Time For Alumni Unity
By John Mathias, Guest columnist and Association slate candidate for president of the Association of Alumni executive committee
Published on Tuesday, May 6, 2008
The most pressing issue facing Dartmouth today is the identification and recruitment of its next president. Dartmouth's next president must be committed to retaining a focus on undergraduate education while having the academic credibility, institutional vision and dynamic personality necessary to do the following: attract and retain a world-class faculty with exceptional credentials in their academies; inspire students to pursue excellence in all aspects of their Dartmouth experience; administer highly complex operations wisely and efficiently; and energize Dartmouth's alumni and benefactors to increase support of our beloved college.
A candidate with these credentials will be hard to find and may be even harder to recruit.
Consider the added difficulty of attracting the candidate Dartmouth needs while a divisive lawsuit creates instability and uncertainty, possibly for years, as layers of trial and appellate courts issue ultimately unpredictable rulings.
The petition slate of alumni candidates sponsored by the Hanover Institute and endorsed by The Dartmouth Review in the upcoming Association of Alumni elections has nevertheless vowed to continue pursuing the highly divisive and costly lawsuit filed against Dartmouth last October by a bare majority of the executive committee in the name of all alumni. Not only is this lawsuit diverting an estimated $2 million and other resources from undergraduate education, it is creating instability and disunity that will hamper Dartmouth's ability to attract the best candidates in the upcoming search for its next president. Simply put, this lawsuit is hurting Dartmouth a whole lot more than it is helping.
Suing each other is no way to resolve differences of alumni opinion about College governance. The Dartmouth family can address its internal issues without intervention by either the courts or the New Hampshire legislature, as one of the petition slate candidates recently sought but failed to achieve. Issues of alumni governance and "parity" should be addressed in constructive dialogue with the trustees, all of whom are our fellow Dartmouth alumni except the president and the Governor of New Hampshire. The trustees welcome such dialogue, and Dartmouth needs it, now more than ever.
Furthermore, all alumni have the right to know the identities and motives of the anonymous, outside interests that are financing this lawsuit against Dartmouth. The petition slate does not agree with this and will continue blindly accept financing from anonymous sources with no accountability for the welfare of Dartmouth. To this day no one on the petition slate has come forward to identify with clarity exactly who is financing this lawsuit. Not until they were recently exposed by the editors of The Dartmouth did they own up to the fact that they have been receiving support all along from non-Dartmouth organizations with conservative agendas.
I am running for president of the Association of Alumni on a slate that includes members who voted for petition candidates in past elections and others who voted for Alumni Council nominees; we have members who worked hard to save, reform and strengthen the Greek system following the Student Life Initiative; and we have members who have at times forcefully disagreed with actions of the Board and administration. Although we are as independent as any candidates who have ever run for these offices, we decline to adopt the polarizing "independents vs. loyalists" or "independents vs. insiders" rhetoric all too often heard in recent alumni elections. We believe loyalty to Dartmouth is a good thing and that we all became lifetime "insiders" at Dartmouth the moment we matriculated.
I believe in the excellence of Dartmouth and the incomparable experience it offers to each successive generation of students who are privileged to attend. Dartmouth today is a better place than it has ever been -- and it has been exceptionally good for all of us. We want future generations of students to enjoy and benefit from their unique Dartmouth experiences as much as we did. Now is the time for alumni unity. Dartmouth's future depends upon it.