What They're Saying About Dickinson
You can learn a lot about what makes Dickinson distinctive and engaging from our Web site and publications, but you also might be interested in what others are saying about us and why the college consistently receives high praise and recognition as a national liberal-arts college.
When visiting campus to hear Nobel laureate and 2012 Commencement Honorary Degree Recipient Herta Müller deliver a reading, Daniel Purdy, the author of Snow Theory: A German Studies blog
, wrote of Dickinson's "wonderful eighteenth-century buildings." Purdy spoke just as highly of the Dickinson students in attendance: "The close reading techniques that Liberal Arts colleges teach their students build in them a reservoir of confidence, that allows them to tip toe up to a Nobel laureate, unafraid to ask their modest question, so that they may then receive the sharp, swift answer from a foreign writer unfamiliar with privelage,"
, the official publication of the Sierra Club, recognized Dickinson as one of America’s greenest colleges by designating it a “Cool School” in its Comprehensive Guide to the Most Eco-Enlightened U.S. Colleges: Live (Green) and Learn (September/October 2009). Dickinson’s “comprehensive approach to sustainability and the environment placed it among other ‘cool’ national colleges and universities that not only teach about a better world but also do something about it.” Other colleges recognized include the University of Colorado at Boulder, Middlebury College, University of Vermont, Oberlin College, University of New Hampshire, Yale University, Bates College, Willamette University and Harvard University.
The New York Times, in its Aug. 20, 2009, article “Ranking Universities by ‘Greenness’”, said that several new systems have emerged in the effort to determine the greenest colleges. The article cites The Princeton Review’s Green Honor Roll and the Sustainable Endowments Institute’s Green Report Card as key examples and adds, “Top honors in both rankings were awarded to Harvard, the University of New Hampshire, Dickinson College and Middlebury College.”
The college’s commitment to making study of the environment and sustainability a defining characteristic of a Dickinson education landed it at the top of The Princeton Review’s 2010 Green Honor Roll
. Dickinson was one of
15 colleges to receive the highest score of 99. Other schools recognized on the honor roll included Harvard College, Yale University, Middlebury College, Bates College, Colorado College and the University of California-Berkeley. Read more about Dickinson’s sustainability efforts
The Christian Science Monitor
, in its July 7, 2009 article, “Now, colleges pay students who defer school for service” said, “Colleges are thinking creatively these days about linking two priorities for students: financial aid and public service. While loan forgiveness for graduates who take service jobs has been common for years, what’s catching on now is the idea of rewarding up front students who defer college to help others.” The article goes on to highlight Princeton University and Dickinson College as having created programs to support public service. Read more about Dickinson’s Public Service Fellowship
A Baltimore Sun
article on April 15, 2009, about Dickinson’s Community College Partnership with Howard Community College and three other leading community colleges in Maryland and Pennsylvania noted that one expert described the partnership as rare and encouraging. “It’s positive all around,” said George R. Boggs, president of the American Association of Community Colleges. “It’s great to see a university or four-year liberal arts school reaching out and giving those kids a chance and bringing them into their institution.” He said he knew of nothing similar administered by any other four-year college but hopes others will follow the model. Read more about Dickinson’s Community College Partnership Program
The Green Report Card
is designed to identify colleges and universities that are leading by example on sustainability. Just as the grading system serves as an incentive in the classroom, the Report Card’s grading system seeks to encourage sustainability as a priority in college operations and endowment investment practices by offering independent yearly assessments. Dickinson was one of only 15 colleges to receive an A-, the highest overall grade given in the 2009 Green Report Card, administered by the Sustainable Endowments Institute
, a nonprofit, independent organization engaged in research and education to enhance sustainability in campus operations and endowment practices. The report card examines sustainability practices at the top 300 colleges and universities in the United States and Canada, based on endowment value. Click here to view information about the 2009 Green Report Card
’s Aug. 20, 2008, article “Green, Greener, Greenest” discussed how colleges are finding new ways to live and learn in an effort to be environmentally friendly. The piece highlighted Dickinson’s “more than 70 classes in departments like policy studies and history” and Maggie Stonecash ’08, who described her role in helping to manage the College Farm; taking field trips to places like the Rodale Institute, which is a leader in sustainable farming; and the “full immersion” that comes from living at the farm for six months in yurts—large, round Mongolian-style tents, which are solarpowered and off the grid.
A June 23, 2008, Dow Jones
article, “Getting Personal: Colleges Tap Into 529s For Recruits”, focuses on the Independent 529 prepaid tuition plan, in which Dickinson participates. Joe Hurley, founder of savingforcollege.com said, “… the news this week from Dickinson College in Pa., is kind of exciting. Dickinson is increasing the tuition discount rate it offers to savers in the Independent 529 Plan from 1% to 4% ... Most colleges participating in I-529, including Dickinson, do not have the huge endowments of a Harvard or Stanford that can be tapped to provide more aid to financially-strapped families. But most of these colleges are intensely competitive, and the pressure will be on the other I-529 colleges to increase their discount rates as well.”
Dr. Leif Rosenberger
The 19th-Annual Strategy Conference was held at the U.S. Army War College in April 2008. Dr. Leif Rosenberger, Economic Advisor at the U.S. Central Command, spoke on the panel “Addressing Civilian Agency Capabilities” and mentioned the international-studies major at Dickinson as a model for the kind of liberal-arts education that will prepare the next generation of civil servants. Following the conference, Dr. Rosenberger elaborated on his remarks:
The U.S. national security community has too many narrow specialists incapable of integrating economics, culture, diplomacy and security. Fortunately, there is hope for the future. For instance, Dickinson College is arming its international-studies majors with the knowledge and skills needed to be renaissance men and women—just what the next generation of civil servants needs to connect the dots.
In July 2007, reviewers from the Middle States Association commended Dickinson’s Periodic Review as “a model of clarity, candor, and thoroughness.” In their introduction, the reviewers note the report addressed earlier recommendations “with both the confidence that arises from an institution that knows its mission and the openness to change that characterizes an institution deeply committed to improvement.” In their conclusion, the reviewers praised Dickinson for the progress of the previous five years:
Building on a distinguished history, Dickinson has come into its own in recent years. It is clear that the college’s leadership is creative, dynamic, and effective, and that there is a bracing sense of shared purpose. The improvements in diversity are significant, and the progress on financial health is extraordinary. The already strong program of global education has become even stronger over the last five years, and collaborative research between students and faculty has blossomed as well. Admissions has improved dramatically, not only in the number of applications and selectivity rates, but also in the academic quality of incoming students. The college has wisely taken steps to institutionalize its many gains and sustain them beyond the current leadership, and it has set itself such crucial new challenges as developing a major initiative in environmental and sustainability studies ... Overall we find Dickinson to be a vibrant and exciting college that has not only improved considerably in recent years but also shows every indication of improving still more in years to come. The college is fully in synch with the standards articulated in Characteristics of Excellence, and seems poised not only to sustain but also to improve its position as one of America’s premier liberal arts colleges.
In a cover story on August 21, 2006, Timemagazine noted that “competition for the Ivies is as fierce as ever, but kids who look beyond the famous schools may be the smartest applicants of all.” In “Who needs Harvard?” authors Nancy Gibbs and Nathan Thornburgh look at students who concentrate on finding the best fit for college. They spoke to Rachel Petrella, a counselor at California’s La Jolla Country Day School.
The more sophisticated kids who take on the search as a research project, they are getting past the prestige ... Students see that schools like Vassar, Lehigh, Colgate and Dickinson really care about the quality of undergraduate life.
Rugg’s Recommendations on the Colleges questioned a number of counselors about quality majors at selective colleges. Tom Bloom, director of guidance at University High School in Morgantown, West Virginia, provided a glowing endorsement of Dickinson.
I am discovering that my Ivy League students are now considering Dickinson over the more prestigious-name colleges. I would place this school in the top ten in the country. They are progressive in their teaching philosophy; they have a tremendous building program in place and a fantastic library. Where other colleges sit back on their reputation, Dickinson is aggressively pursuing our finest and most qualified students. In a recent discussion with an Ivy League recruiter, they admitted that Dickinson was taking away many of their students and thought the president has moved the school in a strong, positive direction. This school should be on any student’s watch list as a keeper.
Black Enterprise magazine named Dickinson to its list of top colleges for African-Americans. Black Enterprise reviewed enrollment and graduation rates and surveyed African-American higher education professionals for their assessments of the social and academic environments for African-American students at the nation’s colleges and universities. Other liberal-arts colleges featured in the September 2006 article include Wellesley, Amherst, Smith, Barnard and Williams. The November 2006 issue of Men’s Fitnessmagazine featured Dickinson on a list of colleges that “have found the way to balance academic excellence with athletic acumen.” The article included photos of Dickinson student-athletes and noted that “in every category of this year’s survey, including eating habits, physical activity, and overall fitness of the college, Dickinson was the only school to ace every exam.”
In its issue on June 2, 2006, The Chronicle of Higher Education
published a special report on nonprofit endowments and featured the success Dickinson has had over the last few years. Alvin P. Sanoff begins by observing that “if Dickinson College
were a corporation, Wall Street would view it as a classic turnaround story.” He notes the financial challenges faced by the college in the 1990s and contrasts that with the financial health of the institution today. Among the successes cited by the article are the growth of alumni giving, an increase in investment income and a rise in net tuition revenue. Sanoff describes enrollment management initiatives, more aggressive development efforts and a new approach to investing that involved trustees and alumni who are investment professionals. The article quotes a credit analyst at Standard & Poor’s as noting that “it is difficult for an institution of higher education to accomplish the kind of financial progress Dickinson has made. That type of improvement is not common.”
Inside Higher Ed
is an online journal of news and opinion for higher education. In “The Rich Get Richer” on Jan. 23, 2006, Scott Jaschik wrote about a NACUBO report on the growth of college and university endowments. While noting that “the best way to make a lot of money is to have a lot of money to start with,” Jaschik singled out Dickinson as an example of a smaller school that experienced a rate of return that was greater than many larger schools. “Still, colleges without Harvard-sized endowments are finding ways to do well,” he wrote. “For example, Dickinson College, a liberal-arts college in Pennsylvania, saw its endowment increase to $206 million this year—an increase of 29.8 percent (just about twice the percentage increase at Harvard). Annette S. Parker, vice president and treasurer there, attributed the gains to changes in the college’s investment strategy during this decade.”
In the October 2004 issue of The Atlantic Monthly
, Gregg Easterbrook discussed the cutthroat competition that students and parents enter in order to win acceptance to the 25 “Gotta-Get-In” schools. He noted that “the advantages conferred by the most selective schools may be overstated” and recommended a group of schools that included Dickinson, Bowdoin, Colby, Kenyon, Middlebury and Vanderbilt. Findings by Loren Pope, former New York Times
education editor, suggest that “the glamour schools were losing their status as the gatekeepers of accomplishments,” Easterbrook wrote. “Many overestimate the impact of the Gotta-Get-Ins not only on future earnings but on interesting career paths as well.” Easterbrook concluded his article by reiterating that there are a number of institutions that can “provide students with an excellent education, sending them onward to healthy incomes and appealing careers. Harvard is marvelous, but you don’t have to go there to get your foot in the door of life.”
In the September 2004 edition of University Business
, Ed Sevilla wrote about the challenge colleges and universities face in finding a balance between the demands of the marketplace and the values of higher education. According to Sevilla, “The few who can, like Dickinson College and NYU, survive as winners. The rest of us lose spectacularly.” Sevilla argues that schools can maintain academic quality while adopting contemporary marketing practices if, like Dickinson, they “restart a dialogue on the purpose of higher education” and “measure successful outcomes of education.” If faculty and administrators work together for the common good of the institution, the proper balance can be found.
Dickinson’s innovative approach to the sciences was noted in an article in the September/October 2004 issue of Change
magazine. “Science Spaces for Students of the 21st Century” looked at new ways to design facilities for science education. "The story of workshop physics at Dickinson College illustrates how the content and pedagogy of programs co-evolve with their space, particularly as the space comes to embody insights about the way students learn the benefits of active, hands-on learning..."
In its April 2003 report Internationalizing the Campus
, NAFSA: Association of International Educators
noted that: “In many respects, no college is more internationally minded than Dickinson College.” The report was an examination of efforts by U.S. colleges and universities to integrate global approaches to teaching into campus learning. It profiled the international education initiatives of sixteen institutions. Dickinson was one of six schools profiled in depth in the report.
Dickinson’s efforts to strengthen its distinctive characteristics and raise its national profile were recognized in an article in the September/October 2003 issue of Changemagazine, the magazine of higher learning. The article was adapted from David Kirp’s forthcoming book, Shakespeare, Einstein, and the Bottom Line: The Marketing of Higher Education. Dickinson is one of the case studies in the book, which looks at schools such as MIT, Columbia, the University of Southern California, NYU, and the University of Chicago.
Now Dickinson, chartered as a college just six days after the Treaty of Paris was signed, calls itself the first ‘revolutionary college.’ What Benjamin Rush proudly described as his ‘petulant brat’ is defining itself as a school with ‘attitude’ and ‘spunk.’
In October 2001, The Wall Street Journal
named Dickinson one of the country’s “hot schools.” The newspaper noted that Dickinson is known for its “international studies,” and that 28 percent of its students “spend a year abroad.” Dickinson and Middlebury College in Vermont were the only two national liberal arts colleges located on the East Coast included in the list. The other two liberal arts schools on the list are Carleton, in Minnesota, and Occidental, in California. Other schools on the list include Dartmouth, Penn State, Rice University, the University of Iowa, Miami University in Ohio, and Washington University in St. Louis.