At the Heart of The Dartmouth Experience

The Sherman Fairchild Foundation takes the lead in boosting support for future generations of exceptional teacher-scholars

The largest terrestrial invertebrate is the coconut crab, and Assistant Professor Mark Laidre is one of the world’s leading researchers studying this species, thanks in part of the Burke Award he received.

The largest terrestrial invertebrate is the coconut crab, and Assistant Professor Mark Laidre is one of the world’s leading researchers studying this species, thanks in part to the Burke Award he received.

Dartmouth students receive an outstanding education first and foremost because of the College’s world-class teacher-scholars.

Dartmouth faculty are outstanding classroom teachers and leading scholars in their fields—and they are key to the institution’s academic mission.

In the highly competitive world of elite higher education, colleges and universities aggressively recruit faculty. Dartmouth is no exception: In February, the College announced a $10 million commitment from the Sherman Fairchild Foundation to bolster its efforts to recruit, nurture, and retain highly sought-after, early-career faculty.

“The Sherman Fairchild Foundation has helped set us apart in the universe of higher education, and its generosity benefits almost every Dartmouth student and a large percentage of our faculty,” says President Philip J. Hanlon ’77. “We thank the foundation’s trustees for believing in the promise and power of a Dartmouth education and investing in our outstanding teacher-scholars.”

More than half a century of support

During the past six decades, the Sherman Fairchild Foundation has made the lead gift for several major initiatives—including the Walter & Constance Burke Research Initiation Award, the focus of the new $10 million commitment—and has contributed significantly to many other projects across the Dartmouth campus, including grants to the three professional schools.

Walter Burke ’44, the late chairman emeritus of the Dartmouth Board of Trustees and Sherman Fairchild Foundation’s president for 40 years, and his widow, Constance, have themselves been generous benefactors of the College.

Since 1987, Burke Awards have been essential to the success of more than 400 faculty members. The awards support newly recruited, junior-level teacher-scholars in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, providing grants of up to $25,000. Faculty can use these awards for a variety of purposes related to their scholarship, such as purchasing equipment, acquiring datasets, and traveling to conferences.

The foundation’s latest grant will strengthen Dartmouth’s ability to compete for scholars with exceptional promise and to retain top faculty talent. The grant will enhance the Burke Research Initiation Award program in two ways: $5 million to raise the award level to $30,000; and $5 million for a new endowment to recruit sought-after faculty in the arts and sciences.

Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Elizabeth Smith says funding sources such as the Burke Award are essential when recruiting scholars in the dynamic world of elite higher education.

“Only a handful of colleges deliver a liberal arts education based on a model in which the faculty approach their teaching with the same intensity and dedication as they do their scholarship,” she says.

“Our distinctive teacher-scholar model of undergraduate education sets us apart and attracts highly talented students and faculty. This latest gift from the Sherman Fairchild Foundation reaffirms Dartmouth’s commitment to providing the resources our junior faculty need to meet their full potential in becoming internationally recognized scholars and teachers.”

Everyone in the Dartmouth community can be part of this essential effort to invest in faculty. There are multiple ways to advance faculty excellence through The Call to Lead campaign—and donors can direct their gifts specifically to one of Dartmouth’s five schools.