Byrne Family Comes Out for Parity

Via Joe Malchow:

In an email sent Wednesday afternoon to members of the Class of 1985, Mark Byrne ‘85 T’86 and Patrick Byrne ‘85 of the billionaire Byrne family tell classmates that they have decided that the Board-packing plan proposed last September by Chairman Ed Haldeman and his five-person Governance Committee is “radical,” “heavy-handed,” and “undemocratic.”

Messrs. Byrne urge election of the pro-parity slate of candidates for the Dartmouth Association of Alumni, who are running against a slate of candidates (styling themselves as the “Unity Slate”) who would permit the plan to go forward full tilt, upsetting the 117-year balance between duly elected trustees (currently half of the Board) and handpicked self-propagating appointees (the other half). The partity slate would enforce the 1891 Agreement between the Board and the Association guaranteeing a half-elected Board; the other slate would dissolve it.

The brothers have never met the petition trustees who now compose one full quarter of the Board; nor have they, to this page’s knowledge, ever taken a position on Dartmouth politics before. But the brothers Byrne do recognize a sore loser when they see one.

The parity slate can be found here. The voting takes place here; about 15% of alums have voted thus far. Voting ends on June 5.

The Byrne e-mail to the class of ’85, below the fold.

From: Mark Byrne ‘85
Date: Wed, May 21, 2008 at 5:30 PM
Subject: Mark and Patrick Byrne Support Parity

Dear Fellow D’85,

We know you are being bombarded with email and snail mail, and regret
adding to that pile. However, we felt compelled to write to you, to
urge you to vote in the Association of Alumni election, and to tell you
why we are voting for the Parity Slate

The College-sponsored slate has the full tools of the College
propaganda machine; the Parity team do not, and must rely on partial,
obsolete mailing lists. That kind of undemocratic approach is key to
why we feel continued Alumni – elected involvement at the 50% level is
vital to the future of the College.

The first tool of the propagandist is the ad hominem attack. They don’t
really try to defend the indefensible, namely the implementation of the
Board-packing plan by stealth. Instead, they label their opponents,
especially the four petition trustees, as extremists, bent on taking
over Dartmouth.

We are not extremists, and we have never met the petition Trustees or
any of the Petition slate. We are two brothers, who love Dartmouth and
have consistently supported the College for many years. Frankly, we
expect that there would be important disagreements between us if we did
meet the petition Trustees. But these things are clear:

1) Because a few trustees got elected by petition, who had
differing views to those of the leadership, the college tried to change
governance by referendum, to make it harder for petition trustees to get
elected. They lost that referendum.

2) President Wright wrote to us shortly thereafter, promising an
end to the matter.

3) The matter was not, in fact, dropped, and a five man governance
committee managed to plan and narrowly pass a resolution to turn
Dartmouth’s Trustee’s Board into a self-electing elite, permanently.
The courts will decide whether this was a breach of contract. However
we don’t need a court to tell us it was a heavy-handed and undemocratic
thing to do.

4) The extremists are the ones who breached a hundred year old
deal because a handful of trustees had views they didn’t like.

We urge you to vote for the Parity Slate. If we don’t elect them, your
vote will never matter again.


Mark Byrne D’85 T’86

Patrick Byrne D’85 (PhD Stanford).

Full post, here.