Trustees vote to divest from Sudan-related companies

by Stuart A. Reid | 11/14/05 6:00am

Dartmouth's Board of Trustees acted on divestment, launched new construction projects, expressed support for the Reserve Officers' Training Corps on campus and discussed faculty recruitment at its quarterly meeting this weekend.

In an interview with The Dartmouth on Saturday, College President James Wright and Chair of the Board of Trustees William Neukom '64 outlined the agenda of the meeting and explained its results.

Based on recommendations from the College's Advisory Committee on Investor Responsibility and the Board's investment committee, the trustees voted to avoid investment in six companies identified as involved with genocide in Sudan. The College, however, currently does not hold stock in any of these companies.

"The practical effect of this would be that our various fund managers," Wright said, "will be instructed not to purchase in these companies."

Discussion about campus construction also composed a large part of this weekend's meeting. In addition to voting to build a new varsity house and receiving an update on a new life sciences building, the Board received a report on current construction projects on campus.

"We are doing an historic amount of construction on this campus," Neukom said. "It looks very much like we are going to be able to meet our delivery dates on those buildings."

The new varsity house, estimated to cost $19.4 million, will be located on the east side of Memorial Field. Construction for the three-story building will begin in the spring of 2006 and should be completed by the fall of 2007. It will house a strength training center, a high-tech classroom, meeting rooms, offices and football locker facilities. The east stands of Memorial Field will be renovated to comply with safety and accessibility codes, reducing the overall capacity of the stadium from about 20,000 to about 13,000.

Although planning for the life sciences building is still in the conceptual stage, the building should be finished by the fall of 2009.

During the meeting, the board also affirmed its support for Dartmouth's ROTC program, whose cadets receive less funding from the Army than participants at other schools. Neukom said the College supports ROTC and is pressuring the Army to increase its funding for Dartmouth cadets.

"The Board is aware that the ROTC program is getting some attention on campus and has asked the administration to continue its efforts to get full funding for those ROTC scholarships for Dartmouth students," Neukom said. "We believe that the support of the program is what it should be. We want ROTC to be a success here, and we want to prevail on the government to make sure that they recognize what Dartmouth is doing to have ROTC as an alternative for our students."

Wright also addressed the proposal of electing trustees through instant-runoff voting, put forth by the Alumni Governance Task Force, saying it was not of concern to the Board.

"It's really a matter for the alumni bodies to review," Wright said.

Trustees met with Dean of the Faculty Carol Folt regarding faculty recruitment. Wright and Neukom both said they were making progress in that direction.

Vice President for Development Carolyn Pelzel also addressed the board about the College's ambitious capital campaign, which has raised 48 percent, $621 million, of its $1.3 billion goal.

Neukom said the trustees were able to interact with students throughout the weekend. As a group, the trustees met with members of Student Assembly and Palaeopitus, a group of senior leaders that advises the president and dean of the College. Individually, some trustees met with members of the Women in Science Project and the Panhellenic Council.

"Of course, I think we are blessed with five or six trustee children who are on campus here, and there's no telling what information is leaked at the dinner table," Neukom added.

The meeting was the second for new trustees Peter Robinson '79 and Todd Zywicki '88, who were elected in May after they petitioned to be on the ballot. When asked if there were divisions within the Board between petition candidates and Alumni Council nominees, Neukom said trustees operate as a deliberative team.

"We fundamentally operate as a committee of the whole, and we try to have informed discussion about matters that deserve consideration by the Board, recognizing that we are in a stewardship role and don't try to get engaged in administrative and management matters," Neukom said. "We come together with open minds and curious minds and deliberate and reason together and come to what we hope is in the best interest of the College."

The Board of Trustees will next meet in March, when according to Wright, it is expected to increase tuition.

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