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Petition Trustees Vote Against Board Endorsement of Proposed Constitution

A proposed new constitution for Dartmouth alumni, which would radically overhaul the rules for electing petition trustees—an overhaul that, after the consecutive election of three such trustees, has elicited great suspicion from all corners of Dartmouth—has now been endorsed in a rare, split, 14-3 vote by the Board of Trustees, a vote which has cracked open the root motivation for the new constitution: To keep reform-minded petition candidates off of the Board.

Who voted for the resolution endorsing the constitution? 8 members of the Board who are appointed rather than elected. These are the charter trustees. 5 members of the Board who were elected by alumni as officially-nominated candidates. And one member of the Board who holds his office by virtue of his day job, the presidency of the College. Who voted against the constitution? The three sitting trustees who won their seats by petitioning the body of alumni.

This is very, very sad news. And very revealing.

I say above that the split vote revealed the real motivation behind the constitution: “To keep reform-minded petition candidates off of the Board.” I eagerly note that this is true whether or not you agree with the specific and particular positions staked out by the current petition trustees. What is at stake here is fairness and decency and an important governance mechanism—not specific agendas. That is why this constitution has won the opposition of Dartmouth’s liberals, Dartmouth’s conservatives, President Wright’s detractors, and his supporters. Because a fair and necessary process is being gerrymandered. And nowhere does that fact ring louder than in yesterday’s vote at the trustee meeting in Sun Valley, Idaho.

Under “gang up” in the Dartmouth history books, when they’re written, you’ll find Sun Valley.

UPDATE: In addition to the press release noted above, the attached mass e-mail was sent out by Dartmouth.

UPDATE: Bill Hutchinson e-mails to advise that the statement above—that there was no petition alternative while the six alumni trustees who voted in favor of endorsing the constitution were running—is false:

[T]here was a petition candidate in 2002, James Harris, who lost to one of the Nominating Committee candidates. Thus, the option was available to the electorate on at least one other occasion in the recent history that determined the make-up of the current Board
I didn’t know about Mr. Harris, and stand corrected.

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SPEAKING OF DARTMOUTH: SPECIAL EDITION
September 10, 2006

A MESSAGE FROM THE CHAIR OF THE DARTMOUTH BOARD OF TRUSTEES

Have something to say about what you read here? Send us an e-mail at:
Speaking.of.Dartmouth@Dartmouth.edu

_____________________________________________________________________
September 10, 2006

Dear Fellow Alumni and Friends:

The Board of Trustees met this weekend for our annual retreat and among other matters reviewed the June 2006 proposed Association of Alumni of Dartmouth College Constitution. During 2005-06 the Trustees met with members of the Alumni Governance Task Force, Alumni Councilors, members of Dartmouth Alumni for Open Governance and alumni at various Dartmouth events across the country and gathered a range of opinions on alumni governance. We have also taken note of alumni opinion in print and electronic media.

The Board adopted by a 14 to 3 margin a motion distributed on August 31 to support the proposed constitution that provides 1) a more representative alumni governance structure; 2) better communication channels with the Trustees and College administration; 3) a fair trustee nomination process; and 4) modernized voting methods for election of Association officers and representatives. The Board also reaffirmed its commitment to ensure an enhanced level of alumni engagement and communication with the College. The proposed constitution’s Alumni Liaison Board would contribute materially to that goal, and, if the proposed constitution is approved, we look forward to working with this group.

The Board expressed its appreciation for the work by the Joint Committee on Alumni Governance and Trustee Nominations (2001-2003) and the Alumni Governance Task Force (2004-06), and wishes to thank the many individuals and groups who participated in the process that has led to the proposed constitution. Dartmouth depends upon the good services of its alumni volunteers. The text of the motion appears below.

The vote on the proposed constitution will take place from September 15 to October 31, 2006. The Board of Trustees encourages all alumni to cast their ballots and let their voices be heard.

Sincerely,

William H. Neukom ‘64, Chair, Board of Trustees

_____________________________________________________________________

Board of Trustees


September 9, 2006 Meeting


PROPOSED CONSTITUTION OF THE DARTMOUTH ALUMNI ASSOCIATION


The Governance Committee proposes the following motion for action by the Board of Trustees:


VOTED: to express appreciation for the work by the Joint Committee on Alumni Governance and Trustee Nominations (2001-2003) and the Alumni Governance Task Force (2004-06), and to thank the many individuals and groups who participated in the process that has led to the proposed system for alumni governance and the nomination of alumni to the Board of Trustees.

VOTED: to record the Board’s support of the proposed constitution of the Dartmouth Alumni Association that provides 1) a more representative alumni governance structure; 2) better communication channels with the Trustees and College administration; 3) a fair trustee nomination process; and 4) modernized voting methods for election of Association officers and representatives.

_____________________________________________________________________

More information on the document and the voting process is available at
http://www.voxthevote.org

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