Dartmouth is holding elections for two trustee positions. Voting begins on March 10.
The Dartmouth power structure has selected Morton Kondracke and John Replogle to seek these positions. Kondracke, the well-known journalist, will be unopposed. Replogle will face our friend Joe Asch, who gathered the petitions necessary to run against the establishment’s hand-picked candidate.
For me the Asch-Replogle race is a no-brainer, and I hope our readers will see it that way too. Joe Asch would bring a critical eye and a profound knowledge of all things Dartmouth to the Board. Replogle, as far as I can tell, is basically another corporate CEO who would jet in and out of the Upper Valley without adding anything distinctive to the Board. Indeed, as I’ll argue below, there is reason to think he will detract from the quality of the Board.
Joe, a successful business consultant and business owner, has lived in Hanover since 2004 and has dedicated himself to learning as much about the College as possible. He has audited 30 undergraduate courses and discussion groups. He organized and subsidized a program that hugely contributed to improving the writing skills of Dartmouth students lucky enough to participate in it (the administration ended the program a few years ago, apparently as a way of getting back at Joe for his criticism of President Wright and his staff).
Joe has also made himself an expert on Dartmouth’s financial situation and the related issue of administrative bloat. The former administration steadfastly denied that such bloat exists. However, the actions of our new president, Jim Kim, confirm that Joe has been on to something all along.
Joe is also now the main author of Dartblog. Founded by our friend and Power Line colleague Joe Malchow, Dartblog is an indispensable source of information on nearly all aspects of Dartmouth life. I’m confident that readers who spend 15 minutes on this site will come away convinced that Joe is exactly what the Board of Trustees needs.
Replogle is the CEO of a personal care products company located in North Carolina. Though involved in the activities of his Dartmouth class, he appears to lack any meaningful knowledge about the current state of the College. In short, Replogle seems to be the prototypical establishment choice for the Trustee.
Beyond the problem of his “sameness,” Replogle has already shown himself to be a poor choice for Trustee in at least two respects. First, he has fumbled on the all-important issue of parity between the number of alumni-elected and Board-appointed trustees. Initially, Replogle claimed that he needed more time before he could formulate an official opinion on the issue. Coming from a candidate for Trustee this is lame. The fight over parity has been a central issue within the alumni community for several years. Entering the race for Trustee without a clear position on the matter would be like running for U.S. President without a position on health care reform.
When Replogle finally came up with a position, moreover, it was half-baked. He suggested that the Board add one member of each graduating class, to be selected by the outgoing class, to serve for one four-year term. Replogle called this an innovative approach to solving the bitter debate over the decision to end parity, a decision that has alienated many alums from the College because they believe their voice can no longer sufficiently be heard.
A minute’s reflection should have been enough to persuade Replogle that his proposal will not solve this problem. It would give added voice to only the very most recent graduates of the College. The rest of us will be shut out to at least the same extent we are now. We will thus remain alienated to the same extent we are now.
Second, Replogle’s campaign has an odd “know-nothing” quality to it. Embarrassed, perhaps, by his lack of relevant knowledge about the College as compared to Joe, Replogle has stated:
There is a difference between the role of a Board member and that of an administrator, and if you look into [Asch's] blog posts, what he likes to do is get deep into the details of, for example, how time sheets are managed at the College. I do not intend to tell [College] President [Jim Yong] Kim how he needs to manage time sheets.
This comment is ridiculous. There is no evidence that Joe intends to tell Jim Kim how to manage time sheets. But the fact that Joe understands the inner workings of the college should, other things being equal, make him a better trustee than his more detached and vastly less knowledgeable opponent.
Moreover, Replogle’s attempt to dismiss Joe’s extensive writing about all aspects of Dartmouth, including academic quality, by distilling it into knowledge about time sheets is intellectually dishonest.
Replogle doesn’t just fail to measure up to Joe, he is a poor candidate in his own right. It would be a pity if he were elected.