Some History: The Association of Alumni
In December 2002, the leadership of the Association of Alumni of
Dartmouth College and the Alumni Council presented a proposal to the
Association of Alumni meeting in Hanover that would amend the
Constitution of the Association and destroy the Association of
Now a new
proposal has been presented and it too would destroy the Association
of Alumni in all but name. This new proposal is fundamentally
It destroys the
Association of Alumni, an alumni body with 65,000 Dartmouth alumni
each with one vote and only one vote and concentrates power in the
hands of a few.
It raises barriers to
petition candidates for trustee and tinkers with the trustee voting
It creates special
voting rights for certain classes of people based on race and sexual
It is far too complex
It is not necessary.
This new proposal in order to be adopted must first be approved
by a two-thirds (was changed from three-fourths at the February 12
meeting) of all Dartmouth alumni voting in an alumni-wide all media
What does the Hanover Institute support?
We support the EXISTING Constitution of the Association of Alumni of
Dartmouth College with the following amendments.
Allow all alumni to
vote at Association meetings whether they are in Hanover or not
(would allow ALL alumni to vote for ALL the officers and executive
committee of the Association and ALL alumni to vote on amendments to
Restore the right of
alumni to vote for the second term of alumni trustees (taken away
from all alumni in 1990 without notice or ratification).
Run all meetings by a
certain set of rules: Robertҵles of Order.
4. Elect the
Pro-Parity slate of alumni leaders who believe that Dartmouth's
long-range future will be safer if guided by the combined wisdom and
good will of the entire body of alumni, rather than by a small
group, self-perpetuating and answerable to no one.
In addition, we urge the Alumni Council to adopt the reforms
outlined in the proposed constitution which make IT more
representative of the alumni it claims to represent.
Ultimately, this is a battle about who will serve as Trustee of
Dartmouth College. For those who care about Dartmouth, no battle
could be more important.
Now, for a moment, please let me lay out some history.
In the late 1800전artmouth alumni saved Dartmouth from
irrelevance and extinction when they won the right to have one-half
the board of trustees selected from the ranks of alumni and, more
importantly, appointed through a selection process controlled by the
alumni NOT the charter trustees.
The system under which the College was governed has not always
been as today. During the 18th and 19th Century, under
the charter granted to Eleazer Wheelock by King George III, a closed
system was in place. By the 19th Century, an insular
group of trustees (for life), empowered to appoint their successors
(for life), had led the College into significant decline. Reforms
were demanded by alumni, and in 1891, the Board of Trustees "agreed
to 'the unrestricted nomination by the alumni of five members of the
board'"(Tobias, Old Dartmouth on Trial, 1982), giving the
alumni one half of the seats on the Board. With these new rights, a
dramatic turnaround was accomplished, launching the College into the
20th Century, and fostering the pre-eminence that the College and
its alumni enjoyed.
In the 1990നose rights were significantly diminished.
An amendment adopted in 1990 to the Constitution of the
Association of Alumni transferred to the Trustees the authority to
appoint Alumni Trustees to a second 5-year term rather than stand
for re-election by the alumni.
The 1990 amendment was adopted by less than 1% of the membership.
Those who voted for this ceding of control were not aware of the
events of 1891 or of the sea-change
their votes represented. There was no open, system-wide
discussion of this change and no opportunity for the alumni as a
whole to be heard on the issue.
On account of
that vote, currently 75% of the open Board seats are filled by
appointment by the Board. The remaining 25% are the elected
first-term (4 years) Alumni Trustees. By this extraordinary action,
against the interests of those they purport to represent, this small
group of insiders have disenfranchised Dartmouth alumni
significantly. Moreover, these same elites have been unwilling, over
the past 15 years, to seek to regain the alumni governance rights
held by the Association prior to 1990.
For example if these rights to vote on whether to re-elect
an incumbent Alumni Trustee for a second five-year term had been
retained (rather than transferred to the Board of Trustees for
direct appointment) alumni would have had more than 12 opportunities
since 1990 to change the composition of the Board and implement a
true system of checks and balances. Such a result could well have
placed the College on a much more constructive course than the one
it is currently pursuing which is producing so much anger and
At the December 2002 meeting of Dartmouthlumni Association and
Alumni Council, a Joint ad hoc Committee presented a report
named Ӵrong Alumni Voice, A Strong College? While describing
their proposals as a 嵮iting?of the Association of Alumni and
the Alumni Council, it actually is a naked takeover of the reins of
the 62,000 member Association of Alumni by the Alumni Council. The
proposals, if adopted, would transfer the governance rights of the
62,000 member Association of Alumni to the 122 member Alumni
On December 6, 2003, in the face of a largest snowstorm to hit New
England in December in over 100years, alumni from all over the
country showed up in Hanover and voted against the administration͊ over?constitution. On December 6, we won, 62,000 Dartmouth
alumni won. The new joint constitution was defeated and the attempt
to abolish the Association of Alumni was defeated.
But we must face a simple fact. Though alumni won a great victory,
the current leadership of the Association will not give up. They
have lowered the threshold vote for constitutional approval from
three-quarters to two-thirds, they arbitrarily kept competing
amendments off the agenda at the February 12 special meeting and
will try to keep our amendments off the ballot that goes out later
this year. All this will be done to try and ram through their
so-called AGTF proposal in 2006. If we stay united, it will be
We plan to keep you all informed of developments as they occur.
Return to top