College announces the appointment of three new trustees
David McKenna ’89, Shonda Rhimes ’91 and Todd Sisitsky ’93 are set to begin their four-year terms on July 1.
The College announced on March 8 that David McKenna ’89, Shonda Rhimes ’91 and Todd Sisitsky ’93 have been elected to the Board of Trustees. They will begin their four-year terms on July 1, replacing Daniel Black ’82, Beth Cogan Fascitelli ’80, Caroline Kerr ’05 and Carlos Rodríguez-Pastor Tu’88.
Chair of the board Liz Lempres ’83 Th’84 wrote in an email statement that each of the new trustees brings “unique insight and exceptional judgment” to the board based on their professional experience and prior work with Dartmouth.
Rhimes, an award-winning producer and screenwriter, is the founder of television production company Shondaland. Sisitsky is the president of TPG — a leading alternative asset management firm — and co-manages its healthcare investments in the U.S. and Europe. McKenna served as a managing partner and executive committee member at Advent International, a private equity firm, until his retirement last year.
Two of the new board members have served in various alumni positions at the College. McKenna has been a co-chair of the Presidential Commission on Financial Aid since May 2020, while Sisitsky currently chairs the Board of Advisors for the Geisel School of Medicine. Sisitsky also helped launch the Innovations Accelerator for Cancer to fund cancer research at Dartmouth in October 2020.
Lempres said that the board’s main goal for the upcoming year is to assist President-elect Sian Beilock — who will assume her role on July 1 — as she transitions into the presidency and identifies her priorities. In addition, Lempres said the board plans to maintain its focus on “pressing initiatives already underway,” such as mental health, housing and inclusivity.
In an email statement, Dean of the College Scott Brown wrote that he “looks forward” to welcoming and working with the new board members.
“They are extraordinary leaders in their own fields,” Brown wrote. “We are grateful for their deep commitment to Dartmouth and confident their diverse set of experiences will provide substantive and wise guidance for the College.”
Dartmouth Student Government President David Millman ’23 said that he appreciates the variety of expertise presented by the new trustees.
“I think it’s a really good trio that’s coming on,” Millman said. “You have someone who worked on financial aid, and then someone who’s from more of a creative side and then someone who’s more on the medical side.”
Lempres added that the board’s Governance and Nominations Committee reviews dozens of candidates each year before making their recommendations. According to Lempres, most candidates are identified through work they have done with Dartmouth in other capacities.
“Individuals are recommended through a number of sources, including current and former trustees, other alumni, Dartmouth faculty and administrators and sometimes by people outside of the College,” Lempres wrote. “Many are already involved with Dartmouth through Advisory Boards, the Alumni Council, Class Leadership or special initiatives.”
As an incoming member of the board, McKenna said that financial aid remains a priority for him. He added that the College has made “great progress” in eliminating loans from financial aid packages and adopting need-blind admissions for international students. McKenna said he hopes to “continue to work on that front.”
“[Dartmouth] is a really remarkable philanthropic endeavor when you step back,” McKenna said. “The whole thing is just perpetuated by generosity. Building on that spirit would be something I’d very much like to participate in.”
The DSG currently communicates with the board through a group of graduate and undergraduate student liaisons to the Student Experience Committee, Millman said. He added that he would like to see greater student involvement with the board.
“In order to accurately make informed decisions on campus policies, it makes sense to have the student perspective, and I’m in favor of any policy that increases student voices to the board of trustees,” Millman said.
According to Lempres, the new trustees are currently going through the onboarding process. They will be working with the board to determine the committee placements that best allow them “to apply their experience and expertise,” Lempres added.
McKenna said he was “excited” about helping people see Dartmouth as “a place of discovery.”
“I’ve been out in the world, and I’ve seen a lot of organizations,” McKenna said. “I’ve seen things go well, and I’ve seen things not go so well. And I can tell you that when groups of people help each other and respect each other with optimism about their work and the future, beautiful things happen.”