AoA Statement, What Happened Last Summer?

The AoA Executive Committee just contacted The Dartmouth Review with the following statement. Of particular interest is the penultimate paragraph, where the EC explains the steps they went through last summer to dialogue with the Board of Trustees—before the lawsuit.

President Hutchinson went on to state that the Executive Committee made “one and only one” attempt to meet with the Board regarding the governance study. In fact there were many attempts to interact with the Board. Our formal letter of May 30 received no response. Written inputs from individual committee members received no response other than a courtesy acknowledgement of receipt. Chairman Haldeman met in-person only with president Hutchinson, having been informed that our president did not represent the opinions of the committee majority. One teleconference did occur during the last week in August, involving two trustees, but the committee was informed that the governance recommendations were essentially complete; there was no sit-down working session to consider alternatives. Shortly after the trustee decision was announced, several executive committee members made personal overtures to various Board members suggesting legal action would be held in abeyance, if the Board would postpone implementation of their plan during a mediation process. These overtures were rejected.

The full statement, below the fold.

Association of Alumni of Dartmouth College Issues Election Campaign Corrections

Hanover NH, May 1, 2008: Contact: Tim Dreisbach, Class of 1971
Executive Committee Member
802-763-2456

The annual election of the Association’s leadership has begun. While the Executive Committee of the Association remains firmly committed to open campaigning and unrestricted speech by all candidates and their supporters, several incorrect, false, and misleading statements have been made about the actions of the Executive Committee itself and its members. We feel an obligation to set the record straight on those allegations.

One slate of candidates, Dartmouth Parity, has implied in their campaigning that the Association polled alumni on the question of whether or not to pursue legal action in defense of maintaining parity on the Board of Trustees. This is incorrect. The Association did conduct an alumni-wide survey in which alumni responded that they were in favor of maintaining parity, by a margin of over 9-1. This information was provided as input to the Trustees. After the trustees announced their decision to eliminate parity, the timeframe for filing an injunction did not permit a second survey.

One organization of campaign supporters, Dartmouth Undying, has stated that all those in the Association executive committee majority who voted for the lawsuit also “asked the N.H. legislature to enact a law to give the state control over the Dartmouth College charter.” This is a falsehood; only one of six spoke in support of this bill, and several others were openly opposed to the measure. The committee’s documented deliberations reveal a desire by the majority for non-involvement. A minority request to take a stand of condemnation was defeated. Dartmouth Undying has endorsed candidates opposed to the pro-parity petition candidates, and in turn some of these opponents are listed as supporters of Dartmouth Undying.

Dartmouth Undying has also published a statement that the same six members of the executive committee “still refuse to disclose who is footing the bill” for the lawsuit. This is also untrue. Funds for attorney fees have been contributed by the Hanover Institute, a fact that was made public by these individuals after obtaining permission from the donor. The law firm has made clear that it takes direction only from our designated liaison, and that individual can act only on the approval of the Association’s executive committee.

One member of the Executive Committee, the president, recently sent an email to all alumni using Association letterhead, criticizing a letter from six of his fellow members. Because they had also used Association letterhead, he falsely claimed their letter “purported to be from the Association” without there having been a formal vote. There was no such representation in the letter, which was explicitly signed by the six senders. President Hutchinson’s letter was also sent without formal review or approval. A recent letter by twelve Dartmouth Trustees, on College letterhead, follows the same practice.

President Hutchinson went on to state that the Executive Committee made “one and only one” attempt to meet with the Board regarding the governance study. In fact there were many attempts to interact with the Board. Our formal letter of May 30 received no response. Written inputs from individual committee members received no response other than a courtesy acknowledgement of receipt. Chairman Haldeman met in-person only with president Hutchinson, having been informed that our president did not represent the opinions of the committee majority. One teleconference did occur during the last week in August, involving two trustees, but the committee was informed that the governance recommendations were essentially complete; there was no sit-down working session to consider alternatives. Shortly after the trustee decision was announced, several executive committee members made personal overtures to various Board members suggesting legal action would be held in abeyance, if the Board would postpone implementation of their plan during a mediation process. These overtures were rejected.

We hope the above provides clarification specific to the actions of the executive committee. On behalf of the entire Association, we encourage all alumni to participate in these elections, with an informed and thoughtful mind. A high turnout percentage will demonstrate the engagement of Dartmouth alumni in the College they love. A majority mandate, one way or the other, will be a major step towards a constructive future.