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An Alan Alda Contretemps
Following our post on Thursday detailing the ±$100,000 fee that the College’s Montgomery Endowment is paying actor Alan Alda for a 36-hour visit to Hanover, English Professor Tom Luxon has written to Dartblog in an effort to set the record straight:
Greetings from Glasgow! You should be aware that I nominated Alan Alda about three years ago (maybe four?) while I was still founding director of the Dartmouth Center for the Advancement of Learning. His work with scientists — senior academics, grad students and post-docs — has been nothing less than stunning. He has helped hundreds share their scientific work with a lay public, thus encouraging science education on a broad scale. I made the nomination confident that Alda would inspire our faculty in the sciences as well as our own future faculty (post-docs and grad students) and inform everyone’s teaching practices.
The nomination was approved by the Montgomery Endowment board more than two years ago with enthusiastic support from then-Montgomery-Endowment-Director Richard Stamelman (whom you so rightly admire). I think you owe Director Wohlforth an apology, and upstander that I know you are, it will be forthcoming quickly.
Also, go see Alda. You might be impressed! As I am in Scotland, I’ll miss him.
Professor of English
Further research has revealed more information about Alda’s visit: Professor Luxon did indeed nominate Alda several years ago, and he was approved by the Montgomery committee as a potential Fellow, along with a good many other candidates. However, it seems that the outgoing director, Richard Stamelman, preferred other candidates; he subsequently took no steps to invite Alda. As we reported previously, in the one-year time period between Stamelman’s departure and the arrival of incoming director Christianne Wohlforth, IP Folt intervened and proffered Alda an invitation.
Sources have indicated to me that Stamelman would never have considered a 36-hour visit by Alda at an honorarium of $100,000. This is far more money than the Montgomery Endowment has ever paid out for any Fellow to come to the College, including Nobelists and other remarkable figures, some of whom spent a full term on campus in the Montgomery house, and who taught an undergraduate course.
Although the Montgomery committee did approve Alda as a Fellow, it played no role in authorizing the payment of Alda’s enormous fee; negotiating reasonable fees is not part of the committee’s responsibility. Traditionally the Montgomery director makes that call, but in this instance, with no director in place, the decision to pay the unprecedented sum came from IP Folt alone, as Dartblog previously reported. As such, it is hard to understand Professor Luxon’s request for an apology to Christianne Wohlforth.
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August 23, 2009
Fare Thee Well, Tom Crady
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May 31, 2009
Kangaroo Court, Indeed
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