Legacy and Mission

The Dickey Center for International Understanding was established in 1982 and dedicated to the memory and values of Dartmouth College President John Sloan Dickey (1907-1991). He welcomed entering students at Convocation with the charge, "Your business here is learning." 

jon sloan dickey

"The world's troubles are your troubles ... and there is nothing wrong with the world that better human beings cannot fix." John Sloan Dickey '29 (Courtesy Dartmouth Library)

Dickey and Eisenhower

President Eisenhower with John Sloan Dickey at Dartmouth Commencement in 1953. (Courtesy of Dartmouth Library)

Dean Acheson and JSD

Secretary of State Dean Acheson with John Sloan Dickey.


(l-r) Norman E. "Sandy" McCulloch Jr. '50, Chair of Dickey's Board of Visitors (1982-2012), with Dean Brewster and President Dickey in 1977. (Courtesy of Dartmouth Library)

President Dickey's commitment to the liberal arts, or, as he termed them, "the liberating arts," was perhaps best expressed in his Great Issues course, designed to introduce seniors to the problems of national and international relations they would face as citizens. He sought to expand the horizons of Dartmouth beyond Hanover and introduced the Northern Studies program, a Russian Civilization department, and foreign studies and social action programs, as well as opening the William Jewett Tucker Foundation.

Creating Global Citizens

The Dickey Center unites the many and diverse strengths of Dartmouth College—its students, faculty, and undergraduate and graduate schools—in addressing the world’s challenges. We are defined not only by the scope of the issues we address, but the way in which we do it: through collaboration, innovation, interdisciplinary study, and respect for the diversity of viewpoints.

Working with Dartmouth’s stellar faculty, we aim to produce the best understanding and analysis of international issues with collaborative, multidisciplinary research on such complex problems as global climate change, world health crises, war and conflict resolution, and poverty alleviation. In bringing together the talents and resources of Dartmouth’s professional schools with those of the College of Arts and Sciences, we seek to be the force that unites the university in the development of new understanding, knowledge and solutions to world problems.

The John Sloan Dickey Legacy

Born in Lock Haven, Pennsylvania, John Sloan Dickey completed his undergraduate degree at Dartmouth in 1929 and later graduated from Harvard Law School. He had a varied career as a partner at a major Boston law firm, special assistant to the assistant secretary of state and later to the secretary of state, a member of the Office of Inter-American Affairs and the division of World Trade Intelligence, and director of the State Department's Office of Public Affairs. In 1945, he became president of Dartmouth College. Even as a college president, he was a principal actor in public policy, serving on President Truman's 1947 Committee on Civil Rights, the United Nations Collective Measures Committee in 1951, and as consultant to Secretary of State Acheson on disarmament.

During his 25-year tenure as President (1945-1970), Dickey led two capital campaigns, doubled African-American student enrollment, reinvigorated the Dartmouth Medical School, built the Hopkins Center for the Arts and instituted continuing education for alumni. Consistent with his concern for awareness of and involvement in the great movements of the time, he saw the emerging importance of computers—a field then in its infancy—and built the Kiewit Computer Center in 1966. After stepping down as president, he continued his affiliation with the College by teaching Canadian-American relations as the Bicentennial Professor of Public Affairs.

Dartmouth students are tomorrow’s global leaders, and we seek to instill in them the legacy of John Sloan Dickey: an understanding of the world’s troubles and a commitment to do something about them.

The John Sloan Dickey Center