Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Please Vote for the Unity Slate in the Dartmouth Association of Alumni Executive Committee Election

There are two slates of nominees running for the executive committee.

In the most simplistic terms, you can vote for the slate headed by John Mathias '69 that would end the suit, or for the slate led by Michael Murphy '61 that would keep the lawsuit going.

To me, the deciding factor between the two slates is whether or not you think the lawsuit serves the best interests of the College. Will it help or hinder the ability of the administration and faculty to focus on continuing to provide the best undergraduate experience in the country to the students of today and tomorrow?

I can understand the point of view, held by some alumni, who disagree with the board’s recent decision regarding parity. Of course, there are members of both slates who opposed the Board’s decision – the difference between the slates is whether they support suing the College or working within the Dartmouth family to address their concerns.

Nonetheless, I am firmly of the opinion that the suit has been detrimental to the College.

It has cost the College money and forced the administration to shift some of its focus away from educating students. It has raised questions in the minds of potential applicants, donors, and parents as to whether such a controversy will become a hallmark of the school. It has caused potential faculty members to question the type of work environment Dartmouth would offer. It has the potential to undermine the search for Dartmouth’s next president.

This is not to suggest that debate about important issues should be subjugated for public relations purposes. Dartmouth alumni are passionate about Dartmouth, and we should foster vigorous debate, but not in the courtroom. I hope you'll vote for the slate of candidates that will end the lawsuit and pursue effective and constructive change at Dartmouth.

I'm recommending that you vote for the following candidates:

John Mathias, Jr. '69
Cheryl Bascomb '82
Douglas Keare '56
David Spalding '76
Marian Zischke Baldauf '84
Veree Hawkins Brown '93
John Engelman '68
Ron Harris '71
Kaitlin Jaxheimer '05
Otho Kerr III '79
Ronald Schram '64

Once again, if you haven't received voting information via email or postal mail please contact Blunt (dartmouth.alumni.relations@dartmouth.edu or 603.646.2258).

If you need more info, or want to discuss this further, feel free to email or call me - if nothing else, let this be a good reason for us to catch up. But, please take a moment to cast your vote by June 5th, and ask other alums you know to do the same.

Brooks Clark '78

Additional note in support of the Unity Slate, from Sherri Oberg '82

Dear Dartmouth and Tuck Friends,

Dartmouth and Tuck alumni should care about the Association of Alumni election because it involves the lawsuit by a handful of extremist alumni, in the name of all alumni, against Dartmouth.

This lawsuit is damaging to Dartmouth/Tuck's national reputation and is creating a hostile environment that is not conducive to a successful search for the new College President, who will have overall responsibility for Dartmouth as well as Tuck (Tuck's Board of Overseers does not have governance authority over Tuck).

There are two slates of candidates: the Parity Candidates and the Unity Candidates. This email will summarize my rationale for supporting the Unity Candidates, the key differences between the Parity and Unity candidates, my views on the rhetoric of the Parity Candidates, and my thoughts on the Board of Trustees' decision to expand the board.

Why I am voting for the Unity Candidates listed below. I have worked with most of the candidates listed above in a Dartmouth volunteer capacity and know them to be dedicated alumni, with informed opinions - although not necessarily the same opinions. They will be effective in influencing thought and decisions at Dartmouth via constructive debate without having to resort to lawsuits.

Key Differences Between the Parity and Unity Candidates. The Parity Candidates support the lawsuit to overturn the Board of Trustees' decision to expand the board by adding more charter alumni trustees and thereby disrupting the current parity with elected alumni trustees. The Unity Candidates have varying opinions on the Board's expansion plan but are united in their belief that the lawsuit should be withdrawn and that there are more constructive ways for alumni to communicate disagreement with the Trustees and the College.

Rhetoric of the Parity Candidates. Advocating for parity in the name of democracy is misleading rhetoric. In my opinion there is nothing democratic about the Parity Candidates' position. Democracy is government by the people with a majority rule. All trustees are alumni, whether they are elected or appointed by those we elect. There is no issue regarding whether alumni are adequately represented on the board.
The Parity Candidates seem to miss the irony that:
1) the current Board of Trustees was elected by the people under the very system the Parity Candidates themselves would like to preserve, and
2) a majority of that Board, after careful consideration, determined it was in the best interest of Dartmouth to expand the Board.
In my opinion, the Parity Candidates are for democracy only when it supports their own objectives.

Expansion of the Board of Trustees vs the Status Quo. The Board summarized its rationale for expansion in an extremely thoughtful document that was distributed to all alumni and which I have read in its entirety. It is a forward-looking document on how best to govern Dartmouth in the future, with a strong rationale provided for all recommended changes. Conversely, the best arguments for the status quo are legal ones based on the 1891 Agreement. The courts will decide the merits of the case.

Legal arguments aside, I found the forward-looking thought process articulated in the Trustees' Governance Report more compelling than the backward looking arguments based on an agreement that is more than 100 years old.

Click here to read The Trustees' Governance Report.

Don't forget to vote!!! Let's elect alumni leaders who will work collaboratively with the College and the Board to ensure Dartmouth attracts the best President possible to lead Dartmouth into the future and maintain its tradition of being the best undergraduate liberal arts educational experience.


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