February 23, 2005


Bucking the Deans at Dartmouth: A new challenge to the university monolith on the hill. (Scott Johnson, 02/21/2005, Weekly Standard)

The adversary culture that has been widely institutionalized and ruthlessly enforced in the university is so out of step with the rest of America that it is perhaps time to wonder whether it can survive the publicity it has received in recent weeks. Next month's election of two trustees to the Dartmouth College board may provide a portent.

LAST YEAR Cypress Semiconductor chief executive officer T.J. Rodgers waged a successful insurgent campaign--the first in 24 years--for election to the Dartmouth board against three candidates selected by the alumni council nominating committee. Rodgers leans libertarian and shuns characterization on the left-right divide; he says he was motivated to run by "the degradation of freedom of speech and the freedom of assembly . . . at [Dartmouth] today." Rodgers initially promoted his candidacy via a website and mailed alumni to solicit signatures (500 are required) to have his name placed in nomination for election to the board.

This year the alumni council nominating committee has presented a slate of four alumni candidates for two board positions. Following in Rodgers's footsteps, Peter Robinson and Todd Zywicki have set up websites and solicited signatures to have their names placed in nomination in addition to the four pre-selected candidates. They have both secured signatures sufficient to be added to the ballot that will be presented to alumni in the election that takes place next month. Rodgers supports their candidacies. [...]

Peter Robinson is the Hoover Institution fellow and former Reagan speechwriter who wrote the earth-shaking 1987 "tear down this wall" speech. Todd Zywicki is a professor of law at George Mason University Law School and a blogger at The Volokh Conspiracy. In addition to their desire to preserve Dartmouth's traditional character as an institution devoted to undergraduate education, Robinson and Zywicki share concerns about the repressive atmosphere and rigid orthodoxy of political correctness on campus. (Zywicki's site links to a Dartmouth Daily article by student Dan Knecht, The Monolith on the Hill. Knecht writes, "In my almost four years at Dartmouth, I have encountered more than a handful of dyed-in-the-wool liberals. I have yet to meet one conservative professor.")

The election has been the subject of a fascinating article in the local Dartmouth-area newspaper (http://www.vnews.com/02052005/2235697.htm), the Valley News, which quotes Hans Penner, a retired religion professor and former dean of the faculty. Penner reveals more than he intends, observing: "It always seemed to me that alumni [trustees] that wanted to get into the actual workings of the college make more trouble than it's worth. They don't know what's going on . . . It's the faculty and the administration that they should trust."

We've got to have something to occupy our attention until the next primary season starts....

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 23, 2005 6:39 AM

Rodgers leans libertarian and shuns characterization on the left-right divide

To say the least. This should be entertaining; as CEO of Cypress, Rodgers had public spats with Jesse Jackson (challenging him to a public debate, and requesting the resumes of the qualified minority candidates he wasn't hiring), and a nun who challenged him to put more minorities on his board of directors.

Posted by: Mike Earl at February 23, 2005 12:09 PM