Dartmouth College Picks Philip Hanlon as 18th President
University of Michigan Provost Philip Hanlon speaks at a ceremony in October. Dartmouth College announced Thursday that Hanlon will take office as the school's 18th president in July. (University of Michigan photograph)
University of Michigan Provost Phil Hanlon attends a research symposium in May. (University of Michigan photograph)
Philip Hanlon has been name Dartmouth College's new president. (Courtesy Dartmouth College)
Hanlon, a 1977 Dartmouth College alumnus, is seen here in his graduating year yearbook photo. (Dartmouth College photo)
University of Michigan Provost Philip Hanlon addresses the crowd during commencement at Michigan Stadium in April 2011. Dartmouth College yesterday named Hanlon to be its 18th president. (AnnArbor.com - Melanie Maxwell)
University of Michigan Provost Philip Hanlon has been named Dartmouth College's new president. (Courtesy Dartmouth College)
Hanover — Dartmouth College has hired an alumnus who has been instrumental in stewarding a major public university through rocky financial times to succeed Jim Yong Kim as the school’s next president.
Philip Hanlon, a 1977 Dartmouth graduate and the current provost at the University of Michigan, will take office as the college’s 18th president on July 1, the college announced yesterday.
Hanlon is scheduled to visit the Dartmouth campus today to meet with interim president Carol Folt and other school officials.
In an interview yesterday morning, Hanlon said he was eager to return to the school that played a role in shaping his life and academic career.
“It’s had a profound impact on who I am and what path I’ve taken,” Hanlon said by telephone yesterday. “So, to be at the helm of Dartmouth College, especially at this moment when there’s so much challenge and opportunity in higher education, this is really a thrill.”
Hanlon, 57, is a mathematician who has held a number of positions at the University of Michigan since he was first hired as an associate professor in 1986. He became the college’s associate dean for planning and finance in 2001, then rose to associate provost for academic and budgetary affairs in 2004, and became provost and executive vice president for academic affairs in 2010, according to his curriculum vitae.
He brings particular acumen for finance and dealing with fiscal constraints in higher education.
State funding for the University of Michigan has been cut significantly over the past decade, down $166 million annually from what it was in 2002, Hanlon said. He played a central role in helping the university adjust and flourish in that time. It is among the greatest strengths that he brings to Dartmouth, he said.
“I think it’s an area where I have a great deal of depth and experience,” he said. “I do agree that affordability and access is absolutely crucial to any great college or university right now, and it’s something we need to work on at Dartmouth.”
Details about Hanlon’s salary were not disclosed, Dartmouth spokesman Justin Anderson characterized the compensation as competitive with similar jobs at other schools. He earns $485,040 at Michigan, according to AnnArbor.com. President Kim’s base salary was $757,662 in 2010, the most recent year for which tax records are available.
The search for Dartmouth’s 18th president took slightly less time than the one that found Kim, who left in June after three years at Dartmouth to lead the World Bank. Yesterday’s announcement comes four months after the search criteria were released. Kim, meanwhile, was hired five months after the criteria that led to his hiring were finalized.
See related story, "Choice for President Gets Initial Thumbs Up from Dartmouth Community."
Hanlon was on the list of candidates from early on, said Bill Helman, a college trustee and chairman of the search committee. The decision to hire Hanlon “was easy,” Helman said, because of Hanlon’s commitment to liberal arts education and experience with esteemed graduate schools.
Hanlon’s ties to Dartmouth also figured prominently in the decision, said Helman, a venture capitalist and 1980 Dartmouth alumnus.
“It’s a very unique place,” Helman said of Dartmouth. “Philip Hanlon, who is at Michigan, one of the preeminent universities in the world, to have the advantage of an undergraduate liberal arts experience at Dartmouth ... it creates pretty unique blend, a pretty unique set of experiences in our guy.”
Diana Taylor, the vice chairwoman of the search committee, graduated with Hanlon in 1977. In the statement announcing Hanlon’s hiring, Taylor said Hanlon’s deep connection with Dartmouth was among the attributes that stood out.
“He impressed everyone on the search committee not only with his passion for Dartmouth, and for undergraduate learning, but also with the sharpness of his vision for how to ensure that Dartmouth can excel in an age of unprecedented challenge and opportunity for higher education,” said Taylor, who is the former New York State Superintendent of Banks and the longtime companion of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. “I could not be more proud that a member of the great Class of 1977 will be leading our alma mater.”
The Dartmouth presidency figures to be a very different experience for Hanlon, who is leaving a massive public university with a $6 billion budget for a small private college in Dartmouth.
In yesterday’s interview with the Valley News, Hanlon said “Dartmouth is a fabulous university,” an accidental slip that nevertheless touches on a point of tension at Dartmouth. For years, many within the Dartmouth community have debated over whether it should be a small college focused on liberal arts education, or a university with distinct colleges such as the medical, business and engineering schools.
Hanlon didn’t offer a definitive answer and instead turned the question toward the school’s mission, and how Dartmouth prepares undergraduate students to become leaders, and how that later “leads to knowledge creation and the preparation of professional students and PhD students.”
“I think those are completely synergistic,” he said. “I think it’s really important for our undergraduates to be involved in scholarly activities, specifically in grappling with the big difficult complex problems of the world.”
A native of the small mining town of Gouverneur, N.Y., Hanlon said he came to Dartmouth “intellectually underdeveloped” and without much confidence in his abilities. Dartmouth provided an awakening, of sorts, a place where he met lifelong friends and developed his love of learning.
“It’s really the place where I grew up,” he said. “It’s the place where I found faculty and students who challenged me and nurtured me. ... I really came to appreciate the life of the mind, the power of intellect.”
He also engaged in Dartmouth’s social scene, joining the Alpha Delta fraternity. His wife, Gail Gentes, is the sister of one of his fraternity brothers, and he said he continues to get together with a couple dozen Alpha Delta brothers every year. He and Gentes have three children who are all in their 20s. Gentes is the director of research and faculty support at the University of Michigan’s business school.
In taking Dartmouth’s top job, Hanlon will be called upon to address some of the issues that have plagued the college’s notorious social scene, which his predecessors have struggled to address. Crimes of sexual assault and the prevalence of dangerous drinking habits have been hot topics on campus recently. And Dartmouth fraternities came under pressure earlier this year after a student whistleblower, Andrew Lohse, exposed some of his fraternity’s hazing practices in a piece published by the student newspaper, The Dartmouth. A subsequent feature in the March edition of Rolling Stone magazine brought even more notoriety.
Hanlon said he’d had some initial briefings on the problems and wanted to learn more about how Dean Charlotte Johnson and her staff have been addressing them. He acknowledged that there were no quick fixes as “culture change is very difficult.”
“I think (social life) is a very important part of the Dartmouth experience,” he said. “Having said that, I expect the foundation of student life within the academic community is respect. Students need to have respect for each other, and they need to have respect for themselves, frankly.”
After Dartmouth, Hanlon earned his doctorate at the California Institute of Technology in 1981. He moved on to become an instructor at MIT and fellow at CalTech before joining the faculty at Michigan.
Though he’s held administrative positions, Hanlon is fond of interacting with students, especially through freshman courses. He teaches an introductory calculus class at Michigan and seemed to have an easy way with students, according to Paul Kessenich, a lecturer at Michigan who coordinates the calculus classes.
“He’s great. I think he’s considered one of the best instructors we have,” Kessenich said yesterday by phone. “He just seems to be really natural, in terms of teaching and his interactions with students.”
Hanlon said he hopes to continue teaching freshman classes at Dartmouth. He likes talking with students, but said freshman were especially rewarding to instruct because of their ambition.
“I find that they’re very eager. They’re very interested in learning,” he said. “Not that other students aren’t, but they in particular because they’re fresh, they’re trying to prove themselves, they’re trying to challenge themselves, they’re trying to understand what they can accomplish.”
Mel Hochster, chairman of the Mathematics Department at University of Michigan, said Hanlon was effective in all his various roles at Michigan.
“As associate provost for the budget he put the university in a terrific position for dealing with the recession, and his vision, judgment and foresight have benefited the University of Michigan in innumerable ways, proving repeatedly that he was the right choice for the provost position here,” Hochster wrote in an email. “His leaving is a great loss to this university, but I am sure that he both wants the challenges of the presidency at Dartmouth and will excel in dealing with them.”
Hanlon will spend the coming months preparing for his new job, sometimes visiting Hanover or checking in with college leadership and alumni on a weekly basis, he said.
Faculty, staff and students will have a chance to meet him on Jan. 11, when Dartmouth hosts a welcome celebration.
Hanlon said he has little idea of what to expect as he prepares for the presidency, a job he considers the pinnacle of his career. He has not yet set a list of priorities or planned any major initiatives for the school. That work begins with his visit today.
And, once he sets his agenda for the college, Hanlon said he plans to stay on as president for quite a while.
“I’m coming into this hoping to accomplish a lot and move the college forward and that takes time,” he said. “So, I’m coming into this with the expectation of being here for quite a long time.”
Valley News reporter Chris Fleisher spoke to VPR's Mitch Wertlieb about Dartmouth's incoming president on VPR Friday morning. To listen to that interview, click here.
Fleisher can be reached at 603-727-3229 or firstname.lastname@example.org.