Task force to review Tucker

A task force will reexamine the Tucker Foundation's combination of service and religion.

A task force will reexamine the Tucker Foundation's combination of service and religion.

Natalie Cantave / The Dartmouth Staff


The search process for the next dean of the Tucker Foundation, prompted after College President Phil Hanlon revoked the Right Rev. James Tengatenga's in August, remains halted pending recommendations by a task force regarding the foundation's mission, structure and leadership. The task force has until Jan. 15 to submit its feedback to interim provost Martin Wybourne, business professor and task force chair John Vogel said.

The task force's creation follows controversy surrounding Tengatenga's appointment as dean of the Tucker Foundation in July. A month after appointing Tengatenga, Hanlon announced in August that Tengatenga would no longer become dean in light of his previous statements regarding homosexuality.


The task force, established by Wybourne at Hanlon's request following the announcement Tengatenga would no longer work at Dartmouth, will reexamine whether Tucker should continue to combine service and religious life, and will recommend a revised governing structure for the foundation.


Vogel was appointed chair in September and the task force has met twice since then, once with united campus ministers and once with Tucker's Board of Visitors. Future meetings will include discussions with Tucker staff, students and the larger community.


The task force includes Vogel, associate dean of social sciences and Tucker council member Nancy Marion, biology professor Mary Lou Guerinot, Dean of Libraries Jeffrey Horrell, Tucker Board of Visitors chair Ellis Rowe '74, OPAL director Alysson Satterlund and Cru campus minister Ryan Bouton '01.


"There are certain times in the life of a nonprofit organization when you can really have an impact," Vogel said. "Whenever there's a leadership transition, bringing in the right leader, or getting the organization prepared to bring in that right leader, that is one of those critical times."


Theresa Ellis '97 is currently serving as interim dean of the foundation.


Tucker staff members understand the foundation's mission to be what is found in its mission statement: "to educate Dartmouth students for lives of purpose and ethical leadership, rooted in service, spirituality and social justice," assistant to the dean and Tucker office manager Kathleen Moore said.


The search's delay, pending recommendations by the task force, hinders the foundation's work, Moore said.


"I think that the search brought forth questions, less among our staff, than among the people who were on the search committee or discerning it," Moore said. "I think the complexity is pretty clear if you work here."


The controversy surrounding Tengatenga's appointment, however, has made translating the foundation's mission into the dean search process difficult, Vogel said.


"The challenge for us is to try to take that very broad mission and figure out what aspects of that you want to emphasize," he said.


The task force will better define the Tucker dean's role, Vogel said, and in turn help find the right person to serve as the foundation's next dean.


"Unless we spell out for our incoming dean what our expectations are, I don't think we're going to find the right person, and I don't think it's going to be fair to this person to come in without those kind of expectations," he said. "At this point, the task force is listening. We're going to all the key stakeholders and saying, What's your vision?'"


The task force would have been convened sooner, but was delayed due to widespread administrative turnover, Vogel said.


Previous dean Richard Crocker, former College President Jim Yong Kim and former Provost and interim College President Carol Folt all left within the past two years.


Tengatenga was selected following a seven month search process. Students and staff criticized the search committee and selection process, expressing frustration with the College's lack of transparency.


Crocker, who declined to comment on the search committee's or Hanlon's decisions in an interview in August, said there were problems with the vetting process. He said it was a mistake that students were not a part of the search committee, that the committee did not vet Tengatenga's past statements and that his campus visits were poorly publicized.


Tucker religious and spiritual life director Nancy Vogele '85 said the Tucker dean should support and promote service, spirituality and social justice individually, as well as their interdependency.


"It is someone who in themselves could embrace both of those aspects," she said. "For me what was always clear was that it was someone who could articulate that dual role."


The foundation was established to promote the moral and spiritual work of the College in 1951, and has shifted in its purpose and structure as the College has evolved since.


"Everything is reflective of the times," Vogele said. "How do we stay true to the spirit of the original mission and how do we help the College still fulfill the spirit of that?"


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