Dear Esther – Part 4
This afternoon, VP of Communications and Marketing, Bill Campbell provided the minutes of the November 9-10, 2013, Alumni Association Board meeting.
Thank you for providing this information. We appreciate your willingness to share these minutes, but we do not believe they support your allegation at the March 11th town hall that the Alumni Association Board was fully aware of your intention to make the undergraduate college co-educational.
WHAT WE KNOW…
There was some discussion of co-educational programming related to undergraduate students.
According to the Alumni Association Board meeting minutes provided by Mr. Campbell, there are two relevant notations: one from your report to the Board and one from Alumni Board President, Gail Ruszczyk Emery. Those comments are, as follows, in their entirety:
“Discussion of confidential plans for future of co-ed undergraduate programs alongside the college for women programs and how this would work.” (Esther Barazzone, November 9th)
“Discussion of Esther’s comments about coed undergrad programs, maximizing use of resources while retaining character of women’s college.” (Gail Ruszczyk Emery, November 10th)
WHAT WE BELIEVE…
The understanding of the Alumni Association Board was that any undergraduate programs would exist in cooperation with current women’s college programming and not supersede it.
In your March 11th blog post, posted during the town hall, you stated, “in November the Alumni Association Board knew of the study about whether a parallel undergraduate college could be created to help make up for the faltering CCW enrollment.” While you use this statement, and the information from the minutes to take the position that the Alumni Association Board knew about the need to go co-ed, in no way can your claims be supported by the documentation provided that they knew a formal proposal was imminent and certainly not that they supported that proposal.
The language in the minutes is vague though the word “alongside” in your notation indicates the Board’s understanding was that some undergraduate co-educational programs (we take this to mean the Falk School of Sustainability as well as perhaps more programs to be named later) would run parallel to the women’s college, not in place of it. Ms. Emery’s comments the next day, at least as reported in the minutes, seem to bolster that notion, referring to “retaining the character of the women’s college.”
Had you specifically indicated that the undergraduate women’s college would be going co-educational, surely that would have been documented in the minutes. A monumental shift in the mission of the undergraduate college and the reversal of 145 years of history is not something to be glossed over.
Without having more thorough documentation, it is impossible to say exactly what was presented in the board meeting that day, or how it was received. We believe, however, that the Alumni Association Board was surprised by the February 18th announcement of the resolution to study fully integrated co-education. Nowhere in the research timeline provided by your February 24th blog post does it indicate that the Alumni Association Board was consulted (the November 2013 meeting referenced above is not included), so it’s understandable that they would feel, as indicated in their open letter to the Board of Trustees, that without further information from the Chatham administration, they cannot offer unconditional support of the proposal. That open letter, in fact, raised very serious questions about the motivation behind the proposal and the lack of supporting documentation for the proposal.
WHAT WE WANT…
A delay of the Board of Trustees vote.
Given the demonstrated lack of involvement of the Alumni Association Board in the research of the proposal in front of the Board of Trustees, we believe the co-ed vote should be delayed by at least a year. During that time we ask you and the administration to provide us with the following:
- Answers to the questions presented to the Board of Trustees, by the Alumni Association Board on March 4th.
- Continued cooperation with the Alumni Association Board and the alumnae it represents, during the remainder of the initial comment period and beyond, to facilitate understanding of the issues surrounding the college and evaluation of potential solutions.
You have asked for our feedback, Esther, but are you and the Board really listening? If so, you will take this letter to heart and act upon our requests.
The Save Chatham Movement
03/14/13 – 9:15 am
Please see Gail Emery’s comment below and this Open Letter from the Save Chatham Management for more information received after the blog was originally posted.