Thursday, May 08, 2008

Hearing Out the Profs

Today’s Daily Dartmouth features an editorial which, like so many of the editorials we've seen lately, is differentiating petition trustees from non-petition trustees—but the issue at stake here is shockingly not 1891 or parity-related. This time, Joseph Asch '79 is criticizing non-petition trustees for not reaching out to Dartmouth professors who, according to Asch, “ more than any other campus group, have a broad perspective on Dartmouth, one that comes from interactions throughout the institution and long experience with previous presidents and deans. If all of our trustees could tap into this information, they might come to an understanding of why so many alumni are concerned about the direction of the College.”

Asch’s ultimate criticism is that “unlike the petition trustees, who are active in learning about the College, non-petition trustees seem to base their understanding of Dartmouth on the presentations that the Wright administration prepares for their quarterly meetings.” This is a problem that has an easy solution, according to Asch.

Asch suggests that the non-petition trustees should do some of their own field-work, personally meet professors, and ultimately rely less on the power-points and presentations put together by Parkhurst. For more on his proposed solution, read on here.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

unlike the petition trustees, who are active in learning about the College, non-petition trustees seem to base their understanding of Dartmouth on the presentations that the Wright administration prepares for their quarterly meetings.

If Mr. Asch had given any basis for this perception, it would be an interesting op-ed.

I could say that it seems to me that the non-petition trustees have a better grasp on what trustees actually do, that they read more, and that they smell better, and I could easily suggest ways in which the petition trustees could get up to speed. But no one would take me seriously, and rightfully so.

Trustees meeting with professors is a great idea. Unlike alumni, professors (1) are actually directly affected by decisions that the trustees make, and (2) in most cases, have been at the College for more than 4 years and have a broader perspective than the average student.

I don't see any basis offered for his assertion that petition trustees are doing this and non-petition trustees aren't. In fact, the only anecdote he gives is at the very beginning where he says that Haldeman and Mulley have invited the entire faculty to meet with them... and then he immediately trashes the idea, arguing that "Parkhurst has a reputation ... for punishing its critics," again, with no evidence or apparent basis for saying so.

Perhaps he's right about all of this, but there's no evidence in the op-ed that he is.

Anonymous said...

It would be very helpful if we could see some specific examples of petition trustees and how they are inter-acting with faculty. Mr, Zywicki has complained that he was told not to interact with the community and I assume this includes faculty. Have they been constrained. Are the petition trustees spending more time on campus and should the others do so as well? This could be very useful.

Obvious said...

Asch wrote:

"I did a poll last month of 26 professors and asked how often they had met with a trustee either in a one-on-one discussion or with other faculty members. Twenty-one faculty members from 12 different departments responded to my questions. Astonishingly, none had ever met privately with a non-petition trustee. One professor wrote: “I have never been asked to meet individually or in a small group with a serving member of the Board, nor do I know anyone who has.”

Perhaps his sample is biased? Do you know any faculty who have met with non-petition trustees?

Anonymous said...

Look, our trustees are lazy folks who are on the Board for reasons of prestige - rather than doing the hard work of oversight.

Anonymous said...

I am one of those upset with the trustees for packing the board. But I do believe that they serve on the board out of a care for Dartmouth and not for personal prestige. They may be very busy with their own careers, but they are not lazy.

Unfortunately, they often seem too much concerned for Dartmouth's prestige, over matters of substance, and overly worried that too much oversight on their part will conflict with the desires of the Administration. Both of these groups are on record that divided opinions are unhealthy.

Anonymous said...

This editorial represents a shift in strategy by Joe Asch, and he ought to be applauded for trying to use the only legitimate tool available to alumni who wish to change the behavior of the board: persuasive argument.

Previously, he has asked both the legislative and the judicial branches of state government to step into the boardroom, where neither belongs.

A.S. Erickson said...

Please observe the comments policy.

Joe Asch '79 said...

Anon 11:36am,

Thank you for your praise, but I must correct you on two points:

1) I played no role in the proposed bill before the NH legislature bill that would have undone the 2003 decision for the legislature to no longer play a role in the modification of Dartmouth's charter - a role that the legislature played from 1769 until 2003. I attended the single legislative hearing out of interest in the proceedings. That is all.

2) As for the AoA lawsuit: I support the decision of the Executive Committee to bring suit. I think that it must be clear to all informed observers that today we'd have 26 trustees (8 Alumni, 16 Charters, 2 ex officio) had the AoA not brought the suit.

As regards my "strategy," please look up my past columns on the D's web site. They all make factual arguments about how the College could be run better. At no time have I ever written about the above-mentioned-bill in the legislature or about the lawsuit.

Joe Asch '79

10:41a (BMC) said...

"I did a poll last month of 26 professors and asked how often they had met with a trustee either in a one-on-one discussion or with other faculty members. Twenty-one faculty members from 12 different departments responded to my questions. Astonishingly, none had ever met privately with a non-petition trustee. One professor wrote: “I have never been asked to meet individually or in a small group with a serving member of the Board, nor do I know anyone who has.”

1. 26 professors isn't a lot to poll about anything.

2. How many professors met with a petition trustee? The paragraph suggests, though does not say outright, that the number is greater than zero.


Also, before the thread devolves into the inevitable name calling, I'll say that while I'm skeptical of the claims made in the op-ed, I generally admire Mr. Asch's dedication to improving the College. Unlike most others who debate the situation at Dartmouth, he's put his money where his mouth is, made concrete suggestions for improving the place, and has actually put some effort into implementing some of the changes he's suggested. In other words, he's not all talk, and I hope that any further comments on this post will focus on the arguments rather than making personal attacks on the people involved or questioning their motives.

anon. 11:36am said...

Mr. Asch, when you "attended" the public hearing on the bill in Concord, did you also testify in favor of it?

Joe Asch '79 said...

Nope.

Joe Asch '79