Monday, March 24, 2008

DARTMOUTH DYING?

One of the oldest traditions at Dartmouth is that the Alumni(ae), since 1891, have been able to elect half of the College’s Board of Trustees. This, to me, is an essential check and balance that has kept Dartmouth from charting its administrative and pedagogical course independent of the leavening element of the collective wisdom of its graduates. Now this prerogative is being threatened and it is time for those graduates who cherish this tradition to make a stand against this portent. The Dartmouth administration has attempted to pack the Board of Trustees with additional acolytes who believe that this and all future administrations are infallible and can perpetuate themselves without independent input and oversight.

This administration stratagem has been thwarted by a lawsuit by the Dartmouth Association of Alumni which has so far been successful in the New Hampshire courts. But unfortunately, authorization for this suit was voted for by a paper-thin margin -- six out of the eleven in the Executive Committee of our Association of Alumni. Now, the administration’s tact is to overturn this decision by changing this Association’s Executive Committee membership to a group that would likely rescind this lawsuit. Thus, there is an upcoming election (April 28th through June 5th) that pits a group of independent petition candidates to the Executive Committee of the Dartmouth Association of Alumni against the administration’s hand-picks. This therefore is a critical election that cannot be ignored by any alum who believes that Dartmouth will only remain strong with a modicum of independent oversight. To get more details about this kafuffle and find out what you can do to keep Dartmouth stalwart go to Association of Alumni ... and vote FOR the petition candidates to the Executive Committee of the Dartmouth Association of Alumni (see Dartmouth Parity).

If, on the other hand, you believe that a self-perpetuating group of elite alums should now and forever have a hammerlock on the future course of Dartmouth by disenfranchising their fellow classmates, go to Dartmouth Undying

2 comments:

Tom Paine said...

I don't know who the sponsors of this site are, but I applaud you.

It is impossible to overestimate the critical importance of this election. Our opponents certainly understand what is at stake, and they have loosed a tsunami of prevarication and distortion in order to confuse and frighten the voters.

How did the Wizard behind the screen know I have been posting as Tom Paine?

Frank Gado '58

Scott said...

George, I recommend that in the future you take anything the Hanover Institute says with a grain of salt.

It is not true that alumni, "since 1891, have been able to elect half of the College’s Board of Trustees." All of the elected trustees since 1769 have been elected by the board. The charter requires it. (By "elected trustees" I mean those who are not ex officio.) In 1891, the board changed the way five of the elected trustees, a minority of the board of 12, were nominated prior to their election by the board. That's all. The board has since changed the specific number of alumni nominees only twice, in 1961 and 2003. Both times the board retained the right to elect all of the elected trustees and maintained the proportion of alumni nominees at a minority of the board.

The administration comprises the president and his staff. The president is an employee of the board of trustees as well as a trustee himself. In neither capacity would he be capable of "packing" the board with anyone. The board can only expand itself by amending the charter. This requires a majority vote. The board, including the "petition" trustees who opposed the expansion, held a vote and voted in favor of expanding. That's all.

The board, including the "petition" trustees," also voted to set rules for nominating the new trustees. As hinted above, there are two methods of nomination: by a committee of the board and by the alumni. In this case, unlike in 1961 and 2003, the board voted to have the committee nominate people for election to the added seats rather than to take half each from the committee and from alumni. The first five of the eight new trustees have all been alumni nevertheless, and alumni continue to populate all of the elected trustee seats. There is no danger that alumni will lose their total dominance over the board.

The "independent petition candidates" belonged to a slate put forward by the Hanover Institute, which was funding the lawsuit, and included Institute Secretary Frank Gado, who had ignored his unwaiveable conflict of interest from the moment he stood for election to the prior Committee. The "independent petition candidates" intended to carry out the agenda of the Hanover Institute as their predecessors had, by using the Institute to draft, fund, and send out their pro-lawsuit mailings, ostensibly on behalf of the entire Association of Alumni. After the alumni soundly defeated the entire slate recommended by you, an investigation turned up the representation letter supposedly used by the prior Committee to hire the law firm – signed by John MacGovern, Frank Gado, and not a single unconflicted representative of the Association whose standing was being used to pursue the litigation. The extent of alumni disapproval for the lawsuit and Hanover Institute's institution of yet another suit only confirm the impression that the Association never had an interest in suing the board, but that the Institute was merely using it all along.

You can't be "disenfranchised" from something you have no right to vote for. The board was purposefully made self-perpetuating by Eleazar Wheelock and Royal Governor Wentworth when they wrote the charter in 1769 without mentioning alumni anywhere in it. I doubt you would want to do away with that old tradition.