The victory of Stephen Smith in the latest round of Dartmouth trustee elections is another sign of accelerating meltdown of the academic status-quo.
Over the last three years, Dartmouth’s establishment has done everything in its power to staunch the flow of votes to insurgent candidates, all without avail. While the sources of alumni dissatisfaction at Dartmouth are many, they add up to a ringing vote of no confidence in a remote, out-of-touch, and politically correct leadership.
It’s hard to see how changes at the top can now be avoided in Hanover. And, hopefully, these will be followed by a reconsideration of many existing directions in college policy.
Perhaps even more important, however, is the signal these repeated insurgent victories at Dartmouth are sending to the rest of American higher education. Whether it be alumni, donors, legislators, students, or even the faculty – the stakeholders are growing restless.
Unless existing leadership becomes more attentive to what significant publics expect in the way of intellectual quality, pluralism, and responsiveness, it risks deepening isolation in an increasingly volatile environment.
Stephen H. Balch is the preseident of the National Association of Scholars.