Scrutiny of Dartmouth’s Investment Practices and Conflicts of Interest on the Board

Over the past few weeks there has been an emerging brouhaha about the investments of Dartmouth’s endowment in the firms of members of the board of trustees.  This is an issue about which I expressed concern as a matter of sound institutional governance.  The issue rose to a higher level a few weeks ago when a group identifying themselves as “The Friends of Eleazar Wheelock” wrote an open letter to the New Hampshire Attorney General detailing the apparent conflicts of interest and requesting an investigation.  (The first trustee identified as a recipient of the College’s investment largesse (estimated to have earned $7 million in management fees off of $45 million invested) recently declared outgoing College President Jim Kim to be “the greatest of Dartmouth’s seventeen presidents.”  Huh.).

The letter more or less speaks for itself and I don’t have much to add here.  Others, however, have done an excellent job contextualizing the issue and providing some analysis.  Roy Poses, who has followed these governance issues from his perch at Brown provides an excellent summary and analysis here.  You can also find some interesting analysis at American Thinker, Inside Higher Ed, and useful analysis in the specialized press looking at pension and investment issues.  Bloomberg has been looking at various institution’s practices in this regard and provides a comparison of Dartmouth and Brown here.