Politics and Alumni at Dartmouth

Today’s Boston Globe carried an interesting story about an upcoming board of trustees election at Dartmouth College. According to the story, the upcoming election has become a heated battle over direction of the university. On one side is the alumni council, which nominates candidates for open seats on the board. On the other is a group of alumni dissatisfied with the university’s direction, a group that is apparently willing to spend tens of thousands of dollars to nominate and elect their own candidates to the board.

This year’s independent candidate, Professor Stephen Smith of U. Virginia Law School, says he is running to support smaller classes and stronger athletic teams. One of his opponents, San Diego Padres executive Sandy Alderson (an attorney himself as well as a former Marine sergeant), claims that Smith is the hand-picked candidate of “a well-funded, disciplined political organization” with a conservative political agenda. Alderson claims that he was interviewed by two other independent trustees with conservative ties who concluded that they couldn’t support him. Smith, for his part, asks “”What is conservative about class size or athletics?” while acknowledging that alumni donations have funded the $60,000 he has spent on mailings for his campaign.

The story closes with a quote from Peter Robinson, one of the independently elected Dartmouth trustees. Addressing all colleges and universities, he says, “”The alumni are coming. But they won’t sack your institutions, just reconnect them with American life.”

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