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The Trustees Should Name Folt President
Bear with me on this one. Way back when, during a time in which people took such issues seriously, there was a debate on the far left over labor unions. Were they a good thing or not? One position held that unions helped workers by improving wages and working conditions, and they gave a more muscular voice to labor in the political process. However, the more doctrinaire posture on that side of the political spectrum argued that unions were no more than a palliative: sure, they helped workers in the short term, but ultimately, labor unions delayed the arrival of a revolution against an unjust system.
The latter position is the analogy for recommending a decision by the Trustees to name Carol Folt as Dartmouth’s President. Rather than choosing a person unknown to the Dartmouth community, who would inevitably be given a honeymoon, a decision to anoint Folt would be such a clear indication of the Trustees’ poor governance that a fortiori there would be some form of faculty revolt. Folt could well be the first college president to face a vote of no confidence before her inauguration.
But any vote of no confidence against Carol would have to cite the Trustees in it, too. By choosing Folt, the Board would make clear to the world two facts: firstly, its members do not possess the intellectual and experiential means to choose a leader for the College. Nowhere but on paper is Carol Folt qualified to be Dartmouth’s President. She is just the fruit of a poisonous administrative tree that the Trustees have long propagated.
Additionally, choosing Folt would be proof that the Trustees are utterly out of touch with the day-to-day life of the College; they don’t understand how ineffective and corrosive Folt has been as Dean of the Faculty/Provost/Interim President over the past decade. The faculty hold her in contempt. And under her leadership, or lack thereof, Dartmouth as an institution has long been dead in the water in academic and social terms. The history of Dartmouth since the ascension of Jim Wright to the Presidency in 1998 is one of gross financial mismanagement and a lurching from crisis to crisis. Much of the College’s current lethargy and poisonous atmosphere can be laid at Folt’s door.
However the problem goes even deeper. We face a profound crisis of governance. A small clique of Trustees now control the College. These men, middle-aged financiers whose individual ten-figure net worth gives them an entirely unjustified self-confidence, dominate the Board, and ensure that nobody but rich MBA’s are picked to it. They have manipulated the Charter to not only reduce Alumni Trustees to one third of the Board, but they have conspired so that their cronies on the Alumni Council handpick Alumni Trustees who fit into the ethos of the money club, too. Alumni no longer even vote for Trustees in competitive elections. The Board is blind, and it does not even know it.
Of course, it is well possible that the faculty will not rise to the occasion. I can hear the waffling from some quarters in my head even now: “She has done some good things.” “She did help me out on one small matter.” “Give her a chance. If she isn’t successful in a year or two, we can do something then.” Those words will be hard to take given their contrast with today’s breast-beating faculty assertions of direct and forceful action if Carol is picked.
We know that Carol Folt has ambition aplenty for herself; we might soon see if the members of the faculty have enough ambition to rise up and try to save the College from Carol and our arrogant, out-of-touch Trustees.
October 18, 2009
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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…
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August 29, 2009
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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…