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Update on Governance

Dartmouth general counsel explains details

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Dartmouth's motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed by members of the Association of Alumni Executive Committee that seeks to prevent the College from implementing an expansion of its Board of Trustees was heard by New Hampshire Superior Court Judge Timothy J. Vaughan on Jan. 10. Attorneys for the College and the association debated the merits of the association's argument that a plan adopted by the Board of Trustees in 1891 allowing the alumni to nominate candidates for five positions on the Board constituted a contract that guaranteed alumni the right to elect half the Board members other than the president of the College and the governor of New Hampshire. As Dartmouth Life went to press, the court had not yet issued a decision.

Disagreement over the role of alumni in the governance of the College has also aired in the New Hampshire legislature, where the House Commerce Committee held a public hearing Jan. 17 on a bill that would repeal a 2003 law that gave Dartmouth the right to amend its charter without approval from the legislature. Rep. Maureen Mooney (R-Hillsborough) introduced the bill. Robert Donin, Dartmouth's general counsel, said the measure represents "a dangerous precedent, threatening the academic freedom of all colleges and universities in New Hampshire and the autonomy of all private, nonprofit organizations in the state." The bill has been referred to a subcommittee.

The lawsuit and the proposed New Hampshire legislation are in response to the Board of Trustees' decision last September to add 8 new charter trustees, expanding the Board to 26 members while retaining 8 alumni trustees nominated by Dartmouth graduates.  In a recent audio interview, Donin urged alumni to read the report of the Governance Committee that informed the Board's decision. "What's at stake," he said, "is the College's ability to have the kind of governing body that is going to make Dartmouth strong and keep it strong for generations to come."

By LAUREL STAVIS

An Interview With Dartmouth General Counsel Robert Donin

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Last Updated: 5/30/08