovers around $4 billion. That puts the New Hampshire school in the middle of the Ivy League  pack, with Harvard topping $30 billion.

After President Hanlon took office in September and unveiled an ambitious  academic agenda, some members of the college community urged him to lower college costs. Undergraduate tuition for next year will be $46,763, up 2.9 percent from this year. Spokesman Anderson says that’s the lowest hike in recent history at Dartmouth, and says that the college can grow its faculty while at the same time placing a priority on affordability.

Applications to Dartmouth dropped by about 14 percent last year.

Anderson says President Hanlon wants “to attract the best faculty that we can, and the best students that we can. And by investing $100 million in the academic enterprise of the institution we think we are on our way to accomplishing that,” he said.

Charlotte Albright lives in Lyndonville and currently works in the Office of Communication at Dartmouth College. She was a VPR reporter from 2012 - 2015, covering the Upper Valley and the Northeast Kingdom. Prior to that she freelanced for VPR for several years.
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