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A Baffling Statement by the Dartmouth College Board

June 10, 2007

My alma mater, Dartmouth College, send me and aother alumni and email this morning, which included as one of its items the news that "the Board [of Trustees] concluded that it would be useful to develop a statement for Dartmouth on governance and trustee responsibilities" and included this link to the statement.

It’s not very long, so I suggest reading the whole thing to get a sense of why I found this so baffling: the first two of the three sections seemed so condescending and either unnecessary or useless that the whole release left me baffled.

Is it really necessary or useful to include in a formal policy expectations like:

  • "Use your own judgment in voting versus following the lead of others."
  • "Prepare for meetings by reading the agenda and supporting material and by keeping informed about Dartmouth and trends and issues in higher education."
  • "Serve Dartmouth as a whole, rather than the interests of any constituency."

Even if these were necessary admonitions to people of the stature of those who sit on the Board (and maybe they are). Does anyone really believe that this public "statement" does anything to advance these goals– as distinct from informal discussions among the members?

Or is this just laying the groundwork for some future actions that are not mentioned?

As I say, I am baffled.

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