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Dartmouth's support of gay rights and members of the LGBTQ community is complete and unwavering, as is our commitment to a campus that is diverse, welcoming, and inclusive. In light of concerns—specifically surrounding gay rights—expressed by members of our community about the appointment of Malawi Bishop Dr. James Tengatenga as the dean of the Tucker Foundation, I felt it was important for me to meet with him personally.
It was in this context that I sat down recently with Dr. Tengatenga and asked tough questions about his earlier statements on homosexuality. We also discussed his leadership within an Anglican Church in Africa that has often been hostile regarding gay rights.
Dr. Tengatenga spoke to me about his inspiring life of service to some of the world's most vulnerable people, especially victims of HIV-AIDS. In passionate terms, he described his commitment to gay rights and how he has worked to support the LGBTQ community in Malawi in the ways that are most effective, given the country's cultural context.
However, 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.
The debate over Dr. Tengatenga's appointment also revealed a lack of clarity about Tucker's mission and organization. This ambiguity is not new and, in fact, an external review committee recommended a significant restructuring of the Tucker Foundation in a 2009 report. Clarifying Tucker's mission is imperative before we can install a new dean of this important Dartmouth organization.
I have asked Interim Provost Martin Wybourne to develop plans for interim leadership at Tucker and to convene a task force charged with making recommendations as to the foundation's mission and organizational structure.
I look forward to working with others at Dartmouth to strengthen the Tucker Foundation and its contribution to the education of our students.
Philip J. Hanlon
President, Dartmouth College