LGBT students at Dartmouth can be proud to know that their new president has their back. A little while back, a hiring committee at Dartmouth selected Dr. James Tengatenga as the new Dean of the Tucker Foundation. The Tucker Foundation at Dartmouth is “charged with supporting and furthering the moral and spiritual work of the College” as stated by the Dartmouth Board of Trustees on June 16, 1951. Many students at Dartmouth do community service activities through the Tucker Foundation — from tutoring at local elementary schools in New Hampshire to volunteering in countries devastated by natural disasters to teaching English in Zimbabue. The appointment of Dr. James Tengatenga, the diocesan bishop of Southern Malawi and chair of the Worldwide Anglican Communion’s Anglican Consultative Council, was not without controversy at Dartmouth.
Shortly after his appointment as Dean of the Tucker Foundation, word got out that Dr. Tengatenga had taken actions and made remarks that were utterly homophobic. In 2003, he vocally opposed the ordination of the openly gay Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire, going so far as to state to the “Los Angeles Times” that he felt betrayed by the church and was angry over the matter. In 2011, he vocally backed excommunicating any bishop of the church who supported same-sex marriage. And yet the Dean of the Tucker Foundation is supposed to be the “moral leader” of the College on the Hill. Clearly Dr. James Tengatenga wasn’t suited for this position at a university that so values diversity.
New Dartmouth President Philip Hanlon’s decision to not move forward with Dr. Tengatenga’s appointment is to be applauded. As he stated in a letter to the Dartmouth community, “Following much reflection and consultation with senior leaders at Dartmouth, it has become clear to me that Dr. Tengatenga’s past comments about homosexuality and the uncertainty and controversy they created have compromised his ability to serve effectively as dean of Tucker. The foundation and Dartmouth’s commitment to inclusion are too important to be mired in discord over this appointment. Consequently, we have decided not to move forward with the appointment of Dr. Tengatenga as dean of the Tucker Foundation.” Well stated and good for Dartmouth’s new leader to show such support for the LGBT community. This is very good for the College on the Hill.