Alums elect Replogle, Kondracke

by Greg Berger | 4/11/10 10:00pm

Alumni elected Morton Kondracke '60 and John Replogle '88 to the Board of Trustees this month.
by Tilman Dette / The Dartmouth

Thirty-two percent of voting alumni 20,790 voters cast ballots in the election, which ran from March 10 through April 7, according to Vox the Vote. Replogle received 14,176 votes to Asch's 5,823, while Kondracke received 17,762.

College President Jim Yong Kim told The Dartmouth that the voter turnout was "encouraging" and represents "a new record" for alumni participation in trustee elections.

"I think that both [Kondracke] and [Replogle] are outstanding individuals who bring a real wealth of experience to the Board, and I look forward to working with them," Kim said, adding that he believed the Council's nomination procedure was a "great process."

Kim also noted the "nearly three to one" margin by which Replogle defeated Asch.

"I think it's great for Replogle to come in with that kind of backing from alumni," Kim said.

The election marks the first victory of Council-nominated candidates since the consecutive elections of four petition candidates T.J. Rodgers '70 in 2004, Peter Robinson '79 and Todd Zywicki '88 in 2005, and Stephen Smith '88 in 2007.

"Alumni are ready for a change [from] the very vocal and very small minority of the alumni body that have really been driving the last several elections," Replogle said. "The unspoken majority spoke out."

This was the first trustee election to occur after an ammendment to the Association constitution was passed in May 2009. The ammendment called for a one-person, one-vote system for trustee elections, ending the use of an approval voting process in which alumni could vote for an unlimited number of candidates. The amendment allowed the Council to nominate only one or two candidates for the Board, as opposed to the three required in the past. The Board first called for these changes in its September 2007 governance report.

Historically, three Council-nominated candidates have campaigned against one petition candidate in alumni trustee elections. Because Replogle only faced one opponent as a result of the rule change, he avoided the approval voting process' tendency to split the vote for Council candidates, putting them at a disadvantage against petition candidate

Both Replogle and Kondracke credited the work of their shared steering committee for the election's turnout.

"I know from our standpoint, we just had a phenomenal campaign organization, and I don't think there was any class that wasn't represented," Kondracke said. "Class captains clearly got the message out to everybody in their class that this was an important election."

Kondracke also expressed hope that fewer elections will be contested in the future and that candidates will not be required to spend as much money.

"I think this result is so decisive that the wars of the past are over," he said. "The alumni have spoken, and therefore unless there is some sort of enormous controversy that comes up, we're not going to have as many furiously contested elections as we had in the past."

Although Kim said he is "glad to see that a seat on the [Board] is so coveted," he added that he was "disappointed" by the campaign's intensity, as well as "some of the accusations" made during the election.

"I think that the result of this election would push us in a direction where there's less contention, but tremendous amount of debate about the future of Dartmouth College," Kim said. "I think we can do that without spending so much money on the campaign."

Kim added that money spent on campaigning which he estimated was upwards of $300,000 could have been used for "better purposes" if donated to the College.

Replogle said he believes the election turnout shows that alumni support a "constructive vision" of the College, while Kondracke said the results prove alumni do not support lawsuits or "nonstop criticism" of the College.

Kondracke noted that the election results represent a "decisive statement" from alumni that they support the direction of the College under Kim, who took office July 1, 2009.

"It's not that [Kim] endorsed anyone, but the vote is a statement that they want to get on with the success of the College and that they have confidence in him as a leader," he said.

As a trustee, Replogle said he will work to end lawsuits against the College and will "have a conversation" about the Board's governance model in order to ensure the "best" structure for the College.

Since 2007, the College has faced two lawsuits brought by alumni against the Board in response to the Board's 2007 decision to end parity between alumni-elected and charter-selected trustees by adding eight additional seats filled solely by charter-selected trustees. The plaintiffs of both lawsuits argue that alumni are guaranteed parity on the Board by an agreement made in 1891, which they see as legally binding. The first lawsuit, brought by the Association's executive board in September 2007, was dismissed with prejudice in June 2008 when alumni elected a new executive board that opposed the lawsuit. The second was brought by an independent group of alumni in November 2008, but was dismissed on a motion of res judicata in January 2010. The group is appealing this decision to the New Hampshire Supreme Court.

Replogle said he has a decisive view on parity, despite past criticism that his opinion was inconsistent.

"I believe alumni representation on the Board is a positive thing," he said. "[It should] continue to be expanded."

Replogle added that he would like to explore introducing young alumni representation on the Board, similar to the model used by Princeton University, in which one student is elected to the group of alumni-elected trustees each year.

"I think that may be a way to bridge the gap," Replogle said. "I'm not dogmatic that we need to reach a 50-50 balance immediately, but I think that's a good objective for us to have."

One of Asch's campaign platforms was to restore Board parity, although he said he did not support the second lawsuit against the College.

Kondracke expressed a similar sentiment to Replogle.

"I did not say that I endorsed absolute parity, but I think we should move in that direction," Kondracke said.

Both Replogle and Kondracke outlined further objectives for themselves as trustees. Kondracke said his role in the future will be to communicate Dartmouth's robustness to the general public better, to improve the College's image and to increase alumni involvement in College governance.

"I view my role in this new era to try to help Dartmouth communicate its message better, so everyone knows how great we truly are," he said.

He also said he hopes to ensure that Dartmouth becomes more competitive with other Ivy League institutions. When accepted students make their college choices, Dartmouth "loses overwhelmingly" to Harvard, Princeton and Yale, he said.

Replogle said he hopes to address the problem through improved communication with prospective students, their parents and the general community. As a trustee, Replogle will work to "put classrooms first," as well as to manage the College's assets, costs and revenues to reflect the College's long-term needs, he said. Replogle said he intends to become involved with Board discussions on "education curriculum," adding that he is also willing to serve the Board in whatever capacity he is needed.

"I also look forward to spending time when I'm in Hanover meeting with students and Student Assembly listening and being close with Dartmouth today," Replogle said.

Replogle said he was "delighted" and "absolutely honored" by his election to the Board, adding that he wanted to thank all alumni who voted, in addition to opposing candidate Asch.

"I want to thank Joe Asch for his campaign and his hard work on behalf of Dartmouth," Replogle said. "I think he made me a better candidate and I am thankful for all he had to offer in this election."

Kondracke called the election a "fantastic victory all around." Asch could not be reached for comment by press time.

Kondracke and Replogle will replace Michael Chu '68 and Zywicki on the Board of Trustees. Chu has served his second and final term, and Zywicki was not re-elected to a second term, a break from precedent in which re-elections were routine.

The three petition trustees elected over the past six years Rodgers, Robinson and Smith endorsed Asch over Replogle in a letter Asch sent to thousands of College alumni during the voting period. Smith also sent a separate mailing of his own in which he expressed his support for Asch and criticized Replogle as a trustee candidate.

Despite the trustees' endorsement of his opponent, Replogle said he "looks forward" to working "collaboratively" with all members of the Board.

"We only succeed if we all work together," Replogle said. "I will listen to the differences in opinions and try to see if there's a way for us to build, amongst those differences, options to better the College."

Although Kim said in a previous interview with The Dartmouth that he "wouldn't at all be surprised" if the Board discussed the future endorsement of candidates by current trustees, he said on Sunday that the issue was not discussed at this weekend's Board meeting.

Kondracke and Replogle will join the Board on June 13, according to a College press release.

Several alumni supporters of Asch could not be reached by press time.

Staff writer Madeline Sims contributed reporting to this article.

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