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Today’s D has a letter from Professor Irene Kacandes, head of the Tucker search committee:

Tucker Foundation Stands by its Choice


To the Editor:

While I do not believe that controversy is necessarily a bad thing for an intellectual community, as chair of the search committee I would like to clarify a few things that have not made their way into the current discussion surrounding the appointment of James Tengatenga as the next dean of the Tucker Foundation. First, the committee unanimously recommended James on the basis of his life experiences, strength of character, eloquence, ability to listen, commitment to moral leadership and service, how he has lived his values of serving the poor and fighting government corruption and his vision for how he could contribute to our community. The committee members themselves were diverse in their personal belief systems and queried James about his ability to function and thrive in a secular university. His expressions of respect for each human, individual life moved us.

Recent statements circulating about Tengatenga’s views on homosexuality do not correspond to the conversations we had with him, including discussions on this very subject, and we welcome his clarifications, published July 18 on Dartmouth Now. Marriage equality has become a straightforward civil rights issue, and it is important that the next dean of the Tucker Foundation have full respect not only for the law, but also for all members of our community. We experienced James Tengatenga to be such a person.

Irene Kacandes, chair, Tucker Dean search committee

A senior faculty member responds:

Irene Kacandes’ letter in the D raises more questions than it answers. The letter says, “The committee members themselves were diverse in their personal belief systems and queried James about his ability to function and thrive in a secular university. His expressions of respect for each human, individual life moved us.”

But did they do due diligence on the candidate? Did they look into his past statements and query him on his role in the matters raised by Lewin and others? If they did not, then the whole committee process is in error. As you know, in financial or HR procedures, a failure of due diligence can be culpable.

Addendum: Another faculty member writes is:

If this had been a guy who supported the apartheid regime in South Africa, but now says that he thinks black students should be permitted to attend universities, what would we say? Would we hire him? No way. And this guy is not being hired to run the Buildings & Grounds department, but the Tucker Foundation - i.e., the moral compass of the College!

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