The Sibling Bond Carries On
Growing up in Chicago, John H. Mathias Jr. '69 P '07, '09 hadn't heard much about Dartmouth until his brother Charles (Toby) Mathias '68 began investigating colleges. "Toby was the first in our family to go to college," Mathias recalls. "He did all the prospecting and Dartmouth was his first choice." John made the drive from Chicago to Hanover - "it seemed like a light-year away" - when his parents brought Toby to Dartmouth and he was hooked at first sight. "I'd never seen anything more beautiful." His enthusiasm, in turn, inspired his younger brother Michael '71.
Now a partner with the firm of Jenner and Block, Mathias has remained close to the College through the Dartmouth Lawyers Association. And the sibling bond carries on: all three of his and his wife, Julie's, college-aged children attend Dartmouth today (two younger children still live at home). Like her uncle Toby, daughter Alice '07 led the way; twins Peter and Theodore (Ted) '09 matriculated last fall.
The biggest thing about Dartmouth that's changed is coeducation. I doubt our family would be at Dartmouth today without it. I'm a lifetime booster no matter what, because it did so much for me personally. But with my oldest daughter, Alice, we've had the same kind of traction as when my older brother took the first look.
The most ardent supporters of Dartmouth in the alumni community are young women. They're on fire about it. The ones I'm meeting in Chicago love it for all the same reasons we loved it. Dartmouth's got a great future.
Many Dartmouth alums would love to have their kids attend, but it's awfully hard to get in these days, and we all know that. So nobody's really expecting to have their children follow in their footsteps and go to a school like Dartmouth, because you set your kid up for a major disappointment if he or she can't get in.
Alice was all set to go to Duke. I said "Great, Alice, that's just super." She said, "Dad, I know you were thinking Dartmouth." I said, "I'll support you whatever you decide. The only thing I'd ask is that you have a look."
I elected not to go with her to Dimensions Weekend. Alice went with Julie, my wife. Two days later they came back. I opened the front door and Alice handed me a sweatshirt that said "Dartmouth Dad." She said, "I'm going to Dartmouth. It's the greatest place in the world."
Dimensions Weekend is sensational. The prospective students really got to talk to one another. The class of '07 began forming in the spring of their senior year of high school. It was a powerful experience that I'm sure influenced many of the kids.
The student body is magnificent. It is so diverse, in the best possible way. These kids are talking to one another around the world. You have to be aware that everything you do affects every other person on the planet. I'm proud of Dartmouth for seeing that, for being in the vanguard.
Alice, from the very minute she's been on campus, has been on fire. And that brought Pete and Teddy along. They both did well enough in school that they could have some choices, but they only wanted Dartmouth.
Bill Carpenter '50 asked Pete to give a five minute talk before the Dartmouth Club of Chicago's Christmas lunch. Pete started out by saying, "I have a confession to make. I really love Dartmouth." That made me feel pretty good.
Once one person in the family attends a college, it has two things going for it: there's a lot more information about the place, and there's sibling leadership. I admired my brother, and maybe my brother Mike felt the same way. We had a brother in between Mike and me who went to Cornell, so it wasn't a clean sweep.
That was quite a step for us, to go out east. I went to a Catholic high school in Oak Park, a suburb of Chicago, and there weren't many kids there who were going to the Ivy League schools in those days. Dartmouth was a big deal.
We went on a weekend trip with President John Sloan Dickey just before the beginning of my sophomore year, up to the Second College Grant with about twenty students. We shot shotguns and skeet. I'd never done anything like that. We went on a canoe trip, and hiking. It was beautiful. Sat around at night, talking with him.
After dinner he rolled up his sleeves and started washing dishes along with everyone else. He said he liked washing dishes because it was a job where he could really see that he was making a difference. I remember listening thinking that this was a guy who obviously has not washed a lot of dishes in his life. Because I had, and believe me, there's nothing good about that job!
John Kemeny was president when I graduated. I also had him for Math 3. He called it "finite mathematics" but it amounted to probability theory. Hundreds of kids signed up for it. His philosophy of teaching was, if he was doing a good job, everybody would understand it. Lots of people wound up getting an A in that class.
Looking back, you'd think it was a gut. But a couple years later you look back on the material and you say, I can't believe I know this stuff, or I knew it then. It was very complicated, but he just did a great job.
If you would like to lead an outreach effort for Dartmouth parents, either in the United States or abroad, please contact Heidi Anderson.