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Inside Higher Education Chronicles Trustee Conflicts of Interest

IHE2.jpgWhile the Trustees are handing out honorary degrees as if they were party favors, the world of higher education is still talking about Dartmouth’s buddy-buddy investment practices. Inside Higher Education has a detailed story on the subject, including the news that the College will soon file a response with the NH Attorney General’s Office as part of the AG’s ongoing investigation of the Board’s insider investments.

The piece concludes as follows:

Even if the transactions are in colleges’ best interests, and even if each college followed proper reporting procedures each time it engaged in such a transaction, many critics say that’s not sufficient. Investments such as the ones Dartmouth are making create the appearance of impropriety, many argue, and there’s no way to eliminate such questions other than refraining from such transactions.

Richard P. Chait, a faculty member at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education who studies institutional governance, has said repeatedly that the only way colleges and universities can truly avoid allegations of corruption and mismanagement is to almost always avoid doing business with trustees’ companies.

Beyond the disapprobation expressed in the article, the comment by trustee governance guru Richard Chait is especially noteworthy. Chait has been working with the Dartmouth Board for several years now. However, it is one thing to pay for the services of a top-drawer consultant; it is another thing to listen to him.

Addendum: My, my. Hazing, corruption, a fly-by-night President, building projects so expensive that they shock the conscience. For a Board that places such emphasis on managing Dartmouth’s “brand,” the word-of-mouth advertising that the College is generating these days is not moving us in the right direction. How about a different strategy: recruiting more strong professors; creating exciting interdisciplinary courses, improving student housing arrangements; re-establishing an innovative writing program; organizing smaller classes. In short, do some things that are real.

Addendum: To nobody’s surprise, there was no mention of the IHE article in the Dartmouth in the News newsfeed.

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