University of Michigan Provost Philip Hanlon ’77 was selected as the College’s 18th president and will assume the role on July 1. Hanlon, a mathematician who has served in a variety of administrative positions at Michigan since 1986, will succeed World Bank President Jim Yong Kim in the College’s Wheelock Succession. The College’s Board of Trustees elected Hanlon unanimously on Nov. 27, culminating the search for Kim’s successor led by Chair of the Presidential Search Committee Bill Helman ’80, Board of Trustees Chairman Stephen Mandel ’78 said.
“There’s an exciting period ahead of us,” Hanlon said in an interview with The Dartmouth. “Hopefully, it will have profound changes for the better at the College. That takes time. I hope to be at the helm for a good, long time.”
Hanlon said he intends to continue teaching at the College. At Michigan, he taught first-year calculus while serving in administrative roles. Mandel introduced Hanlon, the first alumnus College president since David McLaughlin ’54 Tu’55, in an email sent to students, faculty, staff, alumni and parents on Nov. 29.
Hanlon’s “incredible record” as a teacher, scholar and administrator at Michigan, a large, complex institution, stood out to committee members, Mandel said.
“He’s done incredible things as a leader of the institution,” Mandel said. “It’s really unusual that you get all three of those things in the same package.”
Former College President James Wright said that Hanlon’s selection was a smart choice.
“I can only think that it would be to his and Dartmouth’s advantage that he knows the institution, the culture, the Greek life,” Wright said. “He should have an opportunity to come in, and work with the board and faculty to move the College toward the vision he has for the College. He’s right on the mark.”
Compared to previous Dartmouth presidents many of whom were renowned in the private or public sectors but lacked particular experience at Dartmouth Hanlon will be better suited to deal with College-specific issues, Kappa Kappa Kappa fraternity president Paul Wagdalt ’13 said.
“He’ll be able to relate to the problems on campus and find realistic solutions, because he already has that background,” Wagdalt said.
Presidential Search Committee member and Student Body President Suril Kantaria ’13 cited Hanlon’s commitment to teach undergraduate math courses as College president and his previous initiative to design a University of Michigan course on budgeting as examples of his dedication to the undergraduate experience.
“It will allow students to really get to know their president,” Kantaria said.
Dartmouth must navigate a period of rapid change in the world of higher education while continuing to fulfill its mission statement, Hanlon said.
“The highest priority is to make sure that Dartmouth is delivering on its core mission of preparing leaders and advancing knowledge that impacts the world,” he said. “I want to make sure it’s delivering on those two missions as effectively and as powerfully as it can.”
College graduates are entering a changing workplace, technology has influenced how students work and the traditional funding model for higher education is “probably unsustainable,” Hanlon said.
“There’s lots that higher education will be grappling with, and Dartmouth will be a leader in figuring out the way forward,” he said.
Michigan, a public university with 19 schools and colleges, hosts about 40,000 undergraduate and graduate students. Despite these differences with the College which has four undergraduate and graduate schools and about 6,000 undergraduate and graduate students Hanlon said that the institutions’ aspirations are similar.
“The two institutions want to train and prepare the leaders who will go out and change the world, and they want to advance knowledge, which is going to make a difference in people’s lives,” he said.
In July, the Presidential Search Committee released a profile that outlined a candidate’s ideal qualities, emphasizing sexual assault, substance abuse and student accountability.
“I know there have been a lot of smart people looking at this, and I’m hopeful we will make progress on whatever student life issues there are on campus,” Hanlon said.
“AN OBVIOUS CANDIDATE”
The search committee unanimously recommended Hanlon about a week before the Board elected him, Mandel said.
“We got our number-one choice,” Helman said in an interview with The Dartmouth. “We got the person who we felt would be the absolute best person for Dartmouth going forward. There’s no question in anybody’s mind.”
Helman, with Mandel and Search Committee Vice Chair Diana Taylor ’77, held three forums last spring to learn what characteristics in a president held importance to Dartmouth students, staff and faculty.
Helman also met with Student Assembly last spring, and the search committee allowed other community members to submit thoughts on its website.
Helman said that although Hanlon had submitted his name for consideration, the committee had noticed him from the search’s beginning, when Helman researched Dartmouth alumni in academic administrative positions.
“We had our eye on him from the beginning,” Helman said. “He’s such an obvious candidate on paper, but we also wanted to use the process to make sure we touched every base.”
Hanlon called the committee thorough and convincing.
“They took me from being pretty interested to being totally interested by the end of the search,” Hanlon said. “I’m really excited. I’m really thrilled, I’m anxious to get started.”
Helman said he noted Hanlon’s humility, dedication to undergraduate teaching, thorough understanding of graduate schools and programs and community spirit as the search continued.
Dartmouth President-elect Philip Hanlon ’77’s experiences as a student and a member of a Greek organization, combined with his emphasis on undergraduate teaching, will help inform his decisions as president and his relationships with College community members, students, faculty members and alumni said.
Hanlon’s intention to teach during his tenure as president will help “level the student-to-administration playing field,” Stuart Ghafoor ’14 said.
Continuing to teach will provide some students the opportunity to build strong relationships with Hanlon, according to Kristina Williams ’16.
“I think it sets a strong example,” David Bessel ’15 said. “Even at high levels of the administration, there’s always a focus on teaching.”
The math department is looking forward to welcoming Hanlon, an “outstanding mathematician,” back to the College, according to math professor Peter Doyle.
“We have an office waiting for him in Kemeny Hall, and we hope he will spend as much time as he can here, interacting with students and faculty, even when he isn’t actually teaching,” Doyle said in an email.
Hanlon, who was a member of Alpha Delta fraternity as a student, will have the personal experience needed to make informed decisions about the Greek community, according to students.
“Because he already has that background, it just puts him in a better place to move forward,” Wagdalt said. “I’m excited.”
Staff reporters Stephanie McFeeters, Noah Reichblum and Heather Szilagyi contributed reporting to this article.