Dear Esther – Part 4

Dear Esther,

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.

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)

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.

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.


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2 responses to “Dear Esther – Part 4”

  1. Gail Ruszczyk Emery says :


    I became aware that Mr Campbell, Vice President of Communications & Marketing obtained the November 2013 draft minutes from the Alumni Relations staff this morning (Thursday). I immediately called and left Mr. Campbell a message which he returned later, around 11:00 am my time. As I explained to Mr. Campbell this morning, it was unfortunate that he had sent out draft minutes that had not yet been approved. When I asked Mr. Campbell who they were sent to? He would not provide me contact information so that I could at least follow up with the individual and explain that the minutes were not final.

    It is unfortunate that a set of draft minutes are circulating.

    President Barazzone referred to the November 9-10, 2013 Alumni Association Meeting in her Tuesday, March 11th Town Hall, she referenced a section of our meeting which she had asked us to “keep within this room”. When meeting with Chatham University Administration, many times information and data may be shared. Mostly presentations are showed, but handouts are generally not provided. When any administrator requests that information is to be “kept within the room”, we respect that and honor their request.

    Briefly, the section that President Barazzone referenced had to do with what a consortium could look like for Chatham University. It included four areas: CCW, Falk, Health & Sciences (graduate programs) and what she referred to as “New College”, New College would be the home of co-ed programs from the international area where international students come to finish the degree (not all 4 years), certificate programs and on line degrees. Yes, Falk and New College would be coeducational, but she clearly did not say that it meant that CCW would cease to exist. We spoke about the California consortium of Claremont McKenna, we spoke about the 5-College model, neither model eliminates the women’s college but continues that aspect.

    As a follow up to our November 9-10, 2013 meeting in Pittsburgh, due to the questions and concerns that were raised by members of the Chatham University Alumni Association Board regarding the consortium concept, I reached out to the Board of Trustee chair elect (at the time) Jennifer Potter, hoping to arrange an hour conference call with the Alumni Board and Ms. Potter or another member of the CCW group. Unfortunately, Ms. Potter was unable to schedule the call. Her response was that there was still much in the air and that it would be better to wait till after the February 2014 Trustee meeting.

    There are always lessons to learn. One of the areas in the Alumni Association Strategic Plan is the need to strengthen communications. To that end, the Alumni Association Board will be working on having posted to the website the minutes of our last three meetings as well as our current strategic plan.

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  1. An open letter from the Save Chatham Management | savechatham - March 14, 2014

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