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The Dartmouth
May 28, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Questioning Zywicki's assumptions

To the Editor:

Others have effectively raised a number of pertinent questions regarding the tone and content of Trustee Todd Zywicki '88's remarks at the Pope Center Conference held on Oct. 27 ("Zywicki draws fire for remarks," Nov. 26), including whether or not it was appropriate for him, as a trustee, to have made those remarks at all. There are, however, several other questions that have not as yet been raised that should be, I believe.

In his remarks, Zywicki stated, "... I think Dartmouth today, despite my qualms, still has the premier undergraduate experience of any school in the country." That's a strong statement, one that the vast majority of us who are a part of the Dartmouth family can enthusiastically embrace. But how could professor Zywicki believe that if he also believes Dartmouth's trustees, administration and faculty -- the "entrenched powers" he refers to as "very powerful," even "vicious" -- have been committed to leading the College in the wrong direction for at least the 20 years since James Freedman took office? Twenty years is more than enough time to wreck a fine institution. What are we missing here? Is Zywicki being disingenuous when he gives Dartmouth his number one ranking as the country's top undergraduate experience, or are the "entrenched powers" perhaps not doing such a bad job after all? In his commentary at the Pope Center Conference, Zywicki also credited himself and his fellow petition trustees with accomplishing great things in the short two to three years they've had seats on the board. "We've gotten the speech code repealed ... focused on a reemphasis and reinvestment in undergraduate education ... gotten the College to loosen the screws on its social engineering program ... and [achieved] a renewed commitment to the athletic program."

Sounds great, right? But what specific, consequential evidence does Zywicki have that these were actually serious problems when the petition trustees first "addressed" them -- as opposed to being problems that either a) never existed, or b) once existed to some degree, but had either already been satisfactorily resolved or were already being effectively addressed. It would also be helpful if Zywicki could share with us the specific actions he and his associates took to resolve these allegedly serious problems (in the face of what were apparently overwhelming odds), and the specific, tangible evidence he has that their actions were the reason those problems were somehow remedied.

Zywicki quite obviously believes that College and university administrators, faculty and trustees must be held accountable for their statements and their actions. So be it. He can hardly be surprised, then, when the Dartmouth family starts holding him accountable for his.