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The Board That We Need? Part 2

Blind Modern.jpgSo how do the qualifications of the Dartmouth Board of Trustees compare to the different boards that we looked at yesterday? By my lights, the non-ex-officio members of the Board shake out as follows:

Financiers: 7
Corporate Executives: 7
Doctors/Medical Administrators: 2
Senior Attorneys: 1
Public Intellectuals: 1
Academics: 1

The latter two are petition trustees who would not be on the Board save for the wisdom of the alumni.

A college Board of Trustees composed in this manner makes as little sense as a corporate Board of Directors that does not include any experienced business executives. None of the Dartmouth Trustees has been a professor at an undergraduate college or worked as an undergraduate academic administrator; the list includes no college presidents, senior deans, education professionals or others who have made their careers on the inside of an undergraduate academic institution. The Dartmouth’s Board needs individuals with these professional qualifications — and quite desperately.

Now I am not saying that the Board should be composed exclusively of faculty members or senior administrators. But having these folks in the room during Board discussions will allow everyone present to see through the cant and soft data that can too often emanate from weak administrators. And they will be able to directly share their relevant experience with President Kim.

Fortunately, the five members of the Board’s Governance Committee — which makes all of the decisions on Charter Trustees and then announces their choice to the Board a day or two before the public announcement — soon have a chance to enrich the Board’s composition. In so doing, they can provide important new sources of guidance for President Kim. Three Charter Trustee slots will come open in 2010, all currently occupied by MBA-holding business leaders — two of whom have already had their term extended. With bold choices, the Board can shatter its insularity, which has contributed to so many of this decade’s problems.

So what will it be? Real higher education professionals? Or just more Masters of the Universe? We’ll probably find out in May.

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