FROM OUR ESSAYS
By Charlotte Allen
It's a constant skirmish between donors seeking to fund specific scholarly projects at universities and the universities' administrators, who would typically like to see as much of that money as possible go to "unrestricted" uses--that is, whatever the administrators, not the donors, deem the best use of the funds. And nowadays, with universities' endowment values falling during the current recession, "best use of the money" can often mean covering deficits in the universities' general operating budgets, deficits sometimes occasioned by wasteful spending on grandiose campus construction projects or--even worse in the eyes of some donors--ideological projects such as "diversity" and "sustainability" offices only marginally connected to the delivery of higher education.
Hence the recent and increasingly widespread phenomenon of the "levy"--a rake-off by administrators of a percentage of the income from endowed programs and endowed professor's chairs, ostensibly to cover overhead and other "associated program costs," as universities call them, but in fact a bit of naked budget-balancing. Such was the case in late May, when top administrators of Dartmouth College announced that it planned to increase, as of the fiscal year that began July 1, the percentage of its levy from 14.29 percent to 19.1 percent. Dartmouth administrators announced that the nearly 33 percent levy hike would raise $2 million that would have previously gone to endowment recipients but now would help close Dartmouth's $100 million budget deficit.
Continue reading "Dartmouth Foils Its Donors" »
By Richard Vedder
New Pew Research Center data show that a large majority of Americans think U.S. colleges and universities offer only fair or poor value for the financial cost -but college presidents strikingly disagree, with a majority of them thinking college offers at least a good value (though college presidents are overwhelmingly pessimistic about the quality of American higher education compared to the world ten years from now). Similarly, a majority of Americans question whether college is truly affordable any more, a view that most college presidents do not share. More generally, people in the academy have views widely divergent from the mainstream of the American population.
Turning to college presidents, I think a lot of this attitudinal divide relates to the non-market environment in which colleges operate. How do you become a successful college president? You raise lots of money, which you then use to bribe the various constituents in the university community to keep them happy. The faculty you bribe with low teaching loads, good fringe benefits, and perhaps a nearby parking place. Your fellow top administrators whose support is vital you bribe with not only good salaries, but also lots of assistants who do much of the heavy lifting associated with the job. You bribe the students by giving them nice recreational and dorm facilities, and reach an implicit bargain with them to not demand much academically (hence grade inflation) and to largely ignore their hedonistic bouts of alcoholic and sexual excesses. You bribe the alumni with decent football and basketball teams and a nice campus facility where they can hang out. You bribe the trustees with whatever idiosyncratic whim they want. In short, you spend money to keep a narrow group of people associated with the Ivory Tower happy.
Contrast that with business leaders. They are motivated by profits, maximizing the gap between revenue and costs. To increase revenues, they must please vast numbers of persons with new or improved products. They also enhance profits by reducing costs, raising productivity so they can do more with less. They reward subordinates who further these goals with bonuses, stock options, etc.
Continue reading "Why University Presidents Are Clueless About the Real World" »
By James Piereson
There is an old saying in politics that "They don't scream unless you hurt them." When your adversaries scream, it is a good sign that your measures have been effective. Judged by this standard, the Koch Brothers (David and Charles) have been very effective in recent years in advancing their causes of limited government and classical liberalism, much to the discomfort of liberal foes promoting business regulation, higher taxes, and ObamaCare.
The Koch brothers have been on the receiving end of non-stop attacks from liberal journalists and academics ever since Jane Mayer published a hit piece on them last year in The New Yorker purporting to show that their contributions were behind the rise of the "Tea Party" movement. This wildly exaggerated claim was meant to cast the Koch brothers as great villains, but villains possessed of a satanic combination of power and tactical brilliance. In a predictable course, Mayer's fairy tale was circulated by the columnists and editorial writers of the New York Times and from there through a network of second-level columnists and political magazines until at length it came to the attention of the credulous foot soldiers of the liberal-left who have kept the pot boiling in recent months with ever more inventive and exaggerated versions of the original lie.
The latest controversy surrounding the Kochs arises from an article published last week in the St. Petersburg Times titled, "Billionaire's Role in Hiring Decisions at Florida State University Raises Questions." The author insinuates that the Koch Foundation was trying to "buy off" the Economics Department at Florida State University through a $1.5 million grant (paid over six years) to hire new faculty and to support graduate fellowships under a program in "political economy and free enterprise." Under the grant, a three-person faculty committee was set up to review candidates for the positions, including one member designated by the Foundation. The paper suggested that by designating a member of the review committee the Foundation was undermining academic freedom by interfering in the faculty's right to appoint colleagues on the basis of professional competence.
Continue reading "A Campaign Against the Koch Foundation " »
By Allen C. Guelzo
What's in a name? A great deal, if it happens to be Stephen A. Douglas.
A hundred and fifty years ago, Stephen Arnold Douglas was the most powerful politician in America. He had begun his political career as a hyper-loyal Andrew Jackson Democrat, snatched up one of Illinois' U.S. Senate seats in 1846, and rose from there to the heights of Congressional stardom by helping the great Henry Clay cobble together the Compromise of 1850 - which effectively averted civil war over the expansion of slavery into the West for another decade. No man was a more obvious presidential candidate than Douglas, and in 1860, he won his party's nomination to the presidency.
That, unhappily for Douglas, was when the cheering stopped.
He made the magnificent mistake, when running for re-election to the Senate in 1858, of agreeing to debate the new Republican party's anti-slavery candidate, Abraham Lincoln. Although Douglas managed to win the election, Lincoln handled him so relentlessly, exposing the failure of Douglas's policies on slavery during the duo's seven open-air debates, that Lincoln emerged as a national contender, while Douglas lost legions of disappointed supporters. When Douglas faced Lincoln again in the presidential campaign of 1860, Douglas's party fractured into three pieces and guaranteed Lincoln's election by default. Douglas died only eight months later.
Continue reading "The Douglas Debate--No Lincoln This Time" »
By Charlotte Allen
New York University will open its vaunted campus in Abu Dhabi this fall, and so far it does seem to be the best campus that money can buy---Gulf oil money, that is. The story of the NYU-Abu Dhabi linkup, the brainchild of John Sexton, NYU's strategically ebullient and relentlessly donor-courting and expansion-minded president, is a story of many paradoxes. The greatest paradox of all is that this first step toward creating what Sexton calls a "global network university" of NYU campuses all over the world is being entirely bankrolled by the government of oil-rich Abu Dhabi, which is a good thing for NYU because the university's $2.2 billion endowment (shrunken by nearly one-third in the recent financial crisis) is by far the smallest of any private U.S. university with the world-class ambitions that Sexton claims for NYU.
In fact, because NYU enrolls more than 50,000 at its various schools, its endowment works out to about a mere $50,000 per student, according to figures calculated in a recent Business Week article. (Harvard's $26 billion endowment, by contrast, amounts to $1.3 million per student, while Yale has $1.4 million per student and Princeton $1.7 million). The Abu Dhabi campus is a feat of Sextonian sleight-of-hand in which other people's petrodollars pay for what NYU hopes will be a boost in academic prestige without spending a cent of its own scarce money. NYU was happy to publicize Abu Dhabi's initial contribution of $50 million to the joint venture---a down payment on which NYU insisted as a condition of lending its name to the new university---but now neither the university nor the Gulf city-state will reveal how many more millions Abu Dhabi has sunk into the venture, but it must be plenty. Abu Dhabi has not only committed itself to a glitzy brand-new campus for NYU on Saadiyat Island about 500 yards offshore, but is bankrolling some of NYU's expansion in New York.
Back home at NYU's flagship campus at Washington Square, students complain about stingy financial aid packages that often leave them heavily in loan debt and more heavily reliant on poorly paid part-time faculty than any of the top-tier universities with which NYU hopes to compete. NYU's efforts to grow its campus in New York---by acquiring Greenwich Village real estate and demolishing what's there---have made enemies out of many of its neighbors, especially when NYU pulled down the historic Provincetown Playhouse, which it owned, in order to construct a new law school building (it did save some of the playhouse's facade and replaced the theater). The Abu Dhabi campus has also sparked protests among NYU professors over government policies in Abu Dhabi and other United Arab Emirates states that discriminate against gays (homosexual acts are crimes in the Emirates), Israelis (none of the Emirates has formal diplomatic relations with Israel and all frequently deny entry to citizens of the Jewish state), and the foreign guest-workers who form 80 percent of the Emirates' 4.5 million population but have little practical recourse against employers who confiscate their passports, house them in squalid camps, charge huge fees for their job, and pay them less than promised.
Continue reading "NYU's Perilous Adventure in Abu Dhabi" »
By Joe Malchow
I once asked a pilot friend if he didn't tire of the lumbering, leviathan commercial airliner he flew. He surprised me by saying that a 747 can handle like a Lamborghini if ever it needed to.
A bit of that seems to be underway in Hanover, New Hampshire, where the new president of Dartmouth College, my alma mater, is responding with alacrity to the slackening economy. Even given the market's nosedive, Dartmouth possesses a substantial multi-billion dollar endowment and employs nearly 2,800 full-time equivalent staff and 450 faculty. That's a rather large organization---one now operating at a loss of $34 million.
But Dartmouth has one big asset: a group of Carl Icahnesque independent trustees who were elected by worried alumni in 2004, 2005, and 2008. These outsiders were vigorously resisted by Dartmouth---whose power establishment didn't want activist directors---but the outsiders' platforms of staunch fiscal conservatism and a leap out of the thicket of professional educrats won the day. After all, who needs a "Sustainability Director" or a "Dean of Pluralism"?
Alumni responded by their levels of giving, and Dartmouth's former president, historian James Wright, responded by resigning his post early. In that position, now, is Jim Kim, the Harvard doctor who has never been the head of a major organization but who has now been thrown into a parlous billet.
Continue reading "Dartmouth Turns on a Dime" »
By Harvey Silverglate With Kyle Smeallie
Harvard University may be losing money like a hard-luck high-roller, but the Vegas tagline (what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas) certainly does not apply: what happens at Harvard reaches well beyond the Cambridge confines. For better or for worse, many schools follow in Harvard's footsteps. What better place, then, to effect change in American higher education than a place where other schools---at least until the recent economic meltdown---have been green with Crimson envy?
Such was the premise behind my insurgent campaign for a seat on the Board of Overseers, one of Harvard's two governing boards. Dismayed by the lack of principled oversight (a key reason, I suspect, for Harvard's recent financial woes) and the general illiberal culture of his alma mater, I spent months trying to convince alumni to elect me to the board. In early June, however, Harvard officials informed me that my bid for a six-year term on the 30-member board came up a bit short.
In defeat, I learned the very same lesson that Harvard Law School alum Barack H. Obama (Law School class of 1991) learned when he ran as a petition candidate in the 1991 Overseers election: Input from outsiders---those unwilling to place collegiality over candor---is unwanted.
Continue reading "The Cambridge Empire Strikes Back" »
By Joe Malchow
Given their common characteristics it's often difficult for a person of even superior discernment to tell, from a slight distance, the difference between an accomplished university bureaucrat and a robust brick wall. Both seem witlessly to beg for the wrecking ball. The nation's nine colonial colleges---not to mention the hundreds founded since---are thronged with administrative employees whose job it is to justify the outsized administration of the college or university that employs them. On the whole, these congeries of deans report that things are not going very well, that manifold "issues" of tremendous consequence beg resolution, and that, darn it, they just need more manpower. They recommend more deans.
And they are generously obliged on that score. The fact that, on the margin, American colleges now privilege the task of thickening the ranks of bureaucrats over that of educating their students is one reason that alumni---whose gifts are the lifeblood of the colonial institutions, at least---are in "revolt" mode, to use The Wall Street Journal's word. At the front of the fight, facing across the wind-swept college green the marshaled deanery, are the students and alumni of Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire. Reacting to all manner of absurdities---such as the fact that from 2001 to 2006, Dartmouth added twice as many administrators as faculty members---Dartmouth alumni have voted in, four times in a row since 2004, activist trustees who pledged to hold the College's executives to account. At most publicly traded companies the election by the shareholders of an activist board-member cues, if not a resignation, then at least an episode of doleful reckoning on the part of the chief executive. At Dartmouth, the election of four independent trustees resulted in ever more pitched protests from the cocksure deanery; like any bureaucracy, it had become so thoroughly insulated from external inquiry that the notion of it having erred was imponderable.
After the fourth independent trustee was elected in May of 2007, the rubber-stamp set decided to attenuate the fractious independents by "packing" Dartmouth's board. Traditionally half alumni-elected and half self-appointed, the Board under a September 2007 plan would become two-thirds self-appointed and one-third elected - in consequence castrating the elected minority.
Continue reading "How Dartmouth Thwarted Its Alumni" »
By Robert L. Freedman A.B. '62
I am running as a petition candidate for Harvard's Board of Overseers to help Harvard College improve itself.
I have been interested in higher education - and in particular in what is taught and how it is taught - since graduating from the College in 1962. I have the time, the interest and the energy to try to make a difference.
There is ferment in the world of higher education. When a former Harvard College Dean publishes a book about Harvard subtitled How a Great University Forgot Education, and when a former Harvard President publishes a book about colleges subtitled A Candid Look At How Much Students Learn And Why They Should Be Learning More, you know it's time to get involved.
College is when people are most open to learning. Afterwards their intellectual horizons narrow. It is a major loss if part of those key four years is wasted in a class with a poor teacher or in a subject of only ephemeral importance.
Harvard has two governing boards. The Harvard Corporation (officially the President and Fellows of Harvard College) is a Massachusetts non-profit corporation with seven members. Vacancies are filled by the remaining members. So it is a self-perpetuating board - as are most non-profit boards.
The second governing board is the Overseers (officially the Board of Overseers of Harvard College). Despite their official name, their writ covers the entire University. They have been elected by all the alums since 1921. In April of each year Harvard mails ballots to all one-third of a million Harvard degree holders (except faculty members). Five alums are elected every year for 6 year terms, for a total of 30 Overseers.
The alumni association annually solicits names of possible candidates from the alums, and then nominates eight candidates for the five positions. The eight candidates generally are diverse in terms of occupation, geographical location, gender, ethnicity and race.
These elections are usually non-events. Typically ninety percent of the alums do not bother to vote, perhaps because they believe who is elected makes no difference.
But every once in a while something different happens, because any alum can become a petition candidate upon obtaining the signatures of about 250 alums on official Harvard ballots (that is what I did). Nineteen years ago, when divestiture of South African securities from the endowment was a hot issue, Barack Obama ran as a petition candidate. He lost. The handful of petition candidates over the years believed, like Obama, that certain important issues were not being properly addressed by the powers-that-be. In my case those issues are educational: teaching methods, the curriculum, the quality of student life and the high costs of college.
Harvard is aware of these issues and has made some important progress. But the Overseers have not been in the forefront of pushing for changes. I am running as a petition candidate because, as former Harvard President Derek Bok - in a most careful and thoughtful critique of colleges - recently wrote, reform is too difficult to accomplish solely from within. A push from outside is needed. And a push from a friend is much better than waiting until a crisis develops and an unfriendly heavy hand intrudes.
A more active Board of Overseers should make it its business to understand students' views. As our college experience recedes into the past, most of us lose touch with exactly how we felt and what we thought then. A good sign is that recently, apparently for the first time in living memory, a group of Overseers actually met with a group of students. That modest and long overdue first step could be the beginning of a process to acquaint the Overseers with the college's "customers".
There is lots to be done. Change is in the air. As a recent President said, If not now, when? If not us, who? Together we can make a difference. Let's do so.
Robert L. Freedman is a senior partner of the international law firm, Dechert LLP. He is a 1962 graduate of Harvard College. His campaign site can be found here.
By Donald Downs
An interesting news item caught my eye last week. The BB&T Charitable Foundation has made a million-dollar donation to Marshall University's Lewis College of Business. The donation comes with a string attached: Marshall must teach Ayn Rand's classic tribute to capitalism, Atlas Shrugged, as part of the curriculum. The BB&T Foundation has made numerous grants to other institutions dealing with capitalism and economics. John Allison, the foundation's chairman and CEO, expressed the logic behind these grants when he announced a $2 million grant to the Mercatus Center at George Mason University last summer. "We believe there needs to be a deeper understanding of the morality of capitalism and its causal relationship to economic well-being," he declared. "This contribution will encourage a thorough discussion of the moral foundations of capitalism with an organization that meets the highest academic standards and encourages students to hear all points of view."
BB&T's actions regarding Marshall and George Mason are part and parcel of a broader movement taking place across American higher education: redesigned efforts by major moderate and right-leaning foundations and sponsors to fund programs, journals, and chairs on campus that provide viewpoints that challenge the left-liberal orthodoxies that prevail in so many institutions. Among other examples, the University of Illinois recently established a major chair in free market economics, funded by a conservative donor. And the University of Colorado is looking for donors for a new chair in conservative studies. Meanwhile, several groups, including the Olin Foundation and other conservative entities, have decided to target limited term grants at specific individuals or groups whom they trust to carry out programs consistent with the foundations' missions.
One motive for such grants could be to influence academic thinking in the direction the foundations favor. Another motive is simply pedagogical: to counter the lack of intellectual diversity on campus, which several studies have shown tilts decidedly to the left at many institutions, especially in the social science and humanities. The pedagogical problem is not that conservative ideas are not being accepted or followed; the problem is the virtual absence of such ideas, which deprives students of a true liberal education that would expose them to all serious arguments and perspectives about social and political life. The right kind of education prepares students to seek the answer to the most fundamental of questions: How should I live?
Continue reading "When Donors Pick The Courses" »
By Stephen Balch
Trustees face a quandary in trying to figure out their role in academic governance. As a matter of law, institutional responsibility is squarely in their hands. On the other hand, while few challenge their oversight in matters managerial and financial, they are routinely warned that when it comes to intellectual content, the heart of university life, they should keep their distance.
Trustees should generally avoid getting involved in judgments about intellectual specifics such as individual personnel decisions, the content of courses, and the structure of particular programs, etc. Usually they will be out of their depth here. But they should be actively engaged in matters pertaining to overall intellectual climate, especially the degree to which such core principles of rational discourse as objectivity, disengagement, meritocracy, civility, and pluralism are honored and institutionalized. Here trustee fair-mindedness, ideological coolness, and intellectual distance, can help keep the ideological passions of academics from running discourse off reason's rails.
Like judges, trustees should see themselves as having a responsibility to ensure that the rules of sound intellectual discourse are recognized, that the academic cultures of the institutions they supervise are "lawful" in a manner that preserves the free and effective exercise of reason. This, of course, is a matter of faculty responsibility too, but since the nature of these rules, in many essentials, simply follow the operating principles of a liberal social order, citizens of that order should be able to understand them well enough to backstop compliance. Trustees need not be scholarly experts to participate meaningfully in the university's intellectual governance. They need only be intelligent and watchful products of a free society.
What types of rules are we speaking of and why should members of a liberal society be able to recognize and help enforce them?
Continue reading "What Trustees Must Do" »
By Ward Connerly
John Moores is a friend of mine. When I was a member of the Board of Regents of the University of California, John was my closest ally. Occasionally, we found ourselves on different sides of specific issues, like student fees. But, more likely than not - and especially on other fundamental issues - our perspectives and our votes were in accord. I grew to respect John as one of the most dedicated and talented Regents with whom I had the pleasure of serving during my twelve-year term.
On November 12 of this year, John tendered his resignation, nearly a year and a half before the scheduled expiration of his term. With the resignation of John Moores, California is losing an extraordinary public servant. Because of his stature as an icon in the San Diego community, one of California's most distinguished citizens, and one of America's most generous and successful entrepreneurs, it is useful for us pause and reflect on the reasons for the early resignation of John Moores.
Continue reading "Trustee Out, Diversity In?" »
By Martin Morse Wooster
The case of the Robertson Foundation versus Princeton University has not, after nearly five years of litigation, yet come to trial. But it's already shaping up to be the most expensive donor intent case in history. Reports of spending by the Robertson family differ, but news reports indicate the family may have spent as much as $20 million trying to sever their foundation from Princeton University control.
As for Princeton, an article that appeared in the Daily Princetonian in October stated that the university had, so far, committed $22 million to defending itself. Princeton is so deeply committed that in June the university won a suit against its insurer, a subsidiary of the giant firm American International Group. The insurer, according to an article in the Newark Star-Ledger, balked at paying more than $5 million under Princeton's policy. The courts ordered AIG to give Princeton another $10 million. (AIG, however, plans to appeal.)
The stakes are high because the Robertson Foundation constitutes around eight percent of Princeton's endowment with a value of $850-900 million. But the case also involves the issue of what rights the donor has over whether his gift would be used or misused.
Continue reading "Donors - Remember Princeton" »
By Ward Connerly
[This piece also appeared in the San Francisco Examiner]
Robert (Bob) Dynes is president of the University of California (UC) - and has been in that position since October, 2003. During my tenure as a member of the Board of Regents of UC, I worked with Bob while he was chancellor of the campus at San Diego and during his reign as president of the entire UC system. Bob Dynes has excellent credentials as a physicist and he is a very decent human being. But, in announcing his retirement from the UC presidency. Bob is doing something he should have done the day he was selected to head the UC system. In fact, it was a mistake from the outset to select him, for which I am just as responsible as all of the other regents.
Some contend that Dynes was "encouraged" to resign by the regents because of his handling of administrative compensation and other "perks." This is undoubtedly true. Yet, while his departure is the right decision, the mishandling of executive compensation or the perception of him as a weak administrator are the wrong reasons for "encouraging" him to ride off into the sunset. It would be useful to examine some of the problems at UC.
Continue reading "Robert Dynes An Example Of Larger UC Problem" »
By Anthony Paletta
Tom Monaghan, founder of Domino's Pizza, Ave Maria University, and the town of Ave Maria, Florida (in that order) obviously isn't attracting media acclaim in his effort to establish a conjoined orthodox Catholic University and Catholic town on a former tomato farm in Southwest Florida. No, he comes off as something as something of an Inquisitor, putting a farm of happily secular Florida tomatoes to the sword to make room for a bishopric of right-wing Catholics. The caviling about Monaghan, for the most part, is easily explained; Monaghan has explicitly proclaimed his intention of creating an orthodox Catholic University, and his critics despise the thought.
Monaghan's truly revolutionary step here isn't imagining a university - it's that he hasn't simply handed his dream over to the standard mush of college administration, but has remained deeply involved with the project - so far as to literally uproot the college over several states. The college's move from the Midwest to Southwest Florida is a rather dramatic example of a founder's influence, but American higher education seems to have altogether forgotten the experience of a living founder in this day of universal rule by amorphous faculty-trustee-administrator confederation (aka "our costs will always go up but no one knows who's responsible"). Faculties are accustomed to Presidents who can be curbed when overly outspoken (Laurence Summers) and administrations are accustomed to routinely ignoring the wishes of donors and trustees (the Bass donation at Yale, the Robertson donation at Princeton). Monaghan is a very different quantity in this mix, an individual who hasn't been content to see his wishes run aground in the morass of standard academic decision-making. He's continued to exert a very active role in his University - a step that professors would see in almost any case as a clear intrusion into their purlieus.
Continue reading "Administrative Orthodoxy At Ave Maria" »
Posted by Anthony Paletta
Senator Grassley, the Chronicle of Higher Education reports, has turned his attention to the tax status of collegiate athletic programs - wondering "what gives the IRS comfort that they have met the requirements of being a charity."
The Chronicle furnishes Grassely abundant cause to wonder, reporting that athletics donations now amount to more than a quater of funds received by some universities:
The fresh concerns came in response to a Chronicle article, published online last week, suggesting that contributions to sports programs are eating up an ever-larger share of donations to colleges, and that some athletics programs entice donors with perquisites like free seats on teams' charter flights.
"When I hear stories about top donors to college athletic programs getting a free seat on the team plane," Mr. Grassley said in a written statement, "I wonder what the public gets out of that. We need to make sure that taxpayer subsidies for college athletics-program donations benefit the public at large."
Grassley's very right to wonder about this. The second Chronicle article is sure cause for alarm, detailing sophisticated athletics fundraising operations operating independently of University development departments. Its unclear what if any benefit these increasingly self-contained operations are providing schools, and good cause to examine their tax status accordingly.
Continue reading "College Sports Bonanza" »
Posted by Anthony Paletta
Anyone looking for a prime example of official huckster-speak should take another look at Dartmouth's press release concerning the board restructuring. It makes the college's reduction of alumni voting rights sound like, well, a warm bath.
First there's a lot of mush about Darmouth's unusually small board, which Dartmouth's governance committee found was putting "the College at a competitive disadvantage versus its peers." Well, perhaps. Then it explains the remedy:
By adding eight charter trustees nominated by the Board, Dartmouth will still have a smaller Board than many of its peers, but the Board will have more flexibility to add trustees who offer the specific talents and experiences that the College needs, which elections don't ensure.[italics mine]
You can read "talents and experience that the College needs" as meaning "not those of Peter Robinson, T.J. Rodgers, Todd Zywicki, or Stephen Smith." In that sense, yes, elections would ensure very little for an administration at odds with its alumni. Yet Dartmouth goes on to assure that it's not eliminating democratic processes; it's merely reducing them - strategically and tastefully, of course. It all sounds rather gentlemanly - although elections "ensure" nothing, they'll keep holding some anyway. Let's read on:
Retaining Alumni Trustee Elections and Reaffirming the Important Role of Alumni Nomination of Trustees in the Governance Process
The Board determined that it would retain the significant number of alumni-nominated trustees on the Board as well as the contested ballot election process that the College has used to select them. Dartmouth has the highest proportion of alumni-nominated trustees of any peer institution, and is one of the few schools that selects alumni trustees via contested ballot elections. The Board believes that having alumni-nominated trustees and elections gives Dartmouth's alumni an important direct voice in the College's governance and fosters greater alumni involvement in the College. Under the changes adopted by the Board, Dartmouth will continue to have one of the most democratic trustee election processes of any college in the country. [italics mine]
True, and if I was to replace a third of Congress with my own appointees, we could still call American governance pretty democratic - compared to the Arab League.
Happily, the New York Sun today reports that alumni are less than pleased with the colleges' blandishments.
One alumni quoted in the story noted "It's like abolishing the House of Commons and making it all the House of Lords."
Leaders of the Dartmouth Alumni Association are mulling a suit. All luck to them.
Posted by Anthony Paletta
What do news outlets have to say about the Dartmouth Trustee fracas?
Dartmouth News "Dartmouth Trustees Vote to Strengthen College's Governance"
New York Times "Dartmouth Expands Board, Reducing Role of Alumni"
New York Sun "Dartmouth Guts Power of Competitively Elected Trustees"
Let me just suggest that one of these is less accurate than the others; I wouldn't want to unfairly influence anyone's judgment by saying more.
Posted by Anthony Paletta
Press Release: Dartmouth College Office of Public Affairs
Dartmouth Board of Trustees Elects Stephen Smith
HANOVER, N.H. - The Dartmouth College Board of Trustees has elected Stephen F. Smith as a trustee following a nomination vote by Dartmouth's alumni from a slate of four candidates.
Smith, a 1988 graduate of Dartmouth, will join the board on June 11, following commencement ceremonies in Hanover. He succeeds Nancy Kepes Jeton '76, who will step down in June after ten years of service on the board.
The Dartmouth Board of Trustees has ultimate responsibility for the financial, administrative and academic affairs of the College including long-range strategic planning, approving operating and capital budgets, managing the endowment, overseeing the educational program, leading fundraising efforts, setting tuition and fees, and approving major policy changes. The Board currently consists of 18 members, including eight alumni trustees nominated by alumni vote and elected by the board, eight charter trustees selected by the board, the Governor of New Hampshire (in an ex officio capacity) and the President of the College. In November 2003, the Board voted to expand the number of seats to 22 over several years.
A total of 18,186 voters, 28 percent of alumni, cast 32,941 votes using the "approval" method whereby voters can vote for as many of the candidates as they wish. Smith received 9,984 votes. blockquote>
Read more here
Privilege: Harvard and the Education of the Ruling Class
The Left University
Don't Fund College Follies
Retaking the University