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Governance Recommendations to Maintain The College's Preeminent Role in Higher Education
A Study by the Governance Committee of the Dartmouth College Board of Trustees, August 2007
Since Dartmouth's founding in 1769, the College's Charter has placed responsibility for Dartmouth's governance with its Board of Trustees. Consistent with that responsibility, the Board has periodically examined and changed its size, composition, and organization as well as the process for selecting Trustees to ensure the College continues to have a strong and effective governing body. This review is the latest in a long series of Board governance studies.
Our goal in conducting this review was to determine the governance structure and process that can best ensure that Dartmouth maintains its unique and preeminent position in American higher education - even as it continues to adapt to the rapidly changing society in which we live and faces increasing competition for the best students and faculty, as well as the resources to support them. Above all, we want to ensure that Dartmouth has a Board of Trustees best able to help the College fulfill its mission of attracting and educating the most promising students with a faculty passionate about teaching and the creation of knowledge - both now and into the future.
The Governance Committee has spent the past three months conducting a thorough review of Dartmouth's governance. During that time, we have heard from a wide range of individuals - including all of the current Trustees on the Board, many former Trustees, alumni leaders, and other members of the Dartmouth community - on the best structure for the Board and the best process for selecting Trustees. We have consulted with experts in college and nonprofit governance and have carefully evaluated practices from more than 30 leading colleges and universities. And, we have received input from hundreds of alumni who have taken time to share their views with us.
Meeting the Changing Needs of the College, While Maintaining the Alumni's Role in Governance
The Committee agreed that Dartmouth should strengthen its governance by taking steps to:
With all of these important objectives in mind, the Committee recommends to the Board that we:
If adopted by the Board, we believe these recommendations would help Dartmouth achieve the important objectives outlined above and increase the Board's ability to contribute to the strength and vitality of the College community. They also would move Dartmouth closer to the practices of other leading institutions, while preserving what is unique about Dartmouth and the direct role that alumni have long played in its governance.
Putting Dartmouth - and Its Current and Future Students - First
The Governance Committee recognizes and appreciates that there are strongly held views on all sides of this issue, and we know there will be some members of the Dartmouth community who do not agree with all of the recommendations made here. But we hope that those passionate views are driven above all by a shared love and dedication to Dartmouth - and a desire to do what is best for the College. That is, after all, what has driven our governance review as well, and these recommendations reflect what the Governance Committee believes is best for Dartmouth and its students.
In recent months, some have invoked the history and tradition of Dartmouth in arguing against any change to the College's governance. But what has made Dartmouth such an enduring and successful institution is that its history has not been one of resisting change, but rather one of adapting to meet the new challenges and needs of the College, while still preserving what is unique and special about Dartmouth. We believe the changes we have recommended here represent a reasonable balancing of interests that will serve the College's overall needs. We believe these changes are true to Dartmouth's founding principles and necessary to ensure the College continues to have a strong and effective governing body moving forward. And we believe these changes will help ensure that Dartmouth remains one of America's preeminent educational institutions and continues to be a place where students from around the country and the world can receive an education unmatched by any other.
Download the full report (852kb, PDF)