The Board's newest member

by Maggie Fritz | 11/16/93 6:00am

When Abe Rosenthal, the former executive editor of The New York Times, posted David Shipler '64 as bureau chief in Jerusalem, he thought he had broken tradition by assigning the Times' first Jewish correspondent there.

But when Rosenthal boasted about it, someone pointed out, "Abe, Shipler only looks like a rabbi."

The anecdote, recorded by Thomas Friedman in his book "From Beirut to Jerusalem," says a lot about Shipler, who was appointed to the College's Board of Trustees over the weekend. He is a man who gives off some misleading first impressions.

When people think of Shipler's achievements, they most often think of his experiences as a war correspondent in Vietnam or the Middle East.

But College President James Freedman is counting on Shipler's intellectual depth as a sociologist and his reputation as an author and an academic.

"Dartmouth will benefit greatly from David Shipler's knowledge and insights on the many serious challenges facing our world today," Freedman said.

And besides, the Board of Trustees, which nominated Shipler, already has two journalists.

Shipler joins the 16-member Board that already includes Susan Dentzer, the chief economic correspondent for U.S. News and World Report, and David Shribman, the Washington bureau chief for The Boston Globe.

"I'm pleased. Dartmouth gave a lot to me and I'm happy to have a chance to give something back," Shipler said in a telephone interview last night from his home in Chevy Chase, Md.

After graduating from Dartmouth, Shipler served two terms in the Navy and then joined The New York Times where he worked as a correspondent in Saigon, Moscow and Jerusalem. Shipler was later named the paper's chief diplomatic correspondent.

He left The Times in 1988, after serving the paper for more than two decades.

Shipler has won many awards, most notably a Pulitzer Prize for his book on relations between Jews and Arabs in the Middle East, called "Arab and Jew: Wounded Spirits in a Promised Land."

In October, Shipler visited Dartmouth as part of the lecture series on "The Search For Peace in the Middle East." He spoke about how the perception of victimization of Palestinian Arabs and Israeli Jews perpetuates the conflict between the two groups.

The visit was the first time Shipler had returned to the College since graduation.

Shipler said he still keeps in touch with many of his friends from Dartmouth but has not spent much time on campus since he graduated.

"It's difficult to know what has changed," he said. "Of course there are women now. That's a nice change. That's good to see."

Shipler said he is interested in race relations on campus.

"I have thought about the racial issues on campus," he said. "I'd like to be involved to the extent that the Trustees are able. I am excited about the academic excellence that Dartmouth offers its students and I plan to play an active role in maintaining that standard of quality."

Shipler said he is unsure of the issues he will have to deal with as a member of the Board. "It's hard to know what issues will be put in front of us," he said.

Since 1990, Shipler has spent much of his time teaching, lecturing and writing.

After serving as an adjunct professor at American University in Washington, he was the Ferris Professor of Journalism and Public Affairs at Princeton University.

A Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellow in U.S. Colleges, Shipler holds honorary degrees from Middlebury College in Vermont and Rowan College in New Jersey.

Presently he is working on a book on race relations in the United States.

He lectures on racial issues in Russia, the Middle East and the U.S.

Shipler and his wife Deborah Isaacs Shipler have three children. The family spends its summers in Swans Island, Maine.

Shipler's election is for an initial term of five years. The Board is composed of the College President, the Governor of New Hampshire, seven members elected by the alumni and seven more members nominated by the Board. Trustees are limited to serving only two five-year terms.

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