Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Open Thread: Presidential Search Committee

The members of the Presidential Search Committee were recently unveiled. There seems to be partisans from both sides of the alumni dispute on the committee, most prominently Martha Beattie '76 and Peter Robinson '79. This is an open thread concerning its make-up. Discuss.


Ice-T said...

Not much to say yet.

The composition of the committee is about what one would expect. Haldeman as ex officio member, 6 additional trustees (including 1 petition trustee), 6 faculty... faculty representatives include 3 from the professional schools and 3 from the arts & sciences... If there's going to be a student member, I suppose the SA president is as good a choice as any. Beattie seems somewhat out of place in that there's no obvious reason for including her, but I don't think that's a big deal.

The committee hasn't done anything yet, so I don't think there's much to say. How should a committee go about doing this sort of search?

I hope they find someone good, whatever that means.

Daniel F. Linsalata said...

There are specialized headhunter organizations for this type of thing. They do all the legwork, and all the committee has to do is interview the candidates. It is not even necessary to draw up a list of criteria until fairly far along in the process. At that point, it just becomes a gut instinct for each of the members on the committee.

Unfortunately, by that point in the process, many of the committee members (particularly those who are not trustees), tend to evaluate each candidate from a "How will this help me" point of view. Faculty are notorious for this attitude.

Chances are, even though Ed Haldeman is technically an ex officio member of the committee, as Chairman of the Board, he's going to very involved in the process.

DartBored said...

John Isaacson '68 is the headhunter.

anony said...

The only issue worth talking about will be the person the committee selects. All this delving into minutiae that are neither likely to affect the outcome nor changeable by alumni does not get us anywhere.

annoy said...

Since when do we shy away from "delving into minutiae" here? Maybe, if we make enough noise, the search committee will hear us. Alumni noise has been effective in the past.

Anonymous said...

spelling error
should be

Litlriki said...

A number of sources have questioned the choice of Martha Beattie ’76 as a representative of the general alumni body on the Presidential Search Committee. Although I played no role in her selection, it is a fairly straight-forward choice based on Martha’s role as an active alumni volunteer, and I support this decision. She has long served her class and the College, most recently as the president of the Alumni Council and subsequently (and currently) as the chair of the Alumni Liaison Committee of the council. This committee is tasked with the gathering and sharing of information from the alumni body and acting as the interface with the alumni, the administration, and the Board of Trustees. In her position as chair, she has been at the receiving end of the generous feedback from all alumni on issues of governance and beyond, putting her in an ideal position to provide input to the search process. On a more personal level, her spouse, Jim, is also a member of the Class of ’76, and two of their children are members of the class of 2007 and 2009. Some posts and letters have cited Martha’s involvement with Dartmouth Undying as a source of concern, but I would argue against this. First, in general terms, Martha is able to look objectively at the College and its leadership, despite having taken a position in the recent Association of Alumni election. Second, it is likely that any representative of the alumni body would have taken a position on one side or the other in this recent election, making it nearly impossible to find someone who is qualified to serve on this committee who would not be considered to have an opinion on this issue. At least in Martha’s case, based on my experience working with her for the past five years, she maintains a very open-minded perspective without a fixed ideological commitment to a specific agenda.

Rick Silverman '81
Alumni Council President

anony said...

Thank you for the additional information, Rick. It is clear that Martha's long involvement with Dartmouth qualifies her to join the search committee, and that she would have been selected whether or not the lawsuit was taking place. The fact that she, like other members of the committee, chose to become involved in the debate is yet more evidence of her commitment to the College. If an alum's support of the Unity Slate could harm her qualifications, then a Trustee's support of the Parity Slate and the lawsuit against his board would be an automatic disqualifier.

DartBored said...

To the victor go the spoils, I suppose.

Choosing an alum without an opinion may surely have been difficult, but choosing the lightning rod for one of the sides should have been avoided. We need to "work diligently to bring the Dartmouth family together again, blah, blah, blah..."

anony said...

DartBored has it wrong. If Martha were unqualified, and if at least one person tied to the losing side were not also appointed, then you could say her appointment is a spoil of victory. But neither of those things is true. In addition, since Dartmouth Undying formed after Wright announced his retirement, it is possible the people assembling the search committee came up with Martha's name long before Dartmouth Undying even existed.

DartBored said...

@Anony: I'll give you the spoils of victory point even though Robinson is one of six trustees on the committee (not counting the ex-officio member) and shouldn't be treated as an offset to the alumni rep.

But my second point was the serious one: why appoint a lightning rod when we are supposedly striving for unity? And don't try to say the committee was picked way back when Wright resigned. That's not how it happened.

And I agree that Martha is "qualified" in terms of commitment as a volunteer and intelligence.

Somebody with some vision should be trying to get us out of this trap once and for all.

anony said...

@ DartBored:

What trap are you talking about, and what makes you think you are important enough to be in it? I don't think you are a trustee, I think you are just kibbitzing from the sidelines.

Robinson is definitely an offset to the alumni rep if all you are considering is the members' political leanings. Robinson is a lightning rod and should not have been appointed if the committee was striving for unity. He did more than Martha, he put his lightning-rod politics in a legal document and filed it with a court, even though he (unlike Martha) may have been obligated not to.

Unless you're an insider, you don't know that Martha wasn't on the mind of the selecters prior to the creation of Dartmouth Undying.

DartBored said...

@ Anony:

The trap is that we are constantly finding ways to keep the alumni body divided. Am I important enough to be in this trap? That depends on whether or not alumni are important to the College. If we take all the talk about Unity at face value, alumni are important. But maybe the talk is just spin, in which case, you are right: the trustees run the place and everyone else should stand back.

You seem to prefer that no petition trustees be on the search committee. If so, at least you are honest.

Let's assume Martha was selected way back at the beginning. That doesn't mean it wasn't a divisive decision or that the decision couldn't have been changed two weeks ago. But I doubt that this matters much.

Anonymous said...

Anyone care to start throwing out candidate names?

Dubya said...

Save me worrying about outplacement for my staff next year... how about Condi?

Academic brilliance. Stanford management experience. Diplomat. Networked to the wealthy. International vision. And you can promise her more challenges than being NFL commissioner... just explain that Parity vs Unity is a lot like Israel and Hamas.

anony said...

@ DartBored:

If you don't like division among alumni, then stop being divisive (assuming you supported Zywicki or the lawsuit).

I don't care whether "petition" trustees are on the committee. I prefer that no disloyal trustees be on the committee, but that is the board's decision.

So now you're saying Martha was a "divisive" choice (she was chosen by the trustees -- so you've dropped the "divisions among alumni" idea?) even before Dartmouth Undying existed. But I thought the only reason some people want to substitute their judgment for the trustees' regarding Martha's selection is that she was involved in Dartmouth Undying.

Anonx said...


Please be specific when you label DartBored divisive, rather than just make assumptions.

And think more clearly... certainly it is possible for trustees to make decisions that create divides between alumni. This is one reader who is tired by the "Unity" supporters claiming it is always their opponents whose actions are the divisive ones.

anony said...

I was specific. I said DartBored is divisive if he supported either Zywicki or the lawsuit.

DartBored's concern is with something he can affect: divisions among alumni. True, trustees can increase division, but what difference does that make if you can't do anything about it? Anything helpful DartBored says about getting out of this "trap" is helpful only to the extent it refers to alumni.

Can you be specific with regard to "divisive" actions of the board? It seems to me that the individual petition trustees, the lawsuit proponents and their financial backers, those who asked the legislature to intervene, the pro-lawsuit slate, and the secret committees that published "Save Dartmouth" ads in national papers [funny how the members of all those groups seem to overlap!] are the ones being "divisive."

Anonx said...

No, Anony!! You said Dartbored WAS divisive and you assumed he supported Zywicki. Read your own words above. No IF.

Divisive actions by the Board? How about making a unilateral decision they know is unpopular with many alumni... 90% or 40% matters not... without even trying to work out a solution with the alumni representatives first. This is after a year-long process, not just the 2007 summer finale, conducted in total secrecy.

Truth Be Told said...

How about agreeing on what we don't want in a Pres.: a businessman like McLaughlin, or an academic with no scholarly heft like Wright. Both are non-starters because they can’t command support in the faculty.

I see the next President as first and foremost having to pass the threshold test of being a first-class scholar.

After that, you want someone who has real analytic ability (someone “smart”, in the words of Susan Ackerman) and perhaps some real world experience in restructuring an organization that is treading water (at best).

Does anyone disagree with the above?

DartBored said...

Can't afford to step away, I guess.

I thought I was the true voice of unity. Now I'm the divisive one.

For the record, I didn't vote for Zywicki.

Doesn't it take two to be divided?

Oh wait, if you agree with the board, you're OK. Only dissenters, or alleged dissenters, are divisive.

I agree with the famous Scott: the board can do whatever it wants, because it is the board. I don't think Dartmouth is a democracy.

I do think the alumni can offer valuable support in guiding the College and this guidance can and should go beyond the traditional alumni volunteer activities.

For the past several years, the alumni has been patronized. Maybe the next president will be the person that "gets us out of this trap".

OK. Let's get back to the fun. Condi? She would surely end alumni division. Everyone will hate her. How about Larry Summers? Dartmouth would be a good place for a Harvard reject. Or Hillary? Her husband has a way (his) with kids.

Seriously, Truth is on to it. We need a true scholar with enough business sense to look toward and plan for the future. If he throws a few kegs the alumni's way, we're a bunch of clapping seals.

Anonymous said...

"Truth" is on the money. How about Econ Prof. Andrew Samwick?

He's a widely published and respected scholar, he's worked in government, he's done a great job at the Rockefeller Center, he has a good reputation as a public intellectual, and he is young and personable.

Economics is Dartmouth's best department, probably the only one with a national reputation.

ronald dregan said...

hahaha @ anonymous above me. econ the only dept with a national reputation? only an econ major would say that. or an idiot. although the former often implies the latter.

Anonymous said...

Hey,ronald dregan:

Given that Brain Sciences and Philosophy have been gutted by faculty departures, do you have any information to add to your sneering, content-free post?

What other departments do we have here at the top level. Government w/o Alan Stam?

Share your wisdom, if any, with us, please.

anony said...

The statement that DartBored was divisive is true if (i.e., "assuming") he supported Zywicki or the lawsuit. He implicitly admitted that he supported the lawsuit. Anonx, read more carefully.

Anonx, please tell us how a "unilateral" decision by a board is different from every single decision it makes. Please name any private corporate board that does not meet in "secrecy" where nonmembers are concerned, releasing only those details it chooses to make public. Please tell us why any board should have to make only decisions that are popular with a majority of the public.

And following your own argument, wouldn't a decision that is popular with 40% probably be unpopular with 60%? You haven't proposed a stupid way to run a board; you've proposed no way at all.

The short version: the board owes you squat. Get over it.

Anonx said...

Anony: If you and your peers had supported Zywicki and supported the lawsuit, there also would have been no division. Do you label your own position, no matter how well justified you believe it to be, also divisive? If so, why are you throwing stones; if not, how are you different and better?

As DartBored said above, it takes two to create a division.

No Board, not one, makes unilateral decisions that impact people beyond their own organization without consequences. How about a simple example: Consider a school board facing budgetary constraints. Does it renegotiate previously-agreed-to salary increases with the teachers' union, or does it simply say "no raises next year; you work for us; we owe you squat; get over it"?

anony said...

Wha?? My peers *did* support Zywicki in his divisive campaign, and that's how he became a divisive trustee. If my peers had elected the lawsuit candidates, the lawsuit would have continued the massive division that it started. It does *not* take two to create a division, it takes one small, obnoxious and ignorant group of agitators.

Every board makes decisions that affect people beyond the corporation. They are all unilateral decisions by definition, which is why calling them "unilateral" fails to make a point. But you are confusing market consequences (a corporation that makes unpopular decisions becomes less popular) with legal rights. No board is required to listen to, let alone obey, the demands of unhappy people simply because they exist. There are millions of people affected by airlines' unilateral decisions to buy oil futures or charge for baggage. Just because some are former customers does not mean they *must* be negotiated with.

A school board is a poor example because it is an elected public body. Let's imagine you are talking about a private corporate board that has a contract with its employees. Why would it say "we owe you squat"? It already made a promise in writing to those people to pay a specified amount of money in return for clearly specified services. The two sides intended to be bound to an agreement, and we know this because they left proof: they wrote down all the important points of their contract and signed the document.

annonzyw said...


Anonx said...

@Annonzyw: Nice to see some intelligent thinking here.

Tim Dreisbach '71 said...

Among all the inputs into the search committee, that of Coach Buddy Teevens stands out... that there be a great match between the candidate and the uniqueness of Dartmouth. As the coach recognizes in his own recruiting, that includes a true appreciation of the outdoor setting. While President Wright may have had that to some degree, the current bruhaha over Outdoor Programs and the letter from DOC leaders suggests that not all in the Administration have the same understanding.

John S. Dickey was a noted outdoorsman, as well as an international thinker. But this appreciation goes back further, as evidenced in the words of President Hopkins:

"I would insist that the man who spends four years in our North Country and
does not learn to hear the melody of rustling leaves or does not learn to love
the wash of racing brooks over their rocky beds in the spring, who has never
experienced the repose to be found on lakes and rivers, who has not stood
enthralled on the top of Moosilauke on a moonlit night or has not become a
worshipper of color as he has seen the sunset from one of Hanover's hills, who
has not thrilled at the whiteness of the snow-clad countryside in winter or at
the flaming forest colors of the fall n I would insist that this man has not
reached out for some of the most worthwhile educational values accessible to
him at Dartmouth."
-Ernest Martin Hopkins,
President of Dartmouth College 1916 - 1945

When was the last time a Dartmouth president stood atop Moosilauke... AFTER SUNSET? Make that a requirement for any new candidate!!!

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