State denies control over College’s charter
By William Schpero, The Dartmouth Staff
Published on Wednesday, February 13, 2008
CONCORD, N.H. -- Legislation that would allow the state of New Hampshire to halt potential changes to Dartmouth's charter was rejected, 14-1, by the House Commerce Committee on Tuesday afternoon. The representative who introduced the bill reserved the right to "try again in another session."
All bills introduced in the New Hampshire House of Representatives must appear before the full House.
The Commerce Committee's finding that the bill is "inexpedient to legislate," however, makes it unlikely the House will pass the bill into law.
"We are very pleased that the full Commerce Committee recommended against passage of HB 1292, and we look forward to action by the full House," Robert Donin, Dartmouth's general counsel, said.
The Commerce Committee's decision follows a Jan. 18 hearing that included testimony from a number of College officials and state political leaders.
"I saw nothing in the testimony which said we should re-involve ourselves," Rep. Stephen Spratt, D-Hillsborough, said on Tuesday.
Rep. Maureen Mooney, R-Hillsborough, introduced the bill in November to "be sure that the alumni of Dartmouth College feel that its history is being adequately preserved and maintained."
"It certainly isn't the first bill I put in that got killed," Mooney said. "If we have to, we'll try again in another session."
Mooney has said in past interviews with The Dartmouth that she introduced the bill at the urging of several alumni who are upset about the recent governance changes.
Although she would not reveal the identities of these alumni at that time, in an interview following Tuesday's event, Mooney said several had attended the Jan. 10 hearing.
Alumni present on Jan. 10 included Joe Asch '79 and John MacGovern '80, both of whom have criticized College policies.
Asch denied having spoken with Mooney prior to the Jan. 10 hearing.
MacGovern could not be reached for comment by press time.
In 2003, the state granted the College the right to amend its charter without the state's involvement, as long as the governor served as an ex-officio member on Dartmouth's Board of Trustees.
The bill would force the College to obtain permission from the state before altering its charter. This fall's governance changes, including the addition of eight new members to the Board of Trustees, would, therefore, require New Hampshire's approval.
The alumni proved more successful last week, when Grafton County Superior Court Judge Timothy Vaughan denied the College's motion to dismiss a lawsuit by the Association of Alumni on Feb. 4. The suit, which primarily seeks an injunction barring the addition of the eight trustees, will now go to trial.