The Hanover Institute
Establishment Slate wins; Parity Slate loses Association leadership election.
For most of us the election for Association leadership ended at midnight on Thursday, June 5; but any alum who did not vote was allowed to vote in person at the Association meeting held, June 10 (Tuesday) at Dartmouth College.
The votes have now been tabulated.
All eleven candidates on the Establishment Slate promising to end the Association lawsuit were elected; the Parity Slate was defeated.
Over 25,000 alumni voted and most voted for one slate or the other. Roughly 15,000 alumni voted for the Establishment (end the lawsuit) slate; roughly 10,000 alumni voted for the Parity Slate.
It would be very unwise for this newly elected Association leadership to assume that their election today means that a majority of alumni reject the principle of parity on the board of trustees. A vote to abrogate the 1891 Agreement will create a firestorm.
I am delighted it is now established that major decisions effecting alumni are placed in the hands of all alumni. Thanks to the persistent efforts of the Hanover Institute, and the unwavering and wise efforts of countless alumni, all Dartmouth graduates had their second opportunity to vote, without being required to come to Hanover and an amendment was passed which enshrines that principle in the Association’s Constitution.
Finally, this election demonstrates the critically important democratic principle of broad alumni participation in the governance of the College. I would hope that it likewise prompts the board of trustees to reconsider their announced plan to devalue the currency of each graduate’s vote. It would be a shame if this robust election resulted in the diminishment of alumni participation on the board of trustees. I urge the board to honor their better instincts and preserve the governance structure in place for over a century.
CRITICAL ELECTION NOW UNDERWAY
On Saturday, September 8, 2007, a deeply divided Board of Trustees of Dartmouth College voted to deprive you and other alumni of the historic right to select one-half of the Board.
One thing stands in the way of that decision taking effect.
In a six to three vote, the executive committee of the Association of Alumni of Dartmouth College voted to sue the board, an action which has successfully restrained the board of trustees from making appointments to fill the eight new seats it created.
The executive committee majority who voted for alumni rights and for Dartmouth have explained the status of the lawsuit in a report to all alumni and that report can be found here.
The legal situation makes the ongoing election for all 11 members of the executive committee of the Association of Alumni the most critical election in Dartmouth’s history.
Two slates of 11 candidates are running.
The official slate (for unity and undying surrender) is committed to abrogating the 1891 agreement between the Trustees and the alumni under which the alumni have had the right to elect half of the Board of Trustees (excepting the ex-officio members). They will withdraw the suit under which a New Hampshire court is to rule whether or not the 1891 agreement is a binding contract, thus allowing the immediate appointment of 8 more charter trustees and ending the equal voice that alumni trustees have had on the board for the past 117 years.
The pro-parity petition slate is committed to preserving this right of the alumni for an equal voice on the board, and expects a favorable ruling from the court in light of the fact that it ruled against the administration's motion to dismiss the suit after hearing the major arguments of the plaintiff's case. See this sample ballot with their names highlighted.
For more information about the pro-parity slate, please go to: www.dartmouthparity.com
This Association election started on April 28 and ends on June 5.
You can vote on-line or by paper ballot. If
you have not received either, please call (603) 646-2258 between 8AM and
4PM(EDT)and a ballot will be sent to you.
Now a more detailed report of what has happened since Black Saturday--Saturday, September 8, 2007.
As we are all painfully aware, it was at this meeting that Dartmouth's Trustees voted to pack the board; take over the chief responsibilities of the Association of Alumni of Dartmouth College; and place the running of future Dartmouth Trustee elections in the hands of employees of the Administration.
Specifically, the Board added eight new "charter" trustee seats, thereby doubling those chosen by the Board itself to sixteen. This unilateral act ends more than a century of parity, established by an accord reached in 1891 after two decades of negotiation. The eight "alumni" trustees you have the right to elect would thus be permanently reduced to an ineffectual minority--fewer than one-third of the newly projected twenty-six member Board. With anticipated further board expansion, that shrunken fraction would decrease still further.
Second, in an equally aggressive, arrogant action contrary to the terms of the 1891 agreement, the Board appropriated the responsibilities of the Association of Alumni, depriving it of independent conduct in the election of alumni trustees. By dictating the terms of election, the Board has asserted jurisdiction over the manner of candidacy. The Association thereby becomes the Board's vassal, effectively a subject of the Administration.
For over 100 years, Dartmouth alumni have possessed an extraordinary degree of influence through their ability to share the governance of Dartmouth with the College itself. This sharing of power has led to a matching degree of alumni contribution and commitment to Dartmouth's excellence. The uniqueness of the bond between Dartmouth and its alumni has been a major factor in the College's eminence among academic institutions. Shunting alumni aside in governance operations--and that is exactly what the Board is attempting to do--places the Dartmouth we have known and love in jeopardy.
You are Dartmouth. As alumni, you must decide how to respond to this unprecedented assault on your partnership with the College (and on the College itself).
The Hanover Institute will commit all its strength and resources to insuring that this disgraceful self-dealing by the Dartmouth College Board of Trustees will not stand. For the greater good of Dartmouth, we must restore to her alumni their full franchise in charting her course.
Update on the Association of Alumni lawsuit
In addition, the Association of Alumni, in fulfilling its role as the only broadly elected representative of all alumni--also in a divided vote—has decided to act. (Thank God, we now have Association leaders who actually fight for the alumni and for Dartmouth.)
Last summer, the Association leadership (the Executive Committee) sought the opinion of alumni in a survey prior to the board vote. Nine out of Ten Dartmouth alumni responding to the poll said they wanted to keep their right to elect one-half of their alma mater's trustees, a right they have enjoyed since 1891. The Association received more than 6500 responses from alumni during two weeks in August and the weeks that followed.
Fully aware, following the September 8, 2007 vote, that the Board majority cares not a whit about the views of Dartmouth alumni (Chairman Haldeman actually told members of the Association's Executive Committee that alumni have no more standing than College employees), the Association of Alumni of Dartmouth College retained the prominent Washington law firm Williams & Connolly (the same firm that successfully defended the Duke lacrosse players) to advise in its defense of civilized behavior and the rule of law. After the Executive Committee had been rebuffed in every effort to confer with the Board prior to its decision, and had even met with no interest in offers to mediate the dispute, a majority concluded that legal recourse was the only means available to hold the Board of Trustees to its 1891 contractual agreement, and to protect the autonomy of the Association of Alumni.
On October 3, 2007, the Association filed suit in NH Superior Court, seeking to prevent the Board of Trustees from appointing any new trustees while the legality of their actions was being reviewed. In response, the board agreed to hold off on new appointments until February 1, 2008, or until the Dartmouth alumni case was dismissed.
The Board then filed a Motion to Dismiss, all the while calling the alumni case "frivolous," wholly "without merit" and certain to be thrown out of court.
Then on Friday, February 8, 2008—a few short while ago—the NH court ruled against the trustees, denying their Motion to Dismiss. Read Judge's Order Here
Following this first defeat in court, the board of trustees, on February 15, made an agreement with Dartmouth alumni—through their Association of Alumni. The agreement stipulates that the board will not fill these eight new seats until the matter is resolved in the court or there is an agreement between the Association and the trustees. This is a very big win for the principles of the 1891 agreement--specifically, for the traditional 50/50 ratio between appointed and elected trustees--for Dartmouth alumni and for Dartmouth College.
In short, the court case filed by the Association is the only obstacle left in the way of the September 8 board-packing plan's taking effect.
See the report of the Association’s leadership on this critical lawsuit.
All of which brings me to my report on the critical upcoming election for the leadership of the Association.
A Pro-Parity Slate For Association Leadership
As you all know, the term of office for the 11 member executive committee of the Association of Alumni is one year, so every year we need to vote for good alumni leadership.
This year, the election for Association leadership will start on April 28 and end on June 5.
I am happy to report that there will be a good, strong slate of 11 alumni running; their election is vital.
THE ISSUE IN THIS UPCOMING ELECTION IS SIMPLE AND CLEAR: TO PRESERVE THE TRADITIONAL 50/50 RATIO BETWEEN APPOINTED AND ELECTED TRUSTEES.
The petition (pro-parity) slate emphatically endorses that simple principle established in 1891, over 116 years ago, that was endorsed recently by a overwhelming majority of alumni, and that it is demonstrably good for Dartmouth. Second, they believe that if the only way to preserve that arrangement is through appealing for justice in a court of law, that they will courageously and steadfastly support that action.
See the pro-parity slate letter recently sent to alumni.
The opposing slate however, nominated by a committee of establishment insiders including a top employee of the administration, David Spalding has pledged to withdraw the lawsuit if they are elected.
The stakes are high.
This Association leadership election is the whole ball game.
If the petition (pro-parity) slate is elected, I am convinced that some of the trustees with good sense and practical judgment will join the four petition trustees and agree 1) that the board-packing plan was not a good idea, 2) that it should be rescinded, and 3), that they should sit down with the Association and other alumni leaders and work out an agreement ensuring free and fair elections for trustee.
If, on the contrary, the board-packing slate is elected, they will immediately surrender. Within 7 days the lawsuit will be withdrawn and the board-packing plan of September 8, 2007 will be put into effect. That sundering of the 1891 agreement would make Dartmouth once again the private fiefdom of a small, self-perpetuating group, responsible to no one.
And this terrible conflict will continue.
It is therefore vital that you vote for each
of the eleven candidates on the
pro-parity slate (four of whom are running for
re-election) when you receive your ballot.
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