From the Dean: Strategies for Challenging Times

Winter 2009

—Joseph Helble, Dean

The current financial crisis affecting all sectors of the economy is also having an impact on higher education. Falling endowment values, a challenging federal research climate, and a strong commitment to meeting increasing student financial need have placed unprecedented pressure on college finances. Dartmouth is not immune from these challenges, and is taking steps to reduce expenses while preserving student financial aid and faculty resources. Our commitment is to ensure that the outstanding academic experience of our students will not be compromised.

At Thayer School, we are in a fortunate position relative to most academic institutions. Our research program has remained strong despite the increasingly competitive federal funding climate. For the first six months of the current fiscal year (through December 31, 2008), research grant awards to our faculty increased 26 percent over the same period one year ago. Funding continues to come from a broad range of sources, with 30 percent from the National Institutes of Health, 25 percent from non-federal sources, and nearly 30 percent from the National Science Foundation and Department of Defense combined, providing a buffer against budgetary challenges in any one particular area. Student interest in engineering also remains strong, with record enrollments noted in the Master of Engineering Management and Ph.D. programs this year, and enrollment in entry-level core engineering classes up significantly over the past several years. Although the value of Thayer's endowment has declined along with the stock market, the outstanding level of research funding, strong student interest in engineering, and continued careful management of discretionary expenditures place Thayer in a strong position to build for the future.

Over the course of the next academic year, while remaining flexible in our responses to this volatile economic environment, Thayer School will continue to build in strategic areas. We will conduct searches for new faculty in our energy technologies and engineering in medicine focus areas, build our academic programs in these areas, continue to expand our unique Ph.D. Innovation Program, and continue to explore new educational opportunities for our students. These are certainly challenging times for the academic community, but Thayer is well positioned, and we look forward to continuing to grow and strengthen our academic enterprise.