• Alumni Council Leaders Oppose State Bill That Would End Dartmouth's Autonomous Control of Charter

    Friday, January 18, 2008

Dartmouth Alumni Council president Rick Silverman '81 and council president-elect John B. Daukas '84 were among a number of alumni who testified in a January 17 hearing held by the New Hampshire legislature on a bill that would end Dartmouth College's autonomous control of its charter.

The hearing on HB 1292 was held by the commerce committee of the state house of representatives. Introduced by Representative Maureen Mooney, R-Merrimack, the bill would repeal a 2003 law that gave Dartmouth sole control of its charter, in line with other private nonprofit organizations in New Hampshire, and require state approval of any changes to the charter.

The introduction of the bill in the fall followed the filing of a lawsuit by the Association of Alumni against the College in response to changes the Dartmouth College Board of Trustees adopted in September in the size and composition of the board.

Reading from a resolution passed by the Alumni Council opposing HB 1292, Silverman called the bill "an attempt to use the power of the State Legislature to intervene in a private dispute concerning the appropriate governance structure for Dartmouth College."

Others who testified against the bill included former New Hampshire governor Walter Peterson '47; state representative Andy Peterson '78, one of the sponsors of the 2003 bill and son of the former governor; state senator Peter Burling (whose district includes Hanover); Lewis Feldstein, president of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation; state representative Gill Shattuck '48; state representative Tim Butterworth '66; Tom Horgan, director of the New Hampshire College and University Council; Ann McLane Kuster '78 of Rath & Young (legislative counsel for Dartmouth); Gina Balkus '83;and Bob Donin, general counsel for Dartmouth College.

Alumni testifying in support of the bill included John MacGovern '80, president of the Hanover Institute, which has solicited funding for the lawsuit against the College; Jeff Newman '82, and Joe Malchow '08.

Also supporting the bill was Maryland state senator Alex Mooney '93, R-Frederick and Washington, who is no relation to Rep. Mooney of New Hampshire. A member of the association executive committee, Alex Mooney voted in favor of filing the lawsuit against Dartmouth. He is acquainted with Rep. Mooney from national state legislative work and asked her to file the bill because of his unhappiness with the trustees' decisions concerning board composition.

The bill moves to a subcommittee of the commerce committee, which may hold an additional hearing before voting on whether to move the bill to the full house.

by Deborah Klenotic