Welcome to Dartmouth's most influential daily
Each day, Dartblog and its team of alumni and students bring you news and commentary from Hanover and the world at large. Read our iPhone edition here.
This is an archived post. Please click here to see the latest entries.
The Wall Street Journal: Dartmouth Against Democracy
The unethical Board-packing plan endorsed by Dartmouth Undying and opposed by Dartmouth Parity has spilled, now, onto the gray pages of The Wall Street Journal. Columnist Bill McGurn (in full disclosure, an acquaintance) writes: “If you think Hillary Clinton has been slow to accept the results at the ballot box, meet the folks who run Dartmouth College.”
If you’d like to tell the overzealous trustees that it is, well, over—just vote for the pro-parity, pro-voting, pro-oversight slate: Murphy, Boles, Mirengoff, Chambers, Gado, Ross, Hafer, Roberts, Steel, Urstadt, Mooney. Click here to go to the voting site.
MAIN STREET By WILLIAM MCGURN The Wall Street Journal.
Dartmouth Against Democracy
May 27, 2008; Page A19
If you think Hillary Clinton has been slow to accept the results at the ballot box, meet the folks who run Dartmouth College.
Like Sen. Clinton, the powers that be at Dartmouth have been getting trounced at the voting booth by an opposition campaigning for change. Like Sen. Clinton, Dartmouth’s establishment has responded with increasingly desperate attacks. And like Sen. Clinton, its hopes of victory now depend on increasing the power and influence of unelected officials.
In Mrs. Clinton’s case, these are called superdelegates. In Dartmouth’s case, they are the self-perpetuating members of the Board of Trustees. In little more than a week – on June 5 – elections will close for the leadership of Dartmouth’s Association of Alumni. If the establishment slate wins, the board will eviscerate a progressive, 117-year-old arrangement that makes this college in Hanover, N.H. one of the few where alumni have a real say in the way the school is run.
That arrangement dates to 1891, when the trustees were divided into two equal groups, plus two ex-officio members. The first group was appointed by the school itself. The other half was chosen by alumni from within their ranks. In recent decades, because of the way alumni seat nominations and elections were run, these alumni trustees were pretty much insiders themselves, and the relationship with the board was a cozy one.
All that changed in 2004, when T.J. Rodgers – class of 1970 and CEO of Cypress Semiconductor – ran for one of the board’s alumni seats. Mr. Rodgers had to mount a petition drive just to get his name on the ballot, and then won election by a comfortable margin. Like many of his fellow alums, Mr. Rodgers is a passionate believer in the liberal arts, and his platform stressed high academic standards, free speech and the primacy of the undergraduate mission at Dartmouth.
“It sounds hammy,” he says. “But Dartmouth is unique because it has this great liberal arts tradition and people who just love the place.”
Since Mr. Rodgers’s election, three other alums have also run as “petition candidates”: Peter Robinson, ‘79; Todd Zywicki, ‘88; and Stephen Smith, ‘88. All have run on themes stressing accountability and the quality of undergraduate education. And all have been elected by their fellow alums.
Only in academe could an institution respond the way Dartmouth has. Instead of embracing reform, the Dartmouth establishment and its allies have launched personal attacks on the four popularly elected petition trustees.
In a recent letter from 12 establishment trustees sent to all alumni (a mailing list Dartmouth refuses to share with the elected trustees), the four were accused of pursuing “Washington-style politics” as part of a “political agenda” (read: vast right-wing conspiracy).
To end their influence on the board, the college approved a plan that would transfer real oversight to an unelected executive committee – and give unelected trustees a 2-1 numerical advantage on the board, down from the 50/50 split today.
Mr. Robinson is a fellow presidential speechwriter and friend, and I know Messrs. Zywicki and Smith – both law professors in Virginia – by reputation. All three are reasonably described as conservative.
Mr. Rodgers, by contrast, is a libertarian who favors gay marriage and opposes the war in Iraq. Far from pursuing a political agenda, these men have all run on an Obama-style campaign for change that Dartmouth alumni can believe in. For all to have won the popular vote of an Ivy League electorate underscores the real message here: A high level of alumni discontent with the Dartmouth establishment.
Which brings us back to the current election. Right now, the Association of Alumni is supporting a lawsuit that is the only thing stopping Dartmouth from implementing its board-packing plan. In other words, the election for the association’s leadership is in fact a referendum on the board-packing plan.
Daniel King, ‘02, sums it up well. Mr. King describes himself as “an openly gay man, a teacher, a card-carrying member of the Democratic Party, the ACLU, and the Human Rights Campaign.” In an essay posted online, he puts it this way: “The real battle going on is one between an overly paternalistic College administration, supported by a rubber-stamp Board of Trustees that has totally abdicated its oversight responsibilities – and, on the other side, loyal alumni from all sides of the political spectrum who wish to not see the value of their Dartmouth degree plummet and to preserve the historic and unique ties that alumni have to our alma mater.”
Precisely. Next week marks the end of elections for both the Democrats and Dartmouth. Only the latter results will really mean anything. And that’s why, when the rest of America is zeroing in on Hillary, some of us will be looking at Hanover.
October 18, 2009
When Love Beckoned in 52nd Street
We were at San Francisco’s BIX last evening, enjoying prosecco, cheese, and a bit of music. A full year of inhabitation in Northern California has unraveled to me no decent venue for proper lounging, but…
October 9, 2009
D Afraid of a Little Competish
So our colleague and Dartblog writer Joe Asch informed me that the D has rejected our cunning advertising campaign. Uh-oh. The Dartmouth is widely known as a breeding ground for instant New York Times successes,…
September 4, 2009
How Regents Should Reign
As Dartmouth alumni proceed through the legal hoops necessary to defuse a Board-packing plan—which put in unhappy desuetude an historic 1891 Agreement between alumni and the College guaranteeing a half-democratically-elected Board of Trustees—it strikes one…
August 29, 2009
Election Reform Study Committee
If you are an alum of the College on the Hill, you may have received a number of e-mails of late beseeching your input for a new arm of the College’s Alumni Control Apparatus called…
August 23, 2009
Fare Thee Well, Tom Crady
And now Dean Tom Crady has precipitously announced his departure from the College after only 20 months on the job. How to read this? By way of background, prior to coming to Dartmouth, Crady had…
May 31, 2009
Kangaroo Court, Indeed
In an interview with The Dartmouth, alumni-elected trustee T.J. Rodgers ‘70 explained his reasons for declining to participate in future evaluations of trustees up for “re-election,” namely the “kangaroo court” nature of such discussion in…