Dartmouth Announces Creation of the Arthur L. Irving Institute for Energy and Society

Dartmouth College is pleased to announce the creation of the Arthur L. Irving Institute for Energy and Society, established to advance the understanding and knowledge of a resource that powers modern life and is directly related to society’s standard of living and success.

The institute will prepare future generations of energy leaders and advance humanity’s understanding of the field, driving change in the intelligent production, supply, and use of energy.

Gifts of $113 million have been committed to name the institute in honor of energy industry leader Arthur L. Irving. Dartmouth aims to raise a total of $160 million to fund the institute.

“Meeting the energy demands of the future is one of the most complex and urgent challenges facing humankind,” says Dartmouth President Phil Hanlon ’77. “We need to provide abundant affordable energy to allow for continued economic growth across the globe, particularly in developing nations, so that billions can be lifted out of poverty.”

“How we produce and provide access to sustainable forms of energy will shape life in the coming decades. Success defies easy or simplistic solutions. Instead, it requires a multi-dimensional approach that integrates science, technology, public policy, geopolitics, and business. In other words, it requires bringing the power and rigor of the liberal arts to bear on a complex problem,” President Hanlon says.

A lead gift of $80 million has been made to launch the institute by Irving Oil, the Arthur L. Irving Family Foundation, and Arthur L. Irving, his wife, Sandra Irving, and their daughter, Sarah Irving ’10, Tuck ’14. The gift is the latest investment in Dartmouth programs by the family. Arthur and Sandra Irving have provided Dartmouth student scholarships and faculty support for more than a decade.

“This is a special day for all of us and I am honored to be a part of it,” says Arthur Irving, chairman of Irving Oil. "The world of energy is ever-changing and we all have an important role to play. Dartmouth has long committed to the study of some of the world’s most pressing problems and to making a difference. The Institute of Energy and Society will differentiate Dartmouth as a leader in this field of study.” 

Harnessing the talent of Dartmouth’s exceptional liberal arts faculty and the expertise of its graduate and professional schools, the institute will work at the intersection of energy and society from four main perspectives: technology and science; society and the environment; business and economics; and geopolitics. New research initiatives and programs will include nearly every academic department in an integrated, cross-disciplinary manner, driven by faculty interest.

“Arthur L. Irving is a visionary leader on the global energy stage who understands the transformative potential of a Dartmouth education, and Irving Oil has long been an early adapter of technology and processes that improve the environmental performance of their assets and products. This is especially important as we look to our future global energy needs,” says Hanlon. “The institute will be a testament to Arthur Irving’s highest values and aspirations, and a catalyst for the creation of new knowledge and of future energy leaders.”

The additional gifts in support of faculty research, student programs, guest speakers, and other work of the institute have been committed by Judith M. and Russell L. Carson ’65 and Cecily M. Carson ’95; Kathryn and Richard Kimball ’78; Kristin and John Replogle ’88; Lori Weinstein and Martin J. Weinstein ’81; and an anonymous donor, to bring the current total raised to $113 million.

The institute will further inquiry into many of society’s most important issues, supporting the work of scholars—most from Dartmouth’s current faculty—including energy specialists from the sciences, social sciences, engineering, business, the humanities, public policy, and medicine. The undertaking is a manifestation of Hanlon’s vision to challenge students and faculty to address formidable international problems.

Undergraduate and graduate students will be full partners in the institute. This synergy and the College’s strength in the liberal arts and its tradition of interdisciplinary faculty-student collaboration will distinguish the institute from peer entities.

Ecologist Ross Virginia, the Myers Family Professor of Environmental Science, says the institute will build on Dartmouth’s strengths and its liberal arts approach.

“The institute will link energy and society, and that’s what we do at Dartmouth. We bring together various approaches and disciplines, to focus on big challenges where we can engage our students in solving real-world problems,” says Virginia. “The institute’s focus is a great combination—it’s not energy alone, it’s energy and how it connects to people, to society, to broad issues like climate change and environmental justice. There’s no other problem facing our global society that’s as important. Any action that Dartmouth can take now—creating new knowledge and new leaders generated from our student body—to solve these issues will have huge impacts on the future of societies around the planet.”

Dartmouth has a wealth of faculty talent producing important research on issues related to energy and society, says Provost Carolyn Dever. “These generous gifts will strengthen our interdisciplinary approach to problem solving, create important connections between our professional schools and the arts and sciences faculty, and support our ambition to make a real impact on the world.”

Rosi Kerr ’98, director of sustainability at the College, says the institute’s society component is important for Dartmouth. “With our long tradition in the liberal arts and strong tradition in environmental sciences, as we look at issues involving energy in the next 100 years, we can dig into the big questions about how people and society will be impacted by energy decisions.”

True to its interdisciplinary focus, the institute will be situated between the Tuck School of Business and Thayer School of Engineering, placing it in proximity to cutting-edge activities at the two schools and creating a point of convergence for faculty and students who are engaged in issues related to energy and society. Its physical location in front of the Murdough Center adds a prominent new façade to Tuck Drive while providing Tuck and Thayer with opportunities to enhance their learning environments.

Board of Trustees Chair Bill Helman ’80 says Dartmouth is looking forward to beginning work on the institute. “Ensuring the sustainability of our planet’s energy supply is unquestionably one of the greatest challenges of the 21st century, and thanks to the incredible generosity of Arthur Irving, Dartmouth will be a leader in enriching society’s understanding of the world’s challenges and choices concerning this important resource,” he says.

“Irving Oil has a proud history of partnering with esteemed educational and research institutions in order to better understand and improve our environment and its ecosystems,” says Ian Whitcomb, president of Irving Oil. “When industry and academia work together, we all stand to benefit. The Arthur L. Irving Institute for Energy and Society is an important step forward for our company in our efforts to be at the forefront of such relevant research, advancing our understanding of the role energy plays in our world.”