WASHINGTON, DC—On Saturday, September 8, the Dartmouth College Board of Trustees voted to dilute the role of elected alumni trustees in a decision which drastically changes Dartmouth’s historic governance process. In a divided vote, board members voted to add eight unelected members and change the way future alumni elections are held. The college has refused to reveal the actual vote count.
These changes come after the alumni in 2006 roundly rejected similar changes to the election process in a vote on the alumni Constitution; four straight trustee election victories by petition-nominated,reform-minded alumni; and the 2007 election of a majority of reform petition candidates to the Executive Committee of the Dartmouth Association of Alumni. The board chairman claimed the changes would end “destructive politicization of trustee campaigns that have hurt Dartmouth.”
Anne D. Neal, president of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, said the board’s decision means “the Dartmouth administration and its supporters on the board have now done by fiat what they could not do by alumni consent.”
Neal continued, “Having suffered six recent electoral defeats—as alumni in record numbers demanded independent voices on the board and Alumni Association—the Dartmouth establishment now found a different way to end the College’s unique tradition of vibrant alumni involvement and participation.”
“Since when did differing views and vigorous campaigns become ‘destructive’ and ‘divisive?'” she asked. “That is the essence of democracy—but that, regrettably, is exactly what the administration and its supporters on the board appear to fear.”
“The loyal and engaged alumni at Dartmouth have traditionally been a source of great strength,” Neal concluded. “The board majority’s refusal to respect that tradition marks a sad day in Dartmouth’s history.”
The American Council of Trustees and Alumni is a nonpartisan, nonprofit, national organization dedicated to academic freedom, academic quality, and accountability. ACTA has a network of trustees and alumni around the country, including those from Dartmouth. ACTA has issued numerous reports on higher education, including The Vanishing Shakespeare, How Many Ward Churchills?, Intellectual Diversity: Time for Action, The Hollow Core, and Losing America’s Memory: Historical Illiteracy in the 21st Century.