Mitchell Kurz ’73, unanimously selected by the Alumni Council to fill the vacancy in the College’s Board of Trustees, seeks to replace Peter Robinson ’79 in the election ending March 12. The election process involves mailing ballots and maintaining an election website, and will cost an estimated $70,000, Alumni Association President John Daukas ’84 said.
The council is looking into a constitutional change regarding spending for future cases of unchallenged elections, Daukas said.
“I’m not sure it makes sense having an election which costs $70,000 when it is unopposed,” he said. “It is certainly a concern that we plan to look at in the coming year.”
According to the election’s official website, 7 percent of voting alumni have cast their ballots online as of Monday. The election began on Feb. 12.
The council selected Kurz as its single nominee for the open trustee seat on Nov. 2. The nominating alumni trustee search committee, a body within the council, evaluated over 200 nominations submitted by alumni over the summer and whittled the nominees down to four final candidates in October. After interviewing each, the committee nominated Kurz and the choice was voted on by the full council, Alumni Council president Martin Lempres ’84 said.
The election is organized by the Alumni Association and allows alumni to vote online or through written ballots. After voting ends, Kurz’s name will be submitted to the Board of Trustees to officially confirm his new position.
Jack McBride ’90, who submitted a letter to the editor to The Dartmouth on Monday criticizing the election, said he is disappointed that the alumni trustee candidate is running unopposed.
“It doesn’t seem like a real election to me because there is only one candidate,” he said.
The council has nominated one candidate for the past few Board vacancies. In September, it voted 71-3 in favor of having just one nomination rather than two for the current opening, Lempres said.
Prior to 1990, the council, without drawing significant criticism, always nominated one candidate for each seat. After a change to the constitution in 1990, an election procedure required the nominating committee to submit three candidates for each seat. In 2009, the Council revised the constitution again, allowing at most two candidates to be nominated for each open seat.
The council decided to have only one nomination in order to promote the selection of the strongest candidate, Lempres said.
“[Kurz] is a terrific candidate and he has made a huge impression on everyone involved in the process,” he said. “He is passionate about Dartmouth, brings a wonderful, different perspective and he will provide a unique outlook in the Board.”
After Kurz’s nomination was announced, Dartmouth alumni were given two months to gather 500 signatures to petition for an outside candidate to appear on the ballot. Any petitioned candidates run against the nominated candidate in a final alumni-wide election.
No alumni petitioned to be a candidate this year. In the past decade, four petition candidates have run and won the election to become trustees. Joe Asch ’79 most recently lost the election in 2010.
The petition option provides a safeguard in the case that the council nominates an unpopular candidate, Daukas said.
“Alumni have a tremendous amount of input into who the initial candidates are,” he said. “And with the safety valve, the alumni committee doesn’t need to put up more than one candidate.”
McBride said he believes that the council’s decision to choose only one candidate reflects an interest in improving the chance that the nominated alumnus will beat any petition candidates.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if a petition candidate would, by nature, tend to be a little more opposed to whatever was going on within the Board of Trustees,” he said.
The ongoing election also decides the next executive committee, for which each position has only one candidate. The Board should save money on postage and website fees because all of the candidates in the elections are running unopposed, McBride said.