Words of Wisdom

Rising sophomore Jake Baron wrote to the Valley News this past Friday with his thoughts on Dartmouth’s governance upheaval. Of course, Jake’s letter was written prior to the Governance Committee’s final resolution to increase the Board’s size by eight appointed members—-Jake, however, still adds some sobriety to this otherwise maddening debate: he insightfully reminds readers that the real issue with which the Board should concern itself is not reconfiguring itself, but rather reconfiguring the quality of life and the quality of education at the College.

DARTMOUTH’S EXCELLENCE IS SLIPPING

To the Editor:

This week, the Governance Committee of the Dartmouth
College Board of Trustees will announce the results of its
“governance study,” undertaken to remedy the “increasingly
politicized” nature of recent trustee nomination elections and
the allegedly “divisive” effect of these elections. But the
committee would be deluded in thinking that major changes might
help, because the changes themselves are likely to incite a
firestorm of rancor that will dwarf the reaction to recent
elections. One alum, John MacGovern, anticipates a lawsuit before
the Supreme Court if major changes are made. To keep the peace,
the committee’s best action is no action.

Well, not exactly. The entire board should take bold and
swift action to address the falling standards of excellence at
the college. Courses are routinely oversubscribed, especially in
the most popular departments. Numerous “star” professors across
diverse departments have left Dartmouth recently, such as Ronald
Edsforth of war and peace studies, Michael Gazzaniga of
psychology, and Allan Stam of government. Administrative growth
has far outstripped faculty growth over James Wright’s tenure as
president (see “Large Classes, Misplaced Priorities,” The
Dartmouth, April 16). These hard facts should be
sobering, but some trustees are well insulated. Responding to an
Aug. 7 student meeting with trustee Brad Evans, David Nachman,
Class of 2009, wrote that Evans appeared unable “to ascertain
what was really going on at Dartmouth.” The four
opposition “petition trustees” just want to take their jobs
seriously. They want to assume the proper duties of a board
member at any institution: to carefully monitor the institution’s
health and step in when its administration is failing. The
“divisive” debate in which they have engaged only proves their
devotion. Whatever the power-jockeying Governance Committee does,
whether the president and board insiders make a
self-preservationist grasp or not, the alumni rancor will only
recede when Dartmouth’s real problems are fixed. President Wright
can run, but he can’t hide.

JAKE BARON

Dartmouth Class of 2010

Hanover