Cheston’s Campaign Email

Alumni Council-nominated alumni Trustee candidate Sheila Cheston ’80 has sent her first campaign email. It’s far less controversial than many of those we’ve seen so far from other candidates (emphasis added):

Date: Wed, 30 Mar 2005 13:01:04 -0600
From: Association of Alumni
Subject: First Candidate email – Sheila Cheston ’80
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According to procedures set forth by the Balloting Committee, each candidate for alumni trustee may choose to send up to two emails to the alumni body during the balloting period. This email is the first such communication from Sheila Cheston ’80. This email is being distributed to all alumni, regardless whether or not they have voted.

Comments made by the candidates in these e-mail communications represent their individual perspectives on different issues pertaining to the trustee elections. They have not been edited by the College or the Balloting Committee of the Association of Alumni. While the Committee may contact candidates to discuss any concerns it may have about the accuracy of the text of the email, the candidates have the final decision as to the content of their messages.

Dear Fellow Alums,

My name is Sheila Cheston, and I am one of the nominees for the Dartmouth Board of Trustees. Since we are now about half way through the voting period, I thought I’d write you all a brief note to encourage you to participate in the election and, of course, consider voting for me in the process. I would be honored to serve on the Board and will work hard to ensure you become ever more proud to be a graduate of Dartmouth College.

The campaign this year is particularly lively, and the outcome could be particularly significant. The two winners will be involved in a number of very important choices, not the least of which is the possible selection of President Wright’s successor.

In every such choice, it will be crucial that the new trustees be mindful of the greater context. For most of us, Dartmouth College is a place towards which we feel great gratitude and loyalty. It helped us to become who we are today and is a continuing source of pride and support. To this end, I envision my tenure on the Board to be focused, in broad terms, on preserving, sustaining and expanding the cherished qualities of our College – the love of teaching and learning both inside and outside the classroom, the quality of the academic discourse and the growth of the individual – while taking the fullest possible advantage of new opportunities and ideas. My views are more fully set out in the candidate statement and responses to queries on the College website, but, in brief, my goals as a Board member would be:

College & Community

I want to preserve and build on Dartmouth’s unique experience, in which the feel and attributes of a small college – with an emphasis on the development of the individual – are married to an array of stellar academic opportunities in a beautiful physical environment. This is a delicate yet powerful combination, and it produces graduates who are ready to make a genuine difference in this world. In the coming years that balance will require careful stewardship, both to meet emerging competitive pressures, and to profit from an ever more global environment. As a member of the class of 1980, I attended the College at a time of – how to put it? — significant transition (for those of you too young to remember, this was shortly after women were first admitted). As a result, I have a special appreciation for how the College can preserve and build on its traditions while integrating new voices and adapting to new challenges.

Discourse & Diversity

In an evolving and an increasingly polarized world, it is absolutely essential that the College defend itself as a diverse campus where every voice is welcomed and given the opportunity to be heard. Otherwise, how will thought processes expand and new ideas emerge? Surely not from a blind acceptance of conventional thinking and prevailing wisdoms. Much has been made of this issue in the last few months. In my view, the Administration must promote rigorous but civil debate. The College must remain a place where young minds are challenged to explore new ideas with the confidence that if and when they are debated, it will be with the tools of reason and knowledge, not demeaning personal attack.

Alumni & Assets

The College must work even harder to improve its connection with alumni; both to keep them engaged and, if it is not the same thing, at least to keep them informed. The benefit is plain. Dartmouth alums are a distinguished group, that’s for certain. And beyond their generous financial contributions, they have a great deal of experience and expertise to offer. The Board, and its alumni members in particular, can and should work harder to tap into this tremendous resource.

Like most alums, I had four wonderful years as an undergraduate at Dartmouth. I competed in varsity sports and studied in the rain forests of Costa Rica and the art galleries of Florence. I had close relationships with professors and other students from whom I learned an enormous amount. And I developed friendships that have lasted 25 years. In my career I have held senior positions in government and industry. I have served on various boards, helped to manage complex organizations, returned to the classroom as a teacher, and spent much time focused on issues of strategy, ethics and integrity. Throughout, Dartmouth’s lessons have been close at hand.

I would be honored to help ensure the next generation can benefit equally from the College we love.