It’s great to be back! Gail and I have just returned from two more trips to round out our summer travels: one to Peru, where we had the privilege of spending time with Carlos Rodriguez-Pastor TU’88, one of our newest Trustees, and meeting with education leaders and alumni living and working in Peru, and the other to San Francisco, where I took part in the Dartmouth Entrepreneurs Forum, an impressive gathering of more than 500 Dartmouth alumni entrepreneurs.

While I was traveling, our incoming students were on trips of their own – First-year Trips, of course, organized by our terrific DOC trip leaders. And just last week, I welcomed our newest class of students – the Class of 2020 – at its first class meeting.

Talk about high-energy!

In Peru, in Silicon Valley, and back here in Hanover, the energy and enthusiasm for Dartmouth is palpable. It’s what I love most about being part of this institution. Eager students, passionate educators, engaged alumni. It’s a truly magical combination that invigorates our entire campus community, including me, at the start of every academic year. You can’t possibly walk by Robo Hall the week before classes begin without sharing in the excitement of our trippees, dancing up a storm with the “H croo” in their colorful attire with a style all their own.

And as I listened to our talented alumni in Peru and San Francisco talk about their experiences, I was struck, once again, by how they carry that excitement with them as they disperse from our Hanover home to every corner of this globe to make a profound and positive impact in their chosen fields.

Yet the journeys of our alumni don’t begin after they graduate from Dartmouth. They begin upon arriving at Dartmouth.  While many students will travel the woods of New Hampshire and around the globe during their time at Dartmouth, the most life-changing part of their journey will come via the intellectual exploration and personal growth inherent in a Dartmouth education.

Dartmouth’s amazing faculty, distinguished by their commitment to the teacher-scholar model, offer students the opportunity to delve into new subjects, to grapple with complex problems, to test their assumptions and to discover new passions.

It is this cumulative journey through Dartmouth that leads to an enlightened, conscious mind and gives our students the confidence to take on the challenges of the world with the same unbridled energy they bring with them to their very first day on campus.

On Sunday, I had the pleasure of meeting every member of the Class of 2020 – all 1100 of them – during matriculation ceremonies in my office to mark the official start of their careers as Dartmouth students. And as they begin their Dartmouth journeys, I emphasized the importance of the Dartmouth Citizenship Pledge, which states, in part:

We learn together. We teach one another. We create knowledge together. We treat ourselves and each other with dignity and respect. We recognize that our diverse backgrounds broaden our understanding of the world. We appreciate that an honest and civil exchange of ideas – especially conflicting ones – strengthens our intellect and makes for an inclusive community.”

It is an excellent creed for Dartmouth, and I hope and expect that every member of this community will live up to its aspirations.

Fall term is here. And just like that – the journey’s underway.