Board of Trustees to increase size, reduce terms

by Mark Herman | 11/17/03 6:00am

The Dartmouth College Board of Trustees will increase its size by six seats, from 16 members to 22, before the end of the decade, the Board voted this weekend and announced today.

The six seats will be split evenly between three charter trustees appointed by the Board and three alumni trustees nominated by the alumni body and elected by the Board.

The Board has periodically considered such a change since soon after the addition of four seats in 1961, said its chair, Susan Dentzer '77. This expansion will mark only the second time the Board has changed its size in the College's history.

"The Board has constantly been looking to see: do we have the right size, the right complement of people to govern the institution?" Dentzer said.

The increase will give the Board greater flexibility to seek new members from diverse backgrounds, with specific skills, capacities and expertise, Dentzer said. The Nominating Committee met Saturday morning to discuss these issues more thoroughly.

"We have long sought to have a balanced Board in terms of the different professions of our members, as well as their gender, age, race, ethnicity and state or country of residence," Dentzer said.

Though the expansion would help attract members specifically with backgrounds in higher education and the non-profit sector, Dentzer said, both she and College president James Wright denied that the current Board was lacking in its diversity or available skills.

"There is no specific category or need that the Board thought was missing right now," Wright said. "I don't think that anyone believes there is a major deficiency on the Board."

The plan to increase the Board's size will also limit the tenure of its members from two five-year terms to two four-year terms. Current trustees will finish their five-year terms, at which point they may be re-appointed for a second term of four years.

"It's somewhat daunting to ask them to make a commitment for 10 years," Dentzer said.

The decision to expand the Board comes after a bill was passed last June to allow the College to change its charter without the approval of the New Hampshire legislature.

Dentzer and Wright said they expect the reaction to the Board's decision to be positive, as the Board will maintain the balance between charter trustees and alumni trustees.

The trustees' decision does not affect and is not affected by the College's Association of Alumni's proposal to combine the Association with the Alumni Council, a smaller group elected to direct alumni affairs, Wright said.

"The Board is not involved in that current discussion," he added.