The Board of Trustees announced the election of T.J. Rodgers ’70 as an alumni trustee Wednesday, following a two-month long nomination process by Dartmouth alumni that ended Saturday.
Rodgers, who was placed on the alumni ballot by petition in March, seized the nomination over three candidates chosen by the Alumni Council’s nominating committee.
Throughout the voting process, Rodgers was considered the anti-establishment candidate. He openly criticized the direction of the College and its current administration, and expressed great concern with issues of free speech at Dartmouth.
While he has openly disagreed with the establishment on matters of College policy, Rodgers said he is prepared to cooperate with trustees.
Board Chair Susan Dentzer ’77 expressed enthusiasm about Rodgers’ election, and told The Dartmouth she was not concerned by his distinct views and opinions.
“When one is not closely involved in the governance of Dartmouth as trustees are, one develops perceptions that do not mesh completely with reality — and that’s understandable,” Dentzer said. “This is a process we all went through — I went through it. Mr. Rodgers will probably go through the same.”
Tyrone Byrd ’73, who led the Alumni Council nominating committee, accepted the alumni body’s nomination of Rodgers over the Council’s chosen candidates, and acknowledged there were lessons learned.
“Given this experience, the nominating committee will endeavor to get better insight about the alumni body’s preferred profile for slates of candidates in future elections. I honestly believe we did that, but the vote speaks for itself,” Byrd said.
In an interview with The Dartmouth, Rodgers said he felt confident about his candidacy throughout the process, because several alumni had approached him and announced their support because he was “not the establishment candidate.” Rodgers attributed this as an indication of alumni looking for change.
When asked whether he expects a disadvantage in joining the Board with such a high profile and documented opposition, Rodgers said thus far he has received “straightforward and honest” congratulations from Dentzer and College President James Wright.
As for the response of his fellow trustees, Rodgers said he thinks they will “wait and see.”
“Unlike what many may think, I do not plan to come into town and make a lot of noise,” Rodgers said. “I plan to be a well-behaved boy.”
Rodgers did say he would openly discuss matters of free speech, judicial procedure and curriculum at the College through campus forums, but as potential trustee, he long ago agreed to adhere to the trustee oath he criticized as being a free speech infringement in his candidate statement.
“My views will be reported as a trustee, but I’ve agreed to speak for myself, and in confidentiality on board matters,” he said.
Rodgers will join the Board in June, upon the retirement of Peter Fahey ’68 from the Board after a 10-year tenure.
The recent election of two charter trustees, in addition to Rodgers’ appointment, will increase the size of the Board from 16 to 17, the first growth of the Board since amending its charter to add six seats scheduled over the course of the next decade.