Alumni select Kurz as nominee for Board

by Ester Cross | 11/4/12 11:00pm

Public school educator Mitchell Kurz '73 was unanimously selected as a candidate for the Dartmouth Board of Trustees in a Nov. 2 vote held by the Alumni Council. Kurz is nominated to replace Peter Robinson '79, who retired this year after serving two terms as a member of the Board. Kurz emerged as a top candidate because of his dedication to teaching and service, success in his field and "enthusiasm and passion" for Dartmouth, according to Nominating Committee Chair Peter Frederick '65.

"We need to make the idea of public service a more exciting destination," Frederick said. "He will strengthen the service component of a liberal arts education."

Kurz is an academic dean, director of college counseling and chair of the mathematics department at the Bronx Center for Science and Math, a public high school in New York City founded in 2005. He left his position as CEO of the Young & Rubicam advertising agency to pursue a career teaching in inner-city middle and high schools.

Kurz said he began working with Dartmouth in a serious way beginning in 2006 when the Tucker Foundation asked him for help identifying a partner school in New York City for the College's Summer Enrichment at Dartmouth program, which supports students from under-resourced backgrounds in the college admissions process.

Kurz traveled to Dartmouth with his students who participated in the SEAD program and had the opportunity to meet the Dartmouth sophomores that mentored and tutored his students.

"They are involved in a way that has given me incredible insights into what the current Dartmouth undergrad is like and how different that is from my history with the College," he said. "The incredible intensity behind public service that so many young people have unfortunately was not as prevalent when I was on campus."

Kurz said that as a member of the Board of Trustees, his focus would include increasing the College's reputation for excellence in teaching and undergraduate experience.

"The vision that I would like to see is for Dartmouth College to be seen as strong and leading an entity as it actually is versus the impression that people have," Kurz said. "Dartmouth is better than its impression. It's frustrating to me that there is a gap and that Dartmouth is better than it's image."

Association of Alumni President John Daukas '84 said that one of the most important areas of focus for the College is improving Dartmouth's "name and brand" on the national and international level. He said Kurz's experience in advertising and marketing will serve the College well in accomplishing this goal.

Furthermore, Daukas noted Kurz's experience in inner-city public schools as an important factor for increasing the socioeconomic diversity of the student body.

"I think it's good for students at Dartmouth to be exposed to people from all walks of life," Daukas said. "I think there's a moral imperative for us to try to help poor kids and give them an opportunity to really take off."

While Kurz has no prior experience in higher education, he said he brings a unique perspective and skill set to the Board of Trustees, which already has a number of members with significant experience in higher education. Kurz said his experience visiting Dartmouth during sophomore summers with the SEAD program has allowed him to meet many students and become familiar with student life on campus.

"I have a Dartmouth '73's version of what student life is in the year 2012, and it's probably not that accurate, but it's probably more accurate than almost all of the trustees' would be," he said.

Kurz also noted his understanding of applicants of diverse socioeconomic backgrounds as a strength of his candidacy to the Board. He said students accepted to the College should form a "symbiotic" relationship with Dartmouth in which both sides are making valuable contributions.

Kurz was selected from an initial pool of nearly 300 nominees. Kurz's nomination will be put to a vote before the alumni body between Feb. 12 and March 12. If his nomination is confirmed, the Board of Trustees will hold a final vote on whether to seat the candidate.