What’s Next and What’s Necessary

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by President John E. Jones III '77, P'11

We say often that Dickinson is a world-class liberal-arts college, a Carlisle institution that truly spans the globe. Our faculty and staff are experts in their fields, and our students are among the best and the brightest of their generation. To remain world class, in my view, we must be committed to pushing forward, unsatisfied with the status quo, not afraid to imagine what’s next and what’s necessary for the students of tomorrow.

That’s why we are constantly reflecting on what we do and looking for ways to serve the needs of our students even more effectively.

Renée Cramer, our new provost (pictured above at her first Convocation), has welcomed that challenge on the academic side. To say that Renée has hit the ground running would be an understatement. She has been working with faculty across the curriculum to evaluate what’s working and where we can be even more creative in building on our existing strengths. At her invitation, faculty groups are exploring the addition of some highly sought-after major areas of study, and she is looking to see how to best allocate our resources to these new areas.

Knowing that students emerged from the pandemic with some gaps in knowledge and other challenges, she is working with her team to reimagine advising so that students feel supported and guided to make the most of their four years. And we are using innovative technology to keep students on track and to connect them with support.

We all know that preparing students for careers after Dickinson is one of the most important tasks at hand, especially when today’s students are expected to hold multiple jobs in multiple industries. To that end, Renée is making some much-needed investments in our career approach, so that students will be able to develop career pathways with guidance from a specialist who knows that particular field—such as tech, finance, health, entertainment and the arts or the nonprofit sector. This will mean that students are receiving career support targeted to their areas of interest.

Another challenge we’re tackling is our message to prospective students. As leadership has changed over the last decade, so has that message. We’re now marketing Dickinson with greater pride and confidence, and I am very clear when meeting with prospective students that Dickinson is not for everyone. Again, we are not about the status quo. The students who will thrive here are intellectually curious and willing to challenge themselves by exploring all that a spectacular liberal-arts curriculum has to offer. We produce problem solvers who think critically, which makes our graduates extremely attractive to prospective employers. That is the Dickinson way.

We’re making it clear that we have high expectations for Dickinsonians, but in return, we will help them chart a path filled with the knowledge, skills and practical experiences that will set them apart from other college graduates. Our engaged professors will continue to mentor them when they move beyond campus, and our vast alumni network will be leveraged to provide countless opportunities.

That Dickinson alumni and parent network is crucial, and that is why we have moved forward with the John M. Paz ’78 Alumni & Family Center. We want to harness the expertise and passion of our graduates and our parents, and, beginning this spring, you will have a beautiful place to come home to. We want the center to serve as a space where our alumni and parents can support our students and where faculty and the Dickinson network can exchange ideas and create new opportunities. I cannot wait for you to visit the center, and I look forward to seeing how each of you will contribute as you continue to answer that lifelong question: What will your Dickinson experience be?

Read more from the fall 2023 issue of Dickinson Magazine.


Published November 21, 2023