When President-elect Philip Hanlon '77 assumes office on July 1, he must focus on improving student life and act as the College's global "spokesperson," Interim President Carol Folt said in an interview with The Dartmouth. Folt, the first woman to head the College, said she will work directly with Hanlon in the upcoming months to prepare for the transition in leadership. Folt will return to her former position as provost once Hanlon takes office. Folt joined the College as a biology professor in 1983 and has been a senior administrator since 2001, when she was named dean of graduate studies. She was appointed dean of the faculty of arts and sciences in 2004 before being named dean of the faculty in 2006. Folt became provost in 2009.
As the College's most senior administrator, the president promotes the College's students and faculty, hires new faculty and monitors emerging trends in higher education and technology. Folt said she expects Hanlon's executive expertise and personal history at the College will positively inform his decision-making.
Hanlon must continue to support Dartmouth's strategic planning initiatives, which will make the College financially accessible to all students and competitive in the transforming world of higher education.
"When you look at the country there are financial roadblocks ahead, and we are thinking about those things.," she said.
The majority of government funding for "high-impact" research goes to approximately 60 universities, including Dartmouth, according to Folt. While she is not concerned that cuts will affect Dartmouth's research, she said she remains determined to provide students with the best education possible.
"Have we prepared our students undergraduate and graduate with the right skill set in a world that is rapidly changing?" Folt said. "Are we keeping relevant? Are we still investigating the way we're teaching so that our students are just as competitive?" The College's recent initiatives, including the Year of the Arts and the "Leading Voices in Higher Education" lecture series, demonstrate the administration's interest in remaining competitive in the higher education market and their ongoing desire to expand students' educational opportunities, Folt said.
In order to remain competitive globally, the College must continue to attract outstanding scholars from all disciplines, according to Folt. The College has to dispel the idea that Dartmouth's rural location is disconnected from the world.
As interim president, Folt said she enjoys her daily interactions with students and leading the College's strategic planning efforts that will directly affect the institution's future.
Folt said that some of the College's most significant reforms, including overhauling the College's advising system, have been under-recognized by the student body.
"It's the nature of what we do some things aren't seen," Folt said. "I'm not sure that everybody knows how much work has been done to improve services for students."
Dean of the College Charlotte Johnson, for example, has been collaborating with the President's Office to improve student life.
The Dean of the College Office is determined to streamline the College's advising system so it will be more accessible to students, Folt said. A new facility that will house academic advisors will soon be opening in Baker-Berry Library.
Folt said she has made it her priority to balance administrative obligations with attending student-oriented events and working on her scientific research."I personally am very fortunate to have work that I absolutely love," Folt said. "It energizes me."
Folt's "extreme loyalty" to students has distinguished her from other administrators, Roger Sloboda, biology professor and interim associate provost for research said in an email to The Dartmouth.