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The Advanced Self-Promotion Summit

From rafter to rafter, the pervasive, seditious, occasionally crapulous Dartblog spy network flooded the Hanover Inn last eve, for the “2007 Dartmouth Advanced Leadership Summit.”

Dartblog’s source indicates that the summit—which consisted of no collegiate substance, but plenty of public relations fluff about the Dartmouth College Fund—was “mostly uninformative” but did offer “a view into how clueless most Trustees are about the state of the campus.” Trustee Brad Evans was present, and spoke at length about how the Trustees’ proper constituency is not alumni, but current and future students.

Mr. Evans appears to have taken that tack because of all the talk these days, in reaction to President Wright and Chairman Haldeman’s attempts to nix elections, about the importance of alumni democracy. He’d like, I suspect, to discredit the democratic system. The trouble is that Mr. Evans is entirely correct: the Trustees are responsible to current and future students. For most of Dartmouth’s history, those two groups—which cannot vote—have been served in proxy by former students. By the alumni. And the alumni have stood in occasional opposition to the administration, whose interests, as do the interests of any bureaucracy, occasionally diverge from the interests of those the organization is purposed to serve: here, the students.

Far from overrepresentation of alumni, the present problem is that the non-petition Trustees largely see their job as insulating and protecting the College’s hired executives—not as representing current and former students. That’s why alumni intervening on behalf of students has been so strikingly successful.

David Nachman provides more firsthand reportage here.

The Advanced Summit—which appears to have been nothing more than a confabulation of distracting genericisms about the glory of the new dormatories—has given me an interest post idea, which I shall follow up on in coming days. The question? Just how much has Dartmouth’s public relations department grown in recent years? And how does that contrast with the growth in other administrative departments and in the faculty?

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