Succeeding former College President Jim Yong Kim as the 18th member of the Wheelock Succession, President-elect Philip Hanlon '77 has drawn comparisons to several former College presidents. In particular, Hanlon has been compared extensively to former College President John Kemeny, who served as president during Hanlon's time as an undergraduate and whom Hanlon cites as an inspiration.
Many have noted the similarities in background between Hanlon and Kemeny, particularly in their academic experience in mathematics and dedication to teaching undergraduates. Hanlon called Kemeny, from whom he took classes, the College president he most admires.
"He clearly had the same ethic I do, that the teaching mission of the university is something he wanted to be involved in," Hanlon said
Hanlon has stated that he plans to continue teaching during his term as president, and many view this as one of the best ways to stay in touch with the student body.
"What better way is there to understand what undergraduates want and need than to have everyday experiences with them in the classroom?" Steven Pincus '84 said.
Hanlon has said in numerous interviews that he looks to Kemeny as a role model who shaped his experience at the College and his career as an academic and administrator. Kemeny served as College president from 1970 to 1981.
"He clearly had the same ethic I do, that the teaching mission of the university is something he wanted to be involved in," Hanlon said.
Kemeny's ability to lead Dartmouth through a period of intense change including coeducation and the adoption of the D-Plan is "poignant" to Hanlon, he said.
Kemeny served as president of the College from 1970 to 1981, overseeing the transition to coeducation in 1972 and the implementation of the Dartmouth Plan. Previously the chair of the College's mathematics department, Kemeny continued to teach two courses a year during his tenure as president and returned to teaching after he stepped down.
"He was brilliant and could have taught the most advanced courses, but he chose to try to make math exciting and accessible," Mark Fidler '77 said. "The kids who were the most afraid of math were the ones he wanted to work with."
Among members of the student body, Kemeny was an extremely popular figure, according to Katherine Walcott '84.
"[Kemeny] would get a standing ovation for saying, men and women of Dartmouth,'" she said. "We were nuts about him."
Lawrence Manley '71 said that Kemeny was a "remarkable" president who shaped the "coed, year-round, global" Dartmouth of today. Manley said he believes Hanlon's similar background will be a steady hand in promoting Dartmouth's academic strength.
"[Hanlon] brings a special perspective as a Dartmouth alumnus of the memorable Kemeny years," Manley said. "Everything suggests that he will hold undergraduate life close to heart."
The appointment of an experienced administrator, educator and academic is a significant departure from Kim, who had worked as a physician and global health expert before leaving the College to head the World Bank following his nomination in April.
Critics of Kim have included students and members of the College faculty, such as English professor Ivy Schweitzer, who previously said in an interview that Kim was responsible for the alleged "corporatization" of the institution.
"I hope it's not a reaction to President Kim," Wright said. "I hope it's an effort to continue building upon the base that [Kim] left here."In a statement, Kim praised the selection of Hanlon as his successor.
"At a time of momentous global change, Phil's understanding of how higher education must evolve to adapt to the world and improve it puts Dartmouth in an outstanding position to continue to lead," he said.