Gordon-Reed ’81 to become new Trustee
By Grace Afsari Mamagani, The Dartmouth Staff
Published on Monday, November 8, 2010
The Dartmouth Board of Trustees selected Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Annette Gordon-Reed ’81 to fill the seat vacated by outgoing Trustee Al Mulley ’70 at its November meeting, according to College President Jim Yong Kim. The Board also approved a plan to renovate the Hanover Inn by Commencement 2012, Kim said in an interview with The Dartmouth.
Gordon-Reed, a history professor in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University, also holds teaching positions at Harvard Law School and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study.
She received a Pulitzer Prize and a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship, among other awards, for her research on slavery during the foundation of the United States, Kim said. Her book, “The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family,” traces the history of several generations of the slave family owned by Thomas Jefferson.
“We didn’t have to deliberate for very long,” Kim said. “She’s one of the really superstar scholars in the United States who both does legal work and is a historian.”
Gordon-Reed — who will attend her first Board meeting in February 2011 — will replace Mulley when he becomes director of the newly created Dartmouth Center for Health Care Delivery Science on Nov. 15, according to Kim.
Gordon-Reed’s election comes in the wake of recent efforts to increase the diversity of the Board of Trustees. When Texan Trevor Rees-Jones ’73 was appointed in June, then-Board Chairman Ed Haldeman ’70 stressed his contribution to the Board’s regional diversity.
At the time, Kim said the Board would seek to incorporate more members from academia and other under-represented fields.
“We don’t have that many academics on the board, and we definitely wanted that,” Board Chairman Stephen Mandel ’78 said in an interview with The Dartmouth. “We need different people representing different ages, different geographies, men, women, people who know something about investing, people who know something about medicine, people who know something about academic enterprise.”
Gordon-Reed graduated from Dartmouth with a degree in history and earned a law degree from Harvard in 1984, according to the press release. She currently sits on the Enrollment and Admissions committee, as well as the Student Affairs committee of the Alumni Council.
“We’re thrilled to have her,” Kim said. “She’s been a member of the Alumni Council, and she’s a very active member of the Black Alumni of Dartmouth.”
The Board also agreed on a plan to renovate the Hanover Inn, in light of its financial troubles over the past several years, Kim said.
Improvements will likely include the addition of 16 guest rooms, changes to the lobby and dining areas, and relocation of administrative areas. The changes will result in a drop in operating costs and improvements to the building’s energy efficiency, according to the press release. The Inn will also upgrade the technology available in its meeting spaces.
“We have known for a very long time that the Hanover Inn needed to be renovated,” Kim said. “If you go back into the kitchen, if you look at the systems, it’s needed an update for a very long time.”
The construction project — estimated to cost $13 million dollars — will be budget-neutral, Kim said. Funds for the project will come partly from the sale of the Minary Conference Center, which the College placed on the market in July, The Dartmouth previously reported. The College has received a loan from a local bank to finance the remainder of the renovation, Kim said.
The cost of the loan will be covered by future revenue from the Inn, according to the press release.
“I think part of the reason we didn’t [renovate earlier] was we didn’t have a clear path to finance the whole thing in a way that would not take away from anything else on campus,” Kim said. “Just like the ’53 Commons — one of the issues in terms of renovating Thayer [Dining Hall] is we needed a source of money, we needed to find a way to do it so it would be budget neutral.”
The College will oversee a bidding process for firms hoping to manage the renovations and will choose a proposal offering the lowest cost and highest quality of work, according to Kim. The efforts will increase the value of the Hanover Inn, “benefitting both the College and the local economy,” Kim said in the press release.
“We did some studies that asked the question, ‘OK, so if we don’t renovate now, what are the implications going forward?’” Kim said. “We found that if we don’t renovate, it would cost us as much as $1 million a year in losses.”
The projected is scheduled to begin after Commencement 2011 and should be completed within a year, he said. The Inn will not be closed during the renovation.
Student life issues, including on-campus gathering spaces and the issue of binge drinking, also arose during the Board meeting, according to Kim.
The trustees discussed expanding the availability of communal spaces to promote collaboration between students, faculty and community members, citing One Wheelock — a student-managed lounge in the basement of the Collis Center — as a successful example, according to the press release.
Kim spoke with the trustees about his recent efforts to have students and faculty collaborate on improving student lifestyles, he said.
“I did simply inform the Board about the conversations I’ve been having with student groups and also with the faculty,” Kim said. “The Board was very supportive of us taking a leadership role in tackling the twin issues of binge drinking and sexual assault.”