Monday, April 21, 2008

Letter from AoA President

April 21, 2008

Dear Dartmouth alumnus or alumna,

I am president of the Dartmouth Association of Alumni, an official College organization comprised of all alumni, whose primary responsibility is conducting the elections that determine the association's nominees for Dartmouth's Board of Trustees.

Recently you may have received a letter purporting to be from the Association of Alumni. The College did not send or pay for this letter, nor was it approved by a vote of the leadership of the Association of Alumni. Neither I, nor the full Executive Committee of the association, was consulted about this communication. It was signed by the six members of the association Executive Committee who have sued the College in the name of all alumni in order to halt the Board from implementing changes it deemed necessary to its makeup. I believe that the letter was produced and funded by the same interest groups that are supporting this group's lawsuit against the College and that supported the proposed legislation (recently defeated) attempting to give the State of New Hampshire control over Dartmouth's charter.

Among many other falsehoods, the letter from the six members erroneously states that Dartmouth's Board of Trustees refused to meet with the association's Executive Committee prior to the Board's decision in September 2007 to increase the number of trustees from 18 to 26. To the contrary, within hours of our one and only official request to speak with the Board, they agreed to meet with us. The next business day, members of the Board, including Chairman Ed Haldeman '70, met with the association's Executive Committee. We had a full and frank discussion and the Board acknowledged our concerns. And, as you may recall, beginning in June 2007, the Board solicited and considered input from thousands of alumni concerning the Board's structure before issuing their 57-page report to the alumni. The implication that the Board did not actively seek and fully understand alumni sentiment (in its varied complexity) is wrong. In addition, members of the Board frequently have contacted me during the past year in my capacity as president of the association to discuss matters concerning the alumni.

As your president, and as a fellow alumnus, I strongly oppose the lawsuit. I believe it is not the proper way to resolve differences among alumni or between alumni and the College. As your association president, I have repeatedly asked those who sued the College in the name of the association to disclose who is funding the litigation and whether they are alumni. I am told only that it is the Hanover Institute, an anti-administration political action committee, and not whether the money comes from within the Dartmouth family.

Despite the harmful lawsuit pursued by those who sent the letter and the misleading and divisive rhetoric they use, I see great promise ahead for alumni relations with Dartmouth. The Board of Trustees has created a new, permanent committee dedicated to improving alumni-College communications. The Alumni Council, the body representing Dartmouth's alumni, has created a new Alumni Liaison Committee to ascertain and convey alumni sentiment to the Board of Trustees, and the trustees have committed to working with this group.

Constructive support of and engagement with the College is the way for us all to help the College we love. I trust that you share that belief and that we can work together to keep Dartmouth strong.

Yours,

William L. Hutchinson '76

President, Association of Alumni of Dartmouth College


20 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is a fine, well-written letter. It appears to me that the those of the Association who are forcing the regrettable lawsuit are undeservedly taking credit for everything good about Dartmouth (as expressed in their current ad in the DAM), and using falsehoods and partial truths to blame the Trustees and administration for everything which,in their minds, is short of perfection. Perfection in any entity is unattainable. I am convinced that the Trusteees are doing their best, despite the unavoidable glitches, to assure that Dartmouth approaches this unattainable goal.

Old Alum said...

We've got two competing letters, both apparently on Association letterhead. Which one to believe? Let's see: one is sent by the President and funded in the traditional way, by Dartmouth, as he suggests in the letter itself. The other is sent and funded by an outside corporation that has sued the Association in the past and has managed (disingenuously) to get one of its own officers inside the Association leadership, where he is using the Association's name and identity to pursue a lawsuit on behalf of the corporation.

The Exec. Comm. no longer has any legitimacy whatsoever. Frank Gado must resign for unethical behavior -- using his elected office to further the agenda of his corporation.

Tim Dreisbach '71 said...

Hutchinson's letter itself is misleading. The letter he describes was clearly a communication from six identified members of the Association executive committee, who used Association letterhead as appropriate to their positions. They did not suggest it reflected the formal opinion of the committee (thought they in fact did constitute a majority of it.)

The meeting with the Board that Hutchinson incompletely describes was in fact a teleconference between the executive committee and just two trustees. They informed us that their committee had already completed its recommendations and that there was no possiblity of discussing alternate approaches to addressing their composition concerns. So much for dialog.

Bill comments that the meeting was "frank"... of course, as the College administration included their lawyer on the call, with last minute notice of so doing... This was well before the Association had legal representation.

Bill's public communication as Association president was itself not discussed with or approved by the committee, consistent with a practice he first initiated in unilaterally posting communications last summer, which he understood in advance did not reflect the views of the majority.

We do not know who paid for Hutchinson's letter or helped send it by email; he had the help of outside resources just as the committee did. That said, I still expect the message was his own.

While it is regretable that a lawsuit was required to put the trustees' new plan on hold, their unwillingness to discuss alternatives is the reason the lawsuit is now the only path to reaching a new agreement on Board composition and selection. Those who claim "damage has been done" by the suit should at least support allowing it to conclude with a clear ruling, to end debate once and for all. Electing Bill's nominees running on a withdrawal platform will only serve to destroy any hope for a legitimate reconcilation, and insure a continuation of the divisiveness.

Tim Dreisbach '71 P'00
Executive Committee member

Tim Dreisbach '71 said...

To be clear in paragraph 2 above, they the trustees on the call informed us that their trustee governance committee had already completed its recommendations and would not consider alternate approaches.

Scott said...

Tim, would you say that Hutchinson's letter is half as misleading as the one you signed recently? The one funded by the Hanover Institute but sent under cover of the Association of Alumni? Would you dispute any of the more than fifty false or misleading statements to which you signed your name?

Can you give any reason you or the majority of your committee deserves "dialog" with the Board of Trustees? Of course you're upset that they did little more than talk with you. Any child offering the Navy advice on where to send its carriers would be. But does the Board owe you a meeting? Does it owe you influence on any of its decisions? No.

If your communication from six executives (sent by the Hanover Institute but using AoA letterhead) is not a problem, then why are you pooh-poohing the letter from the President of the Association, sent under his own name?

You do too know who paid for Hutchinson's letter. Dartmouth College did, just like it used to pay for everything the AoA sent out until you allowed it to be corrupted by the Hanover Institute. Bill even suggests that Dartmouth paid for his letter in his third sentence.

If you think the Hanover Institute is nothing more than "the help of outside resources," then you have had your head buried in the sand. The Hanover Institute is now using the name and standing of the AoA in its own lawsuit – both the funds and direction of the lawyers is coming from Hanover Institute officers. You looked the other way when Frank Gado repeatedly refused to reveal the fact that his own corporation was paying for the suit, as well as when he told the EC (apparently falsely) that he did not know the source of the funds. You looked the other way when he loaned what he claimed was his own money to the AoA to hire the Hanover Institute (although he refused to admit it) to send out propaganda. You are nearly as culpable as Frank Gado himself in the selling of the Association of Alumni.

Characterizing your litigative assault against the Board of Trustees as the result of the Board's "unwillingness to discuss alternatives" is slimy. All blame for the lawsuit rests on your shoulders, Tim, and those of the other five who created this mess.

The plain fact that alumni do not have a legal right to elect trustees directly to the board needs no clarification from a lawsuit. It’s the status quo.

If you are ever hit with a meritless suit, you should remember that you once claimed that withdrawing a lawsuit would “destroy” all hope of reconciliation. We'd like to hear if you still think that's true.

Anonymous said...

ParityAlum says:

I'm very annoyed that the College is forwarding Pres. Hutchinson's letter using Association letterhead to all alumni.

I just received one from my local alumni officer.

The Association has members. The Association leadership has a legal right the alumni databases, including addresses and emails.

Not only does the College Administration deny the money to send legitimate Association mailings, but now they are denying the email lists and mail lists to the duly elected majority of the Association officers (but allowing President Hutchison to use the email lists to send HIS propaganda).

Did Hutchinson get prior approval to send his letter on Association letterhead? If not, then a hypocrite (I don't mind his letter: I mind the hypocritical behavior).

If any class officer sends anti-Parity mailings, then those officers should hand over the list or make the same efforts for the pro-parity messages, especially since a majority of voting alumni has voted for pro-parity candidates.

Anonymous said...

Scott (Meacham) is wrong on many fronts. The Board owes Dreisbach nothing, but it owes alumni greatly. Without them, there would be no Dartmouth.

Scott said...

Anonymous 9:07, why not contribute something to the discussion?

ParityAlum, are you more annoyed that Dartmouth sent a letter using AoA letterhead, as it has traditionally done hundreds of times in the past, or that the Hanover Institute did so, probably without permission (after its Secretary was warned that the holder of the copyright in the image did not necessarily give permission)?

The Association has a right to use its own databases. What makes you think it has a right to somebody else's databases, such as Dartmouth's? Mere desire? Pity?

A majority of voting alumni has elected candidates who are pro-parity, but alumni have never voted on the lawsuit or on whether to elect pro-lawsuit candidates. And even the pro-parity candidates already elected are not free of taint. Frank Gado unethically failed to disclose his Hanover Institute officership and the conflict that createad. He omitted that information from his campaign statement at the same time he was handling PR for the lawsuit against the AoA -- this was long before the EC attempted to waive the conflict. And his Hanover Institute "petition" slate had a theme of "transparency."

Anonymous said...

ParityAlum says:


Scott, you still haven't responded to the points.

If Hutchinson is so riled up about the majority of the Association (EC) sending a letter on Association letterhead, then why did Hutchinson send his own letter without permission of the EC and board?

The Association of Alumni has members. It has elections each year. Don't you think an organization is entitled to know who its members are?

Why is the Dartmouth administration trying to steal the list of alumni members away from the Association?

The Association kept its own lists for many years, and then the College took over that function, with the mutual understanding that the Association would still have access to its members.

This shows you cannot give the College an inch, or (over time) they'll take 10 miles.

As to your point about the copyright infringement... that's silly. The Dartmouth alumni association has been using that name since 1850's and that logo for a long time. Dartmouth does not own that name for every purpose. Frankly, I think the town and Earl in England would have something to say about that...

Anonymous said...

So would DartmouthCollege.co.uk

Scott said...

What points? Your comment?

"I'm very annoyed that the College is forwarding Pres. Hutchinson's letter using Association letterhead to all alumni."

I'm annoyed that the AoA has sold its legal standing to an outside corporation. Maybe the Institute's funding and promotion of the lawsuit is the quid pro quo for giving permission to use the name of the AoA in its lawsuit.

"The Association has members."

It is also unincorporated.

"The Association leadership has a legal right the alumni databases, including addresses and emails."

When the Association owns those databases, that's true. When the property belongs to somebody else, even if it contains the names of alumni, that's incorrect.

"Not only does the College Administration deny the money to send legitimate Association mailings,"

The EC majority has never sent a legitimate Association mailing. They (actually, the Hanover Institute) have only sent publicity materials meant to raise support for the lawsuit. And you expect the defendant to pay for this?

"but now they are denying the email lists and mail lists to the duly elected majority of the Association officers (but allowing President Hutchison to use the email lists to send HIS propaganda)."

Hutchinson's letter is not propaganda, and I doubt the College gave him access to the email lists. I assume (although I do not know) that the College sent the letter for him as President of the AoA, the way it has traditionally sent communications from the President for decades if not more than a century.

"Did Hutchinson get prior approval to send his letter on Association letterhead? If not, then a hypocrite (I don't mind his letter: I mind the hypocritical behavior)."

Why would the President of the AoA need approval to send a letter above his own name on AoA letterhead?

"If any class officer sends anti-Parity mailings,"

Do you mean "anti-lawsuit mailings"?

"then those officers should hand over the list or make the same efforts for the pro-parity messages, especially since a majority of voting alumni has voted for pro-parity candidates."

I don't know what class officers should do, but you will have a hard time arguing that any class officer is obligated to support the Hanover Institute's lawsuit against the Board of his alma mater. Do you mean "pro-lawsuit candidates"?

"If Hutchinson is so riled up about the majority of the Association (EC) sending a letter on Association letterhead, then why did Hutchinson send his own letter without permission of the EC and board?"

Because he had permission to use the letterhead; the Hanover Institute or the EC majority did not.

"The Association of Alumni has members. It has elections each year. Don't you think an organization is entitled to know who its members are?"

Don't you think a plaintiff is entitled to obtain private information from a defendant outside of discovery? No.

"Why is the Dartmouth administration trying to steal the list of alumni members away from the Association?"

Dartmouth owns the list. It was created and compiled by Dartmouth. You can't steal something you already own.

"The Association kept its own lists for many years, and then the College took over that function, with the mutual understanding that the Association would still have access to its members."

How important is this list if the EC majority has no trouble propagandizing to alumni on a regular basis? I suppose we'll take your word for it on the "mutual understanding."

"This shows you cannot give the College an inch, or (over time) they'll take 10 miles."

This shows you cannot give the Hanover Institute an inch or they will use your name on their lawsuit.

"The Dartmouth alumni association has been using that name since 1850's"

Names are not copyrightable, silly.

"and that logo for a long time."

Yes, with permission from the owner of the copyrighted image – at least according to the EC minutes.

"Dartmouth does not own that name for every purpose."

No one is talking about the name, silly, it's the graphic device that the Hanover Institute reproduced, probably without permission, at the top of the letter.

Anonymous said...

"Why would the President of the AoA need approval to send a letter above his own name on AoA letterhead?"

Great question... does not the same question and answer apply to the other Association officers, now being chastised by Hutchinson for doing that? Who gave Hutchinson the "permission" you would deny to the other elected officials?

If not the Association's elected leaders, who determines what a "legitimate" Association mailing is? The Administration's alumni relations office, as they did last summer in rejecting a mailing request?

If the administration is the arbiter of legitimacy, simply because they supply the funding, then the Administration is guilty of the same control you accuse the HI of, only with a greater conflict of interest. John MacGovern's future employment is not contingent on controlling alumni; David Spalding's may be, given his responsibilities for managing alumni relations and his operating approach. "Control" is one style of management, usually a failing one. In defense of Mr. Spalding, the control decisions regarding these Association mailings have apparently been delegated upwards.

Anonymous said...

ParityAlum says:

These are good points Anonymous 3:01 - However, please pick a name or pseudonym or nickname so we know who writes what.

Scott felt compelled to give a line by line retort to my earlier points and "comments" and so I want to promote clarity and civility by leaving out Anon. commentary.

Scott, I like how use use my word "silly" against me! I thought President Hutchinson's letter was silly.

(By the way: you've done an excellent job on Dartmouth architecture website. I saw that many years ago).

You're dead wrong to let Alumni lose their parity, and I have no prediction how this vote will go with any great certainty, but if parity is lost, you'll regret it when you're an older, more thoughtful alum.

You might blame "the troubles" on the diverse or divergent opinions of the petitioners and their supporters, but the real blame will be on those of you who would rather burn down the College rather than cede any perceived limits to the power of those in control.

Anonymous said...

ParityAlum says:

Sorry for several typos and missing words: typing too fast I've gotta go but meant to say "cede control", etc.

Anonymous said...

Scott (Meacham) is wrong on many fronts. The Board owes Dreisbach nothing, but it owes alumni greatly. Without them, there would be no Dartmouth.

You got that backwards. Without Dartmouth, there would be no alumni.

We owe the College a great deal, and it owes us nothing.

Anonymous said...

New Alum says:

Disenfranchise all Dartmouth alumni and the College will shrivel to nothingness.

Obliterate the College and her alumni will rebuild it, as they once did for Dartmouth Hall.

Anonymous said...

If the College owes alumni nothing, let's have the Trustees and the President say that.

Old Alum said...

It's common sense that the Trustees wouldn't owe a legal duty to the alumni, and they said it too.

Old Alum said...

Amen to this: "the real blame will be on those of you who would rather burn down the College than cede any perceived limits to the power of those in control." That means you, John MacGovern.

Anonymous said...

ParityAlum, would you care to respond to the 12:52 points? Or do you concede all of them?

-Scott