No petition candidates to run in AoA election
By Hank Nelson
Published on Tuesday, January 27, 2009
All current members of the Association of Alumni executive committee will run unopposed in their 2009 bids for reelection, according to Diana Lawrence, director of communications for the Office of Alumni Relations. No petition candidates indicated an intention to run for the commitee by the official deadline of 5 p.m. Monday.
The 2009 voting period, which will begin in March, comes a year after candidates critical of the previous Association's lawsuit against the College won election to all of the organization's leadership positions. The suit, which attempted to block the Board of Trustees from making changes to its structure, was withdrawn in June.
The Association's Committee on Nominations again nominated John Mathias '69 for president, Veree Hawkins Brown '93 for first vice president, Douglas Keare 56 '57 Th '57 Tu for second vice president and David Spalding '76 for secretary-treasurer.
Marian Zischke Baldauf '84, Cheryl Bascomb '82, John Engelman '68, Ronald Harris '71, Kaitlin Jaxheimer '05, Otho Kerr III '79, and Ronald Schram '64 were nominated as executive committee members. Spalding is the College's director of Alumni Relations.
The election will also serve as a referendum on an amendment to the alumni constitution that seeks to change the current process for electing alumni-selected members to the Board of Trustees.
The amendment calls for a one person, one vote system, ending the previous approval voting process, in which alumni could vote for an unlimited number of candidates. The amendment, if passed, would also allow the Alumni Council to nominate only one or two candidates for the Board, as opposed to the three required in the past. Although the Council-nominated candidates could theoretically face any number of petition candidates, traditionally, only one petition candidate has vied for any open seat on the Board. The amendment requires that candidates receive a majority of the votes to be elected. In races with more than two candidates where no candidate gains a majority of the vote, the top two candidates will participate in a runoff election.
Mathias said he believes the proposed system will make elections less biased.
"This amendment is the right thing to do," Mathias said. "We want to stop the arguing about the fairness of the elections."
The Board has said that it would take over administration of the alumni-trustee election process if the changes outlined in the amendment were not made.
Mathias said he believes passing the amendment is essential to continuing negotiations with the Board regarding parity between the number of alumni-elected and Board-selected trustees.
The Board's decision to move away from parity originally prompted the Association's fall 2007 lawsuit.
"This amendment boosts our case in our continued discussions with the trustees to get more alumni-elected trustees," Mathias said. "It's a must. If it doesn't pass, it will cut the legs right out from under us. It would be a significant step back."
The amendment must receive two-thirds of the vote to pass.
While Mathias said he is concerned that the amendment may fail, he said he was "gratified" that his slate will not face a costly campaign in the upcoming elections.
"If we have no opposition, then that alleviates a substantially expensive political campaign," Mathias said.
The 2008 election was very expensive for both slates, Mathias said, citing direct mailings to alumni as a particularly costly campaign tactic.
"When times were flush and when people had disposable income, it was still a lot of money," Mathias said. "This year, that money is precious. Spending money on alumni politics would be most unfortunate."
Mathias stressed the importance of alumni coming together to help the College during times of economic uncertainty.
"These are challenging [financial] times at Dartmouth and across the country," Mathias said. "Now is the time to be sending money to Hanover, and not diverting it away for alumni politics."
Calls to former Association executive committee member Frank Gado '58, who has often been critical of Mathias' positions, were not returned by press time.