WASHINGTON, DC—The election of alumnus Stephen Smith to the Dartmouth College Board of Trustees is a resounding victory for alumni engagement in college matters, the American Council of Trustees and Alumni said today. Smith, a professor of law at the University of Virginia, is the fourth independent, reform-minded, petition candidate to win a seat in the last three trustee elections.
“Stephen Smith’s election underscores that today’s alumni are concerned about what’s going on at their institutions,” ACTA president Anne D. Neal said. “For years, Dartmouth alumni have been rightfully demanding input on critical issues facing their college.”
Dartmouth’s trustee election, held from April 1 to May 15, was open to all alumni. Professor Smith earned a spot on the ballot by securing signed petitions from 5,000 alumni; he faced three candidates nominated by the Dartmouth College Alumni Council. His campaign website proclaimed his desire to “stop bureaucratic bloat and to invest in excellence,” as well as to preserve traditional undergraduate education at Dartmouth. He won with 55 percent of the vote.
ACTA has been supporting concerned alumni at Dartmouth ever since William K. Tell, Jr. a member of its National Council, spearheaded the creation of Dartmouth Alumni for Open Governance in the 1990s. In 2004 and 2005, ACTA lauded the election of petition candidates T.J. Rodgers, Todd Zywicki, and Peter Robinson to the Dartmouth Board of Trustees on platforms of free speech, academic excellence for undergraduates, and support of athletics. And last year, ACTA spearheaded public exposure of a dubious campaign to enact a new alumni governance constitution that would have crippled future petition candidates.
“Clearly, Dartmouth alumni are concerned about the direction of their institution and want to be heard,” Neal noted. “It’s time for the academy to realize that alumni will no longer ‘put up and shut up.’ Indeed, the academy ignores alumni voices at its own peril.”
The American Council of Trustees and Alumni is a nonpartisan, nonprofit, national organization dedicated to academic freedom, academic quality, and accountability. ACTA has a network of trustees and alumni around the country including those from Dartmouth. It has issued numerous reports including The Vanishing Shakespeare, Intellectual Diversity: Time for Action, The Hollow Core, and Losing America’s Memory: Historical Illiteracy in the 21st Century.