Alumni Council selects candidates for Board of Trustees
By Greg Berger, The Dartmouth Staff
Published on Friday, December 4, 2009
Dartmouth's Alumni Council nominated Morton Kondracke '60 and John Replogle '88 to seek election to the College's Board of Trustees on Friday. Alumni may still enter the race for the two open seats on the Board via petition until Feb. 4, 2010.
Voting will occur from March 10 to April 7, 2010.
Kondracke, a well-known journalist and political commentator, is the executive editor of Roll Call, the Washington, D.C. newspaper, and previously served as the Washington bureau chief for Newsweek. Kondracke was an original panelist on "The McLaughlin Group," the political discussion television show, and served as a panelist for the 1984 Reagan-Mondale presidential debate.
Kondracke is the best-selling author of "Saving Milly: Love, Politics and Parkinson's Disease," a story about his experience with his wife's battle with the disease. The book was adapted for a made-for-TV movie in 2005.
As a student, Kondracke was the president of The Dartmouth and an English major.
Kondracke, in an interview with The Dartmouth on Friday, said he had been asked by the Council twice before to run for alumni-elected positions on the Board of Trustees, but declined both offers.
The prior system, in which the Alumni Council would nominate three candidates for each open seat on the Board, created too much competition among both the Council-nominated and petition-nominated candidates, Kondracke said. The Council nominated only one candidate for each vacant seat for this round of voting.
"The three Council nominees would be basically running against each other as well as the petition candidate," Kondracke said. "There was virtually no chance. A former trustee said it was a waste of time for me to [run for the position on the Board] and that I would just get beat, so why bother?"
Kondracke also said that he did not have enough time in the past to serve on the Board between television appearances and other work obligations that he explained have since declined.
Kondracke said he believes his experience with national politics will help him succeed as a member of the Board, if elected.
"I think that the main theme is ‘enough already,’" Kondracke said, comparing Dartmouth’s own governance struggles to those he has witnessed in Washington, D.C. "What’s happened on Capitol Hill is that nobody can get anything done...They spend all their time trying to defeat each other and trying to thwart each other, and the big problems of country just don't get solved. The Dartmouth governance issue has begun to resemble what happens between the parties in Congress — and it ain't good."
Kondracke said that, if elected, he would join the Board with an open mind regarding both sides of the Dartmouth governance debate and seek to take an “analytical” and “non-ideological” approach.
"I'm going to be independent, I'm not going to be the administration candidate or establishment candidate," Kondracke said. "I want to be positive, I want to be constructive, to have an end to the divisiveness."
Replogle is currently the president and chief executive officer of Burt's Bees, a global personal care company. Previously the president of Guinness Bass Import Company, Replogle began his business career at the Boston Consulting Group. Replogle was a member of Student Assembly and Bones Gate fraternity while a student at the College, and served as vice president for his class.
Replogle emphasized in an interview on Friday that both his business background and personal experience within the Dartmouth community would help him serve well on the Board, if elected.
Replogle said that, as a potential trustee, he looks forward to contributing to the College by supporting its educational mission, promoting financial stewardship and building upon Dartmouth's physical plant. He also said that he hopes to improve the College's overall sustainability.
Both Kondracke and Replogle said they are opposed to current alumni lawsuit against the Board of Trustees, the second legal challenge to the Board’s fall 2007 decision to increase its size, ending the balance between the number of trustees selected by the Board and elected by alumni.
"The idea of [the College] spending one million dollars to defend a lawsuit against seven alumni strikes me as a huge waste of resources," Kondracke said. "I think that the filers ought to consider the damage they are doing to the College by filing the lawsuit."
Kondracke and Replogle, however, also said they need to hear further arguments before they can formulate an official opinion on the issue of parity between alumni-elected and Board-appointed trustees.
"My heart tells me that parity is the right thing, so my heart says that that is where I would gravitate to, and yet I need to listen," Replogle said. "I need to hear how the Board reached its decision before I form a position or opinion on it."
Replogle suggested that the College take a "zero-based budget approach" — building the budget by starting at zero and then adding new expenses in terms of their priority — to address the target $100 million budget cuts announced earlier this term.
The Council elected to nominate only one candidate for each open position on the Board for the spring 2010 trustee race in order to better facilitate competition with petition candidates, Tom Daniels '82, chair of the Alumni Council Nominating and Alumni Trustee Search Committee, said in a previous interview with The Dartmouth.
"Since we need to nominate our slate first, there is no way around it," Daniels told The Dartmouth on Friday. "The only way we could absolutely assure there would be head-to-head competition [with petition candidates] would be to nominate only one."