Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Mathias: So, I do not think parity is a good idea at all.

I'm front-paging this anonymous comment from the post immediately below this one:

John Mathias recently had this to say about elections conducted by his fellow alumni, and the role of alumni in helping provide oversight of the College:

I have come to the view that "parity" is not a good thing, driven principally by the abusive electioneering and demagoguery of the last two petition trustees [Smith and Robinson/Zywicki?], the slating done by the Hanover Institute, the formation and financing of petitioner candidate slates by the Hanover Institute for election to the AoA EC, the acceptance by the Hanover Institute of non-Dartmouth financial support, the egregious misconduct of Trustee Zywicki (who should never have become a Dartmouth Trustee under any credible system of selection), and the ideas currently being advanced by the likes of Mr. Gale that alumni trustees should somehow "steer the Board"--among other things.

So, I do not think parity is a good idea at all.
By john mathias '69, at 11/16/2007 9:53 AM

Posted by Anonymous AnonymousMarch 12, 2008 8:22 AM


Anonymous said...

I wholeheartedly agree with Mr. Mathias.

Notice that he's implicitly speaking on the basis of his concern for the welfare of the College; it is pretty clear that "parity" is not in Dartmouth's interest. The only people allowed and obligated to guide Dartmouth according to what's in its best interest -- the Trustees -- obviously agree, and their opinion carries more weight than that of any other alumni.

Reducing the size of the Alumni Trustee minority wouldn't be in the narrow interest of the AoA insofar as that group is concerned with accumulating power to itself. But this is a clear case where the Association should recognize a higher calling. Thanks to Mr. Mathias for suggesting that the AoA is allowed to concern itself with something larger than itself: with the welfare of Dartmouth. Improving the College and improving the operation of the Board are worthy goals for the AoA, and where both may be achieved by reducing the scale of the built-in minority for Alumni Trustees, then so be it.

Alumni should be wary of any candidates who place their own interests, or the debatable interest of the Association in gaining influence over the Board of Trustees, above the clear interests of Dartmouth College itself. Dartmouth and its continued success are why people are active in the Association and willing to serve in the first place.

Anonymous said...

So is the Review officially endorsing the Hanover Institute's slate?

Should readers take that with a grain of salt, since John MacGovern used to be your advisor, and both of you get cash from the same foundations?

Anonymous said...

That Jacob Baron comes across as a bit of an idiot, doesn't he? Referring to "slander" of alumni (in writing!) and "the Dartmouth bureaucracy" supporting an obviously independent website? If he's so concerned about "lies," why has he been ignoring the Hanover Institute and the Alumni Association all these months? If the guy has no idea what he's writing about, why does he think it belongs on Dartblog? Now we know why Joe Malchow doesn't allow comments -

Anonymous said...

The Review and MacGovern are not on good terms, so I wouldn't lean too heavily on that assumption. The Review stopped getting money from foundations when the Olin foundation went under. Also, I think it's always been clear the Review supports keeping the board proportional.

Anonymous said...

Uh, yeah. The Review and MacGovern did not part ways amicably.

Anonymous said...

So because Obama's running against Clinton, one of them must be a Republican...

Is Rodney still funding both the Review and the HI?

Anonymous said...

As a fairly low-level member of the review, I have to say that the whole idea that the two or three top editors know anything about the review's funding is laughable. The editors are clueless about financing.

Daniel F. Linsalata said...

Actually, 7:58, I had a very good idea of the exact state of our funding, where it came from, how much, etc. Other editors may not have been as keyed in, but there certainly have been plenty who understood it very well.

And for the record, no, we do not take money from the Hanover Institute. The MacGovern story is a long one, but suffice it to say it's not pretty.

Anonymous said...

The Review likes to investigate and speculate on the financing of other groups, such as the AGTF, which it believed was controlled by the Administration. I seem to remember an organizational chart a while back that purported to link various pro-constitution groups to the College, too. Maybe the editors should question their own financing.

Anonymous said...

It is hard to argue with Mathias on the Zywicki point. Any system of elections that produces a trustee who is not just mediocre but probably the worst trustee in the history of Dartmouth College -- and the only one ever to be reprimanded by the full Board -- must be changed.

Anonymous said...

It is very easy to argue Mathias. If people voting together sometimes make a mistake in whom they elect, that is no reason for taking away their right to their representation, or to try to "manage" the process. The alternative, believing some appointed group is less likely to make a mistake, is in the long run always worse.

Being so distrustful of alumni goes beyond acknowledging they can at times err; it smacks of elitism and disrespect for fellow graduates.

Anonymous said...

That might be true if special-interest groups had a right to representation on the Board. They don't, however.

Is it really worse to leave the board-elected trustees in charge? Dartmouth seems to be doing pretty well by letting the board elect most of its membership, as intended from the beginning. Letting alumni nominate some of them, not enough to be "in charge," has not hurt operations too badly, Zywicki notwithstanding.

Even state schools often have boards with appointed members -- albeit members appointed by the legislature, which can have even less reason to make good choices than the board itself.

Do you think Zywicki is not the prime example of the failure of the alumni nomination system?

Anonymous said...

Arguably, Bill Neukom was just as much an example of the failure of the appointed nomination system. Yes, he donated a lot of money, and yes he provided a "prestige name" as Chairman. He also exemplified a "damn the rank-and-file alumni" attitude that fueled the divisiveness we now face. The actions he presided over were just as problematic as the words of Zywicki, and did far greater damage.

Anonymous said...

Just because you disagree with the Trustees over their policies (like they care!) does not mean they have broken any of their oaths.

Neukom, nor any trustee in history apart from Zywicki, was never reprimanded by the board or violated his duties so egregiously. And Zywicki has not even suggested that he could donate money to make good. His offenses against the board are irredeemable and have nothing in common with whatever personal disagreement you might have with Neukom over policy.

Anonymous said...

Neukom's actions (forcing a Board vote on the alumni constitution and initiating round one of the governance study)are "irredeemable offenses" against alumni as much as Zywicki's words may be offenses against the Board. An offense of action against all living graduates of the College is in spirit also an offense against Dartmouth herself, much more than a verbal offense against her current Board.

Regarding history, Zywicki is not first. In '91/'92 (the century being immaterial) those trustees most unaligned with what alumni felt were Dartmouth's interests were not reprimanded; they were asked to resign, and did. If Zywicki's offenses are irredeemable, why is he chastised above for not offering to buy redemption? The very thought of this possibility is repugnant.

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:41- Dartmouth is indeed "doing pretty well", with the Board NOT appointing "most" of its members without a prior election by alumni. Are you sure a change in this will improve things? Comparing the wisdom of Dartmouth graduates to an outside state legislature is a red herring.

Anonymous said...

Anon. 9:57, the Board elects most of its members. It always has done so, and I think changing the system now would be a bad idea. But if you can think amending the Charter so that the Board no longer elects most of its members, you should propose it to the Board.

Current Makeup of the Board:
2 Trustees ex officio (Governor, President)
16 Elected Trustees (8 nominated by Board committee, 8 nominated by alumni)

Future Makeup of the Board:
2 Trustees ex officio
24 Elected Trustees (16 nominated by Board committee, 8 nominated by alumni)

Anonymous said...

Anon. 9:45, how did Neukom "force" a Board vote when the majority rules among the Trustees? Do you think putting something on the agenda is "forcing" it? How do you explain the majority's decision to then vote in favor of the alumni constitution once the issue was "forced"? Did someone bring a gun to the meeting? And why would that piddly little nonbinding policy vote matter to you anyway? The alumni constitution was not the Board's to decide on, and its vote was nothing more than an ineffective show of support.

Initiating the governance study has resulted in a reasonable Charter amendment that the Board decided to adopt. That is not an "offense," that is a wise and necessary decision that received more than enough support to become the policy of the Board and is expected to benefit the interests of the College for a long time to come. You are joking if you think that the majorities of the Board of Trustees that approved these two policies did anything to violate their sworn duties to the Board, let alone thinking these actions are anything like what Zywicki did, and got lightly punished for.

You disagree with the Board about policy. Big whoop. Your complaints, especially given the paucity of evidence that you have any idea what you're talking about, does not make those policies illegal, immoral, or in violation of the Trustees' Oath or the Board's post-Smith reiteration of the Trustees' duties. No reasonable person, even someone who disagrees with the two votes you can come up with, would think that those votes violate the trustees' duties. Even the alumni in the lawsuit have not claimed that the vote to expand the Board was a violation of any kind of duty the alumni didn't buy and pay for.

You're smoking crack if you think that the Trustees who resigned in 1891-92 were "reprimanded" or were being punished. You don't even know whether they were asked to resign specifically, or whether they'd already planned to step down. I'd bet the chairman (the Neukom of 1891) told the assembled Board "we're going to need five volunteers to step down soon so we can elect replacements."

Do you realize that this is a completely original idea on your part? No one, up to this point, has suggested that the Trustees who resigned in 1891-92 were being punished. It undercuts the argument that alumni bought their way onto the Board. Now you're saying the departing Trustees had another reason to go. Which is it?

Anonymous said...

Anon 2:21
Enabling a vote to happen was indeed "forcing it", regardless of which way the majority then decided. The Chair presumably placed it on the agenda, or allowed it to be placed there, even when the alumni constitution was by your own admission not the Board's business in the first place. If their inappropriate involvement was, again in your terms, a piddly little policy vote, the illustrious Board should not have wasted valuable time on it.

The anonymous poster being criticised for saying 1891 trustees were "reprimanded" in fact said the opposite-- that they were not reprimanded, but were replaced by others (being those preferred by alumni). Keep your criticisms correct if you want any rational following here.

Anon 2:01
If you are not "Scott" on the alumni association blog, you join him in making the less-relevant distinction between elections by trustees and nominations by alumni, when the important distinction is between the trustees elected/appointed by the Board, and the trustees nominated/selected in all-alumni elections. Intentionally trying to confuse alumni between the two different election processes does them a dis-service. What agenda do you serve in doing so?

anon. 2:21 said...

Anonymous 9:19:

If you think enabling a vote to happen is the same thing as "forcing it," then you've thrown out a useful distinction. That's sloppy thinking.

Neukom was chair for several years and all you can find to gripe about is his insertion of a vote on what turned out to be a well-supported statement in the agenda for a single meeting? How did you get on this topic? Oh yes, you were trying to find ways that Neukom violated his obligations in the way Zywicki did... and now you've come up empty.

You engage in more annoying quibbling over meaningless terms with your "elected/appointed" and "nominated/selected" nonsense. Just stop and think about it. The only important distinction is between nomination and election. Other than the ex officio trustees, all of the trustees are elected by the board. The nominees who are elected come from one of two different sources. That's all you need to understand.

Anonymous said...

The fact that 60,000 alumni participate in elections as one source of nominees, versus having 5 governance committee trustees who nominate the others, is a very important distinction that you intentionally try to blur when you say all alumni are elected by the Board. Why do you feel this detail is not a part of what needs to be understood?

Anonymous said...

Saying the board elects all the trustees ('cept two) does not blur any distinction. It just states the most important part of a two-part process. Feel free to recite the whole process if it makes you feel better:

Following a nomination by either alumni (for 8 seats) or a board committee (for 8 and potentially 16 seats), the board elects each elected trustee.

Anonymous said...

Overheard at a recent "Dartmouth Undying" strategy meeting:

"Let the old traditions fail"

"It's a small college but there are those who will lose it"

"Man of Dartmouth, become a Mouse"
for New Harvard on the hill!
For the Loyal Lawyers above her,
And the snoozing sons who lose her,
And the sleeping daughters who lose her,
Give a snooze, give a snooze, with a snore!
They have the still Hearts in their chests,
The hill-winds in their ears,
And the propaganda of New Harvard,
In their mousey, yuppie brains...

But the sons of old Dartmouth,
The laureled sons of Dartmouth,
The Mother kicks them from her heart...

Men of Dartmouth, snooze away,
Let the old traditions fail!
Stand as sister stands by brother!
Dig a grave for dear old Mother,
In the granite of New Hampshire,
You were silent at her death"

"nix the vox"

Anonymous said...

Overheard at a recent "Hanover Institute" strategy meeting:

Now that we've turned the Association into a front so that we can pursue a lawsuit we wouldn't have standing to follow on our own, we can't afford to lose control.

Private property rights be damned, we're going to get the state to meddle in Dartmouth's affairs any way we can. Our goal is to steal something we don't own, even if it sends Dartmouth's rankings down to the level of a Middlebury or a Union.

Lie, if you have to, as long as you keep alumni from finding out the truth until after the election.

Anonymous said...

9:19 AM Anonymous is too funny:

What are anti-parity people so afraid of?

That the Judge will say again that there is a likely contract between Alumni and the College?

That more alumni than not will support petitioners and parity?

By the way, it was the college that asked for the 2003 law change. Why did they do it? The Dartmouth College case said that the Charter was inviolate, demanding that Legislature and Trustees act in concert. Why does the College now need the 2003 law to rewrite the contract at will? Obviously it was intending to lay the groundwork for stacking the board and killing parity way back in 2003...

The petitioners have never run Dartmouth? Why has Dartmouth's ranking dropped from 6 20 years ago to 12 today? Bloat, correctness, drift, grade inflation, loss of alumni participation (a direct component in US News ranking).

Why not have an impartial person determine if there is a contract or not?

What do you fear?

Give Parity its day in court.

Anonymous said...

"What are anti-parity people so afraid of?"

The anti-parity people, if they matter, are afraid of creating a right to parity. The anti-lawsuit people are afraid of a lawsuit that hurts Dartmouth.

"That more alumni than not will support petitioners and parity?" The judge doesn't care what alumni think, and he shouldn't.

"it was the college that asked for the 2003 law change. Why did they do it?" So they could amend the charter without state approval, dipsh*t.

"Obviously it was intending to lay the groundwork for stacking the board and killing parity way back in 2003..." No, it was plotting to take over your brain! Using the mercury in your fillings! Can't you come up with a better conspiracy?

Every damn corporation in the whole state of New Hampshire can amend its articles of incorporation (your "contract" between the state and the corporation) at will. Except Dartmouth. Until 2003.

Why has Dartmouth's ranking dropped from 7th 8 years ago to 12 today? Out of control petition trustees.

"Why not have an impartial person determine if there is a contract or not?" That's fine, but unnecessary. It's like asking an impartial person to settle a debate between scientists and flat-earthers. It costs the scientists money, and they always run the risk the impartial person will screw up.

Drop the lawsuit that never should have been filed.

Anonymous said...

Let's have an impartial declaratory ruling on if there is a contract or not.

Obviously if there is a contract then the Board must abide by it or be precluded from changing its terms.

Thank you to the Alumni Association for taking up this effort in my name.

Seems kind of simple: let the impartial party sort out this irreconcilable difference between the Board and the Alumni.