After the forced resignation of Nathan Lord in 1863 over his support for slavery, the Trustees wanted a more conservative president to take his place. As a preacher for 29 years at the 14th Street Presbyterian Church in New York City, Asa Dodge had developed a reputation as a religious man with abolitionist beliefs.
Asa Dodge's son William Thayer Smith (1839–1909) served as Dean of the Medical School from 1896 until his death in 1909 and was the first dean to give the name "Dartmouth Medical School" to the organization which had until then never had a consistent name. He was also the first person to perform a surgery in the Mary Hitchcock Memorial Hospital. He was a Dartmouth Medical School class of 1879 and received an honorary LL.D. from Dartmouth in 1897.