92% of Dartmouth Alumni want to Keep Right to Elect Trustees
Ninety-two percent of Dartmouth College alumni responding to an opinion survey say they want to keep their right to elect one-half of their alma mater’s trustees, a right they have enjoyed since 1891. The Association of Alumni of Dartmouth College, through its Executive Committee, conducted the survey via U.S. Mail.
On September 7, Dartmouth’s board of trustees will consider a report from its Governance Committee that many involved alumni fear may restrict alumni’s role in the selection of future trustees and could dramatically affect the composition of the board.
The Association received 4,156 responses from alumni during two weeks in August. The first statement on the survey read: "I believe that the Board of Trustees should maintain its current balance of 50% charter trustees and 50% directly-elected alumni trustees (excluding the two ex officio positions)."
Of the 4,062 who indicated agreement or disagreement, 3,740 (92 percent) were affirmative.
A separate second sentence stated: "any concerns over the process of electing alumni trustees should be referred to the leaders of the Association of Alumni as the representatives to have been duly elected by all alumni." 3980 answered; of these, 3638 (93.7 percent) expressed agreement.
The Association attempted to reach all living alumni, but the Dartmouth Administration’s refusal to permit use of current alumni mailing lists hampered the effort. Nevertheless, the Association’s survey was mailed to more than 55,000 of the 67,000 living alumni, though a few thousand envelopes were returned because the addressees had either moved or died.
"We were told our poll was unwarranted because it was ‘duplicative,’" said the Association’s Second Vice-President Frank Gado, a 1958 graduate, "but we needed to poll our membership to fulfill our fiduciary duty to represent their interests. The mandate the alumni have given us couldn’t be more forceful."
Dartmouth College is the only American institution of higher learning that allows its alumni to select half of its leaders. Reports that a select group of Dartmouth Trustees were spearheading a change in this policy have stirred up emotions among many alumni.
"Dartmouth men and women have traditionally been the most loyal and zealous alumni in the nation," Gado continued. "They treat their alma mater with respect, and they expect their alma mater to honor them in return. We sincerely hope sane heads will prevail."
For more than a century and a half, the Association of Alumni of Dartmouth College has been the primary representative of Dartmouth men and women. Its eleven-member Executive Committee is the only body elected by all of the alumni.