Board anticipates membership changes

Following the Board of Trustees’ annual spring meeting this June, Bill Helman ’80, who chaired the College’s presidential search committee in 2012, will replace Steve Mandel ’78 as the Board’s chairman.

Based on charter and alumni trustee term limits, which permit the trustees to serve up to two four-year terms, eight trustees who were elected before 2012 are expected to leave the 26-member Board in the next three years.

Among the 24 charter and alumni trustees, there are eight women and 16 men. The two additional members are College President Phil Hanlon and Gov. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., an ex-officio member. Four black trustees sit on the Board, and all other members are white.

While transitions can often present governance challenges to higher education institutions, American Council of Trustees and Alumni vice president of policy Michael Poliakoff said the College appears well-positioned for a change in leadership.

“As long as the Board has been actively engaged in developing a strong strategic plan, and that seems to be something that has happened at Dartmouth, it should be a pretty routine transition,” Poliakoff said. “A change in the Board chair should not be a difficult process for the College.”

Mandel, first elected chair in 2010, served a year longer than the ordinary three-year term due to administrative turnover at the College. In an email, Mandel said he has worked with Helman and Hanlon over the last two months to smooth the transition.

If a new member is elected to the Board this spring, best practices would suggest offering an orientation program, Poliakoff said.

“Professional development of boards is a crucial step,” Poliakoff said. “Not just being acquainted with the organizational culture, but also with a wider knowledge of the problems facing higher education.”

Several organizations have published recommendations for the orientation of new trustees. In Feb. 2014, a subcommittee of the American Association of University Professors’ committee on college and university governance recommended including faculty representatives to work alongside the board in orientation sessions.

“Trustees often need an overview particularly in the ways that universities differ from businesses,” subcommittee chair Hans-Joerg Tiede, of Illinois Wesleyan University, said. “If you’re going to explain the value of tenure, it might be helpful for the chair of faculty advancement to explain it.”

Times of transition, Tiede said, offer a chance to implement new practices and changes in structure.

Board members have achieved distinction in several different fields, including business, public health and academia.

Three trustees — James Coulter ’82, Steve Mandel ’78 and Trevor Rees-Jones ’73 — sit on the 2013 Forbes 400, which lists the richest men and women in America.

Boards of trustees often include high net-worth individuals, particularly when these members are highly involved with the institution, Reed College director of development Jan Kurtz said.

“The truth is that people give large gifts where they are very involved,” she said. “And members of a board of trustees are certainly very involved with their institutions.”

The Board last communicated with the Dartmouth community in a public letter following its March meeting, in which Mandel outlined new budget proposals and highlighted the achievements of several Dartmouth students.

 

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