Voices in the Wilderness

A forum for discussion of all things Dartmouth.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Alumni Asking WTF?

Yes. Oh, yes. There is now an ironic spoof of the Alumni for a Strong Dartmouth website, entitled, "Alumni Asking WTF?"

Its purpose is to draw attention to ADS's blatant electioneering, and exists, in its own words, to support the right of the petition candidates "to be perceived and treated as equals to the other four candidates" as well as to "oppose the hypocrisy of declaring -- and then violating -- campaign rules."

For those of you who are acronym-impaired and may still be guessing as to what WTF stands for, you may look it up here.

Op-ed / Article Recap

Spring term at Dartmouth has sprung, and as The D takes up publication after its spring break hiatus, we have been treated to some more savory pieces on the Trustee Election in its pages.

On yesterday's op-ed page, Jordan Frank '94 makes the case that the website Alumni for a Strong Dartmouth (ADS) flagrantly violates the ban on electioneering, and calls for election reform.

In today's issue, there is a clueless article about the election in which the Dartmouth establishment claims that Alumni for a Strong Dartmouth's website is protected by "freedom of speech."

This selectively-applied interpretation of freedom of speech -- exemplified by ADS -- is what this election is all about!

Other quotes of note include:

"Last year's trustee election faced similar third-party campaigning issues, said Walters. This year, the campaign guidelines have been expanded to permit each candidate to send up to two e-mails to the alumni body during the six-week campaign period to combat the circulation of misinformation and third-party campaigning characteristic of the election last year. "

This allegation is news to me -- and retroactively undermining T.J. Rodgers's victory only serves to show how much the establishment hated losing that one.

For relief, there is a column by Joseph Asch, who nails the crises of overcrowding and inadequate housing at Dartmouth. As he puts it, "Whether our problems are reflections of national trends or simply local, the College is in a position to be a leader in confronting the challenges that it faces. We need innovation and progress, not drift and self-justification."

It's true -- the self-justification of underperformance must end.

What is the money saying?

As follow up to Dick Ramsden's letter below, a guest contributor has forwarded the following piece and we republish it in its entirety:

Where Is All the Money Going?

From Fiscal 1998 to Fiscal 2002 Dartmouth’s expenses increased almost 50%, from $330 to $493 million. This represents a 14% per year rate of increase in spending. And during this period the size of the undergraduate population remained in all practical terms constant. So, where is the money going?

Did it go to improving undergraduate education or student life, or to something else? The anecdotal evidence recommends the latter, to wit:

1. Current construction notwithstanding, undergraduate housing is in poor repair and short supply. Dartmouth can no longer be said to be a residential college, as it once was, since it does not provide housing for a substantial portion of undergraduates. Even when the new dorms are finished, because of planned demolition of the Choate and River clusters, many undergraduates will still not be able to be housed on campus.

2. Undergraduate class sizes have risen, and many students cannot get into courses they need for their major requirements. See link here.

3. The athletics budget would appear to have been under constant pressure and not been sufficient even to maintain current programs.

· The swim team would have been eliminated but for separate funding provided by parents and alumni (thus reducing the athletic budget otherwise provided by College resources by the $250,000 per year required for the program).

· According to sources close to the new football coaches, Davis Varsity house is in poor repair and looks like it has not seen a coat of paint or carpeting in 20 years, and the weight training facility is the worst in the Ivy League.

So, if the annual operating budget has increased by $163 million in the 4 years from 1998 to 2002, where is all the money going?

During this same period, the number of graduate students in the arts and sciences increased dramatically (to over 600 now). Dartmouth built several facilities for graduate programs, including graduate student housing, and the website for Dartmouth’s graduate Ph.D. programs states that this is “an exciting time for graduate study at Dartmouth.” This would appear to be a guarded way of saying that the programs are increasing both in size and funding. As anyone involved with a research university can tell you, running graduate programs is a very expensive proposition.

It would, therefore, seem that Dartmouth is pouring money into building graduate Ph.D. programs in the arts and sciences to achieve the administration’s long-held goal of changing Dartmouth into a research university, while at the same time, stealing funds from the undergraduate budget.

The facts to support the foregoing conclusions are hard to come by because of the lack of transparency in Dartmouth’s reporting to alumni on budget matters. But, there is sufficient smoke in the anecdotal evidence to suggest that the fire is there. And the only way to get to the bottom of the matter is to elect Trustees devoted to candor and transparency in reporting these matters.

Money Talks

We thought it an apt time to reprint a letter originally published in the Valley News by Dick Ramsden (link unavailable), a former Brown trustee who is very well versed in the world of college finance. The emphasis is ours, but we reprint the text unedited. The second and third paragraphs are of particular interest, as our eyeballs pratcially melt every time we read them. Enjoy.

The Rest of the Story

During the recent controversy over the future of Dartmouth College’s swimming and diving teams, a much larger question was not addressed. Why is an institution with an endowment exceeding $2 billion, that has raised over $300 million in total gifts over the past three fiscal years ending June 30, 2002, and has one of the most prolific annual funds in higher education, reduced to cutting swimming to save $200,000 a year? This is an attempt to tell “the rest of the story.”

Dartmouth officials state the College’s endowment is down and they must cut the budget. It sounds reasonable, but how has Dartmouth’s endowment fared in recent years? In June 1994 the Dartmouth endowment was $750 million; by June 2000 it reached almost $2.5 billion, more than tripling in six years. Since then it has receded to an estimated $2.1 billion. Over the 5 and 10 years ending June 2002 Dartmouth’s compound annual investment returns have been 13.7 and 14.8 percent. Over the three-, five-, seven- and ten-year periods ending June 2002, Dartmouth’s investment performance ranks in the top ten of 150 leading colleges and universities. Dartmouth’s investment performance has been superb. The problem lies elsewhere - in the extraordinary growth of endowment spending since 1998.

It took 230 years for Dartmouth to reach the milestone in 1998 where endowment provided almost $50 million (actually $48.7 million) to support operations. In the next three years, that figure more than doubled to $106 million and in it went up almost 160 percent to $126 million. To put that in perspective, incremental endowment spending over the four years of $77.4 million is equal to almost $14,000 for each of Dartmouth’s 5,600 undergraduate and graduate students! Where did the money go? From 1998 to 2002, scholarship support rose from $40 million to $51.5 million, but tuition revenues also increased, from $131 to $158 million. Over the same period operating expenditures grew from $330 to $493 million, of which the biggest piece was compensation, which surged from $184 million in 1998 to $280 million in 2002 — a 52 percent increase in four years!

How could this happen? The answer may lie in the rapid turnover of senior positions at Dartmouth in recent years. Since 1997, Dartmouth had had three different chairs of its Board of Trustees (Bosworth, King and Dentzer) two Presidents (Freedman and Wright) four Provosts (Wright, Brinkerhoff, Prager and Scherr) and three chief financial officers (Hutton, Johnson, Keller). With that kind of turnover, the first casualty is institutional knowledge and accountability. But turnover alone doesn’t explain Dartmouth’s financial problems.
Endowed institutions have spending policies to govern how much endowment income is to be used each year. The purpose is to protect the purchasing power of the endowment over time, and to produce regular spending increases, avoiding large
increases in some years and no increases or even decreases in others.

Dartmouth’s policy limits spending to 4.25 percent to 6.5 percent of the endowment’s average market value over the prior twelve quarters. Within that wide band, for many years endowment spending was on automatic pilot increasing approximately 5 percent a year, which kept spending within the prescribed limits. With the endowment growing rapidly in the late 1990s and the administration desirous of spending more of this sudden wealth, in fiscal
1998-1999, Dartmouth made a fateful course change. It abandoned the policy of automatic 5 percent increases, which was sensible, but replaced it with a formula that would prove both excessive and myopic. It was excessive in that it increased the spending rate, first to 5.25 percent and then in July 2000 to 5.5 percent, well above the 4.5-5.0 percent rate of most institutions. On a $2 billion endowment 0.5 to 1.0 percent amounts to $10 to $20 million of extra spending — every year.

Dartmouth also chose a narrow and volatile base on which to apply the 5.5 percent rate — the average market value for the prior twelve quarters. In what in retrospect is seen as the “blow-off period” of the third great bull market of the century, this ensured that endowment spending would ride the bubble and experience explosive growth. When the bubble burst, and lower market values became part of the base, not only would spending growth be halted, it would have to be cut significantly. How significantly? As a rough gauge, at a 5 percent spending rate on $2.1 billion, present spending from endowment should be approximately $105 million; in the current fiscal year, even after cuts, it is estimated at $122 million.

In the piloting of its fiscal affairs since the mid-i 990s, Dartmouth has gone from several years of automatic pilot to four years of flank speed to the need to reverse engines. Such seamanship is not good for a ship or its passengers; it is not recommended for an educational institution either. And it could have been avoided. Over two decades ago a faculty group at Yale devised an elegant endowment spending formula that combined the best of the automatic increase and market value approaches to endowment spending. Numerous institutions, including Dartmouth’s regional neighbors, the Phillips Exeter Academy and the Montshire Museum of Science in Norwich, Vermont, use the Yale formula.

There is one other mystery that has arisen from the swimming team saga and it begs clarification. How does Dartmouth make its budgeting decisions? Who decides that compensation costs should go up 52 percent in four years, and, when the going gets tough, who gets to pick the swimming and diving programs as sacrificial lambs? In a world that seeks financial transparency, Dartmouth’s budget process is opaque and notably different from some of its Ivy League peers.

In the 1970s Princeton, Brown and many other universities established advisory committees that allowed budget procedures to become more open and accountable. Called priorities committees, they are typically chaired by the provost, staffed by the chief financial officer and include faculty, graduate and undergraduate students appointed for two-to three-year terms. At Brown the committee meets frequently from September to December reviewing detailed presentations on all the key revenue and expense
assumptions driving the operating budget. A sophisticated budget model of the university aids this work.

The committee presents its report to the president and trustees in December and it is published in the university’s community newspaper and placed on the university’s website. The analysis and recommendations are available for all to read, from the most senior faculty member to the newest employee. The report is advisory and the ultimate responsibility for approving the budget falls to the president and trustees, who vote on the budget at the winter trustee meeting. As a former Brown trustee, and chief financial officer when this process was established, I am convinced it is one of the most important elements of governance at Brown and a major reason that after many years of operating deficits prior to 1978, Brown has benefited from both an informed community and well balanced budgets since.

Dartmouth is an institution of national importance that is blessed by a generous and loyal family of alumni and friends. To preserve that goodwill, Dartmouth deserves far better and open procedures for endowment spending and annual budgeting than is evident by an examination of the public record over the past few years.

Dick Ramsden, who lives in Lyme, is the parent of two Dartmouth graduates and is a former trustee and chieffinancial officer of Brown University.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

"A Research University in All but Name" - James Wright

Is that really what Dartmouth is? To be frank, we would say the answer is no.

Is that what we want to be? We would again say a thousand times no, but an honest debate could be had on the subject. With that in mind, consider the following.

If you want to understand what concerns people about the direction Dartmouth is taking in building graduate programs to become a research university, and the possible effects on the quality of undergraduate life and academics, read today’s article in the Boston Globe (see link here). Evidently, Harvard is having problems with undergraduates feeling lack of attention from professors who focus too much on their graduate programs, and lack of a social life (to wit, no fraternities). Does this sound like something Dartmouth should emulate?

Monday, March 28, 2005

"A Terrible Beauty is Born"

Via Powerline, a not-to-be-missed piece. As a young alumna who receives almost all of her Dartmouth correspondence electronically, I was not aware that the hard copy ballots for Alumni Trustee -- originally supposed to have been sent out on March 7th -- were not sent in the mail until some time last week. The election concludes on April 22nd.

At this rate, we would propose that an independent group of observers verify the results of this election. The Dartmouth College establishment does not appear to be above anything at this point. It's actually scary. What do they have to lose by having a Trustee nominated and elected by the true will of the alumni body?

Apparently, a lot. Stay tuned -- and vote.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Just In Case You Were Wondering...

Dartmouth's Office of Institutional Diversity & Equity consists of nine full-time employees. It is separate from the Office of Pluralism & Leadership, which consists of two full-time and six adjunct employees.

FIRE fires back

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) posted a fierce rebuttal to this claim on the Alumni for a Strong Dartmouth website, saying that "any group that would state such a position cannot credibly claim to support or respect free speech."


Engles '79 Ups the Stakes

For the first time, the Dartmouth Trustee election is painted in liberal vs. conservative colors. Alumni Council-nominated candidate Gregg Engles '79 addresses "Orthodoxy of Thought" in his email to the Alumni body:

"'Group think' can be corrosive. It breeds prejudice, intolerance, and a lack of critical thinking. I fear we have a bit of group think going on in Hanover in the administration and the faculty, and it is bad for the College. The faculty selects and weeds out their own in the hiring and tenure process. They tend to support their own as they move into the administration. The process reinforces and concentrates, often silently, certain attitudes and philosophical tendencies in the institution.

At some point those attitudes become so much the norm that one feels free to say that football is antithetical to the academic mission of 'colleges such as ours' about the most storied football program in the Ivy League, or to stifle points of view that the group 'knows' are incorrect. No one even notices when a poll shows Ivy League professors support one political point of view by 84% to 16 % (link to academia.org website).

My comment has nothing to do with the scholarly credentials of Dartmouth's faculty. Rather, it deals with an inbreeding strong enough in certain dimensions that I believe the College is losing its ability to educate its students in a balanced way about the most important issues of our time. I received my law degree from Yale Law School, which has quite a liberal reputation. But when I was there, many of the lions of the faculty were conservatives, and the Law School continues to recruit and retain them [...] I feel Dartmouth is losing its balance in this regard."

Now, the nominated candidates are addressing the issues that the petition candidates have brought to the forefront -- in even more explicit terms! Invoking faculty reaction to The Dartmouth Review? Karl Furstenberg's "antagonist" view toward football players? Language like "in-breeding" and "group think" ?!? Gregg Engles '79 makes it clear where he stands, but only after the petition candidates had the courage to bring the issue of free speech to the heart of this election.

The petition candidates have changed this process forever. In the past, nominated candidates were merely required to state some abstract, noncommittal, positive message about "Dartmouth." The Dartmouth establishment still wants this vagueness to continue.

But today, in order to win real alumni support, nominees actually have to reveal where they stand on controversial issues. And, in his email, Gregg Engles '79 certainly goes far enough to irritate the very people who have been actively campaigning - in spite of rules to the contrary - against the petition candidates.

Why haven't they gone after Gregg, or is it just a matter of time?

Thursday, March 24, 2005

The Office of Evaluation and Research

Dartmouth's Office of Evaluation and Research is a department within the Office of the Dean of the College. Its research focuses on the extracurricular lives of students and the undergraduate student experience.

The Office compiles data on the habits of Dartmouth students in areas of social behavior, career selection, and risk behaviors such as suicide, eating disorders, and sexual issues. These results are often compared to national trends.

This is an example of what the College administers to its seniors -- a Scantron developed by the Higher Education Research Institute.

The Office makes sense of such data in publications like this one comparing Dartmouth's first-year students to freshmen nationwide. It's a fascinating glimpse into the student body at Dartmouth.

Having a four-person department to keep track of such information, even as libraries and athletic budgets are cut? I say it can be justified, but only if its research is independently applied to inform Dartmouth's strategic objectives -- rather than using the administration's objectives to direct the research. Why such expend such capital polling Dartmouth students on scientific questions such as "In the past two weeks, have you played beer pong? How many games did you win?" when core academic classes are overcrowded and oversubscribed?

Is the real story here in department, the data, or in the questions being asked?

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Of Libraries and Swim Teams...

Many will recall the fiasco not too long ago where the administration proposed pulling the plug on the swim team, while concurrently making dean-level positions for just about everyone, including the Alpha Delta fraternity dog Jake. Many will also recall that this was the time period in which the hours of Sanborn library were being cut back (even closing the library at times), making it very difficult for a student to find a place for their restorative 3PM nap, or get milk and cookies without walking to Phi Tau. It's not clear to us exactly how much money was saved by the cutting of the few salary-hours of librarian time at Sanborn, thus we are trying to dig further into Dartmouth finances to get a grasp of just what, exactly, are Dartmouth's priorities, which would be evidenced by their budget proposals and allocations. Luckily, we are not the only ones who have begun such a search. We thought it would be useful to link to an article (here) which describes the quest of a lone professor, and a few interested parties who are not college employees, to find out just where all the dough was going. We will keep digging, and as soon as we can get Jake to lay out the fiscal 2005 projections, we will report back. Is it bad that we think that we will have an easier time getting said facts out of a golden retriever than out of Parkhurst? More to come.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005


There seems to be a great deal of confusion about extent of the oversubscription problem to classes at Dartmouth College today and the frequency with which this was a problem in the past. Students need to speak up on this issue!

The Dartmouth administration seems to be making the argument that there have always been waiting lists for courses at Dartmouth -- a reaction which is not as reassuring as a simple acknowledgement of the problem and a "we're trying to do something about it." Is that too much to ask?

In an op-ed in The Dartmouth on March 9, Provost Barry Scherr wrote:

"There has never been a time when any student could take any course at whatever moment he or she wanted. As long as I have taught at Dartmouth -- over 30 years -- some faculty have had to close their courses and students have had to look elsewhere."

And, speaking recently to Florida alumni, President Wright stated:

"It is the case that some of our most popular courses in the most popular majors have waiting lists and some students do not get into the courses they want. If this is not acceptable, neither is it new. This has always been the case. I remember my courses in American history would often exceed the room limit in Reed Hall and I would need to turn students away. I remember in the 1970s serving as freshman advisor and having lists of courses that students would not be able to enroll in because they were filled as a result of upper-class students."

As only one of five majors in my subject, I did not have any difficulty getting accepted to any of my most important classes. However, I know that students in government, economics, and psychology that had a much harder time. Introductory courses in physics and engineering -- desperately needed by non-science majors needing to meet their distributive requirements -- were huge.

Some of the most popular classes on campus in my day (late 90s) were in the Speech Department. The waitlists for these classes lasted term after term. It was worth the wait. My class on Informative Speaking was one of the most challenging, most memorable, and most widely-applicable courses of my college experience.

But instead of accommodating this consistently heavy student demand, the College continues to understaff and underfund the department. The D publishes an almost perennial story on this phenomenon, and the most recent is here.

This is totally unacceptable leadership for a school that reputedly cherishes its reputation as the "most prestigious undergraduate institution in the country." The administration's record on this issue is not only passive, but reactively wrong.

UPDATE: A reader suggests that alumni should comment on President Wright's and Provost Scherr's statements. We concur!

Please write a "To the Editor" e-mail to The D (TheDartmouth@dartmouth.edu) and let the student editors there know what your own experience was in this regard. Please include your class year, and the town and state in which you live now.

On the subject line of your e-mail, please write the words:

"Never Wait-listed" (your class year)

or "Waitlisted Once (your class year)

or "Waitlisted Often" (your class year)

depending on your personal experience.

This will allow the staff of The D to sort the e-mails easily. The D will publish its next edition on March 29th. Please make an effort to let them know your experience as a student at the College before then.

The Fourth Communication

The fourth email to the Dartmouth alumni body regarding the Alumni Trustee Election was sent today. Candidate Curt Welling '71 T'77 weighed in with a succint, memo-like missive that made some good points and, for the most part, kept platitudes to a minimum. In my view, the highlights of his message included his stated beliefs that

1. "That the Board needs to create a culture of aggressive self-criticism. This will require an openness to all voices that has not characterized the Board in the past. All truly great institutions relentlessly examine the quality of their programs and the validity of their assumptions. In a dynamic marketplace, organizations that are not aggressively self-critical are dying."

2. That the First Amendment means what it says. Freedom of expression is the cornerstone of the pursuit of the truth. Speech codes, social or academic pressure on speech cannot be tolerated in any shape or form. It is the Board's responsibility to ensure that they are not tolerated. In the debate between civility and freedom of expression, civility is nice and a worthy objective-freedom of expression is quintessential and cannot be compromised.

However, I did not understand this point:
"That Dartmouth today is, of necessity, an intricate entity that operates in a complex and dynamic environment. The critical issues facing the College are similarly intricate and not amenable to caricature. I believe that some of the rhetoric of this campaign is ideological generalization, hyperbole and oversimplification. I do not think it is informed by the complex reality of Dartmouth today."

I can't tell whether the latter point is a jab at the petition candidates or Dartmouth administration. In any event, it's clear that the alumni candidates from whom we have heard so far have moved their rhetoric in the direction of the petition candidates. Regardless of the outcome of this election, the candidacies of the "outsiders" will have had an indelible influence on the debate about the soul and future of Dartmouth.

Monday, March 21, 2005

A "Curmudgeon" President

The recent Booz Allen, & Hamilton report naming Dartmouth College as one of "the world's most enduring institutions" has been hailed by the current Dartmouth administration, as well as many alumni, as a testament to Dartmouth's strengths. However, it is important to note that the report makes no reference to Dartmouth after the Kemeny administration of the 1970s.

This is the money excerpt, which refers to a watershed incident in the 1870s:

"Fed up with a curmudgeon [ed. - !] president who thwarted good will efforts to raise the educational level of the institution, Dartmouth's constituencies of undergraduates, alumni, faculty, etc. prepared a bill of particulars and summoned the president to answer the charges of neglect. Faced with this earnest consensus of informed critics who were loyal to the college, the derelict president resigned.
Under the new president, Dartmouth College went from a floundering, financially weak institution of about 300 students over the next 20 years to an enrollment of more than 2,000, a robust endowment, and a national reputation as the most prestigious undergraduate college in the United States. What made this self-reform especially remarkable is that it took place precisely during the decades when advocates of the creation of new, large universities were predicting the death of the liberal arts college. Not only did Dartmouth College defy those odds, it dared to create a special institution that did not follow the conventional wisdom of university building that dominated the era."

James Wright should certainly share the pride of Dartmouth alumni at this special distinction, but he and others should take careful note: Dartmouth is most certainly NOT "a university in all but name." The spirit of alumni across the generations knows better.

Pants on FIRE

What do ACLU President Nadine Strossen, former Reagan Attorney General Ed Meese, and Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz all have in common?

They all happen to be members of the Board of Editors for the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, known asFIRE. FIRE champions basic freedoms of expression and association that are increasingly being restricted on academic campuses. These restrictions on Constitutional rights, which affect both students and faculty, often masquerade as "speech codes" or "community standards."

Recent offenses to First Amendment rights include policies such as: "inappropriately directed laughter" at the University of Connecticut, the use of "language that is not gender specific" at the University of West Virginia, and the use of language that is interpreted to cause loss of "self-esteem" at Colby College.

Via speechcodes.org, FIRE rates the speech policies of individual institutions. Dartmouth's comprehensive rating reveals that it has at least one policy that clearly and substantially restricts freedom of speech.

FIRE appeals to students to provide more information. Personally, I was surprised that Dartmouth did not go on the record as having a policy on diversity and multiculturalism. Dartmouth's emphasis on diversity is so great that it actually created a Dean of Plurality and Office of Pluralism, so how can this be so?

Dartmouth Trustees are People, Too

Voices in the Wilderness has promised to provide a personal glimpse of the men and women serving on the Dartmouth Board of Trustees by going beyond their amazing biographies on the Dartmouth website.

A few weeks ago, we linked to a recent San Francisco Chronicle piece on Dartmouth Trustee T.J. Rodgers '70.

Trustee Christine Burnley Bucklin '84. who also hails from California, looks like a cool lady. She was not only valedictorian of her class at Dartmouth, but also valedictorian of her class at Stanford Business School. Now, as COO of CarsDirect.com, she is one of the auto industry's top 100 women. And, she says that she has "not found my gender to be a big issue."

Here is a neat interview via ideaLab!, where Christine was an entrepreneur-in-residence.

CarsDirect.com has won awards for its customer service, and models its success on providing consumers with clear, comprehensive information. I wonder what lessons Dartmouth College can learn from a consumer-driven business about managing its student and alumni relations.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Freedom of Speech: Not Even Being Allowed to Know What the Limits Are?

Joe's Dartblog has it.

Friday, March 18, 2005

What Is it About "Level Playing Field" That They Don't Understand?

From Dennis DiMuzio '71, via Powerline:

"I just got my "Memorandum" for the classes ’71 and ’72 today, March 17th. From James A. Fitzpatrick, Jr. ’71: 'The Alumni Council approved an impressive slate of nominees for election to the Board of Trustees, as presented by the Nominating Committee. …All are extremely well qualified.'

Neither Pete Robinson nor Todd Zywicki was mentioned. This memorandum is supposed to be a summary of the Alumni Council’s winter meeting—December 2-4. But 3 ½ months after the meeting I’m getting a heads up on a slate that was updated substantially one month ago? This stuff was printed on a word processor. And under the auspices of the Office of Alumni Relations at Dartmouth College. This wasn’t enough time to give me the complete slate? Basta!"

Non-campaigning campaigning

Given stories like the one below, it may be understandable why Dartmouth College does not want its Alumni election to evolve into a hard-fought, bloody campaign. But, is underhanded campaiging more desirable? As of yet, no one seems to know what "campaigning" really means.

As Hugh Hewitt implicitly asks in this post, is "non-campaigning" even possible in the new internet age? Who can stop the spread of ideas?

Sound familiar?

Controversial trustee elections are not just familiar to Dartmouth. As recently as 2002, Reverend Dr. W. David Lee, a graduate of Yale Divinity School, decided to run for the Yale Board of Trustees. Lee collected over 5,000 signatures to get his name on the ballot. Although rarely invoked in Yale's history, the nomination by petition was also used in 1969 by William Horowitz, the first Jewish member of the Yale Board of Trustees.

Rev. Dr. Lee ignited a controversy by accepting funds from pro-labor groups to support his campaign. Meanwhile, the official Yale selection committee nominated a single person to oppose Lee -- normally, they propose a slate of three to five candidates. The nominee was architect Maya Lin.

An article from a Yale student newspaper continues the story:

"An alumni committee led by former University Secretary Henry 'Sam' Chauncey began to publicly protest the 'special interest campaign,' taking on Lee’s supporters in a battle played out in special advertising sections of the Yale Alumni Magazine and on the opinion page of the Yale Daily News. The campaign focused primarily on Lee rather than Lin, who stayed above the fray and did not talk to the press[...]

Yale launched a website to inform alumni about the two candidates. Printed side by side with comments from Lin about her enthusiasm to serve the Yale community were comments from Lee promising to 'preserve the best interests of Yale University' as well as more adversarial soundbites.”

Ultimately, Yale spent $65,000 on mailings sent to clear up the confusion of any Yale alumni who may have assumed that Lee had the group’s endorsement. Meanwhile, Chauncey’s committee had spent $80,000 in a direct effort to defeat Lee. Lee’s side had spent only $55,000.

The local New Haven Register also weighed in on the issue.

Maya Lin won.

Notes on the Numbers

A first glance at the chart we posted below about alumni participation rates in the Dartmouth College Fund is fairly straight forward- the rates are declining generally, with some localized upticks. As a disclaimer, we do not claim to be experts in statistics and our work is unscientific. However, the raw data is straight forward and very descriptive.

First, it is unfortunate that we don't have data from before 1980. Though we somewhat doubt that those numbers don't exist, it's likely that the task of accumulating and presenting them in the database would be a difficult task. Still, though, if they do exist, let it be said here first that the college should release that data. Second, alumni participation rates are, like any statistic, subject to manipulation and problems of definition. The data set includes a number of "runs" where for at least four years in a row, the rate was exactly 70%- a possible but unlikely scenario. Third, the energy expended in general outreach greatly affects giving rates. For example, the college currently is campaigning (almost desperately) to get its participation rates back up. On its own website, it advertises that the participation goal is 50%. In other words, the college is hoping that 50% of its alums still care enough about it to send in as little as $1. Twenty years ago, Dartmouth averaged 65% steadily, with a far less robust fundraising apparatus.

Also notable in the data (at least to our eyes) is that general economic effect is muted. The late 1990's saw only a minimal rise, and the drop off after was, instead of precipitous like the economy, more in line with the general slow downward trend. All in all, we don't know enough about this data to say that our observations reflect the true nature of the fundraising beast, and anyone with a better handle on the mechanics here is welcomed and encouraged to get in touch with us. But it is interesting food for thought.

One observation we would make is that Freedman was an unmitigated disaster from a fundraising standpoint. Though alumni giving rates have somewhat suffered at all institutions (the reason for which is likely similar to the one at Dartmouth), Freedman presided over a decline of 10% nominally, or 15% of the total, and was unable in 11 years to stem the tide at all, despite being president during a time of record economic growth. Jim Wright may or may not have inherited an empire in decline, and we would argue that it is too soon yet to say definitively one way or the other. However, the general trend is not encouraging, especially in the years since his enormously unpopular Student Life Initiative.

Though we don't question the intent of every administrator to improve Dartmouth, the question every alum should ask themselves is, can Dartmouth afford to keep people who allowed this trend?

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Alumni Support

We here at Voices are trying to provide the clearest picture of Dartmouth's true state right now as possible. Right now that picture is as clear as mud. To that end, we are looking for as many concrete numbers regarding Dartmouth's financial and alumni giving pictures as possible, and welcome any and all sources.

The current trustee election revolves around one central factor, and that is alumni representation. Because most alums are busy living the lives Dartmouth so well prepared them to lead, they have little time to pay attention to daily happenings in Hanover, and even less time to oversee administrative minutia. Therefore, as the saying goes, they most often speak with their wallets. A good measure, then, is the percentage participation in the Dartmouth College Fund, which should reflect general alumni sentiment. A strong organization, as Alumni for a Strong Dartmouth and the current administration claim Dartmouth is today, would tend to exhibit healthy giving, one would think.

Unfortunately, as far as we know, the college does not provide overall giving statistics except in absolute dollars, which tends to be a misleading statistic. (Our post below illustrates that to some degree, as in absolute dollars, it's difficult to tell where exactly Dartmouth falls. Who really is its peer group?) So, we went to the trouble of assembling the yearly data by averaging each class's data, which is available here. Now that we're completely cross-eyed and crippled with carpal tunnel, here's what it looks like:

Does this look like the picture of a strong organization to you? Posted by Hello

Out in the Open

Removing any and all pretense of subtlety (or decorum), the Alumni for a Strong Dartmouth site has revised it's lead page, and now explicity endorses the Alumni Council (and hence, college) slate of candidates, and further disparages the petition cadidates. Also, the language in their 'Issues' section has been revised to prop up administrative claims and pillory Robinson and Zywicki wherever possible. How this is not a clear and flagrant violation of election rules is beyond us. One half expects a bus load of former council members and trustees to pile out onto the green chanting "hell no, we won't go." This effort is as transparent as it is disturbing.

It bears repeating that this site does NOT endorse any candidate or slate. We do, however, fully support open governance at Dartmouth, which means transparency in Dartmouth finance and hiring, a vote for every alum in every Alumni Trustee election, and honesty from the college in stating its goals. Otherwise, you can't have our money so don't ask.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Fundraising Funnybusiness

As alumni are now acutely aware, Dartmouth recently launched a $1.3 billion capital campaign, the "Campaign for the Dartmouth Experience." The Daily D recently ran an article (here) claiming that Dartmouth currently ranks 19th in higher education in total dollars raised for the past year. However, this claim is misleading. The list The Dartmouth uses (no source available in the article) is actually just private institutions. Including public institutions, Dartmouth is 36th, behind North Carolina State at Raleigh, the University of Utah, and the University of Tennessee. Here is the list:

1 Harvard University 540,333,491
2 Leland Stanford Junior University 524,213,993
3 Cornell University 385,936,235
4 University of Pennsylvania 332,829,949
5 University of Southern California 322,090,595
6 Johns Hopkins University 311,573,165
7 Columbia University 290,618,180
8 MIT 289,838,445
9 Yale University 264,771,841
10. Univ of California, Los Angeles 262,148,586
11. Duke University 254,999,006
12 Univ. of Texas at Austin 252,175,348
13 Indiana University 248,458,068
14 University of Minnesota 245,682,841
15 New York University 214,863,578
16 Univ of California, San Francisco 213,996,780
17. University of Michigan 206,165,782
18. Ohio State University 203,273,515
19. University of Washington 195,762,442
20. UNC at Chapel Hill 186,934,586
21. Univ of California, Berkeley 178,005,169
22 University of Notre Dame 171,054,928
23 University of Virginia 166,297,512
24 Purdue University 166,241,791
25 University of Chicago 156,512,538
26 Pennsylvania State University 148,463,526
27 North Carolina State at Raleigh 135,151,296
28 Northwestern University 134,833,068
29 Emory University 134,270,539
30 University of Utah 134,255,322
31 University of Florida 132,713,358
32 University of Tennessee 121,988,832
33 Princeton University 125,052,997
34 Washington University 121,319,754
35 Vanderbilt University 121,286,772
36 Dartmouth College 116,575,110

Both the author of the Daily D article and a college representative downplay this issue, and the college official claims that Dartmouth's small size and liberal arts focus make it less comparable to even their (shorter) list.

Beside the fact that it is alarming that Dartmouth is ranked this low in fundraising and is the second to last Ivy, ahead of only Brown, the article also points out that 2004 was relatively better only because of a dismal 2003. The opening sentence in the D article makes the interesting claim that the campaign may be "long overdue," however, is it really the campaign itself that is overdue? A better interpretation of this information might be that the college is failing to inspire its alums and other backers to support it, a dire predicament indeed.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Reactionaries Deconstructed

As we posted earlier, Susan Ackerman '80, Professor of Religion and Women's Studies, has apparently been openly campaigning for the College's slate of candidates. Chien Wen Kung examines, and shall we say, deconstructs, her arguments here.

Keeping track of the mushrooming ad hominem attacks on the petition candidates is difficult, and a waste of time. As Kung points out, the "insurgents'" proposals are echoed by many of the other candidates, and are not really radical at all . Where the petition candidates differ from the others is in their appraisal of Dartmouth's current direction, financial standing and leadership. It remains to be seen whether any of the establishment figures even want to debate those topics on merit, and we will be pleasantly surprised if they do.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Why It's Not a Frat Thing

In a post on FreeDartmouth.com, Dartmouth's progressive/liberal voice on campus, author Tim Waligore writes, "Now, if the case for the petitioner candidates has a general appeal and it also has an appeal about frats or 'conservatism' that I disagree with, I (or other liberal alums like me) could be willing to overlook that. Specifically saying a person is not acceptable is somewhat larger gap. But if the entire case for the candidate seems to revolve around issues I disagree with, then what do I to have to vote for?"

Because the overarching issue of these election is about freedom of speech, the appeal of the petition candidates transcends traditional Greek-affiliated and political lines. A vote FOR a petition candidate is not a vote for narrow issues such as "frats" and "conservatism." There's more.

In candid and eloquent interviews via webvideo, the petition candidates discuss the freedom of speech issue and make appealing arguments for themselves here (Robinson) and here (Zywicki). The videos and statements of other trustee candidates can be viewed here.


It has come to our attention that the email to the alumni body by trustee candidate Ric Lewis '84 was not the only email that alumni should have received last Thursday.

There have been several isolated reports from alumni who received the Lewis email but not the email of petition candidate Todd Zywicki '88, which was scheduled for distribution on the same day. Some have received both emails, and some have received only the Lews one.

Voices in the Wilderness is trying to determine the scope of the problem. A plea to readers: can you let us know whether you received both Lewis's and Zywicki's emails?

Please email theneophyte2005@yahoo.com with your comments and feedback on this or any other Dartmouth-related matters. You can also respond here.

Friday, March 11, 2005

The Email the College Did Not Want You to See

The pre-censored version of petition candidate Todd Zywicki's email to the alumni body is here. He builds his case on the needs of actual students, and cites articles in The D to support his assertions. Yes, articles, not op-eds. Apparently, the administration took issue with his references to an article from 1999, saying that the student journalist "misrepresented" the facts.

I just tried to link to each of the articles in The D, but I keep a getting a "Sorry, the article you're trying to find does not exist in our database" prompt. Hmmm.

"Gray Area"

Yesterday's Valley News reports that a Dartmouth professor of religion and women's studies, and who is also a Dartmouth alumna, wrote an email from her account urging her colleagues and friends to vote against the petition candidates for trustee. She wrote that Peter Robinson '79 and Todd Zywicki '88 represent “the same sorts of reactionary ideologies as were represented in last year's elections by [T.J.] Rodgers.”

(If you read the article on T.J. Rodgers posted below, you might ask yourself how anyone who pledges $250,000 to help a children's hospital and whose least favorite person is John Ashcroft is a "reactionary.")

Further, she writes that "both petition candidates, in short, seem to me to long nostalgically for some ‘Dear Old Dartmouth' of the past, without admitting the idealized past they crave represents a Dartmouth that was often hard on women, gays and lesbians, and minorities; monolithic in terms of its social life; and fostered an anti-intellectual environment.”

In "short"? That speculation seems somewhat strong for two men who articulate their priorities as freedom of speech and a renewed focus on undergraduate education.

According to the Valley News article, "A Dartmouth spokesman said employees can use their e-mails for personal correspondence; John Walters, the president of the Association of Alumni and the chairman of the Balloting Committee, said Ackerman's e-mail fell in a 'gray area' between a college employee interjecting herself into the campaign and her own right, as an alumna, to express her views."

The question shouldn't be about whether this professor can express her views on the election. The question is why she is campaigning AGAINST two legitimate nominees rather than FOR another particular candidate who best represents her opinions.

An election with "no effort to garner votes"

Since the parameters of "campaigning" and "electioneering" in the Trustee Election are being closely monitored these days, here is the Dartmouth policy, word for word. My question is, can this policy be fairly enforced, and is it a restriction on freedom of speech?

You can decide for yourselves:


"All candidates will be allowed to send out two emails to the alumni body during the election. The emails will be subject to the review and approval of the Balloting Committee. The Association of Alumni will be responsible for distributing the emails. Campaigning by the candidate or his/her supporters beyond the two emails is inappropriate. Campaigning is defined as any effort to garner votes and may take the form of written, electronic or telephone communications. It is the responsibility of the candidate to communicate the dignity of the trustee nomination process to his or her supporters and to honor the spirit and the guidelines of the process. All candidates are expected to take reasonable steps to discourage their supporters from campaigning on their behalf. Candidates who in the judgment of the Balloting Committee violate this expectation may be identified as having done so in the material which accompanies the ballots as well as other public venues, such as the alumni website on the internet. In addition, the Balloting Committee may notify the Board of Trustees of the violation, and the Board may choose to take this information into consideration when acting on the alumni trustee nomination."

A Reader Comments

After reading Trustee candidate Ric Lewis 84's assertion that he lost the previous Trustee Election by just 12 votes, a Dartmouth '99 has written in with the following question:

"When Ric Lewis comments that he lost by only 12 votes, I want to know where he got this information, since when I
called Blunt to ask about TJ Rodgers's margin of victory at the close of the last election, they said that information was only available to the Balloting Committee -- do you know if that was a lie or misinformation?"

Does anyone have the answer? Recently, when I asked several Alumni Council members about TJ Rodgers's majority vote in a four-way election, they immediately corrected me and noted that the actual results are never revealed and no one can know if it was a "majority." (Still, it's not hard to imagine that TJ won rather handily). Even though we'll never know by how much TJ won, someone saw fit to tell Rick exactly by how much he had lost.

"One Rising in Revolt Against Constituted Authority"

The word "insurgent" is getting a lot of use in Hanover these days. In his op-ed posted below, Frank Gado '58 deconstructs its meaning.

But, the term seems to be becoming more popular. Last month, I attended an alumni event at Dartmouth, where an Alumni Council leader publicly referred to a group known as Dartmouth Alumni for Open Governance, or DAOG, as a "renegade" and "insurgent" organization. Even though I have no knowledge of DAOG, those words struck me as pretty extreme for a plenary luncheon in the Hanover Inn.

I googled DAOG, and could not locate an active Internet presence. Who is DAOG, and what have they done to deserve the "insurgent" label?

12 votes

Ric Lewis '84 ran for Alumni Trustee for two years ago -- but in his email to the Alumni Body, he states why he is running again:

"I agreed to stand election again because I feel I have witnessed a growing divide between too many of us with whom I am contact regularly and the College and its leadership."

This divide has been growing for over two years. Rick also states why every vote counts:

"While the actual results were not published in detail, I want those of us that supported my candidacy in that election to know that I lost that election by a handful of votes! In fact, I was told it was only 12 votes."

Close, indeed. Hopefully the upcoming election will not be reduced to recounts! The core of Ric's statement is this:

"I want to stem the feeling of disenfranchisement experienced by too many of our alumni and stop the fracturing of alumni support, monetary and otherwise, for the College. It is clear that there's a well-crafted plan for the future of the College but too many of have felt that we don't know its specifics and have not had a role in crafting that vision or plan. I don't see many justifiable reasons for this since we're asked to provide the bulk of the funding to make it happen."

"Well-crafted" may be a stretch, but at least Ric recognizes the lack of transparency and the frustration of alumni who are always asked to foot the bill for initiatives whose details are only begrudgingly revealed to them.

Freedom of Speech

This year, trustee candidates are permitted to send up to two emails to the alumni body to communicate their "individual perspectives on different issues pertaining to the trustee elections."

According the College, the emails "have not been edited by the College or the Balloting Committee of the Association of Alumni. While the Committee may contact candidates to discuss any concerns it may have about the accuracy of the text of the email, the candidates have the final decision as to the content of their messages."

However, Dartblog is reporting that the proposed email of a petition candidate was rejected because the administration did not agree with a news source that he cited. In its rejection, the College said that it "did have a serious concern with one paragraph of your email, dealing with the discussion regarding the announcement of the Student Life Initiative and the article in the Dartmouth to which you made several references." This email can be read in full here.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

No Seriously, Tell Us What You REALLY Think

Yesterday's Daily D offered a feast of passionate opinion, so check it out, here. Of special note is N. Alex Tonelli '06's op-ed, which does not mince words.

A Day in the Life....

For a personal glimpse of the men and women serving on the Dartmouth Board of Trustees, we'll from time to time provide some background on current Trustees and go beyond the impressive biographies offered on the Dartmouth website.

In January 2005, a reporter from the San Francisco Chronicle followed Dartmouth Trustee and Cypress Semiconductor CEO T.J Rodgers for a day. The article documents everything from his bold personality and leadership style to his passion for wine and the Green Bay Packers. And, you can even find out what T.J. thinks of "American Idol" and "The Apprentice."

UPDATE: Trustee Rodgers recently authored an op-ed on Dartmouth's speech codes and the right to express minority views on campus. For those who don't already know, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), ranks Dartmouth as "worst-case" on their freedom-of-speech index.

This just in...

Dartmouth students have just begun that period known as Spring Break, giving them plenty of time to sleep one off...err, I mean, study for the exams prior to that break. This also means that the Daily D has stopped publishing for the term, which leads me to this post. This letter was forwarded to us, and serves as a rejoinder to the letter published March 1st in the D authored by Geoff Berlin (a prominent figure in the Alumni for a Strong Dartmouth site). The author of this letter is Frank Gado '58, and we post it unedited, enjoy.

Sent to The Dartmouth
March 8, 2005
By Frank Gado'58 (email: [__])
Geoffrey Berlin's guest column of March 1 exemplifies the very sin of misleading he imputes to petition candidates Peter Robinson and Todd Zywicki. When, in his opening argument, Berlin says that the candidates are "inclined" to mislead, that "inclined," by slipping the ballast of substantiation, leads him to soar into an airy array of silly inferences His ploy is analogous to claiming that someone who criticizes the Pentagon's planning for post-invasion Iraq is "inclined" to persuade others that American soldiers are cowards. Shame on you, Geoff! Robinson and Zywicki can and should speak for themselves in rebutting Berlin--I am not their spokesman, and they will not be vetting my comments. But Berlin's attack on the petition candidates for expressing concern over Dartmouth's academic direction so troubles me that I must raise my own objection. Berlin dismisses Zywicki's call to "resist efforts to transform Dartmouth into a research university at the expense of its undergraduate focus" as balderdash. After all, he says, hasn't President Wright made that "clear" by stating, "I have regularly insisted that Dartmouth provides the strongest undergraduate education in the country. This is our legacy and this is our ambition-and this is our niche. Why would we seek to be anyone but Dartmouth College." Well, no, actually it isn't so clear. Wright has repeatedly and recently declared that "Dartmouth is a university in all but name," and the tide loosed by his predecessor and swollen by his own administration unquestionably indicates sustained movement toward operating as a university. Indeed, one finds recurrent instances of "Dartmouth University" in the institution's own statements.

But the question isn't really about a name; rather, it refers to a growing emphasis on promoting graduate study in departments outside the structures of the Medical School, Tuck, and Thayer, and on defining "research" in terms of winning funding through grants. Nothing in Wright's speeches in Denver and Chicago reflects a disposition to curb the influence of graduate programs-or even to weigh their adverse effects. On the contrary: the evidence suggests that Wright regards the promotion of graduate study as an asset to "the strongest undergraduate education in the country," and that the Dartmouth College he seeks may very well turn out to be indistinguishable from a university. Far from being reckless, Zywicki's statement is fully warranted, and the incompatibility that alarms him is scarcely a figment in the mind of someone trying to "disparage" the College. The New England Association of Schools and Colleges, a cautious and highly temperate organization which reviews its member institutions every decade, has pointed to Dartmouth's ambivalence over whether it wants to be a college or a university as a problem in its last two reports. To be sure, the choice of either as the dominant model involves complex factors, yet one peers in vain through the cotton candy blizzard of publicity blown at alumni for any acknowledgment of the critical, and urgent, decision hanging over the College. This trustee election has also developed a second overarching issue that strikes to the very heart of what Dartmouth is and will be. From the moment the two petitioners qualified as candidates, a small group of alumni has isolated them as targets for opprobrium. Although these alumni have electronically distributed messages bearing different names as authors, the attacks employ the same language, and are even arranged in the same order. Were I still an active faculty member, and had these messages been submitted to me in a course, the prima facie case for plagiarism would justify disciplinary action. Yet lack of originality is of minor importance when compared to the apparent cause underlying their meanness of spirit: the fact that Robinson and Zywicki won their places on the ballot through the petition route instead of through the nominating committee of the Alumni Council.

Albeit facetiously, Berlin compliments the petition candidates for their "spirit of democracy"; the others in his cohort, however, have loosed a petulance that bespeaks a real fear of the democratic process. Immediately after Robinson and Zywicki qualified, a body calling itself the Association for a Strong Dartmouth suddenly appeared, with Geoff Berlin listed as its web site's "registrant." The same Berlin who accuses the petition candidates of misleading alumni evidently had no qualms about making the site appear to be officially sanctioned by the College, or about affecting neutrality while loading its initial statement against those not nominated through the Alumni Council. At approximately the same time, Mary Conway and Belinda Chiu, both of whom are also AFSD sponsors, were disseminating markedly more vitriolic e-mails, characterizing Robinson and Zywicki as "renegade" (defined in my dictionary as a "traitor, apostate, turncoat, deserter" ), "insurgent" ("one rising in revolt against constituted authority"), and bent on trying to "hijack" the Board of Trustees. If language, in this age of deconstruction, still has meaning, these descriptions are surely misleading. The petition candidates scrupulously followed the rules established by constituted authority for getting on the ballot, and their loyalty to their alma mater is unassailable. As to "hijacking": from whom would the election of either or both candidates be stealing? The alumni being polled? The Alumni Council's nominating committee serves a useful function, but, like any small group that steers a much larger organization, it tends toward self-replication, conformity, and isolation from the general temper. For this reason, a democratic process requires some means by which a substantial body within that larger organization can contest the policies and direction determined by the small group. The candidates for the Dartmouth's Board of Trustees issue from the Alumni Association, not just the Council, and the petition procedure is the device allowing the aggregate alumni to check the Council in its presumption to speak for them. Terms like "renegade," "insurgent," and "hijack" being flung at Robinson and Zywicki betray a worrisome disposition to abridge or possibly even eliminate the franchise currently enjoyed by all alumni. If there were no other reason to vote for the petition candidates in this election, reinforcement of the alumni's right to express dissent would be more than sufficient.


Vox Clamantis in Deserto. A more apt motto for Dartmouth could not be penned. But what is Dartmouth, beyond a voice crying in the wilderness? To mangle a famous phrase: above all, it is and should be a small college, devoted to its roots and those who love it. With that in mind, we began this forum in the hope that it can be a place where all views on the subject are discussed, weighed and valued in a true marketplace of ideas. There are already many sites where debate has been joined, but this one is singular in purpose and devoid of the baggage that comes with other causes. We welcome any and all thoughts regarding Dartmouth, and hope that better understanding of all positions will result.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Who Cares?

It's a good question. You've graduated. Why bother to follow events at Dartmouth? Why bother to learn more about the governance of your alma mater, when your college years are behind you?

For one thing, you are probably still paying your student loans. Maybe you have finished paying your loans and are still recovering from how much money you spent. Or, maybe you got a real job after graduation and have not only finished paying your student loans, but have even made a donation to the College. Are you interested to know how that money is being used? Do you care if it is invested judiciously? Would you care if your money did not go to education, or to the improvement of student life, but to administrative bureaucracy?

You have made personal and financial sacrifices for Dartmouth. What say do you have in its future? What rights do you have as a donor?

Do you think that your views are in the minority? Don't be so sure. Don't be silent anymore. The discussion has begun.

The Lay of the Land

As most interested parties are aware, there have been many developments regarding Dartmouth's administration recently. The firing of John Lyons and subsequent surfacing of Karl Furstenberg's letter and the ongoing trustee elections are the most poignant examples. Many comments have been made to this point, at sites far more eloquent than this.

The controversy regarding John Lyons and Dean Furstenberg has been covered ably by Bill Wellstead '63 here. We would encourage, for those interested, a thorough perusing of his site, there are many salient bits and opinions buried a month or so ago.

Regarding the trustee election, there have been many who have opined, most notably Free Dartmouth (the blog of the Free Press, a liberal student newspaper), Dartlog (the blog of the Dartmouth Review) and at Dartblog (a general topic blog run by an '08). In keeping with the spirit of these elections, this site takes no active position supporting or detracting from any candidate in those elections. It should be noted that another site, Alumni for a Strong Dartmouth, has done just that, staking out a position in favor of the four candidates nominated by the current powers that be, namely Sheila Cheston '81, Gregg Engles '79, Ric Lewis '84 and Curtis Welling '77. The other two candidates, both nominated by petition, are Todd Zywicki '88 and Peter Robinson '79. Cadidate statements and electronic voting are available here, and you can also e-mail the candidates if you have a real desire to fill your inbox with mountains of politically correct college administrative goobledygook and gelatinous, gratuitous generallities. For a more definitive take on their positions, check out the above links and stay tuned to this site.

As we at this site are a little late to the party, we won't attempt to rehash the last few months in too much detail, but will pick up the debate where it stands today, while also attempting to reach deeper into the history of the past few decades to lay out some broader context. Once again, any and all memories (no matter how hazy or soggy) and opinions (diatribes included) are welcome. And now, on with the show...


Mic check...