Press Releases | Trusteeship

Dartmouth Insiders Circle the Wagons

Attempt to Block Reforms by Concerned Alumni
June 5, 2006

WASHINGTON, DC—In defiance of the group’s own bylaws, the leaders of Dartmouth College’s Association of Alumni have arbitrarily “postponed” the annual elections for their own offices. The American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) is calling upon the Association to reconsider this deeply troubling decision.

“The Hanover establishment has been searching for months to find ways to prevent more reformers from winning election to the Dartmouth Board of Trustees,” said ACTA president Anne D. Neal. “Postponing the election is the latest in their transparent effort to shut out constructive input from concerned alumni.”

In a June 1 letter to the president of the Association of Alumni, ACTA called on the Dartmouth group to hold the election as scheduled. This was in response to a May 24 letter from one of the leaders of the Association saying that the group’s scheduled October 15 annual meeting and election had been “postponed” until some indefinite time in “the first half of calendar year 2007.” The current alumni leaders were elected in October 2005, when they were required to establish when the next election would be held.

The minutes of that meeting show that the next election was set for October 15, 2006. There are no provisions whatsoever in the group’s constitution or bylaws for arbitrarily changing the date of the election.

The insiders’ decision to “postpone” their own date of accountability to voters is especially striking in light of current events at Dartmouth. A new and highly controversial constitution for alumni governance will be up for an all-alumni vote until October 30. As ACTA and many Dartmouth alumni have noted, some provisions in the new constitution would emasculate the current process for electing trustees by petition.

Three alumni—T.J. Rodgers in 2004 and Todd Zywicki and Peter Robinson in 2005—have recently won election to the Board of Trustees as outsider candidates, all on platforms dedicated to reform, freedom of speech, and greater accountability on the part of the college administration. Their bids by petition drew the staunch opposition of the Dartmouth establishment.

“The powers that be at Dartmouth are trying to make sure that no one can follow in the footsteps of T.J. Rodgers, Todd Zywicki, and Peter Robinson,” Neal noted. “The new constitution requires an impossible task: making petition candidates get 250 signatures from other alumni, in 30 days, before the establishment has even said who its candidates are. This is unconscionable.”

However, as Neal concluded her letter to the Association of Alumni, “No matter what one thinks of the proposed new constitution, all reasonable people should agree that whatever constitution is in place ought to be honored.” ACTA has therefore requested that the Association honor its constitution and bylaws by reinstating the October 15 election immediately.

The American Council of Trustees and Alumni is a national education nonprofit dedicated to academic freedom, academic quality, and accountability. ACTA has a network of alumni and trustees around the country including those from Dartmouth. ACTA has issued numerous reports on higher education including How Many Ward Churchills?, Intellectual Diversity: Time for Action, The Hollow Core, and Losing America’s Memory: Historical Illiteracy in the 21st Century.


Launched in 1995, we are the only organization that works with alumni, donors, trustees, and education leaders across the United States to support liberal arts education, uphold high academic standards, safeguard the free exchange of ideas on campus, and ensure that the next generation receives an intellectually rich, high-quality college education at an affordable price.

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