Voices in the Wilderness

A forum for discussion of all things Dartmouth.

Friday, March 18, 2005

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.