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Presidential Discovery Initiative Survey Findings

As part of the Presidential Discovery Initiative, Dickinson reached out to alumni from 46 states and Puerto Rico. Student interviewers conducted 1,327 interviews—a big leap, compared to just 850 interviews in 2019. Alumni represented seven decades of class years (1951-2019), with the largest percentage (19%) graduating in the 80s.

The largest participating alum group was male (56%). At least 6% of interviewees were Black (possibly more, since Dickinson only has race and ethnicity information for about 20% of graduates). Significantly more than half (68%) reported that they donated to Dickinson during the past two years. Sixty-five percent had given to organizations other than Dickinson, and 73% had volunteered within their communities.

Survey highlights

  • 99.4% of those who mentioned it feel positively about the value of a liberal-arts education.
  • 87% say they benefitted from guidance from Dickinson’s faculty and from the college’s experiential learning opportunities.
  • 49% are very engaged with the college (volunteering, college events, donating or reading college communications)
  • 57% of those who mentioned the college’s political views feel the college is too liberal.
  • 96% would recommend Dickinson to a loved one if it was a good fit, and 66% would recommend the college to a loved one in any case.
  • 44% mentioned diversity and inclusion themes on campus today. Of these, 31% felt positively and 58% felt there was room for improvement.
  • 87% of those who mentioned sustainability spoke positively about the college’s sustainability programs.
  • 86% of those who mentioned global education programs spoke positively about the college’s current global education programs.

What alumni said about the experience

  • “I believe that this is an excellent way to gather input and feelings about the Dickinson experience from alums.”
  • “It was a great experience, and was fun reflecting on my time at and connection with Dickinson.”

What alumni said about the Fellows

  • “Articulate, focused, intelligent, a delight to chat with…”
  • “I wish most lawyers with whom I deal professionally had the same listening skills and ability to ask follow-up questions as my Fellow did.”
  • “I was impressed by the maturity and depth of knowledge of this incoming sophomore. I am not sure that after my freshman year I could have conducted such an extensive exercise.”
  • “The interview was thoroughly delightful. I also received a prompt thank you note.”

What 2020 Fellows said

  • “I’ve gotten to see how alumni relationships change over time, which has made me think about how I want to stay involved once I graduate.”
  • “I’ve really benefited from hearing about alumni career and life trajectories. It’s made me feel more confident about my own choices.”
  • “This is a great opportunity to work on communication skills and gain career contacts in a professional setting.”

How do I get involved?

Interviews are held during the summer, and Fellows and interviewees are identified midway through the spring semester. To be included in the next pool of applicants, or to learn more about the most recent results, contact