Embattled President of Dartmouth College Resigns
HANOVER, N.H. (AP) _ Dartmouth College President David McLaughlin, who was criticized last winter for his handling of an anti-apartheid protest on campus, announced Monday that he will resign after the end of this school year.
McLaughlin, who was named Dartmouth’s 14th president in 1981, denied that his resignation had anything to do with the turmoil from the demonstration or with a move by faculty members and students to oust him last year.
″I think that the events of last winter were obviously difficult for the entire college as well as the presidency but the board of trustees could not have been more supportive through that period of time,″ said McLaughlin.
″Dartmouth went through a troublesome episode and has come through that ... I think that that was important to see happen,″ he said.
McLaughlin, who said he will leave after the spring commencement and after a new president is found, said he had not been pressured into resigning.
″During these next 10 years, Dartmouth will be faced with increasing and intense competition for faculty, students and the resources to support them,″ he said. ″I am not prepared to commit irrevocably 10 more years to the task.″
McLaughlin was a corporate executive with no experience as an educational administrator when he came to Dartmouth. Since then, the school’s endowment doubled and major campus projects, including building a social sciences center and an art museum, have been completed.
In January, a group pushing divestment defied college orders and built several shacks on the college green. The college allowed the shacks to stand, but a group of conservative students, most associated with the off-campus weekly, The Dartmouth Review, attacked the shanties with sledgehammers.
The shanty builders, who had occupied the president’s office to protest the shanty smashing, as well as those arrested when the school finally decided to remove the shacks, were not punished.
The shanty smashers initially were kicked out of school, but McLaughlin ordered new hearings and the punishment was reduced. After a second review, new punishment was dished out, and one of the group leaders was barred from graduating with his class.
Former Treasury Secretary William Simon came to the defense of the conservatives last year and attacked McLaughlin. ″He has made nobody happy because of his cowardice,″ Simon said.
Deborah Stone of Keene, editor-in-chief of the Dartmouth Review, and one of shanty attackers, said McLaughlin is ″completely misrepresenting″ his reasons for leaving.
″Sure, there may be some personal reasons, but to say that the events of the past year had nothing to do with it strikes me as absurd,″ she said.
Dartmouth has refused to pull all investments in companies doing business with South Africa, saying selective divestments and using stockholdings to pressure companies are more effective ways to end apartheid
In February, some students and faculty members called for McLaughlin’s resignation, accusing him of disregarding faculty votes, showing bad faith in dealing with faculty and students and mishandling the anti-apartheid protests.
An eight-member faculty committee earlier said many faculty members considered McLaughlin’s administration ″insensitive to and not knowledgeable about educational concerns.″
The trustees, however, gave him a vote of confidence.