And the AoA responds . . .

As Dartblog reports this morning, the Association of Alumni has responded to the Chairman of the Board of Trustees’ threats to curtail alumni involvement in the college’s governance. All of the Executive Committee members, save one dissenter, published a letter to all alumni voicing their concern about the Chairman’s recent remarks. As Dartlog noted yesterday, the switch to all-media voting in AoA elections arrived just in time. The Association has no power over the Board, but as the only democratically elected representatives of alumni, the Board would be wise to not cast their concern aside.

Dartblog also got in contact with Petition Trustee Todd Zywicki ’88 who had this to say about Chairman Neukom’s announcement that the Board’s Governance Committee has been looking at the makeup of the Board of Trustees:

I personally have not heard of any effort by the Governance Committee of the Board to reevaluate the composition of the Board or to tamper with the way in which Alumni Trustees are elected, nor am I aware of any efforts to consider such a change in the future.

The AoA’s full letter is reprinted below:

To all Dartmouth Alumni:

The Dartmouth Board of Trustees is considering changes to its composition, including the means by which its members are seated. The agreement for seating alumni trustees is one between the Trustees and the Association of Alumni. We understand the Association’s previous leadership has not been invited or involved in these considerations over the past months. This is of great concern to us, as participation by alumni-chosen Trustees has been of great value to the College, and through this stewardship, it is a most-meaningful way of engaging her loyal sons and daughters.

The attached letter was approved by ten of the elected leaders of your Association, with one dissenter, and sent to the Trustees. A majority of the Executive Committee, being those of us signing below, believes we have a further obligation to report our concerns, and our actions, to you. This is at the core of our belief that alumni leaders must be more open and transparent to the alumni they represent. We trust that if alumni are kept informed, you will individually and collectively be able to make good judgments. As a courtesy to the Trustees prior to this public statement, we awaited confirmation that the letter had been received, and we alerted our Association president that we would also be communicating it to you.

We ask that you read the attached letter and give it thoughtful consideration. Please let us know your concerns, which will inform any subsequent dialog we have withe the Trustees; also communicate directly to others as you deem appropriate. The Trustees convene next week prior to Commencement, beginning June 8.

Respectfully,

[6 members]

Dear members of the Dartmouth Board of Trustees:

We, the newly elected officers and Executive Committee of the Association of Alumni, wish to convey the concern of a majority of our members regarding an issue raised in a statement made by current Board Chairman, Mr. William Neukom, to the Alumni Council on May 19, 2007. In those remarks, Mr. Neukom indicated that the Governance Committee of the Board would be presenting its report to the Board at its June 9, 2007 meeting and that the Board would consider changes to the alumni trustee election process and over-all Board composition at that time.

We sense that the agreement alumni have with the Board, established in 1891 and historically evolved since then, whereby alumni effectively elect half of the non-ex officio members of the Board, is threatened. We believe that any action which violates, restricts, abridges or dilutes that agreement, as currently enjoyed, would be injurious to Dartmouth College, its students and alumni. Not only do we strongly urge the Board to take no such steps, but we also believe strongly that the newly constituted AOA Executive Committee, elected for the first time in all-media, alumni-wide voting, should be included in any discussions related to that agreement. We feel that such cooperation and coordination with the Board is the best means for alumni to be engaged in solutions to problems facing the Board and the college’s administration and for us to fulfill our obligation to take all appropriate measures to protect and insure retention of the agreement, the uninterrupted exercise of which has redounded to the great benefit of Dartmouth for 116 years.

For the committee,

William L. Hutchinson ‘76, President