Dartmouth packs its board

Ed Haldeman, chair of Dartmouth’s Board of Trustees, has announced the addition of five new members to the board. The five were hand-picked by Haldeman and his cronies, not elected by alumni. With their addition, the board will consist of eight elected members and 13 unelected ones. However, an 1891 agreement between the board and the Association of Alumni (to which alumni arguably are third-party beneficiaries) provides that alums will elect half of the board members.

Haldeman says that the board is exploring the possibility that “more alumni-nominated Trustees could be added. . .in the future” if certain reforms in the election process that he desires are put into place. But the addition of alumni-elected trustees is largely meaningless unless their number equals the number of hand-picked trustees. For without parity, as stipulated by the 1891 agreement, the alumni-elected board members will be tokens only, and Haldeman and his fellow members of the power structure will rule Dartmouth largely unchecked.

Haldeman’s comment about the possibility of adding alumni-elected board members should be viewed as a fig-leaf for the newly elected Association of Alumni (AoA). This crew campaigned on the platform of ending the AoA’s lawsuit to hold Dartmouth to the 1891 agreement. In an effort to persuade alumni that they were other than a stalking horse for Haldeman, these candidates asserted that they were not necessarily opposed to parity, but merely wanted to work things out through negotiations with the board. Haldeman attempts to create the illusion of serious negotiations by serving up vague and meaningless statements about the possibility of negotiating the addition of token alumni-elected board members.

Haldeman concludes his statement by claiming that “this past year has been an impressive one for Dartmouth.” Haldeman is ignoring (or else oblivious to) the fact that Dartmouth class sizes are disgracefully large for a college that prides itself on undergraduate education. He also ignores the difficulties that students have getting into the classes of their choice. And, while Haldeman touts the talent and diversity of the incoming freshman class, he ignores (or is oblivious to) the fact that all too often Dartmouth’s talented and diverse students elect not to show up for the large lecture classes that feature so prominently in their Dartmouth experience.

Since these problems have worsened under Haldeman’s watch, it is particularly unfortunate that he has been able, so far, to pull off his power grab.

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