Friday, December 18, 2009

Winter 2009 Alumni Council Report to the Class of 1994

Seasons Greetings from Hanover, or at least close by. I recently completed my first Alumni Council Weekend as your representative for the Class if 1994. I'm honored to be your voice to the College, and your source of information for what’s happening on campus.

Trustee Nominations

The biggest news to come out of last weekend's meeting was the Nomination of two candidates for the two open seats on the Board of Trustees. The Council voted 89-1 to forward the recommended candidates of the Nominating Committee to the alumni body. I was the sole dissenting vote, not because I find any fault with the chosen candidates, but because recommending a single candidate for each open seat negates the reason for having an election.

The Nominating Committee believes that by forwarding a single candidate, another candidate will come forward through the petition process. This will then lead to a one-on-one election between the Alumni Council candidate and the Petition candidate. I believe this process cements a two-party system that recent rule changes have tried to avoid. I hope that I am proven wrong, and that we do have a spirited choice between outstanding candidates for both seats when we vote this spring. My objections to the process aside, I want to thank the Nominating Committee for giving us two spectacular candidates, Morton Kondracke '60 and John Replogle '88.

Both Mort and John came up to Hanover to introduce themselves, and both spoke passionately about their love of Dartmouth. Kondracke is best known for his years in journalism, from his time as a panelist on "The McLaughlin Group" to his current stint as one of the Beltway Boys on Fox News. He is also a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University, but I promised not to engage in mudslinging.

Replogle is President and CEO of Burt's Bees, a leading personal care company that specializes in natural and ecologically friendly products. John is also a veteran of WFRD/WDCR, which is a sign of sound judgment and character. I wish them both the best of luck, and thank them again for stepping forward to run for Dartmouth Trustee.

I've been encouraged by Alumni Council leadership to campaign on behalf of Mort and John, but I will limit myself to providing you with a much information as I can on the candidates and the upcoming campaign.

You can learn more through the Alumni Council's Facebook page, and through the two announced candidates campaign websites, and If and when petition candidates come forward, I will be happy to pass along information about them. Here's to a robust and positive Trustee Election.

Budget Crisis

New Dartmouth President Jim Yong Kim was kind enough to meet with the Alumni Council not once, but twice, during the weekend. While his stirring address to the Council Dinner on Friday night was moving and memorable, the stark outline he gave Saturday morning of the financial challenges facing Dartmouth needs to be communicated. The national economic recession has hit Dartmouth's Endowment hard, though not as hard some comparable universities with more aggressive investment strategies. With no changes to the College's budget and investment plans, Dartmouth is facing a $50 million deficit next year, growing to $122 million by 2014.

President Kim's plan to tackle this mounting deficit is to cut $50 million in expenses next year, another $50 the following year. This $100 million in annual savings will bring the budget back into balance over the next five years, but also mean some tough and painful choices have to be made. An alternative approach, one being adopted at Yale for instance, is to phase in the budget savings over several years while tapping into the Endowment to smooth the transition. President Kim and VP for Alumni Affairs David Spalding made a compelling case that making deeper cuts today will leave Dartmouth's budget and endowment in much better shape down the road, whether the economy rebounds strongly in the next year or suffers another dip.

For more information on Dartmouth's financial picture, I encourage you to visit or watch President Kim’s recent 90-minute presentation on YouTube at Copies of most of the slides used at available at

Academic Affairs Committee

I’m thrilled to be a member of the Council's Academic Affairs Committee. Undergraduate instruction is the core of Dartmouth’s mission, and I can't think of a more important way to give back to the College. During Alumni Council Weekend, we received a comprehensive overview of the Native American Studies Program from Chair Bruce Duthu, and a fascinating presentation from the student editors of the Dartmouth Journal of Undergraduate Science. This periodical gives Dartmouth students a unique opportunity to publish original scientific papers. It is a wonderful resource that elegantly compliments Dartmouth's core academic mission, and provides real value to current and prospective Dartmouth students.

What can you do for Dartmouth today?

One thing we all have in common is an abundance of ideas for what other people can do to help Dartmouth. But I wanted to tell you about a few small things I did last weekend to help the College on the Hill.

I've started a Facebook group for those interested in the upcoming Trustee Election. On Facebook, search for DarTEC (Dartmouth Trustee Election Clearinghouse) and join. Hopefully, the Alumni Council page and Vox the Vote will provide comprehensive information on all Trustee candidates, but it's important to have an independent source of information on the issues facing the Board of Trustees as we consider who to add to that Board. The site is open to all to read and to post. Feel free to post links or commentary you find useful, and to make the case for your candidate. I will be monitoring the page in order to maintain a civil discussion, but will make no other editorial restrictions on content.

I've subscribed to the Dartmouth Journal of Undergraduate Science, Not only will this dramatically improve the quality of my coffee table literature which is currently limited to Sports Illustrated and Entertainment Weekly, but it will support a great undergraduate publication.

And of course, I've made sure my Class Dues are up to date. But your Dues are current, right?

The next Alumni Council meeting is in May. In the meantime, I am available to answer any questions I can, and forward any I can't to the Alumni Relations Office. You can get in touch with me at or call me at (603) 748-3659.

Thank you again for the honor of representing you on the Alumni Council, and Merry Christmas.

Yours in service to Dartmouth,

Grant Bosse '94

Friday, December 4, 2009

Dartmouth Trustee Nomination Follow-Up

I wanted to add some follow-up thoughts to this afternoon's post about the Dartmouth Trustee Candidate Nominations.

First, I neglected to thank both Tom Daniels '82, who chaired the Nominating Committee, and Janine Avner '80, Alumni Council President. Though I disagree wholeheartedly with their nominating strategy and their belief that the Alumni Council should now actively work to elect the Committee's nominees over any petition candidates who emerge, both have gone out of their way to welcome my input, and to give me a chance to share those opinions with my fellow Councilors. From past Councilors, I understand that this is a marked improvement from the way dissenting voices were welcomed over the past several years. It shows we can disagree, sometimes passionately, about the issue facings us at Dartmouth, and still respect each other. Of course, I think that reinforces my view of the world, but I would, wouldn't I.

Scott comments on the prior post that since petition candidates can and likely will step forward, it's unfair to claim that the Nominating Committee set up an uncontested election. But in the Nominating Committee's mind, there shouldn't be a contest. We should confirm its choices. And any candidates who get their name on the ballot should be defeated. I find this an obvious overreach of their responsibility.

Further, the Nominating Committee strengthens the presumption that Dartmouth Alumni are forever split into two camps, insiders and outsiders, and that each camp distrusts the other's motivations and judgement. Having watched the governance battles of the past five years, I believe that the division they seek the quell stems at least as much from Alumni Council defensiveness as from disaffected alumni. Building those divisions into the nominating process is a bad idea.

I'm not going to belabor the process argument much further. Alumni interested in serving on the Board of Trustees now have the opportunity to seek petitions to be put on the ballot, and I'm looking forward to the opportunity to find out and share their vision of Dartmouth, along with Mr. Kondracke's and Mr. Replogle.

I'll have full report from the Alumni Council Weekend for the Class of '94 and anyone else interested tomorrow or Sunday. President Kim's speech tonight was phenominal. If you'll excuse me, I'm going to watch the Mort Report and buy some Burt's Bees lip balm.

Go Big Green!

Pre-empting the Election at Dartmouth

The Dartmouth Alumni Council just voted 89-1 to nominate two candidates for the two Trustee positions up for election next spring. I was the one. Never before have I felt like such a voice crying out in the wilderness.

The Nominating Committee brought forward two outstandingly qualified candidates, Mort Kondracke '60 and John Replogle '88. Both men are extemely distinguished in the field, both made the trip to Hanover to introduce themselves to the Council this weekend, and both spoke passionately about their love of Dartmouth.

While I can't quiblle with the Nominating Committee's work in filtering the field of Dartmouth graduates down to a pair of Trustee candidates, I am left to wonder the point of an election with only one candidate for each office.

Tom Daniels '82 Chaired the Nominating Committee, and justified the decision to limit the field to one candidate based on "rumblings" that other candidates would surely emerge through the petition process, and that they wanted to ensure a one-on-one contest. Yet there is no guarantee that a petition candidate will qualify for the spring ballot, or that there will be only one challenger. What the Nominating Committee has done is game the system in an attempte to redetermine the outcome of the Alumni election.

Voters deserve a choice. That needs to be the cornerstone of any election. Yet the Nominating Committee, and the Council through its vote today, has decided to substitute its judgement for that of the voters. There are real issues facing Dartmouth, and real choices on where the College goes under the Kim Administration and beyond. Kondracke and Replogle may be outstanding Trustees, and might end up supporting them both once I learn about their priorities for Dartmouth. But I would never use my new position as my Class Representative on the Alumni Council to tell my classmates how to vote. I'm going to try my best to get them good information about both candidates, even if they end up unopposed, so that my classmates and the rest of the Dartmouth Community can make an informed choice.

Elections are inherently messy. Tempered get frayed and feelings get hurt. But the Nominating Committee, in its zeal to avoid any unpleasantness, is generating far more division. In a conference call before my first meeting of the Alumni Council, I was instructed that it my job not just to communicate the actions of the Council to my classmates, but also to advocate for the election of their slate of candidates. I'm skeptical of In Loco Parentis when it comes to college students. This paternalistic doctrine certainly has no place after graduation.

I may be wrong, but despite today's vote, I know I'm not alone. We deserve a real choice about the direction Dartmouth takes. I'm sick of Trustee Elections being all about how we elect Trustees. Let's trust our classmates to choose between competing ideas amongst qualified candidates who all love Dartmouth. Let's have a real election, and then let's move Dartmouth forward together.

Grant Bosse '94
Alumni Council Representative
Dartmouth Broadcasting Board of Overseers