Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Obligatory Alumni Trustee Election Post

Joe Asch '79 is running as a a petition candidate for Dartmouth's board. He will be challenging John Repogle '88, current CEO of Burt's Bees. He will not challenge journalist Morton Kondracke '60. His campaign website is here; if you'd like to support him by signing a petition, you can download one there.

I'm generally inclined to be liberal about signing petitions like this. The more voices in an election, the better; I'd prefer to save agonizing about whether Asch really is the best candidate until the merits stage. But even if I were ordinarily inclined to apply more exacting standards of review, I'd perhaps be inclined to be nice to Asch anyway.

As he notes in his campaign statement, Asch moved back to the Hanover area as an adult and has audited a number of classes at Dartmouth in the last few years. Among them was Art History 40, The Art of the Early Italian Renaissance, in summer 2002. Out of thanks to Professor Randolph for a good summer, he invited the professor and the 5-6 students from the class who'd gotten the highest grades on the midterm and the paper over to his house for dinner. I was among them. The menu involved filet mignon, baguettes, and (if I recall correctly) chocolate mousse. It was an unusual gesture on Asch and his wife's part-- it wasn't exactly cool to be that openly meritocratic about honoring high grades at Dartmouth -- and a touching one. My signature for a petition can easily be plied with filet mignon and chocolate mousse.

(Aside: one of the other students at that dinner went on to found her own jewelry design line, Lulu Frost, which has been prominently featured in Vogue and other smart magazines. I was a little afraid of Lisa when we shared that class, and I'm not surprised she went on to do something more glamorous than average. But I digress... )

Back to Asch. Because he's been so active on campus, I imagine many recent alums have stories similar to my dinner party tale. That'll help him. Perhaps more interestingly, in contrast to the past four petition candidates, Asch has said and written almost nothing about national politics. He has a long paper trail of writings on Dartmouth issues, but I found nothing in that D archive about politics beyond Dartmouth. It's been a few years, but I can't remember Asch waxing right-wing crankish in that art history class. (I'd very likely remember if he had. I usually keep my ears open for right-wing cranks.) Bottom line, he comes across as a pragmatist who wants to do the right thing for a college that he loves. Again, I think that will help him.

There is also an AoA petition slate. I know several of the younger candidates. They're smart, qualified people who could fulfill these roles well. It's a slate that's heavy on conservative Christians, if memory serves, and light on libertarians. This is not to say, of course, that a slate which was imbalanced the other way would be better, given the realities of coalition politics.

And no, I haven't read the summary judgment order from the alumni lawsuit yet. Perhaps tomorrow.

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