How Alumni Balloting Works

by Julie Amstein Cillo | 10/31/05 6:00am

As Chair of the Alumni Council Trustee Nominating and Search Committee, I must, on behalf of the committee, take issue with College Trustee T.J. Rodgers '70's current characterization of the trustee ballot as being comprised of "establishment candidates" and wish to explain just how the non-petition candidates earn their place on the ballot ("Alums spar over proposed constitution," Oct. 28).

The Trustee Nominating and Search Committee is comprised of 10 members who are elected from the body of the Alumni Council. As members of the Alumni Council, they represent a wide range of classes, geographic regions (alumni clubs), ethnic and cultural backgrounds, affiliations and both genders. In addition, they represent a wide range of perspectives and beliefs. They have been selected by fellow alumni because of their service to the College and their ability to represent a wide range of alumni and student opinion and sentiment. The mission of the committee in nominating a slate of trustee candidates is to help Dartmouth achieve its objectives in remaining a leading institution for higher education.

With many different backgrounds being represented on the Nominating Committee, each person brings a unique perspective that, when combined with discussions and contemplation about a proposed trustee ballot, strives to ensure that Dartmouth remains an institution that is revered by alumni, faculty, prospective students and the community at large.

The Nominating Committee begins its work each spring, compiling information about potential candidates whose names have been submitted to them through individual alumni or alumni groups. Names are not submitted by the "establishment," as characterized by Rodgers in the same news article, unless Rodgers means to imply that the "establishment" is the greater alumni body. Names can be submitted by any alumna/e and any alumni group at any time during the year. In fact, solicitations for nominations go out a number of times a year to the alumni body at large. The College does not instruct the committee that they must consider any specific individuals or any specific kind of individual.

The committee's goal is to select potential candidates who fit the general criteria any trustee must meet, which includes the perspective and maturity of judgment that permit planning and execution of long-term objectives; a spacious mind characterized by a breadth of interests; openness to continuous learning and receptive to new ideas; moral and ethical integrity; trustworthiness; an understanding of the College, including its standard for excellence, its concern for the individual, and service to the world at large; a commitment to increasing one's own understanding of education at Dartmouth and higher education in general; an appreciation of and respect for the distinctive characteristics of the academic community; a willingness to assign Dartmouth a high priority among competing interests for time, energy, and attention; the ability to listen to other points of view and seek common ground to achieve consensus; the ability to communicate effectively; and experience in problem solving.

The committee is not given any mandates in terms of the specific criteria that trustee candidates must possess, such as profession, affiliation, political interests, policy objectives, etc.

Throughout the fall, the committee gathers and considers data on potential candidates and creates a short list of individuals who are invited to meet with the committee. Individuals who accept an invitation for interviews engage in an extensive dialogue with committee members to answer questions that are constructed to determine how well they meet the general criteria for a trustee. At no time is a member of the College administration present during the dialogues.

At the conclusion of the interview process, a proposed ballot is submitted to the Alumni Council for approval before announcement to the overall alumni body is made. The characterization of the committee's work as that of the "establishment" is uninformed and inaccurate.

We are proud of our independence, as well as of the quality and caliber of our nominees. Anyone wishing to submit an individual's name to the committee for consideration is strongly encouraged to do so.