Only one of nine colleges in the country founded prior to the American Revolution, Dartmouth was started by Eleazar Wheelock, a Puritan minister who wanted to Christianize the native population. While the institution was established as the Moor’s Indian Charity School in 1775, it encountered difficulties with recruiting natives. Wheelock approached the English government for a royal charter and the school was renamed Dartmouth College, with the newfound purpose of educating both “youth of the Indian Tribes…and English youths.”
By 1771 the school had moved to its present location in Hanover, but moved away from its goals of Indian Christianization. In 1819, the State of New Hampshire amended the school’s royal charter and made it a public university. In the case Dartmouth v. Woodward, the Supreme Court found that the state’s takeover was illegal in a landmark case involving contract rights and the limitations of state power.
By the turn of the 20th century, Dartmouth had emerged as a prestigious academic institution. The school’s president William Jewett Tucker revitalized old facilities and brought in new faculty, and within a generation the school had implemented selective admissions practices.
President Dwight D. Eisenhower summed up the Dartmouth campus best when he remarked, “this is what a college is supposed to look like.” The oldest buildings on campus are even older than Ike (Wentworth and Thornton Halls were built in the 1820s), and that’s pretty darn old. Hardcore fans of Georgian American colonial architecture (we know you’re out there) will have a field day at Dartmouth.
Collis, Dartmouth’s campus center, is where many students hang out, do work, and eat. It’s a very functional place with a fun and vibrant atmosphere that also manages to be homey. Students can use the rooms above the café area to do work, and can visit another room that has three huge televisions and sofas to take in the big game or a TV show.
The first floor of the library, known as First Floor Berry, is the place to go if you want to look like you’re studying but really want to see people. Novak, a 24-hour study space attached to the library that’s also a café during most of the day can take on a similar vibe.
When it’s nice out, the Green is the place to be, and it’s easily the number one hangout on sunny days. Usually there’s music playing, Frisbees flying, people sunbathing, and dogs running around. Students can bring a blanket out there and truly stay for the whole day if they please.
Dartmouth’s Hopkins Center, a large performing arts facility, also contains a small café. The “Hop” line on Sunday morning is another great place to get some face time with friends. By 11:00 or 11:30, you’ll find tons of people right there with you asking themselves how much longer it’s going to be until they get their egg wrap and start feeling better. It’s the first place to go on a Sunday morning and it’s gossip central.
Alumni Gym is another popular spot. Since everyone at Dartmouth tends to be active, people are always running from place to place and looking for a few moments to squeeze in some time at the gym. It’s another place to see people, watch your favorite television show, and get that 30-minute elliptical workout.
Hanover is a small, sparsely-populated town in rural western New Hampshire that sits across the Connecticut River from Vermont. Many of its residents are Dartmouth alums, suburban families, and retired folks. In 2007, CNN and Money magazine called Hanover the second-best place to live in the country. The downtown area is technically only one street, but it offers an appealing collection of shops and restaurants.
As reported by Evan Lambert ’11:
“Hanover itself doesn't offer many places to hang out, but students usually go out to eat at restaurants such as Molly’s (which offers American fare), the Orient (with Chinese/Japanese food), Mai Thai, and EBAs (another American-style eatery that delivers until 2:10 a.m.). Some of the nicer places to relax around town are the Dartmouth bookstore, Dirt Cowbow Cafe, and Lou's Diner.
"If students have cars, they can travel to West Lebanon, which offers shopping, a dance club, and even more restaurants. There is an Advance Transit bus that goes there as well, though the trip will take longer via bus.
"Finally, Boston is two and a half hours away and accessible via the Dartmouth Coach. The trip is relatively cheap, and students can enjoy good food, historical sites, and the great nightlife that the Hub has to offer.”
At Dartmouth College, traditions are not just a series of archaic rituals that students begrudgingly perform. Most see these age-old traditions as part of the school’s living identity and embrace the customs with gusto.
The school functions on the quarter system (known as the “D-Plan”), and during each term, one weekend is set aside for celebration. Dartmouth Night (homecoming) occurs ever fall, Winter Carnival is celebrated during the winter term, and Green Key, a weekend of partying and debauchery, occurs each spring. The school used to celebrate Tubestock during the summer, during which students would float down the Connecticut River on inner tubes and wooden rafts, but the tradition ended in 2006 when the town of Hanover announced it would enforce laws requiring anyone found on the river to have a permit. The class of 2008 brought back the summer event with Fieldstock, which includes a barbeque, live music, and chariot races.
The Dartmouth Outing Club offers a three-night outdoor trip for incoming students. 90% of freshmen typically participate in this popular orientation activity.
Numerous streaking traditions, described by the Dartmouth Independent as “virtual prerequisites for graduating from the College,” include the Ledyard Challenge, whereby students have to swim from the Ledyard Canoe Club across the Connecticut River and return by running naked across the Ledyard Bridge.
Samuel P. Chase (1826) was Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court, US Secretary of the Treasury, and a US Senator from Ohio.
Robert Frost (attended) was US poet laureate and winner of four Pulitzer Prizes.
Theodor Geisel (1925), also known as “Dr. Seuss,” was the author and illustrator of a number of beloved children’s books.
Mindy Kaling (2001) is an American writer and actress who plays Kelly Kapoor on NBC’s The Office.
Daniel Webster (1801) was a US Senator from Massachusetts and US Secretary of State.
Dartmouth competes in the Ivy League as an NCAA Division I institution. The school has never had an official mascot, and until the 1970s its teams went by the nickname “the Indians.” Dartmouth sports squads are now known as “the Big Green,” which is the school’s official color. With 34 teams, 20% of Dartmouth males and 18% of females participate in varsity athletics. While Dartmouth is known more for its academics than its world-class athletes, a moderate level of competitive spirit pervades the campus, and according to one freshman, “it is almost mandatory for everyone to attend the football game” during homecoming weekend.
Furthermore, Dartmouth is the ideal school for students who love winter sports. The Dartmouth ski-way, just a short drive from campus, houses three ski lifts, 16 trails, and a lodge. Both men’s and women’s ice hockey are popular teams and men’s ice hockey games are probably the most well-attended of all Dartmouth sporting events. Lastly, it’s worth noting that with so many students involved in athletics, sports provide yet another social outlet for Dartmouth students.
Sports at Dartmouth: Go Big Green
The fratastic classic film Animal House was written by Chris Miller ’63 and loosely based on his experiences as a member of a Dartmouth fraternity.
Dartmouth is the alma mater of a number of fictional characters including Michael Corleone from The Godfather, Meredith Grey of Grey’s Anatomy, and Stephen Colbert’s persona on The Colbert Report.
-- With special reporting by Evan Lambert ‘11
With guaranteed housing for freshmen and sophomores, Dartmouth is split into nine residential clusters. In this unique system, three or four dorms are grouped together to form residential communities.
McLaughlin is one of the newest clusters on campus, with spacious rooms, lounges, and bathrooms shared by hallmates. Fahey/McLane is another new cluster that offers beautiful views of the White Mountains in Vermont and proximity to important spots on campus, including the dining hall and library. Some of Fahey/McLane’s floors boast spacious rooms and contain private bathrooms.
There are also freshman-only clusters, including the Choates, an older cluster directly behind fraternity row, and the River, which is the farthest cluster from the center of campus and also very old. These clusters contain one-room doubles, one-room singles, and two-room doubles.
East Wheelock is a special academic cluster that offers a quiet place for students to live and study. It houses a special dean for first-year students who holds lunches for the cluster residents, special programming (including free raffles for Hop performance tickets), and opportunities for unique professor-student interactions (there is a professor who lives in a house directly adjacent to the Cluster).
All residential floors have a UGA (undergraduate adviser) who encourages unity and directs residents to the proper channels to help them resolve problems. First-year UGAs are especially important in helping freshmen adjust to college life. There are also GAs (graduate advisers) and CDs (community directors), usually one of each in every cluster.