Forty years ago today

I became a member of the Dartmouth family.

Forty years ago today I started classes as a first-year undergraduate student at Dartmouth College. As I headed off to find my Physics, Math, and Geography classes, I surely did not anticipate that I would return, less than a decade later, to join the faculty … or how the years would turn into decades and I would take on increasing responsibilities. It has been truly an honor and a privilege to serve this institution on behalf of current and future students. Read on!

My 1982 Dartmouth ID, which received a new validation sticker each term.
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Commencement

A 252-year tradition.

I had the honor of leading the academic procession – and acting as master of ceremonies – at the Commencement ceremony at Dartmouth College this weekend.

Dartmouth photo by Rob Strong

See the official photo gallery, the YouTube playlist with three speaker videos, and video of the full ceremony.

Congratulations to the graduates!

Moosilauke trailwork

A day of clearing blowdowns and water bars.

I had the opportunity to spend this weekend at Moosilauke Ravine Lodge, for a celebration of the 100th anniversary of a subset of the Dartmouth Outing Club known as Cabin & Trail. Although the celebratory aspect of the weekend was muted – by virtue of being postponed two years due to the pandemic – the real purpose of the gathering was in full swing. A couple dozen hardy alums gathered on Saturday morning for a day of trailwork, sweeping the trails of Mount Moosilauke to remove the winter’s debris of blown-down trees and sediment-filled waterbars (stones and logs used for diverting water from the trails). Although Friday night’s weather involved heavy rain, Saturday morning woke clear with only light clouds.

Saturday morning view from Moosilauke Ravine Lodge.

My group was assigned to hike up the Ridge Trail to the junction with the Beaver Brook Trail, where an illegal campsite had emerged over recent years – we needed to erase that campsite by filling it with debris that would discourage anyone from camping. Here’s the happy crew, after cluttering the campsite behind us.

The crew who erased a campsite at intersection of Beaver Brook and Ridge Trail: Lelia, Kevin, Jeff, Bernie; photo by David Kotz.

We then returned via the same route, chopping trees that had fallen across the trail, sawing off branches that overhung the trail, and shoveling out sediment-filled waterbars.

Jeff Greilsheimer ’94 chops blowdowns on Ridge Trail – with Mount Blue at rear.

We finished the day, dirty and tired, but satisfied by a good day’s work.

The Ridge trail crew: Bernie, Jeff, Kevin, David, Lelia.

Sunday broke even clearer, and sunnier, but sadly I had to depart. I’ll be back soon!

See the photo gallery – including some photos from one of the weekend’s organizers.

Dartmouth Powwow

The 50th annual powwow at Dartmouth.

The weather was wonderful for the return of the Dartmouth Powwow, celebrating its 50th anniversary as one of the largest annual powwows in the country. The event was cancelled the past two years due to the pandemic, so it was especially gratifying to see this special event back on the Green – especially this year, as Dartmouth celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Native American Studies program at Dartmouth.

Beth Regan, vice chair of the Mohegan Council of Elders, in an honor dance with the Head Man and Head Lady dancers, at Dartmouth Pow-Wow 2022.

The event was also another opportunity to recognize the recent return of Samson Occom’s papers to the Mohegan Tribe; indeed, Beth Regan, vice chair of the Mohegan Council of Elders, was present to make some remarks in remembrance of that event.

For more photos, see the gallery.

Skating on the Green

Skating with President Phil Hanlon on the Dartmouth Green. Photo by Robert Gill.

Last week I had the opportunity to strap on skates and take a few minutes for a spin around the ice on the Dartmouth Green. Like last year, Dartmouth set up a small temporary ice rink, with free rentals and hot chocolate, to encourage the Dartmouth and surrounding community to ’embrace winter’. The weather has been cold, and the ice smooth. Here, President Hanlon and I take a few laps.

Thirty years

Thirty years on the Dartmouth faculty.

David Kotz 1994, Dartmouth College

Today marks the 30th anniversary of my return to Dartmouth to join the faculty. In July 1991 I became an Assistant Professor of Mathematics and Computer Science, one of only a handful of computer scientists on the faculty. In those early years I repeatedly experienced two odd reactions when I met other faculty on campus: (1) they mistook me for a grad student, or (2) they thought I was from the computing services (I.T.) organization and worked maybe at the help desk or as a programmer. Indeed, at the time, few on campus even recognized “computer science” as an academic discipline.

Dartmouth (and I) have changed a lot in three decades – my original office building (Bradley) was torn down years ago, along with the central computer center (Kiewit); Mathematics and Computer Science are now two separate departments; I am now the most-senior member of the CS faculty; and nobody seems to mistake me for a student any more. ;=)

Today also happens to be the day that I return to my fourth tour of duty in the administration, this time to spend a year as Interim Provost. I look forward to the opportunity to give back to an institution that has given me so much for so many years.

Gingerbread express

Another masterpiece from the Hanover Inn.

Every year, the creative chefs at Dartmouth’s Hanover Inn painstakingly construct a massive gingerbread-and-fondant creation, each year on a different theme. It’s always a marvelous sight, on display in their lobby throughout December. This year, the theme is The Polar Express.

It’s about ten feet long, with incredible attention to detail. It involves a massive number of ingredients!

Dartmouth’s tree

’tis the season.

I happened to be walking along the Green in Hanover at the moment when Dartmouth was raising its annual Christmas tree. This year’s tree was selected from a tree farm in Wallingford, VT. Soon it will be decorated with lights and adding cheer to this quiet campus!

raising the tree…
settling the tree into its underground base.

The event was also covered by the Valley News.

Freshman Trip

A picnic Freshman Trip at the Lodge.

Dartmouth has a tradition of “Freshman Trips” (now “DOC Trips”) going back almost a hundred years. Before the new first-year students begin life on campus, they spend three days in the New Hampshire wilderness backpacking, biking, canoeing, etc., in small groups. On the last night they converge on Moosilauke Ravine Lodge for a grand evening of dining, dancing, and stories. It is a truly special program, and every year more than 90% of incoming students participate, along with hundreds of upper-class leaders and staff. Totally student run, totally amazing way to begin the Dartmouth experience.

This year, of course, is different. My son Andy is entering Dartmouth as a freshman – but this year, there are no traditional Freshman Trips. So Andy and I walked up to Moosilauke Ravine Lodge for a picnic dinner at sunset. Mara ’22 was the Loj Croo 😉. It was a beautiful evening.

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Mystical India

Two lovely weeks touring northern India with Dartmouth Alumni Travel. Magical! More stories, and photos, in this blog post.

I’ve just returned from India, where Pam and I had the opportunity to host a Dartmouth Alumni Travel group for a two-week tour of the history, architecture, culture, and arts of northern India.   We joined a wonderful group of 12 interesting individuals, and an outstanding tour guide from Odysseys Unlimited, for a bustling tour of Delhi, Jaipur, Ranthambore, Agra, and Varanasi.  I think what struck me most about the agenda was its fascinating mix of the sights (palaces, temples, mosques, etc.) with the culture (villages, markets, families. religion) and arts (dance, music, weaving, pottery, jewelry, stonework, carpets, and even paper).  Read on for a summary of our journey, and for a sampling of the many photos!

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