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Dartmouth Announces Anonymous $100 Million Donation

Hanover — Dartmouth College today is announcing an anonymous $100 million donation — a record amount for the school — that is meant to fund several of the initiatives launched by first-year President Phil Hanlon.

Part of the donation is being dubbed a challenge grant with a goal of raising an additional $100 million in donations , the college said in a news release.

“I am deeply honored and grateful for this extraordinary act of generosity,” Hanlon said in a statement. “This historic gift is an exceptional vote of confidence as we embark on an exciting journey to ensure Dartmouth remains the preeminent undergraduate institution in the nation; a magnet for human talent; and a college that cultivates a culture of ideas, discovery and solutions to problems that will make the world a better place.”

The gift is the largest single outright donation in Dartmouth’s history and is equal to about a tenth of the college’s annual operating budget. The school holds an endowment worth close to $4 billion.

Half of the $100 million is specifically earmarked to support the “Cluster Initiative,” which Hanlon proposed at a faculty meeting last fall, that includes adding 30 to 40 new endowed professors over the next decade.

In the past, professors have been hired by a specific department, but with Hanlon’s initiative, professors would be hired under the umbrella of multidisciplinary clusters such as sustainable energy and financial markets. Professors will be hired based on their knowledge on the cluster topic rather than a specific academic discipline and could teach across departments.

Dartmouth spokesman Justin Anderson said the college hopes the clusters, which would require additional funding beyond today’s announced gift, will become magnets for talented faculty and students and focus on important issues.

“The investment arrives at a pivotal moment in Dartmouth’s history,” Steve Mandel, chairman of the Board of Trustees, said in a statement. “It marks the start of a remarkable era propelled by President Hanlon’s vision for Dartmouth, a vision that has as its foundation the unparalleled academic excellence of a most distinct liberal arts college.”

The portion of the $100 million not earmarked for the clusters will be used to support other academic programs at Hanlon’s direction.

Since he started his tenure in June, Hanlon has announced a proposal to increase the number of scholars at Dartmouth through the Society of Fellows, which will bring in about two dozen post-doctorate academics to campus to bolster interdisciplinary research efforts. He also has committed to expanding the Thayer School of Engineering as a way to give all undergraduates a strong foundation in technology, and he’s focused on experiential learning, which emphasized work outside the classroom.

Dartmouth also announced in January that it will join edX, an online learning platform that was founded by Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The program offers courses to learners across the globe, with the goal that professors would bring what they learn from these online courses back to their classrooms on campus.

Sarah Brubeck can be reached at sbrubeck@vnews.com or 603-727-3223.