For our 25th Reunion in 1994, our Class Gift was $100,000 to the College for a “Class of 1969 Study Room” in the new wing of Baker-Berry Library. Thereafter, we continued to send out our annual Class dues notices with a “kicker” line for contributions toward a future Class gift. Dues-paying classmates were generous, and over time our treasury grew to a healthy figure. As we passed through our 35th and 40th Reunions, we noted changes in the College’s view of Class gifts with “acceptable” choices presented to us from a prescribed list. This did not sit particularly well with us. Paul Tuhus met with Computer Science personnel to explore a network of interactive electronic campus map mini-kiosks to help guide new students and visitors to specific locations. This initiative bogged down – ever-changing technology, weather, and maintenance/repair issues - and faded away. We began showing a greater interest in current students and the uptick with community service and its enhanced impact on The Dartmouth Experience. Class meetings took on discussions of how we might connect better with such students via a new organization on campus called The Hill Winds Society, working under the aegis of Student Affairs, that involved students looking to connect to alumni. They brought us an ‘07 student who was undertaking a book on the History and Evolution of Dartmouth Traditions. The idea was that such a book could be given to every entering freshman class. An initial grant of $5000 to fund the room and board of this student after graduation was in tentative approval, contingent upon an acceptable prospectus and outline. Alas, after graduation the student-author lost his focus, so the project died prior to any disbursement of funds. Discussions next involved consideration of “mini-projects” that would benefit student organizations and their initiatives to do good things, rather than simply banking our growing surplus of funds. We were primed and ready in late 2009 to act with an “up to $10,000 annual award” and a committee comprising Mark Anderson, Peter Elias, and Dimitri Gerakaris to explore potential projects. In short order, fate brought us our first “mini-project” and a leader who could continue to explore and nominate subsequent awardees. From here Dimitri Gerakaris picks up the story.
Origin of Program and Objectives
I missed our 2009 class meeting because I was elsewhere on campus, captivated by Pratyaksh Srivastava ’12. He had concluded that one of the world’s greatest challenges is lack of safe drinking water, and so he helped form a Dartmouth student philanthropic organization to do something about it with small solar-powered water filtration units. The following day Mark Anderson was visiting my forge because he missed the class group visit. “Oh, by the way, he mentioned, “since you missed the meeting, we voted you the chair of a new committee to fund Dartmouth student philanthropic groups, up to $10k per year. Peter Elias and I are your committee.” As he drove down the hill, I muttered, “I already have our first recipient”.
It has been a joy locating worthy recipients the past ten years with so much breadth and depth to Dartmouth student philanthropy. The over-riding goal of our grant, as I see it, is to not only satisfy an immediate philanthropic need but to inculcate and reinforce in our students the joy and skills involved in philanthropy and to encourage them to make that an ongoing part of their lives as Dartmouth alumni. I am very happy to report the program is still going strong, and we have been most gratified to see the ongoing philanthropy by those who have become alumni.
Each year when announcing the award at Homecoming, we assemble not only the new recipients but the leaders of the previous grant to hear their report of what impact our grant has had. Some of them have even chosen to bring some of the people they have helped, and it has been most gratifying for our Classmates, as well as inspirational to the new recipients.
See our brief summaries of our recipients and their programs plus some heartwarming images. Thanks to our ’69 Classmates for the wonderful support!
Dimitri Gerakaris ‘69
Class of 1969 Special Philanthropic Projects Chair (a.k.a. ’69 Class Blacksmith)