Dartmouth alumni cast a record 24,940 ballots in the 2008 Association of Alumni (AoA) election in June and elected 11 Executive Committee members dedicated to ending litigation against the College. Last fall, on a 6-3 vote, the prior leadership of the association voted to bring a lawsuit against the school to block measures the Board of Trustees approved in September 2007 to strengthen College governance.
VOX asked Vice President for Alumni Relations David Spalding '76, who was re-elected to the position of secretary-treasurer, to weigh in on the results of the election.
Q: The majority of voters clearly endorsed the "Unity" slate for the AoA Executive Committee. What does that mean for Dartmouth?
A:It means that our more than 68,000 alumni are ready to pull together in support of the College's mission. They know that this is a critical time in Dartmouth's history. The board has launched a search to find the next president-only the 17th leader in nearly 240 years-and I think it's safe to say that alumni want Dartmouth to have its pick of the most qualified candidates and find the best person to take the College into the future.
Q: How would you characterize this year's association election? There were a lot of communications flying around.
A: Well, I certainly think that the trustees were correct last September when they wrote about the negative public and financial impact of Washington-style electioneering in highly politicized alumni contests. This election was expensive and intrusive-nearly $1 million was spent altogether by both sides. There were mailings, websites, emails, robo-calls, push polls, and phone surveys. That kind of money could pay for 20 students to attend Dartmouth for a year. I think most alumni would agree that the process was quite divisive and that they did not enjoy it.
Q: What message do you believe the alumni were sending in this election?
A: Sixty percent of the alumni who cast ballots voted to elect a slate of candidates who ran on a platform of ending the lawsuit launched by the former association against the College. Alumni have rejected the idea that taking Dartmouth's business to the courts or the state legislature is the way to resolve internal issues. There was a clear mandate for creating a productive, collegial relationship with the Board of Trustees, and I know that this new association is looking forward to forging an effective partnership.
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Last Updated: 12/17/08