Alumni giving: Dartmouth hears a who

Associated Press
Dr. Seuss reads “Horton Hears a Who!’’ to 4-year-old Lucinda Bell at his home in California in 1956.

Theodor “Dr. Seuss’’ Geisel is finally getting his place in the medical establishment. Dartmouth College announced this week its medical school will be renamed the Audrey and Theodor Geisel School of Medicine. The decision to honor Dr. Seuss, who died in 1991, isn’t a testament to medical expertise - he wasn’t a physician. Nor was it a tribute to the undying appeal of his children’s stories, innovative rhymes, or iconic characters such as the Lorax and the Cat in the Hat. Rather, it’s a recognition of another enduring affection - his love for his alma mater.

Geisel, who graduated from Dartmouth in 1925, adored his college. Amid one of the wealthiest communities of alumni givers in academia, Geisel stood out: He and Audrey have contributed more money to Dartmouth than any other couple.

Alumni giving, which is especially prevalent in New England, doesn’t satisfy every charitable need; one could argue that there are more pressing concerns than those of already wealthy institutions of higher learning. But the Geisels’ generosity toward Dartmouth stems from a noble intention - to create a world-class institution, probing the boundaries of knowledge. It is also a gesture of gratitude - to a place and time of deep personal meaning. And it’s a statement of identity. Now, the names of Geisel and his wife will forever be a part of the college he loved.