/ The Dartmouth Staff
First, it is important to put this presidential search in context. Unlike previous search profiles, this presidential search highlighted sexual assault, substance abuse and accountability as key factors in the presidential selection. It also counted diversity and a global perspective, issues that the College has sought to encourage on its campus in the past, among the most important objectives for the next president to pursue.
The College's choice of Hanlon reflects the search committee's view that he embodies and values the above-stated objectives. Consequently, it will be his job to ensure that these pressing issues are dealt with accordingly. Given Hanlon's history at other institutions, and statements he made in a convocation speech to Michigan's freshman class this past year, he appears prepared to fulfill the search committee's expectations. At the convocation, he stressed the value of diversity and opening oneself up to unfamiliar people and places. Relating NBC's popular show "30 Rock" to the students' college experience, he urged students to "seek out others who are different from yourself." Hanlon understands the power of diversity and the need for students to take advantage of others' perspectives. Acknowledgments of his commitment to diversity were given by members of the Presidential Search Committee on the College's website. It seems clear that Hanlon was viewed as the best choice for the vacant presidency in part because of his commitment to diversity.
At the same time, many students were disappointed that the College did not select a female candidate to be its 18th President. This certainly would have been a great statement of progress for women at Dartmouth, but there are higher posts in this country to which women have been deservingly appointed or elected that signal similar improvement. The College's presidency isn't the type of crowning achievement on which the feminist movement needs to hang its hat. At Dartmouth, where Interim President Carol Folt and Dean of the College Charlotte Johnson are women, old stereotypes are rightfully changing. Yet we should not confuse Hanlon's election as a black mark in the progress that has been made. Rather, the selection suggests that Hanlon was the best candidate for the job based on his qualifications and the type of leader that Dartmouth needs.
Along those lines, Hanlon's track record in academia and in college administration is impressive. As Michigan's chief academic and budget officer, he earned the respect of colleagues and many students despite tough financial circumstances. As Dartmouth students face rising tuition and fees, this experience will prove key to the College's future. The importance that Hanlon ascribes to teaching undergraduates also stands out from his past accomplishments. It suggests that he will give high priority to issues involving classes and student life. Particularly given that Dartmouth has lacked a strong and healthy connection between the administration and students in recent years, I hope that Hanlon will be an engaged and active member of our campus community.
Although Hanlon is a relative unknown, he deserves a fair shot from Dartmouth students. Let us give him a chance to share his viewpoints with us before we judge him.
"Listen to [others'] ideas and viewpoints, learn from their experiences and by all means share yours with them," Hanlon said in the convocation speech. It is only through this sort of understanding that we will achieve the noble objectives of diversity and equality for which we ought to strive.