11/16/2009 Selecting Trustees

Fact Checker here.

No matter how rocky the procedure, students should cherish the opportunity to vote for a Young Trustee.

It's the last chance you will get to be heard.

Regular Trustees are selected in a secret process. Indeed, Fact Checker was lucky to find out that the Executive Committee of the Trustees -- at its November 6th meeting -- discussed putting forth to the full, self-perpetuating board two candidates, one for a current and one for an anticipated vacancy. Names are not available.

After "nomination" by the full board, one candidate for each vacancy will be submitted either to the alumni leadership, which "votes" to "elect" 12 seats, or to the Methodist Church, which participates in this charade to the tune of 24 seats.

Trustees never report back to their electors, not even when they seek a 2nd term. There is never any information on where they stand on any university issue. I assume some issues may be voted upon at board meetings, but who knows.

The last time stakeholders in Duke got a written communication directly from the Trustees was when our three lacrosse players were declared "innocent," and the main purpose seemed to be to bail Brodhead out, rather than support the victims of a prostitute and prosecutor. Since then, the endowment has melted away and the new chair has given a brief interview where he employed the words "dire financial strait."

There are many universities that have competitive elections for the board; in fact in his book "God and Man at Yale," William Buckley discusses a by-law requiring more than one nomination for each vacancy.

Some day Fact Checker will make time to investigate whether there is a correlation between between alumni giving and the opportunity to participate. There has got to be a reason three times as many Princeton grads give to their Annual Fund.

√Fellow Dukies, have a good Monday.

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