The decision of the newly appointed president of Dartmouth College, Philip Hanlon, to revoke the appointment of James Tengatenga as Dean of the Tucker Foundation was a bold one and it took some courage. A committee of respected professors and administrators at Dartmouth had selected Tengatenga and so for the new president to then reverse course on the decision took chutzpah. It’s not as though Hanlon has been there for years; this was, in many ways, his first major decision. And he made the right call.
James Tengatenga has no place at the new Dartmouth. While the old Dartmouth of decades past may have a reputation defined by, say, “Animal House,” the new Dartmouth is far removed from this characterization. Dartmouth is a diverse university. It is one of the nation’s most prestigious and one would be hard-pressed to find a university at which one can receive a better liberal arts education. It is a school founded by Native Americans that values diversity of backgrounds as well as thought. And it is indeed a welcoming place for LGBT students. Has that always been the case? No. Alumna and radio talk show host Laura Ingraham once published the names of LGBT students in a campus newspaper, outing some students who weren’t necessarily open about their sexuality. And that’s just one example.
But times have changed at Dartmouth. Most have taken notice. And Philip Hanlon’s bold decision to not allow someone who has made homophobic statements in the past to lead the Tucker Foundation at Dartmouth continues the College on the Hill’s tradition of supporting its LGBT students. Philip Hanlon put Dartmouth’s money where its mouth is and we salute him for his support of LGBT students and alumni of the College on the Hill.