A Change in Relationship

When Rocky graduated, he was convinced he would never return to campus. That was until his 5-year reunion when, in his absence, his classmates elected him as the president of the Class of '74. This start in leadership not only drew Rocky back to Dartmouth, but also set in motion a series of engagements that would redefine his relationship with his alma mater. Such involvements include serving as class president and vice-president, as the D.C. representative for the Black Alumni of Dartmouth Association, and on the Alumni Council as a member of the Nominating and Alumni Trustee Search Committee and chair of the Student Life Committee. In 2010, Rocky was awarded the Dartmouth Alumni Award for his outstanding commitment to bettering the institution.


The Dartmouth Review, a conservative college newspaper, began publishing in 1980, a few years after Rocky graduated. This was a dark era for the institution, as the paper took to publishing racist articles that targeted Black students on campus. Adrienne Lotson ‘82, in her oral history interview, recalls that publishers would leave prints of The Dartmouth Review outside the dorm rooms of Black students, especially during arduous times like midterms or finals season. It was a difficult time for alumni as well, who felt responsible for defending the insitution while still being faced with the impact of the incidents. This led the College to strengthen its dedication to diversity, marking another transformative phase for Dartmouth and resulting in a different and more responsive institution.

While the reality of being a Black Dartmouth student in the early '70's was difficult, the connections Rocky made with classmates have given his experience at Dartmouth tremendous value. He specifically notes the Hanover Hall Partners, a group of alumni that still meet regularly. 

"Although was it was challenging and trying, and when you're 18, 19 years old and that's all you know... That's all you know, so you frame your thoughts and everything around your your limited existence. [...] But as time goes by you get to see the good things that that place brought to you."

- Morris Whitaker

Rocky’s relationship with the football team has changed over time. As an alumnus, he regularly visits the football office while on campus to maintain relationships with the coaches and faculty, and to serve as a mentor to current Black players on the team.

Rocky, along with numerous Black alumni, remains connected to the College, driven by a shared belief in its capacity to be a safe place for all students. Rocky notes that, for the College to continue to evolve and diversify, it must seek input from alumni, particularly from young alumni with more recent firsthand experiences as Black students at Dartmouth. In his era, the College actively pursued change, and now, as an alumnus, he continues to witness it do so. He includes that his daughter, Maya Whitaker ‘06, considers her time at Dartmouth to be one of the best experiences of her life, and that such experiences can be widespread if the College remains steadfast in its commitment to continuous improvement, though there is still a ways to go.