Endorsement Letter – Peter Saccio

Dear Former Students,

Two years ago, when Dartmouth was being sued by the Executive Council of its own Association of Alumni, I wrote many of you urging you to vote for a new membership of that Executive Council. Your votes brought about the withdrawal of the suit, a gratifying result for which I thank you.

Now there is an election for two vacancies on the Board of Trustees, both to be decided by alumni/ae voting. I write again, with several requests.

The first is simply that you vote. In these elections, the decision is made by a rather small turnout. I blame no one for that: you are busy with your lives, you may not recognize the names of the candidates, you are bombarded by mystifying statements. I feel the same way about elections at my own alma mater. But I urge you to make an effort: it really does matter up here. Support for petition candidates has been a conservative hard-core, nearly all of whom always vote. Victory of people nominated by the Alumni Council depends on how many other alumni/ae participate.

Second, I have suggestions about whom to vote for. The system has been simplified. The Alumni Council, after thoughtful search and careful interviewing, has nominated only one candidate for each vacancy, and on this occasion only one of the two is opposed by a petition candidate.

Morton Kondrake ’60 is a very distinguished journalist who has covered Washington for many years (Newsweek, New Republic etc), one of the few people I read and believe. He is running unopposed. Still, vote for him. If you want more information, see www.mort4dartmouth.com.

John Replogle ’88 is the CEO of Burt’s Bees, the personal care company. I didn’t teach him (I taught one of his brothers) but I have met and talked with him at some length. He is smart, and he is committed to a Dartmouth based on distinguished faculty, diverse and energetic students, and the unique opportunities that the College provides. He is well qualified to support our present excellences, to set policies that will extend them, and to address the financial and other problems that currently beset the College.

John is far better qualified than his opponent Joseph Asch ’79, one of the gadflies who have been troubling the College in recent years, now nominated by signatures of the usual group that supports petition candidates. Gadflies can be useful, of course, but Asch makes statements that lead me seriously to doubt his judgment. He supported the lawsuit of two years ago. He made a number of self-contradictory, shoot-from-the-hip, negative comments on the selection of Jim Kim as the new President. It bothers me deeply that he has publicly and repeatedly said that “the quality of education at Dartmouth is declining.” In the judgment of most of us on campus, and of our professional colleagues and evaluators elsewhere, that is simply not true. Dartmouth provides an extraordinary quality of attention to its undergraduates, as it has in the 44 years I have been here. In a letter sent to many of you two years ago, my colleague Susan Ackerman documented the excellence of Dartmouth’s teaching of undergraduates with descriptions of the opportunities available to students and with the testimony and surveys of recent alumni/ae. Last fall, in a new category of evaluation, U. S. News and World Report ranked Dartmouth first in the nation in the quality of its undergraduate teaching. I think Asch merely slings around these opinions to gain support from those who are, for one reason or another, dissatisfied with the College. But the major problem with Asch is that he wants to micro-manage Dartmouth. The work of the Trustees would be seriously impaired by his sitting on the Board: their job is to set policy, and leave daily administration to the Administration. John Replogle’s career, and his previous work for Dartmouth, indicates that he has the intelligence, vision, and experience that can help Dartmouth in the present difficult times, and build Dartmouth for the future. For further remarks, see www.john4dartmouth.com.

My last request is this: if you have found this letter worth reading, forward it to fellow alumni/ae whose email addresses I may not have.

Polling began on March 10 and ends on April 7. If you have not yet received a ballot by e-mail or ordinary mail, Dartmouth has lost track of your whereabouts. Since the ballot manufacturer has finished his job, the only way you can receive a ballot in time to vote in this election is to e-mail the person who manages the voting database, Sally.Bourdon@Dartmouth.edu.

With warm and hopeful greetings to you all,

Peter Saccio

Leon Black Professor of Shakespearean Studies (emeritus)

March 15, 2010