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Dartmouth College receives record $100 million donation

Dartmouth College has received a gift of $100 million, the largest single donation in the school’s 244-year history, that will be used to bolster faculty and enhance the institution’s contributions to global problem-solving.

The benefactors, a family with close ties to the college, wish to remain anonymous. Dartmouth plans to formally announce the gift Thursday.

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Half of the gift will be used as a “2 to 1” challenge grant, encouraging another $100 million in gifts by the end of 2015, which would bring the total to $200 million.

President Philip J. Hanlon, a Dartmouth graduate who was named the college’s 18th president in June 2013, said in an interview that he is “honored and grateful for this remarkable act of generosity.”

“What makes it really exceptional is that the only restriction is that the gift be used to build the academic excellence of Dartmouth,” he said.

The gift is a direct result of Hanlon’s “Cluster Initiative,” his concept for creating interdisciplinary faculty teams to foster innovative approaches to global issues. The gift will allow the college to create 30 to 40 endowed positions over the next decade.

The college said the initiative is intended to position Dartmouth as a center of new thinking on an international scale in fields such as finance, health care, education, energy and the environment, and creativity and the brain.

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The office of the provost is considering more than two dozen cluster proposals involving more than 100 faculty members.

The gift will also be used to expand the Thayer School of Engineering, “to build on its innovative use of experiential education and provide majors and nonmajors alike a strong foundation in technology,” the college said.

In detailing his vision for the school’s future, Hanlon has emphasized real-world application over “received information.”

“Instead of traditional hiring, we’re going to hire around an area of impact in the world,” he said. “As my academic vision sharpened, the [benefactors] became more and more excited. The gift was finalized fairly recently.”

Hanlon said he could not have envisioned one day assuming the college presidency of his alma mater.

“But like this donor family, I feel my Dartmouth experience is probably the most important contributing factor to what I’ve been able to do in my life,” he said. “To be able to come back to serve the institution is just an incredible thrill, and to bring in these kinds of resources is a double thrill.”

Dartmouth, located in Hanover, N.H., has an enrollment of about 6,300 students.

James Sullivan can be reached at jamesgsullivan@gmail.com.

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